Sunset Boulevard ★★★★★

2014 Film Viewing Resolution #11

Now I get this whole Billy Wilder is a master thing...kind of.

I've seen three now and while I was easily able to respect and admire the first two (Double Indemnity and The Lost Weekend), I cannot say that I fully enjoyed both viewing experiences. With that said, I was not fully looking forward to watching Wilder's Sunset Boulevard.

Thankfully, the cinematography appears to have gained a little more flavor especially in the areas of camera movement and framing choices. The opening sequence, everything involving the pool, when Gillis first ascends the stairs of Desmond's seemingly abandoned mansion, among others, all look fantastic.

Gloria Swanson as one-time silent film star Norma Desmond is the highlight, her performance starting from grandiose Diva eccentricity which slowly erodes into manic emotional manipulation, then into downright delusions centered around pseudo-nostalgia. Swanson commands the screen as a delusional star of yesteryear, living her life as if the cameras are still rolling. It's understandable that she should feel this way since her butler, Max (Erich von Stroheim), a one-time silent film director continues to direct the epic film that is Desmond's life, with such attention to production design.

I'm not really sure what it is about Erich von Stroheim, but I'm a fan. Just something about his demeanor.

I found the entire concept of the voice-over to be a bit interesting, however, it was undeniably grating with its constant need to state plot points merely seconds before they happen. Small quibble though, the ending easily redeems this detriment.

Accidentally walking into a monkey funeral, end up staying on as a gigolo...happens all too often.

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