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Le genou de Claire (1970)
The cinematic equivalent of being in a flotation tank
How does Rohmer get away with it? I don't just mean making the films, but how do they get to become regarded as classics? This film has nothing meaningful to say about anything whatsoever. Not only do these characters not exist within your life; they don't exist anywhere. As often with French films the word 'love' becomes interchangeable with passion or just simply fancying someone to the point where it becomes pointless even using the term.
Brialy's lead 'performance' as Jerome comes across as if Rohmer simply shouted the lines out to him before he said 'action'. I know it's the 70's but please! Jerome's sub Jason King wardrobe with a full beard! And were supposed to believe he is attractive to so many women, including the beautiful 16 year old school girl Laura (Romand gives the only interesting performance despite the material she's given to work with). The pacing is so poor, it makes Manos: The Hand of Fate seem like Hard-Boiled.
At one point, I started to deliberately sit in an awkward position to see if my ulcer would start playing up as a way of introducing some tension and drama into the experience. Rohmer's indifference to his audience is summed up by the scene where Brialy relates in detail to his author friend Aurora (Cornu who seems to think she's acting in a kids TV programme) all the events that we have just seen IN DETAIL in the last bloody scene.
If you passed a camera, some film stock, a couple of lights, a tape recorder and a pen and paper to the next 7 people who passed your door (even if they were an old woman with a shopping basket, 2 four year old boys, a tramp, your mum, the wag man and an escaped convict) and gave them two weeks to knock something together. They would still come back with something more interesting, engaging and most importantly more meaningful than this.
Cinematography was pleasant.
Doctor Who: An Unearthly Child (1963)
Genuine sense of mystery
Perhaps the most important 20 minutes of TV drama ever. FACT!!!! Much of early sixties 'classic' TV comes across as stilted to a modern audience but the Doctor's debut still manages to engage, largely by making the Doctor a mysterious and somewhat menacing figure.
Hartnell's performance here is strong with little sign of his later awkward memory lapses and trips. The mind-blowing concepts of time travel and trans-dimensional engineering (although not named as such) are treated with the awe and respect they deserve through the reactions of unwilling companions Ian and Barbara. Unlike later years where Tardis occupants would just seem to take it in their stride.
Do try to catch the alternate pilot version if you get a chance. The Doctor is even nastier and Susan even more space cadet!
Keeps up the tight pace
Although he features in episode one, this is the episode where we really get to grips with Davros. He is clearly modelled on a Dr Mengele-type figure but instead of just being ugly on the inside his twisted form is an expression of his twisted ideology. Hey! but don't let that put you off, this episode is great fun, moving along at a fair clip.
The situation becomes more tricky for our heroes as The Doctor and Harry are separated from their time-ring (and thus unable to get back to the Tardis) and poor Sarah Jane has her own adventures with Mutos, Thals and Distropic weaponry. The freeze frame cliff-hanger is particularly effective.
A wonderfully striking atmospheric opening to this thoughtful-six parter. The principles are on fine form with top honours going to Baker who was by now starting to find his form in the role.
Nation again turns to WWII Nazi ideology and trappings for inspiration but whereas in the past he has attempted a degree of subtlety, here his references are explicit and blatant and all the more effective for it. WWII would have still been fresh in the memory for many of the mid seventies teatime audience catching this fresh off the back of the football results and I suspect this episode would have resonated a lot more than one would expect for a 'childrens' TV show.
I pity the 6 year old me back in 1975 having to wait an whole week for part 2!!!