Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Life during wartime ...

LEON MORIN, PRETRE My current obsession is Jean-Paul Belmondo (now 80 and being feted at Cannes this year) as I had realised I had seen so little of his work, though I loved THAT MAN FROM RIO when I saw it aged 18, and finally got to re-see it this year and its just as marvellous as I remembered. My current favourite cult movie! (as per Belmondo label). LEON MORIN PRIEST from 1961 is a more obscure item, directed by Jean-Pierre Melville but more like an austere Bresson film rather than a tale of wartime resistance or gangsters (as in his LE FLIC, LE CIRCLE ROUGE or ARMY OF SHADOWS). This is set in wartime France about a lonely widow and the priest she obsesses about, but it is mainly a static chamber piece where they mainly sit around talking about religion most of the time, so it defies easy categorisation - there is no suspense regarding the resistance [which hardly matters to the story] and the performances are low-key. Emmanuelle Riva is brilliant of course but its an odd role for Belmondo - we never get to really know what his priest feels (is she just a convert to Catholicism for him, or does he have deeper feelings for her?); the ending is oddly inconclusive. Life during wartime is obviously no joke, but it seems very glum here. Probably a difficult film to get into today when religion does not feature in people's lives in the same way.

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