|À bout de souffle
|The Seventh Seal
|The Godfather Part II
|Francis Ford Coppola
|La dolce vita
Sheer skill, technique, humanity and wit. Plot is, in essence, a love story so it reaches and moves us.
Ground-breaking technique of DOP Greg Toland with low ceilings in frame and monumental depth of field. Extraordinarily daring camera movements that somehow appear unobtrusive.
Another love story of a wealthy coterie where the loss is central and affects all.
Filmed on a rocky island where the elements are as dominant as the characters carelessly invading it. The pace is slowed and foreboding hangs throughout.
The director's muse, a riveting Monica Vitti, embodies the power of all women and it is she who exposes the fecklessness of man and the impossibility of relationships.
À bout de souffle
As a critic, Godard knew all the film rules and here, he teases with infractions, deliberately exposing the joins in a scene by jump-cutting, wilfully disrupting montage.
Filmed almost entirely on location in Paris with a fluid lightweight camera, he puts the postwar existential hero, in the form of Jean Paul Belmondo, at its core, striking a relationship with the non-understanding Jean Seberg who betrays him.
This was a film explosion at the time and prompted a liberation for all that followed.
The Seventh Seal
Allegorical, austere, medieval terror in the time of the plague, conveyed in bold slashes of black and white. Huge, staged, close shots extended long.
Brooding and tense yet relieved with humour and slapstick.
Impression given is that of a religious sermon given by a fanciful God/director.
Second part of the trilogy after L'Avventura in which Antonioni's muse attaches to another man, Alain Delon, the two most glamorous stars in Euro Cinema. Again, a love story, but in an urban setting which is emphasised; even a piece of wood is presented as significant.
And this is a critique of Capitalism with the two protagonists navigating it while trying to keep their attraction to each other alive but knowing it's probably doomed.
Total mastery of the shots (demonstrating the beauty of Vitti/Delon) that never call attention to themselves.
A European sensibility fashions a film noir, detective story of corruption, racism and miscegenation. Intriguingly, it is the Chinese (as gardeners) who mostly stand in for the more prevalent African Americans, right up to the devastating finale.
Unusually, a film noir film enhanced by being shot in low-key colour (DOP John Alonzo)
The most perfect shot selection, providing seamless montage.
A film in which Jack Nicholson, present in every scene, is wholly convincing.
The Godfather Part II
Wholly credible Mafia/History tale of early fifties using native language. Sumptuous colour alternating with low-key colour of DOP Gordon Willis. Film noir at times. Masterly framing of the shots. There is so much content, often enigmatic, that never stalls in its relentless narrative objective.
Wonderful acting from the father of method acting in US, Lee Strasberg, as well as a youthful Robert de Niro at his peak.
La dolce vita
Confident and often breathtaking shooting of the architecture of Rome as counterpoint to the characters who despoil it.
The wealthy and bored Roman citizenry as a subject to be witheringly criticised, post neo-realism.
First casting of Marcello Mastroanni as the director's ego. Anouk Aimée and Anita Ekberg are comic masterpieces. But again, the sympathetic and serious treatment of women as subject, as always with Antonioni, is notable.
Viewed in a restoration version in the main Piazza of Bologna, in 2019, the audience of thousands was roaring with laughter throughout.
The comic inventions are original and timeless; witness, in particular, the scene with the two chimpanzees (said to have taken over 130 takes).
A love story with a portrait of a liberated young woman A blending of documentary and fiction and surrealism.