Thursday, October 6, 2011

Movie Update 21

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

A German film that is somehow both very deliberately filmed and very quickly over. It tells the simple story of an older cleaning lady and a Moroccan immigrant laborer who find each other so nice that they decide to get married. They quickly realize the problems this causes when they are both ostracized and ignored by those they know, though the woman Emmi receives the brunt of the mistreatment. Eventually most people come to understand their relationship, though it happens just as it begins to splinter on its own. I really liked the plain way the movie was shot and acted, though it was a bit too sterile for me to really connect with any of it.

The Battleship Potemkin

I sort of assumed this movie would just be boring Bolshevik propaganda, but it's actually one of the most watchable silent dramas I've seen. It has a pretty short running time, and it tells the fairly interesting story of a battleship's crew rebelling against their horrible conditions, and the support they received from others. The sequence on the steps of Odessa is one of the most famous in film history, but it's far from the only memorable scene in the movie. It's just very well shot and edited together for something from the 20s, and unflinching in its depiction of their side of the story. Certainly something that can be enjoyed outside of film school.

The Manchurian Candidate

Partway through this original adaptation of the novel, I was sort of shocked by what I was seeing. An adequately filmed, mostly exciting fight scene in a movie from 1962! I had forgotten that From Russia with Love did the same thing only a year later and with better execution, but still, it was nice to see. It was just part of a pretty good political conspiracy thriller, featuring an elaborate plot by the Communists involving brainwashing of Americans who don't sound like Americans and manipulating dumb politicians. The story cuts a few corners to get where it needs to go, but ultimately it's a great, pretty early example of a darker sort of thriller that would eventually become more popular. Frank Sinatra didn't come off as a very good actor, but at least he had Janet Leigh to bounce off of.


The other Alfred Hitchcock films I've seen to this point were either great or Psycho, so it was interesting to see something in between. Notorious didn't quite have the visceral thrills or shocking twists of some of his better work, but it's still a really well-done film, with some excellent sequences and one of his best casts. The most famous scenes involve a remarkable shot panning from the top of a stairway to a key in a woman's hand and a romantic moment that skirts regulations about the length of on-screen kisses allowed through a clever loophole, but the moments that struck me most were when its main characters were in the utmost danger while they were doing nothing but standing or walking calmly. With how bloody and loud movies tend to go these days to be exciting, it's fun to be reminded of how much Hitchcock could do with so little. Probably a really good second-tier movie for him.

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