Friday, June 1, 2007

June 1st Log

1946, Alfred Hitchcock, United States
Repeat Viewing, Encore

Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious manages to be a truly absorbing, and exciting masterpiece, despite absolutely no action sequence. This is created by Hitchcock's trademark touches, and masterful ability of turning the film into a puzzle. Piece bypiece we observe the film come together before leading up to the brilliant and very clever climax (which I will not say, expect that the final shot is pure perfection. It needs to be experienced to be appreciated!). Tying the film's emotional core together is the wonderfully romantic love story of Alicia, and Devlin. It's a visually gorgeous film. The black and white cinematography and set designs (particularly the checker-board tile floor, used as a metaphor for the chess game going on in the house) are breathtaking. And of course, the magical screen presence of the beautiful Ingrid Bergman, who is easily among my favorites of all-time. Claude Rains and Cary Grant are also exceptional as usual. There are many wonderful moments and techniques that are typical of Hitchcock's influence and greatness. Amazingly, all the suspense is generated through two simple and small objects (a key, and wine bottles). There's a remarkable shot in which the cameradrops from the ceiling of a ball room to the hands of Bergman, where she is holding a tiny key. Deeply simplistic yet very suspensful. Incredible!! As is the love triangle between Bergman, Grant and Rains. Basically, Everything about the film is perfect! Notorious is truly a brilliant piece of filmmaking, and to me, one of Hitchcock's three greatest accomplishments (along with Vertigo and Rear Window).

1947, Yasujiro Ozu, Japan
Repeat Viewing, DVD

Record of a Tenement Gentleman is Ozu's first post-war film (made five years after his previous film There Was a Father). Overall it is a simple, light-hearted comedy yet is also a touching, personal, bittersweet and even distanced film. Distanced in the sense that Ozu pushes away the any forced manipulation of emotions through his simplistic style. The story of an abandoned boy in postwar Japan who grows a relationship with a cynical middle-aged woman could have easily been one of forced emotional impact. Yet through Ozu, it is restrained and ultimately more poetic and effective. Ultimately the film becomes a moving and hopeful film of the human condition against the tragic backdrop of war. Despite the ruins of a postwar Japan, the film leaves a sense of hope for humanity and for recovery (both in relationship of the family and of Japan). Not a masterpiece, but an excellent film in the very capable hands of Ozu.

>>> More on Record of a Tenement Gentleman @ A2P Cinema's Yasujiro Ozu website HERE

>>> Here is a clip from Record of a Tenement Gentleman:


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