Monday, February 19, 2007

February 19th Log

1944, Edgar G Ulmer, United States
1st Viewing, DVD

Edgar G. Ulmer was a filmmaker that claimed to prefer making B Studio films simply because he was free of interference. With limited budget and resources came greater artistic control and the result is some unique and strange yet fascinating and creative work. What Ulmer displays is that limited budget does not exactly equal limited results, as Bluebeard is a film that displays some truly impressive set and costume designs. Above all the film is one of atmosphere and mood as the influence of German Expressionism is very evident in the use of lighting, sets, compositions (of course most notably is the highly expressive flashback sequence at the climax in which Ulmer incorporates a titled camera angle). The film begins with a shot of a river and then a dead body floating in it. Bluebeard becomes full circle before ending with a similar sequence of closing shots. Bluebeard is more a psychological thriller then it is a horror film, but it is mostly the sense of expressionist atmosphere that make it such an effective film. For those who appreciate Ulmer’s work, Bluebeard is a must see.

1988, Giuseppe Tornatore, Italy / France
Repeat Viewing, DVD

Continuing with the rewatching of films composed by Ennio Morricone (who will receive an Honorary Oscar later this week) is a film that won the Best Foreign Language Academy Award in 1990: Cinema Paradiso. This is the original theatrical cut (123 minutes) which was later restored to a 173-minute directors cut version. The director cut version definitely clarifies much of the seemingly rushed pieces of the original film but is ultimately overlong. The original 1988 cut may very well be flawed and sentimental but it is undoubtedly a moving film. If you love movies, you will surly love some qualities of Cinema Paradsio. Among other things it shows the beauty of cinema and the joys and emotions of the viewer. It's the story of a director that returns home and reminisces about Alfred, the Cinema Paradiso's projectionist that introduced him to movies, and his first love interest Elna. Cinema Paradiso is a heart-warming, wonderfully shot and scored, caring film that has a magic feeling to it. Really all the flaws and overly sentiment moments are forgotten in the films most beautiful closing scene. A nostalgic yet absolutely touching scene that captures the true power and passion of cinema and its connection to the audience. Manipulative or not, this scene works for me and it really defines the entire film. Cinema Paradiso is an irresistibly charming film for anyone, but particularly those who have an undeniable desire for cinema.


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