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Archive for March 9th, 2010

by Joel Bocko

This is an entry in my Best of the 21st Century? series. Further entries will appear on Wonders in the Dark every Tuesday.

First things first, it’s very hard to capture the life of Still Life in a still. There were numerous images that caught my eye while watching the movie, and when it was over I tried to go back and pause certain moments to create a screen-capture on my computer. No dice, though I finally settled on the enticing image seen above. The problem was that all of these impressive visuals contained the essential value of movement, either of the camera, within the frame, or both. One particular sequence seemed ripe for pictures: a quiet scene in which characters dance on a rooftop at dusk, with the half-constructed metropolis blazing in the background and a yawning, unilluminated bridge stretching towards the hilly horizon. Yet each time I paused the simple panning motion, the still did not capture that visceral pull of the visuals, the interruption of a simple sweep somehow stripping the shot of its power.

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by Allan Fish

(Germany 1928 143m) DVD1/2

Aka. Spies: The Spy

Appointment at Parkstrasse 24

p  Erich Pommer  d  Fritz Lang  w  Thea Von Harbou  ph  Fritz Arno Wagner  m  Donald Sosin  art  Otto Hunte, Karl Vollbrecht

Rudolf Klein-Rogge (Haghi), Gerda Maurus (Sonja Barranikova), Lien Deyers (Kitty), Louis Ralph (Morrier), Craighall Sherry (Police Chief Jason), Willy Fritsch (No.326), Lupa Pick (Dr Akira Matsumoto), Fritz Rasp (Colonel Jellusic), Paul Hoerbiger (Franz), Hertha Von Walther (Lady Leslane),

Spione is a film which is slowly coming back into vogue.  For years it was overshadowed in film histories by the Dr Mabuse crime films made either side of it, and for sure they had a massive impact.  Yet to these eyes Lang’s best underworld drama – indeed, best contemporary German film, after M – is this 1928 spy effort.  Coming on the back of his folie de grandeur, Metropolis, it was a return to commercial form for a director then considered a loose cannon.  For here is one of the great spy dramas, one that may have little to do with the worlds of Fleming, Deighton, la Carré or Forsyth, but which still has an imperishable legacy.  For where would those illustrious authors have been without the successes and popularity of Alfred Hitchcock’s spy dramas (from The 39 Steps to Sabotage, from The Lady Vanishes to Foreign Correspondent)?  Not only would Hitchcock’s films follow the blueprints of the great Teutonic master, but producer Pommer would himself come to Britain in the thirties.  (more…)

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