Catching Up

Having had internet connection problems for the last few days, and a nice day off yesterday, I've spent the time catching up on a few movies from last year that I missed.

First was Keeping Mum - a clever, if frothy, little British comedy about a a sweet, mild-mannered housekeeper (Maggie Smith) who comes to live with a vicar and his troubled family in the English countryside. While her perfection seems to help the family, they soon uncover a dark secret - their housekeeper is a murderer.

Dame Maggie being my favorite actress, I found her role in the film to be delightful, even if the movie is not a great one. The performances elevate the film, which really is wickedly funny and disarmingly sweet, if not quite as nasty as it thinks it is. It's still a pleasant little diversion and earns three stars.

The other film is a different story altogether. Jean-Pierre Melville's lost masterpiece, Army of Shadows, which was made in 1969 but went unreleased in the United States until last year, is a powerful piece of work. A stunning, magisterial cloak and dagger drama about the inner workings of the French Resistance during WWII, Army of Shadows is one of those rare films that reinvigorates your faith in the capabilities of cinema. It is a masterwork, one where a very good case could be made for it being one of the greatest films of all time. Melville's film is fascinating and endlessly engrossing, and ultimately deeply moving and tragic.

It's further proof that they just don't make 'em like they used to.


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