A City or a Labyrinth?

Whether by accident or design, French filmmaker Jacques Rivette is probably the least known member of the influential Nouvelle Vague movement of the late fifties though, like Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut, Eric Rohmer, and Claude Chabrol, he too was a former writer and film critic for Cashiers du Cinema. He even started production on his first feature length film, Paris Belongs to Us (French title: Paris Nous Appartient), in 1957, before Chabrol, Truffaut and Godard began work on what would become their universally acclaimed debuts of, respectively, Le Beau Serge (1958), The 400 Blows (1959) and Breathless (1960). Yet, despite the artistic and liberating impact the latter three films had on world cinema, Paris Belongs to Us might be the most ambitious, challenging and intellectually provocative film of the whole movement. It is also the darkest, waltzing toward an imagined or possibly real oblivion. The Homeland Security System would give it a code orange classification.       

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Disconnected and Lost in Capri

When did alienation in modern society become a favorite thematic concern in the culture and the arts, particularly in the cinema? Certainly the films of Michelangelo Antonioni addressed the inability of people to connect, feel or relate to each other in a post-industrial age world as early as 1957 in Il Grido. But by the early sixties, it seemed as if every major film director in the world was addressing the topic on some level. A general sense of malaise was in the air as if the modern world was having a counterproductive effect on humanity, creating a sense of futility, amorality or complete apathy. You could see aspects of this reflected in Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (1960), Ingmar Bergman’s Through a Glass Darkly (1961), Alain Resnais’s Last Year at Marienbad (1961), Luis Bunuel’s The Exterminating Angel (1961) and Jean-Luc Godard’s My Life to Live (1962). All of these are considered cinematic masterworks of the 20th century but there are also many worthy and lesser-known contributions to the pantheon of alienation cinema and one of the most strikingly is Il Mare (The Sea), the 1963 directorial debut of Giuseppe Patroni Griffi.    Continue reading

Hamlet on the Range

Chip Corman is a pseudonym for actor Andrea Giordana

Chip Corman is a pseudonym for actor Andrea Giordana

The plays of William Shakespeare have provided a bottomless well of material for filmmakers as either faithful adaptations or unacknowledged inspirations since the birth of cinema. Yet, the western genre seems under-represented in this regard with only a few examples coming to mind such as a thinly disguised version of Othello (Delmar Daves’ Jubal,1956) or a re-imagining of The Tempest (William A. Wellman’s Yellow Sky, 1948) or a gender twist on King Lear (Edward Dmytryk’s Broken Lance, 1954).     Continue reading