Bong Joon Ho, The Host, 2006
Well, it certainly seems to be popular, given all the critical acclaim and awards it's netted, but I felt rather like the guy and the kid at the end of the film, as in let's just turn the TV off and concentrate on eating dinner instead. The daft movies (Snowpiercer, Okja, Parasite and this one) unfortunately outnumber the good ones (Barking Dogs, Memories of Murder, Mother..) in the Bong Joon-ho filmography. Sure, great CGI and all that, and the beastie obviously has a sense of humour, but the basic plot (those nasty Americans are once more to blame for fucking up the planet etc etc) is thin, and no amount of spectacular chases, garish special effects and fancy camerawork can make up for it. As for the environmental backstory (it was supposedly inspired by a true incident), well, I suspect the carbon footprint of the film has probably done more damage to the planet than a dozen gallons of formaldehyde flushed down the Han river.
All his 70's movies are good but "Rosa la rose" and "Encore/Once more" is as good as it gets.Dan Warburton wrote: ↑Sun May 23, 2021 12:36 am
Paul Vecchiali, C'est la vie!, 1980
Never too late to discover a new director.. but with 57 directing credits to his name and alarmingly little info immediately available online to provide an overview of a career that started in 1961 and is, apparently, still going strong, I can't say whether C'est la vie! is typical of Vecchiali's way of working or not (I suspect it isn't, but what do I know?). Shot in just four weeks on a grassy knoll (as they say) in a drab cité in Villejuif south of Paris, on which he built a one-room set open on both sides and above to the sky - a kind of Dogville banlieusarde - and consisting of successive four-minute single takes (a roll of film), it's unlike anything I've ever seen. Like its open air mise-en-scène, it's a curious mixture of natural and artificial: early Brisseau comes to mind, as does the director's old pal Jacques Demy (there is a musical number and a dance routine, which amusingly goes astray) and his hero Max Ophüls, but there's a healthy dose of Dogma 95 whatthefuckness to it all which I found most refreshing. Paging mon ami Henrik who knows more about this chap than I do.. where do I go next with Monsieur Vecchiali?
He also collaborated with and produced a lot of young and brillant directors like Biette, Jacques Davila, Gérard Frot-Coutaz, Jean-Claude Guiguet, Marie-Claude Treilhou, Pierre Zucca through Diagonale production.
Aldo Lado, L'ultimo treno della notte (aka Last Stop on the Night Train aka Night Train Murders), 1975
Excellent review here covers all the necessary points https://www.mondo-digital.com/nighttrain.html but in case you don't have time to read it, we're talking a giallo-inflected remake of a remake (Craven's Last House on the Left) of a European arthouse rape / revenge movie (Bergman's The Virgin Spring), set on a train heading south to Italy for Christmas (ain't much snow to be seen, but never mind..). The two thugs who board the train in Münich are comically caricatural - at least David Hess in the Wes Craven was authentically scary - but it's Macha Méril who's the real sick pup here. Lado has to jump through plenty of hoops of implausibilty - how come nobody on the train witnessed the events? how come they all ended up at the home of the parents of the murdered girl? for you to find out, dear reader - but compared to your standard giallo barrelful of red herrings, it's nothing out of the ordinary. I was a tad disappointed in the ending, though. No spoilers.
Franco Brocani, Necropolis, 1970
To quote that wonderful Pere Ubu line from "Go", "the past fills up with failure"... I cringe when I think of the things I did, said, wrote and thought barely a decade ago, let alone when I was a pretentious and obnoxious undergraduate. I wonder if the folks involved in this "cult" (beware the adjective: it indicates total genius or utter mediocrity) film make of it now, reviewing it from stately old age. That said, Pierre Clémenti and Tina Aumont are, alas, no longer with us, but the insufferable Warhol "superstar" Viva is, apparently, and so, somewhere, is director Franco Brocani. So, yes, pretentious and, if not obnoxious, annoyingly "arty", the only remotely interesting thing about this oddity is the weird and rather wonderful Gavin Bryars soundtrack.
Werner Schroeter, Nuit de chien, 2008
As with Vecchiali, I'm something of a newcomer to Schroeter's work, but found more to enjoy in this than, apparently, many critics did. I don't know if they were more offended by the violence (Bruno Todeschini's police chief is not a nice guy here..) or the hints of pederasty, but that's not the director's principal concern. There's a Fassbinderesque look and feel to Schroeter's work - think the stylised interiors and gaudy-yet-somehow-dusty colour palettes of Alexanderplatz or Querelle - so moaning about the occasional rape and torture here seems to me to be missing the point as much as moaning about animal cruelty in In A Year of 13 Moons. Anyway, there is the off switch, you know. Meanwhile - former surgeon and Colonel in the Resistance Pascal Greggory returns to the city of Santamaria (in an unnamed Latino country in the throes of both a civil war and a cholera epidemic) to find his wife has disappeared. In search of her and tickets to escape the city on the only remaining boat, he's drawn into a series of shifting alliances with shifty characters in sleazy nightclubs.. that's about enough plot information you'll need for now. Filmed in Porto - just about recognisable in the gloomy night - and boasting a fine cast (Jean-François Stévenin, Bulle Ogier, Nathalie Delon, Elsa Zylberstein... and Sami Frey!) and an intriguing soundtrack (OK, we've heard Ives' The Unanswered Question in dozens of films now, but how often have you heard it mixed with Stockhausen's Gesang der Jünglinge, eh?), it's well worth a look.
Darius Marder, Sound of Metal, 2019
Riz Ahmed ("the first Muslim to be nominated for a Best Actor oscar!" gloats one website - is that true? I suppose it is) is splendid as Ruben, a Metal drummer who loses his hearing - not to mention his partner and Airstream trailer he's forced to sell to pay for his cochlear implants. Mark Kermode liked it too https://www.theguardian.com/film/2021/a ... ius-marder Fine performances all round, and, as you'd expect, excellent sound design. If this is what going deaf sounds like, I'd better start selling off some discs. Anyone interested in a Merzbox?
Blake Edwards, S.O.B., 1981
Actually, I snatched this after reading an interview in which Quentin Dupieux cited it as his favourite film.. Not hard to see why: nobody does debauched parties better than Edwards, but a decade or so on from that celebrated poolside romp with Peter Sellers, the comedy has got decidedly darker. Some of it is plain vulgar ("I shit my pants.."), and as is often the case with Blake, the movie's about 20 minutes too long, but Hank Mancini has a ball with the music and it's definitely worth the price of admission for Robert Preston's drug-addled doctor and Robert Vaughn in a suspender belt
Paul Schrader, American Gigolo, 1980
As far as I can tell, that really is Richard Gere - so he deserves some kind of special Academy Award for just being able to do that. His acting isn't all that bad either (though I've never been a great fan), given the shoddy script he has to work with. The relationship with Lauren Hutton is never really developed, which is why the ending comes off so spectacularly limp. There's not enough love to make it a love story, not enough thrills to make it a thriller, not enough Hector Elizondo and far too much Giorgio Moroder.
Moshé Mizrahi, Chère inconnue, 1980
IMDb plot summary: "A middle-aged disabled man unknowingly begins a lonely hearts correspondence with his own unmarried sister, who takes care of him. As he writes more and more to her, he begins to fall in love, and she, knowing that it is her brother who is writing, discovers a new, tender side to him. But trouble looms when he asks to meet her in person." Fine, subtle script by Gérard Brach, awesome photography courtesy Ghislain Cloquet, plus Rochefort, Seyrig and Signoret - how can you go wrong?
David Cronenberg, The Dead Zone, 1983
I guess the moral of the story is if Brooke Adams invites you in when you drop her off after a night out, you should say yes. But then again, if Christopher Walken hadn't had his encounter with that milk wagon, Martin Sheen (alarmingly like Donald Trump in many respects) would have blown up the world ("the missiles are flying!"). It's a bit of a daft tale (plenty of juicy trivia on the subject here
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dead_Zone_(film) - I'm struggling to imagine what it might have been like if Bill Murray had landed the part..) but it's well told, well cast and well paced.
Michael Winner, I'll never forget what's'is name, 1967
Apparently of the first films to feature the word "fucking" in its script, but there are plenty of more worthwhile reasons for checking out this Swinging London period piece. Oliver Reed, for starters, in a role tailor-made for him, but also Orson Welles (love the scene where he's surprised playing with his Scalextric) and especially Carol White, best known for her appearances in Cathy Come Home and Poor Cow, for whom things don't end up too well (they didn't in real life, either). If Winner's earlier The System was his British seaside homage to I Vitelloni, this film is his Dolce Vita. Shame about the title though, which is pretty lousy.
James Foley, Glengarry Glen Ross, 1992
Apart from a coat check girl glimpsed briefly, there are no women anywhere to be found in David Mamet's adaptation of his own Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Presumably they've got more sense than to get involved with a crew of foulmouthed hypocrites such as this. IMDb helpfully informs us that there are 138 uses of the word ''fuck'' (no wonder the actors dubbed the thing "Death of a Fuckin' Salesman" in rehearsals), plus 50 shits, 6 cocksuckers, a couple of cunts and a faggot. But expletives have rarely been uttered with such spectacular relish. The stellar cast - Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin - chews the scenery to pieces. Quoth Wiki: "Because of the film’s modest budget" (dunno, $12m doesn't sound all that shabby for what is essentially a one room-set affair - two if you count the Chinese restaurant across the street) "many of the actors took significant pay cuts. For example, Pacino cut his per-movie price from $6 million to $1.5 million, Lemmon was paid $1 million, Baldwin received $250,000, and so on." Whether you think they're worth it or not is up to you, but considering the obscene sums that get paid to semi-literate cretins to kick balls at each other or slamdunk them into hoops, I'd say Pacino's pretty good value for money myself. That said, the (not inconsiderable) pleasure of the film is watching the actors do their thing - nobody does smarm better than Lemmon, and nobody does snide better than Spacey - there's no point looking for any "moral" in the story, other than capitalism is ruthless, cynical, dehumanizing and infinitely versatile, and you knew that anyway. The only character we might feel a slight twinge of sympathy for (Lemmon, and only then because we see he's trying desperately to scrape up the money for his daughter's medical care) turns out to be the one who actually commits the criminal offence.
Andrew Kotting, This Filthy Earth, 2001
Emile Zola's La terre, transposed to Wensleydale (but when? there seems to be electricity and tractors but folks are still doing their harvest using scythes and the pub looks positively medieval), with an eclectic montage of jump cuts, time-lapse and grainy Super8 and an equally eclectic soundtrack ranging from ambient to dub. Described unflatteringly by one IMDb punter as "Texas Chainsaw Massacre vs Animal Farm on ketamin" (we're talking mud, blood, sweat and sperm: my own comparison would be [Aleksey German's] Hard to be a God remade by Guy Maddin), it's certainly an acquired taste. The one thing that unfortunately lets it down is the near incomprehensibility of the spoken dialogue (I'm from Lancashire but I had to download and attach a French subtitle to catch what was being said ), but apart from that I didn't mind it at all.
Larry Cohen, The Ambulance, 1990
Wikiplotsummary: "Aspiring comic book artist Josh Baker (Eric Roberts) meets a young woman named Cheryl (Janine Turner) on the streets of New York City, who proceeds to collapse and is rushed to a hospital by an ambulance. When Josh arrives at the hospital, he is shocked to find that there is no record of Cheryl ever being admitted and he soon learns another startling discovery, Cheryl's roommate also vanished after being picked up by the same ambulance." Another wildly entertaining Cohen romp, with, in addition to the annoying but sympathetic Roberts, includes typically amusing supporting roles (the hardboiled gum-chewing detective, played with glee by the great James Earl Jones, Eric Braeden's fabulously creepy "doctor, and especially Red Buttons' no-bullshit old NY Post reporter). You get the impression Cohen enjoyed writing for them as much as they enjoyed performing. Fun!
Bertrand Tavernier, In The Electric Mist, 2009
Here's what I wrote back in 2010: "Wish I could have seen the Director's Cut (117 minutes) instead of the 98 minute Producer's Cut on the DVD, because the complex plotlines could do with some elaboration, but there's much to recommend Tavernier's adaptation of James Lee Burke. TLJ is perfect as Dave Robicheaux, and the supporting cast do a good job too. Nice photography and soundtrack.. but somehow I suspect the longer version would be more coherent and easier to follow."
And - hooray - this time we watched Tavernier's own cut, and it makes all the difference. Shame he had a hard time working with Tommy and all kinds of hassle with the producers, because the film is a helluva sight better than it's been made out to be.
You enjoyed this more than I did, I think - yes, the music is unspeakably awful, but the worst thing for me was Victoria Tennant (what a lousy actress, though I seem to remember she was OK in Strangers Kiss). Shame we don't get the satisfaction of actually seeing her blow her fucking head off at the end of the moviehenriq wrote: ↑Thu Aug 15, 2019 8:16 am
John Frankenheimer - The Holcroft Covenant (1985)
Well, at least it was free. Or not that bad, though it does have some of the most awful fucking music I have heard in a long time. Droll and inelegant, it works fine, once, on a a boring late summer Wednesday. The plot, adapted from a Robert Ludlum novel, concerns a trust fund set up by nazis at the end of the war, and the son of one of them, an architect played by Michael Caine, coming into control of it some forty years later. The trust is enormous, and fears are expressed that the money will be used to foment a fourth reich, by Caine or the other two trustees, all three sons of nazis. Who will be the bad guy? The script has you guessing for quite a bit. An effective thriller, everything streamlined, be it action, terror, or levity. Some of it is even set in Berlin, allowing the director some gratuitous nudity from the red light district, but a gratuity that is even felt to be necessary. Probably one of the gifts of the eighties to cinema, the linearity and economy, everything has to feel like it has to be there. Funny, I just finished watching Smiley’s People, and it is a nice to see three actors from that series in this one. And they are a delight: Bernard Hepton, Mario Adorf and Michael Lonsdale. Lonsdale does his usual walking on eggshells, acting as though the text will give him papercuts if he isn’t exceptionally careful with it, and brilliant for it of course. Mario Adorf goes the opposite way, does the jovial larger than life, impossible not to be charmed by him. Bernard Hepton does MI-5 gent quite well, and Victoria Tennant does her usual pale self. Anthony Edwards is a little too much the English gentleman, as always. Perfectly enjoyable, not sure if I’ll watch again.
Volker Schlöndorff & Margarethe von Trotta, The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum, or: How violence develops and where it can lead , 1975
Excellent, in every way (and thanks to Henrik for hipping me to this one) - and, watching with near horror every day at how the vile British Tory media are behaving, it's just as appropriate today as it was back in the dark Baader Meinhof days. Great cast, magnificent cinematography (Jost Vacano) and a splendid Hanz Werner Henze soundtrack, which for once could have been a bit louder
Jean-Claude Carrière, Le pince à ongles, 1969
Talking of Carrière and Lonsdale, did you catch this little gem, Henrik? (Or anyone else who happens to be reading..)
Luis Buñuel, Le Fantôme de la liberté, 1974
Lovely to return to this, which has tended to drop off folks' radar while Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie (1972) gets more airplay. Or maybe that's just my imagination. Perhaps it's because the earlier film has a plot - of sorts - whereas Phantom moves effortlessly from one subplot / sketch to another. It's absolutely masterly the way he does it.
Peter Hyams, The Star Chamber, 1983
Death Wish meets Law and Order, as the caption says. I'd say more Dirty Harry than Death Wish, myself, but there you go. Playing on that niggling doubt we all have that there is a difference between law and justice, we share Michael Douglas's frustration as he has to uphold the former and set free some pretty nasty characters, until fellow high court judge Hal Holbrook invites him to join the star chamber of the title to enforce the latter, retrying the cases and passing sentence. You know what sentence it is, too. Everything's hunky dory until Douglas realises that two of these villains are, in fact, really innocent of the crime (but they're probably guilty of half a dozen others) and.. well, at this point, the film takes an unexpected turn into action movie territory, with Douglas setting out himself to warn the dudes of their impending doom. You'd think he might just call the police and retire to his chambers with a stiff drink, but no.. Somewhat implausible though this is, it's so well-filmed and edited you don't really mind.