In the route that we have been doing for some time through the most cinephile content on platforms, arriving at Filmin means reaching a safe and pleasant refuge, in which one can almost fall into the sin of gluttony because the offer is immense, almost unbeatable, and of enormous quality. Here you don’t have to search through the undergrowth to later find excellent fruits (as on Netflix), or try to follow a pattern of quality or reasonable resemblances, with an almost useless search engine, to gradually realize that there is plenty to choose from ( Amazon).
In Filmin there is criteria, order and a huge number of cycles and films from all periods and styles, classic and avant-garde, with which to enjoy and learn. So in the selection of the usual ten titles that we have been extolling in each of our pieces, this has been almost the most difficult to narrow down, although not by default but by excess. What to stay with? The guideline, this time, has been to try to recover masterpieces by authors somewhat forgotten for the new generations, rescue others that still deserve a special claim, and that the selection be diverse in terms of periods, genres and territories. , and eclectic in terms of styles.
The fire and the word (1960), by Richard Brooks.
Crápula, player, charlatan, playboy, seducer, preacher. Sinclair Lewis, Nobel Prize for Literature in 1930, superb author of the original novel, conceived a character of enormous complexity to speak of the blackened soul of the United States in the 1920s, of evangelical groups, and of religion as a company with its employees, their expenses, their risks and their benefits, both moral and accounting. Elmer Gantry, played by a lavish Burt Lancaster, unfolds his power of fascination in a film with resounding colors, of great influence on The master, by Paul Thomas Anderson, narrated with Brooks’ usual solidity as an adapter (In Cold Blood, Lord Jim, The Brothers Karamazov). Every circus needs a clown, and what they have set up in the story is very circus-like, from the big top to the sense of showmanship and wonder. The hysteria of the search for eternal life, and its counterpart: religion as the cheapest medicine.
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the bigamist (1953), by Ida Lupino.
In the Hollywood of the fifties, it is not that there were few female directors, it is that there was only one: Ida Lupino, a regular actress in the not to go, producer, screenwriter and filmmaker with an overwhelming personality. With films that are furiously daring because of their themes (rape, in Insult; single mothers in Not Wanted), Lupino carved out a very interesting career —unfortunately short— marked by her distance from traditional values and by female characters ahead of her time: independent, sensual and ambitious mothers, far removed from the archetype of American cinema of the time. His rejection of the conventional is demonstrated in the bigamist, or the double marital relationship of a business traveler who lives two lives with two wives in two cities, and who loves both. Three exciting characters that are never described from rancor, but rather from complexity and the possibility of error.
The Force of Destiny (Force of Evil) (1948), by Abraham Polonsky.
In the words of Martin Scorsese, the face of John Garfield as the film’s protagonist is “a battlefield of moral conflict.” A guy who has seen illegal money pass before his eyes for too long without taking a cut, until one fine day he thinks it’s a disaster that the money always ends up in the hands of others. However, his accounting operation, of a sophistication proof of attentive spectators, involves his older brother, sick at heart and without his cold ambition. Polonsky, later included in the black list of McCarthyism for refusing to testify during the Witch Hunt, portrays a rotten society capable of selling itself for everything, and accompanies the story with a score and a tone that print the not to go a strange and agonizing melancholy in the characters. It lasts barely an hour and a quarter and its dialogues stab like daggers: “If you like men in pieces, tear your husband to pieces. I still have a lot to do to be able to give you that whim”.
serving the ladies (1936), by Gregory La Cava.
It’s hard to have more class than La Cava filming screwball comedies, the crazy movies that reigned in the thirties and forties in American cinema. The director of the also wonderful The Fifth Avenue Girl Y theater ladies shows its infinite elegance with the most outlandish and creepy approach possible: a gymkhana consisting of being the fastest to find a homeless, and show up with him at the spoiled rich party they’re having. “The only difference between a homeless man and a man is a job,” says the protagonist. However, although the social nuance is evident, the claims of serving the ladies they are much less ambitious, and perhaps more artistic and honest: the pure fun of a comedy in which all the performers say their lines without the slightest emphasis, as if they were not funny. Morrie Ryskind, writer of some of the best Marx Brothers movies, had written those retorts and counter-replies, unmatched in grace, charm, spark, and madness.
chance (1987), by Krzysztof Kieslowski.
Before facing once again the decisive influence of chance in our lives, both in Veronica’s double life as in the trilogy Three colors, titles that elevated him as a great of world cinema, Kieslowski rehearsed the definitive film on a tremendously cinematographic phrase: what would have happened if…? The Polish director establishes three hypothetical consecutive stories, and very different, around the same protagonist, a young student, depending on whether he catches (or not) a running train in which what would become the rest of his life escapes. The origin of our decisions, is it in ourselves or in chance? Metaphysics and determinism, communism and Catholicism, come together in a work filmed in 1981, although prohibited by the regime until 1987. The resounding personal freedom does not exist, but trying to get rid of the ties that grip individuals from political power can be in our hands.
I am always alone (1964), by Jack Clayton.
Is marriage the solution or the problem? Are children the solution or the problem? Live as a couple, live in paradise, live in hell. And in the end, as the Spanish title of the film says, “I’m always alone.” Extraordinary names accumulate in the credits of this formidable work but, unfortunately, not too well known. First, that of its director, Jack Clayton, the author of Suspense, the icy cinematographic vision of Another twist, who films his home odyssey with visual expressiveness and tonal ambiguity. Second, Harold Pinter, playwright, Nobel Prize winner and expert on devastating family environments, who acts as the adapter of the original novel by Emily Mortimer. Third, Georges Delerue, the fetish composer of the new wave. And fourth, the main couple: Anne Bancroft, unforgettable Mrs. Robinson from The graduate, and Peter Finch, no less indelible news anchor in Network. In search of serenity, among an infernal screaming of children and adults.
the offense (1973), by Sidney Lumet.
Director of 12 men without mercy, With dazzling films in six different decades between the 1950s and 2000s, he filmed in the UK one of his most unknown, murky and startling works. With an essence: wolves know how to recognize each other. Here, a man at the police station, accused of kidnapping and sexual abuse of girls, and one of the police officers in charge of the case. More abstract than ever, Lumet presents the story as a concatenation of interpretive duets, of psychological and moral battles, between the character of the violent police sergeant played by Sean Connery, his own wife, the detainee, and the commissioner who interrogates him after giving a near-death beating of the suspect. A mental nightmare with dissonant music, gloomy photographic tones and uncomfortable ambiguity, in a world of perverts and suicides that smells of desolation: “You have the marks of your soul written on your forehead.”
Hud: the wildest among a thousand (1963), by Martin Ritt.
There are cowboys, a seedy town, ranches, influence of the landscape and even singing My Darling Clementine. However, the handsome, partying and partying main character has only a Cadillac. It is the new Western cinema, in which an old man with classic principles, a son without any principles, and a grandson who must decide which of the two paths to take fight. Thus, an epidemic of foot-and-mouth disease and the sacrifice of hundreds of cows acts as a metaphor for a time that is running out. Paul Newman is an eye-catcher, but the film, set in the 1960s and punctuated by gorgeous black-and-white photography by master James Wong Howe, is almost as beautiful as its lead actor. And a motto for the hopeless cynics who no longer expect anything, except to make the best possible use of the time we have left around here: “Nobody gets out of life alive”.
the blasters (1964), by Juan Garcia Atienza.
Fed up with the excesses of the mutual society with its retirees, after having been paying fees for almost 50 years, three old men – played by Pepe Isbert, the Italian Carlo Pisacane and the Mexican Sara García, the last two, dubbed – plan an unprecedented robbery in the branch that makes life and even death impossible for them. Jocosa, nice and surprising, she is usually related to Robbery at three of José María Forqué, but perhaps the tone is closer to the stroller Y the flat, both by Ferreri, because behind their apparent tenderness cohabits a certain cruelty that is highly critical of the situation in Spain at the time. García Atienza, cursed director of a cursed film, took refuge in television after the unfair failure of the dynamite, and he ended up being fired from TVE for daring to vindicate Muslim culture in the midst of Francoism with one of those documentaries.
Max and the junkmen (1971), by Claude Sautet.
contemporary of the authors of the new wave, Sautet made a cinema at the antipodes of the avant-garde group of the cahiers du cinema: of compact narration, distinguished taste for detail, great psychological depth and deep emotion. Max and the junkmen, a polar with his iron style, he faces a gang of petty thieves who hardly aspire to have a great time with little shenanigans, and a dark commissioner who, beaten in his pride, seeks to recompose himself vitally and professionally with a police success. With the usual elegant bitterness and sadness of his best works, the French director draws his aura of defeat even with cigarette smoke. And Romy Schneider and Michel Piccoli, his attractive fetish partner at this stage of his career, dominate the screen from loneliness, vain illusion, melancholy and brokenness.
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Ten great films to (re)discover in Filmin’s haven for cinephiles