1983: 3 movies

posted 2015 November 29

Directed by David Hugh Jones 
Written by Harold Pinter
Produced by Sam Spiegel
Music by Dominic Muldowney 
Cinematography by Mike Fash 
Editing by John Bloom 
Production design by Eileen Diss 
Costumes by Jean Muir and Jane Robinson 
Hair by Joan Carpenter and Hugh Green
Makeup by George Frost
Starring Ben Kingsley, Jeremy Irons,
and Patricia Hodge

   This is an adaptation of a fabulous play. What makes it work as a movie is the precise direction, and the actors who seem to be screaming inside but who always manage to speak calmly and wittily. Ben Kingsley is the leader in this strategy and is immensely fun to watch, in an aggravating way, since he is the cuckolded husband. Moving backwards in time from a couple's break-up all the way to their first bloom of passion, we are flooded with a multiplicity of emotions. We feel the sadness of the couple, the pain of the cuckolded husband, and we also feel the urge to play detective in figuring out why the couple broke up, why they got together in the first place, when the husband first knew, and how the nebulous Casey sneaked his way to dominance. The whole affair leaves us with a sweet and somewhat embarrassing nostalgia.

King Lear
Directed by Michael Elliott 
Music by Gordon Crosse 
Production design by Colin Lowrey and Roy Stonehouse 
Costumes by Tanya Moiseiwitsch
Makeup  by Lois Richardson
Starring Laurence Olivier, Colin Blakely,
Anna Calder-Marshall, Jeremy Kemp,
Leo McKern, David Threlfall,
John Hurt, and Diana Rigg

   With only a few small missteps, this movie captures the magic of the best possible staging of Shakespeare's "King Lear". With its fantastically thoughtful sets and casting, and its beautiful performances, we feel palpably the pain, regret, and disrespect of all the interconnecting relationships as they unfold. And as they unfold, and the characters become the wiser for them, we become the wiser for being their witnesses. Yes, what happens on stage is a tragedy, and a multi-fold one, but it is successful because we feel it so deeply, and that feeling is a cathartic one which frees us up from living it out in our own lives.
   It's hard to believe art of this caliber was made for TV.

Rikos ja rangaistus 
Directed by Aki Kaurismäki
Written by Aki Kaurismäki and Pauli Pentti
Produced by Mika Kaurismäki
Music by Pedro Hietanen
Cinematography by Timo Salminen
Editing by Veikko Aaltonen
Production design by Matti Jaaranen 
Costumes by Marja Uusitalo 
Starring Markku Toikka and Aino Seppo

   Based on a Dostoyevsky piece of writing, this movie shares some of the feel of another movie based on a Dostoyevsky piece of writing, namely Visconti's "Le notti bianche" (1957). Dostoyevsky's writings set the stage for both movies to enter a dramatic situation between two people attracted to each other, where we are on pins and needles to discover whether they will end up together or not, and both movies color this dramatic situation with elements of fantasy. The way the protagonist eludes capture throughout the movie, his finding the girl in the bakery, and her being willing to go out with him despite being fully aware of his crime, let alone not turning him in, communicates to us that this is not a realistic story, but a story about ideals, morals, and archetypes. As we discover this, so does our protagonist, and so, the violence, the romance, the comedy, the expert cinematography, and the choice soundtrack, all serve as an entertaining frame for the marriage of audience and character.
   The title translates from Finnish to "Crime and punishment", a reference to the novel it is based on.

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