March 22, 2007

The Earrings of Madame De...

The Earrings of Madame De... "A rallying cry has pierced the earlobes of the New York film community, and it's centered on the restored print of Madame currently running at Film Forum," notes James Hughes in Stop Smiling. "Anthony Lane of The New Yorker accepts death as the lone excuse for missing it. In the New York Observer, Andrew Sarris left little room for interpretation with his headline - 'The Greatest Film of All Time' - and even tipped his cap to the late Pauline Kael, who dubbed the film 'perfection.' The highest-carat rave, however, remains courtesy of Dave Kehr, who has mused in the past that Madame may perhaps be 'one of the most beautiful things ever created by human hands.' Projectionists, take note!"

Updated through 3/27.

Further in, Hughes notes that Stanley Kubrick, when asked to list his top five filmmakers, he "offered this appropriately monolithic quote: 'Highest of all I would rate Max Ophüls, who for me possesses every possible quality.'" Then: "Tempting as it is for some to clutch Earrings of Madame De... close, or treat it like a secret handshake detected by only a vanguard of devotees, the re-release, albeit limited, presents an opportunity to stress the universality of the film's themes, and its closest admirers have heeded the call."

Madame "is a beloved period costume drama, but in terms of visceral impact and camera movement, it’s an action flick," writes Steven Boone in the House Next Door. "Madame de... is about love between men and women; between Ophuls and the terrible beauty of people maneuvering through cluttered spaces on the way to happiness that always seem just out of grasp."

A "masterpiece of film form," declares Eric Kohn in the New York Press. Earlier: J Hoberman in the Voice.

Update: "It starts out like a fable of frivolous upper-crust lives in 19th century Paris, then deepens into gale-force tragedy, without you ever really sensing it to the very final shots," blogs Robert Cashill. "My breath was literally taken from me."

Update, 3/26: "In nearly every way, The Earrings of Madame de... is jaw-dropping, with unmatched grace and visual splendor, acting... that's pleasantly but never overly melodramatic, and a complexity in blocking and camera movement that is so difficult to apprehend (or even to believe) that it becomes overwhelming," writes Leo Goldsmith at Not Coming to a Theater Near You.

Update, 3/27: Online listening tip. Max Ophüls speaks. 50 years after his death, Nicole Maisch considers the life for Deutschlandfunk. Highlights of the report: Recordings of Ophüls himself. Look for "Audio on Demand" in the right-hand column and choose either MP3 or Flash.

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Posted by dwhudson at March 22, 2007 10:44 AM