Tuesday, 1 June 2010

"Mikaël"...Antonioni: Michael (1924) & The Red Desert (1964)

A bank holiday weekend gave just enough time to indulge in a couple of cinematic classics focusing both on character and...colour.

"Michael" (1924), the first real flowering of Carl Theodor Dreyer's great talent tells the, almost, out there story of a master artist (played with stern stoicism by Benjamin (Häxan) Christensen) and his, erm, model played by Walter Slezak (later to star as a villain in 60's Batman!), who drifts away... lured by his love of Princess Lucia Zamikoff (Nora Gregor also a star of the great Renior film, La Regle du Jeu)...

Close ups abound in a subtle tale of love lost and regained. It's also a brutal tale of betrayal and the final moments are really quite chilling.

Not content with that...I watched The Red Desert ( Il Deserto Rosso ) (1964), Antonioni's first colour film and what a great use of colour, focus (or lack of it!) and close ups he made.

You can't take your eyes off Monica Vitti as she loses her grip on reality in this crisis of vision (literally...).

Richard Harris also stars but it's all about Monica in what must be one of the great cinematographic triumphs of any period.

Clever, deep and good looking...what else do you want?

Friday, 21 May 2010

Pabst in Cabaret...Abwege (1928)

In the top ten of silent films just crying out for a proper DVD release (alongside "Beggars of Life") must come GW Pabst's "Abwege" (aka "The Devious Path"). Featuring the haunting presence of Brigitte Helm ("Metropolis'" robo-lady) and the doleful intensity of Gustav Diessl (doomed by Lulu in "Pandora's Box") this is a perfect example of Pabst in his prime using expressionist techniques to tell the story of a marriage on the rocks.

It has one of the best contemporary depictions of Weimar era decadence in the lengthy and, frankly quite saucy, nightclub sequence. "Oh my!" as Brooksie might say.

It also proves that, in some cases, silence works best. David Thomson may well have sensed movies just "waiting to speak" but this one couldn't be any more eloquent with sound.

Find it if you can and please, someone, release it on DVD!!

Update: You can view "Abwege" on youtube with English subtitles. Not as good as a DVD though is it?!

Monday, 15 March 2010

Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger - Pure Genius

Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger - Pure Genius

A wonderful site dedicated to the genius (yes, genius!) of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.

I Know Where I'm Going, The Edge of the World, The Small Back Room, Age of Consent, Gone to Earth... five great films from the most "British" yet strangely, wonderfully, alien film creators of their era.

Just as good as the better known, The Red Shoes, Matter of Life and Death, Colonel Blimp, Canterbury Tale, Black Narcissus and Peeping Tom.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Louise Brooks & Mark Kermode (live)

The 13th British Silent Film Festival will include a rare screening of the Louise Brooks classic Beggars of Life (1928) with live accompaniment from The Dodge Brothers (featuring Mark Kermode).

Regarded as Brooks' finest American film, Beggars was directed by William Wellman and also stars Wallace Beery and Richard Arlen.

More details at IMDB.

Beggars of Life.

As Mordaunt Hall wrote in his NY Times review of September 24th 1928, "There are some good scenes of trains...Miss Brooks really acts well, better than she has in most of her other pictures."

The Fesitival runs from 15th to 18th April 2010 at the Phoenix Square Cinema, Leicester.

For bookings contact Phoenix Square Box Office (+44) 0116 242 2800.

Rambling Syd Rumpo

Grundle your parts