Just like in my other four posts thus far in this series, I want to take a second to single out the highlights of my recent film viewing. I'm trying right now to take in almost a film a day. Most have been first-time viewings. And most I have been glad to finally see, but only very few have stayed with me. This series is my filter for those (and hopefully one or two of these will be good to someone else, too).
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's A Matter of Life and Death
The most ambitious of the lot and the one that consistently made me in absolute awe of its sheer technical accomplishment. Reminded me of some of Kubrick's more mind-blowing art direction and kept me repeatedly saying to myself, "I can't believe they just did that." Probably not the most emotionally satisfying of the Powell/Pressburger films, but the formal accomplishment needs to be seen.
David Lean's Great Expectations
I've never read the novel so the twists and turns of the story were particularly affecting. Lean demonstrates his acute visual sense and his wonderful ability with actors. I felt this one, I admired this one, and I thought it not only underrated, but completely satisfying.
Abraham Polonsky's Force of Evil
A real masterpiece in my book. I've long known it to be one of Scorsese's favorite films, but I just got around to seeing it for the first time. Its visual naturalism is stunning and its raw power quite special. Seems to be a key link to The Godfather. (In fact, McCluskey's death and the way that Coppola handles it seem to come almost verbatim from this earlier film.) Also seems to have influenced Mean Streets and the noir texture of some of the early Nouvelle Vague films. It's tragic that Polonsky didn't have the opportunity to direct more for with this one he left us a real gem.
Lewis Milestone's The Strange Love of Martha Ivers
Milestone might not do anything particularly flashy. But he captures the noir spirit and keeps this one plowing ahead, always in sync with the dark, complex, and rough noir tradition. One of the great noir endings and certainly one of its better cast. A noir that deserves to be a part of the dialogue and history.
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