Sat, 28 February 2015
We'll linger a little longer on Italian neorealism with a film by another one of the movement's proponents, Michelangelo Antonioni.
When it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, L'avventura was jeered at by the audience, probably because during the entirety of its almost two-and-a-half-hours running time it has only the bare semblance of a plot. However, critics and filmmakers later embraced the film as something new and ambitious, and by the 1980's it may have unwittingly become one of the most influential films of all time. Antonioni's sixth film and his first to reach critical success, it's a masterpiece of cinema and something that (for me anyways) should probably be seen more than once to appreciate the scope of what was created.
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Sat, 21 February 2015
Luchino Visconti was known for dabbling with neorealism, but Senso mixed his love of the opera and melodrama with the film movement that his name is attached to.
Italy's first Technicolor film, Senso is a love story set during the Austrian occupation of Venice in the 1860's. The film is a visual feast, with sweeping setpieces that reflect Visconti's love of the opera. Alida Valli and Farley Granger (whose English was dubbed into Italian for the film's Italian release) give stellar performances as the leads, particularly Valli, who won a Golden Globe for her effort. This is another title currently readily available on Blu-Ray and DVD from the Criterion Collection; viewing the heavily-cut American version of the film from the disc's special features is to experience an exercise of how not to edit a film.
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Sat, 14 February 2015
Continuing with the theme of Holocaust dramas (yes, each film really is drawn at random), we jump back three years to 1987 and Louis Malle's Au revoir les enfants.
This story of secrets, innocence, and eventually mistaken betrayal is one of my undiscovered favorites so far on this podcast, and is sadly one of Malle's final films before his death of lymphoma in 1995. This story of a French schoolboy who slowly learns that his best friend is a Jew sheltered by the schoolmaster is provacative, sad, and mesmerizing. It would go on to win the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. Au revoir les enfants is currently avaialble on Blu-Ray and DVD via the Criterion Collection.
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Sat, 7 February 2015
Film is not exactly rife with female Polish directors, which makes Agnieszka Holland exceptional. She focused primarily on television and documentary work before writing and directing the epic Europa Europa.
Dozens of films have been made about the Holocaust but, as The Washington Post put it, "[there are] only a handful as passionate, as subtly intelligent, as universal as this one." Europa Europa tells the true story of Salomon Perel, a Jewish boy who finds himself jumping from the frying pan into the fire after he accidentally enlists in the German army and moves from one situation to another to hide his identity and escape alive. Not to be confused with the Lars von Trier film Europa, the film is available on DVD, although scrupulous purchasers might consider buying a used copy: a new copy is currently available for about $65 on Amazon.
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