Recently Watched Films 2021

Not the stuff on your shower tiles.

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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Julien Duvivier, Un carnet de bal, 1937

From https://www.criterion.com/current/posts ... e-thirties : "Mixing comedy and drama, whimsy and realism, Un carnet de bal, inspired by Jean Giraudoux’s 1924 novel Juliette au pays des hommes, is an episodic work that, with its technical craft, visual inspiration, and shifting tonal registers, shows the filmmaker at his very best. Christine (Marie Bell), a rich, childless French widow living in Italy as she enters middle age, decides to travel Europe to reconnect with the suitors of her youth, whose names are penciled on a dance card from her first ball. The assurance of the film’s first movement is dazzling. Christine’s privileged existence is introduced via a series of gorgeous exterior images—mountains, cypress trees, and her enormous villa (achieved with a triumphant matte painting) emphasize the verticality of the 1.33:1 frame. Yet, as illustrated by a shot that begins close in on Christine and cranes out to reveal the vast space of her empty room, she is lonely. Duvivier then dissolves to a glittering ballroom of the past; we see a row of curtsying women in white, each grabbed by a partner and twirled away in rhapsodic slow motion. Adding to the scene’s eeriness, composer Maurice Jaubert had his musicians play the score backward, then reversed the recording. It’s a fitting first act for a film that depicts the past as a romantic illusion." Yep, they don't make 'em like this any more. Essentially a film à sketchs, one for each of the names in Christine's dance card - and what a stellar collection of actors: Françoise Rosay, Harry Baur, Louis Jouvet, Pierre Blanchar, Raimu, Fernandel - it's strikingly innovative not only in its cinematography and music but in the blunt modernity of the plot and Henri Jeanson's dialogues (the kind of situations and "bad" language that the Hays Code airbrushed out of American cinema for over three decades).
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Peter Greenaway, 8½ Women, 1998

Wiki: "After the death of his wife Amelia, wealthy businessman Philip Emmenthal (John Standing) and his son St rey (Matthew Delamere) open their own private harem in their family residence in Geneva. They get the idea while watching Federico Fellini's 8 1⁄2 and after Storey is "given" a woman, Simato (Shizuka Inoh), to waive her pachinko debts. They sign one-year contracts with eight (and a half) women to this effect. The women each have a gimmick (one is a nun, another a kabuki performer, etc.). Philip soon becomes dominated by his favorite of the concubines, Palmira (Polly Walker), who has no interest in Storey as a lover, despite what their contract might stipulate. Philip dies, the concubines' contracts expire, and Storey is left alone with Giulietta (the titular "1⁄2" as an amputee) and of course the money and the houses. While the film deals with and graphically describes diverse sexual acts in conversation, the film does not feature any sex scenes as such, though it does contain several instances of male nudity."
Male nudity, damn right - what's a Greenaway film without a penis (or several)? At one point, Philip delivers a wonderful eulogy to the male organ. And, yes, we get to see our leading actors' equipment (amazing Depardieu has never done anything with PG, he's very good at waving his willy around). But, anyway, enough of that.. How's the film? Well, I liked it. But if you like Greenaway (which I do, with the exception of The Pillow Book, which I should probably have another go at), who must be the most self-indulgent director - along with Fellini, of whom more later - you probably will. The good old Greenaway tropes are out in force: women as commodities, women with deformities, women eventually assuming power (there must be a feminist film theory doctoral dissertation in there somewhere), a totally crazy plot which nobody in their right mind could ever take seriously, all underpinned with smartypants structuralism. Along with Fellini, Godard is the reference here, as he always has been for the director, and the original plan, I understand, was to include some JLG snippets as well as the extracts from Otto e mezzo. Like Fellini, I guess Greenaway can be admired for the sheer breathtaking beauty of his images - DP Sacha Vierny once more delivers some truly exquisite shots - and, like Godard, I'm sure the idea of punters shuffling out of the cinema muttering "what the fuck was that all about?" must be a source of pleasure. And if the visuals weren't enough, there's a typically acerbic Greenaway script to enjoy: Standing takes up where Gielgud left off in Prospero's Books, skewering the stuffy English class system and its empty, cliché-ridden mores with impeccably delivered Great British Actor precision. What's it all about, then? Gee, I don't know, but it's a great way to spend an evening.
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Woody Allen, Alice, 1990

I'll admit I was rather dreading this, having read it was a "loose" remake of Fellini's Giulietta degli spiriti, a hard act to follow, and not exactly a happy film. So I was expecting Woody in Serious Mode (not deadly dully serious as in Interiors, but mawkish Mia navel-gazing serious as in Husbands and Wives...ugh) - and was pleasantly surprised he saw the lighter side of things, with Dr. Yang and his invisibility potion (not to mention opium den, haha). Farrow is, of course, the perfect Allen heroine, the characters predictably hilariously unreal members of a New York high society that presumably only exists in Woody's imagination, the script smart and often funny and the shots of Manhattan as good as you could expect from the director who absolutely adores the place and has done his best work there. Sure, Joe Mantegna is too good to be true, and William Hurt is, well, William Hurt, but the soundtrack sizzles and the cinematography is smashing.
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Sidney Lumet, Child's Play, 1972

IMDb: "At an exclusive boys' school, a new gym teacher is drawn into a feud between two older instructors, and he discovers that everything at the school is not quite as staid, tranquil and harmless as it seems." James Mason and Robert Preston chew the scenery with gusto in this adaptation of a Broadway play by Robert Marasco, while Beau Bridges, the beau jeune prof de gym returning to his alma mater, tries to intercede.. Seems the boys have taken to attacking each other, even going to so far as putting eyes out, hence the rather dramatic French title of the movie, Les yeux de Satan. I'll hand over to Roger, who explains it all better than I can (and with whom I'm in agreement on this one) https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/childs-play-1973
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Mike Hodges, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, 2004

I haven't seen Croupier (Henrik, tell me if I've missed anything), but I reckon it must be pretty tough being Mike Hodges. Get Carter is one hell of a hard act to follow. He tries here, but fails rather miserably. Instead of Michael Caine we get Clive Owen (whom I've always quite liked - Children of Men is superb - and never understood why he didn't get the 007 meal ticket, but never mind), who's quit the gangsta life to be a, what is it, a lumberjack in some godforsaken forest in Wales (well someone's got a Welsh accent, though his boss is a scouser), living Nomadland-like in a camping car, but returns to the smoke to avenge the death of his brother Davey. No point in explaining how he died in any great detail (suffice it to say Malcolm McDowell's the baddie), as nothing gets explained in great detail anywhere in the film. Charlotte Rampling's character is utterly superfluous, and the other local gangster bossman Frank could probably have been dispensed with too without causing too much damage. Damn, there are so many great British gangster films, I can think offhand of at least a dozen I could recommend - don't waste your time with this one.
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Daniel Duval, La dérobade, 1979

Sylvette Henry got her nickname Miou-Miou from her then boyfriend Coluche back in their Café de la Gare days, and has been nominated for a Best Actress César ten times, winning it just once for her portrayal of a prostitute in this adaptation of Jeanne Cordielier's autobiographical novel (the English translation of which, Memoirs of a French Whore, makes it sound rather twee, which it certainly isn't). Strange to see the now long departed "night life" of rue Saint Denis after all these years. Director Duval plays her at time charming at times unhinged pimp Gérard with sadistic glee, and a fine supporting cast includes Maria Schneider, Niels Arestrup, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Jean-Claude Dreyfus and Michel Berto. It's not a happy tale, and though our heroine finally quits the game at the end, she does so without ever snitching on the detestable Gérard. And that's typical of her role - which makes her César victory, though well deserved, a little hard to understand - whereas the novel is, I assume, written very much from Marie's point of view, in the film she's very much someone things happen to; it's not clear whether she merely accepts or actively enjoys her work (sure, not the john with the whips who beats the living daylights out of her). As a result, a rather distressing experience, presumably deliberately so.
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Julia Ducournau, Titane, 2021

So here it is, the Palme d'Or 2021, chosen by a jury at Cannes presided over this year by Spike Lee in his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. I haven't seen Ms Ducournau's carnivorous debut feature Raw (yet), but it seems her leading lady has moved on from blood to motor oil. The story, which you've probably heard about already but if not skip this bit, is that our "heroine" Alexia gets herself and her daddy involved in a nasty car crash as a kiddie and has a metal plate inserted into the side of her head as part of the surgical reconstruction, which leads to some curious sexual proclivities in adult life, most notably a desire to make love not just on, or in, but with cars (yes, it looks pretty daft, too). More disturbingly, she develops a taste for killing people, the weapon of predilection being a metal chopstick she uses as a hairpin, until, to escape from the authorities, she assumes the identity of a long-missing boy (by strapping her breasts and her belly - oh yes, forgot to mention she's now pregnant, and we'll talk about the father of the child later - tightly to her torso and breaking her own nose on the side of a washbasin in a public toilet), the son of a fire brigage captain, who, despite the fact that she remains defiantly mute, suspends disbelief and welcomes her back as his long lost son.. Until, as the pregnancy approaches its end - our heroine has started lactating motor oil and large pieces of metal start protruding from her belly (so we assume that Caddy was the daddy) - well, I won't spoil any more, watch it if this whets your appetite. Needless to say, the combination of rock'n'roll body horror combined with female empowerment crossed with transgender "issues" has led to a slew of drooling positive reviews, of which this is a representative example
https://www.autostraddle.com/titane-is- ... dy-horror/ but for all its glitter and noise I found it rather.. dull. I wonder if, say, Robert Rodriguez had remade Cronenberg's Crash it would have garnered the same glowing accolades.
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henriq
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by henriq »

Dan Warburton wrote:
Tue Aug 03, 2021 10:15 am
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F.W. Murnau, Faust - A German Folktale, 1926

There seem to be as many variants of this film as there are of COVID-19, but the one I've just seen is the 147-minute Eureka Murnau Stiftung BluRay, lovingly restored by the good folks in Bologna from what appears to be the only surviving German print from the Danish Film Insitutute. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faust_(1926_film) Nosferatu, The Last Laugh and Sunrise seem to get more column inches, but this is just as great. It flopped on release in Germany - Gösta Ekman (Faust) didn't go down well, but what can you do when up against Emil Jannings? I'd hazard a guess Murnau was also more taken with Mephisto himself too, given the rather perfunctory happy ending. Killer special effects, which still look good today. Reviews abound elsewhere, go Google :)
Quiz time: what director wrote about this film for an academic thesis?

henriq
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Dan Warburton wrote:
Mon Nov 22, 2021 10:26 am
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Mike Hodges, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, 2004

I haven't seen Croupier (Henrik, tell me if I've missed anything), but I reckon it must be pretty tough being Mike Hodges. Get Carter is one hell of a hard act to follow. He tries here, but fails rather miserably. Instead of Michael Caine we get Clive Owen (whom I've always quite liked - Children of Men is superb - and never understood why he didn't get the 007 meal ticket, but never mind), who's quit the gangsta life to be a, what is it, a lumberjack in some godforsaken forest in Wales (well someone's got a Welsh accent, though his boss is a scouser), living Nomadland-like in a camping car, but returns to the smoke to avenge the death of his brother Davey. No point in explaining how he died in any great detail (suffice it to say Malcolm McDowell's the baddie), as nothing gets explained in great detail anywhere in the film. Charlotte Rampling's character is utterly superfluous, and the other local gangster bossman Frank could probably have been dispensed with too without causing too much damage. Damn, there are so many great British gangster films, I can think offhand of at least a dozen I could recommend - don't waste your time with this one.
Well, I'll say that Croupier is better than this, a lot better even. But that could be saying more about what a failure this is. I mean, I'm there for sans mobile apparent, vague or occluded motives, but if you're doing noir you need to flesh it out more. McDowell is what, a middle class car dealer? But struts around London as if he's Harry Flowers, beefy thugs in tow to help him beat on people, and worse. And all because he didn't like the kid's flair? Come on! I don't buy him, and I don't buy the film.

Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Dan Warburton »

henriq wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 7:45 pm
Dan Warburton wrote:
Tue Aug 03, 2021 10:15 am

F.W. Murnau, Faust - A German Folktale, 1926

There seem to be as many variants of this film as there are of COVID-19, but the one I've just seen is the 147-minute Eureka Murnau Stiftung BluRay, lovingly restored by the good folks in Bologna from what appears to be the only surviving German print from the Danish Film Insitutute. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faust_(1926_film) Nosferatu, The Last Laugh and Sunrise seem to get more column inches, but this is just as great. It flopped on release in Germany - Gösta Ekman (Faust) didn't go down well, but what can you do when up against Emil Jannings? I'd hazard a guess Murnau was also more taken with Mephisto himself too, given the rather perfunctory happy ending. Killer special effects, which still look good today. Reviews abound elsewhere, go Google :)
Quiz time: what director wrote about this film for an academic thesis?
Wasn't it our friend Maurice Schérer?
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Lao Tsu Ben
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Lao Tsu Ben »

Dan Warburton wrote:
Mon Nov 22, 2021 10:26 am
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Mike Hodges, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, 2004

I haven't seen Croupier (Henrik, tell me if I've missed anything), but I reckon it must be pretty tough being Mike Hodges. Get Carter is one hell of a hard act to follow. He tries here, but fails rather miserably. Instead of Michael Caine we get Clive Owen (whom I've always quite liked - Children of Men is superb - and never understood why he didn't get the 007 meal ticket, but never mind), who's quit the gangsta life to be a, what is it, a lumberjack in some godforsaken forest in Wales (well someone's got a Welsh accent, though his boss is a scouser), living Nomadland-like in a camping car, but returns to the smoke to avenge the death of his brother Davey. No point in explaining how he died in any great detail (suffice it to say Malcolm McDowell's the baddie), as nothing gets explained in great detail anywhere in the film. Charlotte Rampling's character is utterly superfluous, and the other local gangster bossman Frank could probably have been dispensed with too without causing too much damage. Damn, there are so many great British gangster films, I can think offhand of at least a dozen I could recommend - don't waste your time with this one.
Dan, I'm under the impression that you forgot that you had already seen it? Am I wrong? Which would be a pity since otherwise Croupier is a must-see : screenwriter is Paul Mayersberg, of The Man Who Fell To Earth, Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, and Eureka fame, how's that for an enticement? It's one of those few films that I tell myself repeatedly that I should watch again, since it seemed so much one of a kind in the neo-noir canon, not just tritely or competently referential. And I'm not sure about that, hence the nagging feeling that I must pay it a second visit.

Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Dan Warburton »

Ben, I'm fully aware that Alzheimers is approaching at warp speed :) which is why I make a note of what I've seen (from time to time I have to check the first few minutes of a film marked "seen", being quite unable to recall anything from the title alone!) - so, yup, I'm pretty sure I haven't seen Croupier - yet! Your recommendation whets my appetite, will check it out. Meanwhile, Mission Mocky is nearing its end, only one more to go after this one -

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Jean-Pierre Mocky, Un linceul n'a pas de poches, 1974

The title translates as "a shroud has no pockets", meaning you can't take your money with you when you go, and it's the motto of our hero, investigative journalist Michel Dolannes (played by Mocky himself with relish), determined to dig the dirt on sordid stories his fellow newspaperfolk won't touch (the top cop's son who gets let off for killing someone while driving seriously under the influence, a corrupt politician burying an abortion scandal, a party stitch-up to eliminate witnesses to cover up an underage sex abuse scandal). Vintage Mocky - with his stellar cast of regulars: Michael Lonsdale, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Francis Blanche, Michel Galabru, Michel Serrault, Michel Constantin, not forgetting Myriam Mézières as Dolannes' long-suffering partner - it's a typically vicious attack on just about every aspect of (French) society, left and right, rich and poor. No subtitles that I can find, alas, which is a shame: the dialogue's as razor sharp as it is funny. One day, perhaps.
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Lao Tsu Ben
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Lao Tsu Ben »

Sorry I didn’t make myself clear enough, I was speaking about I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, which is not nearly as cool as its title, while Croupier, if my memory serves me right, which I am dubious about, is one of the most interesting English films of the nineties.

henriq
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by henriq »

Dan Warburton wrote:
Wed Nov 24, 2021 3:47 am
henriq wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 7:45 pm
Dan Warburton wrote:
Tue Aug 03, 2021 10:15 am

F.W. Murnau, Faust - A German Folktale, 1926

There seem to be as many variants of this film as there are of COVID-19, but the one I've just seen is the 147-minute Eureka Murnau Stiftung BluRay, lovingly restored by the good folks in Bologna from what appears to be the only surviving German print from the Danish Film Insitutute. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faust_(1926_film) Nosferatu, The Last Laugh and Sunrise seem to get more column inches, but this is just as great. It flopped on release in Germany - Gösta Ekman (Faust) didn't go down well, but what can you do when up against Emil Jannings? I'd hazard a guess Murnau was also more taken with Mephisto himself too, given the rather perfunctory happy ending. Killer special effects, which still look good today. Reviews abound elsewhere, go Google :)
Quiz time: what director wrote about this film for an academic thesis?
Wasn't it our friend Maurice Schérer?
Bien sur qu'oui! And, methinks, Faust here is the grandfather of the protagonist in The Man Who Quit Smoking:

Image

Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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henriq wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 1:41 pm
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Mark Rydell - The Rose (1979)

[..]Excess is the name of the game[..] No buildup necessary, but slap bang in the middle of the mess that is Bette Midler’s rock star on the wane. I would say that Rydell approaches on drunkenness as an idea: Vilmos Szigmond’s camera tumbles and stumbles, picks up itself and the bodies it frames and shapes. And falls down, and gets up again. The set pieces are glorious - I especially love the stuff set in the New York drag club. The music by Paul A. Rothchild kicks ass (loosely based on Janis Joplin as this is, Rothchild was the singer’s producer), perfectly recorded and engaging rock. And, thankfully, Bette Midler’s voice is infinitely more pleasurable than Joplin’s. The performances throughout are ace, Frederic Forrest is great, as is Alan Bates. If such cinches a deal Harry Dean Stanton does a tiny turn as a fastidious country singer. And Bette Midler, man… Can you say force of nature? Words really aren’t enough, she has to be experienced here. Granted, the symbolism gets a bit heavy - did the phone booth really have to be at the football field? and what would it do between the bleachers? - but it sets up the dirty, punch-the-air glory of Midler’s entrance at the hometown concert that closes the film. An amazing film!
Pray forgive me for butchering your splendid review, Henrik old chum, but I thought I'd cut to the chase :) For a film debut, Midler is superb - I can't say I like her singing voice (is "pleasurable" the adjective?), but when she stops bawling, as she does on the closing title tune, you hear the difference - but her hysterical moodswings are impressive. This also must be Frederic Forrest's finest hour, channeling some of Waterfront Brando's expressions beautifully. And good old Harry Dean, here playing a balai-dans-le-cul C&W star in an evil little cameo. Bates of course is good, that goes without saying. Smashing photography, courtesy Vilmos Zgismond and a team of great cameramen including Haskell Wexler, excellent work on the music (hats off Rothchild, so let's all stop pretending that it's all got nothing to do with Janis), but... when all's said and done, what's it all about? "Unblinking, warts-and-all indictment of the showbiz lifestyle" (to quote one review)? Well OK, Rose is suffering from burnout, but if she's so tired, she could try just saying no for once - having toured with a rock group (of sorts) myself for a couple of years, I know how delightfully tempting it is to have a nip when you arrive in the dressing room well-stocked with booze, but there's always orange juice and fresh fruit - and if she's so pissed off with her $$$foreyes manager (is Rudge based on Andrew Loog Oldham?) who's obviously more interested in the box office than her well-being, well, she can get another one. After all, the encounter with Stanton, though important as a plot point as it allows Midler to meet Forrest, is the kind of PR disaster that any half-competent manager would know how to avoid. But it's all about amping up the self pity - noticed how many close-ups there are? It all seems to want to make her seem more significant and profound than she really is - my regret here is that we don't learn more about Huston's (possibly traumatic) backstory, the reasons for his going AWOL. Anyway, makes for an interesting comparison with Altman's Nashville (or with Stone's horrendous Doors film).
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Julien Duvivier, Pot-Bouille, 1957

In Emile Zola's Rougon-Macquart cycle of novels, this is the one that comes just before the better known Au bonheur des dames, so you should probably watch this 1957 adaptation of the 1882 novel before returning to the director's earlier 1930 bonheur (or André Cayatte's 1943 version). Gérard Philipe is splendid as the dashing, suave but ultimately ruthless Octave Mouret, surrounded by a bevy of beauties (Dany Carrel, Jane Marken, Anouk Aimée and Danielle Darrieux, lucky lad), but with an eye obviously more on the bottom line than the bottom, if you see what I mean. Plenty of juicy minor characters and spicy dialogue - said it before, but Zola would be in great demand today as a scriptwriter for a hit series - all Duvivier has to do is put the camera in the right place and let it rip. He does.
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Takeshi Miike, Blues Harp, 1998

Project Mocky (see above) might be nearing completion, but Project Miike still has some way to go. Thoroughly enjoyed this one, which, despite its wonderfully kinetic title sequence, is one of the director's more.. melancholy (Miike, quoi? well, yes) outings. As touched upon in this review https://asianmoviepulse.com/2018/04/blu ... shi-miike/
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Aleksandr Sokurov, Moscow Elegy, 1987

Indeed it's not, but I have to admit watching a Tarkovsky film brings me more (happiness, though I'm not sure that's the right word) than watching yet another documentary about Mr T, heartfelt and evidently sincere though it no doubt is. (In any case, can anything seriously compare with Chris Marker's stellar documentary on Tarkovsky? I think not.) I recently watched, very much enjoyed and completely forgot to "review" Sokurov's Faust, despite those crazy anamorphic distorting lenses - I think I can see why he wanted to use them in Mother and Son, but not in Faust, but never mind, more of that later - but apart from that I've never really quite fallen under the spell of the director. Sokurov, that is.
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

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Alain Corneau, Le cousin, 1997

I can't understand why this isn't better known, and can only assume it's because people see Alain Chabat and Patrick Timsit heading the cast and think it's some gawky comedy. It's not. It's a top-notch police procedural thriller, magnificently shot, edited, scripted and acted. In addition to Chabat, here playing a narc not averse to bending the rules to try to protect his informer, Timsit, whose Nounours is a kind of diabolical cross between Danny DeVito and Joe Pesci, there's Marie Trintignant and Agnès Jaoui and some splendid location footage from the seamier suburbs of Paris. Well done, check it out.
http://www.paristransatlantic.com
REISSUED! Eric La Casa / Jean-Luc Guionnet / Dan Warburton METRO PRE SAINT GERVAIS
https://swarming.bandcamp.com/album/met ... nt-gervais

Dan Warburton
Posts: 7589
Joined: Sun May 11, 2008 12:42 am

Re: Recently Watched Films 2021

Post by Dan Warburton »

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Chris Marker, Level Five, 1996

How ashamed I am to admit I've only just discovered this, a quarter of a century after it came out. Quelle honte. I daren't say any more, so I'll let this chap do it for me (as I agree with what he has to say). https://www.indiewire.com/2014/08/revie ... st-273416/ Needless to say, if you haven't seen this, please don't wait 25 years to do so. Okinawa will probably be underwater by then, anyway.
http://www.paristransatlantic.com
REISSUED! Eric La Casa / Jean-Luc Guionnet / Dan Warburton METRO PRE SAINT GERVAIS
https://swarming.bandcamp.com/album/met ... nt-gervais