Jack Arnold, It Came From Outer Space, 1953
Back in my spotty youth, I taped a John Peel show during which he played a track by The Very Things (from the album The Bushes Scream While My Daddy Prunes – good luck to you finding a copy of that) which samples some of the dialogue from this 50s classic, set like so many others in the Arizona desert. Serious overuse of theremin for bug-eyed extraterrestrials can be forgiven.
Jean-Claude Brisseau, Noce Blanche, 1989
Having thoroughly hated La fille sur le pont, I'd studiously avoided Vanessa Paradis until now – but what a fine performance she gives here as the brilliant but pretty fucked-up 17-year-old who leads Bruno Cremer nearly to destruction. Great photography – what wonderful Vermeer-like lighting, even makes Dunkerque look attractive, and that's quite an achievement
Glad you liked it!Dan Warburton wrote:Il Giovedi, Dino Risi, 1963
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.
Stuck, Stuart Gordon, 2007
Inspired from a famous and rather, as they say, chilling fait divers, this is a very impressing little thriller that dispenses as much fun as it is, yep I've just said it, chilling (and it should be!). It reminded me of After Hours, which I had just seen and didn't like (except for its impressive cinematography) while having what Scorcese's film cruelly lacks, that is a real sense of kafkaesque dread: random and horrible events don't happen for no reason, there's a mechanism at work that bestows a general air of fatality to how the film proceeds, and makes it worthwile. You have to give credit to Stuart Gordon for the way he minutely deals with his material, with no superficial effort. I'm also a big fan of Stephen Rea, who is very good in it, which doesn't hurt. I'm going to risk the expression must-see, even if it's still "a minor one", on account of all the bad movies I saw in the last few days.
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Don Edmonds, Ilsa She Wolf of the SS, 1975
If our man Mudd's logging on at work, I doubt this particular gif is likely to stay up here for long, but I'll give it a shot anyway. I'm no expert when it comes to Nazi exploitation flicks, but apparently this is one of the, er, best, and spawned several sequels, despite the fact that Ilsa gets blown away at the end. Can't say I was blown away myself, though I admit I might have a peep at Ilsa Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks. Wiki informs us that buxom leading lady Dyanne Thorne now runs a wedding chapel in Vegas. You have been warned.
Ermanno Olmi, L'albero degli zoccoli (The Tree of Wooden Clogs), 1978
You can't google this anywhere without coming across the name of Al Pacino, who apparently rates it very highly. But the performances of the local non-actors, speaking in dialect for the most part, are nothing like (but to my mind far superior to) what came out of the Actors' Studio. It's a slowmoving – three hours long – but not uneventful tale of peasant life in rural Lombardy at the end of the 19th century. The class struggles to come are barely hinted at, but there's enormously subtlety to the script and plot (the newlywed couple's expedition to Milan to adopt an orphan is marvellous). The nutcases who posted over at IMDb that they wouldn't watch it because it showed a pig being slaughtered don't know what they're missing.
Peter Watkins, The War Game, 1965
Still chilling after all these years. This faux documentary about the possible aftermath of a thermonuclear weapon strike in rural Kent had to wait a couple of decades before the BBC would air it, as I recall, but it certainly deserves its mythic status. Much more powerful than the later Peace Game (aka The Gladiators) and Punishment Park, imo
Peter Kuran, Trinity and Beyond (The Atomic Bomb Movie), 1995
Werner Herzog was criticised for "glorifying" the terrible beauty of the burning oilfields of Kuwait in Lessons of Darkness, and there's something of that here, in the footage of the numerous nuclear tests that took place in the 1950s - I had no idea there were so many: have a look at this
The images are certainly arresting (can't help laughing at the thought of Harrison Ford hiding in his fridge in Indiana Jones 4), but the accompanying music is fucking deadly – Hans Zimmer would probably love it – and there's not much analytical / philosophical meat to underpin them.
Leni Riefenstahl, Triumph des Willens, 1935
First time I've seen this all the way through, and I don't think I'll need to return to it. But, like Pasolini's Salo, this is one film I reckon everyone ought to see at least once in their lives. Ms Riefenstahl of course had carte blanche to film the Nuremberg rally in autumn 1934, and the kind of resources most filmmakers could only dream of – as an exercise in montage it gives Eisenstein and Pudovkin a good run for their money, and as an exercise in propaganda it blows everything else out of the water. Good grief!
John Dahl, The Last Seduction, 1994
What a bitch! You can see Linda Fiorentino just loved playing this preposterous but wildly entertaining story for everything it was worth (it if hadn't aired on TV first she might have scooped up Best Actress, which imo she certainly would have deserved). Best neo-noir I've seen this year, but you can't go wrong if you dig deep into Double Indemnity and Strangers On A Train, can you? Music's a bit obtrusive, but you're so busy gasping for breath at the femme fatale's brazen audacity ("here I baked you some cookies" hahaha) you don't notice it that much.
http://www.discogs.com/sell/list?master_id=142845&ev=mbDan Warburton wrote: (from the album The Bushes Scream While My Daddy Prunes – good luck to you finding a copy of that)
Not as hard to find as I was led to believe!Alastair wrote:http://www.discogs.com/sell/list?master_id=142845&ev=mbDan Warburton wrote: (from the album The Bushes Scream While My Daddy Prunes – good luck to you finding a copy of that)
François Ozon, Swimming Pool, 2003
Shame she's just a figment of Charlotte Rampling's imagination Good pic, now I've figured out the twist looking forward to watching it again before long..
High Spirits, Neil Jordan, 1988
Kael's review is rather on the money:
In High Spirits, a busload of American tourists arrive at a castle that's advertised as the most haunted place in Ireland. The producers may have been hoping for something on the order of National Lampoon's Irish Vacation with a jigger of Ghostbusters. But even though they whacked away at the film, it's still clear that what the writer-director, Neil Jordan (best known for his 1986 Mona Lisa), was trying for was an Irish phantasmagoria—a Midsummer Night's Dream, with love swaps and ghostly transformations. The producers put the film through a series of American previews, then recut it, removing between fifteen and twenty-five per cent of the footage, in the hope, it appears, of making it less complex and less delicate—easier for audiences to understand. All they succeeded in doing was messing up Jordan's film-now it's neither one thing nor the other. It has lovely ephemera, though, and once you're past the first fifteen minutes or so (which are clumsily antic) the moody texture can take hold of your imagination. At its best, the film is a soft Irish kiss. ; H
There may never have been a movie ghost wh owas as sexy and ethereal a love object as Daryl Hannah is here. With her flower-stem neck tilted and her long legs sheathed in a lacy, diaphanous gown, she's the bride who was murdered by her husband (Liam Neeson) on their wedding night and has been doomed to reenact the death scene each night for two centuries. Now one of the Americans (Steve Guttenberg, unfortunately) intercedes. There's paranormal grace in the way Hannah and Neeson pass through stone walls, and when Hannah puts her hands through the wall and over Guttenberg's eyes it's like being teased in a dream. When she makes love to him by passing her body through his, it's perfect poetic sex.
Peter O'Toole is the gentleman souse Peter Plunkett, who's trying to save the labyrinthine Castle Plunkett from foreclosure and keep the villagers in the jobs that are their only means of support; he's busily—and ineptly—staging apparitions for the tourists when the real ghosts, come out of the crumbling walls. (The exteriors were shot at the medieval Dromore Castle, which was once the county seat of the earls of Limerick and is said to have been a model for Ludwig's rococo castle in Bavaria, which, in turn, was a model for the castle at Disneyland.) O'Toole's Plunkett has a comic heartbreaker of a scene when the ghost of his father (played by Ray McAnally) appears and the dissolute son be-' comes plaintive and young-boyish as he chides his daddy for leaving him without warning or preparation. The keening melancholy in O'Toole's voice hovers in the air long after Daddy apologizes. (O'Toole's voice is his spirit.)
a lacy, diaphanous gown, she's the bride who was murdered by her husband (Liam Neeson) on their wedding night and has been doomed to reenact the death scene each night for two centuries. Now one of the Americans (Steve Guttenberg, unfortunately) intercedes. There's paranormal grace in the way Hannah and Neeson pass through stone walls, and when Hannah puts her hands through the wall and over Guttenberg's eyes it's like being teased in a dream. When she makes love to him by passing her body through his, it's perfect poetic sex.
Beverly D'Angelo does some risky comedy as Guttenberg's rich, unsatisfied wife, who stretches her mouth wide yowling at him and then, encountering the ghostly Liam Neeson, melts. D'Angelo doesn't have Daryl Hannah's heaven-kissing height or the sweet irony that Hannah brings to her scenes, but she has her own walloping gorgeousness. She's like a more brass-lunged version of the young Joan Blondell. Batting her big eyes and swinging her hips, D'Angelo knows how to be the tough city girl and yet make you understand this girl's yearnings. The character she's playing is American but she's also Irish; D'Angelo holds the picture together. Jennifer Tilly is nifty as the flirtatious Miranda, who has sworn off men (temporarily), and Peter Gallagher is the doubt-ridden Brother Tony, who is just about to take his final vows; they have a scene together in a revolving bed that spins faster and faster. Liz Smith (of A Private Function) is Plunkett's wonderfully pie-eyed mother; normally it's disturbing when a widow talks of her long-dead husband as if he were still around—here it's natural. Donal McCann (of The Dead) is the skunk-drunk tour guide; Martin Ferrero (of "Miami Vice") is a skeptical parapsychologist; and Mary Coughlan, who plays one of the villagers, sings an Irish song in a low, almost conversational voice—its plainness can get to you. Guttenberg isn't actually bad as an amiable, love-struck ninny; he shows a tender side, and he's blandly silly-funny when he recites lyrics by The Big Bopper. But the role might have more tingle if it were filled by an actor who could suggest that he was shifting from one love to another, and that this meant changing realms.
The picture has special effects by Meddings Magic Camera Company, which are in an altogether different style from the usual ones, by Industrial Light & Magic., They're less industrial and more like storybook illustrations. Sprites with comet tails flit through the air. A white horst speaks in a thick brogue. The nuns who gather accusingly around the tempted Brother have scarily stiff wimples and pinpoint eyes; they're domesticated demons—something you could whip up for Halloween. Stones fly out of a wall as if by command (while O'Toole at his most cadenced expresses stupefaction). And when the tour bus, which has sunk in a misty bog, rises and flies you're not sure for a second or two what's going on. The cinematographer, Alex Thomson, wants you to stare a little. Nothing looks newly processed; the magic here feels like magic—it's dark and cobwebby, and even a little musty. And when an effect doesn't quite work—like the small boy who turns into a cardboard cutout—you're bothered by its not working, because the conception is promising and you wanted to feel the mystery. The tattered High Spirits can't be called a good movie, but I'd call it an inspired one. The repeated reenactments of the two-hundred-year-old murder are spooky, beautiful, and passionate; they're a poet's distillation of the mechanical nature of movies.
Like Creator, or My Favorite Year, both vehicles for the immense charm of Peter O'Toole, the film has retained a special sheen, typical of the 80's and of which I'm particularly fond. Plus Neil Jordan is no slouch when it comes to make a film look good.
Cy Endfield, The Limping Man, 1953
Shame about the cop out ending, because with a bit more attention to detail, a tighter script and better actors (and maybe Alfred Hitchcock directing, as this is right up his street, with dapper Scotland Yard detectives eyeing the ladies, sleazy music hall acts and seedy Docklands atmosphere) it could have been much better.
Woody Allen, Stardust Memories, 1980
Ugh, I shouldn't have listened to a mate of mine (whose taste in cinema I respect enormously) who told me it was his favourite Woody. Hm, we have to have a chat about that.. Pillaging other heroes' films is OK by me, but if you're going to have a crack at Fellini's 8 1/2 and cast yourself as the poor suffering director instead of Marcello Mastroianni, you're asking for trouble. By 1980 I reckon most people had had enough of Woody letting his hangups hang out, but when it's done with wry humour (Diane Keaton helps too) instead of snide bitterness as is the case here, it can still work, just about. Groucho Marx wallpaper, a fine trio of supporting ladies and a cute cameo from Sharon Stone can't save it. I doubt even Diane Keaton could have.
Robert Florey, The Cocoanuts, 1929
And talking of Groucho wallpaper.. well, let's just say this is for Marx Brothers completists. Some of the best Groucho / Chico routines from the Brothers' vaudeville era are included (“why a duck?”), but the flimsy plot – huh, you thought Animal Crackers was lite? try this – is padded out with dumb song and dance routines and the supporting cast, Margaret Dumont excepted (of course), is terrible. Pacing's way off too. Fast forward to Monkey Business and see how quickly they got better.
Yasujirō Ozu, Early Spring, 1956
Absolutely magnificent in every detail. As most of his films are
Larry Cohen, Black Caesar, 1973
Well worth it for the James Brown soundtrack and the location footage of early 70s Harlem / Bronx, but the acting is pretty naff. Shame, because the story – Little Caesar revisited – isn't bad, and nor is Larry Cohen's script. But who cares? Dig the afros and the suits and pump up the volume
Olivier Assayas, Demonlover, 2002
Second time round, and enjoyed it just as much, if not more. Especially how the narrative starts to unravel seriously about an hour in (nutcases who moan over at IMDb that it's not a “real” neo-noir have completely missed the point: this is closer to Rivette than John Dahl). Fine Sonic Youth soundz too, plus a groovy half-hour bonus thereon showing Jim O' twiddling his EMS.
D.A. Pennebaker, Don't Look Back, 1967
I always wondered what Allen Ginsberg was doing lurking in the background.. Nice to see this again after many years – first time I watched it I hated it (because for some reason at the time I hated Dylan, can't recall why to be honest) but it's stood the test of time well and is a valuable document of Bob's 1965 English tour. Especially enjoyed Joan Baez's funny faces and Dylan's manager Albert Grossman wheeling and dealing with the TV stations, getting the Beeb to outbid Granada. Haha, happy days.. £2000 must have been a lot of money those days. Nice to see Alan Price opening a bottle of Newcastle Brown on an upright piano too.
Jean-Luc Godard, Une femme est une femme, 1961
Raoul Coutard moaned that there wasn't much colour in the streets around Strasbourg Saint-Denis Métro station in the winter, but you'd never know it. Gorgeous colour (for the first time, the Nouvelle Vague went way over budget – two million francs, quite a sum at the time) - Frank Tashlin would have been proud. But it's Karina who steals the show. JLG even let her wear false eyelashes for once too. Infâme!
Steve Buscemi, Trees Lounge, 1996
Splendid debut from Buscemi as director, and as you can see it doesn't end all that well for him. If your idea of fun is an Asylum-period Tom Waits album, a book of Raymond Carver short stories and a bottle of Wild Turkey, you'll love it. Fine performances all round - Chloe Sevigny especially - elegant and not at all flashy camerawork, and a cool soundtrack. Cheers!
Ulrich Seidl, Paradies: Liebe, 2012
Ulrich Seidl, Paradies: Glaube, 2012
Ulrich Seidl, Paradies: Hoffnung, 2012
“Review” to follow, when I've gone through my notes. But - hell, what a superb trilogy.