Produced and directed by famed cinematographer Louis Malle and written by Louis Malle and Patrick Modiano, who became the Nobel Prize for Literature winner in 2014, this 1974 film of Lacombe, Lucien broke some unspoken taboos when it was first shown. Only once before had a film raised questions about the masses of French citizens, many of them living in the countryside, who were ignorant or oblivious to the horrors of the Holocaust and the terrible costs to France at the hands of the Nazis in Vichy France. Marcel Ophuls had first produced a documentary, The Sorrow and the Pity, in 1972, nearly thirty years after World War II ended, claiming that the prevailing view of the actions of the French citizenry during the war was naïve. Many citizens had been working farms in rural areas during the war and did not know or care to find out about what was happening on a national level – they had enough to worry about keeping food on the table and their families safe. A surprising number of citizens had collaborated with the Germans, not for political reasons, but because they believed that it was the only way they would be able to survive, and far fewer had worked with the Resistance to overthrow their German occupiers than was once believed. Ophuls suggested that most citizens just accepted what was happening because they did not believe they had much choice. With Lacombe, Lucien, Malle and Modiano continue this theme, and both had had experiences that made this subject important to them.
Category Archive for 'Play and Film Reviews'
Drive, though the most brutal film I have ever seen, is nevertheless very worth seeing for those with the fortitude to deal with the darkness and graphic cruelty. Nicolas Refn, a Dane who won the Cannes Film Festival Award as Best Director for this film, creates a tight and spine-tingling drama of a character known only as Driver (Ryan Gosling), a young man who works as a Hollywood stunt driver by day and as the driver of getaway cars at night. A man who is emotionally scarred from some unspecified trauma in the past, Driver (Ryan Gosling) is cold, unflappable, and just what a career criminal wants in his getaway driver. Opening with a robbery scene followed by a high octane chase scene, as Driver and two robbers avoid the police and two helicopters, the film then shows Driver returning to his almost bare apartment and meeting pretty Irene (Carey Mulligan) in the hallway. A strange love story runs parallel with dramatic scenes, chases, shootings, and all kinds of mayhem, but as the film develops, the viewer comes to see that Driver has his own bizarre sense of ethics, and a real desire to help Benicio, Irene’s young son. Drive is a dark and violent but complex literary novel. As a film, it is also violent but far more earthbound and simplistic, with no real subtlety except in Gosling’s acting.
Most people who see this film are probably already well familiar with the story surrounding Lisbeth Salander, the unlikely “heroine” of the trilogy by Swedish author Stieg Larsson. Director Daniel Alfredson, who also directed The Girl Who Played with Fire, apparently also assumes this, as he spends little time giving background, instead showing quick cuts of a few scenes from the two earlier films and allowing Lisbeth’s background to unfurl through her trial for murder. Unlike the previous films, there is very little dramatic violence here, though Lisbeth’s confrontation with her giant brother Ronald Niedermann (Micke Spreitz), who is unable to feel pain, is one of the film’s high points. There are no graphic sex scenes, and the only sexual abuse is done off-camera. The Swedish setting–and the mood–are dark and cold, paralleling the life of Lisbeth Salander. The final scene, subtly different from the novel, consists of Lisbeth uttering one word–a word that had as much long-term dramatic effect for me as the word “Rosebud” does in Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane. Ultimately, the viewer feels a kind of peace at the end of the film, a sensitive and satisfying conclusion to this trilogy.
The second film from the Millenium Trilogy of novels by Stieg Larsson, The Girl Who Played with Fire, like its predecessor, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, hews closely to the plot line of the novel. Without any introduction, the life story of Lisbeth Salander continues where it left off, as she tries to navigate a world which damaged her to the point that she has difficulty relating to all humans. This film features the same cast in the lead roles as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo though both the director and the cinematographers have changed. Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), a computer hacker extraordinaire, has returned from a year of traveling the world, during which time Mikael Blomqvist (Michael Nyqvist), publisher of Millenium magazine, moved on with his life. Like the book, this film is Lisbeth’s story, and as her background unfolds, the reader comes to know how and why she was institutionalized and why she is so damaged.
Over 2.5 million people in Scandinavia have seen this film, making it the first film in Scandinavian history ever to break the $100 million mark for European ticket sales, and US fans of Stieg Larsson’s bestseller of the same name may propel the film to similar records here. The R-rated film tells the story of Mikael Blomqvist, a disgraced journalist for Sweden’s Millenium magazine who accepts an invitation from an elderly businessman to investigate the disappearance of his niece Harriet, thirty-seven years ago. No trace of her has ever turned up, and the old man fears that a member of his family may have murdered her.