Recently Watched Films 2022

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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2022

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Pierre Schoendoerffer, Objectif: 500 millions, 1966

The director did his military service in what the French used to call Indochine, and it sure screwed him up for life. Not content with creating a principal character (definitely not a hero, nor even an antihero) who was jailed for his part in the aborted 1961 military coup that set out to unseat de Gaulle (so you know which party he'd be voting for these days in the French Presidential Election..), played with consummate crazed bitterness by Bruno Cremer, the film features numerous TV images of war in Yemen and Vietnam, plus a splendid sample of samurai slaughter from Kurosawa's Shichinin no samurai, observed with bland lack of interest by femme fatale Marisa Mell, who's more interested at looking at herself in the mirror (great costumes, man!). Ostensibly a plot of hers to steal money from a plane, it's in fact a pretext for Reichau (Cremer) to get even with the guy who had him banged up in jail to start with. The heist itself is a rather miserably lit affair, and the bleak ending is a bit brusque, but there's some splendid footage taken from on top of the Arc de Triomphe and some magnificently modernistico shots of Orly airport by night. Not a happy affair, but not one you're likely to forget in a hurry either, if you've got the stomach for it.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2022

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Claude Chabrol, Une affaire de femmes, 1988

If you've seen Vera Drake, you'll be familiar with the story. "Helping young girls along" wasn't exactly recommended either in 50s Britain, or in Vichy period France, as Marie-Louise Giraud found out https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affaire_M ... ise_Giraud when that wonderful WW1 hero Philippe Pétain refused to stay an order of execution and she was duly guillotined for having carried out 27 illegal abortions in and around Cherbourg. Chabrol's film is based on a 1986 novel by Francis Szpiner telling the same story, and scooped up three Césars (best director for Chabrol, best actress for Isabelle Huppert and best actress in a supporting role for Marie Trintignant). Good solid stuff.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2022

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Laetitia Masson, A vendre, 1998

"A private detective is hired to trace a woman who ran away and disappeared on her wedding day. The movie follows him and recounts the story of her life through her eyes and the eyes of those interviewed by the detective." I'm surprised this isn't better known and more widely acclaimed (precious little by way of online reviews - no IMDb critic reviews in English, only four user reviews) as it explores territory that other French cinéma du look directors (Besson, Beineix etc) have explored with some considerable success. Fine cast too: Sandrine Kiberlain as the enigmatic missing bride-to-be, the ever magnificent Jean-François Stévenin as her intended husband, and especially Sergio Castellitto - only known to me beforehand for Marco Ferreri's La Carne and Jacques Rivette's 36 vues du Pic Saint Loup - as the detective. True, it goes a little off the rails towards the end when we suddenly end up in New York, but don't let that put you off - give it a go.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2022

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Raoul Ruiz, Le temps retrouvé, 1998

I've been looking forward to revisiting this film for the last few months, having just devoted the past eight months to reading (and listening to, on Audiobook) Marcel Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu (yes, finally finished! yippee!), as the first time we saw it back in 2014 I had absolutely no chance of being able to recognise characters and situations from the book, not having then read it (my wife just had, though, and was duly impressed), let alone any of the "secret passages" Ruiz takes them down. I remember enjoying the film - who wouldn't, with its exquisite cinematography, music and acting (stellar cast)? - but this is one of those occasions where I can honestly say you need to have read the novels - all seven of them - to fully appreciate Ruiz's work. (The handful of violently damning user reviews I've come across online have clearly been written by folks who've probably never opened the book.) Having been intimidated by Proust since schooldays and only getting round to tackling him last year at the age of 58, I wonder how many people have in fact read it all: not many, I suspect, compared to other French lit classics like Les Misérables or Madame Bovary. So, dear readers, I'm assuming not many of you have either, so I won't bore you with details. But if you do understand French, or are interested and feel like cutting and pasting into DeepL, here is a very informative interview with Gilles Taurand, who worked on the script with the director. https://books.openedition.org/purh/3025?lang=fr
I was interested to note that Ruiz, back in Chili, read Le temps retrouvé, the last of the seven novels, first, not being able to find the earlier volumes. That's not as daft as it seems, in point of fact, as the book refers back to the earlier ones and moreover was the second of the seven to be written (it was Samuel Beckett who suggested to Pinter to read Du côté de chez Swann and then Le temps retrouvé when he worked on his never-to-be-made Proust screenplay for Losey). But even if you have read Proust, you'll still be amused / bemused / confused by some of Ruiz's moves here, notably the magnificent closing speech of the film, which, as Taurand says, is pure Ruiz and doesn't appear anywhere in the books at all (!), even if it is perfectly in line with the spirit of the author: "On the day the sculptor Salvini died, he was granted the same time as the rest of the mortals to go through all the places and moments of his life on earth. The sculptor refused this grace. 'My life is a succession of extraordinary adventures and to visit them would only make me more sad,' he said. 'I prefer to use the time I have been given to go through my latest work, Divine Nemesis, better known to all as the Triumph of Death.' So he did. Shortly thereafter, the angel of death appeared to tell him that the time of grace had passed. 'There is a paradox in all this,' exclaimed Salvini, 'I had enough time to visit all the moments of my life, which lasted 63 years, and this same time was not enough to go through a work that I did in 3 months.' - 'In this work, there is all your life and the life of all men,' replied the angel of death. 'To go through it, you would have needed an eternity...' " (my italics) Happy to go into further details if anyone wants - meanwhile see the review below of Nina Companeez's 2011 adaptation. As Taurand says, it's not as if Ruiz adapted Proust as much as adopted Proust: "Guy Scarpetta says that Ruiz's film is more than a film adapted from Proust, it's a film which is cinématographiquement proustien."
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2022

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Nina Companeez, A la recherche du temps perdu, 2011

OK, so if you haven't read the book but want an idea of what it's about, this noble 4-hour TV adaptation has much to commend it. The script stays much closer to Proust than Ruiz and Taurand's does (see above) - not difficult! - and once more the casting is top notch. Didier Sandre (above, with moustache) in particular as Charlus is exactly how I imagine him from the novels - though again it's probably unfair to compare him to Malkovich in the Ruiz, for reasons explained above. Companeez sticks closer to the music of the period too, using Debussy and Fauré (as opposed to Jorge Arriagada, Ruiz's house maestro), and, like Ruiz, has gone to great pains to replicate the costumes and decor of the period. And whereas Chiara Mastroianni's Albertine in the Ruiz is something of a spectral presence, we see more of Albertine (Caroline Tillette) here, which is important as, though she actually says very little in the books, she's the central presence-in-absence in both La prisonnière and Albertine disparue (Chantal Akerman understood this very well, as her own La captive - see above - makes clear). Instead of Ruiz's multiple Marcels - there are four of them and sometimes they all appear in the same scene (which makes sense, given the author's exhaustive exploration of multiple personalities) - we have just one, Micha Lescot. Fine performance, too. All in all, a delight. But of course no substitute for reading the book. Voilà.. unless I return to Volker Schlöndorff's Swann in Love, which I recall being rather underwhelmed by, I'll give you guys a break from Proust. Promise.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2022

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Bertrand Tavernier, La guerre sans nom, 1992

The undeclared war, as the title says ("special military operation", anyone?) - and the fact that the French government refused to declare the Algerian War as such meant that a whole generation of conscripts returned from Algeria not only physically and mentally scarred for life but for a long time denied any decent compensation. But Tavernier and co-writer / interviewer Patrick Rotman aren't in the business of pointing fingers here; nor do they attempt to tell the full story of the conflict, or even attempt to get both sides of the story. Instead - and it's the strength of this mighty documentary - they simply meet and talk to a couple of dozen of men, all from in and around Grenoble, who found themselves called up. In addition to tales of slaughter, torture and heroism, these otherwise seemingly normal late middle-aged men tell of the sheer boredom of war, sitting around drinking beer waiting for something to happen (one of them even had time to read Proust!), and then not understanding what was happening or why it was happening when it did. It's an outstanding document in every way. Long, yes, but you don't have to watch it in one go. But watch it I would certainly recommend you do, one day.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2022

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Jean Pierre Mocky, Agent Trouble, 1987

Based on a 1974 novel by Malcolm Bosse, Man Who Loved Zoos, which the director probably discovered as part of the ever popular (in France) Super Noire series of pulp novels, this is a splendid little noir, or neo-noir if you prefer, as it's riotously colourful. Mocky is very good at shooting great looking films (William Lubtchansky behind the camera) with cool locations, sets and costumes and a solid cast (Deneuve, Bohringer and the great Helena Manson in one of her last appearances - oh, and see if you can spot a brief cameo from my old pal Jac Berrocal) on a shoestring budget and in no time at all. Plus the super cynical backstory is perfect for the director who takes advantage of every opportunity to give everyone what the French rather wonderfully call le doigt d'honneur

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2022

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John Ford, Cheyenne Autumn, 1964

What is it about John Ford that make otherwise hardboiled film critics able to forgive all kinds of schlock simply because it's John Ford behind the camera? Sorry mate, no amount of "stunning photography" of Monument Valley (what the fuck would Ford ever have done without Monument Valley? The Navajo Tribal Park should receive regular royalty payments from the Ford estate for its upkeep..) or "fine score" by Alex North (sorry to quote you a little out of context, Dennis, because I do agree with the title of your review: a big mess https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/cheyenneautumn/ ) will make up for the fact that this is sprawling, shoddy film. Sympathetic to the plight of the Cheyenne as he supposedly was, Ford should have just said "no" when browbeaten by Hoover and his thugs not to cite the Communist-leaning novel (The Last Frontier, by Howard Fast http://www.nativeamerican.co.uk/cheyenneautumn.html) the script was originally based on, and just said "no" when pushed to cast Latino heavyweights like Sal Mineo, Gilbert Roland, Dolores Del Rio and Ricardo Montalban to play Indians. But try as many critics might to go through all kinds of hoops to excuse Ford from those decisions https://spectrumculture.com/2013/09/09/ ... ne-autumn/ there's absolutely no excuse whatsoever for the ridiculous Dodge City diversion with Jimmy Stewart and Arthur Kennedy hamming it up as Wyatt Earp and Doc Halliday, inserted supposedly as comic light relief instead of an intermission. It's neither light nor relief, and it's certainly not funny. Unless you happen to share the director's hamfisted mawkish sense of humour. Fuck, he even managed to get an Irish accent in there. Less said about Widmark's sub-John Wayne delivery, the better too. The horror, the horror. I may have to delete my Fords to make space on the hard drive for other films - perhaps Liberty Valance and My Darling Clementine won't be as good as I remember them being last time I watched them. Afraid to find out.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2022

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Dmitri Kirsanoff, Ménilmontant, 1926

So this was Pauline Kael's favourite film? https://silentology.wordpress.com/2016/ ... tant-1926/ Man, I feel like digging her up just to give her a hug. Hats off, a masterpiece (as somebody once wrote, can't remember who). Barely 40 minutes long, not a single intertitle - just four words visible during the entire film: mother, father, maternity, hotel, just enough - but a thoroughly awesome piece of work. If Bresson didn't know this, I'll get my own hat out of the cupboard and eat it. Idem Godard. Think Karina's face in Vivre sa vie. I'd never heard of Nadia Sibirskaïa before, but, hell, this is - along with Gish, Garbo, Golubeva and of course Karina - one of the great faces of cinema. Despite that rather exotic sounding name, she was born Germaine Marie Josèphe Lebas in Britanny in 1900 and died there 79 years later, but apart from two very brief cameos made no films after 1939, having apparently suffered considerably, imprisoned by the Gestapo for aiding people in hiding during the Second World War. Her husband, director Korsanoff, was born in Estonia but moved to Paris and worked as a musician accompanying films in the Ciné Max Linder before turning to direction himself (he died suddenly aged 57 in 1957), hence perhaps the Russian exoticism of his spouse's adopted nom de scène. The film opens with an amazing axe murder - again, I suspect Bresson had this in mind for the closing scene of L'Argent, though that could just be wishful thinking on my part - a virtuoso exercise in montage that does more in less than a minute than most Soviet directors managed to drag out to over an hour. Shall I spoil things for you by revealing the rest of the story? No, no: if you can't take 40 minutes out of your life to watch it (and it's on YouTube, linked to in the above-cited review), that's your problem.
And the fact that I don't spend enough time as I should watching silent film is my problem. Then again, having recently seen the early silent version of Julien Duvivier's Poil de carotte, I'm reminded of the tale Bogdanovich tells in his chapter on Lilian Gish in his obsequiously fawning and eminently putdownable Who The Hell's In It, of how viewers tittered watching Gish in the icy waters of Griffith's Way Down East. Most silent film actors (the names we remember today are the exceptions) exaggerated everything ridiculously, wringing hands, gurning and grimacing grotesquely (I suspect Duvivier felt that too, caring so much for his story in Poil de carotte that he chose to remake it as a far superior - and much shorter - talkie seven years later in 1932). But Ménilmontant is outstandingly, movingly, scarily modern in every way: and it can stand a contemporary musical accompaniment without a problem - Reinhard Febel's score on the magnficent Lobster restoration works very well. Anyway, enough. Check it out - that's an order.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2022

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Dan Warburton wrote:
Thu May 12, 2022 3:02 am
it can stand a contemporary musical accompaniment without a problem
indeed it turns up disproportionally often in our occasional silent film programs (coming july by the bridge in the local park, come on over) ... the great thing is that it's so subtle but still you get the full melodramitics you want from the genre

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2022

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Dan Warburton wrote:
Mon May 02, 2022 6:26 am
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Ivan Passer, Cutter's Way, 1981

I should probably leave it to our man Henrik to go into details on this one, but I'll let the bloke from The Guardian rap a bit (don't know about that comparison to Who'll Stop The Rain myself, but..): https://www.theguardian.com/film/2011/j ... asterpiece He is, though, absolutely on the one in praising Lisa Eichhorn - and it goes without saying that Heard and Bridges are outstanding too. Superb film. I'll try and pluck up the courage to revisit the even more distressing Born To Win soon.
Yes, he did hit some right notes in that write-up, but like you I don't see much here to do with Reisz's film. I mean, this has Jack Nitzsche, Reisz crutches along on fecking Creedence... And I didn't like it much aside from that (love the novel, don't care much for Michael Moriarty). But yeah, Cutter's Way is magnificent - sun dappled indeed, the way everything happens out in the open. The gradual widening of the view, how you realise that Cord has them in his view, and has had all the time. The scene in the restaurant, with Mrs Cord at the table right behind them... Awesome stuff.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2022

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Dan Warburton wrote:
Thu May 12, 2022 12:38 am
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John Ford, Cheyenne Autumn, 1964

What is it about John Ford that make otherwise hardboiled film critics able to forgive all kinds of schlock simply because it's John Ford behind the camera? Sorry mate, no amount of "stunning photography" of Monument Valley (what the fuck would Ford ever have done without Monument Valley? The Navajo Tribal Park should receive regular royalty payments from the Ford estate for its upkeep..) or "fine score" by Alex North (sorry to quote you a little out of context, Dennis, because I do agree with the title of your review: a big mess https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/cheyenneautumn/ ) will make up for the fact that this is sprawling, shoddy film. Sympathetic to the plight of the Cheyenne as he supposedly was, Ford should have just said "no" when browbeaten by Hoover and his thugs not to cite the Communist-leaning novel (The Last Frontier, by Howard Fast http://www.nativeamerican.co.uk/cheyenneautumn.html) the script was originally based on, and just said "no" when pushed to cast Latino heavyweights like Sal Mineo, Gilbert Roland, Dolores Del Rio and Ricardo Montalban to play Indians. But try as many critics might to go through all kinds of hoops to excuse Ford from those decisions https://spectrumculture.com/2013/09/09/ ... ne-autumn/ there's absolutely no excuse whatsoever for the ridiculous Dodge City diversion with Jimmy Stewart and Arthur Kennedy hamming it up as Wyatt Earp and Doc Halliday, inserted supposedly as comic light relief instead of an intermission. It's neither light nor relief, and it's certainly not funny. Unless you happen to share the director's hamfisted mawkish sense of humour. Fuck, he even managed to get an Irish accent in there. Less said about Widmark's sub-John Wayne delivery, the better too. The horror, the horror. I may have to delete my Fords to make space on the hard drive for other films - perhaps Liberty Valance and My Darling Clementine won't be as good as I remember them being last time I watched them. Afraid to find out.
Amen, brother! After all, I watched all of five minutes of The Fugitive before deciding that it stinks, and not going back to find out. And I've tried to see if The Searchers, beyond inspiring Taxi Driver, really does presage the pathological males of the seventies (Eastwood, De Niro, Gould, Walken) and...no, I can't get there. All I see is a racist directing an even bigger racist in something racist. Might give Stagecoach or My Darling Clementine a wary chance, though.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2022

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Quay Brothers, The PianoTuner of EarthQuakes, 2005

Apparently, the nospaces between "Piano" and "Tuner" and the capital Q in the middle of "Earthquakes" were deliberate, but the reason why eludes me. In fact, the reason of the whole film eludes me, to be honest. "Dark fairy-tale about a demonic doctor who abducts a beautiful opera singer with designs on transforming her into a mechanical nightingale" (IMDb) doesn't quite cut it: it seems the diabolical doctor Droz (Gottfried John, which is probably why I snatched this one in the first place) had her killed already and brought her back to life, but whatever. There must be some significance to the tale he tells about the ant and the fungal spores, but I can't make much sense of that either (apparently the Quays, in an extended interview DVD bonus, bemoaned the fact that not many people "got" what they were after.. well, if anyone's got / seen the DVD in question and wants to enlighten me, feel free - I'll pass..). I know Terry Gilliam - who also produced this one - raved about their earlier Street of Crocodiles, but I've never really gone for their kind of a stopmotion animation. I do like Amira Casar, even if she's drinking a glassful of water with a used tampon in it (see above reviews haha), and Assumpta Serna can come and show me her armpit any time she likes, but that's as far as I got with this one. Somebody tell me what I've missed.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2022

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André Sauvage, Etudes sur Paris, 1928

Gorgeous - you don't have to know Paris to love this (but it helps)! Was looking for a shot of the barge passing through the tunnel under the Place de la Bastille, but couldn't find one. Still, there are plenty others here: https://www.thecinetourist.net/lescalog ... uvage-1928
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2022

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Nicolas Roeg, Heart of Darkness, 1993

Why bother making the film when you can read the book? Why would you tackle Heart of Darkness anyway after Apocalypse Now? John Malkovich certainly can't compare with Brando, especially having to work with such a bland, lacklustre script (Benedict Fitzgerald.. yes, of Mel Gibson's The Passion of Christ fame - though to be fair he also wrote Wise Blood). And Roeg doesn't seem to be tempted to add any of his customary visual magic, either. Maybe he was bored. Tim Roth just about saves the day as Marlow, but.. ach, fuckit, read the book instead. Several good points here: https://www.dvdtalk.com/dvdsavant/s4417hear.html
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2022

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Chris Morris, The Day Shall Come, 2019

from https://insertmontage.com/the-day-shall-come : "Poor, desperate, and off his meds, Moses Al Shabaz (Marchánt Davis) runs a farm and small religious commune in the heart of the Miami projects. With times tough and an eviction order hanging over his head, Moses looks set to lose everything until a shady associate offers him a large sum of cash in order to take up arms and fight his oppressors. Little does he know that that this sponsor works for the US homeland security, who plan to mould Moses into a criminal by fuelling his zany revolutionary dreams. Finding it easier to manufacture their own terrorist than catch a real one, the FBI work on their mark from the shadows. But as events unravel in bizarre and unconventional ways, will Moses expose their devious game before it’s too late?" It has its moments, but we're not talking Four Lions here - maybe it's because the pacing is uneven, the cast too, dunno. I suspect it's something to do with the difference between British and American satire. Not brutal enough, perhaps?
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2022

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Clifford Odets, None but the Lonely Heart, 1944

I should probably have pulled the plug when I saw it was based on a novel by Richard Llewellyn, whose How Green Was My Valley was another exercise in John Ford gagbarfery, but having heard good things about Cary Grant's performance as a Cockney, I gave it a go. Bad move. Presumably they thought that Grant, having been born in England, could actually do a working class London accent, whereas the only accent he could ever do - and very well too - was Cary Grant. They dragged Ethyl Barrymore off the stage to play his long suffering cancer-stricken mum, but the rest of the cast is decidedly subpar: Barry Fitzgerald does his Infuriating Professional Irishman "I should shay sho" schtick, George Couloris is as unconvincing a baddie as Dan Duryea is as a chip shop owner, and June Duprez is positively fucking catatonic as the love interest. The plot's quite interesting - good folks forced off the straight and narrow to make ends meet, etc - and there are a few set pieces (the attack on Ike Weber's pawnshop, the car chase) that could have been much better, but even with a Hanns Eisler score and with the moral highground distinction of falling foul of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, it's a drag.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2022

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Arnaud Desplechin, Roubaix, une lumière, 2019

I've never paid much attention to Roschdy Zem in the past, but he's outstanding here as the local unflappable police commissioner in the decidedly rough Northern French town of the title, where, back in 2002, in a square called, coincidentally, cité Desplechin (the director hails from Roubaix too btw), an elderly woman was murdered by a couple of youngsters, an authentic fait divers which Desplechin's first thriller recounts. And very good it is too, a solid police procedural with fine acting (another standout performance from Léa Seydoux) and intelligent, realistic dialogue. It may not make you want to visit Roubaix, but visit the film.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2022

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Frank Perry, Rancho Deluxe, 1975

It's high time all these Frank Perrys were restored and properly subbed, as they're all worth a decent reassessment. Looks as if this one at least has https://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/review/75011 (I'm crossing fingers for Play It As It Lays next time). Billed as a "Neo-western comedy" - and that sums it up rather nicely, I suppose - it's an oddball tale of a couple of cattle rustlers (Jeff Bridges and Sam Waterston) out to "plague a wealthy ranch owner" (Wiki). It certainly managed to plague Roger Ebert, who also provides a rather handy plot summary even if I don't share his misgivings myself https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/rancho-deluxe-1975 Ha, what can you say? Roger likes John Ford too. For my money, any film with a Tom McGuane script, William Fraker as DP and with Slim Pickens and Harry Dean Stanton in it is worth a look.
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REISSUED! Eric La Casa / Jean-Luc Guionnet / Dan Warburton METRO PRE SAINT GERVAIS
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Dan Warburton
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Joined: Sun May 11, 2008 12:42 am

Re: Recently Watched Films 2022

Post by Dan Warburton »

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Alvin Rakoff, Hoffman, 1970

Based on a play by Ernest Gébler, this "tale of an older man who blackmails an attractive young woman into spending a week with him in his flat in London, hoping that she will forget her crooked fiancé and fall in love with him instead" (Wiki), though providing Peter Sellers with one of his rare non-comedy roles (that said, some of the lines he has to deliver are pretty funny, for the wrong reasons), has aged baaaadly. Plenty of discussion and spoilers (beware) here, if you're interested http://www.cineoutsider.com/reviews/blu ... an_br.html But once you know how it finishes - the ending will have just about everyone, and not only feminists, screaming with righteous indignation - you probably won't feel like watching it again just to appreciate Sellers' performance, impressive though it is.
http://www.paristransatlantic.com
REISSUED! Eric La Casa / Jean-Luc Guionnet / Dan Warburton METRO PRE SAINT GERVAIS
https://swarming.bandcamp.com/album/met ... nt-gervais