Archive for Graham Greene

Tribute to Graham Greene

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on September 25, 2017 by dcairns

I didn’t make this one, don’t blame me! Keen Shadowplayer Mark Medin pasted this together as a tribute to “the greatest piece of film criticism ever written.”

     

                      

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Penultimate Tango in Bologna

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2016 by dcairns

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Big arm of Pola

Pola Negri hits small-town America as a tattooed countess in A WOMAN OF THE WORLD and hits a local dignitary in the face with a bullwhip. Always good.

LA MANO DELLO STRANIERO — THE STRANGER’S HAND — is Mario Soldati’s Graham Greene movie, with THIRD MAN stars Trevor Howard and Valli, plus Eduardo Cellini and a dash of THE FALLEN IDOL. A small boy hunts for his kidnapped father in Venice. The sprog is played by as juvenile Richard O’Sullivan, his seventies sitcom days still a ways off. An unusually weak plot for Greene, but a great IDEA…

I was so soaked with sweat by the end of this one that I crapped out and missed MONTPARNASSE 19, a film I love, but at least I managed to recommend it to a few people, who ended up admiring it as much as I did.

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Somewhat recovered, I hit the Piazza Maggiore and drank in QUAI DES ORFEVRES in a 4K restoration from the camera negative. Clouzot’s sweetest film, though what constitutes sweetness in Clouzot’s world is a little acidic if what you’re used to is, say, Capra…

Louis Jouvet’s Inspector Antoine is my favourite police detective in all cinema. Though I also give points to Bernard Blier in BUFFET FROID, Stanley Baker in HELL IS A CITY and Stephen Fry in GOSFORD PARK.

 

Static

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 6, 2016 by dcairns

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Another day, another bad John Frankenheimer movie. But he directs the shit out of all of them, I have to say — total commitment.

YEAR OF THE GUN. A film about Italy’s Red Brigade, made from an American perspective with a British screenwriter and producer seems an odd proposition, especially in 1991. The film is set in 1978 but is petrified of seeming like a period movie — the seventies didn’t come back into style until the late nineties so there are lots of students with short hair in this. The only obvious attempt at evoking period is to have the protags take shelter in a cinema showing STAR WARS — composer Bill Conti, he of the cheesy synths, attempts a tinny paraphrase of John Williams in the lobby, which is hilarious.

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The British input may account for the hero’s lack of heroism — harking back to Graham Greene, we like our American heroes baffled and impotent. But Holly Martins in THE THIRD MAN is also funny and sweet. Here we have Andrew McCarthy, whose character isn’t dumb like Holly, but isn’t endearing either. McCarthy doesn’t burn with screen charisma, and looks like a baby potato, but may be underrated as an actor — he does extremely good outrage. He just doesn’t pull us in, and the script gives us no reason to care  — we have to wait for Sharon Stone to turn up, which takes ages, and then things do get a bit more exciting. Seeing this, I wonder she didn’t really get noticed earlier. Frankenheimer responds to her ferocity.

No dutch tilts in this one, but some extreme deep focus and wide angle lenses and slomo and a lot of sweeping camera moves. None of which redeems the lacklustre and unfocused narrative — I don’t think the script is underdeveloped, I suspect it’s been overcooked with too many notes and rewrites. The sex scenes are awful — Frankenheimer applies himself with gusto, but they have no plot role to serve, they’re like the potter’s wheel interludes on old TV, only with tits.

Frankenheimer movies either end with violence — like, BANG! bad guy dead The End — or they end with television. Like a man obsessed, Frankenheimer couldn’t help returning to his first medium, which he had been forced out of by James T Aubrey. This one has Dick Cavett turn up at the end to interview the protagonists, a pointless and distracting bit of gimmickry, accompanied by Frankenheimer’s favourite device, the frame-within-a-drame TV set…

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Close in on TV screen. Static. Everything always comes back to white noise with Frankenheimer — the roar of emptiness.