Wednesday, 6 January 2010

(500) Films of Empire - Day 113

21 - The Third Man - 3.5 stars
Yesterday a member of staff told me that after the release of Third Man, Carol Reed received a present from a fan with a note that read "I've just seen your new film and thought you might need this for your next one". The gift? A spirit level!
Indeed, one of the most visually striking things about this film is the use of 'canted angles' or the 'Dutch tilt'. Designed to make the audience feel as off-balance as Holly Martins during his investigation of his friend Harry Lime's death.
Set in occupied Vienna, the issues of the occupation and criminal racketeering have an added relevance today due to the current situation in Iraq.
The camera work, script and performances are all top notch, as is the claustrophobic sewer chase, however I can help feeling that the film loses some of its magic on repeat viewings. In that once we know the identity of the 'Third Man', we are essentially waiting 70 minutes for Orson Welles to show up and steal the movie from under our noses.
Therefore I am making this my first review to include a half star as I just cannot decide whether it should be 3 or 4. Will sleep on it and reevaluate later on.

176 - A Canterbury Tale - 3 stars
I wonder if this film was mentioned during any of the reviews of Michel Haneke's latest film The White Ribbon. Both deal with a small town under the grip of mysterious happenings, with punishments dealt to those who betray the town's ideals.
Specifically 'The Glue Man' who pours glue in the hair of girls who socialise with soldiers.
Two soldiers and a girl victim stay in the town for a while to unmask the 'Glue Man' before taking the 'Pilgrim's trail' to Canterbury to receive blessing or penance.
A great British mystery that promoted good relations between the US and British forces during wartime.

Day remaining - 252 Films remaining - 335

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