Christopher Petit, Radio On, 1979
Ah, 1979, I remember it well! Great little road Anglo-German road movie (co-produced by Wim Wenders and featuring his then partner / muse Lisa Kreuzer, once more in search of an Alice) with splendid soundtrack (Bowie, Kraftwerk, Fripp, Devo and numerous Stiff artistes). IMDb plot resume: "A man drives from London to Bristol to investigate his brother's death, and the purpose of his trip is offset by his encounters with a series of odd people." One of whom is Sting, living in a caravan behind a petrol station perfecting his Eddie Cochran covers. We know what became of him, but whatever happened to David Beames? Answer, television, and lots of it. Fine performance, indeed. Thanks once more to Henrik for hipping me to this (why I never saw it at the time is a mystery) and to the good people at KG for upping a smashing Blu rip. Almost makes me want to drive on the M4 listening to Low. But I won't
existenz by cronenberg, 1999. this hasn't aged all that great. mainly because the idea of the video game and its glitches etc. is so old-fashioned. you walk somewhere and wonder which is the right question to ask. there's exactly one right answer and you gotta follow that but in the end events are still completely random. so this complete topic didn't do anything anymore. the bio-aspect to the tech felt like a rehash of something or other. still it was an entertaining flick, nice slow pacing, some subtle touches (like the actors were cast very well but in the framing sequences suddenly changed types), overall ok.
soylent green by richard fleischer, 1973. now this is core curriculum of course, still a total classic. i more and more come to think that the great movies tell the main story very economically with not many twists, surprises, or subtleties, in basically a few central scenes, but leave lots of space and time for the characters and textures to take over. eddie g. is heartbreaking. even the name of the director is on point. i picked this to teach my younger son a lesson because frankly i'm getting a bit tired of his ultra vegan propaganda, and he enjoyed it all the more for the fact. the only thing that no longer translates well is the chosen form of institutionalized misogyny.
i could also use some recs for my "teach the boy some classics" viewing sessions, his 17th birthday is coming up. so lots of genre but also a bit of an auteur vibe or some unpredictability ... they live! was his favorite classic movie yet i think. soylent green was also good except for the awful greenscreen effects in the death parlor. terminator 2 was ok but really too stupid. it needn't be sf related at all, these are just some recent ones. preferably in color. thanks!
Irving Lerner, Murder by Contract, 1958
JR: "This rarely screened 1958 gem about the mind of a contract killer is one of Martin Scorsese’s favorite thrillers, and it’s easy to see why. The film follows an existential hipster (Vince Edwards) who coolly regards his work as a business until he gets thrown by a big-time assignment to rub out a woman about to testify in court. Neither the screenwriter (Ben Simcoe) nor the director (Irving Lerner) ever made it big, but here they achieved something nearly perfect–with a memorable guitar score, a witty feeling for character, dialogue, and narrative ellipsis, and a lean, purposeful style. Lucien Ballard did the black-and-white cinematography."
Great little (huh, little, wrong word) noir, indeed. Nothing much to add to Mr Rosenbaum's capsule review above
Peter Medak, Romeo is Bleeding, 1993
It got savaged by the critics, and it's not hard to see why; it is indeed "an exercise in overwrought style and overwritten melodrama, and proof that a great cast cannot save a film from self-destruction" (Ebert) whose "far-fetched plotting eventually goes so far over the top that [the] pic flirts with inventing a new genre of film noir camp" (McCarthy), but it's not alone when it comes to style above substance, and certainly worth a watch for Oldman's performance (though I can't help feeling that Nic Cage might have done a better job).
Charles Chaplin, A Woman of Paris, 1923
Prefaced by a title card saying that Chaplin himself doesn't appear in the film (though he apparently has a brief cameo role as a railway porter, which I didn't spot) to forewarn audiences that they weren't about to see another comedy incarnation of the Tramp, and showcase Edna Purviance's talents as an actress in her own right (it does indeed, though Adolphe Menjou's delicious cad Revel grabs our attention every time), this has aged remarkably well, better perhaps than other later serious Chaplin outings, Monsieur Verdoux excepted. Shame about Jean's suicide (looks like actor Carl Miller was later reincarnated as Jeremy Irons), but the ending is absolutely fabulous, so I won't spoil it for you
Hu Bo, An Elephant Sitting Still, 2018