Sunday, February 9, 2014
There are moments in Wild Oranges when you wonder what you’re watching. It’s a silent film alright, and it looks like one—but this story of a love affair in a secluded patch of Georgia coast, at times, seems plucked from another period entirely. In form, it’s the early-20s, but in content, often, it feels like something made much later.
Sunday, January 19, 2014
Lady of the Night stars Norma Shearer in a duel role: as Molly, daughter of a convict, frequenter of bars; and as Florence, innocent socialite, angelic and pure. They spend most of the picture unaware of one another and share only one thing, besides a freakish resemblance: their love for the same man. Upper class, lower class, not so different really. It is as contrived a structure as a story could have.
But it’s not what you have, it’s what you do with it. When I finished watching the film, I turned to a friend and said, “with silents, you can tell if they’re going to be good from almost the first scene. And that one was good.” And it was. Lady of the Night really works; not because of some ham-fisted moral lesson about love and class—or a plot structure that makes it insistent—but thanks to its pockets of delicate melodrama. Its poetic moments, imbuing the characters with tragic quality. Without these moments, Molly, Florence, and their hangers-on would be buffoons. Instead, they break our hearts.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Sunday, December 1, 2013
When you mention Grave of the Fireflies to someone who’s seen it, they give you a rueful grin. “Saddest movie ever,” they say, or something like that.
I’ve seen Grave of the Fireflies three times: most recently in advance of a screening happening at TIFF Bell Lightbox, here in Toronto, next month. I don’t know if I’ll be attending that screening or not, but I did want to write about it, to help promote the film, and hopefully entice you, if you haven’t seen Grave of the Fireflies, to go. Because sometimes, it’s good to be sad. And when it comes to being good, and very, very sad, Grave of the Fireflies is nearly unparalleled.