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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


The Idiot-Movie Review 05/14/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Based on a novel, Classic film, Drama, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Japanese language film, Psychological Suspense, Setsuko Hara.
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The Idiot (Japanese) 1951

Adapted from the novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Starring Masayuki Mori, Setsuko Hara, Yoshiko Kuga, and Toshirô Mifune

From director Kurosawa’s postwar series, this adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s novel features Kamuda (Mori), a man recently released from an asylum and branded an idiot as a result of his war injuries, and his volatile friend Akama (Mifune). Both are loved by Taeko (Hara), but even after the innocent and trusting Kameda makes a life with Ayako (Kuga), Akama cannot let go of his jealousy.

The film, set in a stark and snowy environment, stars many of Kurosawa’s favorite actors, most notably Setsuko Hara in the lead female role. It was originally 265 minutes long, but Kurosawa was forced to cut it to a still-lengthy 166 minutes.

Black and white.
166 min.


Days of Heaven-Movie Review *** 03/16/2011

Posted by Films to consider in American, Classic film, Drama, Emotional Drama, Movies, Romance.

Days of Heaven (American) 1978

Among other awards and nominations:
Winner, Best Cinematography, Academy Awards; also, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards and National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA
Winner, Best Director (Malick), Cannes Film Festival; also National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA
Winner, Best Film National Board of Review, USA
Nominated, Best Costumes; Best Original Score; Best Sound, Academy Awards
Winner, Best Foreign Actor; Best Screenplay, David di Donatello Awards

Directed by Terence Malick
Starring Richard Gere, Sam Shepard, Brooke Adams, and Linda Manz

In the early 1900s, unmarried couple Bill (Gere) and Abby (Adams) flee Chicago when Bill gets into trouble and loses his job on the docks. They pass themselves off as brother and sister and, along with Bill’s younger sister Linda (Manz), travel across the country working as farm laborers. At their latest farm, wealthy owner (Shepard) has learned he has only about a year to live. He falls for Abby and, with Bill urging her on, she agrees to marry him.

The narrator is the young sister; she tells the story in an easygoing style that brings empathy to the characters. This is one of Sam Shepard’s earliest acting gigs, and Richard Gere’s first leading role.

Deservedly, the film’s cinematography received many awards (see above), as did the musical score. The cinematography does more to move the story along than does dialogue or even narration. Look for the remastered Criterion Collection version, as this is considered visually superior to the earlier DVD.

94 min. Rated PG.


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