Recently Watched Films 2021

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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Dan Warburton »

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Robert Fuest, And Soon The Darkness, 1970

If you can negotiate your way past the Captcha security, this is a fine review https://www.slantmagazine.com/dvd/revie ... r-blu-ray/ - and I should stress this is the original of the film, which (from what I read) seems to be much better than the 2010 remake. Michele Dotrice was just 22 at the time, three years before she hit comedy paydirt opposite Michael Crawford in Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em (if you can remember that one, you're probably as ancient as I am), but she isn't laughing here, I can tell you. As the above-linked review makes clear, wide open spaces under clear blue skies can be as scary as a dark haunted house..
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Lao Tsu Ben
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Lao Tsu Ben »

Always lurking Dan, and ready to post from time to time. Happy new year, at least we've been warned this time around.

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Lucky Jo, Michel Deville, 1964

Deville's direction is as elegant as they come and well-complimented by Nina Companeez's sharp, witty lines - though just a tad too ironical, just like the film as a whole. The opening looks like Pierre Etaix filming some Westlake's bits of Dortmunder (same remark has been made in this review) and the mix of melancholy and burlesque, to the sound of a fitting soundtrack by Delerue, seems to strike a perfect balance. The problem is that Deville is almost never serious enough, his is the standpoint of an aesthete, detached, ironical, playful, all things I like and favor, but also regrettably shallow. In that sense, the wistfulness of the first few scenes tend to disappear into thin air once things get going, that is, fights and bodies accumulate, and the tragic overtones are too elusive to scrape at the comic-book aloofness de rigueur that's perhaps associated with Eddie Constantine. One "merci Jo" at the end has that tragic, though discreet quality, that characterizes a good série noire but has been a bit lacking. Very impressive camerawork through and through.

Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Dan Warburton »

Dammit Ben, I snatch hundreds of movies a year and you always seem to find one that I haven't got yet (and I thought I had most of the Devilles) - just as well Karagarga is down today, as I'd jump on it right now - bookmarked! Thanks for the info - meanwhile, I wouldn't recommend this one, unless you're a real glutton for punishment

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Paul Bartel, Death Race 2000, 1975

Sly Stallone as Machine Gun Joe VeTurbo and the thoroughly stoopid lines he delivers in that inimitable accent ("you know, it used to be in the old days we would just take someone like you in a alley and blow their brains out") is (are?) the only thing I enjoyed here, much as I like dumb exploitation films. I guess it might mean (mean?) more to you folks on the other side of the Atlantic, but it didn't do much for me, sorry.
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Dan Warburton »

..but this one blew me away last night:

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Eros Puglielli, Occhi di cristallo, 2004

"When a young couple and a peeper are killed in the field with sadism, Inspector Amaldi and his partner Freese unsuccessfully follow the leads trying to track the criminal. Meanwhile, the college student Giuditta is being stalked and goes to the precinct, where she is attended by Amaldi, and immediately they feel a great attraction for each other. When another woman is murdered, Amaldi and Freese realize that they are chasing a serial killer. Amaldi visits Professor Civita, trying to find the meaning of three leaves found in the crime scene. Amaldi, who battles with his violent temper, tries to put the clues together and to avoid the next murder of the unknown psychopath." Imagine a film that can take the best elements of Se7en, Silence of the Lambs, Zodiac and Profondo Rosso - yes, it can be done and Puglielli's done it: the perfect blend of giallo and serial killer tropes, spectacularly well-filmed, very well acted (though I've been a huge fan of Luigi Lo Cascio ever since La meglio gioventù) and with a plot less convoluted than most gialli (but not without a few tasty red herrings) but one that doesn't let up. If that's not sufficiently glowing as reviews go, you can try this one https://www.hysteria-lives.co.uk/hyster ... ystal.html
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Dan Warburton »

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Massimo Dallamano, Super Bitch, 1973

The English title is plain stupid, but the Italian original - "Si può essere più bastardi dell'ispettore Cliff?" ("Can anyone be more of a bastard than Inspector Cliff?") is much better. The Cliff in question is our (anti)hero played by the dashing Ivan Rassimov, an anti-drugs agent playing mafiosi and drug traffickers against each other and wiping them all out along the way, until.. (no, I won't spoil the ending). This is a surprisingly good little film, with some excellent location shoots in Lebanon and London, and a snappy Riz Ortolani score to boot. Wonderful to see the great British comic actress Patricia Hayes as Mamma la Turca, a brutal mafia mamma if ever there was one. Great fun for a miserable rainy curfew January evening.
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Dan Warburton »

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Andrew L. Stone, The Steel Trap, 1952

Nine years after she threw him under a train in Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt, Teresa Wright is now married to Joseph Cotten :) , but has no idea of his plans to rob the bank where he works and take her (and their daughter) to Brazil, the only country from where extradition back to the US is impossible (in case you think I'm spoiling anything, Cotten's plans are made clear from the outset in his voiceovers), until they find themselves stranded in New Orleans and unable to catch a connecting flight in time. There's a nice sense of impending doom throughout (not helped though by Dmitri Tiomkin's overwrought score), until Cotten has a change of heart, goes home and returns the cash just in time. The result is a rather flaccid happy ending - call it a Frank Capra noir.
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Lao Tsu Ben
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Lao Tsu Ben »

Dan Warburton wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 7:57 am
..but this one blew me away last night:

Image

Eros Puglielli, Occhi di cristallo, 2004

"When a young couple and a peeper are killed in the field with sadism, Inspector Amaldi and his partner Freese unsuccessfully follow the leads trying to track the criminal. Meanwhile, the college student Giuditta is being stalked and goes to the precinct, where she is attended by Amaldi, and immediately they feel a great attraction for each other. When another woman is murdered, Amaldi and Freese realize that they are chasing a serial killer. Amaldi visits Professor Civita, trying to find the meaning of three leaves found in the crime scene. Amaldi, who battles with his violent temper, tries to put the clues together and to avoid the next murder of the unknown psychopath." Imagine a film that can take the best elements of Se7en, Silence of the Lambs, Zodiac and Profondo Rosso - yes, it can be done and Puglielli's done it: the perfect blend of giallo and serial killer tropes, spectacularly well-filmed, very well acted (though I've been a huge fan of Luigi Lo Cascio ever since La meglio gioventù) and with a plot less convoluted than most gialli (but not without a few tasty red herrings) but one that doesn't let up. If that's not sufficiently glowing as reviews go, you can try this one https://www.hysteria-lives.co.uk/hyster ... ystal.html
I wasn't as convinced as you. The direction is good and inventive, as the prologue of the film hints at, in a less demonstrative way than pratictioners of neo-giallos such as Cattet and Forzani, whose names I mentioned in the previous page as it happens. It is a rather up-to-par or better-than-average giallo, a genre I've found myself having difficulties with over the years. Leave it to the Italians to conjure some particularly sick atmosphere, redolent of decay and death, but I don't know about those puppets, red wall coverings, and all the paraphernalia typical of the genre.

Dan Warburton
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Joined: Sun May 11, 2008 12:42 am

Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Dan Warburton »

Lao Tsu Ben wrote:
Tue Jan 19, 2021 5:53 am
Dan Warburton wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 7:57 am
..but this one blew me away last night:

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Eros Puglielli, Occhi di cristallo, 2004
I wasn't as convinced as you. The direction is good and inventive, as the prologue of the film hints at, in a less demonstrative way than pratictioners of neo-giallos such as Cattet and Forzani, whose names I mentioned in the previous page as it happens. It is a rather up-to-par or better-than-average giallo, a genre I've found myself having difficulties with over the years. Leave it to the Italians to conjure some particularly sick atmosphere, redolent of decay and death, but I don't know about those puppets, red wall coverings, and all the paraphernalia typical of the genre.
Well thanks for snatching it Ben, and for helping me out with my struggling ratio :D - yeah, well, you know I'm a sucker for these tacky gialli, so when I come across one that's better than average it's a turn up for the books (though I think this is much better than average)! Meanwhile -

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Cedric Klapisch, Un air de famille, 1996

- by way of saying adieu to Jean-Pierre Bacri, who's just died at the age of 69, we watched this again, and it was fantastic. Excellent Bacri / Jaoui script, great performances all round, and superb cinematography. Treat yourself, if you want a laugh, goodness knows we need one these days.
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Dan Warburton »

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Enzo G. Castellari, Cold Eyes of Fear, 1971

Wiki: "A handsome young playboy (Gianni Garko) picks up a pretty Italian girl (Giovanna Ralli) and brings her to his father's house for some fun. What he doesn't know is that two dangerous convicts are lying in wait at the house to avenge themselves on the young man's father (Fernando Rey), who was the judge who caused them to go to jail. The characters are all trapped together in the house for a very tense night, with the young playboy trying to figure out how to save his dad from a bomb planted at his father's workplace." Not his dad, his uncle, but never mind. The interiors were shot in Cinecitta, but this is yet another Italian 70s film set in London (someone should write a thesis on that point), and you have to hand it to the Italians, the English overdubbing is pretty good: Fernando Rey speaks English like a Spanish cow, as we say here in France, but the sync here is impressive; idem for Garko, Ralla and Julian Mateos. Special shot out for the villain Arthur Welt, played by Corman protégé Frank Wolff, who sadly committed suicide just after shooting wrapped - sordid details following https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Wolff_(actor)
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Dan Warburton »

Just restored in 4K (I'm not a great George Lucas fan but I'll buy him a pint if he's ever in my town) and all available at the usual place in glorious 1080. Here's what I wrote a couple of years ago - if you didn't snatch it then, you'd better get it this time. And even if you did snatch it then, grab it again and thrill to the quality. Astounding!
Dan Warburton wrote:
Mon Aug 06, 2018 12:21 am
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Vittorio De Seta, Il mondo perduto, 1954-59

I just can't recommend this highly enough - it's an astounding collection of ten short films shot in Sicily, Calabria and Sardinia, produced, filmed (in technicolor - and goodness knows how he got his camera in some of these places) and edited by De Seta. Each film is perfectly structured, a cinematic poem, with post-synced sounds of the local songs and sounds - but you could freeze the frame just about anywhere and be left with a compostion worthy of Cezanne. The fact that what we see is a disappearing (now, all but disappeared) way of life makes it all so much more poignant and precious. Fishing for tuna and swordfish, mining for sulphur, tending sheep and goats in the bleak snowstorms of Orgosolo or threshing grain by hand in a sweltering Sicilian summer. Do yourselves a favour and check this out. Absolutely sublime.
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