Posts Tagged ‘film appreciation’

Jean Renoir’s A Day in the Country is a story by Guy de Maupassant, which according to Truffaut is the only true cinematic equivalent of the art of the short story. In a few cinematic images Renoir makes the semi-sweet romantic vignette transcend its provincial circumstances. The film begins and ends with a river,a metaphor for ‘the moving finger’ of Nature writing the destinies of two young lovers. Destiny of a girl’s first experience of romance is tearful as the drizzle of rain followed by the river in full spate towards the end. The identical shot bookends the film. It is a kind of Omar Khayyam quatrain in cinematic terms. Indifferent nature must leave the lovers rue over what might have been.
A group of family members spend a day away from the city in the French countryside. An outing to the countryside does something to the jaded spirits of the ironmonger and his family differently. As soon as he gallantly sets down his wife his stolid virtue of the city is changed. It may be as humdrum way of a squeeze surreptitiously to flirt with her. Under the shade of a tree the daughter speaksto her mother of Nature’s effect on her thus introducing the mood for tenderness to which she must succumb eventually. While the men go off to fish, the mother (Jeanne Marken) has a harmless flirtation with a rural “rake,” while the daughter (Sylvia Bataille) has a more serious liaison with a handsome young man (George Saint-Saens). Fourteen years later, the same family vacations at the same spot. The handsome stranger returns, hoping to renew his affair with the daughter; unfortunately, the girl is now married to a dull, insensitive lump. The two former lovers ponder what might have been, then the family heads back to the city. A Day in the Country currently exists only in a 40-minute version
Renoir had planned to film scenes depicting what happened in the years between the two holidays, but he closed down production due to an acute “creative block.” For its American distribution, Day in the Country was bundled together with two other short European films — Joifroi and the controversial The Miracle — as the portmanteau film The Ways of Love.
Truffaut’s review:

Une Partie de Campagne (A Day in the Country-1936) is a film
of pure sensation; each blade of grass tickles our face. Adapted from
a story by Guy de Maupassant, Without using a single line of commentary,
Renoir offers us forty-five minutes of a poetic prose whose truth makes
us shudder or gives us goose bumps at certain moments. This film,
the most physical Renoir made, touches us physically.

* Cast: Sylvia Bataille, Jane Marken [Jeanne], Georges Darnoux, Paul Temps, Jean Renoir, Marguerite Renoir, Georges Saint-Saens, Alain Renoir, Full Credits
Black and white film.
(ack: Hal Erickson-all movie guide)

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Monsieur Verdoux-1947
The tale of the Blue Beard is nothing new. Remember the Arabian nights? King Shahryar was one but the Thousands and one Night tales surrounding his heinous crime detract us from it. Days of king of kings behaving badly are gone. In a dog eat dog world of capitalism it is all profits that make man horny. Lately we read how one pizza company torched a rival company for a larger profit margin. Killing for money is the sign of the times. Insider trader from Goldman Sachs or from Citibank we have men who forget themselves by the lure of gold. Less luckier ones need make do with francs and centimes. There is so much in life so beautiful, acme of perfection and ultimate in Nature’s simplicity. These are all free and yet how many do you think turn man on or make him laugh at comedy of life? These days profits make him laugh as never before.
During the WWI there was a French man Henri Désiré Landru who lost his Gallic humor for once. To be precise whenever he proposed matrimony through classified ads. In such brutal world of centimes and euros what humor one might find except of the blackest hue? Of course he lost his head in the end. Monsieur Verdoux was released in 1947 even this day sounds black and is in keeping with the bleak future capitalism bodes for you and me.
With this comedy of murders Charles Chaplin signaled his definite break with the Tramp persona. Chaplin then wrote, directed, and starred in Monsieur Verdoux himself. The real facts are not clear but the credits give Orson Wells as the source for the idea. It is an outstanding film the Chaplinesque genius rather clouded by irrelevant particulars that have no bearing on the film. There was a paternity suit against him which he won and of course for the American Right who were sharpening their knives for another wave of Red Scare he was like a red flag. Naturally the film bombed at the box office, his first financial loss.
“Von Clausewitz said that war is the logical extension of diplomacy; Monsieur Verdoux feels that murder is the logical extension of business.” Verdoux (Chaplin), a mild-mannered family man of pre-war France, has hit upon a novel method of supporting his loved ones. He periodically heads out of town, assumes an alias, marries a foolish, wealthy woman, then murders her for the insurance money. He does this thirteen times with success, but wife #14, brassy Martha Raye, proves impossible to kill (nor does she ever suspect what Verdoux has in mind for her). A subplot develops when Verdoux, planning to test a new poison, chooses streetwalker Marilyn Nash as his guinea pig. She tells him so sad a life story that Verdoux takes pity on her, gives her some money, and sends her on her way. Years later, the widowed and impoverished Verdoux meets Nash once more; now she is the mistress of a munitions magnate. This ironic twist sets the stage for the finale, when Verdoux, finally arrested for his crimes and on trial for his life, gently argues in his own defense that he is an “amateur” by comparison to those profiteers who build weapons for war. “It’s all business. One murder makes a villain. Millions, a hero. Numbers sanctify…” Sentenced to death, Verdoux remains calmly philosophical to the end. As the condemned man walks to the guillotine, a priest prays for God to have mercy on Verdoux’s soul. “Why not?” replies Verdoux jauntily. “After all, it belongs to him.”
It is a classic performance by Mr. Chaplin, dapper and silver-haired, and he is fitly supported by a good cast, headed by Martha Raye. Miss Raye, as the most obnoxious and indestructible of the wives, is howlingly funny.
You shouldn’t miss “Monsieur Verdoux.”(NY Times-Bosley Crowther-july 4,1964)
memorable quotes:
The Prosecutor: Never, never in the history of jurisprudence have such terrifying deeds been brought to light. Gentlemen of the jury, you have before you a cruel and cynical monster. Look at him!
[all heads turn to face Verdoux, who turns around himself to look behind]
The Prosecutor: Observe him, gentlemen. This man, who has brains, if he had decent instincts, could have made an honest living. And yet, he preferred to rob and murder unsuspecting women. In fact, he made a business of it. I do not ask for vengeance, but for the protection of society. For this mass killer, I demand the extreme penalty: that he be put to death on the guillotine. The State rests its case.
Judge: Monsieur Verdoux, you have been found guilty. Have you anything to say before sentence is passed upon you?
Henri Verdoux: Oui, monsieur, I have. However remiss the prosecutor has been in complimenting me, he at least admits that I have brains. Thank you, Monsieur, I have. And for thirty-five years I used them honestly. After that, nobody wanted them. So I was forced to go into business for myself. As for being a mass killer, does not the world encourage it? Is it not building weapons of destruction for the sole purpose of mass killing? Has it not blown unsuspecting women and little children to pieces? And done it very scientifically? As a mass killer, I am an amateur by comparison. However, I do not wish to lose my temper, because very shortly, I shall lose my head. Nevertheless, upon leaving this spark of earthly existence, I have this to say: I shall see you all… very soon… very soon.
and here is a gem:“I love women” Monsieur Verdoux says “but I don’t admire them at all”.
Chaplin was subjected to unusually hostile treatment by the press while promoting the opening of the film, and some boycotts took place during its short run. At one press conference to promote the film, Chaplin made his speech, then invited questions from the press with the words “Proceed with the butchering”.
*In 1964, Chaplin allowed Verdoux to be re-released along with several Chaplin films to play at the New York Plaza as part of a Chaplin film festival. The film was not only the biggest hit of the entire festival, but it broke box-office records for the Plaza.(wikipedia)
running time-124 min, black and white,USA

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For the notice of cinebuffs.

Any one interested to read on films given below may go to cinebuff.wordpress.com.

The blog is titled A Night at the Movies where I shall cover more films. In this blog exclusively for films I hope to give my appreciation on films that didn’t make in my Movie Lists. Here I hope to give films as fine as any that made to my first choice of 100 best films. 

1.Pepe le Moko-1937

2. A Double Life-1947

3.Ivan the Terrible-1944

4. The 39 steps-1935

5.The American Friend-1977

6.Les Visiteurs du Soir-1942

7. To Be or Not To Be-1942

8. The Godfather Part II-1974

9. Umberto D.-1952

10. The Earrings of Madame de.. 1953

11. The Loves of a Blonde- 1965

12. Ashes and Diamonds-1958

13. Last Holiday-1950

14. Drôle de Drame-1937

Fourteen and still counting,


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