THIS WEEK'S MOVIES
An otherworldly journey for Orphee
Only three movies added this week to the 1001 till. The first one is Orphee, from director Jean Cocteau whose most famous film is the 1946 Beauty and the Beast. Orphee has that same otherworldly wistfulness that Beauty and the Beast also possesses. Orphee is set in modern day (1950) France, but clearly has its roots in a spiritual realm that is timeless.The flow of Orphee leads us into a series of misdirections that include a trip to the underworld and the a tribunal where love itself is on trial. The special effects of the film are by necessity antiquated, yet charming in their own way. Enchantments abounds.
Taking notes in The Diary of a Country Priest
More on the morose side is Robert Bresson's Diary of a Country Priest, based on the novel by George Bernanos. The subtle filmmaking style of Robert Bresson is really on display here. A young priest is assigned to a parish where the community he serves doesn't seem to care for him too much. This communal rejection is shown in very covert ways for the most part, but overt just isn't the way Bresson films work. The priest in the film is also in extremely poor health and much of the film is his dealing with the issues of faith, forgiveness, human frailty and grace. Bresson films aren't for everyone as you can look at them as being so understated that at times there seems like nothing is going on. On the other hand, I think that is what gives his films these strength.
Hill 24 Doesn't Answer is an interesting edition to the 1001 list. It's an Israeli film that tells about a group of soldiers that defend a strategic hill in the fight for the independence of Israel in 1948. Much of the story is told in flashbacks detailing the background of the main players. This film had a different feel to it than many films dealing with war, part of that might be because of the combination of it being a distinctly Israeli story told by Israeli filmmakers. Might make an interesting double feature with the Palestinian film Paradise Now.
Hill 24 wasn't that easy to find. The version I found was in segments on YouTube and it came with Hebrew subtitles (didn't help) and French subtitles (didn't help) and English closed captioned subtitles that got the dialogue on the screen wrong more often than got it right. I don't know what the line was in the screen shot I took above except I'm pretty sure it wasn't "yes or no now pick up pretty."