2 items from 2011
Pyshka, 1934, directed by Mikhail Romm. Romm was an intermittently successful Soviet filmmaker who toed the line, making two biopics of Lenin. The fact that Pyshka was sonorized in 1955, with a voice-over, score and sound effects added, suggests that he was still well-regarded then. Romm had a fantastic eye for composition, light, and character. I don't know too much or have too much to say about him, but I think these images speak for themselves, and it's probable that his own Wwi experience informs the shots of dead soldiers that begin the story, by far the movie's most vivid sequence.
Pyshka is adapted from Guy de Maupassant's story Boule de Suif, which has an interesting cinematic history. One of Maupassant's semi-propagandist works dealing with the Franco-Prussian war, it's been bent to the purposes of a number of different filmmakers, nations, and era.
Basically, the story tells of a party »
Acknowledging Apache Drums (1951) as the forgotten Val Lewton movie, we must also acknowledge that it's not quite as special as Cat People or Isle of the Dead or any of the others in the chiller cycle, but it does bear comparison with the lesser-known Mademoiselle Fifi and it certainly beats the pants off of Youth Runs Wild.
If the conservative nature of the western format reins in some of Lewton's more sophisticated tendencies, it also allows others to stand out in bold relief, and if director Hugo Fregonese is no Jacques Tourneur, nor even a Mark Robson, he's a perfectly amicable journeyman.
Admitting a certain B-movie banality, what's striking is how Lewton is able to continue his preoccupations into what might seem an alien genre, so that Apache Drums resembles, at numerous times, a supernatural/psychological horror movie, in which the horror is dually located in the American Indian "other, »
2 items from 2011
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