Thursday, June 23, 2016

A simmering post-war brief romance

I attended Cineplex’s Classic Film Series movie last night at Devonshire Mall. Cineplex started the Classic series in 2010 and features four films throughout the summer (okay, since May). Last night’s was David Lean’s Brief Encounter, starring Trevor Howard and the little known Celia Johnson. It’s a terrific film, and for some reason (I otherwise never use a point system) I gave it 86 out of 100 points. Made in 1945 and shot in smoky black and white it’s a close-up study of an affair. Well, kind of. Let’s call it an infatuation or even a love story. But the story takes place over a brief period of time – about a month – and from what we are shown on the screen, no sex is involved. (Pop psych radio host Dr. Joy Browne says it's not an affair if no bodily fluids were exchanged.) It hardly matters. The attraction between Dr. Alec Harvey (Howard) and Laura Jesson (Johnson) is at once electric and passionate. They meet in a suburban railway station canteen waiting for their various trains taking them in opposite directions. Several coincidental meetings lead from one thing to another, and the story is on. The intimate close-up shots highlight the acting which is appropriately paced and, with a couple of exceptions on Johnson’s part, not overwrought. But perhaps the most poignant scene is the very final one, in contradistinction to everything that comes before. And, by the way, this must be one of the very first films summarizing post-war suburban life. You might think it’s a critique of the far flung suburbs - the terrible angst of sterile not urban living and all that - but it’s not…..The next film in Cineplex’s series is A Place in the Sun (George Stevens, 1951) starring – what a line-up! - Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor and Shelley Winters July 10, 20 and 25. This is an in part film version of the terrific Theodore Dreiser novel An American Tragedy, and both the word and celluloid versions are scintillating…… There are only four films – disappointing! - in the series and the first was Rocky (John G. Avildsen, 1976), the last Raiders of The Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981) August 7, 17 and 22…..I asked Cineplex how they chose the films. “The films were all recently studio remastered have never been brought back to theatres until now, something very exciting for the fans. Availability also plays a big role. Rocky was a no-brainer since its celebrating the 40th Anniversary this year!” spokeswoman Sarah Van Lange said.

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