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Archive for December 21st, 2010

by Allan Fish

(France 1940 81m) not on DVD

Aka. No Tomorrows; Without Tomorrows

Four Seasons, Four Promises

p  Gregor Rabinovitch  d  Max Ophuls  w  Kurt Alexander, André-Paul Antoine, Jean Jacot, Hans Jacoby, Max Kolpé, Max Ophuls, Hans Wilhelm  ph  Eugene Schufftan, Paul Portier  ed  Max Ophuls  m  Allan Gray  art  Eugene Lourie  cos  Laure Lourie

Edwige Feuillère (Evelyn Morin), George Regaud (Georges), Daniel Lecourtois (Armand), Mady Berry, Jane Marken, Michel François (Pierre Morin), Paul Azais (Henri), Jane Marken (Mme.Béchu), Georges Lannes (Paul Mazureau),

The forgotten gem in Max Ophuls’ crown, Sans Lendemain will not be found in any major movie guide, barely mentioned in any major movie tome at all unless it be as an entry in the director’s or star’s filmography.  It was quickly jettisoned from public consciousness during the occupation – Ophuls’ Jewish roots made him hot foot it from France in 1940 much as he had from several other countries around Europe during the thirties.  Even now, after watching it again, though I admit it’s not as important as his later fifties masterworks, it’s so typical of him in so many ways, is so distinctive and has so many attractive things about it that leaving it out was just too painful. 

            The setting is Montmartre one assumes in the late thirties, at the popular La Sirène (Mermaid) club, where Evelyn works as a topless dancer to support her small child through boarding school after her gangster husband commits suicide to avoid going down and her name makes it impossible to get a decent job.  One day she returns to find her son has been expelled from school and also finds that the love of her life, Georges, who she ran out on ten years previously to save his life (unbeknownst to him), is back in town on a three days visit before heading back to Canada.  She determines to enjoy the three days but not let Georges know how low she has sunk, enlisting shady help to make it look like she’s well to do.  (more…)

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(Germany 1922 13min)

Director Lotte Reiniger; Specially Written Verses Humbert Wolfe

by Stephen Russell-Gebbett

In terms of the text Lotte Reiniger’s Cinderella is a version much like any other. In all other respects it is unique. The opening title refers to it as “a fairy film in shadow show”. This is a delightful welcome to a fabulous and astoundingly beautiful film, the swooning product perhaps of her “extraordinarily happy” childhood during which she became obsessed with Chinese puppet theatre.

To tell her story Reiniger uses silhouetted figures with varying shades of coloured, grey or white paper for depth. The characters move both daintily and deliberately as though underwater or subject to a whole different gravity. Their poses communicate deep wells of feeling coiled within – yearning, fear and barely contained passion. Finally the effect is one of a dream of the story, aggregated from all the echoes of the past lives Cinderella has led ever since she was born on the page. This Cinderella reminds us that animation is a type of impressionism, touching more sensitively upon emotional realities than physical ones.

Cinderella begins rather unsettlingly with the silhouetted hand of the creator cutting Cinderella herself out of a piece of paper. This instant of creation, with the open acknowledgement of artifice and the presence of the puppeteer, is a mark of much animation. In Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo (1911) the artist draws the characters on a board to prove to mocking onlookers that he can make them move while Karel Zeman’s superb Inspirace has the artist peering into a drop of water to gain inspiration, to see his work grow within.

(more…)

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