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With Scorsese's Silence looming, it seems like an opportune moment to reassess this somewhat forgotten masterpiece--perhaps the most serious film about religion ever made in Hollywood. Contra the facile moral victories of A Man for All Seasons (a film I still admire, mostly for its brilliant lead performance), the central quandary of The Nun's Story is never settled. In the marvelously ambiguous final scene, it is unclear whether Sister Luke (a never better Audrey Hepburn), who has struggled for seventeen years to attain spiritual perfection, has succeeded or not. And Zinnemann's visual approach, as Arthur Nolletti, Jr. has observed in his excellent essay on the film, is as formally extreme as the classical Hollywood style would allow. Comparisons to Dreyer, Bresson, and Ozu are not inappropriate. The final shot continues to haunt me.
From the Roman Polanski thread: Oh, no, no, no. I figure this is as good a time as any to mention my deep, abiding love for a film that is loads of fun, and I could happily watch any time. I've loved Charade for such a long time that I still have the VHS I purchased back when VHS's were still sold in stores. Exactly, Charade is very deliberately half Hitchcockian thriller and half spoof thereof, and it works fantastically as both. It sets up that contrast from the beginning: Reggie's husband is shoved off the train with blood trickling down his face, and then it cuts to Henri Mancini's delightfully playful score with brightly colored swirls for the opening credits. The next scene is a close-up of a gun being pointed at Reggie (Audrey Hepburn) only to reveal it's a water pistol belonging to her mischievous nephew. As a result the more contrived elements which move the plot forward as a compelling mystery simultaneously play into the spoof. Cary Grant's fake personas become increasingly obvious and predictable, yet Reggie's blindness to the them makes the reveals more rewarding, because the audience is in on the joke. Take the funeral scene, which introduces Reggie to the three potential murderers: a sombre aura with heightened camera angles is interrupted first by someone sneezing on the corpse, the next guy holding a mirror to his face to check if he's breathing, and the final guy stabbing the corpse with a pin. They all want to make sure the guy who double crossed them is dead (a typical thriller trope), but the contrast of mood makes the scene outrageously delightful. Best of all, take the scene when everyone breaks off into groups to search for the money in the hotel.