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      News — Film

      Film Diary: Miss Julie

      Film Diary: Miss Julie, 1951, directed by Alf Sjöberg.

      We picked up this DVD from the library just because it was on Criterion. Little did we know that Sjöberg is considered Sweden's 2nd best director and this film certainly supports the case. He expands the original August Strindberg play that was set in a manor house kitchen into a cinematic masterwork. I imagine the play must be extremely intense and claustrophobic considering the story, but the film is able to bring a stark beauty to the class/gender/power struggles. That's not to say there aren't things that are troublesome as far as how Strindberg writes women and Sjöberg portrays them, but that doesn't detract from the feeling that you're watching something unusual and significant.

      On a design note, I really liked the hand-drawn opening credits over the mysterious woman peeking out from behind a curtain. It was an auspicious beginning.

      Film Diary: Port of Shadows

      Film Diary: Port of Shadows (Le Quai des Brumes), 1938, directed by Marcel Carné.

      We loved Carné's Children of Paradise so we picked up Port of Shadows when we saw it at the library. Even though the movie starts off with lots of atmosphere and the fantastic actor Jean Gabin, its true greatness kind of creeps up on you.  By the end, we felt like it was one of the best movies we'd ever seen! The shots, the music, the acting, the writing--it's all top form.

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

      Michèle Morgan is striking (and when you first see her, she's wearing an eye-catching plastic raincoat--it turns out the costumes were designed by Coco Chanel, adding an additional layer of visual appeal) and Michel Simon is ingratiating and sinister all at once. It's a rather bleak film, but done in such a poetic style that you can revel in its beauty as it's breaking your heart. All the elements combine together to present a heightened reality that really works with the improbable story filled with universal themes.

       

      Film Diary: After Life

      image from wikipedia

      Film Diary: After Life (1998), directed by Hirokazu Koreeda.

      A week in the life of dead people. The most pragmatic movie about death I've ever seen, it is at times a mystery, a documentary, a movie about introspection and the meaning of life and memory with surreal Gondry-esque moments. It should be cheesy but it's not.

      *not currently available through Netflix, but the Portland Library has it so check your local library

      Watching People Watching Music

      I took these photos of the dvd "Horowitz in Moscow" while I was watching it on our television. This was Vladimir Horowitz's 1986 return to his native country after over 60 years of being abroad. The people are literally moved to tears by his performance and it's hard to tell in these photos if some are sleeping or just listening with their eyes closed. It's a wonderful performance (I highly recommend the DVD), especially of two pieces from the great Russian composer Alexander Scriabin.

      The Greatest Movie Ever Made?

      Well, maybe. To be honest I haven't seen it yet, but that's what a good friend of my proposed after going to the Paula Cooper Gallery and watching "The Clock" for several hours.

      stills from "The Clock"

      "The Clock" is a 24 hour film of clips from movies and television edited together to show clocks and watches that display and correspond to the actual time so that it is as if you are watching a real clock, if you will. It sounds like something that could be incredibly boring or at the same time incredibly addicting, like some sort of cinematic feats-of-strength. According to the NY Times in an excellent article about the movie, "...“The Clock” was hailed as a masterpiece when it made its debut at the White Cube gallery in London last fall." It doesn't seem to be playing anywhere at the moment that I can see, which means we'll all have to wait to see it elsewhere to find out where it ranks on our "greatest" list. So it's hard to tell if its one of the greatest movies ever made, but it's certainly one of the longest.

      still from Histoire(s) du cinéma

      The idea of "The Clock" reminds me of a movie Jean-Luc Godard completed in 1998 called, "Histoire(s) du Cinéma", which was made almost entirely of clips from films (as well as sound) that overlap so that you see several movies at once. It was his history of cinema that was almost 5 hours long. I have yet to see this movie as well, so it's ranking among the great works, along with "The Clock", will have to rest with those lucky enough to have seen them.

      still from Histoire(s) du cinéma

      more stills from "The Clock"