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Broken Flowers (Jim Jarmusch, 2005)

An aging womanizer receives an anonymous letter from a child he didn't know he had and promptly sets out to visit his former lovers.

This is the perfect vehicle for Murray's dead-pan performance. The film starts out as a Murray being the straight man in a world populated by his more-or-less-crazy exes. Which made me root for his character to reach the goal of his mission. And the way the film is told it really seems that he manages to reach it. But a mixture of the character's personality and the circumstances (and, obviously, a sense of reality that sets in quite suddenly) render his attempt futile.
Pell James: how to be impressive in 20 seconds screen-time
In my opinion, the way Murray's character is constructed is by far the most exciting part of the film, although I enjoyed the film altogether very much. Don Johnston (!) is in his late 40s and seems to have made enough money in "computers" that he is not really concerned about work anymore. Quite possibly he has had a long row of lovers he could "afford" and quite obviously seems to have been dumped by pretty much all of them.
He seems completely incapable of displaying warmth and empathy towards his former companions and emotionally inaccessible to those of them who try to approach him. His neighbour Winston (beautifully played by right) works hard to get Johnston's motivation up, to the point where he takes over the mission completely and gets tickets and maps for his friend. The laconic Murray just wanders from waypoint to waypoint - it's only when he hopes his mission accomplished that he is able to show some enthusiasm.
The final shot of the film is a very impressive one: The camera suddenly starts to circle around Johnston. There's a very technical aspect: Murray turns 180 degrees counter-clockwise, while the camera goes around 360 degrees. The shot then lingers on for something like 10 seconds, before it is cut to the credits. Not much happening otherwise, nevertheless, it is an amazingly effective shot and for some weird reason the one that stuck with the most, long after the film was over.


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They drive by night (Walsh, 1940) #DTC #161

Two truck-driving brothers dream of a better future and financial independence in a sea of good and bad fortune.

Although the film has all the ingredients of a film noir, like the selfish femme fatale, Bogart, and many night scenes, this is something you could consider a feel-good movie. It pretty much surprised me with its turns and twists and I also wasn't prepared in the least to see Bogart as the sidekick, instead of the lead.

In terms of interesting characters, Ida Lupino as the selfish wife that tries to seduce George Raft's Joe she is definitively at the most intense when she slowly sheds all the layers of sanity towards the end. Although her motives are a bit unclear - the amazing thing about her behavior is that she values love over money. In that perspective the movie feels like a tragedy, as (except for the loan shark) everybody has comparatively sophisticated understanding of emotion and life.

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 …

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…