Douglas Hickox, Entertaining Mr Sloane, 1970
"The old whore society really lifted up her skirts and the stench was pretty foul," wrote Joe Orton of his stay at Her Majesty's Pleasure in 1962, jailed for stealing and defacing books in Islington Public Library. "He was a bloody marvellous writer," were the closing words of Harold Pinter's eulogy at Orton's funeral in 1967. He was indeed: nobody was able to skewer the hypocritical, duplicitous, prudish viciousness of the English (more so than the Scots or the Welsh) with a few well-chosen bizarre juxtapositions of tired time-worn clichés than Orton, and Douglas Hickox's film adaptation of his 1964 breakthrough succès de scandale (though apparently criticised by some theatre snobs for being, well, a film adaptation) is excellent. Of course, it can't bite in the same way a piece of live theatre can, but with a sharp script (Clive Exton managed to get most of Orton's killer one-liners in), a stellar cast - Peter McEnery, Harry Andrews and Beryl Reid - and Syd Barrett's old pink Pontiac convertible, how can you go wrong?
Olivier Van Hoofstadt, Dikkenek, 2006
Thoroughly enjoyed this again - François Damiens is greasy sleazy hilarious (and probably stinks to high heaven: you may hear a fly buzzing in the background every time he appears), Marion Cotillard weirdly fucked up, Jean-Luc Couchard psychopathic but endearing, Florence Foresti (as the bull dyke cop) deliciously subversive.. It became something of a cult classic in the same way Trainspotting did (Couchard's JC is a kind of Belgian Begbie, after all), and stands the test of time very well, I think. And I'll still pass on the fricadelle, if that's OK with youDan Warburton wrote: ↑Wed Feb 15, 2017 7:43 amThe title translates, amongst other things, as "dickheads" - and that's the one I prefer. Forget all that crap about "oh it's Belgian humour" (as in nobody else could understand it or find it funny) - a dickhead is a dickhead wherever you go, and this hilariously un-PC black comedy is full of them. Recommended! Though you probably won't want to eat a fricadelle when you find out what goes into them
Quentin Tarantino, Death Proof, 2007
Here's what I wrote way back when (it led to a lively thread with some heated exchanges between myself and a certain Anastassia Vronski (in-joke for old IHMers.. ah, happy days, when people used to post here )
Dan Warburton wrote: ↑Sat May 30, 2009 1:10 amA few months ago I was moaning about this over at Bagatellen, but Al Jones's comments made me want to check out QT's 70s spoof exploitation car chase road movie again, so I did, on DVD. And I enjoyed it so much more this time I watched it twice. Trawl around the web and you'll find plenty of strong reactions to this movie - more against than for it, from what I can make out - complaining that "nothing happens, twice" (ha, they said that about En Attendant Godot too) and that the dialogue sucks, etc etc. I complained that the dialogue sucked too, but it didn't bother me as much on a second or third viewing. Much has been made of the verfremdungseffekt deliberate cuts, scratches, rips and tears, the "affectionate homage" to the DIY splicing of the old drive-in double bill (odd how they seem to disappear when the final car chase gets going - or is it that we don't notice them in the heat of the action? the only intentional (?) blooper I spotted there was a pair of cars that overtake the two Dodges at high speed at one point). Some have speculated that the dialogue is similarly deliberately bad, but I didn't find it bad at all this time round. Sure, we're not talking Joe Mankiewicz or Robert Towne, but as writers go, QT's better than average. The only thing I found hard to believe was that the chicks in part one could even stand up after what they had to drink - margaritas, beers, shots of Chartreuse (yeurgh!) and Wild Turkey. Jaysus. Anyway, anyone violently pour or contre this little bit of (h)armless fun?
Jon Jost, Over Here, 2007
http://www.jonjost.altervista.org/work/over%20here.html which links to an excellent review
https://grunes.wordpress.com/2007/10/23 ... jost-2007/ Great performance from Ryan Harper Gray as the scarred veteran returning from Iraq. Jost - deliberately - tries the patience with the grungy drone and at times incomprehensible mumbling, but that's the point. There's no way Jason's going to find a way back in.
Patrick Bouchitey, Lune froide, 1991
Monsieur Bouchitey is best known around these parts for his La vie privée des animaux, where he grafted salacious voiceovers over footage of animals for comic effect (go Google: they're all on YouTube). There's a scene here where he does the same thing to an old Richard Widmark movie, but the humour here is decidedly darker, underlined by some strikingly beautiful black and white cinematography (this one is crying out for a decent restoration, and decent subtitles to go along with it - those on KG are atrociously inaccurate, be warned). Based on two short stories by Charles Bukowski, the second of which (even hardcore Buk freaks have a hard time with his Copulating Mermaid of Venice - no spoilers!) Bouchitey had already made as a short and included here by way of flashback, it's a gritty bastard child of Les Valseuses. With violin music too - where Blier's film featured Stéphane Grappelli, we get Didier Lockwood in Lune froide - but Jimi Hendrix gets more airtime. Bouchitey turns in a fine performance, but Jean-François Stévenin as his boozing buddy Simon, is extraordinary. Here's an ancient archive review that's aged as well as the movie https://www.lemonde.fr/archives/article ... 19218.html
Peter Collinson, The Italian Job, 1969
Before you ask, no I didn't watch the Euro 2020 final, but took advantage of the opportunity to watch another England / Italy match. Noël Coward's Mr Bridger is a delight. Great fun, sharp dialogue, smashing locations and one of the coolest car chases. Why on earth did anyone ever want to remake it?
Chantal Akerman, Les rendez-vous d'Anna, 1978
So beautiful, so melancholy. Great in every way. I'm lost for words, so here are someone else's https://lwlies.com/articles/les-rendez- ... l-akerman/
Jorge Grau, Coto de caza, 1983
Though often compared to Last House on the Left and Straw Dogs, Coto de caza ("Hunting Ground") isn't as good as either, but still packs a punch: the last ten or so minutes are pretty harrowing. Quite apart from Grau's script and cinematography being not as accomplished as Peckinpah's (hard act to follow: you can agree with Pauline Kael as much as you like on Sam's ethics, but there's no denying Straw Dogs is astoundingly well made in every respect), the problem lies in what causes the our hero (heroine here, Adela, a pacifist defence lawyer very well played by Assumpta Serna) to resort to violence. With Wes Craven's film - itself of course a remake of Bergman's The Virgin Spring - we're down with that revenge all the way; in Coto de caza, too much is given away early (yep, you just know that hunting rifle's going to come in handy at some stage..) and the director seems to let himself be carried away by the moral issues, as exemplified in the argument between Adela and her mother-in-law (who, if you've seen the film, is arguably the cause of the trouble in the first place: if she hadn't insisted on visiting the country villa when she flew in from Barcelona, they'd never have surprised the burglars in the act and her son wouldn't have been killed, starting a chain of events that ultimately leads to the Christmas massacre). It throws the pace off - where Bergman, Craven and Peckinpah built the tension magnficently, Grau's horrific final scene, though anticipated and inevitable, still feels somehow like it's been sprung upon us. See what you think, though. And hats off to the director for using Wagner's Tristan as musical backdrop.
John Huston, Sinful Davey, 1969
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinful_Davey "Picaresque, adventure comedy crime" film indeed. Set in Scotland (but filmed in Huston's beloved Ireland), it's not as bad as it's frequently made out to be, though Dennis is right to describe it as a pale imitation of Tom Jones https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/sinfuldavey/ Still, don't set your expectations too high, and it's quite an enjoyable romp.
Raoul Ruiz, La ville des pirates, 1983
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of_Pirates Another great cinematographic trip from Ruiz - and what must be one of the greatest ever performances by a child actor, ten-year-old Melvil Poupaud ("Raúl Ruiz told me that I was Pinocchio and Pinochet and at the same time", the actor recalls) - don't for chrissakes ask me what it's about, but it's absolutely magnificent.
Ken Russell, Savage Messiah, 1972
Seriously underwhelmed by this, and I'm normally a fan of Russell's excesses. Maybe because it's not excessive enough - no Nazi rock opera extravaganzas or baked bean baths here - maybe because I've never been much of a fan of Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, maybe because Scott Antony was no great shakes as an actor. There's a lot of running around and wild screaming (someone once wrote Russell's actors all perform as if they were on speed), but - unlike his other composer / artist portraits - I'm not left with any burning desire to explore the artist's work. Even Helen Mirren cavorting around naked isn't enough to raise expectations A bit.. meh.
Kirby Dick & Amy Ziering Kofman, Derrida, 2002
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derrida_(film) There seems to be almost as much hype surrounding this film as there is the man himself (remember the Cambridge controversy? https://digressionsnimpressions.typepad ... egree.html). The only things I'm likely to remember from this rambling portrait of the famously difficult maître penseur are a) he can't / won't answer a straightforward question b) he hasn't read all the books on his shelves (ha! neither have I - and that includes three books by Monsieur Derrida) c) he seems to be a pleasant enough chap nonetheless. I do wonder though who the film's for: given Derrida's reluctance to commit to any biographical portrait (he's fond of quoting Heidegger on the life of Aristotle: "he was born, he thought, he died"), anyone coming to it in search of detail in that area will be disappointed. Viewers are, however, supposed to be familiar with his work, notably the concept of différance https://literariness.org/2016/03/22/der ... ifference/ which is namechecked by one of the enthusiastic groupies (there are many). For myself, I remain sceptical, but, as I've said on several occasions, I'll happily admit to being woefully inculte when it comes to philosophy.
David Hemmings, Just A Gigolo, 1978
A cursory reading online might give you the impression that this is one of the greatest train wrecks in cinema history, but I was intrigued - as much by the film's obvious failings as its strengths. Reportedly the most expensive film shot in Germany since WWII, it bombed spectacularly there and hasn't been since very often elsewhere since. I haven't been able to find out whether the version that was released was the original 147-minute extended cut (which has, it seems, completely disappeared) or this butched 105-minute version. It's clear that the longer version would be far more coherent, and I'd love to see it one day if it ever turns up, but I doubt even that would excuse the shabby script. Anyway, the story, courtesy Wiki: "A Prussian officer (David Bowie) returns home to Berlin following the end of the Great War. Unable to find employment elsewhere, he works as a gigolo in a brothel run by the Baroness (Marlene Dietrich). He is eventually killed in street fighting between Nazis and Communists. Both sides claim his body but the Nazis succeed in capturing it and bury him with honours, 'a hero to a cause he did not support.'" Bowie, described rather well by Jonathan Rosenbaum as "a marvelous nonactorly film objet [..] who can’t project an interesting or convincing continuity across the chasms that separate the set pieces here," is as pale and asexual here as he was in his previous film, The Man Who Fell to Earth (it's frankly impossible to imagine him sustaining an erection, let alone holding down a job as a gigolo), but curiously it seems to work; Hemmings seems to share Visconti's fascination with the doomed and decadent world of the Weimar Republic, and how "the man from Munich" ended up in power, and Bowie's inability to connect with any primal emotion, from fear (he strolls casually through the trenches while shells blow up all around him) to desire (Sydne Rome and Kim Novak, I mean, come on) is a rather good metaphor for Germany sleepwalking into the nightmare of Nazism. Another character struggling to make sense of decadent twenties Berlin comes to mind: Franz Bieberkopf in Berlin Alexanderplatz. Indeed, the glitzy costumes and set pieces wouldn't look out of place in a Fassbinder film (and two years later, of course, his magnificent adaptation of Döblin's novel saw the light of day). But, with the jaunty ragtime soundtrack and slapstick routines, Ken Russell also comes to mind - and Russell's reputation as an agent provocateur at the time was sulphurous I'm quite sure he was in Hemmings' mind. So.. if a monstrous Russell / Fassbinder hybrid monster starring Bowie and Dietrich interests you, give it a go. Oh, as for Dietrich.. well, the story goes she was paid a quarter of a million for two days' shooting (she didn't leave Paris - her shots were edited in, so Bowie didn't get to be on the set with her at all, which must have pissed him off somewhat, since working with Marlene was how Hemmings lured him on board in the first place). She looks frankly awful, but manages a touching if shaky version of the title song. Closing line goes to Rosenbaum again: "[it] calls to mind Eisenstein’s regretful description of Viktor Shklovsky: a string of pearls without the string. To be fair, though, several empty oyster shells have also been tossed in, apparently for maximal weight and clatter."
Leos Carax, Annette, 2021
Wiki: "[D]irected by Leos Carax (in his English-language debut), and with a screenplay by Ron Mael and Russell Mael of Sparks, and Carax, from an original story, music and songs by the band.[..] "The film tells the story of a provocative stand-up comedian (Adam Driver) and his wife, a world-famous soprano (Marion Cotillard). Their glamorous life takes an unexpected turn when their daughter Annette is born, a girl with a unique gift." 90% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it seems. Well. Go to the IMDb page and read the reviews too, if you like. But, fwiw, I thought this was absolutely irredeemably awful. Even worse than Bruno Dumont's Jeanne d'Arc thing a couple of years ago. What's with this sudden craze to make musicals? What was wrong with opera? There's a brief scene where Driver is on his bike crossing the desert at night, Lost Highway-like, where images of his wife performing famous scenes from opera flash before him. It's the only decent music in the entire film, and a sad reminder that the genre of filmed opera never really took off. Bergman's Magic Flute, Losey's Don Giovanni... that's about it - shame nobody ever got round to doing Salome, or Wozzeck, or Le Grand Macabre. Instead of Strauss, Berg or Ligeti, we get... Sparks.
I remember a very good interview with Carax in Les Inrockuptibles way back when it was a decent magazine about the time Les Amants du Pont-Neuf came out, raving about Iggy Pop. But that was thirty years ago. Man had good taste back then, at least. How he ended up working with the talentless geriatric Mael brothers (combined age 147) I don't know, and don't want to know. Their music is truly awful, pale, featureless and eminently forgettable 4/4 sub-Phil Glass noodling, and the lyrics (lyrics?) are even worse: "It's your problem / (Get off, get off, get off the stage) / Fuck, it's not my problem / (Get off, get off, get off the stage) / It's your problem / (Get off, get off, get off the stage) / Your fucking problem / (Get off, get off, get off the stage)" Wow, eat your heart out, Stephen Sondheim.
The third essential element of a musical, after decent music and decent lyrics, is having actors who can actually sing, or at least mime well (Jacques Demy, anyone?), but this is unfortunately not the case for Mr Driver (whose naturally deep speaking voice is replaced by a wimpy nasal whine when he tries to sing) nor for Ms Cotillard. And even trying to blame her lousy singing on having to shoot in a haze of cigarette smoke from the furiously chainsmoking director doesn't cut it (especially as we see her smoking herself at one point).
But the Palme d'Or goes to baby Annette, a truly hideous model that looks like a scabby cross between Gollum and Chucky. At least for the final scene where she has to confront her father in jail and actually sing, there was no way for the director to bring it off other than to use a real actress (hats off to young Devyn McDowell - her career can only go upwards from here), but surely with all the wizardry of 21st century technology and whatnot there could have been a way for Carax to use a real baby throughout? Go figure. Quite apart from all this, I'm amazed Carax netted the Best Director award at Cannes for a film so glaringly lacking in any of the moments of cinema magic that abound in his earlier works ( Kylie in La Samaritaine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZJrTwDwmcw, the fireworks on the Pont Neuf https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8fLGeaG91E, Lavant racing across Paris to Bowie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gt2KlkBUgXA ...). Maybe it's a kind of Lifetime Achievement thing in advance. After all, if we have to wait another nine years for the next one, there's a good chance the director might check out with lung cancer before he gets round to making it. Which would mean that the final depressing shot of Driver skulking in his prison cell would also be Carax's farewell. "Don't look at me."
John Frankenheimer, Seconds, 1966
Return visit, third time. I recall our man Lutz thought the second half was a bit naff - and it is a daft story, if you think about it - but as daft stories go, it's a good one. Career best performance from Rock Hudson (Will Geer's great too), sensational cinematography from James Wong Howe, typically awesome Saul Bass title sequence. I see that everyone's favourite lisping Lacanian Slavoj Žižek is also a fan - and on movies I think he has good taste, by and large
While trying to summon up the enthusiasm to return to a real cinema to see Verhoeven's latest, which caused a few ripples at this year's decidedly underwhelming Cannes festival, we went on another return visit, and it was just as impressive second time round. Words from 2017:
Paul Verhoeven, Keetje Tippel, 1975
Dan Warburton wrote: ↑Tue Oct 17, 2017 4:23 amIt's probably the occasional flashes of nudity, along with the odd (shadow of an) erect penis, that accounts for this excellent film being not as widely known as it should be. But if you don't know Verhoeven's early Dutch work, this is a great place to start, a splendidly sordid Zolaesque story of the poor girl trying to get ahead (no prizes for guessing how she does it). The trailer rather grandiosely namechecks Bergman (psychological subtlety), Fellini (tits'n'ass) and Bertolucci (historical flourish), and I can go with that. I look forward to a decent HD version someday. Recommended.
MRS wrote: ↑Wed Sep 20, 2017 8:30 am"We'll have shrimp."Dan Warburton wrote:
Bill Duke, Deep Cover, 1992
As you probably know by now, I really don't like Jeff Goldblum (which is why I posted a pic of Larry Fishburne ), but I have to admit his smarmy cynicism is just right for the sleazeball lawyer / drug dealer he plays here. There's a touch of Ferrara, crossed with Alan Rudolph, about this which I liked more than I thought I would. Then again, I'm always a sucker for people getting beaten to death in poolrooms.
Sharunas Bartas, Frost, 2017
Rokas and his girlfriend Inga agree (we're not really told why) to replace a friend who has to deliver a vanload of humanitarian aid to Ukraine. So, it's a road movie of sorts, but a Bartas road movie - so don't expect Vanishing Point (even if both films end rather similarly - not wishing to spoil anything) - slow, melancholy, dark. Bartas, quoi. https://cineuropa.org/en/newsdetail/329120/
Jon Jost, Rembrandt Laughing, 1988
https://grunes.wordpress.com/2007/06/14 ... jost-1988/ And from elsewhere: "A quiet, very San Francisco comedy of life among a small group of friends. Rembrandt Laughing was improvised over the period of about a month by Jost and his friends, mostly acting non-professionals." "A masterful elliptical account of a little over a year in the lives of a few friends in San Francisco... with a warmth, philosophical depth and overall sense of relaxation new to Jost's work. One of the ten best films of 1989." – Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader Not sure about one of the ten best films of 1989, but I heartily concur with the rest of JR's observations.
Paul Henreid, Dead Ringer, 1964
What's better than Bette Davis? Two Bette Davises! And even better than that, Bette Davis who kills herself and then goes on to regret it! It seems only the sleazy gangster (Peter Lawford) can tell the difference between the twins, which finally hips the cop boyfriend (Karl Malden in nice guy mode) to the crime. Camp classic indeed - file alongside Baby Jane and Sweet Charlotte http://www.threemoviebuffs.com/review/deadringer.html