Thursday, November 19, 2015

La Ronde (1950), a film by Max Ophuls


 For the Criterion Blogathon

With the release of one of 2014's most unique films, Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel, came an avalanche of publicity. The influences on Anderson's much acclaimed and awarded bittersweet romp through a fictional between-the-wars Old Europe were widely scrutinized in the mainstream press for a time. Among them were German writer Stefan Zweig, whose autobiography The World of Yesterday was a core inspiration; German-born filmmaker Ernst Lubitsch, who made a string of enchanting films of great charm and sophistication through the '30s and '40s; and Max Ophuls, another German-born filmmaker, whose elegant works were marked by deep wit, a cosmopolitan world view and an affinity for Old Europe which he depicted on screen with great style and tendresse many times. His Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948) is arguably the greatest film adaptation of Stefan Zweig's work and, more directly linking Ophuls to The Grand Budapest Hotel, the name of Tilda Swinton's character, "Madame D," is a nod to his masterpiece, The Earrings of Madame de... (1953), the film Wes Anderson named first on his "top ten" list of Criterion Collection titles.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Paris, je t'aime

Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn in Charade (1963)

Thinking of Paris and all of France today, and of films that evoke my own deep affection for that great city and beautiful country.

"Bonjour, Paris," Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn and Kay Thompson in Funny Face (1957)
Margo Martindale in Alexander Payne's charming vignette from Paris, je t'aime (2006)

at Rick's Cafe Americain in Casablanca (1942)

...and closing with scenes of Paris and its people accompanied by Sidney Bechet's "Si Tu Vois Ma Mere," the the main theme from Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris (2010).