Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '56 - Martin Kessler ""

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Underrated '56 - Martin Kessler

Martin Kessler is a Czech-Canadian Filmmaker (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4487467/ ), cinephile and Podcaster http://flixwise.com . On Twitter as @MovieKessler .
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The Forty-First (1956; Grigoriy Chukhray)
Better known for Ballad of a Soldier, Grigoriy Chukhray’s preceding film is no less moving. Set during the Russian Civil War, it tells star-crossed love story of a White Army officer and a Red Army sniper who gradually fall for one another. Shot in muted colour, with bold and delicately choreographed camera movements, The Forty-First is abundant in poetic beauty. And perhaps when closely examined interweaves more thoughtful themes than its straightforward storytelling may initially suggest. The Forty-First concludes with an emotional gut punch which is no less impactful for it inevitability. It’s a more humanist approach to the War genre, that may prefigure other Soviet film classics like Ivan’s Childhood (1962).
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Akasen Chitai (1956; Kenji Mizoguchi) 
Master-filmmaker Kenji Mizoguchi’s final film follows the lives of a group of prostitutes in then-contemporary Tokyo. Better known for his period dramas, Akasen Chitai has perhaps been undeservedly overlooked. Nuanced, nimble, empathetic, and unafraid to reference Marilyn Monroe. Between its untraditional point of view, and frank approach to sexuality and the moral-emotional complexities that go along with it, Akasen Chitai seems to be on the very cusp of the Japanese New Wave. The stepped-up pace and sense of immediacy, highlight Mizoguchi’s ever-evolving nature as a filmmaker, and make it easy to wonder how he might have continued to evolve had he not died when he had. Personally I find it both incredibly moving and fascinatingly reflective, featuring one of the most indicting final shots in all of cinema, implicating both the viewer and Mizoguchi himself.
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Qivitoq (1956; Erik Balling)
A one time Oscar and Palme D’Or nominee, Qivitoq is a film that has fallen into relative obscurity. A gently told narrative of a Danish teacher who travels to Greenland to merry her fiancé, only to find that he is engaged to another women. As she settles into a small fishing village waiting for next ship home, Qivitoq’s melancholic and alienated tale unfolds against the haunting beauty of its snowy and sky-filled backdrop. With its quietly stunning visuals and elegantly simple storytelling that may recall Ozu, Qivitoq  is a film that should easily find a place in the minds of lovers of classic film.
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Against All! (1956; Otakar Vávra) 
The vibrant concluding chapter in Otakar Vávra’s Hussite trilogy. It’s an off kilter historical epic, primarily focused on the one-eyed heretical hero Jan Zizka, fighting against a crusade launched against 15th century Bohemia. It’s easy to be swept up by its muddy grounded exterior combat sequences, and sucked into its stylized intrigue-filled interiors, the look of which may recall the colour sequences of Eisenstein’s Ivan The Terrible Part II (1958).  At a briskly paced nearly-three hours long, Against All! never feels dull and is constantly captivating with its breathtaking compositions, transgressive subtext, and an overwhelming sense of grandeur.
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1 comment:

Silver Screenings said...

Ooh – I love this list of foreign titles. They all sound wonderful, especially the first one ("The Forty-First"). I've been dabbling more in Soviet-era filmmaking, and this is one sounds really interesting.

Thanks for curating this list of films that I would never have heard of otherwise. :)