A PERSONAL JOURNEY WITH MARTIN SCORSESE THROUGH AMERICAN MOVIES
I watched this on youtube, where someone had divided it into 14 parts. Unfortunately, two of the parts wouldn’t play due to copyright protection so I missed about half an hour. Still, that left more than three hours of Scorsese talking about American cinema, from silent films and directors like King Vidor up to the ‘50s and ‘60s. He talks about westerns, gangster films, and musicals, all uniquely American genres, and divides eras into overarching ideas, like the director as smuggler in the ‘50s who had to smuggle political and social subtext into their movies. I took away a list of films to watch. Honestly, I could listen to Scorsese talk about movies for 20 hours. I wish he’d do more. Next, I’ll track down his MY VOYAGE TO ITALY about how Italian film influenced him.
THE ROCKET FROM CALABUCH
I stumbled upon this one night searching FilmStruck for something else. Loved it. Love how the townspeople take in Jorge (Edmund Gwenn) without a second thought and how they rally when he might be threatened by outside forces. I am eager to watch a lot more Luis García Berlanga.
ZERO DE CONDUITE
A relatively short film from Jean Vigo, like a short story rather than a novel. Boys at a boarding school rebel against the ridiculous adults and rules governing them. Did anyone else find creepy subtext with the one teacher who the boy tells him he is full of shit? Makes the rebellion seem less a joyous outburst, and more a necessary and brave act.
GERMANY YEAR ZERO
The third and final movie in the Roberto Rossellini WWII trilogy that starts with ROME OPEN CITY and PAISAN. Edmund (Edmund Moeschke), a young German boy, tries to survive and support his family in post-war Berlin. It could not be more harrowing and real. Not one sentimental second. Each movie in the trilogy is a masterpiece.
A strange movie from Orson Welles. I don’t want to judge it because Welles never finished it. There are three versions of it and probably none are exactly what he had in mind. Still, the acting is odd, especially by Robert Arden, who is the lead, which wouldn’t have changed much no matter what the final cut. And Welles make up is atrocious. Why? I love THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI so I am all for weird, convoluted Wellesian plots, but this was too odd for me.
A great prison escape movie directed by Jacques Becker. Four men sharing a single cell plot to escape and allow a fifth man in on their plan when he’s in thrown their cell with them. They slowly and methodically dig a tunnel underneath the prison, all shown in detail, much of it in real time. And just when you think, OK, enough closeups of digging dirt, the movie delivers a gut punch that shows you just how deep you’ve been drawn in. Wonderful.
THE BAD SLEEP WELL
I loved every minute of this Akira Kurosawa film. The movie starts with the wedding of Kôichi Nishi (Toshirô Mifune) and Yoshiko (Kyôko Kagawa), the daughter of a bigwig in a major Japanese corporation. Outside the room is a gaggle of reporters because at the same time executives from the company are being indicted for some corporate crime. The whole scene is tense and uncomfortable and then a strange wedding cake with a sinister meaning is delivered and you know everything is not as it seems. And that’s just the start. I won’t give any more details away. It is fantastic.
THE ASPHALT JUNGLE
A great film noir by John Huston. All about a jewelry heist, the preparation, the robbery, and the aftermath. A great cast of characters played to perfection by Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, James Whitmore, Sam Jaffe, and Marilyn Monroe. Loved it.
UN CARNET DE BAL
A film directed by Julien Duvivier. A rich widow played by Marie Bell goes off in search of her youth by tracking down all the boys, now men, on the dance card from her first ball. Each is unique, some charming, some funny, one scary, and one dead. The whole premise is a bit fantastical, which is fine, but I still would have liked it more if the men weren’t so entranced by her. At least one should have completely forgotten who she was. And she seems little affected by it all, really.