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Umberto D. (1952)
Saw this for the first time last night
...and was blown away. This is now one of my top 10.
This film, to me, is pure cinematic perfection. Stunning, understated camera work, beautiful, subtle lighting, photographic crispness, a complete lack of Hollywood moralizing (except, maybe, the character of the landlady), an equal attention to what's NOT said or done, as opposed to making everything so bloody obvious, and, of course, the story.
The ending seems to have been subsequently used after for other films like "Nights of Cabiria" (and the subsequent "Sweet Charity") in its ambiguity and lack of closure.
The scenes at the dog kennel are so incredibly moving without trying to "tug at your heartstrings." and the scene with the train and the dog's immediate unforgiving nature really strike a chord. This film remedies for me what I find so troubling about Chaplin efforts like "City Lights" and "Limelight." There's something so false about the Chaplin characterizations and they seem designed to force "aahhh"s from the audience. This is the real McCoy and the relationships seem so unstrained and real.
I especially loved the friendship between the servant girl and the old man. Again, no moralizing. Each seems stuck in their own set of circumstances and help each other as much as they can and no more, though its obvious that they respect each other enough to understand that, without saying it, they each have lives to lead. We all have our own problems.
I was most struck at how subtle the camera seems to float, pan and track without being obtrusive or obvious. The scene that's shot through the hole in the adjacent room to his and the slow track seems symbolic of so much of the film. Every single element serves the story and the characters.
FYI - according to something I read, the dog's name is "Flick" (pronounced "Flyke").
Sometimes a dog is enough.
Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974)
Trio is airing them again
I just taped 4 episodes off of the Trio network's "Brilliant but Cancelled" series (don't we LOVE them?).
This series holds so many memories of sleepless nights for me wondering when "The Black Knight" would come crashing through my window swinging his mace at me, or if I could outrun Jack the Ripper in time to electrify the pond, or if I would suddenly get old and die doing sit-ups because of some curse that made me age years in seconds.
This show didn't completely hold up for me and now the swamp monster just looks like a man in a suit made of wet yarn. The beauty of this show was in the atmosphere and the narration ("Evelyn Carmichael was having trouble staying awake. She should have concentrated on staying alive.") and in the chemistry between Kolchak & Vincenzo and their "Muppet Show"-like embarrassment about working for such a lousy news service.
One note: Imagine my disappointment when I took the underground Seattle tour, only to find out that it looked nothing like it did in "the Night Strangler".
Great show! This and "A Christmas Story" prove that Darren McGavin is the best actor alive.