Late start, and won't be making much of an effort here, but I'll be happy if I end up with at least 10. I was at 409 seen from the whole list at the beginning of the year; would like to hit the bronze on 500<400 this year but...we'll see. It's not gonna happen this month anyway.
1. Band of Angels
(Raoul Walsh, 1957) #434
RIP Sidney Poitier. The reviews of this widescreen (1.85) Technicolor WB production often point to Gone With the Wind
for comparison, which seems obvious but still a little strange; this is 18 years later, any number of GWTW
wannabes had already come and gone in the interim, and it really doesn't seem to even be trying for that "epic" feel (well, maybe just a little). But it's got Clark Gable, and a romance at the heart of things, involves slavery and the Civil War, etc, so I guess that counts for a lot. In any case while this isn't nearly as overtly racist as the 1939 film, and while the performances are generally good (with Poitier probably the standout as an angry slave who hates his master Gable BECAUSE he's been well-treated, though it's a small-ish role) and the production values high, it's really on the whole kind of tedious and seems to be caught in a no-man's land between trying to be just slightly more progressive and also traditional enough that it could still play in the south and outside the big cities. Also the miscegenation & mixed-blood angle - heroine Yvonne DeCarlo is sold into slavery to wealthy Gable after it's found out that she had a black mother, something her planter father forgot to tell her before he died - just never seems very real here; perhaps getting an actress who was at least darker-skinned or (horrors!) actually was mixed-race would have made things more convincing, but I guess even in 1957 Hollywood couldn't do that - not when she has to kiss Gable at one point, and we have to assume they go to bed. Eh. I'm still not as big a Walsh fan as most other people who love the classic era seem to be, and this isn't going to help convince me otherwise.
(Andrzej Żuławski, 1971) #50
Jakub, a young nobleman, is in prison awaiting death during the Prussian invasion of Poland in 1793, when he is rescued, along with a nun, by a stranger - who quickly shows himself to be the Devil of the title, at least in action and personality if not in supernatural powers (though that remains an open question throughout the film). Jakub and the nun escape and travel across country to his estate, where he finds his father dead, his mother a whore, and a great many other disturbances. Always the stranger is near him, to goad him towards violence. This is - like the other two Zulawski films I've seen - a film of madness and chaos and violence, and while it is compulsively watchable and "entertaining" in a certain way, it goes even further than those others (Possession
and Na srebrnym globie
in it's misanthropy, here tilting into what I would call full-on nihilism, which for me is usually pretty hard to take. I'm fairly misanthropic myself I suppose but this endless parade of unpleasantness that ultimately seems to add up to a notion that nothing matters, that no one can be saved, that the world is in chaos and spinning out of control, is a bit too much. I did quite like the director's use of wide-angle lenses and jagged visuals (lots of nicely done hand-held shots here), and the electric guitar-heavy score by Andrzej Korzynski, and I can't help but to fall into his negative spell much of the time, but I'm not sure it's something I want to experience again anytime soon. A film I really liked then but in it's fairly extreme rejection of the world, perhaps one that I'm scared to like even more