Recently Watched Films 2015

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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

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Carlos Saura, Deprisa deprisa, 1981

“A raw and sobering portrait of a generation at an existential crossroads, struggling to find mooring and direction in an uncertain climate of transformative, social revolution”, sez Wiki. Yes indeedy, and refreshingly unglamorous too, this bunch of spotty, pasty stick up kids living in the drab outskirts of Madrid. Like Bonnie and Clyde it ends badly, of course, except for the sleazy doctor who presumably gets away with a million pesetas, the crafty old bugger
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

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Bruno Dumont, Twentynine Palms, 2003

There's very little to say about this without revealing major plot points, but suffice it to say that director Dumont finds the Mojave Desert “scary”, and within minutes you sense something is going seriously wrong between his two leading actors (who, incidentally, couldn't stand each other in real life – must have taken quite a bit of courage to commit to those raw sex scenes). You know something awful will happen – and it does. Further reading, if you're interested http://www.longpauses.com/the-new-ameri ... ine-palms/ If you want a laugh, try the hysterically stupid negative reviews over at Rotten Tomatoes
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

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Juzo Itami, The Funeral, 1984

Not as wild as his Noodle Western Tampopo (you'll recognise that movie's John Wayne-like Tsutomu Yamazaki in the pic above, though), but a gentle if firm debunking of the numerous rituals of the Japanese funeral. Imagine Joe Orton's Loot as directed by Ozu. Well, sort of.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

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Aki Kaurismäki, Hamlet Goes Business, 1987

Hamlet goes noir too, in this cunning and skilful reworking of the old chestnut (thankfully without the soliloquy and the skull). Another splendid soundtrack too. Laertes (Lauri) eventually ends up with more than a slap in the face, too - what a way to die https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8zP8lcL8vI
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

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Werner Herzog, My Son My Son What Have Ye Done?, 2009

Very disappointing. Michael Shannon does weird pretty well, as you might expect, but I didn't see the point of flying him out to Peru to wax lyrical over Werner's beloved Urubamba river. Fine cast – Willem Dafoe, Chloë Sevigny, Udo Kier, Grace Zabriskie and Brad Dourif – but what were those bloody ostriches doing in there?
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

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Abel Ferrara, Go Go Tales, 2000

Dafoe's good in this too, but will inevitably remain in the shadow of Ben Gazzara in The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie, which Ferrara is obviously paying homage to in his rough and ready tale of a sleazy lapdance joint on the verge of financial breakdown (bossman Dafoe has blown the dough on lottery tickets), with much of dialogue improvised on the fly. Whether Asia Argento French kissing that dog was scripted or not, I couldn't say :D
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

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Jed Johnson, Andy Warhol's Bad, 1977

Trash ahoy! What with fingers hacked off and stuffed in ketchup bottles, hysterical neighbours belching and farting, and autistic kids thrown across the room, this is seriously and hilariously bad taste (I wonder whether Johnson was “influenced” by John Waters – Carroll Baker's nearly as nasty as Mink Stole). But the most famous scene is undoubtedly this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddeTAQ4a8b0 Watch out above!
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

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Dan Warburton wrote:Image

George Cukor, Gaslight, 1944

What a cracking film, really. Bergman should have got Best Actress for this (instead it went to Jennifer Jones in The Song of Bernadette, and I bet you've never heard of that one – I haven't), but at least she won something that year, as Casablanca got Best Picture. Charles Boyer's psychological headfuck torturer is cool too, and Angela Lansbury's chirpy and tarty in her debut. Another cameo from pianist Jakob Gimpel too, hoorah

I hate Jennifer Jones. She sucked in everything--including Song of Bernadette. BTW, I love that Karloff/Lugosi flick.
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

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Pedro Costa, No quarto da Vanda, 2000

Think I'll let JR speak for me on this one. My goodness. http://www.jonathanrosenbaum.net/2010/0 ... layout-tk/ (also contains a link to Costa's own seminar in Tokyo in 2004, very fine speech).
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

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BTW, your mention of Charles Boyer reminds me that he stars in the one film I know of that was made of an original Aldous Huxley piece ("Gioconda Smile"). Huxley wrote the screenplay too, and Jessica Tandy is very good in it. It's called A Woman's Vengeance.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

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Dan Warburton wrote:Image

Pedro Costa, No quarto da Vanda, 2000

Think I'll let JR speak for me on this one. My goodness. http://www.jonathanrosenbaum.net/2010/0 ... layout-tk/ (also contains a link to Costa's own seminar in Tokyo in 2004, very fine speech).
One of my top 5 films ever—utterly singular. Juventude em Marcha seems to get most of the hype, and it's incredible, but this is better IMO.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

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Joseph Sargent, White Lightning, 1973

I never understood why Burt Reynolds became such a big star, to be honest, though that little girly giggle is quite touching. The story's pretty old hat – nasty pig-faced beer-bellied redneck racist sheriff (Ned Beatty, how did you guess?) gets paid off by local illegal hooch peddlers and gets rid of anyone that stands in his way (especially if they happen to be hippie, communist or black), until one of them turns out to be Burt's kid brother. Classic revenge stool pigeon tale with car chases galore and women with names like Sugar Pudding (that's her, above). Yawn. But it's all been done better elsewhere, from prison chain gangs (Cool Hand Luke) to racist lawmen (tick... tick... tick...) to high-speed car chases (Fear Is The Key). To quote Roland Barthes: "Labourers, soldiers,conspirators, all have their austere and tense features streaming (with Vaseline). And closeups are so frequent that evidently sweat here is an attribute with a purpose. Like the Roman fringe or the nocturnal plait, sweat is a sign. Of what? Of moral feeling. Everyone is sweating because everyone is debating something within himself; we are here supposed to be in the locus of a horribly tormented virtue, that is, in the very locus of tragedy, and itis sweat which has the function of conveying this." Hm, well he was talking about Julius Caesar there. I wonder what he (would have) made of Burt Reynolds.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

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Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Three Monkeys, 2008

It starts out very well, but after about an hour you just wish these folks would let themselves explode Mike Leigh style, instead of holding all the pain in, which inevitably leads to constipation. Even the weird colour filters begin to lose their attraction after a while. Still, terrific performances from all concerned, and great locations. Not as tiresomely long as last year's Winter Sleep, but not as great as Distant before it and Once Upon A Time in Anatolia after it.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

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Dusan Makavejev, W.R. Mysteries of the Organism, 1971

The W.R. in question is Wilhelm Reich, whom nobody remembers at all these days, and the film's dated about as badly as the tatty orgone accumulators that clutter up its gaudy sets. Intercutting between documentary footage (I think) and a potty tale of two comely Yugoslavian comrades getting their rocks off with a Soviet ballet dancer, I have no idea what it's all in aid of. Famous Fug Tuli Kupferberg's armed guerrilla prowling the streets of NY is quite amusing though.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

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Michael Moore, Fahrenheit 9/11, 2004

I'd never actually seen this (honest!) and enjoyed it very much, if “enjoy” is the right word. OK, it certainly didn't deserve the Palme d'Or – that was just Quentin T (Jury President that year) giving W the finger – but MM still tells a ripping yarn. Christ, I'd forgotten how fucking dumb Bush was – if 9/11 was a conspiracy (you can choose between the Arab and the Israeli scenarios), I can only imagine his daddy chose not to inform him. Great shot of him sitting in that Florida classroom, though. What was going through his mind..?
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

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Mario Bava, Five Dolls for an August Moon, 1970

Bava himself was underwhelmed by the script, but what it lacks in coherence (quite a lot, in fact: the characters are all pretty cardboard, but unpleasant nevertheless, and the secret formula plot is frankly as dumb as the title) it certainly makes up for in visual style, with wild and wonderful interiors – love the scene where the table is knocked over in a scuffle and sends hundreds of glass balls cascading down the spiral staircase – groovy costumes and Edwige Fenech's eye make-up. That's Edith Meloni in the shot above, btw. Plenty of good shots and comments here
http://www.gotterdammerung.org/film/mar ... -moon.html
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

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Dan Warburton wrote:Image

Joseph Sargent, White Lightning, 1973

I never understood why Burt Reynolds became such a big star, to be honest, though that little girly giggle is quite touching. The story's pretty old hat – nasty pig-faced beer-bellied redneck racist sheriff (Ned Beatty, how did you guess?) gets paid off by local illegal hooch peddlers and gets rid of anyone that stands in his way (especially if they happen to be hippie, communist or black), until one of them turns out to be Burt's kid brother. Classic revenge stool pigeon tale with car chases galore and women with names like Sugar Pudding (that's her, above). Yawn. But it's all been done better elsewhere, from prison chain gangs (Cool Hand Luke) to racist lawmen (tick... tick... tick...) to high-speed car chases (Fear Is The Key). To quote Roland Barthes: "Labourers, soldiers,conspirators, all have their austere and tense features streaming (with Vaseline). And closeups are so frequent that evidently sweat here is an attribute with a purpose. Like the Roman fringe or the nocturnal plait, sweat is a sign. Of what? Of moral feeling. Everyone is sweating because everyone is debating something within himself; we are here supposed to be in the locus of a horribly tormented virtue, that is, in the very locus of tragedy, and itis sweat which has the function of conveying this." Hm, well he was talking about Julius Caesar there. I wonder what he (would have) made of Burt Reynolds.
the ones that made him huge were a bit later: The Longest Yard, the Smokey and the Bandit series, Semi-Tough, Hooper, Cannonball Run. I've never seen White Lightning (I've seen all of the ones I just listed, although mostly when I was a kid) but he was a very good fit for the material of most or all of the latter somehow.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

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Nicholas Ray, The Savage Innocents, 1960

The dialogue is horribly stilted (do Eskimo males really only speak in the third person? and do their wives refer to themselves as “stupid” and “useless”?), and those Pinewood Studio igloos look mighty comfortable compared to the real thing, but a lot of the details are quite accurate (see below). Quinn the Eskimo's giggles are annoying at first, but the story becomes quite gripping when he accidentally bashes a Catholic priest's brains out on his igloo wall and ends up being pursued by a couple of troopers, one of whom falls in the sea and freezes solid, the other whose life he saves by defrosting his hands in the steaming intestines of a freshly slaughtered husky. No shit! Shame Peter O'Toole was dubbed. He was pretty pissed off about it, too, and refused to have his name appear in the final credits.

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Robert Flaherty, Nanook of the North, 1922

Intrigued by the Ray, I had to check out and see if the details it includes were actually based in fact (i.e. don't let the huskies eat your sledge, and let your wife suck your boots before you put them on in the morning) – they were indeed. But knowing that Flaherty was out there in the snowstorm filming this back in 1922 (a return visit too: his earlier footage was all destroyed when the negative caught fire during editing), and that the grinning Nanook himself passed away only a couple of years after the film was made when he went off hunting deer and never came back, make it all the more poignant. I think it was Michael Snow who once said he thought the human race started going downhill when men stopped being hunter gatherers and settled down as farmers – in that case, the image above is a precious record of the end of humanity.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

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Federico Fellini, E la nave va, 1983

How do Fellini fans feel about this one? Depending on who you read, this tale of a colourful group of opera singers, impresarios and aristocrats setting out on an ocean liner to scatter the ashes of a famous diva in the waters off the island she was born is either his greatest (Antonioni thought so) or his worst film, but it's certainly echt Fellini, with the gorgeous artifice of the sets and a panoply of eccentric characters (not to mention that rhinoceros), with Freddie Jones giving the performance of a lifetime as the journalist / compère Orlando. Is there an English audio version, I wonder? Seems not.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2015

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John Woo, Hard Boiled, 1992

So you thought Tarantino had patented the Mexican Standoff? Nah. Toothpick-chewing Chow Yun-fat and Tony “In The Mood for Love” Leung are just as good, and manage to save a maternity ward full of cute babies too while wiping out a veritable army of gangsters. Serious body count, bullets galore – it all looks more like a video game than a movie – but you can't help be impressed by the extraordinary virtuosity of Woo's action sequences.
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