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christopher-underwood

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1297 reviews in total 
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Billy Liar (1963)
incandescent performance from Julie Christie, 28 April 2017
6/10

Having seen Albert Finney on stage I didn't feel that Tom Courtney was as strong in the lead role for the film but in many ways this suits the part. No point in making the daydreaming loser too strong in personality, although the anomaly here is that he seems to have no difficulty attracting the ladies even if he is a bit soppy. Never as funny as the book, Schlesinger opens up the film and those facial gestures from the stage and subtle asides in the book are lost. As a movie capturing the times that were very much about to change it is brilliant. I loved the opening credits with the rows of semi-detached houses (because we are talking poor middle class here, not working class) and the shots of slum clearance. The tone is apt too and very theme, so central here, of 'going down to London' so much of the time just a few years before those swing sixties would burst everything apart. One last point, should anyone be wary of bothering with a British 'kitchen sink' drama, there is an early and completely incandescent performance from Julie Christie. She glows on screen and is particularly noticeable with the surrounding drabness and the usual stereotypical British girls on show. A sensational performance that set Christie up fora very decent career and parts in some very influential and important films, not least her next with the same director - Darling.

it is clear this is not going to end very well., 25 April 2017
8/10

Rare for me to come across a film of such quality from 60s/70s that I have never seen but this is certainly one. All the more surprising that it is an Altman film I hadn't seen but then I assume this only had a modest release and then disappeared. Easy to see why as it is a difficult film to describe and recommend to someone and pretty much in a category of its own although I do recall someone suggesting there might be a small genre of 'women going madsploitation' which I guess was to include to include Repulsion and the earlier Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. Strangely I was reminded more of the 2007 British film Hallam Foe which had something of the tone and obsessiveness. That had humour though which this has little of and what there is is very hard to laugh at. Sandy Dennis is amazing and particularly in that she has to talk to herself for most of the movie. At turns this is worrying and vaguely amusing that only makes it more worrying and even disturbing. There are some surprises but right from the beginning it is clear this is not going to end very well.

glorious and dramatic opening, 24 April 2017
7/10

Even on a restored Blu-ray this wonderfully plotted and written noir comes out as a bit of a humdrum film with 'B movie' written all over. Not sure why because there are some great lines and plenty of surprises along the way. I guess, apart from the glorious and dramatic opening, it does lack a little action and the parade of guys willing to help or otherwise don't seem to help this catch fire. Lizabeth Scott has been great and should have been so in this but somehow she looks so strained and uncomfortable. Sure, she has plenty happening in the story to make her feel strained and uncomfortable but here the problem seems to be with some issue with her co-stars or possibly the director. Either way this is a good tale that is never obvious, maybe a little far fetched but thats okay, and if we take issue now and again with a character's motives, all is resolved fairly well in the end.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Exciting, disturbing, silly, sexy and serious, 23 April 2017
9/10

I can't establish whether writer Barry Sandler got the idea for Crimes of Passion from the original Joe Orton theatrical pairing that went out under that title but several of the main ingredients are there including the crazed preacher, the prostitute and the 'normal' guy. I have discovered that Cher was at one time considered for the female lead and that Jeff bridges for the 'normal' guy. Things would have been a little different in that situation. As it is Kathleen Turner gives the bravest, boldest and most bravura performance as the part time prostitute with a passion for the unusual and Anthony Perkins gives, surely the scariest performance of his career. And yes, David Lynch or Dennis Hopper must have had a little look at this before making Blue Velvet. Ken Russell clearly had fun here and creates the most splendid neon drenched streets, sleazy character aplenty whilst encouraging Turner to give her all and Perkins to just let rip. Exciting, disturbing, silly, sexy and serious by turns, this is an extraordinary film that despite my mention of the Lynch film, truly stands alone even in comparison to the craziest creations in the wonderful world of cinema.

Walkabout (1971)
Quite splendid, 22 April 2017
9/10

Quite splendid first directorial outing by Nicolas Roeg. Wonderfully shot, then he was on camera duty as well, and the direction is surprisingly assured. It couldn't have been easy working in the outback and with a young Jenny Agutter and even younger, Luc, his own little boy. The opening is enigmatic and never explained, we are simply left with the young pair making the best of things and trying to keep their school uniforms as neat as possible. There are wonderful exchanges between the two, Agutter maintaining the stiff upper lip and encouraging the youngster to keep going whilst he happily plays with his toys and occasionally makes insightful but worrying remarks that his older sister struggles to deal with as calmly as possible. The visuals are very impressive and if Roeg overdoes it slightly he can be forgiven particularly as they seem to reflect the early 70s date of the movie as much as his own penchant for artistic camera-work. Particularly poignant are the scenes with the 'black boy' and particularly his heartbreaking ritual dance towards the end. Can't not mention the very bold nude scenes from young Agutter and in particular the stylish and dreamlike swimming scenes.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
overlong and overblown, 21 April 2017
6/10

Back in 1968 I attended the UK premiere of this film. I had seen some of Polanski's early Polish shorts, his first feature, Knife in the Water as well as Repulsion and Cut-De-Sac and was already a great fan. That I was now to see the much hyped film Hitchcock had turned aside perhaps led to my expecting too much and I was bitterly disappointed in this overlong and overblown movie filled with hammy performances and Mia farrow looking and acting like some schoolgirl. Watching it again, after a viewing of The Mephisto Waltz, I imagined that 'class' would show through and that I had been nothing but a petulant youngster all those years ago. But, no, this seemingly much loved 'classic horror' really is rather lacking in substance. I guess the satanic sequence, still good but tame by today's standards had much greater impact originally and although I think Farrow's performance generally poor, she is excellent in a very fine telephone booth sequence towards the end. It may be that Polanski was in awe of her playing the skinny little girl and only now and again let her show her real potential and let rip in a scene or two that could have come from Hitch himself.

most wonderful and scary party scene, 19 April 2017
8/10

I enjoyed this and am pretty sure I have never seen it before. This is rather surprising given my interest in horror films particularly of the satanic bent but then this film seems to have suffered general neglect, probably due to several other and possibly better such films at this time. I liked the stylish opening credits and the Jerry Goldsmith score immediately and was similarly held throughout. Director, Paul Wendkos worked mainly for television and there are scenes here that have that rather flat, studio bound look. In the main though, helped especially by great performances from Jacqueline Bisset and Barbara Parkins, not forgetting a splendid central role from Curt Jurgens, this has a certain majesty about it. One is drawn in by a string of nasty and mysterious happenings and certainly my attention was held throughout. There was a promise all the time of a big satanic scene which never really happens but then there is the most wonderful and scary party scene that could have been longer as I don't think I have ever seen the like.

splendid opening, 18 April 2017
7/10

After a splendid opening credit sequence, this hustles along and in the space of the first fifteen minutes we have a had a seance, a gory killing, a suggestion of corruption in high places, child prostitution and the introduction of a blind fiancé. Things do slow down, however, and the film is not afraid to leave loose ends (and bodies) about the place. Eric Porter is effective as the guardian with too much faith in Freud and too much attention on the young girl in his charge. Angharad Rees plays the young child who at times looks disturbingly young although was in reality twenty- seven at the time. By halfway it is clear that this is not going to be an all absorbing and believable story but it does pick up for a splendid finale at St Paul's, though I was still left wondering why we had had the blind fiancé.

'See it twice', 17 April 2017
8/10

This is the most stunning and scary film that I have been unable to fully understand and follow, which makes it even more creepy. All performances are excellent, the photography, first class and the direction, always accepting that I didn't really always know what was going on, seems perfect. There is always something of a problem for small-minded westerners to tend to see other races as if they all look the same. This is a problem here because it seems that sometimes we may be seeing the ghost of a character, sometimes and imagined character and sometimes someone portrayed as if they are someone else. meanwhile nasty things are happening, probably, but certainly did in the past. I notice on my Blu-Ray box, the Independent newspaper is quoted, 'See it twice' and this seems to make sense. I am assured by others that everything does tie up and as this is not possible to fully appreciate on a single viewing, this probably makes good sense. Lost at times or not I never lost interest in this masterly piece of work

Absolute gem, 17 April 2017
8/10

'The Elephant Will Never Forget' only forms 11 minutes of the pictured disc of films by John Krish. They Took Us To The Sea (1961) is a slightly longer documentary where disadvantaged children are taken to the sea. It seems to be a very organised trip with rides rather than the simply flopping on the beach with buckets that i remember but very good of the individual kids. Our School and I Think They Call Him John complete the main selection and there are a few others as extras. It is the title film that is the true wonder here though. Being brought up in west London I don't think I ever saw a tram on the streets unless I caught a glimpse of one in Kingsway, for me it was the trolley bus that clanged along. This film, though, however short is so remarkably clear you can see the stuff in the shop windows as the tram goes by. I haven't identified all the streets yet but seems to feature, Old Kent Road, New Cross, Peckham High Street and Woolwich Market. Absolute gem and though worth the price of the Blu on its own there is plenty more on here, as I say.


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