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Jeanne Moreau (#110 of 4)

Film Comment Selects 2013: Gebo and the Shadow

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Film Comment Selects 2013: <em>Gebo and the Shadow</em>
Film Comment Selects 2013: <em>Gebo and the Shadow</em>

The specter of death haunts nearly every dimly lit frame and extended take of Gebo and the Shadow, the latest film from the 104-year-old Manoel de Oliveira, and a work that, for once, could be said to reflect his age. That’s hardly meant as a slight. Though the film is dominated by fixed-camera setups within one set, more or less, the Portuguese auteur’s minimalist style, rather than seeming tired, ultimately meshes beautifully with the story’s world-weary, reflective substance.

A Woman and a Roulette Wheel: Bay of Angels

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A Woman and a Roulette Wheel: <em>Bay of Angels</em>
A Woman and a Roulette Wheel: <em>Bay of Angels</em>

My first viewing of Bay of Angels was some years ago. I remembered it as a sweeping romance between two beautiful faces, forgetting entirely that a great deal of the romance occurs not between a man and a woman, but between a woman and a roulette wheel. In Bay of Angels, Jacques Demy pares down the multitude of intertwining love stories found in Lola, relating the points of a love triangle.

Jean (Claude Mann), a young bank clerk, catches the gambling bug from a co-worker. He decides to take his vacation in the South of France where he runs into and falls in love with Jacqueline (Jeanne Moreau), a woman who would in all likelihood use her own child as collateral if it meant having another go at the roulette table.

Film Comment Selects 2010: The Victors

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Film Comment Selects 2010: <em>The Victors</em>
Film Comment Selects 2010: <em>The Victors</em>

The secret passion of the cinephile is to find a hidden treasure. It’s often a film that wasn’t well-received in its day; its makers were beleaguered; and it is definitely, certainly not on DVD. Check all three for The Victors, a 1963 World War II movie in which a battle emerges between a bulging international cast. The movie’s director, Carl Foreman, was one of the blacklisted screenwriters that made up the Hollywood Ten, and The Victors was his only director’s credit. The New York Times hated it (though Bosley Crowther hated many things), and the Time critic wrote that “Foreman has spent two and a half years producing a faintly vulgar medley nearly three hours long.” It didn’t help that the previous year’s WWII epic, The Longest Day, had earned lots of money and a Best Picture nomination, overshadowing it. To this day The Victors isn’t on DVD or VHS. For all these reasons we can call the film a rediscovery. But is it good?

The Eclipse: Losing Bergman and Antonioni

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The Eclipse: Losing Bergman and Antonioni
The Eclipse: Losing Bergman and Antonioni

Ingmar Bergman dies in the morning. Michelangelo Antonioni dies at night.

On the same day. In the middle of summer. Now, to most people, these are names from the distant past. Their real heyday in the cinema was at least forty years ago. These were old men (Bergman was 89, Antonioni, 94). More than one commentator has termed their mid-twentieth century, fearing-the-atom-bomb, discuss-our-alienation-over-black-coffee-later modernism as “quaint.” We live in a period where some of those in power have termed the central tenets of the Geneva Conventions “quaint.” Can the term “elitist” be far behind? The other recurring word in these initial pieces is “difficult.” Not easy.