Sunday, May 1, 2011
In a Lonely Quai
The next thing I do will be my 2006 list, but first I wanted to do brief write ups of two awesome films I just watched.
Quai des Orfèvres
Great Recommendation, Brandon. This is a tremendous film noir that is surprisingly benign, considering Clouzot’s typically cynical oeuvre (perhaps it had to be after the hullabaloo surrounding Le Corbeau). It’s much less interested in racking up tension as an investigation film than it is in reveling in its characters. The film cares about its characters. Deeply. And it cares about making them interesting by adding little details that suddenly change your entire perception of them. Dora is a great character, who really gets her due at the end when she reveals the actual object of her affection. Inspector Antoine is wonderfully played by Louis Jouvet, and he is another great character. How absolutely kindhearted are the scenes between he and his son? Maybe some would find them a bit mawkish, but I found them to be genuinely sweet and endearing. They are great humanizing scenes. And then, of course, there are Jenny and Maurice who we follow throughout the picture and who get fleshed out through the issue of class, which makes their relationship and behavior in the film that much more intriguing. How is class influencing their behavior, and how through everything do they still love each other so sincerely? Overall, the details of the characters are enough to have you analyzing them throughout the film and much longer afterward.
This is a well-constructed film, both as a police procedural and as a character study. What a fine filmmaker Clouzot was. I haven’t disliked a movie of his yet.
In a Lonely Place
I’m ashamed to admit that I hadn’t seen this. I’ve meant to for quite some time, but it never actualized. Brandon and John, you both have this as number one on your 1950 lists, so that was the final impetus I needed to see it. Boy, did I hold out on a great one. This is among the finest noirs I’ve ever seen. It’s so well written and acted that it is impossible not to be entertained. I dig that it’s almost a black comedy about showbiz at first and then becomes this tragic reflection on love. We know watching the film that Steele isn’t the murderer, so the film isn’t so much about unraveling a mystery as it is unraveling a relationship. It strikes tones of Othello in this way; suspicion, wrath, and outside provocation undo this genuine relationship between two people. It’s tragic stuff, but it’s thoroughly entertaining, in large part due to the razor sharp script, full of acerbic wit and sadness. Great film.
Brandon, sorry I couldn’t make it out last night. My ride to Bing fell through. I don’t have a lot of money right now and with gas prices so high, it’s been difficult to come hang out on weekends. But school is done in two weeks and I should be able to work out rides easier then, so I’ll be able to chill soon. I miss hanging out!