5 items from 2012
A father, worried sick that his wife may be dead, walks his son and daughter across a rain-slicked square, while a long line of black-clad children from an orphanage snakes past them in the other direction. The bars of a castle-shaped birdcage, which has been the backdrop for a bitter quarrel between an aristocrat and his middle-aged mistress, gives way to a shot of a mountaintop hotel crisscrossed by countless panes of glass. A man and woman on the verge of an affair walk through an empty seaside house that evokes both their waning marriages and the life they will never have together.
Those are three moments from the three movies in Eclipse's set, Jean Grémillon During the Occupation: Le ciel est à vous, Lumière d'été and Remorques. This DVD release marks an extraordinary stroke of luck for those who, like me, had barely heard of this director. How often does anyone encounter, »
Every time I watch a Jean Grémillon film I feel compelled to write about the experience here. Either the films are excellent, like Gueule d'amour, or they're something more than that, like Maldone or La petite Lise—attempts to reinvent cinema or to send the talking picture spinning off into a new direction.
Daïnah la métisse (1932) shows Gremillon still pushing the expressive possibilities of sound cinema that he had opened up in the poorly-received La petite Lise. If the rejection of that first talkie, regarded as both too seedy and downbeat and too experimental and strange, caused him to rethink his approach, there's little evidence here, since Daïnah is a tragic tale delivered with a similarly somnambular pace, making free use of unexpected angles and a bold approach to both sound effects and narrative. It's as if Grémillon trusted the world to come around to his way of looking at things. »
DVD Release Date: July 24, 2012
Price: DVD $44.95
The Criterion Collection continued its love affair with the great filmmakers of France with Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation, a selection of three film dramas and romances.
Though little known outside of France, Jean Grémillon was a consummate filmmaker from his country’s golden age. A classically trained violinist who discovered cinema as a young man when his orchestra was hired to accompany silent movies, he went on to make almost fifty films—which ranged from documentaries to avant-garde works to melodramas with major stars—in a career that started in the mid-1920s and didn’t end until the late 1950s. Three of his richest films came during a dire period in French history: Remorques was begun in 1939 but finished and released after Germany invaded France, »
The fourth in a short series celebrating the films of the Pathé-Natan company, 1926-1934.
Apart from the innovative films of Gremillon and Ozep, and the super-epics of Raymond Bernard (available from Criterion), Pathé-Natan produced a lot of slick commercial properties decorated with much the same kind of melodrama and glamor as Hollywood movies of the era.
L'équipage (1935) was one of the last Pathé-Natan productions before the studio went bankrupt amid charges of swindling and mismanagement, and they spent lavishly on it. By now, the influx of German talent that had contributed much to the style of French cinema had become a massive flood, as the Nazis had banned Jews from working in cinema. A talent exodus resulted, and Paris was the first stop for nearly everybody. And so Anatole Litvak, eventually bound for Hollywood, pitched up in the City of Light, where, for instance, he made Mayerling »
Chicago – It’s not often that a film critic gets to write something this blunt and not feel like it’s hyperbole — One of the best films of all time is coming out in Chicago theaters this weekend. A remastered print of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s amazing “The Wages of Fear” will be playing at the Music Box Theatre starting Friday, January 20th, 2012. Be there.
I’m lucky enough to have amassed a significant collection of classic films in the decade I’ve been covering DVD and Blu-ray and, naturally, my Criterion Collection titles are among my most coveted. Within that group, the edition for Clouzot’s “The Wages of Fear” holds a particularly special place. This is a stunning film, of the same caliber as his more-well-known “Diabolique,” which he would make only two years later (and is also available from Criterion). Released in the United States almost exactly 56 years ago, »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
5 items from 2012
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