I love Edward G.: my favorite role of his is (the similar) Rocco in Key Largo. Has anybody ever been more annoyed on screen than he is in that shaving scene?little caesar (1931) - small man, big mouth
Nagisa Oshima, Tokyo senso sengo hiwa ("The Battle of Tokyo" aka "The Man Who Left His Will on Film"), 1970
If you like Blow Up and Marienbad, you might be able to get your head around something resembling a plot, though that hardly matters – enjoy the Takemitsu soundtrack at least
Stephen Gyllenhaal, Paris Trout, 1991
Widely acclaimed as one of Dennis's best late performances post-Frank Booth, and apparently quite faithful to the novel on which it's based, but I had a bit of a hard time with the gauzy, smoky photography throughout, not to mention the love story between Dennis's abused and long-suffering spouse (goodness knows why she sticks around after that scene with the bottle.. nuff said, no spoilers, haha) and his lawyer (Ed Harris). Anyway, you can probably guess how it ends without me having to tell you
Andrea Arnold, Fish Tank, 2009
Ah, kitchen sink Brit-prole cinema is alive and well, and if you want to study some authentic Essex accents you could do no better than check out Katie Jarvis, who was cast on the spot when the director spotted her having an argument on a railway station platform. She's no great shakes as a dancer, but it's an impressive debut performance otherwise. Her little sister's got quite a mouth on her, too.
Mario Bava, Il rosso segno della follia ("Hatchet for the Honeymoon"), 1970
Not really a pure giallo, as we know from the outset who the killer is (and it doesn't take a degree course at the Ecole Freudienne to figure out why he got that way either), but a typically stylish outing from Papa Bava, despite pretty wooden acting throughout. Laura Betti excepted, perhaps, whose ghostly appearances are consistently fun, even if she sounds terrible in English. (But is there any “authentic” audio track for films like this? I doubt it)
Dan Warburton wrote:
Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani, Amer, 2009
If like me you're a giallo enthusiast, you can't afford to pass this one up. Ever dreamt of a giallo without the stoopid cop, the silly effete secondary characters, the barrel full of red herrings and the dumb dialogue? This is the one for you – assuming you have no problem with style over substance. In fact, here the style is the substance: there's precious little dialogue (and what little there is could be dispensed with almost entirely), but the film's division into three scenes representing the life of the heroine – one, the scared little girl alone in the house with grandfather's body lying in his coffin; two, the sexually charged adolescent fantasies; three the grown woman once more alone in the big, deserted house – is crystal clear. It's visually gorgeous, and the sound design is exquisite too. Plus added bonus of original giallo soundtrack snippets by, among others, the mighty Morricone. F**k Django Unchained, Amer does it a zillion times better. Great stuff.
Aki Kaurismäki, Le Havre, 2011
I think I'm getting the hang of the Kaurismäki experience now – especially that vivid eye for colour (those dirty turquoises and browny greens..) that makes the London of I Hired A Contract Killer and Le Havre here basically an extension of Helsinki. Similar story lines and characters too, and the omnipresent AK heroine Kati Outinen, here partnered by the mighty André Wilms. Add the de rigueur classy soundtrack complete with old rock'n'rollers (here Little Bob, himself a native of Le Havre) and it's a delight. Nice secondary role for Jean-Pierre Daroussin as the good cop and Jean-Pierre Léaud as the evil bug-eyed police informer. So good we've decided to go for a day out in Le Havre in a couple of weeks, in fact
Sidney Lumet, The Verdict, 1982
Certainly one of Newman's best performances (love the way he leans over to sip his drink), but the fact that an attorney has no right to refuse an out-of-court settlement without consulting his clients first sort of makes the whole story a bit hard to swallow. You know he's going to win eventually – ach, the quintessential American tale of the little guy who wins against all the odds.. of course Lumet did it ages ago with Twelve Angry Men – but at least he doesn't pick up the phone at the end and hop into the sack again with Charlotte Rampling, the bitch
François Ozon, Sitcom, 1998
If you know Pasolini's Teorema, you'll enjoy this crusty little tale even more. Nice suburban family life totally turned upside down by the arrival of an unexpected visitor. In the Pasolini it's Terence Stamp - in Sitcom it's the little chappy above. I wouldn't like to spoil your fun, but if you don't mind a bit of S&M, incest and (implied) necrophilia, all topped off with a branlette espagnole (ah, how nice it sounds in French.. go Google, kids), you'll love it
Maurice Pialat, Passe ton bac d'abord, 1978
I searched in vain for a screenshot of the dog pissing on the wheels of the Rolls Royce, but this'll have to do instead. It's an odd, touching film – quite lite for Pialat, though there is one super fight scene – and strangely without a centre. Pialat apparently didn't hit it off with Philippe Marlaud, whose role is essentially the most important, and spent more time exploring his minor characters, all played by local non-actors from Lens (two of whom have some great tales to tell in the bonus documentary features).
Lawrence Kasdan, Body Heat, 1981
Well I guess if you set out to pillage Double Indemnity and Out Of The Past you can't go that far wrong, but Kathleen Turner looks more like a high school cheerleader than a femme fatale to me. Shame Linda Fiorentino wasn't available. Meeeow! Nice noir dialogue though, and William Hurt does a good job, but, as was the case with the Rafelson remake of Postman (see reviews passim), the sex (why does every single website I consult insist on using the word “steamy”?) seems sort of over the top somehow. I wouldn't throw a chair through a window to get my hands on Kathleen, myself
BTW, here's the Johnny Rocco shaving scene:
Baltasar Kormákur, Jar City, 2006
Do they really serve sheep's heads (eyes included) at drive-thru fast food outlets in Iceland? Must check that out when we go there this summer.. Meanwhile, thoroughly enjoyed this windswept Nordic noir, with its chilly washed-out colour filters and deadpan detective. Looking forward to discovering the landscape, still a little wary about the local cuisine
Alexandre Aja, Haute Tension, 2003
I like to think Philippe Nahon is a lovely bloke in real life, but after three appearances as the ghastly horse butcher in Gaspar Noé's films, and a truly wild serial killer here, he's become typecast as a real monster (interestingly, IMDb lists his first appearance as far back as Melville's Le Doulos in 1962.. wow). But any discussion of this gory slasher can't avoid serious SPOILERS so if you have any intention of seeing it, avert yr gaze forthwith. Actually, the twist is cute but a bit lame the more you think about it - it was nice lickle Cecile de France (Marie) who massacred her best friend Alex's (that Alex as in girl not boy) family after all, merely out of repressed lesbian jealousy (are we really supposed to fall for that one?): the Nahon character was presumably a figment of her imagination. Anyway, as slashers go it presses all the right buttons, with the obligatory hoaxes and false alarms, not to mention references to classics of the genre (mad forest pursuits with circular saw, and yep, Marie hides in a wardrobe.. yawn), and it's certainly extreeeemely bloody. Harmless - make that armless haha - teen fun, little more.
Anima Persa, Dino Risi, 1977
Obviously Jamesian, like a cross between The Turn of The Screw (I won't say more) and The Aspern Papers, and close to being a masterpiece in my opinion. Gassman, in his usual grand manner, plays an authoritarian father figure that brings to mind James Mason in Bigger Than Life: their ability to conjure dismay and hilarity at the same time is something to be prized.
Samira Makhmalbaf, Sib ("The Apple"), 1998
Damned impressive debut for a 17-year old, but I guess helps if your dad is one of the leading directors of Iranian cinema (he also scripted and edited the film..). Worth remembering though that not only is this a true story (this from http://www.feralproj.freewebspace.com/page2.html: "In 1997 Iran, twelve year old twin girls were taken into care by social services because of the parent’s neglect. The girls were not able to speak, they could barely walk and they spoke to others only by whimpers. The girls had not been bathed in many years and were at a mental age of only two years old. The girls were placed in a foster home, which they are currently still living in. The girls are being taught to read and write and are currently recieveing top honors in their third grade class, they are now nineteen years old. They both have wishes to continue through college and become succesful.") - it also "stars" the people themselves. Raises some interesting ethical questions, that, as this article makes clear http://iranian.com/Arts/1999/August/Sib/index.html
Alain Tanner, Jonas qui aura 25 ans en l'an 2000, 1976
A rather misleading screenshot, I admit - the black and white inserts in this movie are the characters' dreams / fantasies, not the (much less exciting) reality of their life in mid 70s Suisse Romande, where the euphoria of '68 has settled into either the dull reality of factory or agricultural work, the odd spark of anarchism still emerging in the performance of Miou Miou as the supermarket cashier who nicks food for or gives it away to folks who can no longer afford to pay for it. Scripted, as were several of Tanner's films, by John Berger (whose own leftist idealism, as evidenced in his well-known book / TV series Ways of Seeing, has also aged rather unglamorously), it's a touching but oddly dated look back at a world that seems far away in time and space; oddly, duller and drearier kitchen sink dramas by the likes of Leigh and Loach seem to have stood the test of time rather better. Depression never goes out of date, it seems, whereas the goofy hippy / ecolo optimism of the protagonists here now seems curiously quaint.