Friday, October 21, 2011

The Rich Films of Vincente Minnelli at BAM

Anyone who is sick of going to the movies just to watch a DVD projected on to a bigger screen should rush over to BAM in Brooklyn for the last two weeks of their retrospective on one of the master directors in film, Vincente Minnelli. Its hard to control the want to take every night off and go see the sweeping scenes, the crisp close ups, the wonderful almost undecided camera movements of this Director. This is what film is all about. The richness of these movies makes one feel pulled into the screen not pushed away from it like the flat BLU-RAY and CGI films of today. So much has been missed already this fall. BAM has been sprinkling his films over their calender for the last two months and in Oct. has shown New York a full taste of his genius. What is left? Plenty! Lets start with "A Matter of Time" with Ingrid Bergman, Liza Minnelli (Yes she is his daughter), and Charles Boyer. This rarely-shown film was Vincente's last and BAM has brought to us a Swiss Film Archive print with an extra sequence. Shot in Italy this is the story of a once vibrant countess that had many love affairs and was a muse to artists. Minnelli's films have a protagonist that want to bend and shape the world to their liking just to find out that the world is the one doing the shaping of peoples lives. This theme is repeated in most of his work. BAM does touch on his more serious work with "The 4 Horseman of the Apocalypse" and "The Seventh Sin." The "4 Horseman" is about a family that is on both sides of WW2. And "Sin" is about a adulterous doctor’s wife set in China during cholera epidemic. This is a remake of "The Painted Veil" that had Greta Garbo as the wife that wanted change and excitement. Minnelli was brought into this film mid-production and had only to finish a few scenes, but his touches made it the passionate piece of cinema it is. On a lighter note, Vincente was well known for his Comedy and Musicals. Showing soon is one of his best comedy's "The Reluctant Debutante." Made in 1958 this is a story of a father and mother that want to bring their daughter into society, but all she wants is the love of a young drummer. Lets just say he does not fit the bill her parents had written for her. With Rex Harrison, Kay Kendall, and Sandra Dee its not hard to poke fun at the upper crust. Fun is fun and what is more fun then a good musical. Those who do not like these type of film may have never seen Minnelli's efforts in the medium. With most of the retrospective over there are still some of his best musically based films left to see. "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever" is a Streisand picture made when she was young and still had a talent for elaborate parts. Like the one in this film about a woman from Brooklyn that goes a little wacky after being hypnotized. Also there is Judy Holliday's last film that is a laugh riot with Dean Martin in the mix, "Bells Are Ringing." One can not forget "Gigi" witch earned Nine Oscars including Best Director for Minnelli and Best Picture for 1958! Last but not least is "Brigadoon." This is one of the best Musicals ever made and has a lovely story played out by Gene Kelly in one of his best performances. Here he slips into the land of Brigadoon and falls in love. Fantasy and reality fight for dominance in this film. The viewer is picked up and set down in the mind of the director that spent his life going back and forth from the fantasy of Hollywood pictures and the reality that we all live in everyday.

No comments:

Post a Comment