Monday, June 24, 2019


1966, Sweden, directed by Ingmar Bergman

One of the Bergmans that really retains its power, a genuinely disconcerting film that must have been an especially strong jolt on its release, and which is both strange, not-quite-like-anything-else, and acutely perceptive of its particular psychological pathology. The sense of an enclosed world got under my skin in the same way as when I first saw the film as an undergrad -- there's a sense that both characters and audiences can't escape. 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Brute Force

1947, US, directed by Jules Dassin

A film that lives up to its title, depicting the constant, claustrophobic drumbeat of violence, both psychological and physical, in prison. The characters are never unaware of the restrictions under which they operate, whether it's the bars on their cells, or the (often arbitrary) rules with which they must comply. Dassin's framing, as in the picture above, is often very strong, quickly delineating the free and unfree zones. The film isn't as strong in its social analysis sections, inventing a somewhat unconvincing context in which several characters debate the meaning and utility of prison; it's much stronger down in the bowels with the men, and the tick-tock sense of a bomb about to explode. Burt Lancaster, in one of his earliest roles, is already every inch the star, commanding the screen. The decision to cast Hume Cronyn as the sadistic warder is a stroke of genius, though he's alarmingly into it at times.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

The Million Pound Note

1954, UK, directed by Ronald Neame

Something of an Ealing knockoff, this is a generally charming fable about the chaotic consequences of a bet/social experiment as to how a penniless American will handle the titular banknote (Trading Places followed a similar template, albeit with more 1980s grit and volume). The fun mostly comes from the reactions of other people to Gregory Peck's dilemma -- one sequence in a restaurant is especially good -- and the supporting cast is, predictably, very strong, with many familiar faces of the period given some work.


List of all movies

Most of the images here are either studio publicity stills or screen captures I've made myself; if I've taken your image without giving you credit, please let me know.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States