Sunday, April 18, 2004

The Winslow Boy (1999) dir. David Mamet
David Mamet's script here is a reworking of an older play by Terence Rattigan. Perhaps as a result we don't get echt Mamet baroquery but we do get Mamet's tart originality. The work is set in an innocent England where the honor of a young boy is impugned and a famous lawyer is called to defend him. The rhythm of the film, the surprisingly good performance by Rebecca Pidgeon, and the coy portrayal of the lawyer by Jeremy Northram work in consort to create a perfect film. Pay attention to the way so many things are communicated with so little being spoken.
Grade: A

Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring (1986) dir. Claude Berri
These two films are meant to be watched in sequence, but each stands quite well on its own. The second part also is Gerard-Depardieu-less. That's unusual for a French film, but his character accidentally dies in the first half. The second film ends with a not so accidental death, tragically recapitulating the closing of the first film. I mention the deaths because the films are shaped even on smaller levels by tragic arcs. There is vengenance in the middle, but the films are mainly about resigning ourselves to our actions' unintended consequences.
Grade: A-


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