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Es werden Posts vom 2013 angezeigt.

Sous les toits de Paris / Under the roofs of Paris (René Clair, 1930)

A street singer falls in love with one of his neighbors, who happens to be the flame of the local thug.

The film pushes its one-song-theme quite extremely, the tune is repeated ad nauseam in hundreds of variations. There is a funny scene in the beginning, where the singer watches his spectators being pick-pocketed. Only when the thief tries to rob the girl that has caught the singer's fancy, he intervenes. Interestingly, the film doesn't have the kind of clean happy-end that all the music and merriment during the first half suggests.

There are some interesting shots of the Parisian street that was built on soundstage, which must have been huge in scale. A very impressive camera movement introduces us to the neighborhood and it feels surprisingly real, possibly because of the fluidity of that first camera movement.

I am quite amused about how everybody seems quite opportunistic and the romantic interest behaves and is treated in a way that would send platoons of political corr…

Obchod na korze / The shop on main street (J. Kadar, E. Klos, 1965)

During WWII a simple carpenter is given control of the disowned shop of the old Jewish lady Rosaria.

The film starts out as a wonderful comedy. The quirky Tono is a simple-minded stubborn carpenter who has not much love for his fascistic brother-in-law and his nagging wife, but wants to be left alone. When his brother-in-law arranges for him to become the new head of the dry goods shop on main street, he reluctantly takes the job. But the absent-minded woman running the shop sees a new assistant in him and immediately puts him to work. Poor Tono just goes with the flow and at first everything seems to work out fine for everybody.

 But history runs its evil course and soon the harsh realities of deportation can no longer be ignored - at least by Tono. The shop lady only has a dim idea what's going on around her. As long as he can Tono tries to protect her. But at one point he sees that he can no longer keep her hidden. At this point the film turns into a haunting tragedy. The endi…

Le cercle rouge (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1970)

An ex-convict is lured into planning a big robbery of a jewelry store.

From a plot standpoint of view, there are many things in the film that don't add up too clearly. Some of the motivations of the characters eluded me and there are quite a few incidents that seemed a bit deus ex machina towards the end of the movie. But that doesn't matter at all, the films strange pacing and strong atmosphere sucked me in completely.

Melville seems to explore the thin lines between those who break the law and the others who uphold it. There are many hints during the film that this boundary is even more blurred than one would think at the beginning. All the principals in the tale don't seem to have much choice as they stumble towards their inevitable fate. I thought it quite amusing that the police men trust each other much less than the criminals - they seem to bond immediately, no questions asked (literally).

The first scene is quite captivating and it seems to play out the film's …

Charulata (Satyajit Ray, 1964)

A lonely wife of a newspaper editor falls in love with his bohemian brother.

Unfortunately, I didn't get drawn in by the movie enough emotionally, but nevertheless I could admire the perfect direction. I will definitely rewatch this film at some point. It can be a matter of mood, sometimes. The whole film plays practically all through in a few confined rooms, with a few exceptions towards the end of the film. The ending of the film has some visually unusual choices visually of which I felt a bit uneasy.

But the beginning of the movie is fascinating to study. It shows Charulata alone and we get introduced to her life and her character without barely a word.

During the opening credits, two female hands are seen, stitching. The silk and the hand seem refined, so we can guess that this is not a poor woman in the street. Then the camera pulls back and shows Charulata on the bed. Ray uses tracking for most of these first shots, following his protagonist around the house. The whole film…

Menschen am Sonntag / People on Sunday (Robert Siodmak, 1930)

Young city dwellers enjoy their Sunday off by taking a trip to the countryside on the quest for romance and relaxation.

Apart from the superstar-studded cast of emerging filmmakers (Siodmaks, Ulmer, Billy Wilder, Zinnemann) behind this project, there are also many astounding discoveries one can make about Berlin. In an astounding way, this film is timeless. The careless joie-de-vivre in Berlin is just as tangible today as it is in this pre-war film. Would this film be re-made, there are barely anything that would need change.

Due to the use of non-actors the makers kept a careful distance to their subjects. They don't ask them to do much or complicated things (a kiss, maybe). This inner distance gives the film its documentary touch which at points nearly drowns the story. This seems intended as the charming little tale is intercut many times with documentary footage of normal people, enjoying their Sunday on the outskirts of Berlin.

What surprised me was the open-minded approach …

Au revoir les enfants (Louis Malle, 1987)

During second world war the monk running a boarding school for upper-class kids hides Jewish kids.

This highly personal movie is very touching and manages to avoid all the pitfalls of being overly emotional. Music and editing are very subdued and carefully used to underline situations. This makes the story ring true (which it was) and gives the viewer good time to settle into the universe that these kids live in.

There are many quite complicated scenes and I was interested in one particular: When Jean gets invited on parent's day by the mother of his new best friend into a posh restaurant. In that very restaurant there are Nazis at one side of the room and an elderly Jew sitting on the other side. The table of the family is right inbetween. Many things about France during the war are told during this scene, I'll just try and focus on camera placement.

The focus shifts twice in the scene: From the family table to the French Jew's table  (who I have been told wears the red …