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Billy Wilder Frankrike, 1978
The film itself may not be one of Billy Wilder’s more successful, but finally seeing it in widescreen allows us to appreciate its visual beauty, and it does have a last line to rank with SUNSET BLVD, SOME LIKE IT HOT and THE APARTMENT (Wilder scores very highly on the “famous last words” front). Wilder fans need this.
December 05, 2016
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[Detweiler] recalls the golden-age studio system as a lost empire that inspires both awe and regret. Unlike the earlier film, though, this one seethes with authentic nostalgia; Wilder’s attempt not merely to eulogize earlier styles but to revive them feels somewhat embalmed.
September 05, 2014
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Rarely screened, Billy Wilder’s penultimate film, Fedora (1978), may be a wan companion to one of his most celebrated, Sunset Boulevard (1950). But several of its tawdry observations about stardom and vanity give it a kicky kind of sordidness, suggesting a squarer version of Hollywood Babylon, republished just three years before Fedora’s release.
September 03, 2014
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While Wilder’s intermittent crutch as an artist was the bitter cynicism he held toward the fate of own industry, Fedora’s offhand jabs at the dissolution of orthodox craftsmanship in 1970s cinema are overwhelmed by a deeper core of autocritique played out in the film’s downward trajectory, in which all attempts to preserve the past and conceal the present lead to the self-ruin hinted at violently in the opening minute.
September 02, 2014
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Wilder summons up the ghosts of old Hollywood and pays a tribute to, as one character has it, “cheap backdrops and glycerin tears.” He did that in “Sunset Blvd.”, too, but here he includes himself as part of the past he summons. As veiled self-portraits go in cinema, this is one of the most moving ones.
May 20, 2013
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Fedora’s complex, archly-baroque flashback structure – in this sense Wilder remains forever a product of the late 1940, early 1950s film noir moment, of the age ofSunset Boulevard that is – told in unrelentingly classical shot/reverse-shot decoupage stagings, preserves the earlier mode, which is to say the type of film practice that would come to a conclusion with the passing Wilder’s artistic generation.
April 28, 2012
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A Sunset Blvd. remembrance from the vantage of Billy Wilder’s autumnal years: The result is a more gallant Hollywood-Babylon concerto that nevertheless arrives at an image of cinema as an ageless beauty with withered hands… Hanging on to the past is a perilous thing: Wilder knows he can’t fight “handheld cameras and zoom lenses,” all he can do is shame them by turning his devastating irony upon himself.
November 22, 2008
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There is more love in this structurally messy work than in any number of conventionally bathetic romances. Its spare classical style, its sense of character, and its occasional romantic excesses are all very much Old Hollywood (and Wilder has even included a jeremiad against the new boys in town). But the deliberate and sometimes dismaying anachronisms are signs of a deep, unshakable commitment to a personal aesthetic—a commitment that is sometimes more moving than anything in the film itself.
April 13, 1979
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