@5 hours ago
#roberto benigni #la vita e bella #la vita è bella #life is beautiful #nicoletta braschi #giorgio cantarini #horst buchholz
La Vita È Bella (1997)
Roberto Benigni struck gold with his La Vita È Bella (1997). The movie won three Academy Awards in 1999 and also numerous awards in the festival circuit. La Vita È Bella is one of those movies nobody really can dislike. Its heart is on the right place and Benigni makes sure that even when he steps out of line he does it in considerable fashion.
At the wake of World War II, Guido (Benigni) is a Jewish Italian waiter/book store owner. The first couple of scenes show Guido bumping into the beautiful Dora (Nicoletta Braschi, Benigni’s wife) over and over again. He falls in love with her instantly and does everything he can to make her his. In a superfly transition of a couple of years, Guido and Dora are living together with their son Joshua (Giorgio Cantarini). The Nazi’s arrest the family and Guido has to use his humour to make Joshua feel safe in one of the unsafest environments ever: a Nazi death camp.
Benigni’s nervous Italian character has the tendency to annoy quickly, but his charm is beyond a doubt overcoming that tendency. His humour prevails. It is exactly this humanistic approach and the accompanying comedic sidesteps that makes La Vita È Bella quite irresistible, but also incredibly sentimental and often melodramatic. These sidesteps, presented behind the horrific backdrop of the Holocaust, could be interpreted as tactless, but Benigni manages to hold a balance between tactless and genuinity. The very convenient plot suffers from this though, with logic and historic accuracy taking some leaps of faith. It’s charming though, and probably not really disliked by anybody.
@2 days ago
#dong #the hole #ming-liang tsai #lee kang-sheng #yang keui-mei
Dong (English title: The Hole) is one of the earlier movies of eccentric Malaysian-born director Tsai Ming-liang, one of the most celebrated directors of the second New Wave of Taiwanese cinema. It is a typical Tsai movie, featuring the most bizarre situations situated in an almost surrealistic place.
At the end of the year 1999 there is a widespread epidemic afflicting a very rainy Taiwan. The government urges people to leave their house and find a safe shelter, but a couple of people in an apartment complex decide to stay as long as they can, since they have no incentive to go anywhere else. Tsai centers his story around his two protagonists: the man upstairs (Lee Kang-sheng) and the woman downstairs (Yang Kuei-Mei), whose ceiling he and his plumber have put a hole through because the plumber thought there was a leak. A strange and eerie relationship starts to develop between the two.
Tsai gives the impression in the opening titles of the movie that there is an apocalyptic world suffering from the dryest of droughts, but at no point in this movie is there no water in sight, be it from the rain, tears or pipes, it’s always wet. It’s a contradiction that is only the prelude for many other contradictions and oddities to follow. In long takes, Tsai shows the strange lives of two neighbours, when they are watching their debased television programs or having the briefest and most awkward conversations with the other occupants of the building. It is Tsai as you might have gotten to know him by now, and if you are not charmed by his conceptual approach of film, Dong might not be the perfect movie to watch. But there is something of a hypnotic quality to this movie that is hard to resist if you are into his work.
@3 days ago
#hangmen also die! #hangmen also die #fritz lang #bertolt brecht #reinhard heydrich #brian donlevy #anna lee #james wong howe #walter brennan #gene lockhart #dennis o'keefe #lionel stander
Hangmen Also Die! (1943)
Made while World War II was in full effect, Hangmen Also Die! is a strong piece of satire and propaganda. It is directed by Fritz Lang, who left Germany in 1934, and written by Marxist Bertolt Brecht, who left Germany in 1933. Brecht wrote many plays in which he made his anti-fascism viewpoints clear, including ones with titles such as The Caucasian Chalk Circle and Fear And Misery Of The Third Reich. Hangmen Also Die! was his only script for a Hollywood film. It is loosely based on the 1942 assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, generally viewed as the number-two man of the SS and chief architect of the Holocaust. He was stationed in Prague when he was shot.
Heydrich’s assassination itself is not in the movie, Lang and Brecht are more interested in its aftermath. The assassin, Dr. Franticek Svoboda (Brian Donlevy) is fleeing from the place of the crime. A local girl, Mascha Novotny (Anna Lee), sees Franticek running way and tells the Gestapo that he went in another direction than he actually went. Franticek’s getaway driver gets arrested and he has nowhere to go, so he seeks out Mascha and asks if he could stay with her and her family. She agrees, but the Gestapo are taking desperate measures to find the assassin.
Lang knows how to stage a scene like no one else. Every scene and every shot is perfectly framed by Lang and shot by cinematographer James Wong Howe. Lang’s hate towards Nazi Germany shows through the almost cartoonesque caricatures he created, from drunk officers to manic officials with pimples all over their faces, it actually leads to some funny moments. Maybe unexpected from the master of darkness, but it gives this movie the slight comic relief that it needs.
There is a lot of talking going on and it takes a lot of patience from the audience to sit through all the conversations in full understanding. This audience also has to struggle through an often confusing plot, especially as it nears its end. However, Lang’s taut filmmaking abilities, his wonderful editing techniques, his use of lighting and shadows and his rustique directing make Hangmen Also Die! almost as good as his classics.
@4 days ago
#riot in cell block 11 #don siegel #dirty harry #escape from alcatraz #clint eastwood #sam peckinpah #neville brand #frank faylen #emile meyer #don keefer #dabbs greer #whit bissell #william schallert
Riot In Cell Block 11 (1954)
Riot In Cell Block 11 is an early film of filmmaker Don Siegel, who later directed popular movies as Dirty Harry (1971) and Escape From Alcatraz (1979), both starring Clint Eastwood. Like Escape From Alcatraz, Riot In Cell Block 11 is a prison movie, in which Siegel tries to raise awareness of the social situation of inmates. Riot In Cell Block 11 was the first ever film work of Sam Peckinpah, who was hired as assistant to the director. Siegel and Peckinpah would work together on numerous other occasions.
The movie starts as a kind of newsreel, in which the narrator explains that in prisons all over the country riots have broken out and prisoners are making demands to create a better living environment. The rest of the movie takes place in Folsom State Prison, where the prisoners of cell block 11 protest against the brutal conditions and take four guards hostage.
Siegel constantly gives the impression that an interesting psychological game (between the prisoners themselves, the prisoners and the officials or the officials themselves) is about to ensue, but every time it ends in a riot on massive scale. Riots that are directed in a crafty way, without the use of crazy editing techniques or anything, it’s just the riots and the camera. There is a documentary-feeling that’s arises as a result and it’s that feeling that makes Riot In Cell Block 11 stand out amongst other prison movies of the time.