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100% bio (2003)
Is it biology-inclined or simply eatable ?
Claude Fortin's movies have always been structurally surprising, to say the least. He always puts himself as the main character and manages to keep enough mystery, leaving the viewer wonder what's real, and what's not. This is part of a reflection he's been conducting for years now, about the medias as a mirror of our society, and the veracity of the images that we see, be it on TV or on the big screen.
He pushes things further here, as his fetish character, himself, tries to shoot a documentary about the life of a great TV artist, Serge Laprade, so that the viewer sees the entire story of television in Quebec through Laprade's experience. He will encounter many difficulties in the making, one of them being the generation gap between Laprade, his subject, and him. The most important being... that TV isn't really the "collective memory" of a population. If you see Serge Laprade's page here on IMDb, and you've never heard about him, you'd think he hasn't done much in his artistic life.
But you'd be dead wrong.
The movie follows Fortin in his quest to have his movie done, so it plays on different levels : the struggling a director has to go through, when he doesn't quite "fit in" the system, to have his movie completed; the absurdity of all the procedure one has to go through to dig in the past, searching for archived material; and the touching relationship building up between these two men that, when the movie starts, have nothing in common.
100% BIO is a touching and ingenious movie, not limited to urbanity as Fortin lives in Gaspésie (in the movie at least), a breathlessly beautiful region that his loving lense caresses in the final part of the film. And Laprade is a particular revelation here, a lovable individual that's brutally honest about what he's done, and mostly what he is.
Tout feu, tout femme (1975)
Come on baby, light my fire...
In this firemen "sexy" comedy from the 70's, a period many consider to be Quebec's finest trash hour, things are exactly what they look like, and there's no secret message to be found behind the easy laughs and the semi-naked babes; it's big fun, machismo and fire trucks all lined up to please the typical male audience.
Jean Lapointe plays a retarded fireman virgin who's very afraid of women, but that's about to change when a lady he saves from her burning home moves in with him. She's a psychology student and wants to prove that the guy can be cured. Her means ? Make as much hot babes as possible move in Lapointe's building to surround him with provocative curves and temptations.
She gets more than she expected, of course...
The movie's fast paced, funny and odd. Makes me wonder why the hell it was never distributed anywhere on home video ! Another fine Cinépix production, this one has just enough naked mamas to please the average viewer, lots of silly scenes and all it takes to become a cult classic.
Put your ears at ease to the sound of the main title, half sung by a visibly drunken Lapointe and Andrée Boucher, the female star; it's so dumb it hurts !
Zanna Bianca alla riscossa (1974)
The wolf is a dog, and he barks
Tonino Ricci. A name that inspires consternation among Italian genre movies lovers. He's touched all the genres, and yet most of his movies are unknown to the general public and hard to locate, even for patient seekers.
This spaghetti western he has shot features Maurizio Merli in the lead, along with an impressive cast that includes Donald O'Brien and Henry Silva. It involves Merli, a gold seeker living in the Canadian woods, trying to avenge his best friend's death by litterally stealing his name and identity and trying to find the killers in town. He will inherit both his best friend's dog (White Fang) and his son (Kim) and will have to deal with all these new relationships while trying to find his thugs.
Silva is once again very stone-faced as the town's main gangster, always a coward, just like the character played by Donald O'Brien. The dog "playing" White Fang does neat tricks here, but he constantly barks and that becomes very irritating after a while.
Nice locations, but the city seems okay, while as soon as a three is showing, the ground is inevitably covered in snow ! A slight contrast we soon forget as soon as Ricci's camera dives into Gisela Hahn's cleavage.
Overall a satisfying spaghetti western, impregnated with routine film making and the usual revenge cliches. Watch out for Renzo Palmer's mountie punch in the face !
Currents of unexplainable madness, Italian style
This rare giallo visibly has a bad reputation all over the planet, and I can't really understand why; probably because no one has seen it...
Here we have a rich playboy doing boat races, and at one of them he has an accident - his boat shatters and explodes, but he's thrown in the nearby water and rapidly picked up by the medical crew, and after an operation to the brain returns home safe and sound, with some memory loss and a prescription of calm, peace & love for recovery. However, his surroundings - including luscious Rossana Yanni, constantly mini-skirted and looking ready to seduce - stick to his incredibly designed villa, and the killings begin.
First the gardener, and then some other individuals whom I won't name not to spoil anything. The deaths aren't spectacular and we never get to see the killer, so that's a change from other well known gialli... but the plot doesn't really make sense here.
Especially when the end credits roll, we're left with a huge question mark : "What the hell just happened ?" With about 5 writers working on the script, I guess it's just unexplainable. Or it perhaps can be the horrible english dubbing that made me lose some parts...
Confusion aside, this movie is visually gorgeous, with amazing architecture + actors + landscapes. Ivan Rassimov plays his usual self, evil eyebrows included. And there's never a dull moment. In trying to include twists so often, the writers may have forgotten that in the end, it all needs to make at least a bit of sense, but they're forgiven for carving a real impressive mood for the ensemble of the movie. Highly recommended !
Das fünfte Gebot (1978)
The fifth commandment of period dramas
Duccio Tessari is well known for his staircase shots and for his ability to direct anything... Here he tries his luck at period drama, a genre that wasn't very popular in '77, at least in Italy.
With Berger, Orsini, Kraft & Kier in the cast, Alabiso at the editing table, and Trovajoli behind his piano, you'd think that you can't go wrong, no ? Well, not quite. The storyline is focusing on two brothers falling in a bottomless pit of no return, stealing banks to terrorize the German population during most of 1930. Behind their actions stand the nazis, who have a plan to try and prove the country needs a bit of brutal "cleansing".
It's all told in a very classic manner, with almost no blood shed and the story insisting on character psychology rather than linear progression. Which can bring the viewer on the verge of sleep quite rapidly...
Evelyne Kraft is gorgeous in the few scenes she's appearing, and coupled with Trovajoli's joyous score, these are the only two elements worthy of attention here.
The french canadian tape, distributed during the 80's, shows a drawing of a nazi army in front of a row of huge flags, which can bring you to think the movie's part of this silly italian "nazisploitation" wave, but it's sadly not... Now this would have been interesting from Tessari !
The Swinging Barmaids (1975)
Someone's going nuts over the Swing-a-Ling barmaids...
This surprising little piece of trashy exploitation from Gus Trikonis (mainly known for his Baywatch & Hercules episodes) is a rare find but a really fun viewing !
The action takes place in L.A., during the seventies, as some "honest" and very busty girls struggle to survive while working in a crooked club called the "Swing-a-Ling". They walk around the place in bunny suits, serving drinks to the customers and getting their numerous exposed body parts grabbed-a-plenty. They complain a lot, but when they go home, their places don't look as if they were underpaid...
One evening some bearded guy comes in and does not like what he sees, being a highly moral and religious man. He decides it's his duty to wipe these nasty gals from the face of the earth and then proceeds to at least try. And the fun starts.
The fight scenes between "the killer" and the girls are effective and realistic, and always manage to rip their clothes in the right spots. The movie itself is pretty short, lacks moral and is overall a highly enjoyable ride if you like pointless violence and a bit of scenaristic nonsense. Dyanne Thorne, unforgettable as Ilsa, makes her appearance here, and she's right at home among the well endowed cast.
As usual, the word is see it... if you can find it !
Le piège d'Issoudun (2003)
Lanctôt is not too late
Micheline Lanctôt is not your average overproductive director. When she works on a script, she does it seriously, and doesn't let it down until she's satisfied. Mostly an actress over the last ten years, she came back as a director with LE PIÈGE D'ISSOUDUN.
Set over the course of one quiet winter day, it begins with a sober but shocking scene, after which a torn mother tries to kill herself on the highway, but fails as she gets pulled over by a cop. What could have been a simple routine task for the cop soon evolves into a weird relationship; when he sees that the lady's visibly disturbed, he tries to help her and understand what's going on.
Intersped with scenes from a Grimm play that deals with matricide, this movie is built in a subtle tone, and its contemplative nature adds a certain beauty to the "horror" of the initial situation. Frédérick De Grandpré and Sylvie Drapeau are well chosen for this dramatic duel, cast as the father & mother that are both separated from their children in different ways.
This is in no way a "family" movie, but it's powerful and dramatic, and deserves to be seen.
Folle à tuer (1975)
Mad enough to be forgotten
It's not the first time I'm complaining about the general lack of interest that Yves Boisset suffers from, and certainly not the last.
Boisset directed this amazing thriller with his usual style, every piece of the puzzle being right in its place, an infernal rythm sticking it all together.
It's the story of Julie (Marlène Jobert), an ex nutcase that's reinserted in society as a guardian angel for the young Thomas, a spoiled brat who appears to be a very rich orphan. As always in Boisset movies, trouble isn't very far ahead and takes the form of a cold blooded Tòmas Milian who kidnaps the child and Julie and asks for a ransom.
No one is innocent here, except for little Thomas, and nothing is what it seems. The major force of the movie being its casting, the co-production allowing Boisset to use Italian as well as French actors. Jobert is right on spot, Milian refrains from using his usual wide palette of grins (and is given an awful accent in the french dubbed version), and Michael Lonsdale is a decent enough corrupted bourgeois ! Victor Lanoux plays the menacing and simple ex convict, belly pot and sleazy eyes included.
With an engaging musical score, a simple and effective storyline, and enough plot twists to keep anybody awake, FOLLE À TUER should be released on DVD along with Boisset's finest, in a perfect world.
I've never been disappointed by this amazing director, and I will keep on digging in the slowly fading VHS crates to find more of his masterpieces, that's for sure.
Casta e pura (1981)
Alone against the birds of prey, Italian style...
Salvatore Samperi may have been bitter when he shot this "sexy comedy", because apart from the lovely virgin Rosa - played by the still bombastic Laura Antonelli - no one is likeable here !
The movie is about a rich girl that everybody's interested in only to get a hand on the loads of cash she inherited. Between her tyranic father (Fernando Rey, getting old and less picky with scripts, it would seem) and some pimpin' playboy (Massimo Ranieri, looking sleazy and dubious), her doctor wants her to get laid, and apparently so does the village priest !
But daddy doesn't want Rosa to get married, because this would mean the end of his reign on the girl's money...
Conventionally shot, with a humor that the french dubbing probably obliterates, this one's fine but it's not highly entertaining or innovative. There are a few glimpses of flesh here and there, lots of suggested incest, a collective rape during a medieval party which is very confusingly shot, and a small role given to the lovely Gabrielle Lazure.
If this is an attempt to mock the modern bourgeois family, it is half obtained, everybody being so morally corrupt that it is almost banalised ! We've seen it all before; the father being more interested in money than family, the wild virgin looking to burst out of her shell... It would have appeared daring during the 70's but in 1984, I will have to say that this is average filmmaking and that it's sadly forgottable.
Le seuil du vide (1972)
This one's everything but EMPTINESS
After an aborted affair with a married diplomat (Michel Lemoine), Vanda is distraught and decides to try her luck in Paris. As soon as she arrives to the train station, an old stunted woman offers her a triangle-shaped room for a very cheap price, a godsend on which Vanda throws herself immediately. She's told she'll be able to paint in peace as long as she does not open this condemned mysterious door. But curiosity is a pretty ugly defect...
Adapted from a Kurt Steiner novel, published at Fleuve Noir editor, LE SEUIL DU VIDE constitutes a beautiful homage to the disturbing and fascinating world of the author. Supernatural and onirism are skillfully mixed, helped by a body of very good actors; Michel Lemoine always has a strong and fascinating presence, that is unfortunately here underexploited.
Torn between DORIAN GRAY and a less celebrated Raphaël Delpard effort, LA NUIT DE LA MORT, the narrative exploits the hantise of ageing and the worship of the eternal youth cult. The employed means border on cannibalism but remain in the occult domain; one does not seize all that's happening very well, and the metaphysical torments of the heroin lack a little veracity. Davy really innovates in some delirium scenes. The special effects are very impressive for the time the movie was shot...
Davy's pornographic roots are absent here, and he shoots the female bodies with an icy sobriety. Michel Caputo, another famous pornograph, signs the artistic direction and even allows himself an auto reference; the poster that Vanda sticks on the "forbidden" door is the one of "L'ATTENTAT", a play Caputo directed some time before shooting began. Davy does a cameo in a bar scene, discussing about some philosophical ideas of his era, and then leaves the screen for the rest of the movie. One will not forget, nevertheless, the disconcerting atmosphere of his work and the beautiful hour of enchantment that LE SEUIL will have given us.