Sunday, March 20, 2011

Morris Engel's American "New Wave"

My most undiscovered film of late is the 1960 Weddings and Babies (Morris Engel) with Sweden’s Viveca Lindfors (Bea) and John Myhers (Al). The cinematography is so refreshing for a film of this era. Engels’s hand held camera has very much a New Wave look to it. This fact it is shot black and white with low budget adds to the lustre. The story itself is very simple, and therefore makes it more appealing. Set in New York’s Little Italy it is about a photographer, Al, who makes his living taking pictures of, well, weddings and babies, which also happens to be the name of his studio. His long time girlfriend Bea wants in the worst way to get married. But he resists. There is nothing especially dramatic about the plot but again that’s to its benefit. It is a slice of life about an ordinary couple and therefore highly realistic. Engel, still alive, is an interesting filmmaker and I hope to catch others of his like Loves and Lollipops (1956) and Little Fugitive (1953). Engel shot the film himself. Apparently he invented a camera that Stanley Kubrick wanted to use and Jean-Luc Godard also paid him a visit to see how it worked. Engel held on to it, hoewver.....

Watching Hanna and Her Sisters (Woody Allen) last night was a stark reminder of the quick passage of time. This movie, so au currant in 1986, is now 25 years old. Yet the sensibility remains much the same as today. Robert Osborne and Alec Baldwin on Turner Classic Movies’ (TCM) The Essentials suggested it is Allen’s best film. Well, it’s perhaps among his best. But you have to include Annie Hall, Manhattan, Crimes & Misdemeanours, Husbands and Wives, and even more recent fare like Vicky Cristina Barcelona, in that category. Somehow I wasn’t as impressed with Hannah as I remembered it. It didn’t seem to pack the gravitas and seemed more like farce. Elliott’s (Michael Caine) infatuation with Lee (Barbara Hershey) at the expense of his loving wife Hannah (Mia Farrow) seemed superficial and a little ridiculous. Well, it was supposed to be ridiculous, I suppose. But now the film as a whole seems a little that way.....

People talk about Toronto about being a film town. But Montreal could sure give it a run for the money. I posted about the several festivals I attended while in Montreal last summer and fall. There have been several since. And two recent ones – new to me - are the 29th International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA) ( and Cinema Politica, documentaries about social activism (

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm I will check out the film recommendation. I'm with you in that I would actually say Montreal is a better and more interesting film town in my opinion. Not that Toronto isn't creative and awesome in its own way.