Saturday, November 23, 2013

Favorite (four), part twenty-three

Just like in my other twenty-two posts in this series, I want to take a second to single out the highlights of my recent film viewing.  Most of the films I have been glad to finally see but only very few have stayed with me.  This series is my filter for those and my hope is one or two will be good to someone else as well.

Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali
Ray's film contains a world of truth and heft rivaling any I know on film, yet quite unlike anyone else's world as well.  Warmer than Ozu, closer to a documentary-like realism than Renoir, and probably a little more alive than either, Ray does not shy away from death or difficulty and captures the buoyant feelings of innocence and happiness masterfully.  A humanist film containing so much life and truth and a work full of heart.  Ray offers a spirituality so often lacking in cinema and a poetic approach to the world and the medium both rewarding and renewing.  

Bill Forsyth's Gregory's Girl
Another film full of heart reminding me at times of Bujalski, early Carax, and early Hartley.  Gregory is a lovable, vulnerable, goofy young man and Forsyth gives many of his scenes wonderfully effective space, warmth, and playfulness.  Less austere than some of his other work, the narrative looseness characteristic of Forsyth really works in his favor here.  One of the best narrative capsules I have seen of the early eighties and an extremely surprising gem of a movie.  

George Stevens' The More the Merrier
I imagine there have been great studies done on the correlation between viewer state of mind and a response to a work of art.  Even though I pride myself on having a fairly good first response rarely shifting significantly one way or another upon subsequent viewings, I have had occasion where I completely change my opinion.  Here is such a time.  I am not sure how I could have ever made comments to the contrary as I find this to be one of the most wonderful, moving romantic comedies ever made.  The chemistry between Arthur and McCrea is downright dangerous and Coburn is the lovely force, both funny and wise, keeping the fires stoked.  A new favorite and a lovely film I hope others get to savor soon.  It brought me the exact pleasure I needed on a glum Saturday.

Gillian Armstrong's My Brilliant Career
Armstrong demonstrates a great poetry of feeling and image in this restrained, challenging story.  The chemistry coming off the screen from Davis and Neill is intoxicating, and although Davis' decisions run counter to where we want the story to go, Armstrong delivers a wonderful statement on artistic sacrifice.  Up there with the greatest of all filmed illustrations on the artist life and the life one must lead at times to be true to one's self even if it means resisting the temptations of a physical and emotional connection.



  1. Another quartet of cinematic treasures, Jeffrey, and all discussed her with acute insights and passion! Certainly, PATHER PANCHALI is one of the cinema's great masterpieces, and is no doubt a major reason why Kurosawa said this of Ray: "Not to have seen the cinema of Ray means existing in the world without seeing the sun or the moon." PATHER PANCHALI may be the defining humanist parable, and it is pure poetry. GREGORY'S GIRL is a pure delight; THE MORE THE MERRIER is a bonafide America classic with unforgettable performances, and MY BRILLIANT CAREER is indeed a burst of feeling and one of the great films about the artist.

    Superlative round-up Jeffrey!

  2. Thanks so much, Sam. I have a feeling as I become more acquainted with Ray's cinema, it will have a transformative effect on me ranking up there with my recent discovery of Ozu's work. I was in awe of the vitality Ray was able to capture in his frame, a total delight and inspiration to watch.

    As for the others, all great experiences too. I have been on a pretty good run of late. My batting average is not usually quite this high but I sure wish it was.