Forbidden Games

Rene Clement’s Forbidden Games gives us a lot to talk about this week as Pat and I run through various consonant interpretations of the film — though none of ours include the idea that our two young protagonists are in a proto-sexual relationship, an interpretation that seems far too widespread to not say something deeper about the mental state of film reviewers.

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Casque d'Or

We really, really loved our last outing from Jacques Becker. Le Trou stands as one of the pinnacles of non-horror suspense films we've seen. It was also Becker's final film, so perhaps we should assume that his earlier work would be less impressive.

We return to Becker this week with a period piece based on a real historical love triangle involving a woman with blond hair and some members of the notorious Parisian street gang Les Apaches. Wikipedia's article on the gang contains an image of what it claims is a commonly used weapon, Pat and I talk about it this week, but for those of you looking for better mental image of it, have an actual image of it.

Casque d'Or (1952) suffers for not including that gunthing. It suffers for some other reasons, too. Maybe it just suffers for not seeming as innovative as Becker's other work. Maybe the fact that it is a base criminal love story is why it's so interesting as a Becker work. Though there's also that final sequence to redeem it. Maybe.

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When confronted with mortality, a man decides to change his life. In the West these stories (A Christmas Carol, It's a Wonderful Life) are usually framed around Christmas for the inherent symbolism of the holiday in particular and winter in general.

With Ikiru (1952) Akira Kurosawa makes the best version of this type of story without any over religion, just humanity. It's quite probably his best film, though we've probably said that before.

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Umberto D.

We've already talked a bit about Italian neorealism, albeit through a filmmaker who was trying to reject the movement some years after it had died. Now we get to see the film that, arguably, killed it. Vittorio De Sica is hardly a stranger to the movement -- his Bicycle Thieves, which we'll talk about in the future, is one of its masterpieces -- but that didn't stop critics from piling on the hate for Umberto D. in 1952. Unfairly, I may add, as it's a great movie. Alas.

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The Importance of Being Earnest

This week Pat kicks things off with a diatribe against the mood whiplash that we experience going through the Criterion Collection in spine order, which also gives away that we recorded last week’s episode out of sequence since Pat says that Hearts and Minds was our last episode wasn’t.
We’re talking Anthony “Puffin” Asquith’s incredibly faithful 1952 adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, and while often a too-faithful adaptation can be grating, this is Oscar Wilde. Probably helps that it’s a short 3-scene stage play. Still, Puffin’s is definitive. Productions are still aping his style decades later, not that that keeps modern productions from doing interesting things.