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christopher-underwood

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1208 reviews in total 
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Sexy, violent and funny, 23 June 2016
8/10

I seem to have spent a large part of the last few years devouring late 60s and 70s cult, exploitation and giallo and finding the cinema of today less and less appealing. Generally speaking it is the current trend towards aiming movie product at young teens that seems to have created the giant gap. To compound the problem, for me, so called 'adult' films seem to have to be 'serious' films and dealing with certain 'important issues'. All well and good but I can't be alone in wanting a little action without apology and humour without worrying if someone might get upset. So, much the same way as I have enjoyed box sets of TV shows like Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes, I very much enjoyed this. The magic devise adopted by the TV production company was to set the series in the past and thereby get round the whole politically correct business and this film set in 1977 Los Angeles does the same. Russell Crowe is fine as the ruthless, almost humourless hard man and Ryan Gosling particularly effective as his 'partner'. Amazingly for a US film the kids are great and Angourie Rice a revelation. She didn't put a fourteen year old foot wrong and helped enormously in making this retro comic neo noir work so well. Sexy, violent and funny.

original noir like thriller, 3 June 2016
8/10

Highly unusual and original noir like thriller directed by Philippe Condroyer and starring Jean-Louis Trintignant. For the director this would be more or less his only film, not so the young actor who even here is often acting with facial expression alone. This is a tight and compelling thriller set in late sixties Barcelona as a group of nazi chasers are trying to prove they have the right man under their surveillance. Indeed much of the first part of this film is seen in black and white as we too watch the surveillance footage as the man in their sites goes about his daily business. Much tension, much suspense and for what must have been a very low budget affair, a fascinating, realistic and involving drama. Despite the unusual concept and the effective dialogue, however, it is Trintignant who helps lift this film to what should be cult status but for some reason it remains little seen. If it had been set in Paris, perhaps instead of a drop and developing Spanish city. In any event a very worthwhile watch.

Solo (1970)
Jean-Pierre Mocky has made over 70 films, 31 May 2016
7/10

A curious little film that I was drawn to because I had seen the director's later and unique Litan (1982) and then discovered that the little celebrated Jean-Pierre Mocky has made over 70 films. This, one of his earliest films, is clearly low budget and he stars as well as directs. There are marvellous moments when his eye for the unusual and stylish are to the fore but stretches where for lack of resources or whatever things are more mundane. Inspired by the Paris 1968 events this opens with an armed attack upon an orgy of young girls and rich old men and the 'terrorists' are seen as the good guys. Interesting that on the subtitles the term 'terrorists' is used because my clear recollection is that at the time such opponents of the status quo were referred to as 'revolutionists'. The tale is well enough told and our interest held throughout but I feel that it is simply that some sequences, especially the final one, are so good that I regret the whole could not have been similarly inspired. The difficult mix of sex and politics is intelligently dealt with and Mocky should be applauded for that at least, as well as the flashes of stylish vision.

delirious little oddity, 21 May 2016
7/10

Considering the very varied state of my 'composite' print of this and the fact that most of it takes place between the same four walls and for the most part a two hander, it is pretty remarkable I saw this through. The fact is that despite the degraded print and the limited storyline still the servant enthusiasm of the notorious Renato Polselli shines through. This is, indeed, no Delirium or Black Magic Rites but Rita Caldroni is great in the central role and with and without clothes helps to keep this delirious little oddity together. Polselli aficionados will not be surprised at the sight of goldfish bowls, coloured lights flashing and near naked hippies with body paint swaying irrelevantly after about the one hour mark. There is some attempt at humour that passed me by, some political swipes at the 'capitalist system' and more surprising an extended poke at the church with a cannibal rant with obvious catholic references. I'm not sure quite who I would recommend this to but I enjoyed it and am confident it will slip into my own personal 'Acid Erotica' film genre.

delirious little oddity, 21 May 2016
7/10

Considering the very varied state of my 'composite' print of this and the fact that most of it takes place between the same four walls and for the most part a two hander, it is pretty remarkable I saw this through. The fact is that despite the degraded print and the limited storyline still the servant enthusiasm of the notorious Renato Polselli shines through. This is, indeed, no Delirium or Black Magic Rites but Rita Caldroni is great in the central role and with and without clothes helps to keep this delirious little oddity together. Polselli aficionados will not be surprised at the sight of goldfish bowls, coloured lights flashing and near naked hippies with body paint swaying irrelevantly after about the one hour mark. There is some attempt at humour that passed me by, some political swipes at the 'capitalist system' and more surprising an extended poke at the church with a cannibal rant with obvious catholic references. I'm not sure quite who I would recommend this to but I enjoyed it and am confident it will slip into my own personal 'Acid Erotica' film genre.

delirious little oddity, 21 May 2016
7/10

Considering the very varied state of my 'composite' print of this and the fact that most of it takes place between the same four walls and for the most part a two hander, it is pretty remarkable I saw this through. The fact is that despite the degraded print and the limited storyline still the servant enthusiasm of the notorious Renato Polselli shines through. This is, indeed, no Delirium or Black Magic Rites but Rita Caldroni is great in the central role and with and without clothes helps to keep this delirious little oddity together. Polselli aficionados will not be surprised at the sight of goldfish bowls, coloured lights flashing and near naked hippies with body paint swaying irrelevantly after about the one hour mark. There is some attempt at humour that passed me by, some political swipes at the 'capitalist system' and more surprising an extended poke at the church with a cannibal rant with obvious catholic references. I'm not sure quite who I would recommend this to but I enjoyed it and am confident it will slip into my own personal 'Acid Erotica' film genre.

Fear City (1984)
glorious night shots of 42nd Street and Times Square, 18 May 2016
6/10

Bearing in mind this is an early Ferrara, coming after Driller Killer and Ms.45 I should perhaps not have been so surprised at its failings. It is far better than the former but some way less good than Ms.45 and there is the problem of censorship. There are cut and uncut versions of this available but all versions lack chunks of material originally cut and now presumably lost. This accounts for some glaring jump cuts and a freeze frame on a sex scene that had me thinking my disc had stuck. Splendid camera-work as usual and worth seeing just for the glorious night shots of 42nd Street and Times Square, now nicely tidied up, I understand. Here the neon sizzles almost as much as the strippers in the clubs. Melanie Griffith seems to do all her own sex dance near nude scenes and probably gives the best acting performance. Most of the cast overact like crazy and much of the dialogue seems very stilted making it difficult to take much very seriously. Not least the karate crazed series killer who although he doesn't speak (nor even have a name) manages to look ridiculous all the same. The kills are grim, even in their trimmed form, especially intercut with the 'dancers' and the nightclub scenes are suitable sleazy. Its just all a bit predictable and with the edge maybe taken off with those cuts not quite as terrifying as I'm sure the director intended.

Symptoms (1974)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
thanks to the BFI a pristine, full colour print is available at last, 3 May 2016
4/10

I remember loving this upon its original theatrical release and subsequently being appalled that all I could get to re-watch it was a third generation video copy. Now at last thanks to the BFI a pristine, full colour print is available and it looks wonderful. I have to confess that now I am not struggling to see this through some washed out fuzz I am able to detect that the tale is not as originally told as it might be. Nevertheless it does look great with its lakeside setting and woodland scenes and Angela Pleasance gives a fantastic performance. She acts like some curious and wounded animal with jerky off camera stares that are most disconcerting but we are not really surprised when the killing begins. Well done though and if this lacks some of the more vivid sex and violence of other films from the director it probably does remain his most professional effort. Seems like I'm damning with feint praise but I feel that Larraz probably achieved everything he wanted to with this but somehow lost that crazy delirium present in some of his less perfect outings.

Well worth seeing but......, 3 May 2016
7/10

Barely stands up as a film worth much attention on its own but is interesting for various reasons. There is a point about halfway through when two lads are speaking of their childhood, born down in the underground during the war and playing on the bomb sites that makes it perfectly clear this is about the generation immediately before the post war baby boomers. There are rockers, well teds but no mods as yet and big no-no of the day was striptease and games of 'chicken' the big thrill. Gillian Hills really was only 15 when she starred in this. Probably her greatest claims to fame were appearing in Clockwork Orange and being 'The Brunette' opposite Jane Birkin's 'The Blonde' in Blow-Up. Shirley Anne Field is great but is lumbered with a terrible song miming sequence towards the end. She would make Peeping Tom and Saturday Night and Sunday Morning the same year being quite 'the look' for several years. Christopher Lee is still on a very slow journey to stardom and not wonderful in this while a 19 year old Oliver reed almost ruins his career with some incredible over acting in a near nothing part. The Chislehurst Caves sequence is probably the best but there are some decent Soho scenes even if most of them are studio bound. Well worth seeing but more from an historical point of view than a dramatic one.

Chloe (2009)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
so unlikely and unbelievable, 22 April 2016
5/10

There was something about the way this film began, husband missing flight home for admittedly 'surprise' birthday party because he is having a drink with one of his students. Something clunky and seemingly predictable about the whole proceeding and then a prostitute is hired to see if husband would seduce her. Can it get more daft? Well, it can and it does, even if some twists change things up a bit. Julianne Moore can act but I've never been a fan and here at 49 it is simply unfair to have her compared to the young (and lovely) Amanda Seyfried all the time. Liam Neeson does no more than he usual seems to to make things realistic and believable and the 'mixed up son' (director Egoyan's alter ego, I suspect) is just too young and too inexperienced for such a difficult and underwritten role. The fairly explicit and frequent sex scenes are OK but the trouble is we are almost wishing not to see them, so unlikely and unbelievable are they.


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