Le Plaisir (1952, Max Ophuls)

“But, my friend, happiness is not a joyful thing.” Was Max Ophuls the greatest, the most perfect of the classical film-makers? In a series of masterpieces throughout three decades (the 1930s, 40s and 50s) he composed images with the soft luminescence, hazy or precise, of Degas (with a similar feeling of constant movement), and stories … Continue reading Le Plaisir (1952, Max Ophuls)

La Poison (1951, Sacha Guitry)

La Poison represents Sacha Guitry condemning a perfidious public, and then gifting that condemnation to them in form of the bleakest, the sourest of comedies. This is not the sort of dark comedy which relies on infantilism, the adolescent or the easy expression (ironic or not) of bigotries and predjudices to make its effect, in … Continue reading La Poison (1951, Sacha Guitry)

Ju-On: The Grudge (Takashi Shimizu, 2002)

This is the J-Horror at its most methodical, although it’s not necessarily always grimly methodical. Shimizu is careful and intelligent, constructing a non-linear narrative that at first seems sloppy but reveals itself as quite tight and able to branch out into further unsettling territory with a number of unexplained, inexplicable visions of the future on … Continue reading Ju-On: The Grudge (Takashi Shimizu, 2002)

The Spiral Staircase (1945, Robert Siodmak)

A thriller directed by the underrated Robert Siodmak and derived from the overrated David O Selznick’s company. Siodmak revels in silence in The Spiral Staircase, for it is when the dialogue, the cosy literariness familiar from the films Hitchcock made under Selznick’s eagle eye and controlling grasp, slips away that he can exercise himself. In … Continue reading The Spiral Staircase (1945, Robert Siodmak)