Clare's Criterion Collection

Here Is My Criterion Collection. See What I Have Bought & Read My Reviews. Follow Me As I Explore My Collection.

Review # 21 – Red Beard

redSpine # 159

Available on DVD

Special Features:

  • New high-definition digital transfer, with restored image and sound and enhanced for widescreen televisions
  • Audio commentary by Kurosawa film scholar Stephen Prince
  • Notes by Japanese film historian Donald Richie
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer editionNew cover by Eric Skillman

Review

I normally post my reviews in the order that I watch the films but today I am going to break that rule. This film cannot wait for me to get into gear and I still have a few more to write ups ahead of this one (so much to do, so little time).

Why am I rushing to tell you about Red Beard? Well, my review is very simple and to the point:

You Have To Watch This Film!

The setting is a small rural clinic during 19th Century Japan. The patients and local residents are poor, however, a Doctor by the name of Red Beard cares for them. A newly qualified Doctor, who was expecting to work for the ruling Court, is sent to join him as an Intern.

I know I am not the best writer in the world 😉 and trying to put what I felt and experienced whilst watching this film is very difficult. The scenery is beautiful, every character in the film; no matter how small the role, contributes to spectacle. Some of the stories told are tragic yet they are always dealt with respect.

The Extras on this Criterion release are light but the audio commentary is something I am looking forward to viewing. This film has also reignited my interest in Akira Kurosawa (incidentally this was the last collaboration between Kurosawa and Mifune) and as a result I have borrowed 7 of his films from my local library. Hopefully you will be able to find a copy of this film and see for yourself.

I hope you find this film as stunning as I did.

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Review # 20 – Elevator To The Gallows

Elevator to The Gallows

Spine #335

Available on DVD

SPECIAL EDITION DOUBLE DISC SET:

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • New interview with actor Jeanne Moreau
  • Archival interviews with director Louis Malle, actors Maurice Ronet and Moreau, and original soundtrack session pianist René Urtreger
  • Footage of Miles Davis and Louis Malle from the soundtrack recording session
  • New video program about the score with jazz trumpeter Jon Faddis and critic Gary Giddins
  • Malle’s student film Crazeologie, featuring the title song by Charlie Parker
  • Theatrical trailers
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • A booklet featuring a new essay by critic Terrence Rafferty, an interview with Louis Malle, and a tribute by film producer Vincent Malle

    New cover by Lucien S. Y. Yang

The first thing to mention about this film is the score by Miles Davis. If you love jazz then this is something I would highly recommend for you. I will give you a little idea of what is in store with this YouTube link. The best thing to do here, to avoid spoilers, is press play then minimise the screen so that you don’t see the film.

Onto the film itself and we become involved with an adulteress couple Julien and Florence

❤ “Je t’aime je t’aime” ❤

This declaration of love is breathlessly spoken as they finalise their plan. The man in their way is a ruthless businessman who makes money off the back of misery to others.

“Have respect for war; it is your family heirloom”

Sadly this comment that still rings true with a lot of people today (this film is from the 60’s). War and killing is big business and there is always someone wanting to profit. This reminded of a play I watched last year, to see what that was please click here

Sorry for the sidetrack 🙂 There is another couple key to the storyline and I will say from the start, I found them to be annoying; a scatterbrain girl and moody boyfriend. Whilst they are an important component in regards to how incidents occur and play out, their juvenile behaviour and presence irked me. They take Julien’s car for a joyride and their fateful roadtrip begins.

Anyway, back to Julien. Have you ever found yourself trapped in a lift? Poor Julien has and it happened at a most unfortunate time. He is left to try and escape whilst Florence, his partner in crime, walks the streets of Paris desperately looking for him. The stolen car drives past and she mistakes the “scatterbrain” and her boyfriend for Julien and another woman. This “sighting” has repercussions after an early morning round up by the police, it seems it was once illegal and maybe still is, to be out and about in Paris during the small hours without your ID.

This film highlights another pet peeve of mine, law enforcement incompetence. An Assistant District Attorney prances around the room showing off to journalists by sprouting half-truths, hearsay and fitting circumstance to his theory. Thankfully (unless you are Julien & Florence) there are some people with a badge who know what they are doing and so the hunt (and power to the elevator) is on. The morning paper brings about a comical moment in the café, though the little girl needs to learn how to keep her cool and her mouth shut 🙂 The sirens blare and the net catches it’s prey.

Without revealing too much about what happens next my final note is to say this, if you are going to cheat and plot murder don’t leave your camera lying around, photos don’t lie 😉

My final thoughts on Elevator To The Gallows, in all honesty after my first watch I was a little deflated. My hopes had been high for this one, the first feature film of French director Louis Malle (I highly recommend Au Revoir Les Enfants). It was only after another watch, along with the Criterion Extras, whilst writing this post, did I develop more of an appreciation. Please bear this in mind when you watch, it may take more than one viewing.

Enjoy.

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Review # 19 – Paths of Glory

PoG

Spine # 538

Available on Blu-ray & DVD

  • New high definition digital transfer made from 35 mm film elements restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive in cooperation with MGM Studios, with funding provided by the Film Foundation and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • New audio commentary featuring critic Gary Giddins
  • Excerpt from a 1966 audio interview with director Stanley Kubrick
  • Television interview from 1979 with star Kirk Douglas
  • New video interviews with Kubrick’s longtime executive producer Jan Harlan, Paths of Glory producer James B. Harris, and actress Christiane Kubrick
  • French television piece about a real-life World War I execution that partly inspired the film
  • Theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by film scholar James Naremore

    New cover by F. Ron Miller

2014 has marked the 100-year anniversary of the beginning of The Great War. A 4 year bloody mess across the landscape of Europe that would claim the lives of over 16 million people and cause a further 21 million to be wounded. After watching Paths of Glory I can understand how those horrific figures were achieved 😦

Right from the start the complete disregard for life was there for all to see and continued all the way through the film. The contemptuous attitude of the Generals, safe in their opulent mansions miles from enemy lines made me mad, raging mad.

An impossible attack is launched after the promise of promotion, 8000 men sent into the trenches to flatter the ego of an arrogant man, a man who would later kill 3 of his own. I do hope you are now asking yourself why someone, a man in charge of thousands of lives would have his own men killed and not just but anyone, no, killed by their comrades, their Brothers in Arms!

According to our General there was no such condition as shellshock, later referred to as combat stress reaction and more commonly known today as post-traumatic stress disorder. Those showing signs were told to “snap out of it”. Orders were to be obeyed at all times and sadly for our 3, when faced with the impossible attack they were made to pay the ultimate price for the Company. The charge was “cowardice in the face of the enemy”

There is a famous scene, one you may have already seen even without having watched the whole film, where Colonel Dax (Kirk Douglas) vents his frustration

“I apologize… for not being entirely honest with you. I apologize for not revealing my true feelings. I apologize, sir, for not telling you sooner that you’re a degenerate, sadistic old man. And you can go to hell before I apologize to you now or ever again!”

If only he has been able to protect his men more from the bureaucrats and BS 😦 The final scene of the film featured the future wife of Director Stanley Kubrick. It is a little hard to put into words what happens during those minutes but the affect on everyone in that bar is there for all to see.

As I said at the start, this film made me mad and still does as I write this review. Mistakes were made during WWI but when you look around the world today it seems that those who pull the strings have chosen to ignore the harsh lessons of 1914-1918. Whilst men may no longer be sent “over the top” they are still fighting pointless wars on behalf of those safely away from the battlefields. A 100 years later corporate HQ’s have replaced the mansions!

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