Recently Watched Films 2016

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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Mervyn LeRoy, Three On A Match, 1932

Terrific (for a change) Pre-Code tale of three schoolfriends - well, two, as Bette Davis doesn't have much to do to be honest, and their rise and fall. Stellar performances from Ann Dvorak and Joan Blondell, with fine backup from Warren William as the stuffed shirt lawyer, Lyle Talbot as the failed playboy and the mighty Bogart as a seriously nasty hood. Most Pre-Code "scandal" is little more than froth - the mere sight of a feminine undergarment - but LeRoy goes for it in a serious way here, with drunkenness, adultery, child neglect and drug addiction (dig Bogart's sneer to the camera when he sees the heroine in withdrawal!). And all this in just 63 minutes. Sweet.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Dan Warburton wrote:I assume we're talking about this one http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1174732/ ?
yup.
Piano Mouth wrote:I saw An Education (2009) back in the day (gosh has it really been that long?). I thought it was an excellent movie, don't remember too much about it except for Peter Saarsgaard whom I liked from the very beginning.
can't discard the sarsgaard, that's for sure.


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inland empire

having been so universally positive on this forum thus far i feel like it's about time for me to talk film that i really hated... but i didn't hate inland empire - in fact, i freaking LOVED inland empire. visually, it's beautiful - a better version of ryan trecartin; and it reminds me of 80's godard as well with it's lose, asymetrical soulfulness. the opening 10 seconds is my favorite start of any film ever (what's your favorite film opening btw?). one word: A E S T H E T I C. laura den's 'confused face' performance was disgustingly bad but it works, especially once the film gets past it's boring first hour and into the good bits. that scene where everyone's standing around in the backyard and the circus preformers come in? wtf was that about? and then laura dern's all beat up doing some weird accent pretending she's some kind of feral child? and that scene on the sidewalk at night? amazing. the sound design of this film is nuts too, lots of moments i really like there as well. the whole film manages to be at once scattered and remarkably cohesive. such a singular vision - a glowing hot coal burning it's way through a cloth pillow.

it was pretty bloated though, the whole first third was dull af; details felt thrown in and then forgotten about sometimes.. and there were a few cringingly cliche 'wierd' or shock value moments, whose lameness really suck out as being not on the same level as the rest of the film. also, the premise of the film felt pretty bad.. i don't understand at all, but it felt tacky and staggered - what i enjoyed here was almost entirely the astonishing excecution. definitely going to watch this one again soon. 8/10.

edit: excitation -> excecution
Last edited by p.tigerlily on Wed Mar 02, 2016 5:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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p.tigerlily wrote:it was pretty bloated though, the whole first third was dull af; details felt thrown in and then forgotten about sometimes.. and there were a few cringingly cliche 'wierd' or shock value moments, whose lameness really suck out as being not on the same level as the rest of the film. also, the premise of the film felt pretty bad.. i don't understand at all, but it felt tacky and staggered - what i enjoyed here was almost entirely the astonishing excectition. definitely going to watch this one again soon. 8/10.
Amazed that you can rank it so highly after what you said just three lines earlier - maybe that depends on what you mean by "excectition" :lol: Sorry to be so hard on you, but there is an edit button ;) Whatever, Inland Empire just doesn't cut it for me, and I've tried three times now. Said it before, he just let himself go badly on this one. It just sort of.. unravels. I have no problem with things that scatter - Gravity's Rainbow is still my favourite novel, and that falls apart completely in Part 4 - but after the tight structures and tension of Lost Highway and Mulholland Dr., this is just self-indulgently flabby. Anyway, talking of self-indulgence..

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Terrence Malick, Knight Of Cups, 2016

The story with this is that it popped up on Karagarga one morning just long enough for me to snatch it before The Powers That Be zapped it. There's been much debate over there about KG's rather snobby attitude to not carrying mainstream Hollywood fare, but if the tracker is as committed to Art Cinema as it would like to be, then this one should be put back up there illico presto. Whatever, I'm certainly glad I didn't have to pay anything for it (not that I would have been inclined to anyway after The Tree of Life..I haven't seen the Ben Affleck one yet, but I rather fancy I'm not missing much). The "story" here is that our hero, Christian Bale, who is either a Hollywood screenwriter or a director, is having an early mid-life crisis - he's broken up with his wife (Cate Blanchett), whose somewhat less glamorous professional activity consists of looking after what could be either lepers or burn victims, and spends his time gazing out of his beachfront condo window, mooching up and down the beach, hanging around swimming pools, poledance bars and hotel rooms and presumably eating so much pussy his beard looks like a glazed donut (to quote Dennis Hopper). Wow, if that's a mid-life crisis, put me down for one. But then again.. no thanks. (If you think I'm being hard on the Great Director, you should have a look at this: http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/201502 ... -film-ever) Some have seen it as a "corrosive critique of Hollywood hedonism", but if just showing some geezer wandering listlessly past homeless folks on a sidewalk for about five minutes out of a running time of two hours constitutes "corrosive criticism" there must be a hell of a lot of corrosive critiques out there in movieland. Inland Empire included.
We never hear Bale actually say anything in the film, only hear his breathy, intimate and oh-so-profound voiceovers (come back Bruce Willis, all is forgiven), and the relationship with his underachieving angry brother and their father, something related to the death of another brother which is never explained (ever had a sense of déjà vu?), is not developed, and we don't even get to hear their arguments, just see plantpots and chairs tossed petulantly across the room. Needless to say the images are often breathtakingly beautiful (I could have chosen just about any image as a screenshot), as they were in Tree, but once you've seen one plane sailing out into the bright blue sky, or one dog diving in slowmotion into a swimming pool (DP Emmanuel Lubezki loves swimming pools), or Bale splashing about once in the waves in his designer suit (the dry cleaners' bills would be enough to trigger a mid-life crisis), you've more or less got the idea.
I've got no problems with films about the wasted lives of the rich or talented (count me in for the next screening of Otto e mezzo and La grande bellezza), but this one is a fine illustration of that splendid French expression "péter plus haut que son cul".
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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You didn't like tree of life, Dan?

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

Post by p.tigerlily »

*excecution*, my bad. 8/10 is a pretty high rating for a film so obviously flawed... but then again i always used to name blue velvet as one of my favorite films, and i liked inland empire a lot more than blue velvet so it makes sense. the things i liked about it i liked a lot.

what did you think of the new world? (you can probably guess what i thought of it.) the thin red line was mega average though. *yawn*

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

Post by Dan Warburton »

Piano Mouth wrote:You didn't like tree of life, Dan?
No, I didn't, really. http://ihatemusic.noquam.com/viewtopic. ... 1&start=80 (scroll down)
p.tigerlily wrote:what did you think of the new world? (you can probably guess what i thought of it.) the thin red line was mega average though. *yawn*
I was underwhelmed by both of them. The first two Malicks are sublime, and he's been going gently downhill ever since. You can say that of many things, music journalists included :)

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Susumu Hani, Bad Boys, 1961

Japanese New Wave starts here? Maybe, if you want to draw a parallel with Truffaut's Quatre Cent Coups, a similar story of a troubled teenager - but I'd argue the Nouvelle Vague started rolling a couple of years earlier. Whatever, this tale of life in a reformatory school for what used to be known as "juvenile delinquents", is a fine, if rather spare, documentary-like experience. Don't expect any cathartic revenge bloodbaths. This isn't Scum. And even though the music is by Takemitsu, don't expect Woman In The Dunes or Kwaidan - his score sounds almost like something you might find in a Jacques Tati film.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Julien Duvivier, Pépé le Moko, 1937

Though it's widely regarded as one of Gabin's best performances, I found him a little hysterical here - either charming the birds (pun intended) off the trees or exploding with unbridled fury, and very little in between. It's a curious film, imprisoned (rather like Pépé in his casbah) between gangster movie and melodramatic love story, between location footage of from the alleys of Algiers and the (very obvious) sets and matte backdrops of the Pathé studios in Montmartre. If Prévert had handled the script instead of the guy who wrote the original novel, amateur sleuth and hack writer Henri La Barthe, it might have worked better, but when you're dealing with cardboard cut-out characters - slimy Slimane the simpering cop, sweaty oafish loudmouth informer Régis, tortured woman scorn'd gypsy Inès and jewel-bedecked too-good-to-be-true heroine Gaby Gould - there's not much point going for realism, maybe. Anyway, Graham Greene liked it so much it gave him the idea for The Third Man - and that was a great film!
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Jeff Nichols, Shotgun Stories, 2007

With a title like that and one look at Michael Shannon's back as he crawls out of bed for another day of dull work at the Keo Fish Farm (Arkansas), you know things are going to get ugly. And indeed they do, in this tale of feuding half-brothers (which I won't spoil by describing any further, but you can read what Roger thought about it here http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/shotgun-stories-2008). Compared to the gothic excesses of River's Edge, this is understated and subtle, with dialogue pared down to an almost Carver-like minimum. No need to splatter squibs left right and centre to build up a feeling of eerie menace. Reminded me of Carlos Saura's El 7º día (see review last year, based on a true story, not that that matters). Good work.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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the new world (extended) is malick's best if you ask me; it's the purest distillation of his vision. i also like to the wonder, but you have to be a pretty ardent member of team malick to feel that way. unfortunately, i missed knight of cups' upload to KG, but i hope to see it soon.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Giuseppe Tornatore, Malèna, 2000

"It's only an allegory, people" writes one punter over at IMDb by way of excusing the heavy-handed excesses of this coming-of-age tale of a 12 year-old boy obsessed by the beauty of the soon-to-be-widowed army bride.. but honestly that's not good enough. Firstly, there's about as much need to remake Amarcord as there is to write a sequel to The Rite Of Spring - and everything that's magical and moving in the Fellini gets pulped into Dolce Gabbana glitz in Malèna. Not that it isn't beautifully filmed: Tornatore's eye for the detail and texture of Sicilian architecture is as sharp as it is for exploring the contours of Monica Bellucci. Eh oui, it's only about Monica Bellucci, people. We certainly see enough of her - tits'n'ass and even (ô joie) tantalising snatches of her tantalising snatch - and end up as mindless slobbering voyeurs like everyone in this film. The line between what actually happens to Malèna and what the boy fantasises becomes ever harder to find, with the result that we do not know how to respond to the truly grotesque excesses when they come, particularly the brothel scene and the public humiliation of Malèna. If we're meant to see that scene as "real", where the men stand by idly around watching their womenfolk kick the shit out of Bellucci (one even takes a brush handle to her), without a single one of them intervening ("this is for the women to sort out"), and not one woman in the crowd trying to stop the senseless brutality, what are we to conclude? This in a so-called Catholic country? Allegory? Surely not. Men are cowardly, brutish, leering animals and women are vicious, stupid, superstitious shrews. I can't decide which gender comes out worst. But I can think of no better cinematic portrayal of woman as sex object than Bellucci here - forget Roger Vadim - and it's not just Renato masturbating furiously (again and again) over her - it's the director. And all the idiots (male) who post at IMDb saying what a great actress she is (dagnabbit, she only says about 40 words in the entire movie), especially the bloke who writes "It'd be great to see her in a giallo / slasher".. Haw haw haw I can hear your bedsprings squeaking, mate.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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dialectics of shit wrote:the new world (extended) is malick's best if you ask me; it's the purest distillation of his vision. i also like to the wonder, but you have to be a pretty ardent member of team malick to feel that way. unfortunately, i missed knight of cups' upload to KG, but i hope to see it soon.
Are you an "ardent member of Team Malick" yourself? If so, please explain the attraction of the last three films! Anyone?
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Jean-Pierre Mocky, Noir comme le souvenir, 1995

Alfred Hitchcock memorably admitted to François Truffaut in one of their interviews that in Stage Fright he "did one thing that I never should have done; I put in a flashback that was a lie." The question of what's "true" and "false" in film is certainly a fascinating one, and one with intriguing moral implications: we can - and do - frequently accept that characters in the movie are lying, and are able to make sophisticated moral judgements on them and their actions.. but what about the director? Does(n't) s/he have some kind of tacit moral duty to be "honest" with the viewer? Of course, it depends on what kind of film it is - and that applies to documentary as much as fiction (Herzog, for example) - but in a whodunnit / noir context one tends to assume that, even if the characters might be lying, at least the camera (i.e. the director) isn't.
Hitch, who elsewhere gleefully admitted his role was to "put the viewer through it", obviously felt pangs of guilt about his film - but I wonder if that's the case with Jean-Pierre Mocky - the dénouement of this tale of child murder and subsequent revenge (16 years later) is so far-fetched that you may well fall off your seat in surprise, and ask yourself if the director had deliberately set out to frustrate and annoy his audience. But if that is the case, it's not through lack of ability or experience on his part: Mocky is frequently castigated for his cynicism, and though he's certainly a maverick director, he's by no means an inept one. The script is sharp throughout, and he's picked a cast of fine actors - Jane Birkin, Sabine Azéma and the late Benoît Regent - and found some splendid locations (Baden and Schaffhausen in Switzerland). I suspect if the film had been signed Chabrol (and it is very Chabrolesque), there wouldn't have been as many complaints. But if you like a good sordid murder mystery tale with a hint of giallo, check it out and tell me what you think.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Alfred Hitchcock, Stage Fright, 1950

So I thought I'd go back to that Hitchcock film and see how it (and my memory of it) had stood the test of time since we last watched it about seven or eight years ago. Very well! For sure, it's not one of the best Hitchcocks - both he and Marlene Dietrich had issues with Jane Wyman - and even when you've figured out the "real" story, it's not one of the most convincing plots, but much of the dialogue sparkles and there are great performances from Alastair Sim and Sybil Thorndike, and fun cameos from Joyce Grenfell and Ballard Berkeley. Dietrich is a gas, forever gazing at some mysterious point high above her and to one side, drawling out her dahlings Tallulah-style or crooning her way with that inimitably sexy sprechstimme through her Cole Porter signature tune "The Laziest Girl In Town".
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Umberto Lenzi, Spasmo, 1974

No need to worry about making sense of this one! It was already post-giallo when it was made, and the director gleefully leads us up so many garden paths we get as lost as the hero (who of course turns out to be the villain.. or one of the villains.. or.. go figure..). It's not a typical giallo - ha, I've written that so many times here I'm beginning to wonder myself if a typical giallo actually exists - in that there's very little blood and even less nudity, and (thankfully) no dumb humour to pass the time between the killings, but the hairstyles, cheesy sets, bottles of Cutty Sark, bell bottoms and squawking caged birds of prey (which serve no purpose whatsoever) are standard tropes of the genre. Along with the Morricone soundtrack, of course. Only one (only one?!) question, for anyone out there who's seen it - when Tatum gets run over at the top of the cliff, how come we see clearly that his body is one of Fritz's latex dolls? Haven't figured that one out yet.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Baltasar Kormákur, Hafið ("The Sea"), 2002

If you ever decide to visit Neskaupstaður, a forlorn rainy town (population 1500 or thereabouts) in the Eastern fjords of Iceland, be prepared for a hell of a drive over the mountains (and through a dimly-lit tunnel) from Eskifjorður 20 miles away on an adjoining fjord, where a huge, ugly aluminium factory is the only thing stopping the local population from fleeing altogether. No surprises then that Kormákur has chosen the place as the scene of this splendid Icelandic take on King Lear (sort of), where the ageing boss of the local fish-processing factory Þórður summons his three children home, basically to inform them that none of them will be getting anything in his will. To spice up the story, the fact that his wife isn't the kids' mother but her sister (and all kinds of sexual shenanigans were taking place while the children were growing up, of course) only makes matters worse. It all builds beautifully to a fine climax, well-scripted, very well-acted and well-filmed. Having been to the godforsaken place myself, the scene in the local garage / bar / restaurant, with the awful half-frozen hamburgers, prehistoric noisy video games and thoroughly soused local population really hits a chord. It's like that, folks! Splendid film, well worth your time. You'll love the grandmother.

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It looks nice when it's not raining - but you could say that about Rochdale too :D Don't be fooled!
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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EXTREMITIES (1986) -- Surprisingly strong performance by Farrah Fawcett as a terrorized assault victim turned avenging she-lion. The main assault scene is extremely uncomfortable to watch and seems to go on forever, making it very effective. The interesting moral ambiguities are perhaps too neatly tied up at the end, although it makes for a more satisfying dramatic finish. Can see how it might have been even stronger as stage play, its original form.


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PARKER (2013) -- Moderately engaging revenge/ adventure film, too long and sprawling.


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CASINO ROYALE (2006) -- First Craig-as-Bond film, one of the better films in the series, thrilling opening chase, too much time at the card table, nice stuff from a cranky Judy Dench as M.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani, L'étrange couleur des larmes de ton corps, 2013

Style over substance, 110%. Even more so that Amer, which I enjoyed more because at least it had a semblance of comprehensible plot, Cattet and Forzani return to their beloved giallo tropes (black leather, lots of squeaking doors, squelching blood, zings and pings of cutthroat razors, all underpinned by original giallo soundtracks by Nicolai and Morricone), here in the sumptuous settings of art nouveau buildings in France and Belgium. Not much point in trying to provide a résumé of the story, so I won't bother. But it's a feast for the eye and the ear, if you don't mind not being able to understand very much of what's going on.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Kathryn Bigelow & Monty Montgomery, The Loveless, 1981

This also has "art movie" plastered all over it, and if you're looking for The Wild One or Easy Rider you will be disappointed. More like Scorpio Rising meets Monte Hellman and Terrence Malick. It was Bigelow's art school thesis project of sorts, and it's worth bearing in mind she did time there with the likes of Vito Acconci and Susan Sontag. Tempo slow - though there is a notable acceleration as the bloody showdown approaches - intriguing camera angles and edits, and a cool (make that torpid) debut from Willem Dafoe.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Richard Donner, The Omen, 1976

One of my favourite bits of trivia - and there's a lot of it over at IMDb - about this seriously overestimated load of bunk is that David Warner's wife demanded custody of his severed head in their subsequent divorce case. As for the rest of it, well, Gregory Peck, say no more. What little sense of dread there might be comes from Billie Whitelaw and Patrick Troughton, but as soon as Papa Peck rolls into the frame it vanishes into thin air. What a terrible actor, someone puhlease explain the attraction (OK, not bad in Moby Dick and Cape Fear, but apart from that..). Back in '76 maybe all that 666 nonsense (I love one of the predictions that the emerging European Common Market could be the first sign of impending Armageddon - someone should remind Boris Johnson of that :lol: ) actually worried people, and the tall tales of a curse hanging over the production worked wonders at the box office ("hell, it worked forThe Exorcist, so why not try it again, with a few subliminal flashes thrown in for good measure at strategic moments!"). Also Rottweilers became popular pets shortly afterwards. But compared to the Friedkin - which, for all its hype, is genuinely unsettling at times - this is a sorry, flabby affair. Shame the little bastard wasn't stabbed to death as he should have been - we wouldn't have had all the terrible sequels.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Marcel Bluwal, Le monte-charge, 1962

Nice, tight noir penned - as were many of Robert Hossein's early films - by Frédéric Dard, who might be the closest the French ever got to Raymond Chandler (Simenon not included - he was Belgian) and filmed predominantly at night time on location in Asnières sur Seine in the northwestern suburbs of Paris, with a typically stressed out performance from Hossein and an intriguing role for the great Lea Massari. You've heard of Ascenseur pour l'échafaud no doubt, now try the service elevator (that's what the title means, btw) - imo, it's almost as good.
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