Archive for May 6th, 2020

 © 2020 by James Clark


The film we’re about to come to grips with, namely, Ingmar Bergman’s, A Lesson in Love (1954), has by all and sundry, maintained that its action amounts to  be a “comedy”—a whimsical romance confirming a matrimonial imperative. That would be a validation of mainstream life.  Where, pray, comes the idea that Bergman strives for such an outcome? I think I know.

A Hollywood film, from 1940, namely, His Girl Friday, under the auspices of Howard Hawks, a figure nearly as talented as Bergman (though nowhere near as profound), became a “screwball classic” for an era needing some laughs. It had to do with an ex-wife still tangled up with her newspaper editor, being so adept and delighted with the work as to be indispensable. Notwithstanding, she’s about to remarry and leave the job, a prospect the boss can’t contemplate. The ensuing skirmishing, between the incomparable, Cary Grant, and likewise, Rosalind Russell, are an epiphany of old-time, rapid-wit and cynicism. With their barrels of charm, they end up staying together, and the customers applaud with gusto.

Had the customers, of Bergman’s film here, taken a look at the three preceding Bergman films, they might have curbed their zeal about A Lesson in Love being an effort to live up to Hawks’ His Girl Friday. The newshounds are already in their heaven of advantage. Hawks was as flush an adjusted giant as Bergman was as flush a maladjusted giant. (A bit closer, though, to our helmsman, was Howard Hughes!) Though Hawks was, in addition, a daring sportsman, for sure, he would not have wanted any part of the rigors which Bergman faced all his life. As such, Bergman assembles an action with many formal aspects of the 1940 film, but only to display how very different such domestic conflict can careen into long-term emptiness. Gunner Bjornstrand and Eva Dahlbeck, though handsome enough, are not built for swooning, but instead for bloodless self-mutilation. Once in a while a bit of mirth escapes, but only to emphasize the loss of real sustenance. (This seems to be the moment to take to heart how badly served the commentary of Bergman films through the years have been left. A few ridiculously overrated pundits have managed to disfigure the work beyond recognition, to be followed by the quick and the dead. One of the more egregious and destructive faux pas along this slope is the daft reflex to the assumption that early works [like the one here] are minor and dispensable. Bergman was ready to shoot out all the lights from the outset. A Lesson in Love is as brilliant and indispensable as Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal and Persona.) (more…)

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By J.D. Lafrance

In this cynical and jaded world in which we live in idealism and optimism are often mistakenly equated with naiveté or stupidity. This may explain why Tomorrowland (2015) tanked so spectacularly at the box office and was roasted over the coals by critics. Based on the Walt Disney theme land of the same name, the film champions dreamers and creativity. Hoping for a repeat of the successful adaptation of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride into a wildly popular movie franchise, the studio brought in director Brad Bird, fresh from the box office hit Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011), screenwriter Damon Lindelof (Prometheus), and cast George Clooney to anchor the film in a supporting role opposite Britt Robertson (The Longest Ride) as the young lead. The studio certainly had all the right elements in place but dropped the ball when it came to marketing Tomorrowland, which is staggering when one realizes how many millions of dollars were spent promoting it in a cryptic way that was completely unnecessary. After all the dust has settled and the post-mortems have been made, the question remains, is the film any good? Obviously, the answer is very subjective. I for one loved it.


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