Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lost Island of VHS...

Deep End - Jerzy Skolimowski - 1971

This is one of the better 1970's cult films that remains unreleased on DVD. It is a darkly humorous, disturbing and ultimately tragic coming-of-age tale [sort of] about a teen-aged boy (John Moulder Brown) who gets a job in a gritty London bathhouse where he meets and falls in love with one of his female co-workers (Jane Asher). What starts as merely flirtatious becomes a bit more obsessive for the boy who seems too young and naive to understand the nature of such affairs.
What's striking about the film is the natural way the actors respond to one another and the unique setting. The direction, on the other hand, is actually quite tightly controlled showing the training director Jerzy Skolimowski received from the Lódz Film School, which in the 1960's was considered stylistically one of the most disciplined film schools in the world.*

Unique scenes - full of funny and interesting conflicts - arise again and again throughout the film making for a very entertaining story until its very strong ending.

The film gives the viewer a different view of 'swinging' London [complete with porn theatres and dark rainy streets] as well as one with a non-formulaic view or the that world.

VHS is super rare on this one but DVD-R's can be found on some web sites.

*[And tough to get into. It took Krystof Kieslowski three tries].

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Older Film Discoveries 2009

Here are eleven great films I finally caught up with in 2009.

Day of the Outlaw [Andre de Toth, 1959] - Good drama and tough as nails characters that reside somewhere between Anthony Mann and Sam Peckinpah.
Mr Thank You
[Hiroshi Shimizu, 1936] - A delightful almost plotless Japanese film that captures a moment in pre-war Japan.
The Misfits
[John Huston, 1961] - Dated drama but somehow still powerful; especially considering the fate of the three leads.
Odd Man Out [Carol Reed, 1947] - Bleak and beautiful fate of a man no one wants to help - this film is perfect.
Pigs and Battleships [Shohei Imamura, 1961] - The mad post-war world of lowlifes and gangsters in Japan all running around together in a most entertaining film.
The Rabbit is Me [Kurt Maetzig, 1965] - East German film about a young woman who falls in love with a judge who is unwittingly handling her case.

Sopyonje [Kwon-taek Im, 1993] - A man's mad obsession with the purity of art leads to tragedy.
Il Sorpasso [Dino Risi, 1962] - A comedy that somehow manages to transcend humor and hit the viewer in the heart.
Two English Girls
[Francois Truffaut, 1971] - Jules and Jim set in the Victorian era with two women and one guy.
Variety Lights [Frederico Fellini & Alberto Lattuada, 1950] - Early Fellini comedy with a cast of crazies - plenty of signs of the wild films to come.
Wichita [Jacques Tourneur, 1955] - Mythical western that unfolds beautifully.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Eric Rohmer 1920 - 2010

Man, I love Eric Rohmer films. His style is unmistakable. Talky but not preachy, humorous but not reaching for laughs, dramatic but not overly so. He presents people as relatively close to regular people with thoughts about relationships, ethical and moral behavior verbalized. In some ways he was the least celebrated of the French New Wave directors and yet his style is among the most unique and recognizable of any French filmmaker other than Jean Luc Godard.

Sixteen of his films fit neatly into three categories over five decades.
Six Moral Tales [60's and 70's] in which men almost leave the women they love for another but then come back.
Comedies and Proverbs [80's] in which [younger] women characters come of age and men are there to witness and talk with them about it.
Tales of the Four Seasons [90's] - Characters find their inner peace.

In between and after these series of films Rohmer often made films that had nothing much in common stylistically with his films including some that were unique historical narratives, such as Perceval, The Lady and The Duke and [his final film] Romance of Astrea and Celadon.

My favorites are:
My Night At Mauds
Claire's Knee
The Green Ray [aka Summer]
Full Moon in Paris
A Tale of Autumn.

But, really, I like all of his films to some degree or another. I have always savored each one of his films slowly because I didn't want to run our of new ones to watch. But, alas, there will be no more new ones to add to the list. However, there are a few I still have yet to see. Plus, it is a pleasure to go back and see the older films too.

The Auteurs has many links to articles on Rohmer and his films.