Sunday, April 17, 2011

Half watched movies

God I hate Spielberg. I dragged myself through Empire of the Sun and he just confirmed for me yet again that he is one of the least original, banal directors ever. And people LOVE this film. Grrrrr.

I then watched a series of Damien Parer's news reels. I must confess that I didn't give this my full attention, not because the footage isn't moving, but because, if you're an Australian, you're probably very familiar with his work. It features some of the iconic imagery of Australian forces during the war - notably on the Kokoda Track. Parer actually won Australia's first Academy Award for one of his news reels.

I've been thinking I'd like to do the Kokoda Trail trek - but people die on it even these days so I'd have to do a tremendous amount of training!

Also got around to watching Melville's Silence de la Mer - one of his first films. Based on a famous Resistance novel published by the underground press. As a film it's wonderful, as a Resistance piece it's curious. A Nazi officer is billeted in a farm house in rural France. The owners, an old man and his niece show passive resistance by ignoring the officer. They literally only say one word to him throughout the film. The role of the officer is surprisingly positive - he's a Good German. But I do find his naivety difficult to swallow and somewhat unbelievable. Though one of the conditions of Melville being able to film the book was that he get it vetted by Resistance leaders. All but one approved it - so if they're not troubled by it, who am I to quibble. As for resistance - it's of a very passive kind. The French have a word for these type of people during the Occupation which translates roughly as 'the waiters' - people who did nothing but sit out the occupation and wait for it all to be over. Not quite what we've come to expect from the Resistance myth. The film barely conveys that even to do this was an extremely brave act. So I was left with the feeling that they hadn't done quite enough. Again, who knows what I would have done in similar circumstances. Still, it's an economical piece of film making.

I don't know why I can't pay attention at the moment but I'm half watching the 1948 Ealing drama Against the Wind. It's about the SOE - one of my favorite topics. I missed the beginning so I'm not really sure what's going on. But other critics have said it is confusing at the beginning so I'm just waiting for the story to start.

And I half watched Olivier's Hamlet. I'm not a huge fan of Hamlet to begin with - he seems like a moody teenager - most annoying. And at 40 Olivier was surely a trifle long in the tooth? Though regarded as his best at the time it's now been downgraded. And rightly so.

So not showing much movie stamina right now! And my book pile is growing and I've neglected that too. And I should be sewing... What have I been doing with my time?!

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