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This French serial killer movie is based on fact but an intertitle at the start tells us that it is also a work of 'imagination'. It's the kind of film the Americans do better but it has a clammy quality nevertheless and revealing the killer in the opening minutes actually adds to the tension and it's well acted and it's well directed by Cedric Anger. For reasons that will become clear very early on it concentrates very much on the police investigation while at the same time giving us a good, detailed psychological portrait of the killer. Unfortunately the film doesn't appear to have had much of a distribution so it's very possible it passed you by.
"Entertaining Mr Sloane" is regarded in some quarters as one of the great post-war British comedies though you would hardly think so after seeing this 1970 film version. It's not at all bad, is frequently very funny and its cast of four, (Beryl Reid, Harry Andrews, Peter McEnery and Alan Webb), give it all they've got. Reid and Andrews are siblings; she's a nymphomaniac and he's gay and McEnery is the eponymous Mr Sloane, the object of both their affections. Webb is their ancient father and it's he who rubs Mr Sloane up the wrong way. Douglas Hickox directed without much imagination, relying too heavily on the material. Entertaining it certainly is but great? Best you see it on stage before making up your mind.
A drugs movie with a difference. This B-Movie was designed to show the dangers of prescription drugs, in this case amphetamines such as Benzedrine or 'bennies' as they are called here. Joseph M Newman was a better director than he was given credit for and he handles the somewhat sensationalized material well enough. The cast, (Peter Graves, Mala Powers, Chuck Connors, Merry Anders) are strictly bargain basement and the script is something of an embarrassment but it's nicely shot on location by Carl Gutherie and there is some decent stunt driving and as the bottom half of a double bill it's not that bad.
Desmond Davis may be the finest director ever to have been 'overlooked'
by the British film establishment. A former camera operator Davis
directed his first feature in 1964 and it's a small masterpiece and one
of the most beautifully shot black and white films in all of British
cinema, (Manny Wynn was the DoP). "Girl with Green Eyes" was adapted by
Edna O Brien from her novel "The Lonely Girl" and it's set in Dublin
where friends Kate and Baba share lodgings and where Kate meets a much
older English writer, (an excellent Peter Finch), with whom she has an
It's a very simple picture, closer in tone to the French New Wave than the British Kitchen Sink and while now it's largely been forgotten it was surprisingly successful in its day, winning the Golden Globe for Best English Language Foreign Film while Davis took the National Board of Review's Best Director prize. Davis followed it with two more superb 'small' films, "The Uncle" and another O'Brien story "I Was Happy Here" before a brief breakthrough into more commercial fare and then an awful lot of television. Still alive at ninety, his name may not mean much to the present generation of cineastes but his first three films alone, and "Girl with Green Eyes" in particular, have earned him his place in the sun
Another slasher movie in which a bevy of beautiful sorority girls are diced and sliced and all because of something that happened 20 years previously. It's hardly "Halloween"; it's not even "Friday the 13th" but "The House on Sorority Row" is a suitably sleazy creep-fest nevertheless. Of course it's also totally predictable right from the pre-credit sequence. The acting is terrible and the script is no better and sometimes it's hard to tell if the laughs are intentional or not but that's all part of the fun where trash like this is concerned. This is strictly Midnight Movie material; seeing it in the cold light of day may not really be such a good idea.
Isabelle Huppert is one of the greatest and boldest actresses there is, unafraid of any role she's given. Unfortunately that sometimes means she's given parts that are, quite frankly, beneath her. Her role in Christophe Honore's screen version of Georges Bataille's novel "Ma Mere" is one of them. She plays a hedonistic woman who, after the death of her husband, initiates her adoring young son in her lifestyle. She attacks the part gamely enough as does a frequently nude young Louis Garrel as the son but the film is mostly unpleasant and shallow. It's like a porn movie with the pretensions of seriousness, as if all sex is just a cover for something more profound rather than as an end in itself. Ultimately it reminded of seventies Europorn and it leaves a very sour taste in the mouth.
The very best Irish cinema is so steeped in the DNA of the country that
it couldn't possibly come from anywhere else and I'm not talking solely
about the landscape or what one perceives as 'national character,
though both, obviously, play their part but a feeling of 'otherness'
that is as natural as the weather. I am thinking now of the films of
the great Bob Quinn and Thaddeus O'Sullivan, films that may not have
been 'successful' but which were inescapably Irish, part fact and part
fiction; not quite documentary in that they had actors and had
'fictional' narratives but which were quite unlike the fiction films of
other national cinemas.
As Irish cinema grew more confident, feature films like "Eat the Peach", "I Went Down" and Lenny Abrahamson's "Garage" embraced their heritage with just the right amount of boldness and affection. Abrahamson, of course, has gone on to pastures new, to international cinema and success at the Oscars. I'm not yet going to say he's sold out; talent like his is too big to cage and we may yet see him return to his roots.
Last year Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor gave us "Further Beyond", an Irish film quite unlike any that had gone before; one that dealt, not just with Irish history, but with the film-making process itself and the nature of 'acting'. "Silence", which Pat Collins directed in 2012 and co-wrote with his leading 'actor' Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhride, harks back to the cinema of Bob Quinn. It's part fiction, part fact; the people on screen are 'playing' versions of themselves, the subject that Irish DNA I spoke of, the landscape, the people and their thoughts and above all the 'silence' that is so a part of that great swathe of Irish countryside.
It's about a sound recordist, (Mac Giolla Bhride), who returns to Ireland to record the absence of man-made sound, the silence that is peculiar to Ireland. On the one hand, then, it deals with the film-making process, the use of sound in film, but it also deals with what could be described as that well of loneliness we often, wrongly, associate with silence. In seeking silence Eoghan, who has been away from Ireland for 15 years, seems to be seeking the solitude, and in the solitude, the happiness the Irish diaspora has denied him.
For a film called "Silence" sounds are everywhere but they are the sounds of nature we very often don't hear; the sounds of silence, if you like. Beautifully shot for the most part in widescreen and in colour, with 'inserts' in black and white, this is an exquisite piece of film-making that draws us deep into its subject. Of course, being Irish myself, and living not a stone's throw from where some of this film was shot, perhaps I am seeing things here that others won't; perhaps I have the privilege of being a part of that DNA. Regardless, this is a film that really shouldn't be missed, as open and as honest as they come.
Not quite the disaster the critics made it out to be but hardly likely to be remembered among the best of Carol Reed. It was a prestige production done on a grand scale but neither Philip Dunne's screenplay nor, indeed, Irving Stone's original novel were inspirational. The subject, of course, is Michaelangelo's painting of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and Charlton Heston, who else, is a hugely miscast Michaelangelo, (he's heterosexual, for starters). He does what he can with the part but the material defeats him. On the other hand, Rex Harrison not only carries the movie but redeems it. He barnstorms his way through the part of Pope Julius II, the man who commissioned Michaelangelo in the first place. He even manages the fanciful dialogue, barking it out as though it were Shakespeare. There's also a decent supporting cast, both British and Italian, with the Italians largely dubbed, but they too are wasted. Does it give us any insight into the man or his work? Absolutely not, but as epics go it's a pleasant enough time-passer.
It may be a stretch to even call Andy Guerif's "Maesta, The Passion of
the Christ" a film in any real sense of the term. It's probably more
akin to theatre, playing out in real time, yet even then it's hardly
theatre as we know it. Perhaps it's nothing more than a painting
brought to life, at least to a degree. Guerif fills the screen with 14
tableaux, some split in half thus multiplying the images and within
these 'screens' figures move about enacting scenes from the last hours
of Jesus, beginning centre screen with the Crucifixion then seemingly
moving in reverse to the events leading up to it, then moving forward
again to the Crucifixion and so on as if on some kind of loop.
Scraps of dialogue are heard in French, (there are no English subtitles), and without some knowledge of the Biblical story of the Passion it would be impossible to tell what is going on. One image appears to show the Last Summer, another the arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane and so on. It's as if Guerif is attempting to bring religious painting or iconography to life, only in miniature. Since we are never allowed to get up close and personal we can't identify with the tiny figures on screen. The experience is akin to assembling a jigsaw without prior knowledge of what the finished product will look like. It lasts less than an hour but it feels like eternity.
A 'realist' western which means it's about the death of the 'Old West' and its cowboys are no longer young men. Its title character is played by Lee Marvin, (he was 46 when it was made), and his partner is Jack Palance, (who was 51), and the woman Monte loves is a French whore, (a lovely understated Jeanne Moreau). There is very little in the way of conventional action or plot, (a gunfight in the rain, a town almost wrecked by an untamed horse). This is an observational western chronicling a lifestyle that no longer seems relevant. It's gorgeously shot in widescreen by David M Walsh, making great use, not just of the landscape, but of the elements and is beautifully directed by the underrated William A Fraker. I think it's something of a small classic.
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