I thought it was something more interesting than that - a story about a fantasist. I thought he knew, or had a good chance of knowing that the woman was going to jump in that first scene, and he *chose* not to be involved. Everything after that smacks of the compulsion of the 24 hour news watcher, wiki trawler and social media commenter. He won't deal with the reality of a woman about to kill herself, but as soon as she's absent he can engage with her as fantasy - she becomes on a par with a celebrity news story. He builds up a fantasy for himself to inhabit - a "moral" counter to the jaded worldview of the policeman - and then forces that story down the throat of her boyfriend, taunting him like a twitter-troll and not failing to note that he himself would have been a better boyfriend to her. His moral crusade is just the narcissism of the sentimental and disconnected news reader. And the final scene isn't a metaphysical twist, it's the revelation of his moral groundlessness.)
Watched this last night, and agree wholeheartedly with the above. Terrific acting (Chiari sure, but also Roberto Ciccolini as the kid), very sharp script and great camerawork. And yes, a cracker of an ending I can imagine a big budget, horrible Hollywood remake - let's hope it never happens.Lao Tsu Ben wrote:
Il Giovedi, Dino Risi, 1963
How is it that this film has been so forgotten? It belongs up there with any minor, unassuming masterpieces you can think of. A father reunites for a day with his 8-year-old son whom he hasn't seen for five years. So the story is pretty simple and not precisely surprising but there's such an amount of tact in the direction, as the many and elusive subjective shots (whether they concern the father or the child) throughout the film are proof of, that you can't fault the film for that. Tremendous performance by Walter Chiari, whose character is not spared by the ruthless cruelty so typical of italian comedy but who is offered, among other things, a memorable last shot.
Songs from the Second Floor - Roy Andersson, 2000
This really couldn't be more different from Krisana. It's witty, immaculately handled and largely static where Krisana is dour, badly scripted and constantly moving. There's no doubt this is the "better" film of the two - cleverer, more accomplished, more intricate, containing more ideas even; but personally I liked, even enjoyed it a lot less. A couple of reviews of this make the distinction between liking and admiring and I think that's right.
I did admire it (or perhaps, tellingly "I did admire Andersson"), and for the first 1/2hr was charmed by it. The mechanical absurdism of the improbably connected components of a scene clicking into place with perfect choreography is completely captivating the first few scenes, and the stamina and invention with which it maintains that pace is impressive, but frankly I found the pattern tiring and repetitive after an hour. Early on I thought "this is Monty Python directed by Kubrick". But I'm glad Kubrick didn't direct Monty Python.
Individual scenes though are fantastic and it is as unforgettable a film as you'll see - the set piece with the guy foraging for food, scaring out the rats is one of the best comic scenes I've seen in a film for a long time, and there are fantastic deadpan details throughout.
Andersson clearly wants to entertain the audience, (which is *absolutely no criticism*), but for me he didn't leave enough space for the viewer. It's a satirical Disneyland ride, moving you past a series of perfectly executed dioramas, with, I thought, the mechanical quality that implies.
But then I watched this on my own after my girlfriend had gone to bed, and I guess going round Disneyland on your own isn't much fun either - maybe this is a film to watch in a group.
Martin Scorsese, Boxcar Bertha, 1972
A rather juvenile effort from Marty, heavily influenced by his producer Roger Corman – hence the nudity and violence (it doesn't take long for Barbara Hershey to get her kit off, and the bloodbath which ends the film is a squibfest worthy of Django Unchained). The film can't decide whether it wants to be Butch Cassidy or Bonnie and Clyde, but as none of the players shows any depth, it can't be either. Nice brief scene in which Carradine père et fils square off, but old man Carradine's not exactly the big bad railroad baron he ought to be, and David is a pretty two-dimensional character. Amazing to think Mean Streets was only a year away.
Hector Babenco, Kiss of the Spider Woman, 1985
This adaptation of Manuel Puig's novel – quite a faithful one it seems, from what I've read about the book – scooped plenty of awards when it came out, including a Best Actor for William Hurt (though that reminds me of Sean Penn's for Milk, a sort of token gay-friendly nod from the Academy), but I found it rather plodding, and the ending (not the film dream, I'm talking about what happens to Hurt) predictable and so-whattish. Hurt's characteristic drawn-out delivery overstays its welcome, and the film flashbacks he narrates are drab. I suspect the book is much better, but I'm not likely to rush out and buy a copy in the foreseeable future so somebody else on the other thread will have to tell me if it is or not.
Fading Gigolo (Turturro, 2013) I enjoyed this. Vergara and Stone are very funny. Turturro is too unattractive for the role, I think, but it's kind of sweet.
Steven Spielberg, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, 2008
The ol' Model H Ford looks pretty rusty at age 66, God knows what he'll be like if they ever get round to doing yet another Indiana Jones. It can't be pottier than this one though (can it?). Ah, fond memories of reading Erich von Däniken's Chariots of the Gods at age 8.. What a load of fucking tosh, really
Bryan Singer, X-Men, 2000
I'm no great fan of superhero movies - which is just about all Hollywood can churn out these days - and the one or two I like tend to be dumped on from a great height round these parts (yeah, I enjoyed Watchmen, so what), but what little interest they have for me come from the interaction between the mutants (as they're called here) and ordinary muggles. So this had me reaching for the off switch after about half an hour. For some reason, stuck it out until the end.
John Woo, Bullet in the Head, 1990
It might help if you like Once Upon A Time In America, Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter, but as I'm no great fan of any of them (the Coppola has its moments though) I found Mr Woo's bloodbath pretty dull. Amazed to see this movie has a 100% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, so I can only assume the scribblers there are all huge Cimino / Leone fans too. Woo's choreographed action sequences are always impressive, but when that's all there is - is there a single two-minute stretch without violence of some sort in the entire movie? - boredom becomes numbness. Bring back Chow Yun Fat and his toothpick.
Douglas Hickox, Theatre of Blood, 1973
A huge THANKYOU to Walto for hipping me to this one - not only is it bloody hilarious and hilariously bloody, with a stellar cast (in addition to comedy legends Arthur Lowe, Robert Morley, Dennis Price, Diana Dors, Eric Sykes there's Ian Hendry, the wonderful Diana Rigg and Vincent, who of course steals the show), it's superbly written and brilliantly filmed. Humour aside, I wonder if Mr Fincher was aware of this when he came up with Se7en - the parallels are striking: OK, Vincent actually dispenses with eight victims here, but the serial killer with a masterplan and the "pound of flesh" and the way Robert Morley dies (NOT spoiling this, but see first screenshot above ) quote can't be mere coincidences, can they? I wonder. Whatever, the bloke who comes out of it best is Wm. Shakespeare - choice speeches (choice killings) from his plays, and masterly integration of those oh so famous quotations. It's an absolute delight, and has sprung automatically into my Top 20 films of the year (if not the decade): anyone who admires the Bard and likes a good gory comedy should go snatch this right away! Recommended most highly! Go get it, or else..
I highly enjoyed this, though I had heard negative reviews about it. I'm a fan of the dir. and liked Squid and the Whale a lot. I'm not sure whether it makes me want to move to NY or do the exact opposite, but it's quirky and shall I saw awesome? Yes, yes I shall.
Cy Endfield, Zulu, 1964
On a Cy Endfield trip at the moment, and returned to this with great pleasure. Quite apart from the fine performances – Stanley Baker and Jack Hawkins never disappoint, but this was the movie that launched Michael Caine – there's the terrific location footage, and the enthusiastic cooperation of the Zulu Nation (the real one, with Chief Buthelezi, who also appears himself). And Richard Burton doing the narration. Yum.
Cy Endfield, The Sound of Fury, 1950
This is a real cracker - fingers crossed it might see the light of day in a cleaned-up HD reissue - and the best and scariest lynch-mob-storming-the-jailhouse scene ever (and there's some good competition out there, with Fury and The Chase and whatnot). Great performances, and some terrific editing: love the brutal jump cut from the mob to the kid waking up screaming. Was it all a bad dream? Hell, no - it really was a nasty as it looks. I guess the moralising of the visiting Italian was tacked on to please the folks from the Hays Office, because this does not end nicely.
Alain Resnais, Aimer boire et chanter, 2014
For his swansong, Resnais returned to familiar territory with an adaptation of another play by his beloved Alan Ayckbourn (Life of Riley), with his old faithful crew, spouse Sabine Azéma, André Dussollier et al.. sets by Jacques Saulnier, of course. If you like the theatrical Resnais, you'll find much to enjoy. Plot's strikingly similar to Mankiewicz's Letter to Three Wives, to whet your appetite.
William Wyler, Wuthering Heights, 1939
Television adaptations aside, I've come across about half a dozen screen adaptations of Emily Brontë's novel (none of which get much further than Cathy's death – the book proceeds with the story of the next generation), and have got Andrea Arnold's recent version in the “to watch” pile. My favourite so far is Rivette's Hurlevent, even though it was obviously filmed in the Cevennes and not in Yorkshire, with Bunuel's hysterical Mexican reading Abismos de Pasion in second place (see reviews passim), but this old classic from that great year 1939 still has a lot going for it. Olivier and Oberon both do a great job, even if they actually hated each other haha. Shame Sam Goldwyn rode roughshod over Wyler and opted for the soppy ending. I can't comment on whether the book's better than the film (on the other thread), because I've never read it all the way through! Not yet..