Thursday, August 23, 2007

August 23rd Log

2007, Zoe Cassavetes, United States

1st Viewing, DVD

Broken English marks the debut feature from writer-director Zoe Cassavetes, daughter of pioneer filmmaker John Cassavetes. The results are a mix as the film is successful in many ways it uses conventional romantic comedy elements within a character driven narrative. I think I applaud Cassavetes for this film. It is not overly challenging and it does seem as though she lacks total control or freedom over the film, yet it is a solid debut from a young filmmaker worth watching. I like the way she captures the essential tone and emotion of the film in the opening and this is heightened by a terrific lead performance by Parker Posey. Always underappreciated, here Posey is given a complex character that is the emotional soul of the entire film. It also wonderful to a talented supporting cast including Justin Theroux, Melvil Poupaud, Peter Bogdanovich, and the director’s mother Gena Rowlands. The film ends with an ambiguous and fully satisfying moment.

1948, Michael Powell / Emeric Pressburger, United Kingdom
Repeat Viewing, DVD

The Red Shoes is perhaps the most celebrated film from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. The film is widely celebrated by filmmakers, including Martin Scorsese. In typical Powell-Pressburger fashion, The Red Shoes is a glorious Technicolor extravaganza that blends the art of dance, music, and cinema. Their films often have the look and feel of a fantasy with artificial sets and bold colors yet they manage to contrast a psychological and social reality within these artificial worlds. The film is simple as it centers around A young ballerina (played by Moira Shearer) who is torn between the composer in lover with her menacing impresario who is determined to make her a star dancer. She is forced to choose not only between dance and music, but between art and life, or ballet and love. The red shoes ballet takes the center core of the film, yet it is far from the only highlight, as Powell and Pressburger have created a visually stunning blending of art. The film becomes a celebration of art and of the joy of living. Magical and transcendent the film defines the beauty that makes Powell and Pressburgers films so endlessly watchable and magical. As is just about every Powell and Pressburger film, The Red Shoes is truly one of the essential films of British cinema.


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