Enzo Milioni, La sorella di Ursula, 1978
Well, there are good gialli, good bad gialli, and bad bad gialli. This one's most definitely in the last category, so it's my sworn duty to spoil as much of it as you can so you don't have go through the misery of watching it. "While searching for their estranged mother, two beautiful sisters, Dagmar and Ursula, arrive at a luxurious seaside hotel. At the same time, a mysterious killer starts murdering promiscuous women in the area." No prizes for guessing who the mysterious killer is, and what the murder weapon is (anyone who goes on holiday with a giant carved dildo in their overnight bag is not to be trusted). The side plots are just as stupid and the acting is terrible, but you get the impression the director doesn't give a flying fuck: it's all an excuse for a sex scene, of which there are quite a few, and reasonably explicit (though not in the least arousing) at that. Give this one a miss.
Hubert Cornfield, The Night of the Following Day, 1969
Not having ever heard of this film, or its director, I snatched this over at KG, mainly due to an extraordinarily élogieux IMDb punter review. The person who wrote it needs some serious medical help, imho, but I'm grateful to him/her for attracting my attention.. as my dad once said after a disastrous round of golf at a course he was playing for the first time, "Well, I'm glad I've been - because I'm never coming back!" Based on a novel by Lionel White called The Snatchers (which I haven't read, won't read, but which Stanley Kubrick was thinking of adapting, apparently), it's the story of the kidnapping and sequestration of a wealthy heiress at a beach house that goes tits up, filmed in and around Le Touquet, which as film buffs know is Bruno Dumont country, and there's a weird and wonderful Ma Loute-ish quality to Brando and Boone's final battle on the beach, excellently filmed by Willi Kurant. Brando, looking quite fit and muscular but a bit daft in his ratty blond wig, does Brando, nothing special (if great acting means the odd sideways glance and screaming once or twice for no apparent reason, then there are hundreds of greater actors than Marlon). As for Richard Boone - "the most chilling villain in movie-screen history" -wtf?! Jess Hahn and Rita Moreno are fair to middling, not having to do much other than look, respectively, worried or dozy, and Pamela Frankin as the kidnap victim is fabulously nondescript. There's no sense of pace, the plot is amazingly convoluted, and the music's deliciously inappropriate. But - given the "surprise" (?) twist ending, maybe it's all deliberate, as in some kind of postmodern deconstruction of the genre or some such pretentious whatnot. See what you think - I have my doubts.
Ulu Grosbard, Georgia, 1995
Wiki: "In the film, [Jennifer Jason] Leigh played Sadie Flood, a barroom singer who has a complicated relationship with her older sister, Georgia, played by [Mare] Winningham. Georgia is a successful, talented and well-adjusted singer and a happily married mother of two. Sadie is passionate but self-destructive and untalented. While she seeks fame, she destroys herself through drug abuse." In a situation bizarrely resembling the film itself, it was Winningham who scooped up an Oscar nomination instead of Leigh - once more the older sister wins out - but the film is a veritable tour de force for JJL, especially her painfully raw nine-minute reprise of Van Morrison's "Take Me Back." The filmed "performed poorly at the box office", Wiki notes perfunctorily. Well, it's not the first time. I thought it was absolutely magnificent, myself. So did Roger https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/georgia-1996
Jean-Pierre Mocky, Solo, 1970
IMDb :"During an orgy with minor [I think "underage' would be more appropriate] girls, some old and wealthy notables are being murdered by a small group of leftist young revolutionaries. Very soon the police are tracking down Virgile Cabral, the leader of the group. Meanwhile, Virgile's brother and only relative, Vincent, a violinist (and a thief), comes back to Paris. They have not seen each other for three years." Too often brushed aside with that "it's only a B movie" line, Mocky's films are - though often low-budget - extremely well-crafted, full of sharp dialogue and excellently filmed. Mocky himself plays the hardboiled cynic to perfection, trying to find baby brother before he commits another post-1968 terrorist atrocity. As usual, the director takes great pleasure in skewering every aspect of French society - and (if you're a KG member) this one comes with English subtitles, which are a distinct advantage. Recommended!
Ang Lee, The Ice Storm, 1997
Underwhelmed, seriously. Apart from Christina Ricci (above), I could find little to connect with in what I saw described in several places, in an amazing blaze of fake news, "one of the best films of the Nineties", and very few reviews that agreed with me. This one does, and it's more worth quoting than I am http://criterionhouse.blogspot.com/2007 ... storm.html
Kogonada, Columbus, 2017
If you like architecture as much as cinema (coucou Antoine!), you can't afford to miss out on this magnificent debut feature from South Korean-born US-based Kogonada, whose excellent brief video essays for BFI and Criterion (from Breaking Bad to Bresson, Kubrick to Ozu) are also well worth checking out at https://vimeo.com/kogonada. Kogonada's nothing if not cinema-savvy, and the covered bridge is a clue - after all, Madison County, Iowa's only an eight-hour drive from Columbus, Indiana, and any plot resemblances to Clint Eastwood's tearjerker (and Sofia Coppola's Lost In Translation) are entirely deliberate. But Ozu is a more obvious reference: it's all about understatement and subtlety, being able to convey powerful emotions with few words. Needless to say the framing is exquisite. Fine performances from Parker Posey, John Cho and especially Haley Lu Richardson. Well worth your time. https://www.indiewire.com/2017/08/colum ... 201862953/
Anjelica Huston, Bastard Out of Carolina, 1996
The image above comes from the following long but well-worth-reading essay https://lfq.salisbury.edu/_issues/45_4/ ... ldren.html and Jena Malone (aged 12 at the time) as Bone turns in one of the great child actor performances of all time. As the essay title puts it, it ain't for children - and, though Huston (unsurprisingly) chose to sideline some of the more controversial aspects of Dorothy Allison's novel, her film was still deemed too tough to be released widely without substantial cuts, which the director refused.
George Romero, The Amusement Park, 1973
A fascinating and long-believed-to-be-lost (until a 16mm print turned up in 2017) 52-minute surrealistic nightmare originally commissioned by the Lutheran Service Society of Western Pennsylvania as an educational film about elder abuse and ageism (they did use it - but not for long), starring Lincoln Maazel (father of the famous conductor Lorin, if you're a trivia buff). Read all about it here
https://www.theguardian.com/film/2021/j ... ement-park
Jon Jost, Angel City, 1976
Compared to the dry, dour cinema manifestos of Godard and Gorin's Dziga Vertov period, there's a lot of fun in Jon Jost's early work, even if the spectre of Jean-Luc haunts the whole affair. And Straub Huillet too (I'm assuming he knew them - no way the wonderful long freeway travelling shot could have come from anywhere else). The plot, such as it is, is summarised here
https://film-makerscoop.com/catalogue/j ... angel-city - but as with much Godard the story is a peg to hang experiments on. The acting is wonderfully amateurish and the whole thing shot on a shoestring budget - and proudly proclaiming it - but it's great fun. A Hollywood remake of Triumph of the Will, indeed. Haha!
Abel Ferrara, 4:44 Last Day on Earth, 2011
"Al Gore was right", says a TV anchorman before begging leave to go home early - traffic's pretty heavy on the freeway tonight. Well, of course he was/is. Seems the ozone layer is definitively fucked and we're all going to fry in a sudden explosion of bright light (which starts out looking like the Aurora Borealis - so the joke's on you if you shelled out big bucks to freeze your buns off to see them in Alaska..). It's a nice idea (if nice is the word): what would you do if you knew with absolute certainty that the world would end - no ifs, no buts - precisely at 4:44 am tomorrow (New York time)? Say goodbye to family and friends, sure. Make love for the last time (maybe more than once), yes. But order Chinese take-out?? Well, this is the Lower East Side, and this is Abel Ferrara, typically infuriatingly sloppy and yet at times curiously touching. Willem Dafoe - who seems to have become Ferrara's acteur fétiche recently - plays (plays?) Cisco and Ferrara's real-life partner Shanyn Leigh his artist girlfriend Skye. The dialogue seems largely improvised; Dafoe mumbles odd expletives to the TV or shouts wildly at his neighbours, while Leigh slops paint on a canvas, Jackson Pollock-style (her painting's as lousy as her acting). Anita Pallenberg has a cool cameo, and we catch a glimpse of the Dalai Lama among swathes of stock TV images of candles, fireworks and - yes - crucifixes. It's Ferrara, all right. http://www.fromthefrontrow.net/2012/03/ ... earth.html
Patrick Bouchitey, Imposture, 2005
Bouchitey is very good as the easily detestable English professor / author who realises that the novel written by one of his students is better than anything he could do, and who subsequently kidnaps the poor girl and keeps her in the basement of his country house, stealing the book and the prizes and glory that goes with it. The teacher / student jailer / prisoner relationship gets subtly redefined, and you can probably guess the ending, which is - alas - a bit weak. Not bad, though, worth a look if you can find it (no English subs on KG though)
F.J. Ossang, L'Affaire des Divisions Morituri, 1984
https://iffr.com/en/persons/f-j-ossang More detailed info on the French Wiki page https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/F._J._Ossang So this is what happens when you come of age reading Burroughs, listening to punk and dreaming about being part of the Baader Meinhof group. Ossang's debut feature is an atmospheric - if rather roughly written and not very well acted (not that there's much to act) - dystopian tale of mohawk-sporting, coke-snorting nihilistic "gladiators" beating the shit out of each other and everyone else, set to a gritty soundtrack by Ossang's own group Messagero Killer Boy, as well as Cab Voltaire, Tuxedomoon and Throbbing Gristle. The guy has taste when it comes to music, gotta admit. Nice to see what Ossang could do later with a decent budget, cast and good film stock (check out 9 doigts). This one's more for nostalgic old farts like me.
Nobuhiko Obayashi, House, 1977
I had no idea this existed until I saw one of Kogonada's excellent video essays on it https://vimeo.com/110502648 - it's a trip! Seven adorable Japanese schoolgirls go to Auntie's house for their summer holiday, and... none of them survive. Auntie's a ghost to start with, but if you think she's bad you should check out her cat. The first half's a bit slow, but stick with it - it really gets cooking when they find themselves stuck in the house, with gloriously cheesy music, whambam special effects (awfully good for the time, too: the BluRay looks great), a dancing skeleton and - a very hungry piano. Yep, seeing a girl eaten by a baby grand is on the same sublime level as the infamous tree rape in Evil Dead. Great stuff!
get rich or die tryin', the 50 cent vehicle (that's not the budget, that's the rapper). this is incredibly bad (my boy thought so too ... though he will still listen to the music, which now that i have to see that impassive face in front of me i find intolerable). just as an example: the whole plot builds its you kill my gang i kill your gang logic toward the point where 50 cent can break the senseless circle of violence by killing the status of the evil gangsta with a mere song ... "don't go out there on stage," the evil gangsta sobs and the point is made, he is undone by the power of verbal art ... and then 50 cents' good gangstas kill the defenseless evil gangsta anyway, against all logic except violence is the product hawked here ... i also saw
the parallax view, 1974, alan j. pakula ... and, you know, it made about as much sense as the above only it's super stylishly done. it looks great ... maybe the great-looking warren beatty is miscast here, as his flatness doesn't allow for any paranoia in what's supposed to be one of the premier paranoid thrillers ... but is it that? the plot works as much as a machine that eats itself as with any contemporary film school consensus script, including lengthy hitchcock-style showdown as climax and the inevitable "surprise" reveal that's more about structural symmetry than any dark world views. eminently watchable but disappointing after the fact.
gattaca, 1997, andrew niccol ... i'd seen this back then and remembered it as cold, also stylish, and very well done. but no, it's an absolute tearjerker and looks warm and comfy ... i guess industry films have become so much cleaner that the soulless dystopia thing no longer works as intended. still, it makes for very nice family viewing, with characters in it and the like, so easily the pick of the bunch.
elevator to the gallows, 1958, louis malle. this is my favorite kind of texture of film to watch, the way it looks and the timing and such. the problem is its have your cake and eat it attitude. impossible coincidences can be fun espcially in nouvelle vague films, but this one does that and still wants us to be impressed with clever plot twists and the totally constructed card house of conundrums like having an alibi that makes you more (or only slightly less, as it turns out) guilty. i stopped caring when the rope, the evidence the man had forgotten, is suddenly seen at the foot of the building, probably loosened by that cat (lemme see how it did that) and safely carried away by a stray girl ... this is irony worthy of an alanis morissette lyric. jeanne moreau is a strange sort of caricature from the beginning, zombified by her dime novel emotions except where she has some function in the plot. generally there's a sackful of genre clichés but none of the fun of indulging in them because the film's more clever than that. the soundtrack is nice though.
Howard Koch, Badge 373, 1973
Yeah, well. Liked it less second time round.Dan Warburton wrote: ↑Sun Feb 19, 2017 1:33 pmApologies for the huge image, but I can't find a smaller version and there's nothing as good on Google Images. Anyway, I like it. The film a little less, though it has its moments, provided you're prepared to suspend disbelief - especially concerning the bus chase, which must have been the director's pale attempt to imitate the classic car chase in The French Connection. The connection there being that Eddie Egan (the real life Popeye Doyle) was also "technical advisor" here.. but surely a cop who'd been suspended wouldn't have been able to waltz into every precinct, conduct house to house searches and generally play Harry Callaghan without some sort of sanction. Well, never mind - the villains are awfully stereotyped, and the girlfriend far too nice, but Duvall's performance as the racist cop out to revenge his partner (I wouldn't have bothered myself, on finding out what he got up to) is solid.
Dennis Hopper, The Hot Spot, 1990
Dan Warburton wrote: ↑Fri Jan 10, 2014 12:29 amSeriously disappointed. But with a nonentity like Don Johnson heading the cast (come back Bruce Willis in Last Man Standing, all is forgiven) I don't know what I was expecting. Dennis obviously thought he was hitting paydirt, what with a soundtrack featuring Miles Davis, John Lee Hooker and Taj Mahal, and pushed all the sexy buttons - scantily-clad lapdancers! Virginia Madsen and Don eat each other out!! Jennifer Connelly topless!!! - but nothing happens. As a femme fatale Madsen is hopeless, and that accent is utterly ridiculous (don't tell me you have to be Texan born and bred to get it right: Kelly Macdonald did just fine in No Country For Old Men). The script is so clichéd it's laughable - lines that might be convincing coming from Lauren Bacall or Marie Windsor sputter and die ignominiously - and the pace is lethargic. The one element of 50s B-movie noir Hopper forgets to steal is its tight structure. This could be the only the film that builds down to a climax. Then again, Dennis was always too enamoured with himself and his work to be able to edit it successfully - remember all that hoo-hah with The Last Movie - and loves his Jack Nitzsche soundtrack so much he sticks it in in all the wrong places - watching Don beat the crap out of William Sadler with Miles and Hooker tootling and twanging along in the background makes no sense at all. Give me Miami Blues any day.
Pierre Chenal, L'homme de nulle part, 1937
I've yet to see Marcel L'Herbier's earlier, longer (and silent) adaptation of Luigi Pirandello's novel, but this one works well, compressing quite a complex story into 83 minutes - L'Herbier's was twice as long. As is often the case, especially with Hitchcock, the villain is much more interesting than the good guy, and Robert Le Vigan's sleazy "count" Papiano is one of the best things about this, along with a splendid cameo by Pierre Palau, who persuades our hero to take up gambling (won't resume the story here, find out for yrself )
Jean-Daniel Pollet, Contretemps, 1988
Much as I've enjoyed other Pollets, both documentaries and features alike, this one got on my nerves a bit, and I hold Philippe Sollers (above) largely responsible. Funny, because I thought his reading of Baudelaire's Litanies of Satan worked well in the later Dieu sait quoi - which, like this, is a kind of remix of the director's earlier works. Contretemps includes memorable footage of the isolated leper colony in L'ordre, the soon-to-be-closed-forever foundry in Pour mémoire and Claude Melki dancing the tango in L'acrobate, interspersed with Sollers and his wife Julia Kristeva saying sort of, um, intelligent things, most of which I've already forgotten.