Robert Bresson – Pickpocket (1959)

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Quote:
Michel is an inscrutable young man – neatly dressed, mild mannered, intelligent – hardly the type whom one would suspect to be a pickpocket. And perhaps, that is reason that he does it. Robert Bresson’s Pickpocket is a well crafted, austere, and taut film of a man driven by his self-destructive compulsion. We first encounter Michel (Martin LaSalle) at a Paris racetrack, stealthily fingering through the clasp of a woman’s handbag, reaching in, pocketing her money. A wild, almost euphoric gaze comes over his impassive face, heightened by the cheering crowd as the horses approach the finish line. Soon, his compulsion consumes him. His friend, Jacques (Pierre Leymarie) furnishes him with contacts for employment opportunities, but he does not follow through. Continue reading

Josef von Sternberg – Macao [+Extras] (1952)

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Synopsis:
A sultry night club singer, a man who has also traveled to many exotic ports and a salesman meet aboard ship on the 45-mile trip from Hong Kong to Macao. The singer is quickly hired by an American expatriate who runs the biggest casino in Macao and has a thriving business in converting hot jewels into cash. Her new boss thinks one of her traveling companions is a cop. One is — but not the one the boss suspects.

— IMDb. Continue reading

Yasujirô Ozu – Tôkyô boshokuAKA Tokyo Twilight (1957)

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Synopsis:

Two sisters live with their father. The younger sister is embroiled in an affair and becomes pregnant. The elder sister has run away from her husband and returned with her child to her parent’s home. Both sisters are astonished when their mother, long thought dead, turns up alive. The sisters are even more stunned when they learn what their mother’s life has been. Continue reading

René Clément – Plein soleil AKA Purple Noon (1960)

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Quote:
Purple Noon is a taut, intelligently written, and well crafted film about an amoral criminal. Tom Ripley (Alain Delon), commissioned to find and bring home an old school acquaintance named Philippe Greenleaf (Maurice Ronet), the errant son of a wealthy San Francisco businessman, is quickly seduced by the lifestyle of the idle rich. Without independent means, the parasitic Tom immediately leeches onto the squandering, philandering Philippe, who only seems too eager to flaunt his wealth and humiliate him. Soon, Tom’s pervasive presence turns a leisurely yachting cruise with Philippe’s girlfriend, Marge (Marie Laforet), into a claustrophobic nightmare. After instigating an argument between the two lovers, causing Marge to leave, Tom sets his plot in motion to assume Philippe’s identity. Purple Noon is a highly stylized and insidiously clever film on committing the perfect crime. Continue reading

Michelangelo Antonioni – Le amiche AKA The Girlfriends (1955)

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Quote:
Michelangelo Antonioni’s Le Amiche opens with an aerial shot of Turin, Italy that, in the moment, could easily be mistaken as simply a cheery, picturesque backdrop for the credits sequence. Retroactively, though, the image proves deceptive and even misleading in its suggestion of peace and tranquility. Antonioni’s 1955 film interrogates the detrimental socio-economic dimensions of modernity in Turin by moving an assortment of characters through confrontations and conversations in drawing rooms and cafés, and outside on beaches and in alleyways, so that a character’s elation or devastation must be understood in relation to the place where it occurs. Le Amiche is filled with characters asking one another “why” something is happening, but for the director, “where” is always the most optimal question. Continue reading

Ingmar Bergman – Ingmar Bergman Bris Soap Commercials (1951)

In 1951 there was a conflict in the Swedish film industry. The production companies had declared a ban on filming in protest against the high rate of tax on entertainment. Recently remarried, Ingmar Bergman, found himself with three families to support, and his contract with the Gothenburg City Theatre had expired. In order to earn any income whatsoever that year, he agreed to direct nine commercial for Bris soap on behalf of Swedish Unilever. It seems more than a coincidence that Sweden’s most famous film director should be the one to take the country’s advertising to a higher plane: the Bris films were the most lavishly funded that the country had ever seen. Continue reading