Thursday, October 21, 2010


Becket (1964) - Glenville
King Henry II (Peter O'Toole) promotes his saxon servant, confidant, bosom buddy Becket (Richard Burton) first to Chancellor, then to Archbishop of Canterbury- a brilliant chess move to quell his foes in his mind, only to get his heart broken when Becket unexpectedly devotes himself to God, not to him.

Burton exudes his brainiac hunk charisma. But it's O'Toole's lovelorn king who is so much fun to watch, as he tears new ones everywhere he goes. Verbal ping-pong match is not as intense here as in Lion in Winter but this is a great fun movie.

Mother Superior Jumped the Gun

Matka Joanna od Aniołów/Mother Joan of the Angels (1961) - Kawalerowicz
It's the 17th Century Poland. A young handsome priest was burned at a stake for having affair with Mother Joan at the remote convent. That the nuns there are possessed and priests there weren't able to exorcise demons out of the nuns. This is the backstory told to the new priest Joseph.

It's an eerie movie. Jerzy Kawalerowicz has very distinctive visual style with handheld camera movements, first person POVs to convey physical separation of the possessed. No tricks or special effects, no real overacting, but just unsettling in that Eastern European way. There are a lot of lovely scenes: a nun in love with dashing officer singing, tense self-flagellatings of Father Joseph and Mother Joan in a same room divided by drying habits and Father Joseph's encounter with his doppelganger rabbi- one suggesting the other that carnal desire is not from devils but humans, that there are only angels and humans.

Not a big standout Mother Joan of the Angels is, but its understated, visually interesting love story will linger in my head for a while.