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The Hill (1965)
Top-notch prison movie
Sidney Lumet really knows how to use the camera to tell a story; his innovative, almost experimental, techniques of The Pawnbroker (1964) were followed up in The Hill -- you have to admire the long tracking shots at the start of the film and then around the middle of the film he uses jump cuts; it is brilliant. Even in Lumet's recent work like Find Me Guilty you can see he is trying something new with the cinematography and composition of his shots for his courtroom scenes with dozens of defendants and their lawyers. Lumet is able to invent new ways of doing things when necessary for the particular film. Filmmakers understand this (for example, Kimberly Peirce adapted his technique in The Pawnbroker when she made Boys Don't Cry) but critics and the public have not given Lumet his due.
The new DVD release of The Hill looks great -- very sharp black and white cinematography of the Sahara Desert. Like most great prison movies, this story concerns morality and power. Sean Connery, Ossie Davis, and Harry Andrews give terrific performances. I did have to turn on the subtitles because some of the accents were impenetrable.
Metallic Blues (2004)
An engaging film, humorous but with a dark side
I saw this at the Vancouver International Film Festival, and strongly recommend the film. The plot concerns two Israelis who purchase a classic Cadillac in Tel Aviv, and then ship the car to Germany where they expect to sell it at a substantial profit. Driving the car through Germany, during Chanukah, things don't go as planned. The relationship between the two friends provides for various comic situations; meanwhile Shmuel, whose parents survived the Holocaust, must come to terms with his family history as the drama inside his mind contrasts modern-day Germany with that of sixty years ago. All of the actors do a great job, and the film's editing carries it along well to its dramatic conclusion.