Thursday, May 17, 2007


-A Sunday in the Country (1983) (directed by Bernard Tavernier):
Beautiful, melancholic, easy-going, pastoral, impressionist film about an aging painter who wonders if he's made some wrong decisions in life, is discontent with his bourgeoisie son and his wife, but loves the spirit of his daughter and grandchildren. Every shot looks like a painting. Beautiful. 4/5

-The Cranes are Flying (1957) (directed by Mikheil Kalatozishvili):
A staggering directorial effort distinguishes this film from its "samey" premise, a premise repeated from a hundred WWII dramas (boy & girl in love; boy leaves for war; girl doesn't get to say goodbye, etc.). Staggering scene set during an air raid immediately makes it top 250 for me, before you factor in the rest of the heartbreaking film that does take a few fabulous turns. 4.5/5

-A Woman is a Woman (1961) (directed by Jean-Luc Godard):
As Godard said, "a neorealist musical...a contradiction in terms." This wonderful film is so love-drunk with cinema that it doesn't have time to mean anything or be analyzed, and thus, any shortcomings about it being "too self-aware" or "obnoxiously post-modern" miss the point. This is a director so in love with what the camera can do, and what editing can do, and what post-production can do, that he just can't stop joyously throwing things in the post. And the fact that the lovely Anna Karina is in it holds the semblance of a plot together and it's just a blast. 4/5

-The Mystery of Picasso (1956) (directed by Henri-Georgez Clouzot):
One of my favorite directors finally made a clunker. Well, not so much a clunker as much as a missed opportunity. This is a film that attempts to, if not solve, than at least explain "the mystery" of art. But it goes about it wrong. The film opens with Clouzot saying. "To know what's going through a painter's mind, one just needs to look at his hands. Here's what the painter's experiencing." This is all well and good, and could have made for an interesting thesis, is gutted due to his neat-but-unnecessary innovation, which is essentially a canvas that bleeds through that a camera can film from the other side, and then dubs music over it. The only captivating pieces of the film are the parts when they get away from the see-through screen, and take the music out. Just watching Picasso paint it, watching his hand and hearing his brush or marker or tool is fascinating, but colors appearing on a screen over neato music is not. 2/5

-The Clay Bird (2002) (directed by Tareque Masud)
A fascinating, wonderfully-paced, beautifully low-key piece of filmmaking. The film in east Pakistan in the late '60s, a place ready to explode into violent revolution. In this place is young Anu, who has a fundamentalist father, an ignored, depressed movie, an ill little sister, and an uncle who has grown bitter toward the military rule. To ensure his devoutness, his father sends him to a strict Muslim boarding school, where he struggles to adapt to his new surroundings while political tensions ruin his family. Nuanced and beautiful, it's a fabulous little movie. 4/5

-Never on Sunday (1960) (directed by Jules Dassin)
A fun, light little anti-Pygmalion that made Melina Mercouri a star, playing a flighty Greek prostitute named Ilya, and directed Jules Dassin makes the perfect foil as an uptight American scholar trying to find "truth" in Greece and thinking he's found it in "fixing" Ilya. Everything in the film seems like an afterthought, and I mean that in the best way. 3.5/5

No comments: