Damon Packard, Reflections of Evil, 2002
Holy shit, Batman. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrYgtbWUs2U
Two hours and seventeen minutes of absolute fucking madness. Words fail me - so here are someone else's (a certain FilmFlaneur over at IMDb): "An unrelenting assault on American consumerism in general and Hollywood in particular, it also manages to have a go at such targets as the Bush administration, Vietnam vets, police, the chemtrails controversy, redneck TV viewers and dog lovers. 'Introduced' and tail-ended by a coiffeured Tony Curtis obviously speaking elsewhere (key passages of which are patently re-edited and overdubbed to apply to the new film), Reflections of Evil is punctuated throughout by other 'found footage' - notably that which insistently advertise tacky 70's goods or promotes the ABC Movie of the Week. Packard plays Bob, the overweight hero of his film. His bemused and oppressed character dresses in multiple layers, favours baggy pants, and lugs round a baggy hold-all from which clothes hang down. Headphones and radios drape in a clutter round his neck. He survives by tramping the streets of LA, selling - eventually giving - watches to anyone who will listen to an apologetic sales pitch, although he never succeeds in making any profit from his enterprise. Aptly, given the sweet-coated culture of so much of the film's scorn, Bob is addicted to sugar. Repeatedly punctuated by irrational rage and displays of self loathing, his business patrols also include excessive consumption of cakes and candy - which, in an early moment worthy of John Waters, leads to a spectacular vomiting on the sidewalk." Actually, Packard says the vomit wasn't his idea, but.. Check out the trailer above. This is the cinematic equivalent of one of Eugene Chadbourne's awesome lo-fi cassettes he used to sell after gigs packaged in a dirty sock. Un-for-gettable...
Michael Winner, Firepower, 1979
The film's just like the poster: garish, crudely drawn, tacky and eminently forgettable. Originally intended as a Dirty Harry sequel, it was revamped for Bronson, who turned it down because there wasn't a part for Mrs Bronson (Sophia Loren or Jill Ireland? I think Winner made the right choice), and then offered to Coburn, who stayed out of everyone's way during the shoot, the only part of which he enjoyed was wrecking a set by driving a bulldozer through it. "A lot of fire, but very little power", as one IMDb punter puts it. And the appearance a greasy, geriatric Victor Mature at end is positively scary.
Dan Warburton wrote: ↑Thu Dec 31, 2015 10:25 am
Nicolas Winding Refn, Fear X (aka "Inside Job"), 2003
I prefer "Inside Job" to the bland "Fear X" (shades of Pola X?) myself, but it unfortunately gives the game away, so forget I said that. Most comments I've read on Refn's US debut make the same point though: what starts out well ends up as rather banal, assuming that Harry really does kill Peter and the latter's death is hushed up as effectively as Harry's wife's was. BUT are we supposed to take that as read, or are there other unanswered questions that the movie doesn't (want to) resolve? I suspect there might be (like, what was she doing in that apartment opposite his, anyway?), and as the film is very Lynch-inspired - Eraserhead hotels complete with lonely hookers, Lost Highway grainy videotapes, and Twin Peaks red drapes galore - I fancy the director wanted to leave things a little more open. However, in so doing, he duly incurred the wrath of the mainstream IQ50 moviegoers and his smart new production company went under as a result. It's pretty slow, and there's precious little dialogue to get in the way of the spacey Eno soundtrack (and what little there is isn't at all memorable). Worth a look, if only for Turturro and Remar's performances.
Campbell Scott & Stanley Tucci, Big Night, 1996
Despite its mouthwatering appearance when the guests cut it open, Tucci recalls with amusement that the cast nearly died when they had to eat it https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyl ... revolution
Definitely one of the great foodie films (along with Babette's Feast and Tampopo), but a heartfelt and ultimately sad tale - the final omelette scene is one of the great endings. Bon appetit.
Norman Taurog, Room for One More, 1952
Charming (nice chemistry between Cary Grant and Betsy Drake, who was his wife offscreen) but it all turns decidedly Capragagbarf mawkish as it goes on, especially when those Boy Scouts show up (looks like a Hitler Youth show). The perfect American family, quoi. Grant has some sharp lines, but the way the troubled orphans his wife can't resist adopting - to say nothing of the dog, which deserves an Oscar - miraculously become nice, clean, well-behaved little patriots is... disturbing. Ain't no black folks to be seen either, draw yr own conclusions..
Jon Jost, Homecoming, 2004
Lots of other good screenshots here https://cinematrices.wordpress.com/2009 ... jost-2004/ Well, this is the dark flipside of the Taurog - about as far away from the cosy 50s happy family as you can get. I love Jost's films, but they do tend to fuck up the rest of your day really well. "The effects of a war-torn family in a Northwest coastal town," goes the minimal IMDb plot summary. Mother a recovering alcoholic, first son from broken marriage out of work and in a relationship on the rocks, as well as in serious counselling (antagonistic relationship with stepfather), and then the couple's second son returns home from Iraq, but we don't actually see him - if you see what I mean. Christ, it's enough to drive mum back to drink (me too).
Woody Allen, September, 1987
Woody obviously cared a lot for his Chekhov-meets-Lana Turner huis clos, as he shot it no fewer than three times (Christopher Walken and Sam Shephard were eventually replaced by Sam Waterston, and Maureen O'Sullivan by Elaine Stritch), and has said he could tackle it again. Very much filmed theatre - all shot indoors in the Kaufman Astoria studios in Queens - very well written and acted, but... the bombshell revelation that it was Diane who shot her abusive gangster hubbie and then persuaded her then-fourteen-year-old daughter to take the rap just doesn't seem to work: apart from a brief cutaway shot to Lloyd,https://www.woodyallen.com/filmography/september/ absolutely nobody reacts, which is inconceivable given the gravity of the revelation. Not surprising that it just ends with everyone going their separate ways and leaving the house - but it comes across as a damning indictment of people's inability to communicate with each other and/or selfishness. Woody's darker than he would have us think.
Andrzej Wajda, Kanał, 1957
Wajda's desperate tale of a doomed platoon trying to flee unsuccessfully to safety through the Warsaw sewers during the doomed Uprising of 1944 came a close second to Bergman's Seventh Seal at the Cannes Festival, launching the international careers of both filmmakers. Not spoiling anything by telling you this either - rather like Bresson's Un condamné à mort s'échappé (also made in 1956, interestingly), whose very title tells you how the story ends - Wajda's film begins by telling us to watch carefully, as everyone on screen will soon be dead. Not that anyone watching the movie in Poland (or elsewhere for that matter) didn't know how the Uprising failed; Stalin's troops sat on the other side of the Vistula patiently waiting for the Germans to finish the job and allow them to press on the Berlin - and there's a scene here that makes that painfully explicit. OK, so it's not a cheery story, but if you want to watch Pretty Woman instead, feel free. Watch out for an appearance by Vladek Sheybal - later of James Bond and Ken Russell fame after his move to England - playing the composer Michal, who goes completely mad and sets off alone in the filth playing his ocarina. Outstanding film.
Nicholas Ray, Bigger Than Life, 1956
We've been enjoying the latest batch of Mark Rappaport videos, one of which is entitled Chris Olsen - The Boy Who Cried, and profiles the child star of dozens of American films and TV series between 1948 and 1960 (when he retired at the age of.. 14!). He played the kidnapped Henry in The Man Who Knew Too Much, little Jack in The Tarnished Angels and, maybe his best performance, Richie in Bigger Than Life. So I couldn't resist a return visit to Ray's insane, disturbing Sirk-meets-Lynch takedown of 50s America. Came across this rather good write-up, which I maybe mentioned last time http://www.reverseshot.org/symposiums/e ... -than-life I do recall mentioning Jonathan Rosenbaum's excellent discussion with Jim Jarmusch on the BFI DVD. Both recommended.
David Fincher, Gone Girl, 2014
I'm still surprised this got so many glowing reviews, because - although it's very well filmed and all that (though not as flashy as the earlier Finchers) - it's a pretty daft story, decidedly overwritten and too long. I read somewhere Gillian Flynn revamped the end of her book for the film, or something, but as I assume the dialogue in the movie is basically lifted from the novel, I have no intention of reading it to find out. Whatever, the last half hour is so hard to swallow (who on earth is this Desi character anyway? and since when was a patient discharged from hospital still caked in blood? wtf, who cares). Sure, savage indictment of American media etc etc - but I can think of better.
Anders Thomas Jensen, Riders of Justice, 2020
Pitch black screwball revenge comedy indeed - an entertaining mix of genres. Remind me never to grow a beard - I nearly didn't recognise Mads Mikkelsen
https://variety.com/2021/film/reviews/r ... 234899286/
https://dialmformovie.net/2021/02/02/ri ... membering/
Nicolas Roeg, The Witches, 1990
Scare your kids, they'll love it. https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020/a ... colas-roeg
Dan Warburton wrote: ↑Wed Feb 08, 2017 4:27 am
Roman Polanski, Carnage, 2011
Hitchcock said he reached for a hit play "when the batteries were running dry", but that in no way detracts from the greatness of Dial M for Murder. And Polanski's film, adapted from Yasmina Reza's 2006 play Le dieu du carnage, is a real delight, even if things get rather too quickly out of control when Winslet throws Waltz's cellphone in the tulip vase. Also I doubt whether anyone could get so shitfaced drunk in so short a time as she does, just by chugging three tumblers of Highland Park (good whisky, Roman!), but that's theatre for you. Great ending - was he thinking of Haneke's Caché, I wonder? Haven't had so much fun since Abigail's Party. Bravo.
Tage Danielsson, The Man Who Quit Smoking, 1972
Thanks to my good pal Henrik for recommending some vintage Swedish comedy - this one's aged a bit, but it's great fun. You don't have to be a smoker to appreciate the humour, but as someone who tried without success on numerous occasions to kick the habit, watching some of our hero's antics are almost painfully funny. Like the Divine Comedy substructure too.. Alighieri's sausages, indeed..! Took me ages to remember where I'd seen Holger Löwenadler (Dante's evil uncle) before, but it finally came back to me - Lacombe Lucien.
Adam Curtis, The Living Dead, 1995
Having recently enjoyed Curtis's latest eight-hour opus Can't Get You Out Of My Head, decided to hoover up the back catalogue and came across this three-episode series "three films about the power of the past" from 25 years ago. Some of the stories pop up in later Curtis documentaries - scary psychiatrist Ewen Cameron also features in Century of the Self (2002), and former R.A.F. (that's Red Army Faction, not Royal Air Force, haha) leader Horst Mahler returns in the new one - but that's not a problem. This one, particularly the third episode, is addressed more at the domestic (British) public, but even if Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan don't mean much to you, you'll certainly recognise Margaret Thatcher. https://orbistertiusnet.wordpress.com/2 ... fiction-2/
Pierre Zucca, Roberte, 1977
Despite a fine supporting cast, featuring amonst others Barbet Schroeder, Jean-François Stévenin, Juliet Berto and (the voice of) Alain Cuny, the principal character in this adaptation of Pierre Klossowki's novel, played by his wife and muse Denise Morin-Sinclaire - an authentic concentration camp survivor, not that you really need to know that - is oddly wooden and unsympathetic. Klossowski, who also plays in the film himself, is something of an acquired taste - I've tried and failed a couple of times to get through a book of his - maybe Raoul Ruiz, whose La vocation suspendue was also based on Klossowski, could have pulled this off more convincingly. As it stands, available only in a rather duff rip with no subtitles (and that's a problem, as I had to pause and rewind numerous times to catch what was being said), I'd say, sigh, you can probably give this one a miss. Shame, as Zucca didn't make many films and I've enjoyed what I've seen very much so far. Hey ho.
Tonino Valerii, Day of Anger, 1967
I enjoyed this quite a lot - it's quite long (nearly two hours), but never drags. That said, I can see why a shorter 85' version was later released, because things do get a tad predictable and much less interesting once Lee Van Cleef has got rid of (most of) his enemies and rebuilt the saloon he burnt down himself. (Megatacky sets - presumably deliberate.. dig those giant pistols, maan..) And, of course, you know from the outset that the old Oedipal story's going to reach its inevitable conclusion, as Giuliano Gemma faces LVC in the final shootout.
Patrice Leconte, Tandem, 1987
Here's James: http://www.frenchfilms.org/review/tandem-1987.html I agree with much of this, especially the line "[a] distinctly Gallic conflation of road movie and buddy movie" (think also Cavalier's Le plein de super) and enjoyed the chemistry between the mighty Jean Rochefort and his chauffeur / minder Gérard Jugnot.
Martin Scorsese, The Age of Innocence, 1993
This is a very impressive piece of cinema: very well-written, superbly filmed (Ballhaus - as good as anything he did with Fassbinder, and with Scorsese - Goodfellas - for that matter) and with fine performances from Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer and especially Winona Ryder.. My problem is that I don't really care for the story, even if Edith Wharton won a Pulitzer Prize for it. I suppose Gilded Age New Yorkers were like this, but I don't feel any real connection to that vanished, stuffy, snobby world myself. Now, if Marty had directed The Great Gatsby (not that Jack Clayton's 1974 film is in any way shabby), that might have interested me more. Whatever, it's proof that Scorsese could handle toffs in costume drama as well as failed boxers or a deranged Vietnam vets.
Shin'ya Tsukamoto, Gemini, 1999
"From its opening digitally-manipulated choral score to its first impressionistic images of maggots and rats swarming over a dog’s putrid carcass in the mud, the viewer can sit back in the assurance that, despite the early 20th century setting, this is very much a typical Tsukamoto film merely masquerading as classical Japanese cinema." From this review https://lwlies.com/articles/shinya-tsuk ... ay-review/ No point summarising the plot - the review does that - not that it's all that easy to follow at first. Like other films that make heavy use of filters - thinking of some of Raoul Ruiz's work here - it induces a kind of queasiness after a while, not helped by Chu Ishikawa's clunky and dull soundtrack. In short, I wanted to like it more than I did, and am not sure I enjoyed it enough to want to try it again in the near future.