Peeping Tom

After making this film, director Michael Powell, here working without regular co-director Emeric Pressburger, had to move to Australia, for no-one else would employ him. This is a somewhat extreme reaction, especially by today’s standards, as through the eyes of a 21st century film viewer there is nothing here to shock or frighten anyone, but back then the tale of a socially awkward young man filming women’s last moments as he kills them with a specially designed camera with a blade attached probably pushed boundaries beyond what the public was used to, though it was released the same year as Hitchcock’s Psycho.

Like his lead Mark, Powell focuses more on the reactions of the characters than on what they are experiencing, and the film is at times cold and passionless, yet Mark (Karlheinz Bohm) is a chilling, disturbing protagonist; an influence to fan Scorsese’s Travis Bickle, as well as Sex, Lies & Videotapes’ Graham, making this an adequate, if not necessarily exceptional, character thriller.
Choose film 7/10

The Red Shoes

I’ve read before that this is supposedly Martin Scorsese’s favourite film. I can’t remember why, and I’m still not sure now, but if he likes it then fair enough. The Red Shoes tells the story of Julian Craster and Victoria Page. He is a music student, given a job at the ballet orchestra after his professor steals his work for a show, and she is a promising ballerina, given a shot at the big time when a professional dancer leaves to get married. Predictably, the two end up working on the same show, the Ballet of the Red Shoes, he as composer and she as the star.  I’ve never been overly keen on dance, and I’ve never attended a ballet recital, so I can’t say I was necessarily engrossed in the backstage goings on, as the Machiavellian show director forbids the leading couple from seeing one another, but there was an interesting 20-minute wordless dream/dance sequence involving fairytale backgrounds and characters, and I liked the implication of a train passing using puffs of smoke, lights, sounds and actors following the ‘train’ with their eyes, but overall found the film was largely dull.
Choose life 4/10