|Jacques Prévert wrote the part of Garance in Les Enfants du Paradis for Arletty, France's biggest star in 1945.|
A Soviet film, it came out when the Cold War was going full blast. American films celebrated victory without displaying the true extent of the cruelty of warfare, and the damages it inflicts on our humanity. Of particular technical interest to me was a combination handheld crane shot, which I duplicated in Bound for Glory with a new device called the Steadicam.
As time goes by I adore him more and more. La strada is quite perfect. It is like “The Ancient Mariner.” A haunting film for all time; one cannot insult innocence without a lifetime of cost. I don’t know why it is, but it is so, a spiritual truth, that both Coleridge and Fellini knew and tell in their respective stories. Fellini is the most fluent filmmaker of them all. His shots and storytelling are so at ease and elegant, it’s as if he’s thinking his shots through a camera in his mind and straight onto a screen. I went to his funeral in Rome in 1993, where people in the crammed huge Piazza Republica gathered to salute farewell. It was also a time when no one wanted to see a Fellini film. Every year since then his legacy appears more remarkable and more incomparable.I could go on and on quoting from this very cool feature. Here's Steve Buscemi talking about another of my favorite directors.
What can I say? Robert Altman interprets Raymond Carver [in Short Cuts] with an amazing cast of characters. Look at any of Altman’s films and you’ll find they are among the finest examples of collaborative efforts, yet unmistakably and uniquely his own. I was lucky enough to get to work with him on Kansas City, and briefly on Tanner on Tanner, and will always be inspired by his vision, independence, and generosity of spirit. About Kansas City he once said to me, “I don’t care if this film makes a nickel—I want it to be successful on my terms.” Then gesturing toward himself and me, he added, “Our terms.” We’ll miss you forever, Bob.
I was reminded of this one the other day when I encountered a large female raccoon in the middle of Los Angeles. As she licked her paws with urbane nonchalance, I thought to myself, “Holy crap, Big Edie and Little Edie had one of those living in their wall. Hard-core.” I love how ceaselessly imaginative Little Edie is. “Staunch character” indeed. She’s like a fabulous nun in a one-woman order. And Big Edie is dry-as-a-bone hilarious. I don’t view this as a tragedy. There’s probably a Grey Gardens on every street in America.
Whoever it was who said “There is only Louise Brooks” was right on. With those sad manga-heroine eyes and immaculate bob haircut, she’s become like Marilyn Monroe for nerds. This film is as full of dread and emotion as any modern-day thriller—and all without the benefit of, y’know, audible dialogue. Spectacular.
|Louise Brooks as the ultimate amoral temptress in Pandora's Box|
The love story is so powerful, the spectacle so grand, that Marcel Carné’s masterpiece (an indispensable Criterion production) isn’t often regarded as a genre piece, though it is inhabited by every kind of criminal and involves an unforgettable murder in a Turkish bath—made particularly ghastly for occurring just off camera. Yet Marcel Herrand’s Lacenaire is one of the cinema’s most fascinating monsters, and his machinations resolve the fate of everyone else, including the muse incarnated by the great Arletty.
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