Kon didn't shy away from mature subject matter or live-action sensibilities in his work, and his films will always occupy a fascinating middle ground between 'cartoons' and the world as we know it. With this trilogy, Satyajit Ray made India a filmmaking nation for the rest of the world, and helped to show Western audiences the potential for a life of the spirit in the observation of a camera. While Bollywood is more liberal nowadays than maybe, 20 or 30 years ago, sex is still a taboo subject and a vast majority of films do not expand on the sexual aspect of romance, despite the fact that most Bollywood films are love stories. The American remakes--two for TV, a third one on the big screen--were travesties. Then I thought, even if someone can mimic Kon's work, it would still be clear that it's only an imitation. The film centers on a trio of homeless persons in Tokyo who discover a baby on Christmas Eve and set out to search for her parents. This is the enactment of those thoughts, with Anna Magnani as the woman in a troupe of traveling players, loved by so many, yet, finally, incapable of loving people as much as she loves her work. Deneuve is an implacably obscure object of desire both for her elderly guardian and for a young, studly suitor.
Bitter Moon 63 percent If you can get past the fact that it's directed by statutory rapist Roman Polanski , Bitter Moon is a wonderfully campy dark-comedy about erotic obsession gone really, really wrong. The power struggles of history are played out in mesmerizing, long, uncut tracking shots. One of the great testaments to the elusiveness of happiness. Directors Nicolas Ray and Sam Fuller make cameo appearances. Abel Gance used every filmmaking trope in the book and then invented a few of his own. A young woman, horribly disfigured in a car crash, becomes the obsession of her plastic surgeon father, who begins "borrowing" the faces off other young women and grafting them onto her. Shortly before his death Kon composed a final message, which was uploaded to his blog by his family upon his death. Strap in, 'cause it's over three hours long. Robert De Niro, Gerard Depardieu, Dominique Sanda and Donald Sutherland amid Italy's political vomitings from the beginning of the century to the ill-fated rise of communism, all shot like a Flemish painting and laid out like a Parmesan wedding banquet. A two-hander brilliantly played by Jean Yanne and the essential Stephane Audran. Night and Fog , aka Nuit et Brouillard, France, directed by Alain Resnais Yes, you've heard already--the concentration camps were a bad thing. A steamroller movie--it's visceral antidote to the easy homilies and melodrama of most antiwar films. Gloria 99 percent It doesn't get much better than 99 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. According to RT, it's one of the highest grossing foreign films of all time. Then I thought, even if someone can mimic Kon's work, it would still be clear that it's only an imitation. Demy is dead now, but surely he was the man who could have filmed Stephen Sondheim. Slowly, the characters become interwined, dependent, in love and full of enmity. Floating Weeds , aka Ukigusa or Drifting Weeds, directed by Yasujiro Ozu Director Yasujiro Ozu had one subject--people, or family which is to say, people seen through time. Michelangelo Antonioni knows where you live. Cannibalism, Marxists, Emily Bronte sex--what more could you want? Don't say movies can't influence people. Catherine Deneuve, in peak form, glides like Hitchcock's coolest blonde through a bizarre series of sex tableaux, scratching her itch for humiliation by servicing bourgeois whorehouse patrons while her blandly hunky husband is off doing surgery. Can they rescue the little girl who seems to be trapped in this story? Sadomasochistic role-playing, dressed by Chanel, never looked so radically chic. While Europe is hammered by the Second World War and grown-ups all around them seem petty and small, a newly orphaned, homeless young girl and a peasant boy find grace, beauty and solace in burying dead animals. Ashes and Diamonds , aka Popiol i Diament, Poland, directed by Andrzej Wajda Andrzej Wajda's vivid gut-wrencher about postwar Poland made an Eastern European James Dean out of Zbigniew Cybulski, whose red-hot, rebel-with-a-cause -so-big-his-head-might-explode resistance fighter refuses to let the war end.
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