The Southerner is one of the few English language films directed by Jean Renoir. Now, he is considered one of World Cinema's best directors, but his English work is either unknown or undervalued compared to his French films. To me, The Southerner should not be lumped together with the lesser and possibly failed American films, but rather with his best work. I don't want to argue its better than Grand Illusion or The Rules of the Game, but its only a tiny notch below. Renoir is know for his humanism, and this story of sharecroppers trying to create something of their own is romantic and heart wrenching. The two leads are magnificent, and Beulah Bondi steals the show.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
If I was a TCM Guest Programmer...
...I would be very excited. Every month TCM grants a special someone the opportunity to select four films from the TCM library and show them in prime time. I am so jealous of these lucky folks, but I spend lots of time thinking about what I'd show (it helps me go to sleep and stop stressing out). So, here's what I'm thinking:
I Fidanzati needs to be more well known. The simple story of fiancees torn apart by finances and lack of career opportunities takes the form of a three part symphony of swirling editing and honest yet romanticized imagery. The first segment at the dance hall is one of my absolute favorite cinema moments, especially as the emotion and speed crescendo just before the two lovers part. I also am in love with the surprising ending, with reality looming on the horizon.
Tokyo Story is the best movie I've ever seen. Its not the most personal (Brokeback Mountain will always be my no. 1 film) but it is hands down one of the most beautiful, emotional, and elegant films ever created. Ozu's films are great, but Tokyo Story feels like his definitive film, with all of his favorite themes wrapped up in one. I read that Ozu said that the relationships between children and parents are the heart of the best drama and this is a perfect example of that. However, it goes even further, covering the entire spectrum of life and how we learn to deal with its fleeting happiness and bitter disappointments. I saw this just after completing a human development class, and this film did more to shed light on the stages of life than that class did.
The Traveling Saleslady is a fun little film starring Joan Blondell. Is it all time great or earthshatteringly good in some way? No, but TCM showed it once, I fell in love with it, and it has never been seen again. I can't tell you how many times I checked TCM's schedule and requested it to be shown. If I had my chance, I'd play it (and figure out how to get myself a copy). Heck, I couldn't even find a proper picture of it for this post.