Friday, January 26, 2007

January 26th Log

1952, Otto Preminger, United States

1st Viewing, DVD

Directed by one of the greatest master filmmakers of noir, Otto Preminger, Angel Face stands among the most intense noirs ever made. A blend of melodrama and even some of the courtroom drama of Preminger’s 1959 masterpiece Anatomy of a Murder, this film is trademark Preminger. Every detail is stylized under his classic noir direction, which includes his unconventionally constant camera movement. The casting here is perfection. Robert Mitchum gives a defining performance in his traditionally understated acting style which works pitch-perfect with the films most radiant presence, Jean Simmons in one of the greatest femme fatale performances. Her fragile innocence flawlessly captures the film sexual undertones and sense of doom as her presence radiates both seduction and evil. Her performance is heightened alongside Mitchum in both an emotional and physical manner. Mitchum physical presence and subtle acting contrasts that of Simmons frightening innocence, and ultimately he becomes unraveled under her complex psyche and emotional web. This sense of doom undercuts the entire film straight to the ending sequence that is the work of absolute mastery filmmaking and acting. The ending to this film deserves mention among the very greatest in the history of noir an Preminger adds a haunting touch to the very final image. Angel Face is top-notch filmmaking. It is a film of subtle complex yet complex layers both on emotional and visual levels. The performances are outstanding (and that includes the supporting roles, like that of the always great Leon Ames), but of course it is Mitchum and especially Simmons that are most memorable. The ending alone puts this film among the great masterpieces of 1950s noir, as Angel Face marks yet another classic film from Otto Preminger.

1957, Yasujiro Ozu, Japan

Repeat Viewing, DVD

Tokyo Twilight is again reminiscent of Ozu's quintessential post-war themes and minimalist style that made him one of the greatest filmmakers of all-time. At the center of all Ozu's post-war films is the unavoidable sadness of life caused through change. This is again evident here but in a much darker way then any other Ozu film. From the grim opening shots of the film, Tokyo Twilight establishes it's dark tone. Themes of marriage, isolation, and parent/child communication (or lack there of) are again expressed through Ozu's masterful cinematic language and trademark visual compositions and cast. Tokyo Twilight carries a pessimism and despair with issues of death, abortion, and adultery that make it Ozu's darkest film. Fittingly Tokyo Twilight is the last black and white film Ozu made before moving to color with his 1958 film Equinox Flower. Ozu-regulars Chishu Ryu and Setsuko Hara are once again outstanding as the single father and elder sister, and the film features a fine performance from Ineko Arima, who was starring in her first film for Ozu (he would cast her again in his next film). As usual Hara is especially terrific, here as the sister who's emotions are torn. Under Ozu direction, Hara has such an ability at capturing the most complex emotions through the smallest of gestures. Tokyo Twilight is a masterpiece achievement from one of the very greatest filmmakers in the world of cinema. To me this rates among the best films Ozu ever made.

>> More on Tokyo Twilight @ A2P Cinema's Yasujiro Ozu website HERE


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