Sunday, April 3, 2011

A film or two

Well, it's certainly entertaining, but I don't think I can get my head around the fact that this isn't history in any way. The character of Spartan society troubled me a little too, I'm not sure this is altogether something to admire. Still, it was fun and it did look awfully good.

Beneath Hill 60
A good film. Not brilliant - but I good small film about miners digging tunnels beneath enemy lines in WWI. I'd just finished reading the book on the battle for Pozieres so I know that contributed to my enjoyment of the film. It's got some real tension going on. Good stuff. But the best stuff is the story of how it was made. Local football clubs filled the trench sandbags as part of their training. Little old ladies from the area knitted gloves and wrote love letters in their period handwriting. German backpackers in the area volunteered to be German troops. Returned soldiers from the Middle East played wounded troops. Plus they managed to make Townsville look like a bombed out, muddy Belgium.

The life and death of Colonel Blimp
Another Powell and Pressburger film and I absolutely loved it. It chronicles the life of an old fashioned soldier from the Boer War to WWII, and how he struggles to understand the changing nature of warfare. As with many P &P films it is also about what it means to be English. Near perfection.

La Vie en Rose
I don't often abandon films. But my! what an unpleasant woman Edith Piaf appears to have been. And because I disliked her so much I'm inclined to doubt her claims to having worked for the Resistance during the war - she certainly entertained enough of the Gestapo. Plus, it's hard to see how you earn an Oscar for pretending to be drunk and screaming at people. Horrible.

Pepe le Moko
The French original. A complete fairytale of a film. Pepe is a thief who is holed up in the Casbah of Algiers. As long as he stays there he's safe, but the instant he leaves he'll be scooped up by police who have waited years to catch him. Of course, he's undone by a woman. It's regarded as the proto- film noir. Remade pretty much shot for shot in the 40s with Charles Boyer and Hedy Lamarr (ah, Hedy!) which makes for pretty spooky viewing. Which do I like better? I think this version. Jean Gabin as Pepe is superb, Charles Boyer makes him a bit of a soft playboy. Can't remember who the woman is but she's flintier that Hedy - plus she has those amazing 30s eyebrows! The shots in the Casbah are beautiful, helped by a curious barrel distortion? Vignetting? Anyway, the edges of the frame are quite blurred, only the very centre of the shot is in focus. Dreamlike.

Double Indemnity
Because we love Barbara Stanwyck. I don't normally do much film noir because I can't stand to see people willfully putting their head in the noose, but this is one of my favorites. Two people both rotten to the core, who couldn't leave well enough alone. I've decided to read the book.

F For Fake
Technically speaking, I didn't watch this because I abandoned it halfway through. I think this is Orson Welles' last film and it's a loose documentary on a pair of hoaxes. I hated it. The editing techniques are superb and ground breaking, it's here that the movie derives most of its energy. Because apart from the editing, it's a curiously passive film that doesn't really explore or do anything. Bored me to tears and just proves again that I hate the 70s.

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Caroline said...

Colonel Blimp is so great, I'm glad you agree. I wanted to watch Pepe Le Moko, didn't get around to it yet though. Gabin is a favourite of mine.
I thought Beneath Hill 60 was extremely good.

Curvy Kitty said...

I now need to re watch all my other P&P films. Sadly I missed Michael Powell's They're a Wierd Mob because I had to work the other day.