The sun should never set on this noir-ish Hollywood masterpiece

Updated 23 May 2018
0

The sun should never set on this noir-ish Hollywood masterpiece

  • “Sunset Boulevard” still remains Billy Wilder's crowning achievement

PARIS: “Sunset Boulevard” is, of course, a movie named after a street. Yet so unforgettable, iconic and perceptive is this film — so devastating and endearingly prescient its portrait of Hollywood and the people that live there — that the make-believe and reality are imperceptibly, mythically intertwined.

It’s a noir-ish set-up. We meet our narrator — a hack scriptwriter played by William Holden —floating face down in the pool of a grotesque Hollywood mansion. We learn that six months earlier, he stumbled upon the home of forgotten silent movie star Norma Desmond — played by Gloria Swanson, herself a silent movie star — and was soon seduced into the life of a tragically kept man, a soul-selling script doctor mercenarily feeding his benefactor’s illusions of a dramatic comeback.   

The meta is ubiquitous. Silent comic pioneer Buster Keaton shows up as one of the “waxworks” at Desmond’s has-beens’ card games. Erich von Stroheim, the auteur of silent masterpiece “Greed,” plays Desmond’s unnervingly devoted butler/driver (and the sole source of her continued inbox of fan mail). Heart-creakingly, von Stroheim once directed Swanson in “Queen Kelly” (1929) before being outcast from the chair — footage from which his character rolls in Desmond’s private cinema.

By 1950, director Billy Wilder had already authored a definite film noir in “Double Indemnity” (1944) and would soon be remembered for later crafting some of the most enduring comedies in Hollywood history — “The Seven Year Itch” (1955), “Some Like It Hot” (1959) and “The Apartment” (1960). But for its gritty mix of style and substance, self-referential poise and psychological insight, “Sunset Boulevard” remains Wilder’s crowning achievement.


Palestinian student film ‘Ambiance’ honored at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival

Updated 24 May 2019
0

Palestinian student film ‘Ambiance’ honored at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival

  • The film is directed by Wisam al-Jafari of Palestine’s Dar Al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture
  • It follows the story of two young Palestinians trying to record a music demo inside a noisy refugee camp

DUBAI: Palestinian film “Ambiance” headed into a podium finish at the 22nd Cinéfondation Selection, the Cannes Film Festival’s top film school shorts awards, beating out more than 2,000 submissions.

The film, which is directed by Wisam al-Jafari of Palestine’s Dar Al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture, landed third place with Polish entry “Duszyczka” by Barbara Rupik.

Praised for its “humor, coolness, and extraordinary use of cinema and sound,” the short film follows the story of two young Palestinians trying to record a music demo inside a noisy refugee camp.

The top prize was handed to “Mano a Mano” by Louise Courvoisier from France, followed by “Hieu” by Richard Van from the US.

The award was presented on Thursday by a jury headed by French director Claire Denis. Cash grants of up to $16,760 were given to the winners.

Aimed at supporting new and emerging talent in filmmaking, the Cinéfondation Selection chooses fifteen to twenty short and medium-length films each year from film schools all around the world.