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|20 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Busting" is a satire disguised as a hard-boiled thriller that depicts the daily miseries and frustrations of L.A. Vice Squad police officers Keneely (Elliot Gould) and Farrel (Robert Blake) deprived of a social life--see the apartment and the dry living condition of Keneely--and a decent salary that makes arrogant "nouveau riche" big shot Rizzo (Allen Garfield) laugh at (to avenge, they burn Rizzo's fancy car during his birthday party in a grand restaurant), hence both Vice Squad cops' rage and anger to catch him in the act and send him to jail. Keneely and Farrel are sick and tired of the absurdity of their job that lead them to a dead-end: their superiors are corrupted (see the intercourse with their chief in a dark office). Both cops curse to unwind and are obliged to transgress the law to enforce it and they foresee a character as Travis Bickle from "Taxi Driver". The moral of the film is that society is rotten in all directions and at every levels. The film offers a desperate sarcastic tone with some flourished language (see the juicy dialogs). The look is gritty, realistic, raw, naturalistic. Thanks to director Peter Hyams, it features a great pace and contains solid action scenes (among other things: the supermarket's gunfight, the ambulance chase) that give it a documentary stamp. Besides, composer Billy Goldenberg's colorful and distorted score (with echo a la Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew") perfectly fits the style of the story: streetwise, suspense-laden, terse, low-key, hectic, funky, furious, chaotic and slick. It is a pessimistic painting of the urban society, full of freaks and danger: a masseuse from a sex-shop, a nude dancer from a sex nigh-club, fags and drags from a private bar, call-girls and hookers, pimps, hustlers, thugs, gangsters, hired-killers, liberal lawyers that defend criminals, crooked officials of the State. And the worst thing, you burst to laugh at this terrible vision. The ending encapsulates the plight of Keneely who announces his job's change throughout a freeze frame of his face. In today's mentality, this film can be classified as politically incorrect because of the "direct" language and the depicted methods. I file "Busting" with the top 1970's cop and robber films: "Dirty Harry", "Magnum Force", "The Getaway", "The French Connection", "The Seven-Ups", "Charley Varrick", "The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three".
Created by writer Anthony Lawrence, after the 1971 TV movie "Sweet, Sweet Rachel", and supervised during the first season (the first thirteen episodes) as an executive story consultant, the framework of "The Sixth Sense" is detective story but with wild macabre elements throughout the ESP phantasmagoria: delirious visions, hallucinations, apparitions, delusions, nightmares, mind transfers, memories from strangers, premonitions. As in the tradition of the private eye helped by his secretary, Dr. Michael Rhodes is supported by assistant librarian Nancy Murphy who only stays during the first seven episodes. The show's first ambition is to introduce to the audience the paranormal by rational and scientifical means and therefore, Dr. Rhodes plays the edifying and idealistic College professor who encounters hostility and skepticism. Too rigid and anecdotal to turn into a success, "The Sixth Sense" displays good episodes as "The House That Cried Murder", "Lady, Lady, Take My Life" (featuring a psychic lynch mob), "Once Upon a Chilling". Actually, "The Sixth Sense" is the second attempt to spread the ESP genre, after the 1959 anthology "One Step Beyond"--hosted and directed by John Newland; Newland participated in three "Sixth Sense" episodes: "Dear, Joan, We're Going to Scare You to Death", "Through a Flame, Darkly" and "And Scream by the Light of the Moon, the Moon"--, but with a regular conventional character and an early 1970's psychedelic film-making style. Many directors from other Universal fantastic shows worked on "The Sixth Sense": John Badham, Jeff Corey, Daniel Haller and Barry Shear from "Night Gallery" and Allen Barron from "Kolchak, The Night Stalker".
"The Unknown" is an elegant, oddball and symbolic tale that pays tribute to many classic works: first, the core of the drama comes from Henri-Georges Clouzot's "Les Diaboliques"--the drowning of a man--and then borrows elements from Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho"--the old dark house and composer Dominic Frontiere's music remind the shrill violin of "Psycho" during the murder in the lake scene--, Val Lewton's 1940's noirish productions--fear created by the power of suggestion--, injects some literary references to William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (see David McCallum's monologues delivery) and anticipates the mood of Ingmar Bergman's "Persona"--see the close-ups combined with quick cuts of both actresses inside the mansion. The camera works of Conrad L. Hall and William A. Fraker are superb and innovative: see how they transform Nature to give it a dreamlike texture during the lake scene. The general art direction and the dramatic structure are so refined that make this TV movie almost like a feature film. I think this is a work of art for 1964's standards. For the anecdote, the rip through main title by Wayne Fitzgerald as well as Dominic Frontiere's original score was re-used in 1967 for Quinn Martin's "The Invaders".
This is the first pilot of a five seasons series. The overall production values are satisfying enough to make the audience believe of that technological advancement miracle possible. This film is dry, raw, authentic, realistic, semi-documentary, existential and even depressing compared to the optimistic patriotic series thanks to the three actors' performance: Lee Majors, Martin Balsam and Darren McGavin. From the start, the character of Austin is defined: a rebel, a maverick, a dreamer, an individualistic test pilot who is a devotee of his past journey on the moon and doesn't follow the rules by the book -- he is late at his official appointment and replies sarcastically to a commanding officer -- Wells comments his attitude in this term: "Steve, you have a positive genius for antagonizing the wrong people". His best friend is, of course, Dr. Rudy Wells, a humanist, an innovator scientist-surgeon whose main concern is Austin's will to cope with his disability -- the name Wells may be a reference to utopist sci-fi writer H.G. Wells. The first waking up of Austin in Colorado's Research Center as an one-eyed, one-armed legless man, who tries to commit suicide during the night, is shocking, morbid and nightmarish -- it reminds me the bleakness of Dalton Trumbo's "Johnny Got his Gun". Austin is a self-conscious pragmatic man who wants to know the prize of his recovery: ruthless vulture ("I am not concerned by feelings"), cynical ("Accidents happen all the time. We just start from scrap"), mean ("Actually, we would prefer a robot -- 'robot' means a slave-worker in Czech --. A robot has no emotional need and responses. You're the optimun compromised"), crippled -- notice that he is also slightly disabled and walks with a stick -- O.S.O. head (scientifical department chief of the C.I.A.) Oliver Spencer sends him to his own death in the desert of Arabia on a suicidal mission where he receives another near fatal treatment. Spencer even asks Wells if he can let Austin in an indefinite artificial sleep until he needs him again. Austin refuses to be manipulated like a guinea pig, a "raw material" and reacts harshly: he slaps Spencer, turns down the hand of female Official Mrs. McKay and tells Spencer a curse before his forced electro sleep. The music of Gil Mellé is outstanding by creating the mood of technology, war and the character's psyche -- Austin is horrified by the view of his future artificial limbs, calls his friend Wells "Dr. Frankenstein, I presume?" after the bionic operation, he is uncomfortable with the ambiguity of the nurse's love impulse and feels monstrous owing to the woman's frightened behavior ("What are you?") after the rescue of her jeopardized son. The blend of experimental, distorted, atonal electronic style and a 1970's jazz helps the pace. Everything you want to know about Steve Austin lies in this rough pilot. Many episodes of the following series uses footages from that one and especially designer Jack Cole's main title. This is the work of Richard Irving who manages to produce and direct a clever adaptation of Martin Caidin's book. The film has an anti-government slant of that era via the Austin and Wells characters -- Austin's feeling about Spencer ("You're more of a robot than I am now") and Wells figure it out about Spencer's working plan for Austin in the Service: "Espionage, sabotage, assassination!" -- and, above all, the moral dilemma that is asked by the author of such advancement in the hands of the Power. There are subsequent themes tackled throughout the leading character: the loneliness and desperation, the inability to communicate, the fear of being abnormal and an outcast forever.
To understand the genesis of the show, watch first Harve Bennett's "The Astronaut" (1972) ---with the music of Gil Mellé-- and "Texas, We've Got a Problem" (1974). With a good, solid, realistic in treatment (psychologically and artistically), 1973 pilot produced and directed by David Irving and starring Martin Balsam as Dr. Rudy Wells (see H. G. Wells?) and Darren McGavin as the crippled cynical and manipulator Intelligent head Oliver Spencer who is also known as newspaper "Kolchak, The Night Stalker"; the show starts very well with Gil Mellé's electronic and jazzy score a la Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew", then comes a terrible second pilot "Wine, Woman and War", produced by Michael Gleason and written by Glen A. Larson with a dreadful main title and a horrible song by Dusty Springfield in which Steve Austin is a kind of reluctant second-rate James Bond whose mission ends with an atomic explosion. The series really finds its format with the third pilot: "The Solid Gold Kidnapping" with Jack Cole's famous techno medical main title (made with footages from the two pilots, video effects and body animations). During the middle of season 1, the music department decided to add sound effects from Universal's stock music library to highlight the bionic motions (some were already used in a previous series like the 1972 E.S.P. series "The Sixth Sense"---oddly enough, you can hear a noise from a missile when Austin launches an object into the air). The series had three Dr. Rudy Wells: one played by Martin Balsam (first pilot), by Alan Oppenheimer (pilot 2 & 3 and season 1 & 2) and by Martin E. Brooks (season 3, 4 & 5). The first two seasons ---produced by Sam Strangis/Donald R. Boyle and Lionel E. Siegel/Joe L. Cramer--- were in the line of the pilots and then occurs the transitory season 3 ---in 1975, the main composer Oliver Nelson and the music supervisor Hal Mooney left---, a season 4 with some drastic changes (bad writers and producers, the lead wears a ridiculous thin moustache, Goldman has a new office's decoration and the music is composed and renewed by J. J. Johnson) and therefore an un-inspired season 5 ---without Harve Bennett--- in which the protagonist wears a pre-"Fall Guy" haircut. TSMDM is basically an espionage series with a shallow sci-fi canvas (everybody remember the zoom shot bionic left eye with the frames or the infrared vision); notice the various martial music themes to grasp the concept of this pro-gov/militaryNASA/technology drama. The first pilot shows an offhand and rebel Steve Austin who refuses his injured disabled condition (even try to commit suicide) and his involvement in the scientifical department of the C.I.A. (here, O.S.O.: Office of Strategic Operation, and, later O.S.I.: Office of Scientifical Intelligence): official Oliver Spencer (later Richard Anderson as Oscar Goldman) even receivs a cold slap. From season 2, we are introduced to another bionic man: paranoid auto racing Barney Miller (with a season 3 sequel) in "The Seven Million Dollar Man", and a woman: tennis champ Jaimie Sommers, in a two-parter (with a season 3 sequel too) in "The Bionic Woman". From that point, the show slips into cheap bionic new products (Bigfoot, boy, dog) with a comic book leaning. The best episodes are those which deal with the space program/Austin's background ("The Rescue of Athena One", "Burning Bright", "The Pioneers", "The Deadly Replay": where we learn about Austin's near fatal plane accident) and the dangers of technology in the hands of America's inner enemies ("Population Zero", "Day of the Robot", "Run, Steve, Run").
"Stoney Burke" is a contemporary and realistic short-lived western series (one season and 32 episodes) whose leading character (played by Jack Lord) walks in the path of David Miller's downbeat film: "Lonely Are The Brave". During the same period (1962-1963), Revue studios launch a rival show: "The Wide Country". The quality of "Stoney Burke" lies in the production values, thanks to writer-director Leslie Stevens and his Daystar productions. Most of the cast and crew come back the next season in the sci-fi anthology, "The Outer Limits". Composer Dominic Frontiere's soundtrack is recycled all along the 1960's series ("The Rat Patrol", "The Fugitive"). Above all, this is the first official assignment by academy winner cinematographer Conrad Hall. This cow-boy drama is shot like a harsh Film Noir and deals with the daily miseries of maverick Rodeo contestants! From the pilot, "The Contender", we learn all about the characters, especially Ves Painter (Warren Oates). Stay with us, Stoney!
What is SPACE: 1999?
It's a straight drama combined with "2001: A Space Odyssey"-like sci-fi, the military series, the horror genre and a touch of philosophy (see Man's initiatory quest) and theology (also see "Noah's Ark").
Why do I like SPACE: 1999?
I like it for its spine-chilling seriousness (season one, of course), claustrophobic and oppressive mood because there are a lot of cold silent scenes (the suffocating void of the universe). I like it for the music and sound effects orientation that are so close to the series that they are like a second person, thanks to maestro Barry Gray, Vic Elms, Alan Willis, Jim Sullivan and the whole Chappell Recorded Music Library. I like it for Lee H. Katzin who directed two of the best episodes ("Breakaway" and "Black Sun") and he is also well-known for his work as a 1st AD in "The Outer Limits" sci-fi anthology. I like it for Martin Landau as the tough-as-nails Commander Koenig whose TV credits in the 1960's are tremendous ("The Twilight Zone", "The Outer Limits", "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.", "The Wild Wild West", "Mission: Impossible"). "Space: 1999" has the best opening credits of the 1970's. I always like watching Martin Landau and Barbara Bain turning round on themselves with a white and black background. But the aspect which strikes me the most is the confrontation between the individual and the communauty inside moon base Alpha, in other words, when a stranger-character or a character that became a stranger enters and changes the habits of Alphans in: "Force of Life", "End of Eternity", "The Troubled Spirit", "The Testament of Arkadia". The typical plot that I always enjoy is when Koenig is all alone against everybody in: "Guardian of Piri" and "Collision Course". There is one episode that scared me to death when I was a kid: "Force of Life". As a photographer, I always be impressed by the use of the fish eye lens in order to create a distorted and insane mood: a very Pop-Expressionist style. The character of paranoid Anton Zoref is powerful. One of the rare "Space: 1999" episode which frankly ventures into horror, without forgetting "End of Eternity" and "The Troubled Spirit". Moreover, I like watching Professor Victor Bergman always speculating on everything and the metaphysical question which concludes each episode.
Go back through time, with American scientists Tony Newman and Doug Phillips, and where adventure and action has a meaning. This show is unique and the whole look is fantastic. The psychedelic kaleidoscope-like vortex is magnificent. The fairy-like sound effects are just nice. The slow motion effect when the two heroes come out of the time limbo is magic. The time tunnel is impressive and the sumptuous "Forbidden planet"-like living complexes of the Tic-Toc installation too. The music composed by John Williams is still brilliant and was supervised by Lionel Newman. Whit Bissell remains forever General Kirk in my memory. And the charming Lee Meriwether is as gracious as a fairy. A pure delight in full color with famous guest stars like Robert Duvall in "Chase through time". There is a tense Cold War flavor on the show that I really enjoy. What I like the most is before our heroes leave a time, they get back their original clothes clean. That's pure fantasy and true escapism. Don't miss the pilot episode : "Rendez-vous with yesterday", with Gary Merrill and post-"The day the Earth stood still" Michael Rennie and : 1."One way to the moon" for the "Destination moon" props and wardrobe. 2."The day the sky fell down" for young Tony Newman. Perhaps, the best series produced by "Voyage to the bottom of the sea" Irwin Allen. I hope they will release the series on video very soon.
Forget the tedious Quantum Leap and its hokey and prosaic characters. Go back through time, with American scientists Tony Newman and Doug Phillips, and where adventure and action have a meaning. This show is unique and the whole look is fantastic. The psychedelic kaleidoscope-like vortex is magnificent. The fairy-like sound effects are just nice. The slow motion effect when the two heroes come out of the time limbo is magic. The time tunnel is impressive and the sumptuous "Forbidden planet"-like living complexes of the Tic-Toc installation too. The music composed by John Williams is still brilliant and was supervised by Lionel Newman. Whit Bissell remains forever General Kirk in my memory. And the enticing Lee Meriwether is as gracious as a fairy. A pure delight in full color with famous guest stars like Robert Duvall in "Chase through time". There is a Cold War flavor on the show that I really enjoy. What I like the most is before our heroes leave a time, they get back their original clothes clean. That's pure fantasy and true escapism. Don't miss the pilot episode : "Rendez-vous with yesterday", with Gary Merrill and post-"The day the Earth stood still" Michael Rennie and : 1."One way to the moon" for the "Destination moon" props and wardrobe. 2."The day the sky fell down" for young Tony Newman. Perhaps, the best series produced by "Voyage to the bottom of the sea" Irwin Allen. I hope they will release the series on video very soon.
The film begins with a wedding and finishes with too. A young candid priest, Don Giulio, returns home and finds bad changes. His new church is empty. The last priest is married and has a son. His father has an affair with a young woman (he goes to this woman to talk to her but gets upset and says good bye gruffly. That's the Moretti's style, I mean a very serious character in a very tense situation. The situation becomes funny because his reactions are unexpected, sudden and violent) His sister wants to have an abortion. His old friends, from the day he was a revolutionary, are misfits. An ex-commie is now catholic and wants to become a priest and finally get married. Don Giulio is on the brink of depression and resignation because he realizes that the new world is only based on material and sexual needs. He is an obsolete and useless man like a relic from the past. In my opinion, the scene that sums up his future behaviour is when he is playing football with children and suddenly falls down like a dead man which symbolizes the priest's distress. There is a leitmotiv music with a nostalgic mood played in a various ways all along the film. The music is very important because it explains Moretti's feelings, for instance : he plays with sound effects (the musical fade) in order to emphasize the drama itself; when his sister deals with his father, Don Giulio turns the radio up outloud : ironic and dramatic at once. Nanni Moretti also uses singing as tongue-in-cheek effects. He deals with serious and sad matters in a bittersweet way. Instead of the usual Michele Apicella character, Moretti now plays priest Don Giulio (like Socrates) who still enjoys his cakes, his ball, his mother and himself. Moretti treats the theme of the uncomprising individual through the courage and the stubbornness of his desperate priest who, for example, undergoes three times the violent attacks of men that don't want to park their car properly. The best scene is when the priest tries to save a friend from hoodlums and recite Dante. Nanni Moretti shows us a wide array of fantastic characters, for instance : the misanthropic man who wants to erase his past. "La messa è finita" is a subtle pamphlet and an analysis of today's Italy cleverly directed. Iconic actor Nanni Moretti remains the best contemporary European director.
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