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The Forgotten: "The Reckoning" (1969)
10 July 2014 5:36 PM, PDT
Screening at Edinburgh International Film Festival as part of a retrospective on writer John McGrath, Jack Gold’s first two features, The Bofors Gun (1968) and The Reckoning (1969), made for punchy, exciting viewing.
Both films were made fairly fast and cheap—Gold, experienced in TV, keeps them moving with stabs of the zoom lens, an active camera and choppy, rough-hewn cutting. They’re not things of beauty, visually, but take their energy and spleen from Nicol Williamson’s manic performances.
The Bofors Gun takes place at a British army base in Germany, where David Warner has to command the night’s guard of the titular cannon without incident in order to get returned to Blighty the following day. His reluctance to discipline his men leads to horrific consequences, mostly caused by a drunken Irishman played by drunken Scottish actor Williamson (Merlin in Excalibur). Williamson’s capacity for loquacious, frenzied and diabolic grandstanding is exercised thoroughly. »
- David Cairns
The Noteworthy: Hong Kong Cinema Collection, The Indignities of Film Festivals, "What is Bayhem?"
9 July 2014 5:24 AM, PDT
Above: a new digital anthology on Hong Kong Cinema is available online from Film Comment. The Summer issue of the magazine is out now too. Also relevant: Tony Leung is set to star in Wong Kar-Wai's next film. "Gas food lodging: The best job in the world has its downside": in an unusual blog entry, David Bordwell expounds on "the indignities of film festivals." It's still months away from release, but we're dying of anticipation for Michael Mann's Cyber. The La Times has a brief report from Bejiing, featuring some words from the director himself.
Above: speaking of films we can't wait to see, here's the new trailer for David Fincher's Gone Girl. One from last week that slipped through its Noteworthy is Laura Legge's magnificent ode to subtitles for 3:am Magazine, "long Pause, romantic music, silence".
Our pal Girish Shambu has another batch of essential »
- Adam Cook
The Best of “Movie Poster of the Day,” Part 7
8 July 2014 9:41 AM, PDT
The most popular poster I’ve posted on my Movie Poster of the Day Tumblr in the past quarter—with over 1,000 likes and reblogs—has been this rarity that popped up at Posteritati this Spring. A British Double Crown (10" shorter than a one sheet) for a 24 minute documentary about the experimental music genius Brian Eno, made in 1973 at the start of his post-Roxy solo career, the poster’s popularity is no doubt due as much to the reverence Eno is held in as to its graphic design. But it is still a terrific poster, making simple yet brilliant use of two color printing and showcasing a multitude of Enos in all his glam rock glory. The text in the corner credits Blue Egg Printing and Design Ltd. and if anyone knows anything more about that company I’d love to hear about it. »
- Adrian Curry
Dialogues: Talking Robots; or Michael Bay's "Transformers: Age of Extinction"
8 July 2014 6:09 AM, PDT
Last year Notebook failed to cover what ended up being one of our favorite films of 2013, Michael Bay's Pain & Gain. Upon the release of his latest movie, Transformers: Age of Extinction, we henceforth resume our perhaps morbid fascination with the American director. Previous Notebook writings on Bay include Ryland Walker Knight on the second Transformers movie, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009), Daniel Kasman and Fernando F. Croce each on the franchise's third film, Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), three critics' three takes on Bad Boys II (2003), and Uncas Blythe's monstrous overview of the cinema of Michael Bay.
The following conversation between Adam Cook and Daniel Kasman took place over email.
We know what we're getting into with a Michael Bay film, and in particular the fourth installment of this blockbuster series. We're familiar with the pitfalls, the vapidity, the ideological murkiness, »
- Adam Cook
Il Cinema Ritrovato 2014
7 July 2014 10:00 AM, PDT
"Nobody's really captured the quality of a film festival," observed musician/composer Neil Brand, "You're doing something that's pleasurable, but then the fatigue sets in..." It's true—a celluloid feast like Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna is a particular case, too, since so many of the films are rarities. It's like being a cake specialist and suddenly somebody offers you fifty magnificent cakes of unique recipe but says "You have to eat them all in an hour or I'll take them away and you'll never see them again." You plunge in, and even when nausea starts to replace pleasure you can't bring yourself to stop...
Cinephiles like to grumble, and the venues of Bologna attract a certain amount of criticism (one has a bar which runs between the front row and the screen, cutting the subtitles in half; air conditioning is switched on and off at random; and then there's »
- David Cairns
Pacing in Unlocked Rooms: Douglas Sirk and "There's Always Tomorrow"
7 July 2014 7:36 AM, PDT
If There's Always Tomorrow (1956) tends to get overshadowed in the Douglas Sirk canon—it's bracketed on either side by All That Heaven Allows (1955) and Written on the Wind (1956)—that may be because it's missing the two elements that define his most famous melodramas: color and Rock Hudson. Sirk's Technicolor films comprise his most widely known, widely praised, and widely available work, and not without reason. A command of the spectrum is arguably the director's key stylistic trademark and definitely one of his most important, helping him elevate even the flimsiest soap opera material to cinematic expressionism, driving emotions to impossible highs and playing his soulful characters against the seemingly insurmountable artificiality of their world.
So credit There's Always Tomorrow for choosing a format equally suited to its (relatively) toned down narrative. It's another suburban melodrama, but the gloriously preposterous plot twists of something like Magnificent Obsession (1954) or Imitation of Life (1959) are nowhere to be found. »
- Duncan Gray