Recently Watched Films 2016

Not the stuff on your shower tiles.

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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Fred Zinnemann, Act of Violence, 1948

What a great - and really dark - noir this is: Robert Ryan is terrific as the sinister limping ex-GI out for revenge on his former CO, Van Heflin, who's dragged out of his comfortable suburban life (and marriage to the bug-eyed Janet Leigh - she hadn't learned how to act when she made this, not that she was ever really good later) and falls in with a baaad crowd. Mary Astor's tired hooker is a great supporting role. The final showdown at the railway station is excellent. Fed up of people taking a dump on Zinnemann. The guy was damn good. Strongly recommended for noir fans.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Maurice Pialat, Le garçu, 1995

In a recent post I compared Pialat to Eric Rohmer, in the sense that the montage and other details of the filmmaking process - sets, lighting, costumes etc. - are handled so exquisitely that you don't notice them. There, I guess, the comparison ends: for, unlike Le Grand Momo, as his fellow Cahiers journalists dubbed Rohmer (real name Maurice Scherer), Maurice Pialat had no problems whatsoever when it came to exposing the most intimate, painful and often downright unpleasant details of his personal life in his films. After Police, Sous le soleil de Satan and Van Gogh he returned to the subject for what would be his final film, Le garçu (he died eight years later, but never finished the editing to his satisfaction, apparently). Don't be fooled by the poster - the garçu in question is not the little boy (played by Pialat's own son Antoine, who was just four years old when he made this, and what a miraculous performance it is). Nor is it Depardieu, appearing in his fourth Pialat feature. You'll have to watch it to find out who the title refers to. Pialat cast Géraldine Pailhas as Gerard's wife because she looked like his missus in real life - but quite apart from the physical resemblance, she's a first class actress. Depardieu is outstanding, as he often is.
http://sensesofcinema.com/2003/feature-articles/pialat/
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Dan Curtis, Burnt Offerings, 1976

I admit I'd never heard of this until I read about it in Clive Davies' monumental compendium of reviews of horror, exploitation and other odd films, Spinegrinder - but what a find! Quite apart from a cast that features Karen Black, Oliver Reed and Bette Davis (yes!), this haunted house story par excellence is based on the book by Robert Marasco which inspired Stephen King to write The Shining, and we know where that ended up. In point of fact, I think this movie is much more interesting than Kubrick's adaptation of that book, and deserves a decent BluRay release. Strongly recommended.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Jacques Deray, Un homme est mort ("The Outside Man"), 1972

Another one I scooped up after watching Los Angeles Plays Itself, this is a splendid European's-eye-view (as Andersen puts it) of Los Angeles in the 70s, with Jean-Louis Trintignant a French hitman called in to do a job only to find he's been set up by the mob. Sleazy motels, strip joints, diners worthy of a Tom Waits Asylum-period ballad, tacky Beverly Hills palaces, hideous funeral parlours, it's a blast. Roy Scheider plays another hired gun assigned to take out the Frenchman, and Ann-Margret the proverbial nightclub dancer with heart of gold (and cheesy wig). Splendid stuff.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Guillermo del Toro, The Devil's Backbone, 2001

Having never seen any of del Toro's more commercially successful ventures, I didn't know what to expect - but this is simply first-class. Orphaned boys during the Spanish Civil War isolated in the scorching Spanish hinterland in an austere if not brutal institution, complete with the ghost of one of the poor kids out for revenge.. Quite apart from a fine cast (Paredes, Noriega and Luppi are great, and Fernando Tielve as young Carlos is most impressive), it's a well-written script and the photography and editing are magnificent. Maybe I should try Hellboy after all.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Peter Hall, Akenfield, 1974

Hall is best known for his work in theatre - he's the guy who first brought Waiting for Godot to the stage - but he was a very fine movie director too, as this sensitive and moving adaptation of Ronald Blythe's tale of three generations of Suffolk farm labourers shows. Only three professional actors appeared in the film (one reading old Tom's voiceover recollections of the trenches of World War One), which gives the script a unique authenticity - check out the accents! What could have easily descended into a maudlin Cider With Rosie-meets-The Deserted Village good old days nostalgia wank, with young Tom's father killed in action in WWII before his son was born as extra tearjerker material, remains poignant and touching. Amazingly, 14 million people saw this on TV when it came out. Ah, those were the days..
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Clio Barnard, The Arbor, 2010

A thoroughly depressing (though very well-made) semi biopic documentary about Andrea Dunbar, who lived hard, drank harder and died far too young on the dreadful Buttershaw housing estate in Bradford where Alan Clarke filmed his adaptation of her Rita, Sue and Bob Too! in 1987. If you think her life was tough, you should see what happened to the eldest of her three daughters.. Yikes.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Jean-Denis Bonan, La femme bourreau, 1968

Bonan's disturbing tale of a seriously fucked up veteran who becomes a serial killer was considered so outrageous it was never released at the time (and in the heady days of 68, that's quite an achievement). Finally edited and released on DVD by Luna Park just this year (no subtitles though from what I can see, shame), it's a weird, wild ride, with a crazy soundtrack by the great Bernard Vitet and awesome footage of the backstreets of Belleville. Practise yr French and read more about it here http://blog.dvdpascher.net/index.php/all/2015/12/18/
Last edited by Dan Warburton on Thu Sep 15, 2016 7:30 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Alain Cavalier, Ce répondeur ne prend pas de messages, 1978

Despite all-star casts, Cavalier's early 60s films never made any money, and his offbeat road movie Le Plein de super (1976, see reviews passim) also failed to chart, inexplicably. So he retreated into his shell and started shooting what are essentially highly personal home movies, before finally achieving some recognition with Thérèse in 1986. There's precious little information on this film online, but it seems the director had just lost his wife (I think) - watching his unidentified protagonist (head bandaged, as if he were a car crash survivor) locking himself in his attic flat and painting everything black - including the windows! - before torching the place is not something you're likely to forget for a long time. Christ, when am I going to watch a happy film?!
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Luis Piedrahita, Fermat's Room, 2007

It's a cute idea - lure four star mathematicians who are not supposed to know each other into the middle of nowhere, lock them in a room and give them a series of maths / logic puzzles to solve in less than a minute OR ELSE the walls of the room shunt inwards, crushing everyone to death - but you know that a) they do know each other after all, and better than you think, b) they're going to get out alive and c) the puzzles are hardly challenging (damn, I was shite at maths but I figured two of these out faster than the stars in the film). A not-so-thrilling thriller for people who don't like thrillers.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Hong-jin Na, The Chaser, 2008

Ex-cop turned pimp gets suspicious when his girls start disappearing and goes to investigate. It doesn't take him long to track down the sicko and his bag of chisels (yess!), but police procedural cockups eventually lead to him being taken in and the nutter let out on the street. Needless to say he gets his man in the end. Oops, sorry, am I spoiling anything? Nah - but it's a well-made and entertaining (if that's the word) film.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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James B. Harris, Cop, 1988

Like Clint Eastwood before him, forget the dickhead politics of the actor (James Woods) and dig the acting. And Clint Eastwood - or rather Harry Callahan - is the first person who comes to mind in this gritty, though not so fast-paced (except the ending which is even better than Dirty Harry) adaptation of a James Ellroy novel. So you know what to expect - the cops are, well, cops but also pretty damn fucked up: and compared to James Woods' character here, Harry Callahan is almost conventional. Woods breaks into other folks' houses, shoots the shit out of anyone who gets in his way, cheats on his wife (you wonder why the hell she married him in the first place when you hear the bedtime story he tells his eight-year-old daughter) and.. well, check out the ending. It's a blast (see image 4 above)
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Sharunas Bartas, Few of Us, 1996

Ekaterina Golubeva (whom I'd put up with Garbo and Bergman as one of the great women's faces of cinema) is transported into the wilds of the Siberian Sayan mountains - even today only accessible by helicopter, apparently, which is how she gets there - and finds herself dropped off in a remote village of locals whose language we hear but cannot understand (it is, according to the director, dying out anyway - and may well have done so by now). Why she's there, why a sudden fight erupts in the middle of a vodka-soaked singsong, and why one of the villagers ends up shooting another is not explained - nor, says Bartas, does it need to be. He's quite right. Let the images and the (near) silence speak to you. Slow, brooding, maybe depressing for some (I didn't find it so) - but magnificent. Would be great to see a HD version one day. Live in hope.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Lucile Hadzihalilovic, Evolution, 2015

It took the director ten years to scrape together the wherewithals to shoot this visually gorgeous but downright mysterious tale in the wilds of Lanzarote. What's it about? Well, the village seems to be populated only by boys and their mothers, who we learn later aren't their mothers at all. The lads are all, at some stage, taken into hospital where.. no, I won't spoil it. It's a kind of slowmotion body horror story, which, though you'll probably have no idea what it's about, will likely stay with you for some time to come.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Dan Warburton wrote:Image

Hong-jin Na, The Chaser, 2008

Ex-cop turned pimp gets suspicious when his girls start disappearing and goes to investigate. It doesn't take him long to track down the sicko and his bag of chisels (yess!), but police procedural cockups eventually lead to him being taken in and the nutter let out on the street. Needless to say he gets his man in the end. Oops, sorry, am I spoiling anything? Nah - but it's a well-made and entertaining (if that's the word) film.
One of my favorites—be sure to see the follow-up, The Yellow Sea, if you haven't.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Dan Warburton wrote:Image

Sharunas Bartas, Few of Us, 1996

Ekaterina Golubeva (whom I'd put up with Garbo and Bergman as one of the great women's faces of cinema) is transported into the wilds of the Siberian Sayan mountains - even today only accessible by helicopter, apparently, which is how she gets there - and finds herself dropped off in a remote village of locals whose language we hear but cannot understand (it is, according to the director, dying out anyway - and may well have done so by now). Why she's there, why a sudden fight erupts in the middle of a vodka-soaked singsong, and why one of the villagers ends up shooting another is not explained - nor, says Bartas, does it need to be. He's quite right. Let the images and the (near) silence speak to you. Slow, brooding, maybe depressing for some (I didn't find it so) - but magnificent. Would be great to see a HD version one day. Live in hope.
And one that's even more a favorite, although A Casa is my pick for Bartas—probably a top-three-all-time film for me. Bartas is a master.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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I'm more than impressed that the last two films above - one of which I only read about a week ago in the Spinegrinder book I mentioned above, the other that I'd snatched halfheartedly a year or so ago and never got round to watching - are among your all time favourites, Monsieur Merde :) I do have, and will, after reading your post, get to the other Bartases as soon as I can. Meanwhile, feel free to reveal the rest of your top three / five / ten/ twenty -------------------

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Max Nosseck, Dillinger, 1945

Ah, those great, tight, not-an-ounce-of-fat no bullshit Monogram B's (you can see why JLG dedicated A bout de souffle to them)! Barely 70 minutes long and not a wasted second. Lawrence Tierney rocks. And, yes, the John Milius / Warren Oates version is in the in-tray.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Damiano Damiani, El Chuncho, 1967

Grandiose, if a tad long, with Volonté cackling madly and rolling his eyes all over the place, Lou Castel deliciously ugly and street-smart, but why on earth Klaus Kinski got second billing for barely five minutes' screen time as a fucked-up Jesus freak is beyond me.. But up there with Corbucci and Leone imo - and body count is anything to go by certainly so! Enjoy!
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Lisandro Alonso, Liverpool, 2008

Folks here in France have long had a kind of romantic attachment to the city of Ushuaïa, at the southernmost tip of Argentina, because it was the name of a popular natural history series on French TV. Seeing what the place looks like, I fancy many would change their minds about booking a holiday there. This splendid tale told in so few words of Farrel, played by a local truck driver Alonso recruited while scouting for venues, a sailor who takes shore leave to look up his ailing mother in a godforsaken village just out of town is strongly recommended to fans of slow cinema - no, scratch that, any cinema. I hope our dialectical friend above is as big a fan of Alonso's as s/he is of Bartas!
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Miguel Gomes, Tabu, 2012

I thoroughly enjoyed this, especially its bipartite structure: you don't really understand much of what's going in the first quarter of an hour, but Gomes is very cleverly planting little seeds that bloom in the viewer's mind during the second half, the extended flashback of Aurora's earlier life in Mozambique. Not saying any more, but if you can handle spoilers I can recommend this http://www.newyorker.com/culture/richar ... t-insights Now looking forward to finding time for his Arabian Nights trilogy.
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