[Seven Samurai]

My last Janus film was Seven Samurai. I wasn’t entirely sure how it would go because I hadn’t connected with Rashômon and this film is, well, long. My concern was unnecessary, though, as it is long precisely -because- it is giving us the time to get to know & connect with each of the characters. Fantastic!

[Rashômon]

Even though it was one of the Janus films I was most excited about, Rashômon has turned out to be my least favorite of the festival. Obviously it’s well-crafted, brilliantly acted, etc, but the characters (in any incarnation, as they’re driven by different motivations in each telling) just didn’t move me like I had hoped.

I’m still glad I saw it (because obviously film has value beyond “I liked that one guy”), but the fundamental unknowability of the characters was a difficulty for me.

[Bergman triple play]

More from the Janus festival:

* The Seventh Seal. At first I thought I had made a terrible mistake scheduling a film about death at the end of a really long day, but I was totally taken by surprise by how accessible it was, as well as by the amount of humor. That’s not to say it isn’t a grim film, but it is beautiful & full of humanity.

* Wild Strawberries was simple & beautiful, sad but also hopeful. It’s the one in this set that I am most likely to revisit in future.

* Fanny & Alexander. Sprawling, moving, lusty, colorful. We got the short (3 hour) version in Seattle, but I’d LOVE to see the full 5+ hour version. Luckily it’s available in the Criterion edition, so someday, maybe.

It’s been such an amazing experience getting to see all of these films on the big screen! Television just doesn’t cut it, folks.

[La Strada]

There’s a new theater in town, a year-round film festival venue, and to kick it off as it were they’re running a series of world art house cinema — the Janus festival. It is made of awesome, and even though I’m not seeing as many as I had hoped, it still seems to be keeping me too busy to update this space. My first one was La Strada, which is also my first Fellini. I found it sweet & heartbreaking, and now I need to pick up Nights of Cabiria. (It seems kind of ridiculous that I’ve seen Sweet Charity but not Nights, but I have a well-documented thing for Bob Fosse, so there you go.)