Thursday, November 29, 2018

To Be or Not To Be (Ernst Lubitsch, 1942)

Springtime for Hitler

(Another in a series of tributes to the lamentable closing of Filmstruck, which not only shows rare films (Robert Bresson's The Trial of Joan of Arc) but also Hollywood classics--a comedy which if anything is still relevant today

Ernst Lubitsch's To Be or Not to Be opened to mixed reviews and so-so box office. A comedy that poked fun at Nazism and Adolf Hitler? At a time when fascism threatened to swallow the world (Pearl Harbor happened a few months before)?

Casablanca was released later that same year to better acclaim and boxoffice; Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator came out two years earlier to good business, despite being banned in parts of Europe and Latin America. Regarding this film Bosley Crowther in The New York Times harumphed: "To say it is callous and macabre is understating the case."

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Trial of Joan of Arc (Proces de Jeanne d'Arc, Robert Bresson)

Joan unornamented

(Robert Bresson's film is available for streaming on Filmstruck, which will shut down by November 29; is still available though less readily on Amazon; should ideally be on a streaming service accessible everywhere including the Philippines (Filmstruck is confined to the USA) but alas isn't.)

The first film to come to mind viewing this stony ground of a picture is Carl Th. Dreyer's silent film, a series of gigantic closeups shuffled through at speed, arguably the most revered and the best-known version of the story.

Robert Bresson's response? "Grotesque buffooneries."

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Halloween (David Gordon Green, 2018)

Mommy direst

Part of what makes Halloween (2018) remarkable: the return of John Carpenter (helped with the music score); the return of Nick Castle (provided the heavy breathing and at one point actually plays masked killer Michael Myers); the return of Jamie Lee Curtis (reprising the role that made her famous, Laurie Strode). But for me what really sets this sequel apart from the ten other sequels reboots remakes and so on is a new name: David Gordon Green.