Thursday, June 14, 2007

June 14, 2007

A Nous la Liberte / Freedom for Us (1931): A fun little movie from that most fun of directors, Rene Clair, a prerequisite, a dry-run, if you will, for Chaplin's Modern Times (a film that was sued for being too similar, but I really don't see it; other than the industrial theme, they're fairly different films). Clair also maintained a safe distance from that suit, and maintained a friendship with Chaplin throughout. It's a funny little satire of factory life. Two men are in prison. During an escape plan, something goes wrong, and only one escapes. The other one gets out later and finds that his friend has become a big industrialist, and gets a job in his factory, and finds the job pretty much exactly like the one he had in prison. There's some amusing sets and sight gags, but it's not mined for as much comedy as Modern Times or Clair's other 1931 gem, the fantastically nutty The Million. B- [#6 in my Six of '31]

Pierrot le Fou (1965): If I made movies, they would probably look a lot like Pierrot le Fou. A completely offhand, a completely haphazard, an almost completely improvised film. If you're trying to follow a story, the film will give you whiplash, but if you're willing to sit back and enjoy the absurdity, and Godard's character's ever-present self-conscious knowledge of their own cinematic limitations (Belmondo looks toward the camera and says, "All she thinks about is money." "Who are you talking to?" "The audience.", and they never mention it again. Also, they somehow get stuck on an island, and in the middle, Karenina says, "This is enough Jules Verne, let's get back to our gangster picture.", and suddenly, they're off the island.) The threadbare, unimportant strands of plot you do pick up seem like they've been edited from a completely different, Hollywood movie. Serious happenings (i.e., murders, thefts) come out of nowhere, and even they are handled goofily (to steal gas, Karenina goes to the attendant, points skyward, and punches him in the stomach, mentioning she'd seen it in a Laurel & Hardy movie) It's apparent Karenina has killed at least two people (including a midget (!)), and that's all you need to know. Go see this, it's awesome. A [#1 in my Seven of '65, ahead of, appropriately, Godard's Alphaville]

Rome: Open City (1945): A film that, to my eyes, is one of those films that is more important than good. The story of Rossellini going around, collecting tiny scraps and ends of film to make this film is a fascinating story that I would be much more interested to see than this decent but disjointed and meandering melodrama. The film is famous for essentially having invented the Italian neorealist movement, a movement he himself would work in for quite sometime, it is a very important and influential movie, but then again, so was The Wild One, and I don't have much desire to see either of these again. Rossellini would improve on this formula and make a more captivating motion picture almost immediately, with the easily more immediate, gripping and fascinating Germany: Year Zero two years later. C+ [#7 in my Ten of '45]

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