Monday, July 30, 2007

July 30th Log

1989, Hiroshi Teshigahara, Japan

1st Viewing, DVD

Rikyu marked Japanese filmmaker Hiroshi Teshigahara’s return to fiction filmmaking after a 17 year hiatus. The film is based on the life of the legendary tea master Sen-no Rikyu, the film becomes one that is more a meditative experience, one that takes you into its world through visuals and pacing. Teshigahara openly embraced his preference for cinematography as the visuals of this film are once again striking and the camera framing and angels equally unusual and fascinating. Above all the film is one that speaks of culture, and art through a peaceful and simple yet philosophical depth. Though the film lacks the hypnotic movement of Teshigahara’s greatest films, I found the film to be an absorbing one made by a truly great filmmaker.

1947, Anatole Litvak, United States
1st Viewing, DVD

The Long Night is a film noir structured through several layers of flashbacks. It opens with the death of a man and holdup of the killer in the house. The man is Joe Adams (played by the great Henry Fonda) and we are quickly taken into his thoughts. Through flashbacks (and sometimes more flashbacks within them), we slowly discover the events leading to the murder, as well as those that are involved with Joe (including the sweet young girl he loves, the showgirl who loves him, and the man who is also connected to these woman). The cast is very strong, with Fonda leading the way. Vincent Price gives his usually strong presence and Barbara Bel Geddes is memorable in her very first screen appearance. The film is directed by Anatole Litvak, who was known for excessive takes and a perfectionist approach. The Long Night is beautifully expressive in the way it uses shadows and lighting to heighten emotion and expression. The film is a remake of Marcel Carne’s acclaimed 1939 film Le Jour se leve, and it captures much of the visual look and feeling of the French poetic realism from the 1930s.


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