Saturday, March 26, 2016

#576: Ossessione

1943, TSPDT Rank #764

This rough and compelling debut film from great Italian director Luchino Visconti, an uncredited adaptation of the James M. Cain novel, "The Postman Always Rings Twice", could hardly be farther removed from its Hollywood counterpart (which came three years later, directed by Tay Garnett, and starring Lana Turner and John Garfield). The Hollywood version of "Postman" was made under the strict supervision of the Breen Office, but nevertheless remains one of the most erotically charged and suspenseful films of all time. Visconti's adaptation, on the other hand, dispenses with eroticism and suspense in exchange for raw, earthy sexuality and the suggestion of brutal violence. In doing so, the focus remains on the motivations behind a murder, as well as the inevitable events which come before and after - but in a style which has much more to do with neorealism than film noir.

#575: Brokeback Mountain

Director: ANG LEE
2005, TSPDT Rank #718

This film is a work of rare simplicity and grace which follows the secret lifelong love affair between two cowboys in the American West during the middle of the 20th-century. The desperation and setting-specific social ramifications of the men's relationship is evocatively portrayed throughout the film, and is perfectly supported by picturesque cinematography and an achingly beautiful score. Heath Ledger gives a brilliant performance which serves as a reminder of the great loss that his death represented, and Jake Gyllenhaal gives his character an emotionally intense energy which makes him the perfect foil for Ledger's highly reserved and repressed character. I admire films which capture the passage of time so well within the constrained length of a feature film, and this film does it exceptionally. Definitely worth seeing for those who enjoy films which attempt to convey the profound highs and lows of relationships, while also conveying the toll that time eventually takes on us all.