From Mayerling to Sarajevo          Max Ophüls          1940

The aristocratic life is here.  The court, the manners and moeurs.  Production design and clothes.  But the visual sparkle, the dazzling camera to which we have become accustomed in the films of Ophüls are missing.  There is a great deal of talk.  It is good,smart talk, but it means that the film’s ideas and emotions are seldom given to us pictorially.

The performances are all very good.  Gabrille Dorziat is excellent and Edwidge Feuillère  is outstanding.

Minor Ophüls.

(Personal note:  I treasure a letter from Max Ophüls.  Watch for a coming blog, “Celebrities I Have Known.”)

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L’Abus de faiblesse          Catherine Breillat (director and writer)          2013

—  with Isabelle Huppert and Kool Shen

This Breillat admirer feels that the film does not go anywhere or get anywhere.  The director may not have wanted it to go anywhere or get anywhere.  She may have a where that’s unknown or unknowable for me.  But surely this is not simply the study of the neurosis of a woman needing to feel degraded.  Huppert does not act as if she feels degraded nor as if she wants to be.

How does she act?  She is remarkable in depicting her character’s post-stroke physical state.  But the writing here does not offer the queen of subtlety much about which to be subtle.  I feel as confused about her behavior as are her mystified children.  (What happened to the husband/father, by the way?  Did I miss that?)

As the minimal and repetitive plot proceeds I find her ex-con companion and actor more polite, likable and honest than she is.  Shen is indeed Kool in his part.

Until then,
See you at the movies,


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