BY JOHN POWERS
Many great movies are classics. A few stand as landmarks. The merest handful—perhaps four or five in a century—deserve to be called revolutions. Breathless belongs unequivocally in the final category. Since its first screening in 1960, Jean-Luc Godard’s astonishing debut has lost none of its power to thrill an audience or change the way we see the world.
Godard dedicated the film to Monogram Pictures, the company which made the low-rent gangster cheapies that Breathless was drawing on and greatly sending up. Jean-Paul Belmondo plays Michel, a small-time crook who kills a highway patrolman. Though on the lam to Italy, he heads to Paris and hooks up with his girlfriend Patricia, a boyish American whose allure is her cool capriciousness. As they talk, make love and lackadaisically dodge the cops, Godard shows them to be the kind of young people that the movies had never before shown—alive in the present tense, oblivious to conventional morality, eager to try on world views like so many hats. Theirs is an instinctive existentialism, and Godard’s leading actors make it almost impossibly glamorous. Continue reading
Jeremy Heilman of moviemartyr.com wrote:
One of the supreme suspense films, René Clair’s And Then There Were None combines the glamour and wit of a Hollywood studio production with a considerable amount of very real suspense. Adapted from an Agatha Christie novel (Ten Little Indians), it tells the story of a group of strangers who are invited to stay at an island estate only to find out that they are being eliminated one by one according to the predictions of a nursery rhyme that they find. By making a game of the treachery and never actually showing any of the murders on-screen, Clair achieves the same delicate balance between tension and breeziness that Hitchcock strived for in films such as To Catch a Thief and Family Plot. The production values are top notch, and the cast of relatively unknown character actors assembled keeps us from guessing whodunit right off the bat. Continue reading
Orpheus (French: Orphée) is a 1949 French film directed by Jean Cocteau and starring Jean Marais. This film is the central part of Cocteau’s Orphic Trilogy, which consists of The Blood of a Poet (1930), Orpheus (1949) and Testament of Orpheus (1960). The trilogy has been released as a DVD boxed set by The Criterion Collection.
Set in contemporary Paris, the movie is a variation of the classic Greek myth of Orpheus. At the Café des Poètes a brawl is staged by acolytes of the Princess (Casares) and the young poet Cègeste (Edouard Dermithe), the rival of Orpheus the poet, is killed. Cègeste is taken to the car of the princess by her associates, and Orpheus is asked to accompany them as a witness. They drive to a chateau (the landscape through the car windows are presented in negative) acompanied by abstract poetry on the radio. This takes the form of seemingly meaningless messages which are like those broadcast to the French Resistance from London during the Occupation. Continue reading
The year is 1974. A group of five close friends are heading through the back roads of Texas en route to their grandfather’s potentially vandalized grave. Among them are Sally Hardesty, and her invalid brother Franklin. They encounter an unpleasant hitchhiker (Neal) who slashes both himself & Franklin with a wicked-looking knife. The others manage to eject the hitchhiker from the vehicle, but shortly after wards, they are forced to stop & wander over to a small, sinister clapboard house nearby in hopes for gas. What none of them realize is that this house is the home of the ghoulish Leatherface (Hansen) and his evil, demented family of cannibalistic psychopaths. One at a time, the teens are murdered by the evil Leatherface in horrifying ways. Sally soon finds herself an involuntary guest at Leatherface’s home, and flees into the night to escape the demented cannibal and his loudly-buzzing chainsaw. Can she escape the grim fate that befell her friends & brother? Based on the terrifying true story of Ed Gein Continue reading
“Her name is Jo Armitage, and at the beginning of the movie she’s wandering aimlessly around her comfortable London house, dressed to go shopping but too moody and distracted to make it out the door. Flashbacks reveal some of her history. Years earlier she lived in a ramshackle barn with her second husband, a violinist named Giles, and their five rambunctious children. One day Giles invited his friend Jake to visit, and amid all the tumult in the crowded, noisy home, Jo and Jake fell instantly in love. Typically for the film, which moves at a leisurely pace but doesn’t waste a moment on unnecessary material, we skip over the dissolution of Jo’s marriage to Giles and pick up her story as she and Jake get ready to tie the knot. Jake is a screenwriter trying to establish his career, and while he’s obviously crazy about Jo, it’s not clear he’s equipped to handle the five energetic kids who come along with her. Sure enough, he starts finding reasons for working away from home, and when a friend-of-a-friend named Philpot needs a place to stay, Jake not only lets her move in but has an affair with her. Jo grows so depressed that when she finally does go shopping on that gloomy day, she breaks down in the middle of a posh department store and winds up in a mental hospital. Continue reading
A fevered yet clinical study of jealousy, Leave Her to Heaven is probably John M. Stahl’s best-known film. In many ways, it is far removed from the sober, intense concentration of Stahl’s major and underseen ’30s soap operas; his early movies were deliberately plain and spare, while Leave Her to Heaven is overpoweringly artificial and rococo, with intimations of neurotic fantasies churning away underneath its lacquered, rotogravure images. Immediately pulsing with the thumping drums of Alfred Newman’s stormy score, the film proceeds very slowly at first, as Stahl builds a dreamlike Technicolor atmosphere around his three leads, Gene Tierney, Cornel Wilde, and Jeanne Crain. These actors are eerily one-dimensional, and Stahl uses their limitations as performers to his advantage, making them look like sleepwalkers in a sort of Life magazine nightmare. Continue reading
SYNOPSIS: Upon Prince Myshkin’s return to St. Petersburg from an asylum in Switzerland, he becomes beguiled by the lovely young Aglaya, daughter of a wealthy father. But his deepest emotion is for the wanton, Nastasia. The choices all are forced to make lead to great tragedy.
In the period 1955-60 some absolutely incredible movies were made in the Soviet Union. This is no exception. Based on the classic novel, the script of course holds masterpiece quality. Visually, it’s also a masterpiece. The music is one of the most dramatic soundtracks I’ve heard. And not least, Yuliya Borisova in the role of Nastasia Philippovna gives the most charismatic acting performance I’ve ever seen. Throughout the movie I simply couldn’t wait for her to get into the frame again whenever absent. I’ve never ever been this hypnotised by an actor or an actress before (and I’ve actually given that careful thought). The other actors also give stellar performances. As the events unfolded, I felt this movie pushed the script to its ultimate limits. At the end, you will find yourself filled up with uncontrolled emotions that you don’t even know the name of. The movie is so dramatic that some people may find it unrealistic, but I assure you: these characters are out there in the real world, and this play may have relevance to anyone’s life. At some point, most people with brains will seek out this story. My tip is, don’t read the book. Don’t see any theatre play or movie based on it but this one. Though the movie may take a lifetime to find – *it’s worth it*! Continue reading