Having been allotted seldom spare time throughout its entirety, September was a particularly unfruitful month for film viewing. Out of five titles – yes, only five – only two stood out and managed to leave a semblance of a lasting impression, both of which thrive within their designated if obviously polar opposite niches. Hayao Miyazaki’s Castle in the Sky was first up and served as a wonderful inaugural experience, the film employing the anime auteur’s trademark blend of heart and well-woven whimsy with the utmost aplomb. From start to finish, there’s no denying Castle‘s prowess as a seminal and unique work, and to be honest, my forthcoming ingestion of the rest of Miyazaki’s renowned catalog is predictably anticipated.
Next up is Robert Rossen’s The Hustler – a cautionary character drama about the perils of indulging one’s own ego to dangerous extremes. Portrayed by Paul Newman, the naive “Fast” Eddie Nelson finds himself in quite the bind after an all-nighter at a local pool hall goes tits-up at the hands of a local legend. As the blow to both his ego and wallet becomes increasingly dire, the film’s thematic oomph tends to ring a bit rudimentary as Eddie’s all-consuming obsession with redemption procures nothing but trouble. Things predictably go from bad to worse before they get better, but I’ll be damned if it all isn’t one hell of an actor’s showcase benchmarked by appealingly humanistic sensibilities.