As the Allies march toward Paris in the summer of 1944, Hitler gives orders that the French capital should not fall into enemy hands, or if it does, then ‘only as a field of rubble’. The person assigned to carry out this barbaric act is Wehrmacht commander of Greater Paris, General Dietrich von Choltitz, who already has mines planted on the Eiffel Tower, in the Louvre and Notre Dame and on the bridges over the Seine. Nothing should be left as a reminder of the city’s former glory. However, at dawn on 25 August, Swedish Consul General Raoul Nordling steals into German headquarters through a secret underground tunnel and there starts a tension-filled game of cat and mouse as Nordling tries to persuade Choltitz to abandon his plan. Continue reading
Like Tolstoy’s novel, this epic-length War and Peace is rough going, but worth the effort. Winner of the 1969 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and widely considered the most faithful adaptation of Tolstoy’s classic, Sergei Bondarchuk’s massive Soviet-Italian coproduction was seven years in the making, at a record-setting cost of $100 million.
Bondarchuk himself plays the central role of Pierre Bezukhov, buffeted by fate during Russia’s tumultuous Napoleonic Wars, serving as pawn and philosopher through some of the most astonishing set pieces ever filmed.
Bondarchuk is a problematic director: interior monologues provide awkward counterpoint to intimate dramas, weaving together the many classes and characters whose lives are permanently affected by war.
Infusions of ’60s-styled imagery clash with the film’s period detail; it’s an anomalous experiment that doesn’t really work. Undeniably, however, the epic battle scenes remain breathtakingly unique; to experience the sheer scale of this film is to realize that such cinematic extravagance will never be seen again. Continue reading
“…Two spotter pilots for a Japanese fish canning plant crash land on a deserted island where both Godzilla and
Anguirus are already engaged in mortal combat. During the fight the two titans plunge into the sea and
disappear leaving the two onlookers amazed at what they had both witnessed. Would anybody believe their
The Japanese scientific community could take no chances. The two pilots were questioned thoroughly and
asked to identify the monsters from a pile of sketches of known prehistoric creatures. The scientist’s worst fears
would become reality. One of the creatures was indeed another Godzilla and the other an equally beast
Anguirus. Tokyo was destroyed by just one of these monsters. How could Japan defend itself against two…”
Synopsis : At the end of the Warsaw uprising, the few remaining groups of Polish resistance are collapsing under the German onslaught. After taking heavy casualties, the 43 men and women fighters of Lt. Zadra (Wienczyslaw Glinski) are ordered back into the center of the city via the only route not completely controlled by the Germans, the sewers…
The defiantly independent French director Jean-Pierre Melville was an outsider by choice. He financed his films outside of the studio system and built his own studio for maximum independence. He loved American cinema and made his reputation with a brilliant series of cool gangster thrillers, beginning with elegant, elegiac Bob le Flambeur (1955) and culminating in the austere masterpiece Le Samourai (1967), with Alain Delon as an existential assassin, and the heist classic Le Cercle Rouge (1970).
Army of Shadows, adapted from the 1943 novel by Joseph Kessel about the early years of the French Resistance, is the third of Melville’s three dramas set during the Nazi occupation of France in World War II (after his debut feature, La Silence de la Mer , and his 1961 drama Leon Morin, Priest), but by far his most personal. During World War II, Melville was himself a member of the Resistance, worked for French intelligence in London, and served in the Free French forces in the liberation of Italy and France. “This is my first movie showing things I’ve actually known and experienced,” Melville told Rui Nogueria in Nogueria’s 1971 interview book with the director. Kessler’s book is a work of fiction, but the characters were inspired by real life figures. Continue reading
London, 1949. John Christie is an unassuming, middle aged man who, along with his wife Ethel, manages the apartment building at 10 Rillington Place. His unassuming demeanor masks the fact of being a serial killer. His modus operandi is to act as a person with a medical background, lure unsuspecting women to his apartment on the pretense of curing them of some ailment, knock them unconscious with carbon monoxide gas, gain his sexual release through contact with the unconscious body, then strangle the victim dead before disposing of the body usually by burying it in his back yard. His next intended target is Beryl Evans, a young woman who has just moved into a flat in his building. Beryl’s husband, Tim Evans, is an illiterate man who likes to put on airs. Already with an infant daughter named Geraldine, the Evanses learn they are going to have another baby, which they cannot afford to have, nor can they afford to abort the pregnancy. This problem, on top of the constant issue of lack of…
It is the Second World War. The Nazis have invaded Britain. There is a split between the resistance and those who prefer to collaborate with the invaders for a quiet life. The protagonist, a nurse, is caught in the middle.
British film historian Kevin Brownlow was all of 18 when he conceived the idea for this alternate-history film depicting what life in London would have been like if Nazi troops had conquered England in July 1940. Along with his friend and collaborator Andrew Mollo (only 16 at the time), he took eight years to piece the film together using borrowed equipment and begging scraps of film stock from established filmmakers such as Stanley Kubrick. The result owes much to Brownlow’s penchant for silent films (he authored a classic text on the subject entitled The Parade’s Gone By), and possibly to Italian neorealism, since the semidocumentary style bows in that direction. Good thing, too. The documentary feel captivates the viewer. The story follows an Everybrit named Pauline as she grows from complacence and resignation over the Nazi occupation of England to when she becomes a nurse for the Nazis and realizes the true horror of her and England’s situation. Brownlow’s pure desire for authenticity makes the film more chilling than it would otherwise have been. For instance, on the film’s initial release, Jewish groups objected to a sequence involving a real-life fascist of the time, Colin Jordan, spouting his opinion of Jews and euthanasia. They feared people wouldn’t pick up on the film’s anti-Nazi stance, and would therefore take the comments seriously. So seven minutes of footage were cut that have now been restored, making the film scarier than ever