November Film Recommendations Part 1
In November I watched 23 films,20 for the first time and 3 for the second time. Like always, Criterion-released movies were highly prioritized, accounting for nearly half. Others include 4 Woody Allen films made in the 1970’s and 80’s, 2 current theater releases,1 Master of Cinema title,1 British Period Drama,1 Classic Hollywood,1 Spaghetti Western and 1 Classic Chinese-language film. I will pick 15 of the best films in November to discuss.
A Room With A View ( James Ivory, 1985 )
For any Remain of the Day fans here,this is another James Ivory film you need to check out,also if you have seen other films adapted from an E.M.Foster novel like A Passage to India or Howard Ends,or you like reading his books,you shouldn’t miss this one.Simply put,if you are familiar with the name of James Ivory or E.M.Foster,this is the film you MUST watch.
For anyone who doesn’t know these names at all,I can still convince you to watch this film. How about some legendary British actresses like Judy Dench and Maggie Smith,or how about Daniel Day Lewis‘ role as an English gentleman,or how about the beautifully shot Florence?
Le Havre ( Aki Kaurismaki, 2011 )
The first Aki Kaurismaki film I ever watched: a warm-hearted comedy with tremendous nostalgia,a fairy-tale-like story shot in the beautiful French port city Le Havre.
I do like a lot of things in the film,like the dramatized lighting and staging,the simplicity of the settings,the ambiguity of the characterization,and above all, the director’s real concern for the illegal emigration in Europe and the positive energy he tries to bring to us.
Seduced and Abandoned ( Pietro Germi, 1964 )
Pietro Germi never failed to surprise me with his Italian style comedies.His Divorce Italian Style remains as one of my favorite comedies of all time,and then this Seduced and Abandoned fascinated me more with its more hilarious characters and wilder cinematic style.
Pietro Germi is definitely one of the most underrated comedy director in cinema history,his comedy often combines exotic Italian small town flavor with its ridiculous marriage laws at that time,with his versatile cinematic technique,Germi’s comedy is a very unique and cynical social critique that would make you laugh all the time.
Another Woman ( Woody Allen, 1988 )
Being prolific is one thing,but being prolific and at the same time maintaining standard is another thing.For me,Woody Allen‘s best period was 1970s and 1980s, since he made some of the most profound and penetrating work about women and marriage.
Another Woman is one of the under-appreciated ones in the two decades. It was recommended by my wife,a huge Woody Allen fan and a very sensitive woman: she told me that everything in this film about woman psychology is right. I was captivated by Gena Rowland‘s convincing performance and the film’s insightful analysis of women’s mentality.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre ( John Huston, 1948 )
I shouldn’t have expected too much from this film: my high expectation left me unsatisfied and disillusioned after watching it. It may qualify as an adventure story depicting man’s greed, but in some way it’s a stereotyped Hollywood action thriller with Humphrey Bogart. Despite the impressive dialogues and sensational performances, the plots are easily predictable.
I don’t know,I was not impressed by it at all, let alone being addicted to it.
3 Women ( Robert Altman, 1977 )
If it’s not for the fact that this film is in Criterion, I would not have watched it or realized that such a weird cult film was made by the director of The Player and Short Cuts.
The first hour was replete with ambiguous and slowly-progressing plots, and I was confused about what Robert Altman was trying to tell. Then I came to understand that it talks about the unquenchable desire of social misfit to seek identification, but the ending confused me again: I was never able to figure out what’s the role of the woman in the pool and the relations among these 3 women. So if anyone has gained an insight into its underlying meaning, please let me know.
The Ballad of Narayama ( Shohei Imamura, 1983 )
If I’m asked to use one word to describe Imamura‘s cinema,that word would be “raw”,a perfect word to summarize both the form and substance of his films. And the most different thing he changed(improved) from the original version was adding his own raw quality to the folk tale.
Narayama is the perfect location for Imamura to unfold his version of the story of human being’s primal living status and desire.You will not believe what you see,how human beings live in a remote and primitive place like this,how they worship God and unswervingly stick to the survival rules. The last half an hour is so devastating that you can hardly find a match in any other film. If you have never seen his films before,start with this.
It’s Your Turn
Have you seen any of the films above? Any of them interest you?