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Archive for March 16th, 2010

by Joel Bocko

[#48 in Best of the 21st Century?, a series counting down the most acclaimed films of the previous decade.]

_________

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

_________

“I took her hand in mine, and we went out of the ruined place; and, as the morning mists had risen long ago when I first left the forge, so, the evening mists were rising now, and in all the broad expanse of tranquil light they showed to me, I saw no shadow of another parting from her.”

_________

“Poor Mole stood alone in the road, his heart torn asunder and a big sob gathering, gathering, gathering, somewhere low down inside him, to leap up to the surface presently, he knew, in passionate escape. … Meanwhile, the wafts from his old home pleaded, whispered, conjured, and finally claimed him imperiously. He dared not tarry longer within their magic circle. With a wrench that tore his very heartstrings, he set his face down the road and followed submissively in the track of the Rat, while faint, thin little smells, still dogging his retreating nose, reproached him…”

. . . . .

Summer Hours, The Decline and Fall of the French Bourgeoisie, Three Generations. Olivier Assayas’ absorbing and poignant film is first an observation of life’s fleeting moments (one might say it’s more observant than the characters who experience these moments, without really appreciating them). It is also a wailing elegy to a France crumbling away in the globalized world, letting its culture and its people dribble from its borders like sand from a smashed hourglass. And finally the movie is a portrait of one family, three generations (old, middle-aged, young) and three siblings in that middle group (brother, sister, brother), who slowly and willingly lose their country home, and with it their fragile communal identity. These two triumvirates, the generations and siblings, are each anchored in the center – chronological in the case of the age group (those in the middle of their life dominate the running time of the film), geographic in the case of the brothers and sisters (the deceased matriarch’s eldest son lives in France and tries to hold the family together, while his sister flees west to New York, and his little brother flees east to China). Alas, as is so often the case, the center does not hold. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(USA 1916 177m) DVD1/2

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle

p/d  D.W.Griffith  D.W.Griffith, Tod Browning  ph  Billy Bitzer, Karl Brown  ed  James E.Smith, Rose Smith, D.W.Griffith  m  Carl Davis (restored version…orig.Joseph Carl Breil)  art  Frank Wortman, Walter L.Hall

Lillian Gish (Rocking Mother), Mae Marsh (The Dear One), Robert Harron (The Boy), Miriam Cooper (The Friendless One), Howard Gaye (Jesus), Lillian Langdon (Mary), Olga Grey (Mary Magdalene), Bessie Love (Bride of Cana), Margery Wilson (Brown Eyes), Frank Bennett (Charles IX of France), Josephine Crowell (Catherine dei Medici), Maxfield Stanley (Anjou), Constance Talmadge (Marguerite de Valois/the Mountain Girl), Alfred Paget (Belshazzar), Carl Stockdale (Nebodinus), George Siegmann (Cyrus the Great of Persia), Sam de Grasse, Vera Lewis, Monte Blue, Tod Browning, Erich Von Stroheim, Eugène Pallette, Seena Owen, Tully Marshall, Elmo Lincoln, Mildred Harris, Nigel de Brulier, Douglas Fairbanks, Herbert Beerbohm Tree, Pauline Starke,

D.W.Griffith’s response to the criticism for the apparent racism and brutality of The Birth of a Nation was this epic story of intolerance through the ages, a pacifist tract of startlingly original complexity that was always going to be a bum-number and poison at the box-office in its time.  It may be Griffith was feeling himself to be invincible, that he could make anything he wanted following the staggering critical and public approval for his Civil War epic.  If so, he was naïve in the extreme.  Yet for all that Intolerance remains the greatest film of its decade and one of the all-time great silent masterpieces.  Released at the same time as the Thomas Ince produced Civilization (which had its similarities), there’s no doubt which is superior.  Whether it was atonement for his sins, exhibit A for the defence against those decrying The Birth of a Nation’s racism, a homage of thanks to Pastrone’s Cabiria, or just long-cherished ambition, it’s Griffith’s greatest film.

Four stories of human intolerance are inter-cut.  One set in Babylonian times prior to the overthrow of Belshazzar by Cyrus of Persia in 539 B.C..  The second set in the times of Jesus, leading up to his crucifixion.  The third set in the days leading up to the St Bartholomew’s Eve massacre in Paris of 1572.  The fourth set in the twentieth century, showing the hardship suffered by a young woman after her husband is wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to die. (more…)

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