Saturday, November 29, 2008
In a town in Sicily in World War 2, beautiful Malèna is left by her husband who goes to war. She is brought by her husband to this town with his deaf father, a professor who teaches in a local school. I think the director exaggerates the jealousy of the townspeople. I cannot believe that none of them can be nice to her. The men are too afraid of their wives to come near her, and the women are filled with jealousy. None hires her, and with a malicious letter they makes her father leaves his job at the school. Malèna becomes a prostitute and serves the German soldiers. Only Amoroso Renato, a 12 year old boy who likes Malèna knows the truth: Malèna is always faithful to her husband, even when he is reported to be death.
It is better for Malèna if she leaves the town immediately after her husband starts for war. They are cruel to her. Her life will be better if she goes back to her hometown because without her husband, a beautiful stranger there is treated very unfairly. After Malèna cut his hair and dyed it red, she looks more beautiful. She is not happy, though. There is a tear in her eye when men around her offer a light for her cigarette. The men in the town are too afraid of their wives, even to help her when she is being beaten on the street. None comes forward to cover her nakedness.
Friday, November 28, 2008
I would have thought Véra Clouzot is younger than Simone Signoret, which made me wonder why Signoret is cast as the mistress and not vice versa; but after checking IMDb, I found I was wrong. It must be Clouzot's little fragile body which made her look younger than her actual age. Near the end, the suspense is almost unbearable, the tense is too high, that I feel my heart is as weak as the sick wife. The inspector is rather annoying, for he seems to appear anywhere, including in Christina's (the wife) room; and we see the concierge complains how people can get in and out without his knowledge.
The scariest thing for me is when Nicole (the mistress) shows Christina a mysterious face who appears in the window on the photograph. At this point, I hoped I was watching not a horror movie, but only a thriller. The ending is also eerie: the boy says Christina gives him back the slingshot... and he looks serious.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Bruno Wolkowitch is great as Lagardère and I also like Florence Pernel as Inès, who looks more beautiful in close-up. Based on Paul Féval novel entitled 'Le Bossu' (The Hunchback) because Lagardère disguises himself as one to enter Gonzague's residence. He gets the idea after meeting again an ex-farmer who once received his help. When Lagardère still services the Duke of Nevers, a farmer asks the Duke for more time to pay his tax. Lagardère persuades the Duke to return the farmer's cattle. After the death of Nevers, Gonzague takes the Duke's land and his people beats the poor farmer when he cannot pay his tax. They breaks so many bones in his body that he becomes a hunchback. I hear there are lots of changes, from the book to this version. I haven't read the book, but find this movie very enjoyable.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
In his despair, for the loss of the bike means the loss of the good job, Ricci even visits a fortune teller. In earlier scene we see he reproves his wife for doing so. The fortune teller doesn't give him a solution anyway, for she cannot tell him where to find the stolen bike, as he expected. Later, Ricci almost thinks that he has lost Bruno when he hears someone is drowning. Knowing that his son is okay, he celebrates by taking Bruno to a restaurant. Ricci buys for them expensive meals, because he realizes Bruno is more precious to him than money. The ending is very moving. Again, driven by despair, Ricci only know that he must have a bicycle at any cost. On the other hand, Bruno's eyes are opened, and he sees that the father he adores is only human as well.
Friday, November 21, 2008
This movie begins with adult Toto, played by Jacques Perrin, now a successful film director, receives a phone call from his mother telling him that Alfredo (Philippe Noiret), the old projectionist, has died, and that the funeral will be held the next day. It's been 30 years since Toto left Sicily. We then see the flashbacks,: friendship between little Toto and Alfredo, and Toto's affair in 1955 with the beautiful Elena. The characters in this movie seem so real and convincing. Here and there we can see daily life of the Sicilians. After watching the documentary 'Giuseppe Tornatore: A Dream of Sicily', it's no wonder; the director is an observant man, and for years he has been watching and filming what Sicilians do. It's true what he says: Cinema is a time machine and a spaceship that can take you travel through time and space.
I love watching the old movie clips and try to identify them, as many as possible: The Gold Rush, La Terra Trema, Ulysses, Les bas-fonds, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, ... and beautiful actress Silvana Mangano singing and dancing. Also very moving is the last scene, where Toto watches a movie given by late Alfredo: a montage of kissing scenes censored on the demand of the local priest who always watches the movies before they are presented to the villagers. I like the continuous scene where Alfredo replaces the 50 lire 'lost' by little Toto, Toto and his mother leave, and suddenly appears this homeless man from the corner of the screen and yells that the square is his. Ennio Morricone did the soundtrack, what more can you ask? I'm also impressed by little actor Salvatore Cascio who plays little Toto.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Max Ophüls's Madame de... starts with Louise, wife of a general, who sells her earrings, which her husband gave her after their wedding, because she needs money. She tells the general that she has lost them at the opera. The next day the news about the theft appears on newspaper. The jeweler who bought them reads it and tells the general the truth. The general buys the earrings back, but gives them to his mistress, who soon will have to sell them for money. Time goes on, and Louise meets Baron Donati who gives her the very earrings as a token of love. In the beginning, we see Louise chooses among her belongings, and the earrings are the ones she loves the less. However, after Donati gives them to her, we see that they have become her most precious possession, that she persuades the jeweler to hold them for her until she gets the money to buy them back by selling some of her furs.
The development of the relationship among the general, Donati and Louise is well depicted. Both Donati and Louise only flirt at first, but as they meet regularly in parties and always dance together, something starts to grow and Louise decides to go away. The general still means a lot to her. The music, sets, and costumes are wonderful.
The DVD contains an interview with director Alain Jessua, who at that time worked as one of the director's assistants in Madame de... He keeps the placard bearing the sign "Don de Madame de" which appears in the end of the movie.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
This book by Clive Cussler & Paul Kemprecos is an adventure story, about the search of Queen Seba's tomb and the treasure of King Solomon. The ending is not what you think, but the searching process is a real challenge, complete with conspiracy and a dangerous hitman.
The movie is about 3 hours long, but from start to finish it's very emotional. Judge Haywood tries his best to understand why the 4 judges, especially Janning, did what they did. I like Haywood. In Deux hommes dans la ville, Cazeneuve says something like, "Justice must understand the man it judges." The standard of justice can be different to every man, so one must really understand the reason first. Haywood spends his time to read Janning's books and later he befriends a widow of a late high ranked officer in military, Mrs Bertholt (Marlene Dietrich), who tells him that Hitler hated her husband and Janning.
Among the solid cast, I'm really impressed with Maximilian Schell (Rolfe) and Montgomery Clift, who plays one of the witnesses, a mental retarded man. This movie is very good and I hope in the future writers can create dialogues as excellent as in this movie. Sometimes I think movies based on real facts have better plots than fictional stories.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
"How long does it take to make a man? How long does it take to destroy him?"
This is a haunting movie about the victims of war. The main character is Antonin, a pigeon post trainer. In 1919, he becomes one of the interesting cases in the psychiatrist ward in a hospital for Professor Labrousse, a pioneer in the treatment of war trauma. Antonin doesn't suffer amnesia, but he can only mutters five names, each with different obsessive movements. He also never looks anyone in the eye.
The opening credit shows the victims of WW1 - those who was still living, but their conditions were no better than the deads. In the movie there is a moving scene where the doctor examines the injured soldiers and chooses which ones he will try to save and which ones will be left to die. "He has a letter from his wife. She has just born a baby." The doctor answers, "I need four hours to save his life. Leave him. I need 1 hour to operate this one, 1 hour for that one, and 2 hours for that one. I can save three instead of one."
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Michel Poiccard steals a car and shoots a police who follows him. Hunted, he stays with his American girlfriend, Patricia, while looking for his friend who owes him money so that they can escape to Italy.
So far, from all movies with Belmondo I have seen, I like Léon Morin, prêtre the best.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Normally I don't like movies where the characters speak their dialogues in poetry, like Shakespeare's, for example. However, Cyrano is different. First, the cinematography is breathtakingly beautiful. Second, the main character is a truly a poet and in this case, he has to win Roxane's heart with beautiful words. That makes sense, then, and that poetry is a must in this movie. It's also fun to watch Gérard Depardieu. My sister always laughs when she sees him on screen; she always identifies him as Obélix.
Cyrano is admired by many, but he despises himself because of his enormous nose. He loves his beautiful cousin Roxane, but when he is about to tell her about his feeling, Roxane tells him that she falls in love with the handsome Christian, a new cadet in his regiment. Roxane asks him to take care of Christian and say to Christian to write to her. The problem is, Christian is too stupid to write. Cyrano then writes on behalf of Christian and in that way, what Roxane reads is actually Cyrano's feeling for her. Roxane and Christian are later married, but on the wedding night the regiment must go to a war against the Spain (Battle of Arras). During the war, Cyrano never fails to cross the dangerous border twice a day to mail his letters to Roxane. Christian dies in the war, broken hearted, because he realizes that Roxane falls in love to whoever writes the love letters, and it is obviously not him. Fourteen years later, Roxane still mourns for Christian and lives in a convent. Every Saturday faithful Cyrano visits her and brings her news and gossips. On a fatal Saturday, a beam falls onto Cyrano's head and he is badly injured, but he still can keep his promise to visit Roxane as usual, and it is then when Roxane finally learns the truth that Cyrano is the one she really loves.
Interesting what the screenwriter/director (I can't remember which one, but it was in the DVD's Special Features) said, that Roxane finds the perfect man: intelligent, handsome, strong... but the problem is: he is of 2 men.