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|326 reviews in total|
Here's some life advice you need, make yourself a nice bowl of chili
and settle down to watch Moontrap. This is low budget, but all full of
love, just like that good ole bowl of chili. They got Walter Koenig and
Bruce Campbell with guns in space, wandering around the moon, following
the thread of a mystery. I just love how someone worked out that Koenig
and Campbell would make a perfect pair of chums for battling against
incomprehensibility. The special effects are mostly done with some
really great model work. The whole movie feels like an elongated dream,
and is helped along by a superb industrial/synthesiser soundtrack.
Quintessential tripe, as cockamamie as you like, but as lovable a movie as you can find. It's a truly a pure sci-fi movie that puts most of the big budget stuff to shame. It's really difficult to say why, but there's something about Bruce Campbell that makes him the ultimate hero, as deficient as his characters are, they just have spectacular attitudes. The mystery of this film lingers long, it reminds me that we're all struggling against the unknown and all we can do is put our best foot forward and keep our chins up.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a strange and enjoyable piece of spirit of '68 wish fulfilment.
Probably the most ambitious movie I have seen, this was pretty much
trying to start a revolution using the people watching it. One day,
year 01 starts, people just stop doing what they've done before and
re-assess how to live. Pre-01 people spend their time working really
hard to amass trinkets and white goods, don't speak to strangers and
are tied in possessive relationships. Afterwards people take a step
sideways, don't turn up to work, get rid of their keys, spend more time
reading novels and apricate in free association and amateur dramatics.
The thing that is the most devilishly indulgent in the film is when a
group of conspirators meets to plot a re-establishment of the old
order. They are secretly filmed and become the nation's favourite
comedy show, every time they meet they are broadcast and the audience
is requested to keep mum about the show less the conspirators find out.
It's the left wishing to turn the tables and not be the laughing stock
Some of the ideas are very provocative, such as when a guy who strangled his wife is told that he oughtn't to feel guilty as it was an inevitable consequence of pre-01 possessive love. The children under a new sun also let loose all the burglars, after all, there is nothing to steal in the post-01 society, so why not. At one point an old lady asks a young man to put his hand up her skirt, which is something you're not likely to see in any other movie of its time or now.
Jean Rouch shoots a segment in Africa and Alain Resnais in New York as the spirit of revolution spreads. The bit in New York is particularly atrocious, the actors clearly not feeling the movie at all. There are some references to looking towards China which must leave the writer a bit cherry-faced in light of the atrocities committed in the name of Maoism.
For all it's faults the movie has undoubtable charm, there's a sequence where a father and his daughter indulge in a sort of burglary game, where they go into a property in search of jewels, which they of course leave in their place as everything should have a place in order to avoid being lost. They wake a couple up whilst they do this but the couple are quite happy to go back to sleep, as if nothing of significance happened at all. I must admit that I often walk the streets and see nice homely properties and wonder what it would be like to talk to the people in them or have a look around, without the slightest desire to intrude or upset. Wouldn't it be lovely if none of us had anything to fear from the others and we could all check out all the dwellings, turning cities into beautiful labyrinths.
Like I say although manifestly problematic, the film is not as dated as some make out, and the kind of attitudes that it promotes are more recognisable today, with many more people looking towards quality of life as more important than working flat out, with much more sexual liberty, and fewer people building pressure cooker marriages over decades. To an extent it was prescient, although amongst many others, its suggestion that most people want/would like to spend time reading novels and expanding their minds is wishful thinking to say the least.
I watched Krysar at about three in the morning in my bedroom and it
absolutely terrified me. It takes major liberties with the original
story, though that's all to the good. Hamelin is this ultra weird
medieval labyrinth of garrets, spires, cavernous buildings, cellars and
gargoyles. The people that live in it are harsh and selfish, cheat each
other and are fixated on gluttony, alcohol, and prostitution. When they
speak they speak in squawking untranslatable gibberish, so it's a bit
like a silent movie but with a bit more menace from the onomatopoeia.
The vast majority of the film shoots wooden puppets and automata,
though the rats are real live rats, which is scary as hell. Obviously
the townsfolk mess with the Pied Piper, and that was a bad idea.
Krysar scared the hell out of me because some of the townsfolk just felt so recognisable. In the day before I watched this I went past a posh house and there were a load of large pillows outside advertised as being free, and I took one home with me feeling very satisfied because it was a fine pillow. But there's this character in the movie who takes a lot of time with fabrics and pillows making himself luxuriously comfortable, and I sure felt bad watching him led on a large white pillow, whilst I was also in the same position on mine, high up in my pit in a secure apartment block! I have to admit that I watched this movie in 5 minute segments with little breaks to absorb the shock, it was that scary. Despite its complete lack of contemporaneity in aesthetic, it felt very much in soul like a criticism of the modern capitalist world with all its locks and keys securing the wealth of the few.
This film is pure unadulterated genius and I found it devastating to watch.
Syberberg's preoccupations are to do with the intellectual and cultural
traditions of Germany and the German intellectual and cultural response
to the Second World War, and if that sounds interesting, or if you are
interested in the revolutionary thinking that was happening in the
world at the end of the sixties, and the aftermath, then San Domingo
should be of interest.
San Domingo is about a young hippie called König who is the son of a super-rich couple, but has dropped out. He seems to be working in botanical gardens and then he goes out into the countryside and ends up on a biker / hippie / anarchist commune. The bikers convince a young woman called Carla to throw herself at him and preoccupy his time whilst they ask his parents for a large ransom without ever technically kidnapping him. König has a fixation with Africa as some sort of ideal land, although he has never been there. His love for Africa is like the painter Rousseau's, influenced by picture books and botanical gardens, the reality of things like famine (this film was shot at the end of the Nigerian famine and beginning of the Ethiopian one) and civil wars or wars of independence and their associated atrocities hardly impinge on his consciousness. Relatedly part of Carla's allure may be her black skin, although as König is naive and inexperienced, and she is extremely worldly, experienced and throwing herself at him, not much extra allure is needed. König's name is ironic (German for king), he has a kind of long aristocratic 17th century haircut and he very much has the Antoinette-ish "let them eat cake" deal going on: he sits in with Carla when she interviews with a personnel manager and argues about employment, trying to make the case that people should be able to do whatever they want, and that jobs should be created to manage for this.
Syberberg's reputation has taken a shoeing because I think he believes in a lot of the cultural values that others believe led to the rise of Nazism in Germany. I think other intellectuals felt that he was also self-aggrandising. That's all a bit quagmirish for me, I generally believe that political correctness has harmful aspects sometimes intensely harmful, but I don't know if characterising the reaction to his output as politically correct is fair, though initially it seems so. In any case San Domingo is some pretty nuanced stuff that leaves room for your own opinion. Syberberg was dismayed by the German intellectual response to the war, and I guess the youth response of doing or believing the exact opposite of their parents. So the movie reminded me of Gas-s-s-s from Roger Corman a bit in that it often is exposing that young hippie-ish folks have some aspects of their thinking that are 100% idiotic. However I think all the young folk in the movie have been let down in one way or the other, so I think there's balance and humanism. There's two old women in the movie that are an interesting contrast, one who won't give König and Carla a room unless they're married, and another who seems like a maid/cleaner/mother figure who let's everyone get on with what they are doing and seems to revel in their youth. I kinda had an image in my head of Dali's Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War) when thinking about the creator of the movie, as if he had two different heartfelt responses to what was going on, that he couldn't really blame the youth for their new ideas, but he didn't agree that they were sensible, and on the other hand that for youth, revelling in ideas is an end in itself. So there's sort of a conflicted Pasolini-an agony in this work.
The film is a very loose adaptation of Kleist's Betrothal in St. Domingo, though it never felt anything other than fresh and modern. Much if not most of the film appears completely improvised, with the actors being non professionals (excepting König) and playing under their real names.
This film concerns eight criminal prisoners of the Chinese 8th Army and
one unjustly accused commander, also imprisoned; the prologue to the
film leaves no doubt as towards the culpability of the eight and the
innocence of the one. The nine accompany the army as it is harried by
the Japanese during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Zhang Yimou gets an
early credit as cinematographer. It's the earliest Chinese war film
I've seen where the characters aren't flagrant personifications of
revolutionary values. It has pleasant concessions to humanity whilst
still banging the propaganda drum (only to the same extent as The Green
Berets). Whilst it is propaganda, I'm in no doubt that there was heroic
defence against Japanese aggression at the time.
There is to an extent a disconnect between some particularly exorbitant cinematography (you could freeze many great still photos from the film), and a story that doesn't really flow and feels like it has too many gaps. There is however genuine pathos in the movie and the journey the men go on is compelling. The source text is trying to point out that the exemplary acts of one individual can knock onto the rest, although its seeming conviction that innocence is self-evident and will always out could be seen as an obnoxious repudiation of many innocent dead from this period. Would bear interesting comparison to Aldrich's Dirty Dozen in terms of archetype.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"He loves me, he loves me not" words spoken in the darkness at the start of the movie. These words are very shortly to be repeated by Bulle Ogier in a banal play as she picks petals from a daisy. However the first speaking hints at something far less banal, it's an out-loud thought about whether God loves us. Scenes from the book of Job are relayed later on in the fourth act of the movie where Job is made to wonder about why he has been visited with affliction despite his piety, the same issue is at hand. The first act unearths the selfishness lying within everyone just beneath a thin facade, the second act is a terrible wail from an individual about their complete failure to fulfil their true self in this life, reusing text from Beckett. The third act plays scenes from atrocities and environmental catastrophes and reminds me that issues of much more import than art occur in the world. There is an element of reflexivity in the movie in that it's hinting that there is a respite from sorrows in another life that we must believe in; and also that quite a lot of the movie tests one's patience but you are then extraordinarily rewarded with a final scene of astonishing beauty, a recreation of Luciano Laurana's 15th Century painting "Ideal City" from the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche, Urbino; and the ecstasy of Job, surrounded by his beautiful descendants. The interplay between Beckett and Job I find very inspiring, on the one hand people now find it hard to ->truly<- lift a finger for themselves or anyone else, and murder their true selves, and then there is the chasm to loving God even though he takes everything you have and visits you with boils. In the end, an edifying experience.
Luis Miñarro has reinvented the cinema with his Stella Cadente /
Falling Star. Technically and thematically it seems perpendicular to
whatever else is going on in at the moment. It's full of trickery and
has an irreverent and Arcadian attitude. At the screening afterwards
the director affirmed that in this film he had complete creative
freedom and that the film turned out exactly how he wanted, and boy
does it show.
The movie centres around King Amadeo I of Spain, and the farcical position in which he found himself. Invited to become the Spanish monarch by General Prim he travels from his ducal seat in Italy to practically live under house arrest for his entire reign after the assassination of his sponsor on the eve of his coronation. Amadeo's father was the King of Sardinia, later of Italy, and he'd been brought up to be a ruler, trained all his life. He is tolerated by those who use him for he knows not what and all his grand plans for Spain entirely ignored. He chooses to remain in this gilded cage, who knows why, perhaps he stubbornly believed that the penguins would admit their mistake, that he was to be to Spain what Charles II was to England, that he could march into parliament and shoo the bickerers away.
The film is really very funny, both in very obvious ways and also in very subtle ways. María Victoria, Amadeo's queen, makes the statement that she likes Spain because it looks like it does in paintings, and of course the joke is that Luis Miñarro spent a great deal of effort constructing the film using Spanish paintings, Goya's Portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London being a key go to, Velazquez also being mentioned in the credits. Giggle-worthy incidents with fruit and also the use of 20th Century music at points delight and surprise.
I mentioned trickery, which is not always obvious, but very interesting once you work it out, and I'm sure I missed many examples. One amusing point is that whilst he is meant to be stuck in Spain, away from his home in Italy, the castle of his internment is actually an Italian castle. The carriage that brings him and his wife to this castle actually has no horses (listen for the clip clop of hooves in vain). These points are very deliberate, as are numerological elements in the film that were an homage to Amadeo's predilection for freemasonry.
One can simply enjoy Luis Miñarro's eye for wondrous objets d'art. He shows a pair of grisaille panels respectively with yearning corn sheaves that drag you deep into an idealised pastoral summer and two horses frolicking together (Amadeo manages to briefly get stuck between the panels, hehe). He put a close-up on a vase with a Fragonardian couple that took my breath away.
Luis Miñarro referred to this film himself as tutti frutti, and it's exactly that, it has a bit of everything, the staggering depth of the Wagner's Prelude to Act 3 of Tristan and Isolde, romance, idealism, pranking, tragedy, surrealism.
It is delicious to my soul to see a man in his seventh decade making a film like this, shedding his background as a producer to emerge as a beautiful butterfly, making this movie was practically an act of philanthropy on his part.
I find myself almost cataloguing the beauty of this film in desperation not to forget a single moment of it. There are still shots and phantom rides of clouds sometimes with artificial colour, at one point the sky was a delicious peach colour (both the ochres and purples of a peach) another it was like lemonade. Lola Dueñas, who is almost ten years older than me at 42, manages nonetheless to produce quite the most seductive of characters and contributes in spades to the sensual trance that is Stella Cadente.
It's worth not forgetting that the movie has political relevance to today, where you might say that there are many political opportunists with no vision for taking the country forward, and access to credit is limited (Amadeo is at the mercy of bankers). Those with Utopian visions (talking trees aside) such as Amadeo ignored.
I'll shut up now, though it's hard to stop, my thanks to all involved in this marvel.
The Bofors Gun is an adaptation of a stage play about a group of
British soldiers in a West German army camp guarding an artillery piece
(the Bofors Gun). It draws in no small part from the National Service
experiences of John McGrath, who wrote the play and adapted it for the
screen. There is some comment relating to futility which is very much
of its time, i.e. guarding an artillery piece against an enemy that has
nuclear weapons, however there are absolutely timeless themes.
Essentially David Warner's Bombardier Terry is forced into confronting
elements of his own personal psychological make-up during a night where
he supervises guard duty. It looks very much like he is a kind,
cultured, sensitive and thoughtful individual, but events compel him to
recognise that he might in fact be adopting a persona that allows for
his survival, and that he's just another player in the game, a coward,
a snob and a selfish one, of whom it cannot even be said in remediation
that he plays with flair or is aware of his own motivations. By
counterpoint Nicol Williamson's O'Rourke is an earthy violent man who
knows himself all too well, and has run out of patience with the
British Army, its attendant hypocrisies, and life in general. Mix for
combustion. What I like about the movie is that it's not clear cut, you
can believe as you wish about Terry, is there an essential duality to
his mind, is he really just a nice guy who is pushed too far, or is he
indeed as pathetic as it gets.
The dialogue is, at times, so out of this world that I overcame my habitual distaste for stagey movies. I've only mentioned the two characters I consider essential to the movie, but in fact there are several other interesting characters, and an eminently credible supporting cast.
In the Shadow of the Blue Rascal is an experimental crime movie. It is
an hallucination that has not utilised the established toolkit and
traditions of the crime genre in film. It reminded me very much of the
writing of Jean Genet, particularly the movie treats Hassan in the same
way that The Miracle of The Rose treats Harcamone, both are
hagiographies in which crime is idealised, Hassan and Harcamone are
presented as dark saints. I also thought a lot about WS Burroughs and
his Cities of the Red Night, and the really overt presence of the
supernatural and promotion of anarchy.
The plot is non-linear and often doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but vaguely we can say that what looks like Paris has become Necrocity, a place where the authorities have encouraged and even directly planned a crime wave, both for the sake of pleasure and also to justify the imposition of martial law by a Sade-ean police force. The whole city is some sort of skid row where people cling onto life and look forward to taking desperate pleasures where they can, drinking and shooting up, and dancing to crazy music in the night.
The movie took several years to complete, with work starting in 1979 and completion in 1985, according to the movie's afterword in the version I saw. It was shot on pretty much no budget, but manages to do more than exceptionally well. Special effects come down to tomato ketchup, and the violence is quite simulated. Even so the movie puts you into a trance that makes it all believable with a continuous poetic narration that is awed, the recycling of exceptionally well composed electronic musical motifs, and almost continuous use of superimpositions.
I am no expert in the politics of the era, but you don't have to be to note that he movie is criticising the treatment of Arabs in French society, or if not critiquing it, using it as a flavour for the movie. I sort of sat watching this movie giving free rein to my id, and it felt great. For people who would prefer to ignore the presence of their id, this movie may prove repugnant.
Deadlock is a metaphysical western filmed in a dust-trap out in the Negev desert. It's an effective homage to Leone though very much its own film as well. A couple of guys pull off a heist and make their separate ways out to the desert to hole up until attention has died down. There are three inhabitants of the small mining town, Dump who has some sort of caretaker role in relation to the disused mine, Jessy a young girl, and Corinna, an older lady, each waltzing with their own personal oblivions, as crazy as you like. There's a cartoonish element to most murder in the movies, but the first part of this movie rather emphasises how difficult it is to kill someone, how you have to go against all the hardwiring in your head that says not to. So when the violence does happen, it hits home pretty hard. It's a tough movie, with no happiness at all, filled with loneliness, and it sort of hints at the impossibility of friendship and the abject selfishness baked into us all. For me it felt like watching it was a spiritual exfoliation.
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