Saturday, May 26, 2012

La bataille du rail (1946)

No matter what kind of job you have, you can always give contribution to your country; I think that's what this movie wants to say. I had wanted to watch this movie for along time because I love director René Clément's works, but the DVD price had never been on discount. Last week I found that this was shown on TV, but I found it too late and only watched it about 15 minutes. So last night I stayed up until 2 a.m. to watch while it's being re-shown. The Battle of the Rails tells about French railroad workers vs Nazi Germans during the occupation. They do anything to create problems for the Germans: send false reports, bomb railroad, ambush trains, prevent trains to leave France, sabotage, etc.

When I saw parts of it last week, I thought it was a war movie in a light tone. Like in a scene when a German officer shouted to a railroad worker to get a crane, the worker shouted back. Compare this to Amon Goeth in Schindler's List. Amon Goeth is so easy to shot people and for him, life of people - other than Germans - doesn't count. No one dare to shout at Amon Goeth. However, when I watched the Battle of the Rails last night in whole, I saw that the movie had at least 2 haunting moments: 1) when the Germans lined up the sabotageurs and shot them all one by one, and 2) when the Resistance tried to overcome the weapon train. The battle was so heavy. There was this French man who had been shot and tried to crawl over the creek to save himself, he could safely reach the woods, only to be flatten by a tank.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

L'enfer (2009)

The movie was never finished in 1964, so this is 'only' a documentary. The movie could have been a breakthrough, but director Henri-Georges Clouzot, who got unlimited budget, kept making experiments. The lead actor, Serge Reggiani, finally walked away. Shortly after, Clouzot himself got a heart attack in the shooting location, while filming a scene of his two lead actresses, Romy Schneider and Dany Carrel, embracing each other. The project was never continued.

The story focuses on a husband's jealousy over his beautiful wife. It seemed Clouzot wanted to use distorted images, bizzare colour, and disturbing soundtrack. The movie is shot in black and white for normal scenes; and colour is used to portray the husband's wild imagination of his wife's betrayal. It's quite interesting, really. The couple lives near a railway and the train comes at a certain hour. The sound of the train triggers the husband to play with his jealous mind.

The documentary presents costume tests, interviews with the director, a selection of Clouzot's experiments, and scenes shot with the cast. The scenes with the cast are without sound/dialogues, but thankfully Jacques Gamblin and Bérénice Bejo read the most important dialogues for us.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

L'amant de lady Chatterley (1955)

I watched this last night on TV5 and liked it very much. I have seen the 2006 version with Marina Hands, but that new version contains a big portion of nudity that I lost the meaning of the story.

This 1955 black-and-white version, directed by Marc Allégret, more focuses on the story--> of course in the 50's they couldn't portray nudity as free as nowadays. According to Wikipedia, even this version was banned from the United States. Danielle Darrieux plays Constance/Lady Chatterley. Her husband, a rich landowner named Clifford, returns from war as an invalid man. He wants a son who can inherit his land in the future and tells his wife to find a lover so she can be pregnant. At first, Constance disagree, but after she meets their gamekeeper, Mellors, she gradually falls in love with him. Mellors returns her feeling. When Constance's sister and husband know who her lover is, they are upset. It's okay to have a lover, but why with the gamekeeper? She should have picked someone from her own class. They believe Constance has lowered her down by doing so. Sir Clifford sacks the gamekeeper, but wants to keep Constance's baby. At this point, Constance has loved Mellors so much that she decides to leave Clifford, go with Mellors, and take the unborn baby.

The movie is filled with dialogues which run smoothly. Erno Crisa, who plays Mellors, is very handsome; makes it believable that Constance can love him even though he is only a gamekeeper.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Never Look Away

The story in Never Look Away by Linwood Barclay is full of action. I think it's very appropriate to make into a Hollywood action movie, but it's not my kind of book. The plot is not as complicated as I had expected. I have to admit that it's a page turner, though.

David Harwood, a journalist in Promise Falls, New York, lives happily with his beautiful wife, Jan, and their 4 year old son, Ethan. On that fatal day, they go to the amusement park. David leaves them both to buy ice cream and while his wife looks away, his son is gone - probably being kidnapped. He and his wife then spread to find him. David finds his son, but this time, Jan never comes to the meeting point. Where has she gone? The police think David killed his wife and hid the body somewhere. The proofs all point to David as the killer, but when a dead body turns up, it's not Jan's, but her co-worker's. Realized that the police cannot help him find Jan, David investigates the matter himself and he will find that his wife has a dark secret which will endanger their little boy.