Grade: A- | 1st Viewing
When there is a combination of Jean-Luc Godard, science fiction, film noir, and social satire I wasnâ€™t expecting an easily digestible film. However, I was surprised to find that Godardâ€™s inventive tale of Lemmy Caution, the French version of Phillip Marlowe, was one of his most accessible films that Iâ€™ve seen. The film predates Kubrickâ€™s sci-fi masterpiece 2001 by three years and you can see where some of the influence came from.
The city of Alphaville is under control of a supercomputer that speaks like a smoker through a voice box and prohibits free speech and open thought in a 1984-like world. Lemmy Caution seeks to destroy the computer by feeding it poetry and mental puzzles while he also teaches the beautiful Natacha how to love.
Eddy Constantine makes a great noir-detective and Anna Karina turns in another great Godard performance as the emotion-less love interest. The only time the film suffers is when Godard does his usual bit of telling you his ideology rather than showing you. Dialogue heavy scenes work in most of Godardâ€™s films, but science fiction isnâ€™t the place for it.
Grade: B | 1st Viewing
Ingrid Bergman is phenomenal in George Cukorâ€™s Hitchcockian thriller about a woman being psychologically tortured by her husband. Bergman plays a young singer who moves back into the same house where her aunt was murdered years ago with her new husband. Her anxiousness over living in the place where her aunt died causes her to believe she is going insane, which is encouraged by her husband.
The film is a smart look at a case of psychological abuse and demonstrates a case of early female power with Bergmanâ€™s tour de force final confrontation with her husband. My main problem with the film was that itâ€™s supposed twist was pretty much predictable from the first shot. There was never a moment where I believed Bergman was actually insane despite her excellent performance.
A Single Man (2009)
Grade: B+ | 1st Viewing
I really hope that Colin Firth doesnâ€™t return to films like Mamma Mia or Bridget Jonesâ€™ Diary anytime soon. His performance in Tom Fordâ€™s visually rich film is the best Iâ€™ve seen from the eloquent Brit and was the key to making the film good. Fordâ€™s first directing attempt isnâ€™t perfect, but he shows some great panache and creativity in the way he frames the talented cast. As expected from the fashion icon, every outfit looks like it is right out of GQ or Esquire.
Some of the visual tricks that Ford used I thought were a bit gimmicky, such as the color changing or disappearing when the emotions change. However, the film was obviously a labor of love and the brilliant performances make it a treat, specifically Firth and Julianne Moore.
What movies did you see last week?