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Es werden Posts vom Januar, 2014 angezeigt.

Umberto D. (Vittorio de Sica, 1952)

A pensioned public employee is struggling to survive on a meager pension and tries to keep his dignity and moral values intact while his situation gets more dire by the day.

Although the story takes place in a big city the film is very good at conveying the feeling that Umberto is isolated by his age and his realization that society has no use for him anymore. His landlady is quite the monster - she rules the hallway of her apartment like a bitter queen. It's quite amazing how long Umberto holds on to the apartment, his only confidante is the naive and beautiful maid, who has her share of troubles to keep her position in the household.

(MANY SPOILERS) Sometimes Umberto could come off like a rather stubborn old man it's his agile little dog that keeps the viewer firmly rooted for him. At the end of the film, Umberto tries to give the dog (and his will to live) away, but even than he cannot find a suitable taker. So he decides to take the dog with him when he dies. But suddenly…

The Lion In Winter (1968, Anthony Harvey)

50-year old King Henry II wants to decide during a Christmas retreat which of his three sons would be his worthy successor. But his wife, his sons and the young King of France all plot against him and each other.

In a sort of prequel to Shakespeare's "King John", this is one of the most amusing films I have seen in a long time. There is not much visual wizardry or storytelling through images. The stage play which is the basis of the script can still be felt in every scene. But the dialogue is full of poisonous wit and the actors seem to have had the time of their lives. O'Toole comes on incredibly forceful (I haven't seen his other King Henry film yet) and playful just the same. Hepburn is just as amazing to watch and her Oscar well deserved - the age difference between the two actors is absolutely irrelevant. It is pure joy to watch these two characters going at each others throats.

The evil remarks that the players throw at each other is something to be marve…

Saikaku ichidai onna / Diary of O-Haru (1952, Kenji Mizoguchi)

A courtlady falls in love with a man of lower social standing. As the two lovers are discovered the woman falls steeply through all social nets until she reaches rock bottom.

There is no change of direction in the downward spiraling tale of the continually humiliated Oharu, no matter how hard we wish for a bit of luck for the poor woman. She rarely gets any opportunity to take a decision that might influence her fate. Nevertheless, she ends up at the bottom of the ancient Japanese society with no hope of returning to any kind of standing. The brutality of the men in her life, including her father is maddening. The only glimpse of a cynical practicality is when all the outlawed women solidarise, sharing what little resources are available to them.

At one point, Oharu meets an older street musician who seems to have shared the fate of Oharu but has sunken even deeper. Although Oharu is polite to the poor lady you can still feel the importance of status to Oharu. Inside Oharu's char…

Glory (1989, Edward Zwick)

A young commander in the civil war is asked to recruit and lead the first all-black Confederate battalion into the Civil War.

I am not too interested in details of the American Civil War but the film managed to stir my interest in some ways. I might want to look up the difference in treatment of the many Chinese laborers that were employed in the development of the West and what kind of legacy this particular group of people has to suffer from in contrast to the better-known fate of African-Americans.

There are some interesting scenes in the film. I decide to examine the battle scene in the beginning. It introduces Broderick's character as a naive and brave but inexperienced soldier - a great choice of casting, especially in contrast to the hardened appearance of Washington. According to imdb footage was used from re-enactment groups and intercut with the staged film.

Before the battle scene commences Broderick walks in row of soldiers and talks over the pictures of the gathering…