Holding Pattern

Yes, I have little to say about movies this week. Or, more truthfully, most of the stuff I've seen hasn't opened yet.

Some folks, however, get to immerse themselves by going to Cannes (Cinema? You're soaking in it.) Michael Giltz, friend, colleague and fellow Ira voter, is one such happy fellow. He covered the big festival by the beach for the Huffington Post, and you can read his wrap-up, which includes a list of all the prizes (including best canine -- who knew?) and links to all his columns from the event, right here.

One film that I did see and can comment on is actually 69 years old. Alberto Cavalcanti, who surely had one of the most unusual career paths in film history, made a truly bizarre thriller during his lengthy stop in England. Although he is best known for Dead of Night, you could make a strong case for his anti-Nazi film Went the Day Well?, currently in revival in a new 35mm print at Film Forum. After a brief framing device that is, in its own casual, understated way, rather unsettling, the film quickly moves from being one of those Ealing village comedies, filled to the brim with lovable eccentrics, to a dark and violent wartime thriller with that remote village suddenly under siege from Nazi paratroopers disguised as English soldiers on manuevers. Adapted from an obscure Graham Greene story, the film is loaded with stalwart English character players on both sides of the battle (David Farrar, a personal favorite of mine, is impressively nasty as the German second-in-command, a dry run for his equally sinister good guys in Powell/Pressburger classics). Cavalcanti creates a genuinely unnerving tension between the bland surface of the community and its seething underside, and when that tension bursts out in real violence, it feels more like Peckinpah than Ealing. A fascinating piece of history that transcends mere nostalgia through sheer blunt force. It will be there through June 2.

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