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Saam Yan Hang (2016)
More Jonny To cop action.
Watching the new Johnny To films has become a duty. It looks like WHERE A GOOD MAN GOES and MAD DETECTIVE are going to be the best we get out of him but his new film THREE intrigues.
For a movie enthusiast it can be seen as the heir to the great Hong Kong kung fu films. It's a cop movie set in the emergency ward of Victoria Hospital. After some gory close ups of drilling into skulls in the operating room, we move into the plot with shot criminal Wallace Chung being wheeled into Emergency handcuffed to his gurney.
Dr. Vickie Wei Zhao (SHAOLIN SOCCER, RED CLIFF)is already under fire from a patient after her operation left him paralyzed. He spits on her and calls her "Rubbish Doctor" and her success rate doesn't improve. She's at odds with To regular, stony faced police officer Louis Koo, who she feels is treating Chung inhumanely. Doctor and cop get into conflict over Chung's demand for the 'phone call that he is entitled too, with the patient quoting The Hippocratic Oath to her (in English) - good scene.
While this is happening, the crazy in the next bed gets away from his restraints complaining about his treatment, cop Lam Suet is trying to find the conspirator-suit who whistles classical music and the key to his hand cuffs is missing.
Finale is a large scale shoot out in slow motion - impressive moment when the moving camera comes through the ward doors and the action switches to normal speed and the sound of gunfire and panic.
The ending strips away most of the undertaking's dignity but by then there's been enough kinetic action to more than satisfy the target audience.
Raman Raghav 2.0 (2016)
Grim Indian slasher flic.
From the trendy director of GANGS of WASSEYPUR we get this grim mash up of "Crime & Punishment" and JUGE & l'ASSASSIN with pretensions to high seriousness,filmed in greenish, grainy colour.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui is doing it tough, eating garbage and having nowhere to stay, so he retrieves a bent iron bar and moves on his abused sister Subhash. The (fuzzy) image of him running in his bike helmet dragging the pipe along the floor is genuinely disturbing.
Detective Kaushal recognises his photo as the man who used to hang round the police station confessing ("I am God's own CCTV camera") to his previous murder and not believed. The cop proves to have problems of his own getting dope from the Nigerian pusher and treating his attractive socialite mistress Dhulipala rough.
A few murders later Siddiqu permits himself to be brought in and explains that he and his pursuer are now in a symbiotic relationship determined by the Death God. It's really too nasty to be entertaining and too ritualized to be convincing but the film does have atmosphere and menace.
The division between the poor who sleep out of doors and the well off with cars and well furnished homes is hammered.
Ranch House Blues (1930)
Early Musical short
"I hate the thought of uncle selling the ranch and moving away from here"
Simple minded cowboy two reeler which manages to jam the usual plot about mustached heavy Woods buying up the ranch from Harris' uncle, who doesn't know that the spring that is supposed to cure rheumatism is actually bubbling oil, spaced by non western numbers like "Let the Rest of the World Go By" rendered by the ranch hands in exteriors and Douglas lip syncing "Cloey" and the quartet's comedy turns, along with some horseback chase action.
Technically quite assured for the day.
Diamond Trail (1933)
Run of the mill series action.
This formula support picks up a little when it escapes the B movie urban setting (windowless newspaper office and boat-less docks) for the old west - where you can send telegrams from the hotel and the car loads of gangsters can pursue our fearless undercover reporter hero on his impressive white horse down the dirt roads.
Bell is better looking than most of his peer group and manages tall in the saddle. Acting is not his best number. Irene Rich's daughter doesn't have much to do as the heroine while wrangler Bud Osbourne gets a substantial part which he carries nicely.
Harry Frazer organizes it clearly enough but some of the action is unconvincing, relying on edits to suggest danger.
The Swan (1925)
Silent Costumer from a Molnar original.
This palace intrigue comedy shows a lighter touch than Buchowetski's German Emil Jannings films and once he hits his stride Menjou is able to carry the central playboy prince role with some style - which gives him the edge on a glum Ricardo Cortez in a felt hat.
The film lacks the scale of comparable productions like Stroheim's THE MERRY WIDOW or Rex Ingram's PRISONER OF ZENDA. There isn't a decent wide shot in the Blue Danube ball room scene and drilled ranks of uniformed extras are missing but it does have (surprise) a Michael Curtiz style saber duel ten years before Curtiz got around to his.
A couple of the character people register - Ida Waterman and Michael Vavich (WOLF SONG) and Mrs. Goldwyn is a plausible Swan princess. Adequate mainly studio filming.
Smrt u Sarajevu (2016)
Contemporary drama set in the "strife torn" Balkans.
Prestige offering from the Serb film industry fits right into the film festival mold.
The account of Balkan history they jam in (complete with caption on the genuine academic being interviewed) is the most interesting element with showing Izudin Bajrovic's failing luxury hotel, the camera snaking through it's corridors and spaces with concierge Vidovic, coming in second. The personal stories aren't bad but the everybody fails ending is a bit of a downer.
Vice to see Jacques Weber getting top billing. Muted greenish colour gets by.
Fair Rent (1947)
British Post War informational film.
Like other COI fillers, this short is more revealing of contemporary British society than they might have wanted.
The nice young couples rent dilapidated rooms from mean landlord & lady until the appeal to the rent tribunal gets their rent cut by six shillings.
The commentator tells us that it's not fair for people to profit from the housing shortage emphasizing divisions in the country. Men with ties come to the rescue of the poor timber worker in the open neck shirt.
Crisply filmed and effectively covered, it's all pretty chilling.
Nu mo (1974)
Routine Asian horror movie
THE DEVIL IN HER was a production line effort from the busy Cheung Sum at Goldig Films in the days when the Hong Kong Cinema was on it's way to over taking Bollywood as the world's number two source of movies.
The traditional Chinese Ghost movie elements make it look as if this might be more than another EXORCIST rip-off but hopes are soon dashed.
Shock effects aren't bad with the pretty, calculating sister turning to reveal her eye has been pushed out or the central character taunting her family through her own legs.
There's nothing notable in the way of script or performance to be found here.
Jasper's Derby (1946)
Jasper Series puppet short.
So so Pupetoon picks up in the final race sequence, even if they want us to believe that Jasper can outrun the thundering race pack while playing gypsy fiddle.
The plot has his music energizing the old race horse to dash around the table top scenery. Jasper hits on playing for him in the Derby where he is left at the post but puts on a series of bursts of speed to carry off the winner's cup and retire in comfort.
Neither Jasper or the horse are particularly endearing characters and there are none of the stylisations that make the Pal shorts striking here.
Macedonian account of life in a remote village.
A curiosity with its elements of Russian and Greek cinema, this Macedonian film is naive but has the novelty of it's unfamiliar setting going for it.
In the distant, poverty stricken village the local official puts in his time raping the none too comely women while the school ladies have contact with visitors, the dream being to obtain wealth overseas. Meanwhile the gamine teacher has an innocent affair with the boy who brings water by donkey. Add in folklorico elements - the procession led by the teacher dressed in tree branches. Finale has the men marching off - to war? Flamboyant acting.