Friday, March 2, 2007

March 2nd Log

1933, Yasujiro Ozu, Japan
1st Viewing, DVD

Dragnet Girl was the most recent Ozu DVD release from Panorama. It was a real treat getting to this is film for the very first time. Dragnet Girl is a rare look at a more stylistic filmmaker at least in terms of the flashy methods he went about his techniques. Ozu has said he barely remembers ever making the film, but you get the sense that the entire cast and crew had a blast making it. This is Ozu’s third and last film in the gangster genre (Walk Cheerfully and That Night’s Wife being the others), and the influence of his love for old Hollywood films are very evident in style and substance. While Dragnet Girl may not be the most complex or definitive work of Ozu’s remarkable career, it does mark a rare glimpse at his early Hollywood influences as well as his own roots that would develop into a master (certainly his use of visual objects as a form of emotional expression is evident here). As a genre film, Dragnet Girl is incredibly thrilling. It is unfortunate the musical score of the film has been lost as a jazzy score could certainly flow within the cool tone and atmosphere of the films nightclub/pool room/boxing gym. Cool is really a great word to describe this film and most specifically the lead performance by the great Kinuyo Tanaka. She is terrific here as the tough moll with a strong heart and moral character. Tanaka starred in several of Ozu’s early silent films, but she became most remembered for her many collaborations with Kenji Mizoguchi, before she became the first woman director in Japanese cinema. Dragnet Girl is stylish and pulp filmmaking at it’s best. While Ozu would go on to make more significant work in both the sound and silent eras, Dragnet Girl remains irresistibly inviting. Loaded with sweeping style (tracking shots, expressionistic lighting) Dragnet Girl is an effective mix of suspense, comedy, and melodrama within the conventions of a genre film. It is fun because this is a rare look at Ozu in an uncharacteristically “busy” mode of filmmaking, yet the perfect rhythm, master control of visual storytelling, and trademark visual motifs still make Dragnet Girl notably Ozu. Not his greatest silent work, but this is definitely a great one.

>> More on Dragnet Girl @ A2P Cinema's Yasujiro Ozu website HERE

>>> The opening shots from Dragnet Girl:

1945, Otto Preminger, United States

Repeat Viewing, DVD

Fallen Angel is a masterfully made film noir. Otto Preminger rates among the very greatest of noir filmmakers, and this is perhaps his most overlooked achievement. While not his finest film, Fallen Angel displays the visual and emotional depths and technical skill Preminger has. The noir compositions, shadows, lightning, framing, and backgrounds create a fascinating dark world of desperation, fear, and isolation. The long takes, and elegant camera movements add to the emotion and atmosphere of the film. The performances are solid, with Eric Stanton (played by Dana Andrews) as the drifter who falls for the desperate yet confident waitress, Stella (Linda Darnell) of the small town. The best performance however, may be from Alice Faye, who plays the lonely woman that Stanton marries in order to collect an inheritance and run off with Stella. Fallen Angel is a brilliant display in noir filmmaking from a master noir filmmaker. I personally prefer Preminger's noir's with Gene Tierney (Laura, Whirlpool, Where the Sidewalk Ends), but this still does belong mention among his great achievements.


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