Recently Watched Films 2019

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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2019

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Joseph Zito, The Prowler, 1981

OK, the characters are pretty one-dimensional, a lot of the acting's wooden and the music gives the game away far too often (ooh, high strings sustained major seventh = TROUBLE COMING), but this comes charging in at number two in my Fave Slasher List, after Halloween (huh, as if I was an aficionado.. can't have seen more than a dozen, but forgive me..). The camera work and lighting is cool and Tom Savini's gore effects are terrific. And there's Lawrence Tierney and Farley Granger! You can forgive the Carrie-like ending. Time for our date, Rose. The bloke here https://www.dreadcentral.com/news/20220 ... ars-later/ doesn't share my enthusiasm, but he's got plenty of great pics :o
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Steve Minkin
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2019

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THE FALCON'S ALIBI (1946) – Lightweight fun with the suave Tom Conway chasing Elisha Cook, Jr. as a psychotically criminal DJ with silky smooth on-air patter, playing Gene Krupa, Charlie Barnett and Skinnay Ennis. Cook's final crazed flip-out and dramatic demise make for a strong finish.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2019

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RIFIFI (1955) – An almost unreserved WOW! A great film, one I've thought I'd seen before but I was conflating it with Topkapi (which I have seen, same theme and director, nice film but not close to this one). A masterpiece of compression, visual composition, mood, storytelling . . . Maybe the best crime film I've ever seen.

And director Jules Dassin's vision is specifically cinematic – the wonderfully detailed, lengthy break-in is rendered in wordless close-ups, no other medium could do it as well, and they do it pretty perfectly. Although it was a low-budget film without big names (Dassin himself did the safecracker after a late cancellation), I thought the actors were all excellent, and brought a humanity to the thugs. The central Stephanois character is as taut, saavy, and authentic a tough guy as I can recall in French or Ameerican noir, a great portrait.

My one reservation – there's a part of me that really likes the ending, the Shakespearean litter of bodies everywhere, wild justice done and dying promises fulfilled. But 1) there is a diminution in intensity following the safecracker cracking and 2) with the threats of the bad-bad guys, our original good-bad guys become the good guys, and something is lost there. (Something is gained, too, in fleshing out the gang's loyalty and courage, but I'm not sure it's worth the cost of losing the feel of the rest of the film.)

Loved the song and shadow-dance that explains the title. Look forward to a second viewing!

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2019

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SPOILERS

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Midsommar (Aster, 2019) - Its telling that Aster's favorite movie of the last 20 years is Dogville (a great movie, imo, one of the best movies of that decade), and this is for the most part a rehash of that plot, without any of the dialogue and character development that fueled the orgy of destruction at the end. Nevertheless, Midsommar is a visually striking movie with an almost Wes Anderson-esque obsession with Swedish traditional pagan costumery and ceremony. Fantastic sound design. Aster very accurately conveys what being on psilocybin mushrooms is like. The gore didnt bother me in the slightest, and I am not the least bit a slasher fan. Its just that we are so clearly in a land of fantasy paganism. Btw, the most shocking moment in the film occurs in the first ten minutes and not even in Sweden.
Other than Dani the protagonist, and Pelle the Swede who is well developed, the rest of the Americans are worthless as actors. Christian and his fellow antagonists are self-absorbed, naive, and unsympathetic from the first moment to the last. Mark urinating on the tree of dead ancestors, and Josh sneaking into the temple to snap photos of the sacred book are utterly ridiculous plot points. The real moral message of this tale, is that the true Hollywood villains arent murderous incestuous pagan Swedes, they're American grad students in anthropology.

Finally, I saw this alone at a 10pm screening where there was only one other person in the theater, and if you are going to see this, that is how I recommend you see it.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2019

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surfer wrote:SPOILERS

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Midsommar (Aster, 2019) - Its telling that Aster's favorite movie of the last 20 years is Dogville (a great movie, imo, one of the best movies of that decade), and this is for the most part a rehash of that plot, without any of the dialogue and character development that fueled the orgy of destruction at the end. Nevertheless, Midsommar is a visually striking movie with an almost Wes Anderson-esque obsession with Swedish traditional pagan costumery and ceremony. Fantastic sound design. Aster very accurately conveys what being on psilocybin mushrooms is like. The gore didnt bother me in the slightest, and I am not the least bit a slasher fan. Its just that we are so clearly in a land of fantasy paganism. Btw, the most shocking moment in the film occurs in the first ten minutes and not even in Sweden.
Other than Dani the protagonist, and Pelle the Swede who is well developed, the rest of the Americans are worthless as actors. Christian and his fellow antagonists are self-absorbed, naive, and unsympathetic from the first moment to the last. Mark urinating on the tree of dead ancestors, and Josh sneaking into the temple to snap photos of the sacred book are utterly ridiculous plot points. The real moral message of this tale, is that the true Hollywood villains arent murderous incestuous pagan Swedes, they're American grad students in anthropology.

Finally, I saw this alone at a 10pm screening where there was only one other person in the theater, and if you are going to see this, that is how I recommend you see it.
Agreed, for the most part. I'd also throw in Wicker Man as an obvious referent. Also nice, as a swede, to see a whole bunch of older actors make an appearance. (The film is shot in Hungary, though). Curious, this is a massive step forward for the director, from the crap Hereditary, and I am not going to follow his work anymore.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2019

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Robert Florey, Smarty, 1934

Joan Blondell fan that I am, I thought this Pre-Code comedy was a little too daft, even for me. "The film's title refers to Blondell's character, happily married but with a habit of provocative teasing. One evening her teasing leads to a slap on the face from her husband. For this she engages her husband's friend and attorney Vernon to divorce him, marries Vernon, then begins to verbally tease him as well, wearing revealing clothes, and inviting her ex-husband over for dinner." (Wikipoodia) Seasoned second-role players Edward Everett Horton and Frank McHugh make it all light and bubbly, but it doesn't really go anywhere. Maybe just what the doctor ordered in 1934.
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walto
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2019

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Dan Warburton wrote:Image

Robert Florey, Smarty, 1934

Joan Blondell fan that I am....
"Party over in Legal!"
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2019

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walto wrote:"Party over in Legal!"
:D

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John Frankenheimer, The Fixer, 1968

Once you get used to the idea that the character played by Alan Bates is - though anyone familiar with his stellar career prior to this film may have a hard time believing it - Jewish, and once you accept that other seasoned veterans of the British stage and screen (Ian Holm, Hugh Griffith, David Lodge, David Warner, and especially the mighty Dirk Bogarde..) make very convincing Russians, you may wonder like me why this fine film, based on a true story https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menahem_Mendel_Beilis isn't better known. Perhaps the ending - more or less historically accurate: read about Beilis's later life - seems a little abrupt after the slow and brutal wearing down of the falsely imprisoned man. See what you think.
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walto
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2019

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FWIW, I saw Bates naked once.



(Can't remember the name of the play though.....Something by David Storey maybe?)
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2019

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walto wrote:FWIW, I saw Bates naked once.
(Can't remember the name of the play though.....Something by David Storey maybe?)
No, I think that would have been the famous naked wrestling match with Oliver Reed in Ken Russell's Women In Love, actually. Unless he got his kit off elsewhere and I don't know about it :)

Anyway, talking of great British actors, there are a few notables in this:

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Freddie Francis, Torture Garden, 1967

Quoth Time Out: "The second Amicus horror omnibus and one of the best, with a clever framing device involving Burgess Meredith as a Mephistophelean fairground charlatan who offers clients grisly glimpses of the future, in four Robert Bloch stories which get progressively better until the splendid climax of The Man Who Collected Poe. Terrific performances from Palance as the manic Poe collector who achieves apotheosis by turning himself into a character straight out of one of Poe's more apocalyptic stories, and from Standing as a concert pianist saddled with a murderously possessive grand piano."
Yes, the killer piano has to be one of the standouts (almost as much fun as the rapist tree in Evil Dead), but there's also a man-eating cat and androids - yet, despite the presence of notables like Peter Cushing and Jack Palance and a Poe / Lovecraft-heavy script penned by Robert "Psycho" Bloch, you might find yourselves a tad underwhelmed, if pleasantly entertained. I assume though John Zorn was a fan, as he nicked the title for that excellent Naked City album
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henriq
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2019

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Dan Warburton wrote: Freddie Francis, Torture Garden, 1967

I assume though John Zorn was a fan, as he nicked the title for that excellent Naked City album
More likely this, no?

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Or both, just as likely.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2019

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No, I think you're right actually. Must get around to reading that - it's been sitting on my e-reader for years. Meanwhile, as the temperature climbs (7pm here in Chartres, 42° in the shade - and the thermometer I left outside on the windowledge says 56°.. holy shit!), I thought I'd seek refuge in the icebergs off Greenland..

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James B. Harris, The Bedford Incident, 1965

Here's one where the book on which the film was based, by one James Poe, actually had a happier ending than the film. Widmark and Poitier (with a nice secondary role for Martin Balsam) play off each other well, as the obsessed Soviet-sub hunting Navy captain (the reference to Moby Dick is explicitly stated) and the journalist sent on board to write his story. To spoil the story for anyone who doesn't want to see it - and I do recommend it - it all ends the same way as Doctor Strangelove. But without the closing music. Bleak. Keep your eyes on the Straits of Hormuz.. this could happen for real..
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2019

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Peter Glenville, The Prisoner, 1955

"In an unnamed East European country, a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church is arrested and charged with treason." Alec Guinness plays the Cardinal and Jack Hawkins the Interrogator in this adaptation of a play by Irish writer Bridget Boland. Needless to say the acting is fine, if a bit hammy at times, but Glenville was first and foremost a theatre director, and it shows. Rather soporific.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2019

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John Frankenheimer, The Last Tycoon, 1957

The image is lousy, but so's the copy of the 1957 TV rarity, but, yes, that is Jack Palance and Peter Lorre, and yes it is an adaptation of Fitzgerald's unfinished story, two decades before Pinter and Kazan had a go (I'll take the opportunity to restate that I think Kazan's Last Tycoon is a seriously unacknowledged masterpiece). Neither Frankenheimer nor Kazan follow the book to its conclusion - as F. Scott didn't finish it himself, I wonder if he would have left it the way it is - but their portrayal of main character Monroe Stahr (based on Irving Thalberg) is close to the text. Comparing Palance to De Niro in the later film is a little unfair, unless like many critics out there you don't like De Niro's performance (which I think is superb), but Jack shows he was just as good at playing a wounded, sensitive soul as a diehard villain.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2019

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Pierre Kast, Le Bel âge, 1960

A cursory glance at the first few years of the Nouvelle Vague would give you the impression that the French spend all their time trying to seduce members of the opposite sex, but hunting the opposite sex has been something of a national pastime in this country since medieval times, and especially since the 18th century. Hence the baroque music. Kast's elegant game features fellow Cahiers honcho Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, who gets most of the best lines, but there's at least half a dozen very attractive leading ladies, and, bonus, though he doesn't say anything, Boris Vian. Nouvelle Vague completists will want to check it out, but the version I snatched is French only, no subs, and you'll be at something of a disadvantage if you can't understand the nuances of the dialogue.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2019

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Lucio Fulci, Four of the Apocalypse, 1975

Comparatively late as spaghetti westerns go, but just after mid-career for Fulci, who (if we're to believe the insanely arrogant Tomas Milian in the bonus doc) thought it was one of his two favourite movies (the other, Beatrice Cenci, also starred Milian - of course). Milian's the villain here, enjoying top billing with Fabio Testi but barely onscreen for twenty minutes. Michael J.Pollard plays Clem the drunk, Lynne Frederick (whose only claim to fame seems to be she was Peter Sellers' last wife - she certainly won't be remembered for her acting ability) the teen hooker Bunny, and Harry Baird a strange death-obsessed character who disappears mid-movie, but not before he's cut off and eaten Clem's left buttock - well, it's Fulci, what do you expect? It's an odd film, unevenly paced, with some strangely Simon and Garfunkel-like songs written to order and a rather perfunctory ending (Testi just happens to run into Milian, shoots him and rides off into the sunset) - but it's worth a look if you like spaghetti. And squibs.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2019

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Felix E. Feist, The Man Who Cheated Himself, 1950

Nice tight noir set in San Francisco (ending at Fort Point - this several years before Vertigo) with Lee J.Cobb as a homicide detective who gets himself into serious trouble trying to help out Jane Wyatt, who doesn't start out as an archetypal femme fatale but ends up that way. And John Dall as Cobb's younger brother, a rookie detective who eventually figures out what's going on. Good solid stuff.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2019

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Hal Hartley, The Girl From Monday, 2005

Not so sure about the aliens subplot - depends how much you like the central conceit of The Man Who Fell To Earth, I guess - but there's much to enjoy in Hartley's sci-fi tale, set in a not-too-distant future (and one getting nearer day by day) where the world is controlled by a multimedia corporation. Good chemistry between Sabrina Lloyd and Bill Sage (a good-looking guy, like the younger Redford, rather surprised we haven't seen more of him in leading roles), but you'd better be a fan of both the director's own shoegazing music and Dutch tilts, because they're present all the way through. But Hartley fans - are you there, Ben? - should like it.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2019

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Claude Goretta, Le fou, 1970

Sorry for the enormous screenshot but it's lovely. And what a splendid film - great feature debut for Swiss director Goretta (whose La dentellière with Huppert is one you should already have on your shelves, or if not on your Santa Claus list). Georges Plond (François Simon), in his early 50s, is forced to give up his exceedingly boring job writing up inventories of stuff in a huge warehouse due to ill-health, and, left to look after his disabled wife, invests their entire life savings on a dodgy Latin American investment, which of course goes bottoms up. It's at this point that.. well, does he go mad? I wouldn't say so myself - not at the beginning anyway. You'll have to watch it to find out. No English subs on the KG rip, I think - haven't checked lately. But that won't necessarily stop you digging it. One you'd like, Henrik, mon ami.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2019

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Alain Jessua, Armaguedon, 1977

Jean Yanne in another great performance as Louis Carrier, who inherits a substantial sum after the death of his brother in a car crash and uses it to become a media celebrity - through crime. He and his trusty sidekick "Einstein", a simple-minded but well-meaning brute (Renato Salvatori), lead police psychologist Dr Ambrose (Alain Delon, playing Alain Delon as only Alain Delon can, to the annoyance of the director it seems but it doesn't matter) across Europe, culminating in a nail-biting live broadcast from the Théâtre de la Renaissance in Paris, as the police close in. The last few minutes, and the ending, are sensational. No English subs, as far as I know.
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