Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Top Five Films of July, 2011
Frank Borzage has done it again. It starts out with John (Leslie Howard) and Mary (Mary Pickford), a young couple in love. John comes from nothing and Mary's snotty rich parents do not approve. Over time and hardship, they prove their love. They escape their snooty home back east and head for the west and face off with outlaws. Many years pass and John is back in the east running for governor. Unfortunately, he had a fling and the other woman threatens to ruin his reputation. However, Mary stands by him and they are stronger than ever. Then, like they barricaded themselves from the outlaws, they barricade themselves from their children about 50 years later. They are about to retire and want to spend more time with just each other, but the children do not approve. A charming and heart-warming tale, it really got to me. Frank Borzage gives us an incredibly skilled and mature story of love (he was around 40 when this film was released). You won't find a movie like this in today's theaters, so thank goodness for Turner Classic Movies.
Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (1926)
This feature-length animated film by Lotte Reiniger was a revelation. Again, despite the fact that technology wasn't as advanced in the twenties as it is today and that this film was produced during the silent film period, it is an astounding feat. You can watch the video HERE.
Les dimanches de Ville d'Avray (1962)
This is definitely a wonderful, but creepy film which words almost cannot describe. It is about an abandoned girl who takes solace in the friendship of an adult man. Their relationship is extremely inappropriate, and it is judged so by people who encounter them. Like the film below, we almost do not see enough evidence to make an educated decision on what happened at the end. I would have liked to believe that the people responsible for the final decision were wrong. However, the man in question was seriously disturbed. It's possible that despite the fact he was pretending to be her father and that they were able to provide for each other the kind of social connection that was missing from their lives, that the relationship was still very wrong and they should have never ever met more than once.
They Won't Forget (1937)
TCM showed this film right after the Casey Anthony verdict, a choice that I found interesting. In the movie, the viewer is never shown who the actual killer is and yet, everyone seems to "know" who it is. (SPOILER) Eventually, even a lynch mob demands satisfaction.
Mon oncle d'Amérique (1980)
Despite Alain Resnais having so many masterworks, this film is extremely important and groundbreaking. I'll admit that the first time I tried watching this, the intro seemed very slow and I couldn't take it. But the second time, the film was mesmerizing. It takes into account the modern dilemma of having to behave human and civilized in a world that chips away at our souls every day. The film gave an intricate profile of all three of the main characters (played by Gérard Depardieu, Nicole Garcia, and Roger Pierre). It was beautiful to see how they all related to one another. The movie probably requires two or more viewings to get all out of it that Resnais intended. It is layered and carefully constructed. Definitely recommended for those who might be interested in a psychological study of humans trapped in the confines of modernity.
Honorable Mention (two additional shorts that are worth watching):
Kurt Kren's 31/75: Asyl (1975)
Marie Menken's Go! Go! Go! (1964)