Thursday, August 24, 2006

Black & White @ The Brattle- Overlord and The Window

Doing the alpha-and-omega thing a little here, finishing up my reviews of the first night of the Brattle's "Rare Film Noir" program just after seeing the last in the series this Tuesday. For the most part, it's been a fun series, although it's a bit bummer for me as a fan of the theater to see attendence drop off between the start of the series and the end. Of course, part of that is likely becaues the last two weeks were single bills compared to the double features that started the series, so there could very well have been the same number of tickets sold, just distributed between multiple showtimes.

I think it was a pretty successful series; some of the movies weren't quite as good as others, but only one or two were really worth avoiding. Even those probably merit a video release just on the basis of their casts. There's got to be some way for the studios to step up their releases of old films on DVD (or the next-generation formats) and still make a profit.

Anyway, it's kind of fun in a perverse way to write reviews for HBS of movies that most people reading will have a hard time tracking down for themselves. So here's Pushover and Nightfall, which I saw back here. Enjoy.


* * * (out of four)
Seen 21 August 2006 at the Brattle Theater (Special Engagements)

This one is kind of an oddity. It was produced in 1975, but shot in black and white in a style reminiscent of the 1940s; this allows the filmmakers to integrate documentary footage rather than try to recreate battle scenes with special effects. The result is a film that blends the line between reality and fiction as well as many before and since. This is due in part to the astonishingly clean footage from the Imperial War Museum - it's footage filmed under very difficult circumstances that looks nice enough to have been shot on a soundstage.

The actual film may not be for everybody; it's more than a little arty, spending a lot of time on the monotony of training as it follows far-from-worldly young Tommy from sign-up to the invasion of the title. A lot of the archive footage is presented as connected to Tommy's story through his dreams, and maybe not even that. There's two converging things going on, Tommy's life and the war, and when they connect, it's initially unsatisfying, but also the kind of kick in the pants the audience might need.

The Window

* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 22 August 2006 at the Brattle Theater (Rare Film Noir)

The film opens with a quote from Aesop's "The Boy Who Cried Wolf", and that's what you're getting with this movie. Bobby Driscoll gives a very nice performance as nine-year-old Tommy Woodry, a kid with a penchant for tall tales who witnesses a real murder. The film then gives us a totally believable look at how nobody believes him.

One thing I really liked here is how Driscoll looks and acts like a real kid, or at least, how I tend to think of kids looking and acting. He's not a little adult, or precocious in any way. He's small and skinny and has his limbs flying all over the place when he runs. There's also some very nice effects at the end, as the killers chase Tommy through a condemned building, with multi-story drops and collapsing staircases looking a lot more convincing than they do in many films with this provenance.

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