Sunday, April 22, 2012


Catherine Denueve

Monday, April 16, 2012

My Week of Movie Watching

Jules and Jim – When I first saw Fran├žois Truffaut’s great love triangle many years ago, it didn’t really leave a mark on me. In revisiting it again this week, I can finally appreciate its melancholy jumble of emotions. The story is complicated, but it draws from a deep wellspring of love, loyalty and sadness. Jules and Jim are great friends. Jules falls in love with the free-spirited Catherine (Jeanne Moreau). They marry, but she feels stifled, and begins an affair with Jim. Rather than lose her completely, Jules allows the affair to flower, with tragic results. Truffaut is like a kid with a new toy with this movie, and I was delighted by his exhilarating visual style. The dialogue is rich and beautiful. Highly recommended.

Hands Over the City – Terrific political film from Francesco Rosi stars Rod Steiger as a corrupt Neapolitan politician out to line his pockets through a proposed housing development. The film often has the look and feel of a documentary, and Steiger is utterly brilliant as a man who is long accustomed to having the system make him rich. Carlo Fermariello has a meaty and important role as an idealistic political rival to Steiger. The films conclusion is bitterly cynical, but somehow perfect. Recommended.

Story of a Prostitute – I’ve only seen a couple of Seijin Suzuki’s films (Beauty of the Underworld and Gate of Flesh), but both of them have stuck with me. This story of a prostitute brought to a WWII Japanese army base will be no exception. The title character is subjected to brutality from the camp commandant, and decides to seduce his loyal orderly in order to punish him. The virginal orderly at first wants nothing to do with her, but the two gradually grow close. Like many Japanese films set during the war, SoaP has a lot to say about the army’s rigid adherence to codes, and the destructive consequences of this. Suzuki was a filmmaker who didn’t care much for soft edges. This one is big and bold, but does tend to go a bit over the top on occasion. Liked it, didn’t quite love it.

The Marquee