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Villaviciosa de al lado (2016)
Spanish bawdy comedy.
A big hit on it's home turf there are concerns that this one may not travel - a sex comedy where the people talk dirty but there's no nudity. I hate those.
Plot developments are formula predictable. However the energy, bright colours and expert farceur cast get to be winning. The film's mean spirit proves equal opportunity The African priest manoeuvred onto breaking successive commandments gets more sympathy than the Madrid leftist who dragged his wife out of the big city to the dim backwater.
Plot offers small Spanish town Villaviciosa whose one industry, a run down spa, is failing until a syndicate lottery win offers salvation. Trouble is the husbands bought the ticket in the Club Mementos whore house and their wives will get to know if they claim. Farcical plans to get the cash cumulate in the Good Friday procession of the Holy Virgin.
Best know player in the ensemble is Carmen Machi from a couple of Almodovars and more significantly Álex de la Iglesia's MI GRAN NOCHE and El BAR.
Gui lai (1934)
Thirties Chinese Madam Butterfly given a happy end.
One of the less well known Shanghai films of the thirties features their tragic heroine Ruan Lingu.
Ruan's husband sails off to Europe after she packs his trunk. However the (stock shot) war leaves her in a Chinese Red Cross centre clutching his slippers.
He, thinking her dead, has married the blonde westerner and uses the sister deception which is blown by the child's illness.
The handling is quite modern with moving camera and there are ship and train scenes.
Swashbuckling action musical short.
When the great designer William Cameron Menzies and composer Hugo Reisenfeld put together these early sound one reelers with action shot silent and timed out to classical music (THE WIZARD'S APPRENTICE, 1812 OVERTURE included) in the early sound period, they were considered a significant attempt to bring culture to the movies, not unlike the similar line taken by Walt Disney a few years later.
In this one cowboy stars Rooseveldt and Mc Donald enact a rescued damsel plot complete with sword fight.
It's still intriguing despite it's obviously second hand production values and the passage of time.
Radin ! (2016)
Polished Dany Boon comedy.
In the womb, Baby Dany hears his mum berate his spend thrift dad and grows to be a congenital tight wad living in a Jacques Tati Cul de sac, (where the neighbours hate him) and playing violin for an orchestra with fetching cellist Arné. This is disrupted by the arrival of daughter (cut price condom) Schmidt.
Clever routines - the block meeting in Dany's flat where he can't escape, playing The Four Seasons against the clock or using his bank manager as a therapist - are expertly delivered under the supervision of "Polar" specialist Cavayé.
Totally undemanding entertainment is a welcome break from the more purposeful sub-titled offerings.
Shindo: Zempen Akemi no maki (1936)
Appealing contemporary thirties drama.
First of two parts shows Gosho's sensitive hand with story and character, though the technique of Japanese sound film making still lacks assurance.
The two girls accompany a couple of visitors at the lakeside resort. Takamine has found her ideal mate Uehara, though her father wants her to marry a diplomat. They can't push ahead with the marriage because he has a two year posting to France.
Back in Tokyo Tanaka (a particularly appealing performance) is a product of the new liberal Japan and exchanges visits with Sano, though his mother forbids such activity as contrary to the tradition of his late father. Things don't work out well there in the cliff hanger ending to part one.
The picture of Japan is striking mixing rickshaws and telephones, kimonos and western clothing and furnishings and where Meiji chocolate is still a novelty and a photo of Elizabeth Bergner on the wall draws comment. A few of the players who will have a large profile in Japanese cinema make appearances.
La bataille (1933)
Curious cosmopolitan drama
Intriguing French version of the co-production has a disconnect between the studio Boulevard feature style of the making and the intriguing (pro Japanese) content.
Boyer with his eyes pulled back is a Nip admiral entering into the conspiracy to deceive the Allies at the cost not only of his honour but compromising wife (Anabella in a more convincing make-up) with British Adviser (spy) Loder, all set against a Meiji period background of restoring traditions while mastering Western skills, to enable the country to survive.
Insets of celebrating Japanese crowds register as authentic and quite well integrated.
Walerian Inkijinoff at his inscrutable best is Boyer's Japanese superior.
This one plays quite well for a product of these artificial conventions.
Ten Bob in Winter (1963)
Pioneer British drama short.
Filmed in 16mm. in London's West End and Notting Hill, the first film of West Indian actor Reckord, later to head the Jamaican National Theatre, follows out of work immigrant Stona (The HARDER THEY FALL) trying to recover an his last ten shillings, loaned to a fellow West Indian with a hard luck story.
This one was at the tail end of an initial batch of BFI funded Experimental Film Fund product. It was written off when it came to a halt still a half hour mute work print. A new cutting room team took it down to eleven minutes and added titles and a track featuring Reckord's narration and an original Free Form Jazz score. This version was enthusiastically received at the London Film Festival and had some international distribution.
However getting only polite encouragements to show power brokers their next one sent the makers off without any return on all their unpaid effort. They turned to the production of the more challenging and ambitious DREAM A-40 which upset organisers who had expected another nice little film about immigrants having moments of truth in front of fruit barrows - like TEN BOB IN WINTER
These two short productions however gave Record the distinction of being the first black man to direct drama films in Britain.
Il professor Cenerentolo (2015)
Agreeable Pieraccioni vehicle.
Leonardo's bank robbery doesn't pan out and he ends as a trustee in Ventotene prison in the so nice coastal town. While at an open night, he meets frisky blonde Chiatti who thinks he is a visitor like herself. As they shape up, Leonardo has to invent excuses to be back at the jail before his day pass runs out at midnight.
Second half of the film is a lively road trip where the car fills up with Leonardo's comic associates and a dog.
Engaging people, attractive scenery, polished colour production values. Pieraccione's comedies are winning. They should get into the English language market.
The Two Fister (1927)
OK cowboy two reeler.
Like THE FIRE BARRIER, this early Wyler can hold it's own with comparable product of it's day which is not to say that it's got the stamp of THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES or BEN HUR on it.
Script is as expected, handling competent. Long serving movie cowboy Cobb is the resolute hero and they put a bit of movement into things by having him ride round the camera in circles filmed with a long lens to save the cost of tracking.
This one achieved longevity by being one of the most sold 9.5 shorts with copies still occasionally turning up.
Steel-Shod Evidence (1923)
Standard Silent Two reel western
Free of ambition but marginally better than the companion piece Maloney-Beebe HIS ENEMY'S FRIEND
Lip rouged cowboy Maloney has trained the Hodge ranch horse to win the next Free For All race (which we never see). This, of course, arouses the envy of regular contestant neighbor rancher Osbourne. The dastard tries to cripple the animal, tossing his incriminating pliers into Leo's hat and claiming that our hero has offered to throw the race for a price.
Leo is vindicated when Bullet, his performing wonder dog, draws the pursuit to Osbourne's ranch.
Convincing setting and the odd effective western image. These people were regular contributors to such films with Maloney working with J.P. McGowan and Tom Mix.