Here are things I’ve watched in the last two weeks, the sequel to May 1’s inaugural edition. A * denotes repeat viewing
Swamp Water, dir. Jean Renoir (1942).
Dana Andrews, Walter Huston, Anne Baxter, and an unexpectedly menacing Walter Brennan wearing his teeth dress like backwoods yokels living on the edge of the Okeefonokee Swamp in Jean Renoir’s first Hollywood film even though the cast isn’t speaking English either but an approximation of hickspeak (“Ya swallered dat water!”). One studies these kinds of films in search of auteurist fingerprints: here, a wordless sequence of Andrews wandering the swamp, with cutaways to fat alligators and other beasts.
The Sky is Yours, dir. Jean Grémillon (1944).
Made during the Occupation, this account of how the wife (Madeleine Renaud) of a mechanic decides she has to fly airplanes has a fresh-air naturalism; it’s one of those films in which the audience feels the warmth of a marriage and the couple’s relation to the rest of their town southwestern France
* Under the Volcano, dir. John Huston (1984).
On the evidence John Huston gave not a damn about an intelligible adaptatoin of Malcom Lowry’s revered cult favorite: he wanted an excuse to shoot in Mexican locations. A confused Anthony Andrews and Jacqueline Bisset wander through bodegas and town squares while consul Albert Finney approximates the sodden babble of a terminal alcholic of modest intelligence. Periodically Huston will cut to a mask or a menacing local as if to say SYMBOLISM.
* Downfall, dir. Oliver Hirschbiegel (2004).
Solicitous to the help and kind to children — that Adolf Hitler sure was moody. Bruno Ganz’s impersonation of the dictator’s final ten days in a Berlin bunker before killing himself and new bride Eva Braun overwhelms a watchable film during which we root for the people onscreen to die too.
The Wall, dir. Doug Liman (2017).
The Dinner, dir. Oren Moverman
A Quiet Passion, dir. Terence Davies (2017).