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Archive for July 26th, 2009

I recently came across these on youtube. There are lots of them but these two are the best of them.

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The Pasenger posterMichelangelo Antonioni is a complicated uncompromising director, he can alienate viewers because his films demand the viewer pay attention and think about what they are viewing. Those who don’t pay attention to or think about the film they are watching will probably never realise that it is their loss not the directors! The Passenger is a perfect example of his work and in some ways better than his more famous Blowup. There are long periods of wide-angle long shots without dialogue followed by conversations that are essential to the character development but not always relevant to the plot. In many ways it is Jack Nicholson’s best ever performance as an actor. It has all the gravitas of Five Easy Pieces but with real restraint. It is the kind of performance he could give in his sleep but usually chooses not to in favour of grandstanding over the top performances.

The PassengerSet in Europe and an unnamed African country the film combines a linear narrative with flashbacks that give insights into the story and its lead character. The story is actually not that important, it is all about the journey David Locke (Jack Nicholson) takes. The film starts with him driving around the aforementioned unnamed African country looking for the rebels that appose the government. On returning to his hotel he discovers a man he had befriended a few days has died. Disillusioned with his life he swaps identities with the dead British businessman David Robertson (Charles Mulvehill-a producer making his only appearance as an actor). As he assumes the dead mans identity David is drawn into the mans life. Along the way he hooks up with a young tourist played by Maria Schneider (best known for Last Tango in Paris). The locations are truly stunning and Antonioni and his cinematographer Luciano Tovoli really make the most of them with great if occasionally wandering camerawork. This includes the infamous and hugely complicated shot towards the end of the film and the opening that is bereft of dialogue for about four minutes. If you don’t mind the slow pace this is a beautifully crafted and rewarding film that demands multiple viewings.

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