Nikita Argunov, Koma, 2019
"After a colossal and mysterious accident a young talented architect comes back to his senses in a very odd world that only resembles the reality. This world is based on the memories of the ones who live in it - people who are currently finding themselves in a deep coma. Human memory is spotty, chaotic and unstable. The same is the COMA - odd collection of memories and recollections - cities, glaciers and rivers can all be found in one room. All the laws of physics can be broken. The architect must find out the exact laws and regulations of COMA as he fights for his life, meets the love of his life and keeps on looking for the exit to the real world which he will have to get acquainted with all over again after the experience of COMA."
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6087226/re ... ef_=tt_urv
Well, if you liked Inception and Matrix.. Unfortunately Mr Argunov does too - and he probably likes Hans Zimmer too. This one's for kids.
Rainer Sarnet, Idioot, 2011
Excellent adaptation of the Dostoevsky novel, with a hint of punk - think Derek Jarman's Jubilee and Alex Cox's Revengers Tragedy (odd anachronisms) - and an eclectic soundtrack (Messiaen, Vaughan Williams and.. The Stranglers?!).
Pat O'Neill, The Decay of Fiction, 2002
Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Decay_of_Fiction NYT: "The 73-minute movie is a semiabstract film noir shot largely in the empty corridors and bare peeling rooms of the Ambassador, a once-grand Los Angeles hotel that went spectacularly to seed after closing in 1989. The Ambassador was the site of some of the early Academy Awards ceremonies in the 1930’s and of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. But instead of concentrating on that public history, the film uses the building, emptied of its furnishings, to imagine its mythical shadow history and its status as a metaphor for old Hollywood, in all its fabulous glamour and corruption.[..] While depicting the relentless passage of time with a power that few other films have captured, The Decay of Fiction sustains a mood of almost gothic sadness. Actors dressed in period garb from the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s, filmed in black-and-white and double exposed against color sequences of the hotel, appear and vanish like ghosts in fractured vignettes that never quite cohere into stories."
O'Neill: “I scribbled the words 'The Decay of Fiction' on the back of a notebook almost forty years ago, tore it off and framed it fifteen years later, and have wanted ever since to make a film to fit its ready-made description. To me it refers to the common condition of stories partly remembered, films partly seen, texts at the margins of memory, disappearing like a book left outside on the ground to decompose back into the earth. The film takes place in a building about to be destroyed, those walls contain (by dint of association) a huge burden of memory: cultural and personal, conscious and unconscious. To make the film was to trap a few of its characters and some of their dialog, casting them together within the confines of the site. The structure and its stories are decaying together, and each seems to be a metaphor for the other.” (Pat O’Neill)
Jean-Pierre Mocky, A mort l'arbitre, 1984
If Ettore Scola hadn't swiped the title Brutti sporchi e cattivi (ugly, dirty and bad) for his pitch-black 1976 comedy, Jean-Pierre Mocky could have filed a patent for it, as it's a pretty good description of just about everybody in his movies. Here Michel Serrault plays a thoroughly detestable character, best described by the French as a "beauf" (Urban Dictionary: "undereducated and annoying white dude, from French "beau-frère" which means brother-in-law)," who joins a pack of similarly-inclined boorish football fans on a rampage to find and punish the referee of a match (Eddy Mitchell, a tad more sympathetic but only a step or two up the ladder from Neanderthal) for having given the winning penalty to the opposing team. Having pursued their quarry from a TV studio via a tacky shopping mall (betcha Mocky knows Dawn Of The Dead), where Serrault then accidentally kills of one his fellow fans put has the others believe Mitchell did it, they end up besieging him and his girlfriend in her flat - this was filmed in Ricardo Bofill's postmodern Espaces d'Abraxas housing complex in Noisy-le-Grand just outside Paris.
(You may like it, but I think it's horrendous and I imagine Mocky did too..).
Imagine Straw Dogs or The Shining filmed in Sam Lowry's flat in Brazil. Amazingly, it all ends up (badly and hilariously) in a car chase in an underground quarry, where the laconic chainsmoking soon-to-retire misanthropic police inspector, played by Mocky himself of course, finally catches up with the surviving villains. A trip! No English subtitles that I can find, alas. Meanwhile, if you like football as much as I don't, here's something for you to practice your French with https://poussiere-virtuelle.com/mort-fo ... desproges/
Is that not exactly the courtyard Sam Lowry runs through in the final montage in Brazil, as well? We have a Bofill structure in Stockholm too, not very pretty.
Guy Maddin & Evan Johnson, The Forbidden Room, 2015
Wiki: "The film's frame story, and the narrative it returns to the most, concerns a submarine crew transporting a volatile substance that will explode if they ever resurface. As the crew struggle to survive with low oxygen levels, a woodsman (Roy Dupuis) mysteriously forces his way onto the vessel; the crew believe his sudden appearance may lead to an escape from their predicament. The men navigate a labyrinth of rooms and passageways while trying to access the captain's chamber. Along the way, they recount stories that lead to other stories, which unfold in a complex and layered manner. The most important of these "sub-stories" shows the woodsman and his fellow "sapling-jacks" trying to rescue a woman named Margot from depraved kidnappers. Other sub-stories involve: a surgeon kidnapped by a team of "women skeletons" who work as insurance defrauders; a madman on a train under the charge of a womanizing psychiatrist; a mustache that seeks to comfort the widow of the man whose face it used to adorn; and a doctor cursed by a bust of Janus. The submarine crew finally reach the captain's "forbidden room", only to find him incapacitated. Most of the men die of asphyxiation, but the woodsman finds that the volatile cargo has transformed into his love, Margot. A passionate kiss leads into a montage of proposed endings from "The Book of Climaxes", and an abrupt, inconclusive ending to the film itself."
Guardian: "Maddin’s zeal for old cameras and stocks is matched only by his revelry in evoking an entire genre with a single image. The film’s apogee literally opens up The Book of Climax in a sequence of pure, knowing cinematic joy. Film-lovers, this ludicrous movie is for you."
Word! It's a trip, a dazzling matryoshka of yarns within tales wrapped in shaggy dog stories (if you like tales embedded in other tales (or if (like me) you can't finish a sentence without opening a bracket onto another (maybe unrelated) thought (so much so you forget to close the bracket at the other end (I was often taken to task for this by the Wire editor (Chris Bohn)))) you'll love it. This film moves the way my brain works, lawd help me. A blast! Did I forget a bracket? : )
Really interesting, this - it just doesn't do what you're expecting it to do: the hero (not a very likeable one at that either, at the outset) goes to pieces, the baddie with his pathetic little hearing aid falls apart, and the other hoods do too (though there is quite a bit of juicy beating up along the way) and the femme fatale disappears altogether. And what do we make of Pila? We never find out who she is, what she's doing in the town so far away from home, why she's so interested in Gagin and how she always manages to be in the right place at the right time. Pancho's a loveable old poivrot, and FBI agent Retz is alarmingly casual - it's as if Montgomery's been reading the film noir rulebook and decides to tear it up a page at a time. And this is only 1947! There's a line in Jean-François Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition - which I can't be bothered to look up, seems my copy of the book is stil packed away somewhere - about postmodernism coming before modernism.. I think I know what he's getting at. Sharp script by Ben Hecht, great photography by Russell Metty (who DP'ed all those great Sirks a decade later), thanks for hipping me to this, Ben.Lao Tsu Ben wrote: ↑Tue Nov 19, 2019 9:13 am
Ride The Pink Horse, Robert Montgomery, 1947
While the original title is kind of cryptic, the French one - Et tournent les chevaux de bois aka And turn the wooden horses - is poetic in a way that doesn't say much either about the film, but foreshadows its ride aspect. The film indeed is tremendous fun while not being reserved to children, a bit like the vintage merry-go-round that serves as one of the main decors here and acts as viaticum in one of the film's most threatening scenes. What is marvelous about that masterpiece of film noir is how organically the scenes, resembling in that way Moonfleet by Fritz Lang, seems to segue into one another, thanks to what is a deft script partly written by Ben Hecht. Robert Montgomery is very cool in the main role, radiating some sort of haughty disdain while being likeable at the time. It's set in some fictitious equivalent of Santa Fe, with lots of elements of Mexican folklore - more or less spurious, you tell me. Seem to fit right into the movie though, which has several dialogues in Spanish for instance that are not translated, giving it an air of authenticity. Mandatory watching.
i used to see first halves of old movies as a kid (films started at 8.15, bedtime was at 9 ... it's probably why i still don't care for resolutions) and for some reason robert montgomery was among my handful a favorite actors. but that was in german, where he speaks the way he looks. i had an unpleasant awakening one day watching the lady in the lake in the original ... i hate his voice (and that's a film where you notice), his marlowe is a totally unfunny cad. here too, i can't watch this until i get me a proper german dub.
Gordon Douglas, They Call Me Mister Tibbs, 1970
You know you're in trouble when the only title they can come up with for the film is a quotation from its predecessor. At least none of the later awful Dirty Harry sequels was called Go Ahead Punk Make My Day. But without Steiger and Oates' nasty sweaty Southern racism, and with Poitier transplanted to a beautiful sunny San Francisco with a house and garden (garden in SF? what kind of salary was he on?), the only thing that makes this flaccid tale worthwhile is the Quincy Jones title track, which rocks. So you can switch off just after that, or fast forward to the (obligatory) car chase and hear it again. Talking of which, I was struck by Edward Asner's passing resemblance to Gordon Brown.. the fact such silly a thought crossed my mind shows how concentrated I was on the story. As we say in French, bof.
Jean-Pierre Mocky, La grande lessive, 1968
Rare these days that a film actually has me falling off the sofa in fits of laughter, so.. chapeau, Mocky! The mighty Bourvil plays a schoolteacher (called Saint Just, indeed) who sets out to sabotage the TV aerials of the houses where his pupils live because they (and everyone else) are spending far too much time watching the telly instead of learning La Fontaine. Noble cause. Needless to say the police - a typically Mockyesque crew of gluttons, drunks and idiots - are soon after them. The cast of Mocky regulars includes Francis Blanche, Jean Poiret, Marcel Pérès, Jean-Claude Rémoleux, Roger Legris and Michael Lonsdale (wait till you find out who he works for at the end of the film!). I suggested in an earlier review that Mocky's pal Godard must have known and been influenced by his work, and I wonder here if the converse is true: the opera-singing tenant on the top floor trying in vain to get into the loo recalls Léaud's bel canto Saint Just (justement) in JLG's Week End. Just a thought. No English subs that I can find - but I hope that will soon change. A real delight!
Carl Theodor Dreyer, Leaves from Satan's Book, 1921
"The power of Satan is highlighted in four historical tales: the betrayal and subsequent arrest of Jesus, the Spanish Inquisition, the French Revolution and the execution of Marie Antoinette, and the Finnish War of Independence in 1918." Was it Pauline Kael who wrote of Dreyer, "son of a bitch never made a bad film"? Or words to that effect. Anyway, this isn't bad but it's nothing to write home about either. Long referred to as being inspired by Griffith's Intolerance (though the script Dreyer worked from was written before that film - both Griffith and Dreyer could have been influenced by Luigi Maggi's 1912 Satanas, so I read), it's about an hour too long and, with a few exceptions, doesn't give much indication of the wonders to come. Maybe 2 hours and 45 minutes of extremely dull and extremely present piano music didn't help, I'll admit.
Marek Kanievska, Less Than Zero, 1987
It bears little resemblance to the Bret Easton Ellis novel it's based on, as the Production notes in Wiki page relate https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Less_Than_Zero_(film) (the same can be said, fortunately, of Mary Harron's American Psycho), with Clay's bisexuality and drug use airbrushed out, giving the whole thing a strangely comfortable MTV vibe, which is presumably not what the director intended. Was (is?) L.A. ever really like this? Even so, it works better than Kanievska's earlier Another Country. Downey and Spader carry the show - Andrew McCarthy's pretty (in pink) enough but can't act for toffee, not that his character is required to.
Came across his name for the first time when I saw L'Ami de mon amie , where some of his work in Cergy Pontoise is featured, and Rohmer turns what was a brand new city at the time in some sort of preposterously idyllic yuppie town, not yet peopled by immigrants or people with an immigrant background, i.e. poor people, though his characters ominously hint at the possibility in one scene (to make myself clearer, that's a jab in passing at Rohmer's politics). I went to see a few weeks ago some of the buildings he did at Montigny-les-Bretonneux and Saint-Quentin en Yvelines, which look good under a bright sky, but also strangely lifeless, remote like a movie set. It's impossible not to notice the Chiricesque feeling.
Very glad you like it, Dan but I must say it seemed like a sure thing. One of those few films that seems really hard to hate.
It's probably one of the best french comedies. But I mostly remember one scene that had me cracking up where the characters barge in a chambre de bonne only to find a black man who runs a one-guy donut factory.
Henrik, old chum, I see exactly where you're coming from & appreciate the cross-references above, but I was curiously underwhelmed - despite the excellent cinematography and all that. It's a bit like Snowpiercer - fuckin' amazing sets, CGI, but.. um, what's the story? Obviously, the director isn't out to make any seriously heavy moral points here (Michel Chion can forget about this one for his "Cinema & Morality 101" course) - once again, we're talking cartoons. How does this compare to Ichi The Killer for you?henriq wrote: ↑Tue Feb 18, 2020 12:29 pm
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.
Jean-Pierre Mocky, L'Etalon, 1970
More midsummer madness from Mocky, here with Bourvil setting up in business as a pimp recruiting a team of studs ("étalon" in French) to service the bored wives of holidaying couples in a sleepy seaside town. As usual, nobody is spared: the local MP's a lisping halfwit, the police commissioner (Michel Lonsdale, another great minor role) an ineffectual coward and the tax inspector (Francis Blanche) a ludicrous hypocritical prude. Love it when the statue of Jesus gets kicked over by a band of raving nymphomaniacs. Great fun, no subtitles though (again).
Aki Kaurismäki, Crime and Punishment, 1983
https://www.closeupfilmcentre.com/film_ ... punishment In his 1983 debut feature all the signature elements of Kaurismäki are already there - the dour characters, the drab colours, the anachronistic pop music.. Sure, some folks don't like it (there's a long, detailed putdown over at IMDb which actually makes some good points), but if it's a faithful adaptation of Dostoevsky you're after, I'd go for John Hurt's Raskolnikov in the old BBC adaptation. Meanwhile, here's a brief and hilarious clip of the director talking to Jonathan Ross (remember him?) about it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qu27Ct5G_28
Massimo Dallamano, Dorian Gray, 1970
The giallo universe - the gaudiness, trash, and refusal to take itself seriously - turns out to be perfect for this updated reading of Oscar Wilde, set in 60s Swinging London (check out the costumes - even Austin Powers would be impressed) and starring Helmut Berger as the impossibly beautiful Dorian, fatally attractive whether he's buggering an ugly old millionairess in her stables or cottaging with a muscular African on the Côte d'Azur. Along the way he also beds, amongst others, Maria Rohm - of Jesus Franco fame - and the ever-stunning Eleonora Rossi Drago. As George Sanders, the only actor I've ever imagined playing Henry Wotton, was unavailable (not that Dallamano ever approached him, that's just my little fantasy), Herbert Lom takes over. Plenty of juicy sex scenes, deliciously tacky Peppino de Luca soundtrack, snazzy giallo editing courtesy Nicholas Wentworth (another Franco alumnus). Only one quibble: at the end of the film, Dorian stabs himself, not the portrait as in the book. Dunno why, as the end result is the same. "Lying on the floor was a dead man, in evening dress, with a knife in his heart. He was withered, wrinkled, and loathsome of visage. It was not till they had examined the rings that they recognized who it was."
Benoît Delépine & Gustave Kervern, I Feel Good, 2018
IMDb: "Jacques, a clueless opportunist is obsessed with finding the project that will make him rich; he decides that the only answer lies in offering cut-price quickie cosmetic surgery." Arriving without warning in nothing but a stolen bathrobe and a pair of flip flops to crash with his sister at the Emmaüs village of Lescar-Pau she helps run in the Pyrénées http://www.emmaus-lescar-pau.com/, he eventually persuades a dozen of the oddball marginalized residents of the recycling centre to travel to Bulgaria (some extraordinary footage shot in the abandoned Communist palace of Bouzloudja https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bouzloudja). Needless to say the cosmetic surgery doesn't go entirely according to plan.. Further proof that Jean Dujardin is one of the best actors to come out of France in the past couple of decades, and teamed up with Yolande Moreau (and, in a touching cameo, the mighty Lou Castel) he delivers a great, hilarious and unsettling performance. It's a comedy, but with some serious undertones - think Mocky or Kaurismäki. Nice write-up here https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/revie ... ew-1149865 No English subs yet as far as I can tell, but I guess they won't be long coming.