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Jûsan-nin no shikaku (2010)
This film was a dark-edged delight from beginning to end when I saw it at the 2010 edition of TIFF. The audience there loved it too, breaking out into spontaneous applause during several scenes.
Solid direction by Miike, great characters, beautifully shot and simply some of the best and most intense action sequences put on film - ever! It does have it's obvious influences, such as Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai", but damn, this one kicks ass mightily! You've never seen Shogun like this! And something else to point out: the sound on this film was thundering, shaking and stellar! THIS is the kind of film that reminds us why we go to a movie theatre to enjoy a film on a big screen, why we turn off our cell phones and immerse ourselves in the experience of cinema-going, as opposed to staying home on our couches.
I'll go see it again on the big screen when it hopefully returns to town - you can bet on that!
One of TIFF 2010's best!
I saw this film at the 2010 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival, and it was a pleasant surprise.
Great performances, tightly directed, and a very compelling storyline, in addition to a being beautifully shot and using some great Magnum Photos in the film as part of the main character's unexpected shift into a new world and a new life.
Based on the American writer Douglas Kennedy's acclaimed book of the same name, but changed to a Euro setting, director Eric Lartigau easily shows how European filmmakers can take the themes of murder, obsession and identity to new artistic heights, while also giving us one of the best thrillers of 2010. It's a thriller as cinematic art as only the Europeans can do.
The film might not have gotten as much attention as other films at TIFF 2010, but it definitely should. I truly hope it gets a wider release here in Canada and elsewhere.
Seek it out. Decidedly worthwhile.
Es geschah am hellichten Tag (1958)
I became curious about this one after realizing that this was a film based on the same source material as a later adaptation directed by Sean Penn and starring Jack Nicholson, Robin Wright, Benicio del Toro and Aaron Eckhart.
Penn's version is a very bleak, disturbing film with Jack Nicholson actually disappearing into the role of the main detective character, something he so rarely does these days. The unrelenting gloom of the film was probably what made it less palpable for audiences at the time of its release. I have to wonder if that atmosphere of despair was taken from the book, or simply inserted by Penn in his adaptation of the screenplay.
This version from the late 50's is nonetheless a very effective thriller in its own way, with great performances and very well directed. Gert Frobe (Goldfinger) gives a very chilling portrait of the killer, while Heinz Ruhmann as Detective Matthai is excellent too, and carries the film well.
It's simply one of those solid and well-done black and white thrillers from an earlier era that slips under the wire, and that should be rediscovered again by contemporary audiences. Criterion! Check this one out!
great title, so-so film...but still kinda fun!
While this movie can't be considered a classic due to its low-budget and uneven acting, it does have an appeal for me, in some strange way. Stewart Granger is all smiles and morally corrupt in his actions, but there's something about his character that makes you wonder where he originated from and what set him on the path to being the bastard that he is at an older age, compared to his younger compatriots. When he does unleash that smile upon hearing about an offer of more money to do a job, you can't help but laugh at his smarmy style.
He's like the dark side of espionage...something the genre of spy films rarely recognizes as a possibility, in that any man in such a world doesn't need any morals, he just needs finances to get the job done, whatever it may be. This is also something verbally acknowledged by those who hire him for the job early in the film. They don't want an upstanding citizen or agent...his actually being a bastard is what makes him right for the task, because those he faces are just as bad!
The title, while connected to events in the film, is also saying something about the whole genre of spy films at that time; that these men, being a Bourne, a Bond or whomever, can't always be doing the right thing for the right reasons, and that such films as a whole are more often about assassins and men of violence than those of noble and misunderstood heroes. (and yet, there is a touch of nobility and honor to his character in the film, too)
Maybe that's reading more into what is essentially a low-budget take on the popular espionage films of the 60's, but I think the film has a better script, and some decent enough dialogue, to make it hard to ignore completely. And Stewart Granger is a delight to watch as a gray-haired, older anti-hero spy-for-hire.
The Abominable Snowman (1957)
I just stumbled across a copy of this film recently on DVD, and consider it a very good find.
Since a kid, I've had a (somewhat) continuing fascination with Bigfoot, Sasquatch, the Abominable Snowman, etc. However, this is the first time I've come across a film that treats the subject intelligently, and with more thought than just providing a simple scare. This film was well acted, written (intelligently so) and directed, and created a genuine sense of suspense, and maintained an eerie mood throughout. You don't see the creatures full-on, but that's to the film's benefit and better over-all effect to those watching, especially in the almost film noir use of black and white photography.
This is no cheap monster quickie, or faux documentary (though I like some of those too), and though fairly low budget, it's still good.
So basically, I'd have to say this is the best film about the Abominable Snowman (or Bigfoot-like creature) I've seen. Like the Yeti...seek it out!
Seven Sinners (1940)
that Dietrich look....
I've seen this film a number of times on late-night TV, and quite enjoyed it, especially Marlene Dietrich. Go figure.
The story is all fun...kind of a South Seas version of "Destry Rides Again"....mixed moments of comedy and drama.
But the scene that gets me, and literally makes me always want to watch this film over and over again, is the one scene where Dietrich and Wayne are flirting with one another somewhere outside her home, and Dietrich is just looking at Wayne with a "oh yeah, we're gonna hook up tonight" look (for want of a better term) that would make any sane man melt. She's also so beautifully lit up and photographed, and the light in her eyes glowing with desire....sigh. It comes across as such a genuinely captured moment of desire on film, that it makes you wish you were in the Duke's shoes at that moment (he does indeed look happy to be there himself). Considering there are reports they in fact had an affair and spent time together around and after the making of this film, you can easily imagine and believe that it is indeed just that.
Les petits chats (1965)
an intriguing clip....
I've only seen a clip/trailer on one of the Something Weird videos as a bonus feature on their 'Chained Girls/Daughters of Lesbos' DVD, but it looked quite beautifully shot, even though it seems there's no trace of the entire film to be found anywhere otherwise. The trailer was almost hypnotic with the narrator repeating: "The Wild Roots of Love. The Wild Roots of Love. The Wild Roots of Love."
Very bizarre stuff. I'd love to see the whole thing. Maybe the film will eventually come out, as it seems to feature Catherine Deneuve in her younger years, at least according to IMDb here.
If you come across that SW DVD, be sure to take a look at "The Wild Roots of Love. The Wild Roots of Love. The Wild Roots of Love."
Tagebuch einer Verlorenen (1929)
wonderful silence, and pace adjusted...
I stumbled on this flick on a late-night Canadian French channel, and became quite enamoured with it - partly due to the story, the way it unfolded, but more so with Louise Brooks. She looks fantastic, her smile (when it actually appears in this somewhat melodramatic film) so captivating. But even the characters around her were fascinating too, and the way they were filmed.
It seems to me that with current technology, we can watch a silent movie like this now adjusted to what we understand to be a movement of characters to a pace more like our own, not the slightly quickened pace that we're used to seeing in silent films. I haven't seen the film in its original form, so I can't make an accurate assessment as to whether it unspools a bit more quickly simply due to projectors of the era, or the way it was filmed - the point is this: watching a movie such as this Pabst classic now adjusted to a more realistic pace does seem to make one appreciate them more in a strangely contemporary context. Though we still note the differences in clothing and appearance of the people, they all seem more identifiable somehow. But I swear, I spent a few minutes wondering if I had stumbled onto a contemporary silent-film imitation of some type! Oops!
I experienced something similar recently when watching a screening of Murnau's "Sunrise" - the film and its characters somehow transcended their era. Though part of me wonders if that film also had its pacing adjusted technologically, there was a human dimension to it that made me push aside any preconceived notions of silent cinema and just enjoyed it as a tale well told, beautifully filmed, and amazingly acted. This film has the same effect - though I think it was actually I who transcended my era by experiencing it.
From Russia with Love (1963)
the best Bond film...
This particular Bond flick will always be my favourite.
I don't think I need to elaborate too much on this film, as others have done, but suffice it to say this one captures the most Cold War feel of the series than any other of the films, and does it amazingly well before the films became a bit more fantastic in plots and situations. Great villains and action sequences - it's all there.
And the fight scene between Connery and Shaw still holds up as one of the most intense, exciting punch-ups in any of the Bond films. If that one scene didn't hugely influence the fight scenes in the "Bourne" series (amongst others), I'll eat my hat.
To me, this is THE Bond classic.
one scene stands out...
...of many, of course.
Many other reviewers have written about this film in various capacities, but let me offer my own take by highlighting one scene that made me laugh and yet was perfectly in keeping with Connery's take on the Bond character.
In the card-playing scene with Largo, Bond manages to beat him at cards several times, whereas Largo states: "You seem unbeatable, Mr. Bond." What does Bond say? Nothing. He just puts on a smirk and waves his hand as if it's a given. Bloody brilliant. The scene stood out upon watching the film in the new special editions that came out recently. Having seen the movie many times before, it was just one scene that illuminated Connery's mastery of the character in this particular brilliant Bond flick.