Sunday, September 7, 2014

Favorite (four), part twenty-seven

Just like in my other twenty-six 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.

Yasujiro Ozu's Good Morning
Ozu continues to dazzle.  There is so much life captured in his work.  And there is a surpising amount of levity to his approach and tone.  Although I might prefer a few of his other films, Good Morning would be an absolute masterpiece by most filmmaker's standards.  As a portrait on the fear of Westernization in the late fifties, this one has few if any rivals.  And it is interesting to see it as an influence on Kitano's style and as a bit of a sibling film to The 400 Blows.

Manoel de Oliveira's I'm going home
Only the second film I have seen so far from the celebrated Portuguese filmmaker and again I was impressed, moved and encouraged to seek out and watch more of his work.  At times his aesthetic and sensibility remind me of Rohmer or even Rivette, something very loose and smart, and it does not hurt the feeling of similarity that the film takes place in Paris and features Michel Piccoli and Catherine Deneuve.  The title holds several different meanings and the final image perpetuates the contemplative mood and tone that seem to be one of the hallmarks of de Oliveira.  
Serge Bromberg and Eric Lange's The Birth of a Tramp
A wonderfully informative and entertaining account of Chaplin's early years, most of which I was learning for the first time.  Absolutely fascinating to watch and hear how Chaplin made it in the movies.  

Orson Welles' The Immortal Story
One of the few works by Welles I had never seen is yet another testament to the director's genius and brilliance.  The story is labyrinthine and deeply auto-biographical for anyone who wants to think about it in terms of Welles' one-off success with Kane.  It joins Renoir's Partie de campagne as one of the medium's all time great short efforts and is incredibly poignant and powerful in spite of the limited means Welles must have had at his disposal.