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Tristana-Movie Review *** 11/16/2015

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, Black & white, Cinema Writers Circle Awards, Classic film, Drama, Emotional Drama, Fotogramas de Plata, Luis Buñuel, National Syndicate of Spectacle, Premios ACE, Psychological Drama, Sant Jordi Awards, Spain, Spanish language film.
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Tristana (Spanish) 1970 ***

Directed by Luis Buñuel
Starring Catherine Deneuve and Fernando Rey

NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film, Academy Awards
WINNER, Best Film; Best Actor (Rey); Best Director (Buñuel), Cinema Writers Circle Awards, Spain
WINNER, Best Spanish Movie Performer (Rey); NOMINATED, Best Spanish Movie Performer (Lola Gaos), Fotogramas de Plata
WINNER, Best Supporting Actress (Lola Gaos); Best Film; Best Male Star (Rey); Best Cinematography, National Syndicate of Spectacle, Spain
WINNER, Best Actor (Rey), Premios ACE
WINNER, Best Film (Buñuel); Best Performance in a Spanish Film (Rey), Sant Jordi Awards

When Tristana (Deneuve), an innocent young woman, loses her mother, she is sent to Toledo to live with Don Lope (Rey), a poverty-stricken nobleman, as her guardian. Lope is a lecherous man who is losing his charm as he ages. He seduces the innocent Tristana and tries to keep her in his clutches.

A psychological drama spotlighting the talents of two popular actors: a young Catherine Deneuve and the seasoned Fernando Rey. Famed writer and director Luis Buñuel (1900-1983) often took on the hypocrisy in Spanish society and in the Catholic Church, and this story includes both those themes. Although not a big award winner outside Spain in the early 1970s, the film, which was shot in black and white, stands as part of Buñuel’s legacy.

*** Highly recommended.

95 min. Rated PG-13


Much Ado About Nothing-Movie Review *** 11/25/2013

Posted by Films to consider in American, Black & white, Comedy, Joss Whedon, Movies, Romance, Romantic comedy.
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Much Ado About Nothing (American) 2012 ***

Directed by Joss Whedon
Starring Nathan Fillion, Alexis Denisof, Clark Gregg, Reed Diamond, and Amy Acker

A very enjoyable, modern-day retelling of Shakespeare’s comedy about love and romance almost gone wrong. The script uses the Bard’s own words.

Not an award winner, the black and white film was apparently a labor of love for director Joss Whedon. Many cast members, such as Alexis Denisof, Clark Gregg, and Nathan Fillion, will be familiar from TV and movies.

Highly recommended, even for reluctant Shakespeare readers.
109 min. Rated PG-13.


Somers Town-Movie Review 06/12/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Black & white, British, Comedy, Drama, Light Drama, Movies.
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Somers Town (British) 2008

Nominated, Best Actor (Turgoose); Best British Independent Film; Best Director (Meadows); Best Screenplay (Paul Fraser), British Independent Film Awards
Winner, Young British Performer of the Year (Turgoose), London Critics Circle Film Awards
Winner, Best Actors Award, (Turgoose and Jagiello), Tribeca Film Festival

From Film Movement
Directed by Shane Meadows
Starring Thomas Turgoose and Piotr Jagiello

A friendship develops between two misfit teenage boys in London. Tomo (Turgoose) is a runaway from the Midlands; Marek (Jagiello) is a Polish emigrant who speaks halting English. Both share the experience of first love, for a French waitress who handles the two boys’ infatuation with understanding.

A humorous and charming short film, effectively shot in black and white. For Turgoose, this is a change of pace from one of his previous films, the much grittier This is England. Both he and Jagiello were recognized for their performances in Somers Town (see above).

70 min. Unrated.

The Violin-Movie Review *** 04/10/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Black & white, Drama, Mexican/Spanish language film, Movies, Spanish language film.
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The Violin (Mexican/Spanish) 2005
El violin

Winner, Un Certain Regard, Best Actor (Tavira), Cannes Film Festival
Winner, Best Ibero-American Film, Miami International Film Festival
Winner, Horizon Award, Special Mention, San Sebastian International Film Festival
Winner, Skyy Prize, Audience Award, San Francisco Film Festival
Official Selection, Toronto International Film Festival

From Film Movement; directed by Francisco Vargas

Starring Angel Tavira, Gerardo Taracena, Mario Garibaldi, Dagoberto Gama, and Fermin Martinez

An amazing film, beautifully filmed in black and white, about a farm family involved in the guerilla movement against their oppressive government. Don Plutarco (Tavira) is the grandfather of the family, who suffered torture and maiming but still continues to play traditional music. He teaches his son Genaro (Taracena) and grandson Lucio (Garibaldi) to do the same. When their village is overrun by soldiers, Plutarco takes it upon himself to save the stash of ammunition hidden on his farm.

The late Don Angel Tavira himself came from a long line of musicians and taught others to play traditional tunes. Maimed at a young age, he played the violin with the bow tied to the stump of his right arm. He was not trained as an actor before his performance in The Violin and won the award for best actor at Cannes. Read more about him here.

98 min. Unrated. Violence and adult themes.


The Night of the Hunter-Movie Review*** 01/05/2011

Posted by Films to consider in American, Based on a novel, Black & white, Classic film, Thriller.

The Night of the Hunter (American) 1955

Adapted from Davis Grubb’s novel, based on the true story of Harry Powers
Directed by Charles Laughton (the only film he directed)
Starring Robert Mitchum, Lillian Gish, Shelley Winters, Billy Chapin, and Sally Jane Bruce

A classic film in black and white with a deliciously terrifying story, renowned for its use of stark symbolism to signify the battle of good versus evil. Reverend Powell (Mitchum) is a fake preacher who travels across the countryside looking for widows to charm, marry, and kill for their money. His next victim is Willa Harper (Winters) and he dispatches her easily enough. Now, as for her children – John (Chapin) and Pearl (Bruce) – those two he has to keep around until he gets them to reveal where their hanged thief of a father hid that $10,000 he stole. The children escape and become the hunted.

Robert Mitchum plays one of the most frightening psychopath villains I’ve seen (for me, a modern counterpoint is Javier Bardem’s Cigurh in No Country for Old Men). I also found the singing of the little girl Pearl scary because it seemed too adult for her age. Later I found out that it was dubbed.

The film, which has been selected for the National Film Registry, is often discussed as influenced by German Expressionism, with its use of symbolism and atmosphere to show the dark side of human nature. The photography and the lighting definitely played integral roles in creating the suspense in this story.

My quote from the movie is from a hymn the “preacher” is fond of singing: “Leaning . . . leaning . . . leaning on the everlasting arms.” <Shiver.>

93 min. Not rated. Definitely too scary for little ones!

Check out these links about the novel and the film
For more info about the film


Tokyo Story-Movie Review 09/02/2010

Posted by Films to consider in Black & white, Drama, Japanese language film, Movies.
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Tokyo Story (Japanese) 1953

Directed by Yasujiro Ozu and Kazuo Inoue
Starring Chishu Ryu and Setsuko Hara

A quietly powerful story of an elderly couple who leave their rural village to visit their adult children in postwar Tokyo during the early 1950s. The busy children have no time to spend with them, and the parents realize they will not have the visit they hoped for. When the mother falls ill, the couple quietly returns home. The children must soon follow and share grief when their mother dies.

Famed and prolific director Yasujiro Ozu often used themes involving relationships and family issues. A very technical and exacting director, he expected a lot from his actors, many of whom appear in film after film. Check out his page on Wikipedia.

136 min. Unrated.

Criterion Collection
Restored digital version of original black & white film.


High and Low-Movie Review 07/08/2010

Posted by Films to consider in Black & white, Japanese language film, Movies, Mystery, Suspense.
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High and Low (Japanese) 1963/1998

Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Starring Toshiro Mifune
Based on King’s Ransom: An 87th Precinct Mystery, a detective novel by Ed McBain

Shot in black and white. A ruthless businessman is in the middle of a stealthy takeover deal when his young son is reported kidnapped. But the son’s friend was taken mistakenly, and the kidnapper still demands an outrageous ransom, one that will bankrupt the businessman.

The film follows the behind-the-scenes work of local police detectives as they methodically unravel the kidnapper’s motive and whereabouts. The businessman, meanwhile, openly struggles with doing the right thing for himself vs. others. The result is a satisfying mix of the rational approach of the police and the emotional effects on the family.

143 min. Unrated.
Digitally restored black and white film.