Movie Reviews

Le Beau Serge – 1958, directed by Claude Chabrol.

On the back of the bluray case it states “Chabrol’s debut feature, which marked the first chapter in the collective movement that also included Truffaut, Godard, Rohmer, and Rivette, and which would come to be known as the Nouvelle Vague, or New Wave.”

François is returning to his hometown in the countryside after spending time in the city, recovering from an illness. Upon his arrival he discovers some of the people he used to know from his past have changed and not all for the better. Particularly concerning for him is his old friend Serge who’s hit the bottle pretty hard, and has since married a woman, Yvonne, whom François knew years back. Great movie, really like how it was shot too.

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Yesterday I saw the Rainer Fassbinder film ‘Fear Eats the Soul’, actually the first movie I’ve seen by this director. Definitely won’t be the last anyhow, as it was incredible, the best movie I’ve seen for a while – it’s about a German woman in her 60s, Emmi, and a Moroccon immigrant in his 30s who calls himself Ali, though that’s not his real name, and they develop a relationship, to the outrage of their friends and family, and basically everyone they come into contact with, it seems. The heartbreak you feel for these people is so strong, and the performances by the two leads is just wonderful.

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I got a collection of Marilyn Monroe films, eight of them. Enjoyed them all really, last night I saw Gentlemen prefer blondes, and it might be my fave up to this point. Marilyn plays her usual dumb blonde role, the showgirl Lorelei Lee, which may annoy some? Anyway she’s engaged to wealthy Gus Esmond, and his dad is convinced Lorelei is just in it for the money. Lorelei’s best friend and fellow showgirl, Dorothy Shaw, always seems to get snubbed when in the presence of her friend. But she has the sense her friend lacks. They go on a cruise together and Gus’s suspicious father hires a private investigator to see if Lorelei gets up to any inappropriate behavior… I was never bored with the movie, characters are good, plot, songs are catchy, some are quite outrageous you think it’s part of a dream sequence. It’s funny too.

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Kes by Ken Loach

I actually had to use subtitles for Kes as the Barnsley dialect was so thick throughout. Plot wise, David Bradley plays Billy Casper a kid who has no prospects and no one seems to like him. His brother is abusive, his mother doesn’t care about him, he has no real friends at school. He carries around a feeling of dejection, of being defeated by life itself. Then while exploring the moors one day, he finds a nest of kestrels and takes an interest in that. Suddenly he has a purpose. The non-professional cast is brilliant, as is the soundtrack, really like the flute solos. It’s a pretty depressing film truthfully. A sympathetic teacher is the only one who’s really nice to Billy.

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Seen some interesting films recently. Last night caught the British film ‘Duffer’ about the title character in question drifting between a kindly prostitute and a sadistic gay man. The film’s presentation is interesting … you never see the characters framing their dialogue openly at each other, their voices are always floating around like a narrative. That one’s from 1971.

The day earlier I saw Kaneto Shindo’s Onibaba, a film set during a Japanese civil war, I think the Battle of Teshigahara? It follows an older woman (the actress would later marry Shindo) and her daughter-in-law as they pick off exhausted soldiers in the tall sasuki grass fields in which they’ve built their cabin, and feel safe. They remove the weapons and armor from the corpses and exchange it for food from a local trader. Complications arise, however, when a neighbor of there’s returns without the older woman’s son. The cinematography in this movie is incredible, Kiyomi Kuroda worked with Shindo on The Naked Island, another great film, and that looked spectacular too. Onibaba is supposed to be an allegory on consumerism or something… I really liked it a lot.

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From the description I actually didn’t fancy it much, but so far I’d say it’s my favorite Satyajit Ray film.

Uttam Kumar plays Arindam Mukherjee a famous movie star who while on the train to Delhi, on the way to collecting his latest prize, meets the journalist Aditi Sangupta. She’s not interested in asking the usual questions, she wants to know more about what’s hidden beneath the surface. But Arindam refuses as he doesn’t want to spoil the wholesome image he’s built up amongst his fans.

He soon repents though and in flashbacks we see the sacrifices he’s made to get to his position – was it all worth it?

Really loved this. Seriously great acting by Uttam Kumar and all involved really.

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Proof, 1991 – Australia

Saw this last year at the Melbourne Film Festival. It’s about a blind man Martin who’s lost faith in people and society in general after an incident during his childhood involving his mother. He takes photos of the places he goes and asks people to describe them for him. In this film, he’s caught between two people, his rather twisted housekeeper who has very intense feelings for Martin, and a man (forget his name) who Martin meets at a nearby restaurant. He’s a genuinely good guy and the only one Martin can really call a friend. It’s this trio that forms the heart of the movie, a very good one it is too. Love the soundtrack and dry sense of humor throughout.

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