Laughs from Lubitsch

Rating: NNNNNLAUGHTER IN PARADISE: THE FILMS OF ERNST LUBITSCH - It's difficult to say what's more appealing about the Cinematheque's.

Rating: NNNNN

LAUGHTER IN PARADISE: THE FILMS OF ERNST LUBITSCH – It’s difficult to say what’s more appealing about the Cinematheque’s Lubitsch retrospective, the opportunity to revisit classic comedies like The Shop Around The Corner (October 28, 6:30 pm), Ninotchka (November 3, 8:30 pm) and Trouble In Paradise (November 2, 6:30 pm) or the chance to see an assortment of the director’s rare silent films, some of which haven’t screened in North America for years. A master of large-scale spectacle in the German silent cinema, Lubitsch in America quickly became fluent in the discreet double entendre in comedies that catalogue every tactic in the battle of the sexes.

One of the more remarkable things about 30s comedies is how “modern” their sexual politics seem. Indeed, the attraction-repulsion between James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan in The Shop Around The Corner looks far more contemporary than that between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in the remake, You’ve Got Mail. Lubitsch’s films represent a lost world in every sense – on the one hand a mythological central Europe where even a clerk in a music store is capable of gallantry and a communist emissary can find romance with an unregenerate capitalist exile, and a Hollywood filmmaking industry that dared assume there was an audience for sophisticated, adult comedy. Highest recommendation. NNNNN (October 27-November 22, Cinematheque Ontario)

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