Recently Watched Films 2020

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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Michael Apted, The Squeeze, 1977

Stacy Keach plays an ex-cop turned PI with a serious drink problem out to rescue his ex-wife and daughter from a gang of nasty kidnappers (led by David "Blow Up" Hemmings and featuring a young Alan "Brick Top" Ford) out to extort money from her new partner, the perennially unlikable Edward Fox (splendid casting - as is that of Keach's light-fingered pal Teddy, played very well by comedian Freddie Starr). As Roeg and Cammell did with Performance, Apted had to liaise with some authentic sleazy East End villains to get the locations and shots he wanted. Apparently the Sex Pistols' Steve Jones appears as an extra. If anyone spots where, let me know. Meanwhile, you'll probably not want to touch a drop of sherry anymore after watching this one.
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henriq
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Jonathan Demme - Something Wild (1986)

Jeff Daniels is surprisingly good in this, and Melanie Griffith is great. A pleasant enough film where Daniels’ drab executive is whisked away from New York by fitful and flighty Griffith, bobbed black hair and all (Lulu indeed). Fleeing the city and retreating into a rural Pennsylvania, and a dark history, the film takes a more sombre turn with the appearance of Ray Liotta’s Ray, the homicidal (ex)husband of Lulu. Thank goodness it did - left to it’s own nouvelle vague-y devices, my interest wouldn’t have survived. Of course, Demme can handle actors. And if you like that whole mid eighties New York sound - John Cale and Laurie Anderson did the music, David Byrne composed the theme - you have no worries, but to these gristled ears, it all sounds rather twee. And what can really drive me up the wall - I can elaborate why later - are all the celebrity pal walk-ons in this. John Sayles as a motorcycle cop, John Waters as used car salesman, The Feelies as The Willies at the high school reunion bash. Demme does this quite a bit - The Silence of the Lambs has Roger Corman and New York theatre legend Ron Vawter in it, Philadelphia has performance artist Karen Finley pop up as a doctor. A cynic would say you’re showing off, brag about your Hollywood clout to your indie friends and show your hip audience what cool friends you have. But, griping aside, the triangle of Griffith/Daniels/Liotta and the energies sculpted and maintained in it is good, real good even, so I might return.

henriq
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

Post by henriq »

Ended up in the 2019 list, so I'm copy-pasting myself here instead:
henriq wrote:
Dan Warburton wrote:Image

Byron Haskin, I Walk Alone, 1947

Burt and Kirk, so goes without saying it's a masterpiece :)
I don't know, mate. Burt Lancaster and Lizabeth Scott both are obnoxious as fuck in this, I was totally rooting for bastard Douglas. Much like I hated Richard Conte just recently, or the painful experience of watching Ian McShane play second fiddle to hammy Richard Burton in Villain. Frustrating that way, noir, the baddies are always more delicious and always get their comeuppance. Or maybe this should teach me not to mix my drinks: I've watched Something Wild, Jordan's Mona Lisa and this just this night. Could be they're sitting uneasy with each other, or that I'm writing this at ten to four in the morning...

Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

Post by Dan Warburton »

henriq wrote:this should teach me not to mix my drinks: I've watched Something Wild, Jordan's Mona Lisa and this just this night
That's quite a cocktail! I agree with you on the Haskin, btw - Lancaster('s character) is perfectly obnoxious, Neanderthal, brutish and boorish; Douglas's villain, like many he played, is smooth, seductive - and deadly. The only sympathetic character in the film is Dave (Wendell Corey), but he's a wimp. No, I put that "masterpiece" line in to rile Walt, who likes Burt about as much I love Jeff Goldblum :D
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Jon Jost, Frameup, 1993

"Made on short ends of film left over from The Bed You Sleep In, Frameup is a freewheeling road comedy about a pair of dimwitted lovers on the run. Ricky-Lee (Howard Swain), a two-bit criminal prone to spouting lengthy, obscenity-laced soliloquies, meets Beth-Ann (Nancy Carlin), an airheaded waitress with a weakness for romance novels, at the diner where she slings coffee. Immediately smitten, she joins him on a meandering journey across the Pacific Northwest — punctuated by the occasional robbery — and on into California, where the couple dream of heading to the sunny beaches of Los Angeles. Ricky-Lee’s ineptitude catches up with him eventually, however, and their trip is cut short when a convenience store robbery goes awry."
Jost takes the time-honoured tradition of boy+girl+road+sex+crime - think Bonnie and Clyde, Wild at Heart, Badlands, A bout de souffle etc - and subjects all the elements of the story to some serious détournement (the Godard influence is especially noticeable, but those great garish fullscreen signs also look forward to Gaspar Noé). The plot is sliced up into a dozen or so separate shorts - some using time-lapse, others with odd filters - the characters flattened into mere cyphers. Nancy Carlin's deadpan delivery is so hilariously at odds with the words she's saying that it makes a Bresson modèle seem like Rod Steiger in comparison. It's riotously inventive, cheap as fuck (I'd love to see a restored version, but would it really look any better?) and as much fun as the four classics I mentioned above. Jost, yo. Great.
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henriq
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Dan Warburton wrote:I agree with you on the Haskin, btw - Lancaster('s character) is perfectly obnoxious, Neanderthal, brutish and boorish; Douglas's villain, like many he played, is smooth, seductive - and deadly. The only sympathetic character in the film is Dave (Wendell Corey), but he's a wimp. No, I put that "masterpiece" line in to rile Walt, who likes Burt about as much I love Jeff Goldblum :D
Well, you liked him in Deep Cover. You're welcome ;) And I can see how someone would grow to hate Lancaster, muscular and hectoring in every thing he does, practically. Was it really all the way to Sweet Smell of Success until someone put that pathology front and center? Good directors would get good things from him, but for the present film the director lets him be. Cowed maybe? But also, you don't feel much for him - no backstabbing that got him into prison, or was Douglas the actual killer? (I forget). They were friends but Douglas got away and didn't visit? Come on. Not the sharpest noir in the library, imo.

henriq
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Gus Van Sant - My Own Private Idaho (1991)

Bit of a failure, this, and sad to say so because there are bits in it that are just brilliant. To wit: the conceit of a narcoleptic boy prostitute, somnambulant across a distended landscape of pickups, coffeeshops, random encounters, falling asleep in one part of the country and waking up in another, is great. The scenes with the layered voices of the young hustlers and drug addicts in the restaurant are vertiginously awesome. There is a shorthand here, a vocabulary accentuated that you wish the director would run a bit more with. This points of course to the obvious literary antecedent of John Rechy, who I haven’t read, and also to Gary Indiana, Dennis Cooper, and probably a few others. River Phoenix in the lead is just riveting, and I don’t have a problem with Keanu Reeves as the friend either. You get a sense that Van Sant is quite the cine-literate: the jaunt to Rome to find the errant mother, and the pivot where slumming rich boy Reeves finds true love, has the feel of Rohmer’s Le rayon vert, the simultaneous vague attraction and quelconque of the landscape. But, and this is unfortunately a Big But, I don’t get or like the Shakespeare bit in the middle. Wiki-wise, we read it was intended as a Burroughsian cutup, the director wanted to approach the matter from two ways, for reasons, and went about it this way, so ok then. And, arguably, I don’t know my Shakespeare, but the theatrical shaping of the narrative here sits uneasily with the fluency and brilliance of the earlier parts. But also, the major problem for me here is the appearance of Flea as the sidekick of Bob. I guess he’s a bass player, but I totally fucking hate him in every Hollywood cameo his agent ever secured for him. A staggering waste of space, he is of course untalented enough to play anything but the goofy sidekick, though cringingly awful even in such a small part. So, the question raises itself, why include him? It’s the Celebrity Pal Guest Spot again, Van Sant as either indie maverick breaking through into Hollywood mainstream or a slumming Hollywood hack. Don’t know if I’m actually leaning towards the latter, I love both Elephant and Paranoid Park, but the film has a sour taste of tidy compromise about it. It’s like you take all the minor, stealthy vocabularies of directors with guts and integrity to stick to their guns - cue the filmographies of Jon Jost, Alan Clarke, Eric Rohmer for illustration - but press it into sentimental Hollywood service. And make a little space in it for fucking Flea. A pity.

henriq
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

Post by henriq »

Christ, I'm grouchy these days. Must watch something brilliant methinks, snap out of it.

Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Try the Jost.. on second thoughts, you've been spending too much time on the other side of the Atlantic. Try this: just watched it on the train coming home half an hour ago, loved it -

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Georges Franju, La faute de l'Abbé Mouret, 1970

I do hope a decently restored version of this isn't long coming, if only to appreciate the beauty of Gillian Hills (who you probably already know from A Clockwork Orange and, briefly, Blow Up) and her garden. But the young Abbé, Francis Huster, whose first feature this was, is a good-looking lad too. Shame Jesus got to him first. It's based on a novel by Zola, so expect no mercy: from brutish peasants ransacking their dead mother's hovel for pennies before the corpse is even moved from its deathbed, to a vicious medieval priest Archangias (André Lacombe) who'd have been just perfect for the Spanish Inquisition (but who gets his comeuppance in the awesome ending). Zola's raw dialogues are reworked by Jean Ferry but lose none of their punch; has to be said, Emile was never what you could call subtle: if he were around today he'd probably be making TV series, and decent ones too. Splendid stuff - and a wonderful Jean Wiener score. Fortement recommandé!
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Jean Grémillon, Lumière d'été, 1943

Another cracking melodrama from wartime France, with two great Madeleines (Renaud and Robinson) in the leading lady roles, each of them already far too involved with the wrong men - Patrice (Paul Bernard), a suave SOB who already "accidentally" shot an earlier wife, and Roland (Pierre Brasseur) an angst-ridden failed painter seeking solace in the bottle. The drama takes place at an isolated hotel in the mountains, but also in a mine nearby (watch out for dynamite!) and in Patrice's mansion, where the climactic bal masqué (one the great scenes of French cinema, shades of Le règle du jeu) plays out. Practice yr French https://www.lemonde.fr/culture/article/ ... _3246.html
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henriq
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Dan Warburton wrote:Try the Jost.. on second thoughts, you've been spending too much time on the other side of the Atlantic. Try this: just watched it on the train coming home half an hour ago, loved it -

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Georges Franju, La faute de l'Abbé Mouret, 1970

I do hope a decently restored version of this isn't long coming, if only to appreciate the beauty of Gillian Hills (who you probably already know from A Clockwork Orange and, briefly, Blow Up) and her garden. But the young Abbé, Francis Huster, whose first feature this was, is a good-looking lad too. Shame Jesus got to him first. It's based on a novel by Zola, so expect no mercy: from brutish peasants ransacking their dead mother's hovel for pennies before the corpse is even moved from its deathbed, to a vicious medieval priest Archangias (André Lacombe) who'd have been just perfect for the Spanish Inquisition (but who gets his comeuppance in the awesome ending). Zola's raw dialogues are reworked by Jean Ferry but lose none of their punch; has to be said, Emile was never what you could call subtle: if he were around today he'd probably be making TV series, and decent ones too. Splendid stuff - and a wonderful Jean Wiener score. Fortement recommandé!
Yay, brilliant! Faith in cinema restored. Merci bien, copain! What a golden and wonderful strain of film this is, exact to the point of astringency, yet luscious and romantic at the same time. I see Tanner, Goretta, Cavalier, Straub/Huillet in this. I actually like this a lot more than Les yeux sans visage. Damn, it makes me want to read stuff, Zola, Proust, Giono, points in between, leave piddling, middling americans to their own demise. Awesome!

Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Steer well clear of this one, then. A piddling, middling film if ever there was one -

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Gregor Jordan, Unthinkable, 2010

Unwatchable, more like. Samuel Jackson plays a Black Ops torture specialist called in to gently persuade a captured radicalised terrorist to reveal where he's hidden three nuclear bombs in American cities :o Carrie-Anne Moss, who seems to have aged about 70 years since Matrix, looks on in horror. Five fingertips and one wife later (oh sorry, if I'm spoiling anything stop reading now - but watching this would be a waste of your time anyway, imho), he's just about to carve up the children when Yusuf or whatever he's taken to calling himself these days cracks and tells him the address. But Jackson correctly guesses that there not three but four bombs, so.. bang. If you really want a film that calls into question your own morality, and how far you could go, try Son Of Saul (see above).
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Werner Herzog, Scream of Stone, 1991

Worth it for the few shots of the summit Cerro Torre - and, umm, that's about it.. Herzog, despite spinning wonderful yarns about having his fingers frozen and being stranded in a snowstorm for days during the shoot, has more or less disowned this film from his oeuvre. The flimsy plot and even flimsier script are of course to blame, and the two lead actors - well the ones who play the actual climbers - are pretty naff. As actors, that is: Stefan Glowacz is a champion rock climber - well, obviously.. I wonder how he got off the mountain though (have to say, the end of the film is intriguing). But (why?) Werner also invited Donald Sutherland to play an ambitious journalist, Mathilda May to come along and bed both of the climbers along the way (but not at the same time) and his own resident alien Brad Dourif in a certifiably insane cameo role. And watch out for.. Mae West! WTF!
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Penny Lane, Hail Satan?, 2019

So sorry Jex was ousted as the leader of the Detroit Chapter of TST.. to my mind, executing Donald Trump seems like a perfectly excellent idea.
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henriq
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Samuel Fuller - The Crimson Kimono (1959)

Oh Fuller, you lepidopterous hack. Lepidoptery, yes: brilliant and colourful bits flit about in a rather drab landscape. An abrupt cut to a camera gliding through a Japanese temple, timed and chimed to the ring and sustain of a ceremonial bell; the martial art tag teaming of a suspect; the brilliant opening with the shifting hues and patterns in the painted dress. But as a film? Not much, I’m afraid. It doth protest its antiracism much too much (the conservative flag waving about the Japanese as good murcans who fought and died for their country, damn it - thanks, I don’t), and the love triangle with its racial “overtones” doesn’t convince. Nor does the jovial drunken painter, even if she is a woman. But, it is easy to see how Godard would be enamoured with a figure like Fuller, as precisely a model of how NOT to do things right in Hollywood. S’en fout with convention, shoot towards the madness and beauty in the cracks of narrative and image, shoot Vietnam and militant extemporising and Mozart and Saint Just and musical and philosophy and Marianne Faithfull and architecture and alienation and and and…(Pierrot le fou as an attempt at cinema). So, as a model of Hollywood muscular distension and hesitance and poetry, yes, quite.

henriq
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Kim Jee-woon - I Saw The Devil (2010)

An excellent serial killer movie from Kim Jee-won, director of the awesome A Tale of Two Sisters. A crazed killer murders the pregnant girlfriend of a secret agent: blinded by rage and sorrow, he sets out to avenge a thousandfold the pain and sorrow visited upon him. A cut above, this, you realise, when in a film 143 minutes long already around the forty-fifty minute mark you know both who the killer is and see him get his gruesome comeuppance. No hackneyed psychologising, no cock fighting in the interview room, but pathology and sadism worked out through the film. I won’t tell you exactly how our hero manage to insert a microphoned tracking device in the abdomen of the killer, but there you go: beaten to within an inch of any normal life, the killer is set loose again, tries to get his satisfaction elsewhere along the map, and our hero appear yet again to torture him. Almost a little like Roeg's Eureka here: if property and release is attained at the onset of the film, what putrefying and rotting passions are mapped onto it with the time you give or is given by it? It’s the surveillance state rendered as a series of violated bodies and pried upon spaces. I’m brought to mind here of Welles’s Confidential Report, Arkadin popping up out of the woodwork all over the place, angles and movements all corrupted and false, and also of Suzuki’s Branded to Kill, the hallucinatory cat and mouse race between the two virtuoso killers in that. Insanely violent - think Robocop crossed with Gaspar Noé and you’re getting there - the director has a vertiginous grasp of set pieces and kinetic composition (as in his equally stylish A Bittersweet Life). The central performance from Choi Min-sik (Old Boy) is nothing short of amazing, I can’t remember a more consummately detestable figure anywhere. South Korean, like Australian, cinema seem to be an excellent finishing school of slow burn physiognomy (think the distended volatility of Song Kang-ho in Bong’s Memories of Murder or Parasite, or of Matthew Savile’s Noise, or Justin Kurzel’s terrifying Snowtown). A great recommendtaion, this - but again, if graphic violence isn’t your thing, maybe tread carefully.

Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Sounds great - added to the shopping list :) Funny you mention Saint-Just, was just watching Abel Gance play the said character in Napoleon (halfway through)..
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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So while we're waiting here are a couple I made earlier (as they used to say on cookery programmes)..
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Shōhei Imamura, Vengeance is Mine, 1979

Wow, terrific. Based it appears on the true story of serial killer Akira Nisiguchi (not to be confused with Masao Adachi's Serial Killer, which was also based on the life of another serial killer Norio Nakagama) - here named Iwao Enokizu and played brilliantly by Ken Ogata. As well as killing folks - and what's scarily wonderful in the film is that we never find out why - he was also a talented fraudster, which gives the movie a Catch Me If You Can vibe to offset the In Cold Blood feeling (though Roger Ebert is dead right to pour cold water on that comparion in his fine review https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/veng ... -mine-2008 ). Outstanding, and there's very little music to spoil the fun, thankfully. As for the ending - which I don't want to spoil - well, would like to discuss it with others. Not sure I understand it - or whether it works. Your call.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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John Frankenheimer, Prophecy, 1979

By now we all know that Bigfoot, like God, is a man-made creation. Here, illegal poisoning of an idyllic river in Maine leads to some terrific mutants (killer raccoons, giant tadpoles, and the monster itself) that are systematically wiping out the indigenous Indian population (yeah I know I know, it's a pretty tired, well-worn theme.. no wonder the director's heart wasn't really in it). And any plucky campers who dare to venture into the forest.. Highlight is when a boy in a sleeping bag is hurled against a tree and explodes in a shower of bloody feathers. Nice! Why am I telling you all this? Because you probably won't want to waste any time seeing the film, even if the lead actors are quite good, given the bland script they have to deal with, written by the bloke who wrote The Omen. That was a bit of a waste of time too, come to think of it.
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