Film Reviews by GF

Welcome to GF's film reviews page. GF has written 6 reviews and rated 10 films.

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Boudu Saved from Drowning

Old but delightful

(Edit) 10/06/2021

An early film film by Renoir (1932), but now splendidly restored. His first film to gain great popular and critical success. Very French, very amoral, which is, I suppose the reason for JCs dislike of it, - but charming and lyrical.

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The Trial

No subtitles, misjudged ending.

(Edit) 28/05/2021

Useless to me because it did not have the subtitles in English that it was said to have.

According to Norman Nicholson's book 'Man and Literature' 'The Trial' and 'The Castle' are both deeply religious books by Kafka; 'The Trial' dealing with Divine Justice and 'The Castle' with Divine Grace. This was also the view of Kafka's translator, Edwin Muir. 'The Trial' as a book ended with Joseph K, the protagonist, being executed by officials of the court. He seems to accept his punishment as just, although he does not know what he has been guilty of. Divine Justice is not to be judged by human standards and is inscrutable to mere humans. It must be accepted without question.. Orson Welles has changed the ending and has given K a moment of rebellion when he turns against his executioners and drives them away. This seems an unjustifiable change, and it damages the story.

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Educating Rita

New lease of life ?

(Edit) 02/03/2021

The story tells of Rita, a young woman of little education, who enrols for an Open University course on English Literature, a subject on which she is profoundly ignorant. She is assigned to a tutor who at first turns her away as an unsuitable pupil, but then, finding her intent on completing the course, reluctantly teaches her how to answer exam questions on literature in the approved manner, although he points out that this involves suppressing her natural feelings, and indeed even her personality. With a couple of excellent actors this makes an amusing story, but it is not clear what the filmmakers wanted for Rita, or wanted us to think about her. She works hard and makes impossibly rapid progress, but whether this is of value to her is doubtful. She is torn, or perhaps one should say liberated, from her old environment, she loses her marriage, her job as a hairdresser, and the friends with whom she used to enjoy herself at the pub, but she fails to find any new environment to which she is at all fitted. She seems to be left in Limbo. She passes her exam, for which she has been well coached, but if this is supposed to be a happy ending it is only on a very superficial level.

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Edward II

A queer Edward II

(Edit) 10/05/2020

This very individual adaptation of Marlowe's Edward II made me long for a more traditional performance of the play. Here we have Marlowe's words, but often accompanied by or interspersed with action that is more extreme ( generally more violent and more obscene, but sometimes more childish) than anything to be found in the text. The actors appear in modern dress, and the young Edward III plays with 20th century toys. This may enable Derek Jarman to make some non-Marlovian satirical points, but its incongruousness is damaging to the realism of the play which is basically a true story of known events in the history of 14th century England. The play is sensationalised and trivialised at the same time. Jarman's version does not have the weight that the text requires. Edward III is the only good character in the play, and in the final scenes he is required to restore order and normality after the troubled reign of his father. In Jarman's version he is too childish and does not have the dignity and authority that would enable him to fill this role successfully.

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Spirit of the Beehive

Slow and obscure

(Edit) 06/04/2019

The photography has been rightly praised and gives a memorable picture of the wide almost empty landscapes and the simple houses of the more arid parts of the Castilian plateau. The acting may also be good, although this is difficult to judge unless the actors'roles are more clearly defined than they are in this film. But that is not nearly enough to make this a good film. The plot is very thin, with many unexplained actions and incidents which create an unnecessary air of mystery. The film is very slow, with many shots, particularly close-ups, held for far too long, as if the director was unable to find any speech or action that would clarify his intentions. (And why on earth are the little country girls so often shown with obvious lipstick on ? Someone should have told the make-up artist that he was overdoing it.)

We are told several times about the lives and habits of bees, but if there is such a thing as 'the spirit of the beehive' it seems to be singularly lacking in the people of this Spanish village. The supposed references to the Spanish Civil War are also hard to find. If this film was considered a classic of the European cinema in the 1970s its reputation has dwindled since then.

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Gertrud

A Tale of Ruined Lives.

(Edit) 26/03/2017

In her youth Gertrud falls in love with a rising poet, and lives with him for three happy years. Then she notices that he is paying rather less attention to her than to his career. For this reason she leaves him. She has the unrealistic notion that romantic love should last indefinitely and remain as passionate as it was at the beginning (and moreover that it is the one and only thing in life that matters).

From the time she deserts the poet she lives a frustrated life. She marries another man whom she doesn't love (though she still expects him to show a romantic passion for her). Then she leaves him and falls for a young pianist who only wanted her as a temporary mistress and soon gets shot of her. So neither of these relationships brings her any contentment, and she lives the rest of her life in melancholy solitude.

One wonders why Dreyer wanted to give us a portrait of Gertrud. She is not an attractive character. Her inability to benefit from the possibilities for happiness in her own life ruins the lives both of her first love and of her husband, with either of whom she could have had a good home had she not been so self-centred and so unappreciative of anything except romantic passion.

The story is told with clarity and with the careful artistry that we expect from Dreyer, and it is well acted in a stylised way that has obviously been rigorously controlled by the director. Presumably he was satisfied with his achievement. But whereas some of his earlier films attained the level of tragedy, this one, lacking both dramatic incidents and a worthy protagonist, remains dismal.

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