Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Confirm or Deny

1941, US, directed by Archie Mayo

Very enjoyable Don Ameche-starrer set in Blitz-era London, and while it's obviously a "preparedness" picture for an American audience it's also rather well done, with a decent sense of time and place and some very enjoyable character turns (Eric Blore, Arthur Shields -- whose Irish accent isn't hard to detect); the emotional climax is well-earned, with Ameche doing a fine job with an unusual kind of soliloquy. The budget goes to good use, too -- there are several highly convincing scenes dealing with the aftermath of various bombardments. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017


1955, France, directed by Gilles Grangier

A fine Gabin/Gilles Grangier collaboration, with some dialogue from the pen of Michel Audiard (Gabin gets a few pearls, very nicely delivered). Gabin is a truck driver -- as in the following year's much bleaker Des gens sans importance -- who inadvertently comes to the attention of some gangland figures, with Jeanne Moreau as his love interest. Gabin's role hearkens back to some of his most iconic working-man parts and it's not hard to see his character as an evolution of that of La Belle équipe, while the overall picture of the trucker's life is filled with enjoyable vignettes of working class/small town life in central France. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Train to Busan

2016, South Korea, directed by Yeon Sang-ho

Korean genre fare, occasionally quite inventive and witty, though ultimately not as distinctive as I had hoped even if it's a decent addition to the voluminous recent series of zombie entries. Still, it makes intelligent use of its effects budget in combination with some decent storytelling skills. Based purely on the content of the film, my sense is that Korean audiences might be more comfortable with syrupy tones, which seemed more amusing to a Western audience in the dramatic/action context – watching it with a US cinema audience the slightly nervous laughter tended to break up the overall effect. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


2015, Guatemala, directed by Jayro Bustamante

A striking film from Guatemala that blends an often blunt, earthy realism with occasional hints of something more mystical. Set among a group of indigenous people scraping together a life on the side of a volcano, it reminded me at times of several African films in its blend of domestic detail and spirituality (except with a good deal more sexual frankness) -- parts of Idrissa Ouédraogo's early films, as well, of course, as those of Ousmane Sembène, though with a very different visual approach than the Senegalese director.

Friday, January 06, 2017

La Prochaine fois je viserai le coeur

2014, France, directed by Cédric Anger

Directed by former Cahiers critic Cédric Anger, the film deals with a bizarre and brutal true-life episode in the 1970s in which a series of murders/assaults was committed by a police officer whose role on the investigation team caused delays and misdirection in bringing events to a conclusion. Guillaume Canet plays the lead, and he's pretty good in an absolutely buttoned-down role, while the northeastern setting is very well-used, echoing, at times, Bruno Dumont’s earlier films. One of the French reviews I read suggested it had something of Zodiac about it, which whatever the film's other characteristics isn't true at all in plot terms -- although we follow the real-life chronology this isn't a procedural, rather a character study, albeit one that doesn't suggest much at all about the character's psychology, simply presenting him as a blank slate.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

The Prisoner of Zenda

1937, US, directed by John Cromwell

While Selznick’s high-end picture is a ripping yarn in the best tradition of the 1930s studios, I had forgotten the extent to which this is rather more of a drama/romance than a straight swashbuckler -- there are some wonderfully odious villains, and Ronald Colman, C. Aubrey Smith and David Niven all look like they had loads of fun on set, but the action – in stunt terms at least – is compressed into the final ten minutes or so, with a good deal of fairly complicated back and forth in the lead in. As tales set in invented Mitteleuropa locations go, I still prefer the more comically-inclined TheLady Vanishes, or even Night Train to Munich...


List of all movies

Most of the images here are either studio publicity stills or screen captures I've made myself; if I've taken your image without giving you credit, please let me know.

About Me

Boston, Massachusetts, United States