Criterion Sunday 59: Il portiere di notte (The Night Porter, 1974)

When the Wikipedia entry namechecks “Nazisploitation” in its write-up, you expect to hate a film (or you expect to love it; to each their own). The Night Porter is certainly troubling — dealing with the sado-masochistic relationship between a former Nazi officer and a young woman he had abused during the war — but it’s clearly meant to be. It also treads a lot more delicately than that inelegant portmanteau word I started with. It’s the late-1950s, and Dirk Bogarde’s Max is working as a porter at a hotel and expecting to be called to trial for his wartime activities any day. There’s a circle of acquaintances and lawyers who are helping him to avoid the worst charges, and there’s a dark sense that maybe this is how it was in the aftermath of World War II for the disgraced Nazi officers. When Charlotte Rampling’s Lucia arrives at his hotel, they make eye contact and immediately you get the sense of some dark past, which is brought out through flashbacks. It’s a nasty film but not one that wallows in the nastiness; its characters are compromised, but perhaps not as much as you feel they should be; and there’s an uneasy way it works towards a resolution — the only resolution perhaps that the film could have, realistically.


FILM REVIEW: Criterion Collection
Director/Writer Liliana Cavani; Cinematographer Alfio Contini; Starring Dirk Bogarde, Charlotte Rampling; Length 118 minutes.

Seen at a friend’s home (DVD), London, Sunday 25 October 2015.

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StreetDance (2010)


FILM REVIEW || Directors Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini | Writer Jane English | Cinematographer Sam McCurdy | Starring Nichola Burley, Richard Winsor, Charlotte Rampling | Length 98 minutes | Seen at a friend’s home (DVD), Monday 1 July 2013 || My Rating 3 stars good


© Vertigo Films

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the dance film genre — which can surely thank the Step Up series for its recent proliferation — is a bit predictable. Genres can be that way, and ones that emphasise physical performance over acting or writing need simple and recognisable structures. Opera, for example, trades on hackneyed plots and tropes, and it’s no different with the dance film. We have our kinetic urban protagonists, who come into conflict with the established authority as they progress towards a final showdown that will gain them credibility and respect amongst their peers. As a British entry into this nascent genre, StreetDance (or StreetDance 3D as it’s more commonly called, though I didn’t watch it in 3D) is a perfectly satisfying film. It does the stuff it needs to do well, and seems to be having fun with it.

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