Giuseppe Tornatore, The Best Offer, 2013
Damn, they must have had a ball copying all those priceless portraits.. this is one of those Shyamalan-like films which are gorgeous to look at but, thanks to their eventual twist, you might not want to see again. Except here the twist isn't exactly unpredictable: you know that our haughty, germ-obsessed auctioneer (Geoffrey Rush, impeccable) is going to get his comeuppance. Rather slight secondary roles from Donald Sutherland and Sylvia Hoeks (neither very charismatic), but sumptuous photography, sets and music. And if you like portraits, you're in a for a treat. Nice work.
Dan Warburton wrote:
James Ivory, The Europeans, 1979
Lee Remick was the headlining star, but she doesn't have as much to do as Tim Woodward, Robin Ellis (you may remember him as the Cockney detective in a Fawlty Towers episode, or in the TV series Poldark) or Wesley Addy (one of Bob Aldrich's favourite actors). Typically elegant Merchant / Ivory production, beautiful New England autumn landscapes, yep, no surprises, no shootouts, pimps, overdoses, hijackings - just an elegant Henry James adaptation. Sound boring? Try it.
Probably just as well. Those two or three in which he tried to channel Bergman are pretty bad.curiously free of all artistic ambition.
"Time is the school in which we learn,/ Time is the fire in which we burn."
Excellent!SqDanceCallingSteve wrote:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1F0lBn ... e=youtu.be
+1Dan Warburton wrote:Excellent!SqDanceCallingSteve wrote:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1F0lBn ... e=youtu.be
Luis Buñuel, Subida al cielo ("Mexican Bus Ride"), 1952
Another smashing Mexican killer-B from Bunuel, who manages to turn what would seem like a banal tale of a villager sent to the next town to fetch the notary so that his dying mum doesn't get tricked into leaving the hacienda to his good-for-nothing brothers into an absurd (refrain from using the epithet "surreal") road movie in which one of the passengers has a baby on the bus, which is also invaded by sheep and breaks down in the middle of a river before the driver takes an unscheduled and boozy visit to his mother.. hilarious stuff. Ending's a bit lame, but never mind.
Julian Pölsler, Die Wand ("The Wall"), 2012
Terrific post-apocalyptic (?) story - based on Marien Haushofer's celebrated 1963 novel of the same name, about a woman who finds herself trapped in the bucolic majesty of the Austrian Alps, surrounded by a mysterious invisible wall with only a dog, cat and cow for company. A little wordy, some folks have moaned, but when the text is as fine as this - I agree with Michel Chion that German is one of the most beautiful spoken languages, Hitler et al. be damned for ruining it - who cares? Fine film, well worth your time.
Peter Greenaway, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, 1989
Yikes, I suppose that pic's a spoiler, but never mind. Funny, I remember disliking this one intensely when it first came out - and I was a major-league Greenaway fan back then - but seeing it today I was most impressed. Sure, Bohringer's accent is fucking ridiculous (as are some of the things he has to say), and Tim Roth doesn't have much to do except belch and look sinister, but the performances by Helen Mirren and Michael "The Great" Gambon are truly marvellous, and one can't help but admire the extraordinary sets, costumes (Gautier) and camerawork (Vierny). Take it as an allegory of what you will - the Thatcher years are long gone, but the film lives on very well. Worth revisiting, if you haven't seen it for some time.
Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Bolwieser ("The Station Master's Wife"), 1977
It may be second division Fassbinder, but even that's better than many other directors' best work. With its intricate mirror play you can see Ballhaus working up to Despair (and I'll go out on a limb again and say that's one of my favourite Fassbinders, though I know many here disagree), and the cast of RWF regulars really delivers (watch out for Spengler's Nazi thug minor role, niiice). Of course, it doesn't end well for Kurt Raab the stationmaster, but if you want happy endings you're better off with Disney. Could do with a snazzy DVD reissue like Ich will doch nur, daß ihr mich liebt. And I'm still waiting for Wildwechsel to reappear.
Dario Argento / George Romero, Two Evil Eyes, 1990
Dario and George team up to deliver two hour-long tales based on Poe, with George kicking off and putting Adrienne Barbeau through hell with an annoyingly undead husband who escapes from the freezer, and Dario following with a cool reworking of The Black Cat featuring Harvey Keitel (on fine form), whose attempts at interior decorating go baaaadly wrong. Fun stuff, well-crafted, well-acted.
Vittorio De Sica, Woman Times Seven, 1967
Truly terrible - it took a mighty effort to stay the course until the final sketch with Michael Caine, which I read was the best of the seven. But that's not saying much. This is a real train wreck, almost worth watching just to hear your jaw drop at the incredibly bad script and the ridiculous Shirley MacLaine, a lousy actress at the best of times (the best of times being Billy Wilder) but here.. well.. my god. And look at the bloody cast: Sellers, Caine, Gassman, Arkin, Noiret.. you can see why I thought it might be worth a go (thank Christ I didn't buy it). It isn't. Steer clear, I'm doing you a public service.
Benoît Jacquot, Pas de scandale, 1999
Watching this one with English subtitles is fine, but there's such a play going on in the French between "tu" and "vous" - Luchini says "vous" to his wife (Huppert, the perfect bourgeoise.. if smiles could kill) but she tutoies his brother (Vincent Lindon, well played). The usually prolix Luchini is remarkably restrained here as the newly-released from jail CEO who can't readjust to the world he came from. It's a smart, subtle movie, very well-crafted, but probably not everyone's cup of tea.
John Schlesinger, Day Of The Locust, 1975
Cruelly neglected, it seems, like Kazan's Last Tycoon (another film I'll fly the flag for until people start taking notice), and sorely in need of a super BluRay reissue. For my money, this is Karen Black's finest hour - and she turned in some cracking performances in the 70s - and Donald Sutherland is heartbreaking as, yes, Homer Simpson (before you drop your donut in surprise, seems Groening came up with that name himself, and only discovered this movie later). What became of William Atherton? Great performance. Of course, John-boy goes over the top on the love scenes - I guess some Queer Studies prof could write a small book on this.. must mention it to my pal John Gill - and I can see aftershocks in both Lynch and Haynes.
Dino Risi, Il sorpasso ("The Easy Life"), 1962
That title's not easy to translate - in France it's called "Le fanfaron", which means braggart, but "sorpasso" itself means "a going over the top", and Vittorio Gassman certainly does that, taking Jean-Louis Trintignant on one hell of a joyride - and one he would have remembered for the rest of life if he didn't die in a spectacular car smash at the end. The script is incredibly funny, but as in other Commedia all' Italiana masterpieces (and this must be one of the very best), there's a serious undercurrent. Absolutely magnificent - I imagine our man Lao Tsu Ben is also a big fan of this one.