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Wednesday, 30 September 2015

PUTUPARRI AND THE RAINMAKERS - A Major new Oz doco opens this week

Andrew Pike, CEO of passionate indy distributor Ronin Films writes about the company’s latest release, a feature length doco titled PUTUPARRI AND THE RAINMAKERS. “The film recently won Australia’s biggest cash award for Australian films, at CineFestOz, ahead of a slate of new Aussie feature dramas, and is now in theatrical release.  It opens at Cinema Nova in Melbourne tomorrow, and many other locations follow through Oct and Nov.  In total we have some 18 locations - a very good spread for a doco.  It has opened first in Broome and took $5,000 over its first 5 sessions:  of course it has local content, but a fabulous result.

Andrew’s own thoughts on the film make no secret of his admiration: PUTUPARRI AND THE RAINMAKERS is an astonishing ten-year labour of love by filmmaker Nicole Ma, documenting the fragile line by which endangered Indigenous cultures are passed from one generation to the next. The fragility of this slender thread has been observed in other films, but rarely with such compassion, honesty and richness of detail. The poignancy of the film is profound as we gradually come to understand the personal burden of responsibility which drives Spider and Dolly, and transforms the lives of the next generation. See  our website here for further details.


The SMH published this very supportive review by Philippa Hawker yesterday here.

Barrie Pattison in (the fleshpots of) Paris (3) - Gaspar Noe, Youssef Chahine & Omar Sharif, Marco Bellocchio

In amongst all the ambiance spiced by Greek sandwiches eaten on the bank of the Seine, I saw  Gaspar Noe's  LOVE which is the most explicit movie to get mainstream showing that I know. If you like close ups of penises coming in 3D, it's certainly better than LAST TANGO on which it's clearly modeled and not without interest. Interesting to see if it gets any action in Oz.*

Youssef Chahine
Omar Sharif - Youseff Chahine retro at the Insitute of Arab studies. They pass you through metal detectors. The films were so so but that's an important gap filled.

Marco Bellocchio
Marco Bellochio introduced his new SANGUE DEL MIO SANGUE (Blood of My Blood) in person ("not a motion picture") and I understand it even less well after he explained it. Great Caravaggio-styled images, a deliberately disorienting change of tone, terrific performances (Alba Rohrwacher does a walk on - just to be perverse). Attention grabbing stuff, but ultimately frustrating as all this significance loaded material proves to mean something only to Marco and his mates. I was tempted to be one of the people he went on talking to outside the Lumina but I figured I'd look doubly dumb not understanding the movie and not understanding the language.

Victor Fleming at Pordenone is only days away. The Curtiz book looks like arriving just in time. Sometimes it all gets more interesting than others.

(The film has been given a certificate by the Australian censor and recently screened at the Sydney Underground Film Festival prior to, one assumes, commercial theatrical screenings in whatever cinemas are game enough to show it. - ED)

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

The Duvivier Dossier (23) - Max Berghouse reviews Le Fin Du Jour (1939)

Le Fin de Jour (Eng: End of the Day), Director: Julien Duvivier , Script: Charles Spaak, Cast: Victor Francen (Marny), Michel Simon (Ernest Cabrissade),Louis Jouvet (Raphael St Clair) and Madeleine Ozeray (Jeanette), France, 1939, 99 minutes.

In discussions with the esteemed Geoff Gardner concerning details of the life of Julien Duvivier, in the hope that greater knowledge would give us insight into his particular artistic choices, which being so varied, have contributed to his uneven reputation, we have to acknowledge that neither we, nor apparently anyone else, had significant knowledge. It is known that he trained as an actor and then became a "journeyman artisan" learning the craft of directing. This information seems to me very significant in his form of choice in the film Le Fin du Jour which superficially concerns three elderly actors in an old person's home, referred to in the film on at least one occasion as an hospice. In fact the film is really a profound and deeply felt meditation on ageing and death.

It is one of the director's finest works and is an absolute "pleasure" from beginning to end. I say pleasure in terms of the sheer enjoyment of the beauty of craftsmanship from both director and all his actors, not pleasure at the subject matter, which has a deep sense of foreboding from the very first scene. At this incipient stage of my review I should also mention the superlative script of Charles Spaak. Elegant and tight as ever and intensifying the mood of the film which is set almost literally in a cloister (the rest home is a former abbey), the script and the script writer work hand in glove with the director, but really deserve analysis by themselves. Something I shall have to consider.

Duvivier in his training as an actor was presumably partly or significantly occupied in repertory, involving constant changes of plays, roles, and venues. The first scenes of Le Fin du Jour capture a down at heel repertory company to which is attached St Clair, a once noted actor, but now clearly on the skids. From an almost empty theatre, the troupe has to pack bags, break scenery and make for a train in a matter of minutes. On the platform St Clair announces that he is going to his country home. Not corrected by the rest of the actors, they know that he is moving into the actors’ retirement home.

The balance of the film is really the interaction of the three actors mentioned above. While all the actors perform very creditably, it is clearly these three who dominate. And rightly so because they were the cream of the crop in terms of acting during this period.

Right from the beginning, I should also mention the intellectual commentary between members of the troupe, which to some extent is taken up in the retirement home: that of the decline of, not so much traditional, but of classic theatre. Duvivier as a man of the screen must have been aware of the general decline of theatrical audiences in the France of his day, significantly caused by cinema. But there is a rather deeper explanation than that which relates to the decline of "classic" (meaning in this case rhymed verse theatre) compared to prose theatre. This is a dispute that in France is still called a dispute between Racine and Corneille. It still goes on and it is significantly concerned with a dispute about the health of French culture generally. St Clair declares subsequently that he is interested exclusively in prose theatre whereas Marny, although not a great success with the public – he is an "actors' actor" has remained dedicated to verse language theatre.

From the very beginning St Clair is introduced and played as a gross narcissist. The sort of completely self preoccupied loner who is psychopathically unaware of anyone or anything, save as it relates to burnishing his own glory. Shortly after his arrival he is gifted an extremely valuable ring – Fr.100,000 – from a deceased lover of many years prior. He struggles to remember who she was and finds it easier to recall and describe the course upon whom he bet and won, thus enabling him to buy the ring. He does this in the presence of the late woman's lawyer who has brought the ring. He is completely oblivious to the disgust of the lawyer, who leaves the small restaurant/bar adjacent to the retirement home, rather than stay in St Clair's presence. St Clair subsequently and in very grand and unnecessary style, leaves for Monte Carlo and loses the lot. He is the absolutely typical leading man star.

Whatever high-minded principle the main characters maintain, they are all destitute. Their survival depends upon the charity of others. This indifference which to "normal people" would cause enormous distress, is largely absent from the consideration of any of the residents. They live in an insular world relating to "the business" but in this case truncated to the theatre alone. This is referred to towards the end by Cabrissade, in reaction to news that the retirement home will close, in that it is essential that theatre people, despite their frailties, stick together and be kept together because they are as people are largely constructed by their environment. In my view and experience, this is an utterly accurate, compelling and not particularly favourable view of actors. It has been said to me in the past that unflattering films about "the industry" are never made because no one is ever encouraged to "shit in their own nest". This film is proof of the reverse and not insignificantly presumably stemmed from the director's own life experiences.

Already at the nursing home is Cabrissade an incorrigible prankster and buffoon. It becomes clear, though subtly, that his childlike behaviour is an attempt to avoid facing age and declining vitality. If one remains young then there remains the possibility of finally being discovered. He like most of the residents is alone. Part of this is perhaps due to his financial failure: he was a lifetime understudy to a star who never got sick! But the remaining part we infer is this substantial narcissism of all actors. They cannot share the limelight with anyone.

Also at the retirement home is Marny, deeply embittered by his lack of success, but also by the loss of his wife, who deserted him in favour of St Clair, years prior. She died in mysterious circumstances, apparently the result of a shooting accident which haunts Marny. That she may have suicided causes him great despair and the working through of his detestation of St Clair as it intersects with the death of his wife, is one of the truly outstanding parts of this film. St Clair as an "older man" is the object of infatuation by Jeanette, whom he encourages to suicide at the prospect of St Clair leaving the retirement home. That anyone could promote such behaviour is obviously vile but the director in his usual, quite objective style, makes no apparent comment on the behaviour, leaving it to us.

Like all great cinema, this film can be viewed in a number of ways. Obviously there is the attention to the detail of theatre and what the desire for success under the limelight can do. Touchingly, the director shows some scenes of people in the retirement home, capable of affection and respect for others: one resident buttering the bread of another elderly female actress, because her sight is poor, for example. But it is quite unflinching in its solipsism as regards the principal actors, all of whom are excellent. The other aspect is as previously referred to, a meditation on ageing and death. Everyone finds some means of simply ignoring this eternal reality.

I had taken it for granted that the director came from a traditional Catholic background and his belief structures moved, as evidenced by his films, to pessimism possibly nihilism. This is because a number of his earlier films feature traditional Christian subject matter. Now I am not so sure. Perhaps he took these craft works on, simply because it was work. Perhaps he always had a disdain for false hope – as he saw it. I believe that's why I would like to know much more about his biography.

The Current Cinema - Legend - Are the Brits any better......

Tom Hardy & Emily Browning
For 131 minutes Legend (Brian Helgeland, UK, 2015) winds its way along the trail of the life of Reggie and Ronnie Kray, a couple of Brit eastenders who indulged in criminal mayhem in London through the fifties into the mid-60s before they were both put away for the rest of their lives. The trope in the movie is to have them both played by the same actor, the rather brilliant Tom Hardy - an inheritor of the techniques of Olivier, Gielgud, Burton, Bates, Finney, Irons, Branagh and others and perhaps the current greatest actor of his generation.

Early on, Ronnie mentions that he's the ugly one of the twins and he's right.His face is round, puffy and featureless, adorned by spectacles. His brother Reggie's is chiselled, prominent in the cheekbones, handsome. Ronnie is homosexual and early on makes a little speech to Reggie's new girlfriend Frances (Emily Browning, the Australian actress whose technical assurance in her dialogue rivals that of Tom Hardy) on the need for people to be open about themselves. Reggie spots Frances as a sixteen year old studying at Pitman's Secretarial College and eventually causes her to suicide. The fitful narration in the film, designed to give us just a few more clues about what was going on, is uttered by Frances Sunset Boulevard fashion.

There have been previous attempts to put the Kray brothers up on the screen, most obviously The Krays (Peter Medak, UK, 1990), made before either had died, and starring the twins Martin and Gary Kemp from Spandau Ballet. I feel fairly certain as well that Joseph Losey's The Criminal (UK, 1960) owes more than a little to scriptwriter Alun Owen filching some elements of the Kray story and lifestyle. There are probably more than a few others. So this is not un-trodden territory and we have to have something new to distinguish it. The new thing is Hardy's virtuoso performances as the brothers, distinct, physically different and for much of the film envious of each other but afraid to take the apparent next step of killing off that which is disliked. Blood is blood.

But, it's a plod and though there are all the set pieces and much  a clef material featuring who's who in London society, politics and gangsterland (including even Harold Wilson the exasperated PM who wants something done about the Krays until the police put photos of one of his Labour MPs, Tom Driberg, enjoying himself at one of Ronnie's gay orgies.) But it remains somehow a picture looking in from too far outside. Too few sequences involve much intimacy between the brothers and Frances. There is for instance a scene where Reggie introduces Frances to Ronnie who, having cheated his way out of jail, is living a caravan in the woods. Huh. How and why come to mind.

As I said about Cut Snake, doing crime isn't easy. Losey did it as effortlessly as Altman and Hawks. but others struggle.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Cut Snake - We dont do crime pictures very well

Back in December 2012, Screen Australia  announced it would invest over $11.4 million in five feature films and six television series, one of which is for children. The story was reported thus in Inside Film
The feature projects include Kill Me Three Times from Red Dog director Kriv Stenders, The Darkside from writer/director Warwick Thornton, debut feature Fell from Kasimir Burgess, crime-thriller Cut Snake from director Tony Ayres (Home Song Stories) and comedy Now Add Honey from successful comedy team Wayne Hope and Robyn Butler (The Librarians).
Screen Australia’s Chief Executive Ruth Harley said, “It’s great to end the year investing in such a dynamic range of feature films from a good mix of experienced practitioners and emerging talent.
“I’m thrilled to announce Warwick Thornton’s highly creative and resonant Indigenous story, The Darkside. The smart and stylish thriller Cut Snake comes from a talented and experienced team and Kill Me Three Times is a well-told tale that knows its genre and audience from one of Australia’s most renowned and respected film directors, Kriv Stenders.....”
Warwick Thornton got The Darkside  done and dusted pretty quickly, by the end of 2013 if I recall. It was a remarkable movie though very modest in its means and its ambitions. Extremely limited theatrical release was quickly followed by screenings on the ABC main channel. Fell had a screening at the Sydney Film Festival and producer John Maynard tried out some experimental marketing whereby the film quickly went straight to some video on demand service. Now Add Honey, a domestic rom-com disappeared off the radar but emerged to be selected as the opening night presentation for this year’s AFI/AACTA Awards presumably prior to a commercial opening shortly.  

Cut Snake premiered at the Melbourne Film Festival in 2014 and was a month or so later selected for screening at Toronto in 2014 along with Kill Me Three Times. Don Groves rounded up some critical reports out of the festival which only mentioned Cut Snake. There were mostly positive comments.  (Since then Kill Me Three Times seems to have near disappeared playing none of the major Australian festivals but has recently been released on DVD.)

Now Cut Snake has its moment in the sun. A four star review by Paul Byrnes in the SMH backed it up. There may have been more critical support but I don’t keep up.  However only a handful of punters turned up for the main Friday evening screening at the Dendy Newtown and on that very anecdotal basis I suspect the movie has flopped. No one wants to see what Dr Ruth called, almost three years ago a “smart and stylish thriller ... from a talented and experienced team.”

I dont recall a Tony Ayres feature film that has grabbed any big stake in the local audience. His adaptation of Christos Tsiolkas's The Slap however was a big hit, a worthy representation of the already iconic novel that peeled back the skin of life in the inner suburbs amongst the urban milieu of middle class drug takers, philanderers and dissatified wives. But lurking within every director is a desire to have a crack at a noir, a crime story, a movie with gangsters and guns and desirable women whom men fight over and make fools of themselves about. Doing something in the genre has a universal appeal. Everyone has an idea that will have them compared to Altman and his The Long Goodbye or Hawks The Big Sleep. But its fair to say that the seemingly effortless work of an Altman or a Hawks isn't as easy as it looks.

Watching Cut Snake It makes me ponder this conundrum again for it goes to the heart of the kind of crime films we make here, especially those that come the mill of funding by Screen Australia and the glowing words in advance by (the now departed) Ruth Harley. Let me as a qualifier that we seem to do crime quite well on TV – everything from vintage things on the ABC through franchises like Underbelly which pillage the history of such people as my former school attendees Christopher Dale Flannery and Tony Mokbel all the way tothose smart Jack Irish telemovies with Guy Pearce and the great collection of Fitzroy supporters in the pub which seems to sell about eight beers a day to its denizens.  

But, inevitably because of the nature of a slow moving government supported/propped up industry, we don’t have any feature film directors who specialise in the area even to the extent that they have such craftsman in the Sandinavian countries in exactly the same way as the Scandi nations do huge amounts of crime writing. (We actually do have a cottage industry of Australian crime writers.) But every so often over the years some among the more talented list of directors get to have a crack at something that resembles an attempt to play to the rules of the genre. There will be more than this that might quickly come to mind but Gregor Jordan, David Michod. David Caesar, Ivan Sen and now Tony Ayres have all had a crack at it and none really delivered very much. I don’t think any of their pictures are going to assume the place that say Jean-Pierre Melville’s movies do in French cinema or the place occupied by Seijun Suzuki,  Miike Takashi or Takeshi Kitano in Japan or goodness knows how many beyond Andy Lau and Johnnie To in Hong Kong. This is all off the top of the head but it’s prompted by wondering about Cut Snake and its back story of gay prison love which comes to threaten love, peace and equilibrium for a seemingly charming young couple.

Crime films give you the chance to talk about something else while keeping your audience involved in mysterious, frequently enigmatic but playful  and usually violent activity. Cut Snake  in fact takes unpleasantness quite some way. The bashings are very strongly represented, especially that of a pimp in the back room of a pub. Sullivan Stapleton, who started perfecting his act in Michod’s debut feature Animal Kingdom,  does menace and physical threat very well and Tony Ayres sets up the scene for confrontation. All of it occurs way way back in 1974, the pre-AIDS era. I’m not sure why that is except for the fact that AIDS might complicate things more than needed.  Sullivan as Pommie, the recently released hard-boiled crim is an authentic character, full of spite and meanness and like most petty criminals utterly lacking in affect. Completely stupid is another way of putting it. His attempts to resume a gay prison relationship with the gentle Merv, now planning marriage to a sweet young waitress, creates a genuine edge though the film squibs the more exciting possibilities of Pommie simultaneously pursuing the young waitress's friend as well as Merv. 

There is some tension but the film rushes toward a violent finale rather than engages itself with any intricate plotting. (Melville always had a genuine piece of criminal endeavour working its way through the story, the relationships and the betrayals of trust.) It all pans out into stock heroics. Hmmmm... Not very convincing and all brought about by some very mediocre cops. The ending simply lacks authentic agony.

Hard to say that it was worth the three year, or was that four years, wait for this to get done.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Barrie Pattison in Paris (2)

It will be hard to leave  - full of only in Paris moments.  Yesterday I was walking along the barge mooring area and found a German graffiti artist doing a Flip the Frog themed painting on the wall. He was intrigued to learn that the character existed in colour and we had a conversation about purloined imagery. This comes the day after I spotted a tramp stretched out on a subway grating for warmth, listening to the radio on his mobile 'phone.


Catherine Frot
Simone Signoret retro off to a poor start with Michel Drach's 1981 GUY DE MAUPASSANT, a truly bad movie which is a grim mix of high culture references and T&A. Miou Miou proves to have had a great build, as does (who would have believed it?) a young Catharine Frot. Omar Sharif & Youseff Chahine at the weekend. 

The Duvivier Dossier (22) - Max Berghouse reviews Maria Chapdelaine (1934)

Maria Chapdelaine, Dir:Julien Duvivier, Script: Julien Duvivier from a novel by Louis Hemon, Cast: Madeleine Renaud/Maria, Jean Gabin/François Paradis, Jean- Pierre Aumont/Lorenzo Surprenant,  Suzanne Depres/Laura Chapdelaine, Alexandre Regnaut/Eutrope Gagnon, France, 1934, 75 minutes.

This early sound, but none the less mature, film by Julien Duvivier is highly rated by critics and is also a prize winner. While regarded by some as the first successful example of "poetic realism ", unfortunately I cannot support that judgement, at least of critical success. I think the passage of time and modern viewers' greater insensitivity to natural life, renders a more positive judgement very difficult. The film is based on a novel of the same name published in 1914, about a year after the author’s death, by a Frenchman living in Canada, Louis Hemon,. It received rapturous reviews on publication and has been published continuously ever since, remaining an important source of identity in Québec. The story concerns the pursuit in marriage of pure and innocent Maria by three men, equally worthy in their own way: the timber man, François; the "modern" man Lorenzo who has escaped from provincial life to the city and the farmer Alexandre who aspires to nothing more than to remain where he has always been.

The overwhelming bulk of production took place in the upper reaches of Québec near the township of Peribonka. Of course I recognise that this must have been substantially difficult but that decision imposed a very real cost on the completed film. The setting is the early years of the 20th century, whereas the clothing and manners of the actors and the matte shots of the big city Lorenzo describes to Maria, are clearly of the 1930s. There is nothing overtly egregious like a modern day motorcar, but the ensemble effect is much diminished and in fact when I saw shots of horses and buggies, I thought these choices were very overt and unsubtle, just inserts to make clear that it was an early period, earlier than the actual time of production.

Secondly, as in most films of more or less restricted budget, with considerable use of on-site locations, there is a tendency to over use the shots of the real background. Duvivier has a great compositional eye, but most of these shots run on rather too long. Others however may be more patient than I. Moreover most of these scenes are captured in longshot with a diminished sense of engagement partly because they are invariably shown with clearly post-dubbed music or singing voices. This happened so consistently that it drew attention to the fact that there were clearly technical limitations at work – limitations I quite understand. Sound equipment was both cumbersome and crude at the time and taking genuine sound shots would have been very difficult.

It is a matter of common historical knowledge that the Québec provincial/farming society was exceptionally insular and closed. While the Catholic Church and in particular its clergy were authoritarian generally in the pre-Vatican II period, this seems to have been particularly noteworthy in Québec. Indeed many social commentators from the 1960s onwards have indicated that a substantial reason for Québec being able to integrate itself better into Canadian and modern life came from a willingness to become more independent from the clergy. In the film this degree of authoritarian control is indicated by the parish priest of Peribonka treating Maria quite harshly in her deep regret over the death by exposure of François. He left the timber camp during the Christmas period when Canada is desperately cold, and perishes. Maria had thought that, in accordance with custom, if she had said 1000 Hail Mary's, her wish, in this case that François return to her, would be fulfilled.


Secondly at the funeral for her mother, whose death is at least partly caused by lack of availability of proper medical care, the priest makes positive note in the eulogy of the separateness of the French of the province and their retreat away from the "invaders" (the dreaded English), keeping themselves to themselves for the prior 300 years. This seems to be a material cause for the decision to remain where she is and to marry Eutrope despite the temptation to leave with Lorenzo.

I am profoundly uncomfortable with French "poetic realism". I can revel in the beauty of captured pastoral scenery but the idealisation of the harsh and brutal poverty and provincialism that this pastoral world underlies, seems to me to become more depressing year by year as I grow older. At the level of pure cinema, the characterisation of all the main actors, and especially Maria, seems to me to be grossly unrealistic. The grinding poverty and the intense cold would seem to me a sure invitation to leave while the going is good. It is equally unappealing to me that directors – there is a whole host of French directors who were engaged in displays of poetic realism – wouldn't think of living such a life for themselves but were quite prepared to project it onto screens as something inherently desirable. I find this a perfect example of what Sartre called in the immediate post-Second World War period "bad faith" (mauvais fois).

The film moves painfully slowly and is completely comprehensible if watched at two or three times normal viewing speed. I know because I watched part of it a second time just to check. At the same time even though it's only 74 minutes long, it seems too long!

I conclude with one perhaps fanciful thought. Perhaps it's best to view this film as part of the intellectual path along which Duvivier lost his religious faith and pretty much all his optimism. Perhaps his depiction of the sterility and acceptance of an otherwise unacceptable life, and the uncomprehending and unsympathetic role of Catholic clergy, was part of his own development as a person. If that be the case, then the film is worth watching on that count alone.

AFTRS and the quality curve redux

The most popular and widely read post ever on this blog can be found here.  


It is believed to have brought the School to a number of mind-numbing moments of reflection and has been read by senior management, board members, staff and students. It has now slipped down the list in the panel at the side and I'm trying to work out how to put a running banner to make it easy for people to find. In the meantime use the link.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Indian Film Festival - Sydney 1-4 October, 2015

Adrienne McKibbins writes to advise of the forthcoming Indian Film Festival in Sydney from 1-4 October at Hoyts Cinema Paris in the Moore Park Entertainment Quarter 
The upcoming Indian Film Festival, with films from  all parts of India and beyond, including a unique animation from Pakistan, BURKA AVENGER and a documentary on the Oscar winning composer - "the Mozart from Madras" AR Raman-- Jai Ho 





There are two films featuring actor Irfan Khan, know to many in the west for his work, in The Lunchbox, Spiderman, Jurassic World and The Namesake. He will be seen in the opening night film TALVAR, this is a premiere and will then be released worldwide from Friday 2nd October. He will also be seen in the sleeper hit PIKU, which also stars the legend of Hindi cinema Amitabh Bachchan, and the current queen of Hindi cinema Deepika Padukone

Further information on individual films go to www.indianfilmfestival.com.au or contact Adrienne at Cinegirl@bigpond.com









Vale Yoram Gross - Some memories and tributes from friends - More to come

Yoram Gross was a major figure in the Australian cinema. His niche in animation was a special one and made him beloved of many who found him a unique voice. Some personal email tributes are flying around and I've asked a few people for permission to post them here. As they agree and as more perhaps arrive, I'll keep adding them.

 Graham Shirley, Chair of the Film & Broadcast Industries Oral History Group, writes:
For those of you who have not yet heard the news, Yoram Gross passed away yesterday - http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/movies/film-producer-yoram-gross-has-died-at-age-88/story-e6frfmvr-1227538851340

I met Yoram several times over the years, with most of my contact with him and his wife Sandra being in 2001 and 2002, when, for NFSA, I recorded an audio interview with them both, then, with FBIOHG’s David Perry as cameraman, a video interview.  Despite the fact that both of them were at that time extremely busy with their company, EM-TV, Yoram and Sandra graciously and in very good spirits made time for what turned out to be an in-depth and valuable interview.  In 2011 they kindly invited me to the Polish Embassy, Canberra, for the launch of Yoram’s autobiography, My Animated Life

Tom Jeffrey writes:
Thank you for letting us know, Graham.
Yoram Gross made a HUGE contribution to the Australian film industry - and was such a lovely, lovely man.  A very sad loss.

Lynn Gailey writes:
Yoram was a true gentleman.

Malcolm Smith writes
My eulogy for Yoram. 


I would like to honour my very dear friend Yoram.

I first met Yoram and Sandra in the late sixties, relatively soon after I had migrated to Australia from the UK having previously spent three years in Israel where I had learnt Hebrew leavened with a cockney accent.

I was working at the Commonwealth Film Unit and one auspicious day was called to bring my cockney Hebrew to good use to translate the finer Ivrit of newly arrived migrants, Yoram and Sandra, from Israel who were looking for work.

We immediately became firm friends and family.

Yoram and Sandra were a remarkable team. A long term friendship and partnership. A marriage and a business.

Over the years Yoram forged a bridge of hope from the horrors of the holocaust to creative and commercial success both in Israel and Australia.

There was a substantial cultural depth to Yoram expressed through art, music, photography and the media. And always a wonderful humanity.

He truly loved and cared for children and spent most of his life entertaining them and bringing joy. Yoram Gross Films is a lasting testament to this.


Whenever I met with Yoram the routine was to extend my right hand at waist level, palm up and then Yoram raised his right arm in friendly recognition before smashing his hand down on mine with maximum force.

"Ah la la Mr Smith" he would say.

"Ah Monsieur Gross" I would grimace  and we would immediately relax into each other's company and affection.

I will miss that.

Yoram's idiosyncratic humour was renowned and mostly misunderstood. There was a European and Yiddish wryness to it.  A Jewish rye!  Which is the type of joke Yoram would have told if he had thought of it first.

Yoram and Sandra's legacy is their close and talented family, the affection of a wide circle of friends and admirers and their Studio and generous contributions to the world of cinema and television.

"Ah Monsieur Gross - Jeanette and I will miss you. "

David Tiley has written a great appreciation of Yoram's life and work in Screen Hub which you can find here



If you would like to add some words email them to me at geofg2@bigpond.com 

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Barrie Pattison whirls through Paris

Supercinephile Barrie Pattison is on his way to the Pordenone Silent Film Festival. There may be more reports.


The problem with DVDs here in Paris is where to stop. I collected a thirties Stavisky scandal movie I didn't know about and a nice copy of THE IRON MISTRESS (Gordon Douglas, USA, 1952). I left STARS IN MY CROWN (Jacques Tourneur, USA, 1950) behind as it' been on local TV.

The delights of the trip are undermined by the prospect of ruination by the Australian dollar's collapse.

Benoit Poelvoorde (left) in Le Tout Nouveau Testament
New French movies are a mixed batch with the Benoit Poelvoorde Le Tout Nouveau Testament at the top of the scale. Benoit is a cranky old God (capital G) living in Brussels and tyranising his wife and child by confining the TV watching to the sports channel.

Jesus is a one foot devotional statue who animates to give his sister advice. She revolts, steals the key to Benoit's computer and sends everyone in the world a text message giving them the date of their death before escaping through linked washing machines. When Benoit follows indignantly he arrives during a wash cycle and the alarmed house wife maces him.  Unlikely likely to get English language showing.

The Michel Gondry Microbe et Gasoline  is a fun departure with the kids taking their home built car on the road disguised as a timber shack; The Arnaud Despechin Trois Souvenirs de Ma Jeunesse/My Golden Days with Mathieu Amalric (himself currently getting a Cinematheque retro) remembering his youth is also substantial; Yves Angelo's new Sylvie Testud movie Notre Fils takes a while to assert. The latest version of  The Lady in the Car with the Glasses and the Gun (Joann Sfar, France/Belgium, 2015) (As well as the Anatole Litvak film made in France in 1970, there is a Baltic version) is mainly a voyeurist exercise with the lead, Freya Mavor, in various stages of undress though the Japrisot plot occasionally asserts.

More to come.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Office - From below the radar David Young suggests a look at Johnnie To's new film

Johnnie To
The latest film by Johnnie To, Hong Kong film-making legend, is being treated with much deference. It's rare for his movies to get reviewed in the mainstream press or media but this time, after the film had its premiere at Toronto, the critical mavens have been onto it from the start. So we've had The Hollywood Reporter and Litle White Lies and Shelly Kraicer, the last being far more of an enthusiast in cinema scope

There is a supportive review by Philippa Hawker in the SMH online SMH online . I'm told that Jason Di Rosso has said kind words about it on Radio National but if you go looking for it and hit the button on the RN page marked "Subjects" nothing comes up under Film or Movies and at that point I gave up.

One matter that is worth noting is that the film was originally presented in 3D. The sets in particular would have been quite striking in this format. The copies here are 2D.

In the meantime cinephile David Young has tracked it down and sent in this note:

For a director who has made more than fifty films since 1980, Hong Kong's Johnnie To is surprisingly unknown (like many Asian directors) to the average filmgoer in Australia. Only the likes of Reading Cinema (when they were in the Haymarket), Hoyts and, lately, Event Cinemas have screened his films over the last decade or so. Highlights of his output as director include Election (2005), Mad Detective (2007), Sparrow (2008), and Life Without Principle (2011), while the interesting Eye in the Sky (2007),  Accident (2009) and Motorway (2012) were produced by him. His latest, Office (2015), is a highly stylised, slick and entertaining look at big business. It's a paean to consumerism in some segments, a primer on capitalism - the do's and the don't's - in other segments, a couple of love stories - good and bad - intertwined through the narrative, and an amazing set that reminds one of John Farrow's The Big Clock (1948) and Joel Coen's The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), in a shinier 21st Century setting, complete with a huge revolving clock that's used as a backdrop in many scenes. It's also a musical, and just like the song and dance numbers in the Chinese fantasy Monster Hunt (also 2015), they shouldn't work but they mostly do. The film can also be seen as a counterpoint to To's earlier more serious look at big business, Life Without Principle. Office has been running for a week but probably won't last too much longer; there were seven in the 10.15am session on Monday. 

Sunday, 20 September 2015

The Duvivier Dossier (21) - Neil McGlone writes about Poil de Carotte

Poil de Carotte, Dir: Julien Duvivier, Script: Julien Duvivier based on a novel by Jules Renard, Cast: Robert Lynen/Francois Lepic known as Poil de Carotte (Carrott Head), Harry Baur/M.Lepic, Catherine Fonteney/Mme Lepic,Christine Dor/Annette, France, 1932, 91 minutes.

I first saw this film in 2005 at the National Film Theatre in London as a blind-watch, knowing nothing of it, or it's director. That soon changed after seeing the film and began a love affair with the work of Julien Duvivier that continues to this day. (I warn the reader now I am going to analyse it in detail and thus give away some "spoilers".)

Jules Renard first published his autobiographical novel, "Poil de Carotte (Carrot Head)", in 1894. Renard endured a sad and unhappy childhood, as did the lead character in the story, whilst growing up in the Nièvre region of France where the film is also set. Renard was elected mayor of Chitry in 1904 as the socialist candidate, not unlike Harry Baur's character, M. Lepic, in the film.

Duvivier first filmed the story as a silent in 1925 with Henry Krauss in the role of M. Lepic, but he wasn't happy with the end result and returned to the source material in 1932, with the film being released the following year. It was this later version that would go on to become Duvivier's favourite of his own work.

M. and Madame Lepic have been married for 20 years and yet, barely a word is exchanged between them. Harry Baur plays the character of M. Lepic perfectly as a laid back, quiet and retiring father, who takes no interest in his own three children whilst Catherine Fonteney is the boisterous, controlling, dominant, cruel Madame Lepic. Her favourite of her three children is the eldest, Felix, whom she dotes on and who basically can do no wrong in her eyes. She makes Poil de Carotte carry out all the chores in the house including some quite unpleasant tasks whilst constantly playing him off against his father in some cruel sadistic game to please her. When asked at school by his teacher, what a family means to him, Poil de Carotte answers, "a group of people forced to live together under one roof, and who can't stand each other." Whilst initially this comment may seem amusing to the viewer, we later come to realise just how accurate and succinct this description is for poor Poil de Carotte.

An early scene in the film at a family dinner, Madame Lepic denies Poil de Carotte anything to eat and has him take out the leftover food in the dark to their chickens, a task he does not relish and is clearly terrified of doing. He is scared of the dark and she knows this, but she still forces him to do it. We see the boy tread carefully out into the darkness and across the yard towards the chicken coop. Duvivier plays on this scene of fear by superimposing the images of dancing white-cloaked figures hovering above Poil de Carotte in an eerie yet beautifully evocative sequence. It is not the only time in the film he uses this technique to great effect.

The scene at the river where we see a naked Poil de Carotte playing in the water (this scene was cut from some later versions of the film because of child nudity) is one of the tenderest moments that we witness with the boy. We get to see him having fun and being free, something he rarely gets to experience but clearly where he is happiest. A character he refers to as "Godfather" is fishing nearby and he strikes up a conversation with Poil de Carotte, showing us the audience that they know each other well. Then along comes a sweet little girl in a white dress called Mathilde and she asks Poil de Carotte if it is today that they are getting married. 

The scene that follows of a faux wedding between Poil de Carotte and Mathilde is one of the most beautiful sequences committed to celluloid. It is fairytale like in it's depiction with both bride and groom wearing little crowns made of flowers, Godfather playing the hurdy-gurdy and the wedding congregation; a number of farmyard animals nurturing their young. The metaphor of the farmyard animals with their young is not lost on the audience. Sadly in some versions of the film, the wedding sequence is also cut. 


The family maid who has come looking for him to take him back home drags Poil de Carotte away from his own “wedding”. He is not happy and takes his anger out on the horse that takes him and the maid home in the attached cart. Along the winding narrow country roads he whips the horse harder and harder as Duvivier ranks up the tension. The scene is fast cut with interspersed images of families playing with their children in the countryside as the horse gains pace. We fear there will be an accident as the cart almost seems to get out of control and then Poil de Carotte points to a family playing with their child and says to the maid sitting next to him with tears in his eyes, "Nobody will ever love me like that."

Once they are home, still angry, Poil de Carotte throws a stone at some neighbourhood children playing together. The children's mother calls him "a dirty lout" in front of an out-of-sight listening Madame Lepic. In a rare example of her sticking up for Poil de Carotte she lays into the other child's mother, but once out of sight of them she throttles and beats poor Poil de Carotte before once again playing him off against his father asking who he loves more, knowing full well that M. Lepic is listening nearby. Through fear of receiving another beating, the poor boy gives in and says it is she. He is a virtual slave to her calling and treated as such, in some cases worse than an animal. As an audience we are aware early on in the film during an exchange between the two maids that Poil de Carotte was an unexpected and unwanted child, when the maid later tries to console him he says "Not everyone is lucky enough to be an orphan." The maid tries to speak to M. Lepic to make him aware of how unhappy the boy is and how badly Madame Lepic beats the boy, but he passes it off merely as "childhood woes". Duvivier builds these scenes to a heartbreaking level of pathos, we feel for the boy, we want to pick him up and hug him, tell him it will be alright, that he is loved after all - but we are helpless to his needs. We have to continue to watch him suffer the severe beatings, the psychological mind games, and the lack of affection, the ignorance and coldness of his father. It is almost like we are party to what is happening.

That night whilst in bed, we witness another fantasy sequence where we see an image of two Poil de Carottes; arguing with each other over what must be done. One says that this can't go on any longer and that the only way out is to run away, but then he argues himself out of it. Then comes the bolt out of the blue, he talks about going on strike or taking his own life. Now, this is a film made in 1932, a children's story with some adult themes but it hits you hard, you can't believe what you have just heard. Did he really just say he wanted to kill himself? A ten-year-old boy? I can't think of any other film from that period or even a while after it, where the subject of child suicide has been broached. It hits you like a bullet.

In a rare scene M. Lepic over-rules his wife by making Felix do an errand in town that she had asked Poil de Carotte to do. She is flabbergasted and shouts and screams at what she see's as an outrage. Poil de Carotte goes to console her but she looks at him scornfully and shouts at him. In a first scene of attempted suicide Poil de Carotte sticks his head in a bucket of water but is spotted and beaten by Madame Lepic who thinks he is just messing around and making the yard dirty. She chastises him again when her daughter, Ernestine, blames Poil de Carotte for a missing 50 Franc note that her and her brother, Felix, have stolen. M Lepic intervenes and its the first time we see him standing up to his wife, and pushes her out of the way telling her she is forbidden from speaking to him ever again. It's almost a cheering moment, as we finally believe that somebody has the boy's interests at heart, that maybe now things will turn around for him. The chemistry between the father/son actors Harry Baur and Robert Lynen is immense, they work so well together. They would act together one more time in 1938 in Robert Siodmak's MOLLENARD, coincidentally again as father and son.

Finally Poil de Carotte is shown some love and affection from one of his parents as M. Lepic lifts him up, hugs him and plants a kiss on his forehead. He tells him to go and get dressed in his "Sunday best" and to join him in town where it is expected that he will be elected mayor. They can then have a party together. Poil de carotte excitedly disappears to go and get dressed, but alas he finds that he can then not leave his room as he has been locked in. We are shown in the shadows, Madame Lepic, having just locked his door. The shot shows her caught in the shadows like a spider catching its prey in its web.

Poil de Carotte manages to escape through his bedroom window and out via the hay barn where he accidentally gets his neck caught in a hanging rope. The same rope that would prove significant only moments later. He runs into town just as M. Lepic is elected mayor. What follows are yet more sad scenes for Poil de Carotte as his father is caught up in the celebrations and therefore pays no attention to his son. He has had enough; he leaves and runs home, all the time hearing voices in his head telling him to kill himself. He comes to the lake and kneels beside it as if praying. Young Mathilde spots him and walks over to him. He apologies to her and tells her they can no longer be married, as he has to kill himself. It's yet another touching and tender scene between the two very young actors, with Mathilde not reacting in any adverse way and passing it off as if he has just told her he is going on holiday. As a child, death is not really known or understood - how do you explain it to someone so young? Whilst praying he remembers the rope in the barn, but first takes Mathilde into town. On returning to his house he spots the maid, his only true friend at the house, he blows her a kiss when she is not looking as almost a parting gesture, knowing that he will not see her again.

Then we are in the barn, the rope is around his neck, his eyes wet with tears (mine too each time I watch this film!). By now Mathilde has already told people at the party of Poil de Carotte's plans and M. Lepic is rushing back to the house. The music rises to a crescendo; church bells ring then silence as M. Lepic arrives just in time to save Poil de Carotte. The boy is kicking and crying, as he doesn't want to be saved, he tells him he wants to die. When M. Lepic asks why, he responds, "Because I don't love my mother". M Lepic agrees, he doesn't love her either!  We cut to a shot of them walking together and he tells him that he was an "accident" and born at a time when he and Madame Lepic had long since fell out of love. Poil de Carotte says, "A family should consist of those whom we love, and those who love us." A stark contrast to his statement at the beginning of the film when he described what he thought a family was.

In the film's final scenes we see them together having a meal at an inn in the country. M. Lepic raises a glass to "Francoise". The boy's eyes light up, "No more Poil de Carotte?" - "No, he hanged himself in the barn". He goes on to tell him that he will be known to everyone from now on as Francoise and that he no longer needs to worry or be afraid of anything at home anymore as they are now "two".

My closing thoughts on the film - I still find it remarkable that this film is not more widely known or seen. Fortunately it will form part of a box set of four other Duvivier titles when The Criterion Collection release it as part of their Eclipse series in November. The film works so well because of both the quality of the source material and that of it's three lead actors; Harry Baur, Catherine Fonteney and the irrepressible, Robert Lynen. Tragedy would befall both Lynen and Baur a little over a decade later, after this film was made. Robert Lynen joined the French Resistance during World War 2 but was caught and executed by firing squad in 1944, Harry Baur was arrested by the Nazis for concealing his Jewish wife and died in mysterious circumstances in 1943.

Friday, 18 September 2015

The Duvivier Dossier (20) - Max Berghouse reviews The Phantom Carriage

La Charrette Fantome/Phantom Carriage ), Dir: Julien Duvivier , Script & Adaptation:Julien Duvivier, Dialogue: Alexandre Arnoux, From the novel by Selma Lagerlof, Cast: Pierre Fresnay/David, Louis Jouvet/Georges,  Micheline Francey/Sister Edith, Marie Bell/Sister Maria, Ariane Borg/Suzanne,  France, 1939, 93 minutes.

My original studies in literature at University, all those years ago, were focused on the then enormously influential F R Leavis. Years after his death he remains a very divisive figure but one thing which he opined on with intense regularity was the need only to read, the very best. This seems to me just as important in watching films and on that basis The Phantom Carriage is a film which can justifiably be ignored. On that basis, the potential viewer has been making a consistently similar judgement to the critics since the film's original release.

That is not to say that the film lacks any merit. There are a number of things which make it quite compelling viewing, but it could not be thought to be a consistent success. I should mention that the musical score by Jacques Ibert, while not probably completely consistent with the seriousness of the film, is completely characteristic of that composer's effervescent high spirits and this is something I have not seen referred to in any other review.

Secondly whatever the merits of this film are, they have generally been found wanting in comparison with the original Swedish 1921 film, a film so important to Ingmar Bergman, that he said subsequently that it caused him to wish to become a film director. Both films are the visual productions of an early 20th-century Swedish novel by Selma Lagerlof (herself a Nobel prizewinner). I know nothing of either the first film nor the novel which concerns the dire effects of tuberculosis but I expect it is one of those relentlessly severe realist novels, ultimately owing a considerable debt to Emile Zola. Many examples of this sort of writing have ultimately produced febrile and intense films.

Duvivier's production is set, as it introduces itself, in an anywhere/any time place which for a significant part of the proceedings is that well-known country Backlotistan. Swedish names are changed to Anglo-Saxon: for example "Holm" becoming "Holmes" but he effectively tops and tails the production with the appearance of the phantom carriage which is driven for a year by the last person to die on New Year's Eve. Apparently this is a Nordic fable. While not without its attractions,  Duvivier, exceptionally proficiently, uses a range of filmic devices (essentially transparency shots) to create a picture of something otherworldly. However it does not seem to really hold his interest, only being relevant at the beginning and very end of the film.

The balance and substance of the film is a relentless downer concerning David, a drunk wife-beater, and serial abuser and the attempts by Sister Edith of the Salvation Army to save him while she herself is dying from tuberculosis. So shades of "Major Barbara" and "Camille" and others. Pierre Fresnay is not convincing, especially in comparison with Louis Jouvet and Micheline Francey and his lack of physical stature may have something to do with this. Nor is he likeable in the sense that he is not emotionally engaging to the viewer. I make the same comment about Sister Edith but I should also indicate that modern day viewers are no doubt much more negative about self-sacrificing and self abnegating women. This would seem to be one of those cases where the director' s relatively objective view of his cast, does him no favours.

The film commences at Christmas time – somewhere, at least the northern hemisphere, because it is snowing in what appears to be a totally indoor set but may be a mix of both real and staged sets. It is very good. On the one hand the Salvationists are selflessly operating a soup kitchen while, in contrast, the debased vagabonds, including David, are conspiring to get Food & Drink without the necessity of the dreaded intermediary, work. All of them have been broken by some degree of substantial adversity but this is neither explained nor shown. In contrast to the self-sacrifice and other directedness of the Salvation Army group, are the revelries at a local inn. It's hedonism is presumably to be viewed negatively, but, by contrast, especially as it involves the music of Ibert, previously mentioned, it seems positively joyous. And alluring.

And that's how the film continues with the alternation of goodness, contrasted with the self-indulgence of the "lost souls". It takes place over the course of the year with Sister Edith thinking that if she can see David on the following New Year's Eve, alive, she will have saved him from the fate of being the driver of the phantom carriage for the following year. David really isn't worth the effort and he only comes to some sort of awareness when dead. Of course by that time, it's too late.

As I write, I become more aware that it is a film out of its time. It made more sense in 1920, but its capacity to make a dent in the more sophisticated period, immediately prior to World War II, seems very limited.

The Duvivier Dossier (19) - Max Berghouse reviews Un Carnet de Bal

Un Carnet de Bal, Dir: Julien Duvivier,  Script by Julien Duvivier, Henri Jeanson, Yves Mirande, Jean Sarment, Pierre Wolff & Bernard Zimmer. Cast: Harry Baur/Alain & Father Dominique, Marie Bell/Christine, Fernandel/Fabian, Raimu/Francois, Louis Jouvet/Pierre Verdier & Jo, France, 1937, 144 minutes.

This absolutely superb film is one of the absolute crown jewels of pre-World War II cinema and one of Julien Duvivier's great triumphs. It has been written about many times, always favourably, and perhaps there is little that I can add which is new, although the sheer pleasure the film has given me, impels me to write. About 30 minutes before commencing writing I received news that one of my best friends had just died and this seems symbolic of the nature of the film – at least to me.


The film opens in an Italian speaking mountain side area of Europe: possibly Savoy, possibly the Italian Tyrol or maybe Italian Riviera in a perfectly composed vista of spectacular beauty and wealth. I was very struck in compositional comparison, probably because of the Cyprus pines with the work of the Swiss painter Arnold Bocklin whose work is generally recognised as being related to and symbolic of death. (See for example the several versions of his painting "Isle of the Dead"). 

Inside a mansion to which a man and a woman are heading, possibly Christine and a male friend, Christine is making arrangements for the disposal of her late husband's personal effects. His shotgun to his gamekeeper, his suits, through his valet, to people who can use them, as long as they are taken off the property. Even his pipes sitting on his desk, are removed for disposal. Christine who is apparently very much younger than her late husband, appears to be totally in charge of her situation.

By chance within the late husband's study, two things fall to the ground. One is an unfinished letter and the other is Christine's dance card from her first ball, aged 16, in 1919. Both are apparently mundane as are the "hooks" on which the film rests. They are hooks that relate to a deep and profound meditation on life itself and as life is distorted by memory. Voltaire said that, until a man be 25, he never thinks of death. Thereafter, he thinks of little else. So Christine is intrigued, to some extent perturbed, that whatever her late husband's letter was about, as it was rudimentary in form, she will never find out. Secondly she takes her dance card, trying to remember the young men with whom she danced.

Many reviewers have commented that Christine is of a prosperous family. That seems an understatement. She and/or her late husband are clearly loaded and throughout the film she is dressed absolutely stunningly. So travel and spending time at ease is clearly no problem. She recounts to her friend what it was like at that first ball and the scenery changes to a very stylised ballroom: men in white tie and tails and women in ball gowns, obviously more of the late 1930s than immediately post-World War I. I feel sure that I noticed that the men were wearing frilled shirts which would have been clearly inappropriate for the supposed period and I think this is connected to Christine's verbalisation of her memory in which the women were wearing crinolines. As her friend says, that can't be possible, because these were items of several generations prior – but it is Christine's memory. So we are given information that memory is frail and likely to change and distort under the exigencies of everyday life.

Some critics allege that on a whim Christine decides to seek out her old dance partners to see what they have made it their lives with the implication that she herself was not happy. Comfortable and content perhaps, but not happy. I don't think with the subtlety that the director customarily has that this implication is fair. Unrestricted as she now is by custom and restraint, she seems to have a genuine desire to see and explore "the road not taken".

This journey takes her through a number of vignettes with the men from the dance card. Some of these are extremely sombre. The first in which Christine has to deal with is the widowed mother of the young man who suicided as a consequence of his failure to win Christine. Some are sharp with an inevitable sense of existential despair and gloom: Louis Jouvet as a disbarred lawyer, now nightclub owner. One with Harry Baur as a renowned musician, turned contemplative priest is fundamentally melancholic, perfectly expressing the priest's decision to in some ways remove himself from the world.

All performances are excellent with particular emphasis to be given to Jouvet, Baur and the extraordinarily expressive Raimu. All these men have been "affected" by Christine. They all carry some sort of burden but some have done better than others in living life for the present. Finally Christine returns home to find that her greatest love from that evening lives across the lake. She journeys to the far side of the lake and confuses her young man with a similarly looking young man who turns out to be the son of the man she is looking for and he, the father is just dead. Christine realises unflinchingly the finality of death and the inability to make sense of it. In the very last scene she and the young man are attending a fancy dress ball with the implication that meaning, if it exists at all, comes from family, particularly children.

For the director who is known to have come from a Catholic background, this film is an emblem of his estrangement from faith and probably hope and seems like a totem for his continuing forays into pessimism and misanthropy. It is extraordinarily powerful, sophisticated and, because of the changing tones of the numerous vignettes, is both subtle and continuously compelling. Everyone says this is a very fine film but it is more than that, it is an absolute triumph. It is a work of philosophy, both absolutely honest and at the same time entertaining. So entertaining in fact that I think many critics have glossed over the very serious implications of the subject matter. This is one film by Duvivier I had not previously seen and I must say that I'm now glad that I have reached middle age so that I can appreciate it I hope fully.