DVD Release: Monday February 24th 2014
This is a thrilling, pulpy little gem from post War Britain. Its reissue is welcome because it is set at a previous time of great austerity for Britain, after World War II and captures that complex atmosphere of the harsh realities of victory perfectly.
Set amongst a small community, living in huts in small village, scraping a living hand to mouth it tells the story of a local bully, a clear outsider who is resented by locals who have returned from the front line, who ends up dead and his love rival is in the frame for blame.
The main story revolves around two boys, one with no mother the other no father who exist in a detached universe amongst the wreckage of a since departed US army base and the debris, not just physical, left behind. One plays soldier and island getaway builder, the other plays his records on a portable turntable that is cumbersome but never out of his grip. It’s an eerie image that runs through the film.
They come across a real gun, and use it to play highwaymen, at the very moment the local bully is fleeing a fist fight with his rival. And well, you can guess the rest.
The film plays out as a comment on local politics, sexual politics (the treatment of the woman at the centre of the lovers affections is brutal) and the fears that accompany childhood as you learn the difference between right and wrong and the inevitability and finality of death.
A really understated film anchored by two great child performances and the always great Jack Warner as the single father trying to do right by his boy in trying times.
Blu Ray Release: Monday September 10th 2012
This will be a shorter piece, as I recently wrote about this film in a bit of depth here.
The fact that it is on Blu Ray though, thanks to the Studio Canal UK is a thing of joy and wonder that needs further celebration.
The Trial is a masterpiece in my opinion, one of the finest films by one of the finest ever filmmakers, if not the finest. It’s second only in the Welles canon to Touch of Evil. It’s daring, it’s frustrating, it’s beautiful, it’s unique. It’s pure cinema. Watch it on Blu Ray, go on, do it.
Blu Ray / DVD Release: Monday Apr 23 2012
There’s more than a touch of the Woody Allen in Alberto Sordi’s portryal of Giovanni Alberti, a man descending into a pit of debt in Vittorio De Sica’s wonderful satire that is more than just a touch resonant in these times of ours.
Alberti is a man with a beautiful young wife and son, who are both accustomed to a way of living that Alberti simply cannot sustain. It’s a horrifically shallow way of living where happiness is seemingly measured in the minkiness of the stolls and the egginess of the caviar.
De Sica (director of The Bicycle Thieves among other classics) places hapless, sadsack Alberti in the middle of a group of friends all as vulgar as each other, in the middle of swinging, zeitgeist Rome but focuses on the hangover, not the party. It looks like La Dolce Vita is still in full swing, but there’s a sour after taste. The satire is delivered in the juiciest of ways as Alberti is given a shot at a way out, a shot at the big time financially.
The cost? An eye.
Yep, he is offered riches in return for his left eye and this dilemma forms the central crux of the film. Thanks to Sordi’s performance we root for Alberti, even though we wonder why he wants to spend time with these people, but aren’t we all Alberti, guilty of wanting the sheen, the good times, focusing on the material and the now, as opposed to the natural and forever?
De Sica thinks so, and this reissue of the film shows that such themes and questions are timeless. So, full of prescient themes but also full of some really good laughs and delivered with a brisk confidence that recalls classic French and British farces in part but its heart is unmistakably Italian.
A low key delight that swings and rings, true.