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Dressing the Classes: La règle du jeu and Gosford Park

“I learned the rules of the game from The Rules of the Game,” said Robert Altman about Gosford Park (2001), inspired by Jean Renoir’s La règle du jeu (1939). On the surface, Renoir’s film takes the superficial form of a country house farce resulted in an accidental death, a case of mistaken identity, while Gosford […]

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He Wore Black

Henry Fonda gone bad, one of cinema’s most memorable endings with two of the greatest outlaws on screen fading into a photographic memory, and Montgomery Clift bringing in a new type of manly ideal and rivaling the man who was no less than the epitome of American manhood. These are the anti-heroes from three of […]

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THOUSAND WORDS: I Don’t like Netflix (oh no – I love it)

I AM NOT anti-Netflix. Of course not. Let’s face it – without Netflix, we wouldn’t have Roma. What’s that? Have I actually watched Alfonso Cuarón’s three-time Oscar-winning masterpiece? Er, no. I’m waiting for the right moment. Or the right big screen. Or the right home sound system. Really, really? I’d really rather watch it in […]

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Visual Poetry: Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood

Inspired by William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Akira Kurosawa created, with Throne of Blood (Kumonosu-jo, Japan, 1957), visual poetry: in black and white, light and shade, movement and immobility. Kurosawa does not try to put Shakespearean English into Japanese. Instead, image and rhythm replace words, pointing to the visual nature of Shakespeare’s language. In this way, Kurosawa, […]

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Toshiro Mifune – Intense acting and inventive spirit

When I began working on Akira Kurosawa, the pivotal role for his cinema of Toshiro Mifune (b. 1 April 1920 d. 24 December 1997) sprang immediately to mind. I could not help thinking how much Mifune’s presence and vitality contributed to the strong sense of movement in Kurosawa’s films. Mifune’s intense acting already fascinated the […]

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How Andrzej Wajda used cinema to reveal hidden truths about his nation

Andrzej Wajda started his career as a filmmaker in post-war Poland. His early films – A Generation, Kanal, Ashes and Diamonds, Lotna and Samson – focus on both the Second World War and the civil war uprising and its aftermath. Wajda often emphasized the moral duty of the filmmaker in Poland, whose task it was to remember a […]

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Gloria Grahame’s best film noir performances: Part I

One of film noir’s defining actors, Gloria Grahame gave her femme fatale characters a raw, vulnerable sensuality. She was not simply pretty. Her glamour and sexuality hid surprising, unexpected emotional registers. Her bad girls were human. Her characters were smart, daring, warm. I can never quite figure out Gloria Grahame on screen. Isn’t this one […]

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The she-panther and the yakuza in Drunken Angel

Drunken Angel (Yoidore tenshi, 1948) is Akira Kurosawa’s first film in which music, used at both a diegetic and non-diegetic level, plays an eminent structural role. One key scene is set in “Club Number 1,” a dance hall in the slum in which the action takes place. In this scene, the jazz song “Jungle Boogie” […]

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Social criticism and the inner journey in Battle Royale

In one of the first sequences of Kinji Fukasaku’s Battle Royale (Batoru rowaiaru, 2000), a group of boisterous pupils on a bus trip to the countryside arrive at a tunnel entrance: an appropriate place to anticipate the horror which awaits them when they emerge from the darkness at the other end. Stunned by gas, they […]