Sorry for the long absence, school has been taken up every moment of my waking existence. Now though, I’m on vacation and have not only time to watch some new films, but to review them as well. As I’m in catch-up mode, I haven’t had much time to write any long or in depth reviews, but only a blurb or two on some recent viewings.
I haven’t had time to write anything for the following films, I’ll just provide ratings and answer any questions and/or offer on the fly reviews:
Gone, Baby, Gone (2007) 9/10
Casque D’Or (1952) 7/10
The Small Back Room (1949) 9/10
Went the Day Well (1942) 8/10
Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) 10/10
Atonement (2007) 8.5/10
The Man Who Planted Trees (1987) 10/10
The Browning Version (1951) exceeded all my expectations, which where fairly high in the first place. A first rate character study of a hated school teacher who comes to realise his own failures as a teacher, husband and a human being. Michael Redgrave delivers one of the best performances I’ve ever seen, and the careful direction by Asquith helps maintain the subtlety of his evolution and relationships. The film is far more than just an actor’s film though, and it reveals so much about perceptions and human nature. It’s a film I hardly see getting any mention… anywhere, and it’s a damn shame. I don’t think I am doing the film justice, or if I can give it enough praise. Do yourself a favour and see it if you haven’t already.
Madame de… is my second Ophuls film, and I have to say my appreciation for him has grown significantly. While I was able to respect Letters from an Unknown Woman, I found it too melodramatic, and Joan Fontaine’s character too feeble for me to truly enjou the film. I can’t profess being fully under the spell of this film either, but it’s more to do with my own difficulties with the tonal changes, from comedy, to drama and something in between. The acting is divine, I know the actors mostly for their comedy, which is probably why I found the transition a little difficult to adjust to. I love how the film looks, and Ophuls moving camera is a marvel… nearly every shot is a marvel, and yet there isn’t anything excessive or superfluous about it. The importance of fate, and the consequences and effects of the doomed romance on all three parties are incredibly well “woven”. While much credit is due to Ophuls, the script is equally as vital… it hits every note perfectly. I would love to see this film again, and I can only see my appreciation for it growing.
The only way I can really describe Under the Volcano (1984) is that, it’s as if later day Fellini directed an Ernest Hemingway novel starring Albert Finney. Finney is wacko, and I’m not quite sure the performance deserves as much praise as it receives… then again, I’m not the best judge of acting, and gravitate towards what appeals to my own aesthetics. The film looks beautiful, the rich colours of the fiesta and the general surroundings are contrasted with the stark earthiness of Bisset and the bright, white suit that Finney is always sporting. The middle part of the film stands out for me as being the best part, it’s probably the optimist in me saying that though, because it gives you hope for these people who are so obviously lost and hurt by the world around them, and each other. The final sequence is something out of Satyricon, outrageous characters, prostitutes, coq fights… general nightmarish qualities. The film, however, is not quite as good as it sounds, but has it’s moments, and it always interesting. It lags a bit, and the pacing is uneven. While for most of the film it balances it’s excesses there are moments it veers into ridiculousness. 7/10
All around, it’s been a WONDERFUL little while for movies. I don’t remember the last time I watched so many films that I so immediately fell in love with.
I also would like to throw a reminder that the Powell/Pressburger Blog-a-thon starts in just a few days!!