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Not to disagree
with my esteemed predecessor but this is one of Altman's most interesting films combining his industrial background and his use of cutting-edge technology (location filming with lenses and faster color film stock in this instance)and anticipating both the serial-killer phenomenon and such oddball affects as David Lynch's Blue Velvet. It's a weirdly creepy experience and covered more extensively on IMDb under it's other name: Nightmare In Chicago. I especially like the strip club scene and the scenes set in and around Chicago's freeways and the traveler's oasis where Georgie has a strange little conversation with a waitress right out of Ben's place. It's a gas man!
Phase IV (1974)
Phase V- Alternate ending
One of the spate of "environmental" sci-fi movies that came out in the wake of 2001, SILENT RUNNING comes to mind as well as the superficially similar (to PHASE IV) THE HELLSTROM CHRONICLE, this movie has the benefit of some good macro photography of various ants (and, if I remember my days in California, a blue-black wasp with orange feelers and wings known as a "tarantula hawk"). I saw it again last night on the final day of SIFF. Included was the "long lost" alternate ending which was influenced (obviously) by 2001 and some other obscure films like THE MASK (Julian Roffman's 1961 3-D extravaganza) and William Cameron Menzie's, also a noted designer, THE MAZE.
The movie is a bit dated and clearly "hooie" although I remember it as being a bit more convincing when I saw it in a theater in 1974. The alternate ending would have made it a better movie experience although it resolved nothing and is basically a montage of surreal, suggestive imagery.
Will anyone ever get a chance to see this? Some have. You might. Do it if you can.
Slice of Angst
If you need "spoilers" or plot précis check the other reviews. This movie is one I noted at the time of its release with interest. The opportunity to actually see it never materialized. I'm not sure was it ever available on videotape? It's now in some sort of limited release. I saw a 35mm presentation last night at the Grand Illusion in Seattle. The screen at the GI is slightly larger than something you would have in your living room. However I could ascertain through the projection window that the presentation was indeed projected from film. 35mm? Hmm...
However the print was in good condition and the presentation was acceptable except for the fact at about 15 minutes into the film someone came out and readjusted the bottom screen drape to conform to the height of the frame's aspect ratio. A movie in a different format had played just before Possession.
The main interest for me was that in 1981 mechanical creature effects were state-of-the-art for movies (soon to be replaced by CGI of course) and Carlo Rimbaldi had also scored big that same year creating and animating the puppet pieces in E.T. He'd also been involved with some of the mechanical effects in the '76 King Kong. Plus the film had some notoriety and Isabelle Adjani won the best actress award at Cannes for this role.
So what do ya get for your $10? An oblique, Eastern European art job complete with spastic ("possessed") acting, bloody skewerings, gun shots, a toilet drowning and an odd, writhing, indefinable creature hidden away in a decaying Berlin apartment. This movie is not for those who prefer their plots to be logical and their action to be well-packed. There are a lot of doctrinaire esthetics on display (obscured by the Polish(?) director's cultural reference points) and the lasting impression is of that of a marriage destroyed by the dark realities of human nature. That message comes through plainly.
People Like Us (2012)
Maybe that's good, maybe that's bad. Nice work by the actors in a pat story (of the "conflict generated by one character withholding important information" variety). Would have been better, for my money, if there were fewer familiar faces (Phillip Baker Hall, Mark Duplass!) in minor roles. Captures LA nicely. Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks actually look enough alike to pass as siblings. I saw this with a large, receptive crowd at SIFF with Chris Pine and Alex Kurtzman in attendance. Entertaining but not particularly moving.
Still... Michelle Pfeiffer is a national treasure even in a standard vehicle like this one.
Behind the Mask (1946)
Not bad. In fact very good.
An early B comedy by Phil Karlson this was a nice surprise with a stone cold open on an odious blackmailer making his rounds. Ooops! It's a crusading reporter shaking down his list of suckers. The opening scene has him slapping a "sucker", who kinda likes it, and then relieving her of the stiletto she was about to slide into his back. So there's no shortage of suspects.
Kane Richmond is solid as Lamont/Shadow with a Jack Carson-like presence, albeit on a B level. The rest of the cast has a few familiar faces. Condolences to others who also peg the killer. It's a formulaic cliché that has been done to death but I actually liked that I could finger the culprit at first siting.
Lots of inappropriate humor, S&M is a strong undercurrent with a comical cross dressing sequence thrown in, this movie begins and ends with slaps and spankings. If you think this stuff is "corny" because it's period 40s... too bad for you.
Bikini Summer II (1992)
I wished I had commented on this long ago but since Jeff Conaway was, apparently, on the oblivion express it remained beneath contempt. Since his stunning comeback in recent years I feel obliged to call the gentleman out ("gentleman" isn't the word I originally used). Ed Wood didn't know any better and people "trying" to make bad movies dwell in their own circle of hell but this movie always seemed to me to be an egregious example of Hollywood at its worst (nonsense, naked women and a benighted attempt to cash in on Jessica Hahn's fleeting moment in the spotlight) and so I present to you... Bikini Summer II (was there ever a I?) perhaps the least essential movie ever, even from an economic standpoint of providing jobs and presumably some employment for those involved.
Doctor Blood's Coffin (1961)
The Candle of His Lust Burned Brightest In The Grave!
Pretty straight forward little thriller, one I've always wanted to see, that interestingly makes a monster out of a doctor who wants to do heart transplants! And this was about 4 or 5 years before it actually happened for real! I wonder how Christiaan Barnard felt about that! OK I just checked the first heart transplant was 1967.
Dr. Blood himself is pretty over the top not hesitating to sacrifice the useless and unworthy to further his pursuits.
It's close and a little clammy when down in the mine tunnels but the location work is good and I want to add my praises for Hazel Court who is too attractive for her role. There's a great bit in the first two minutes. She's a nurse and when the village Dr drives up she runs over to help with his packages. He loads her up with an armful of five or six boxes then wanders off to jaw with the locals. Pretty funny bit no matter how you parse it from a period or contemporary perspective.
I wouldn't recommend it. It's OK of its kind but the ending, which the whole movie builds up to, is ludicrous and let's all the steam out of the slowly, but effectively, developed tension.
House on Haunted Hill (1959)
My first film
Like at least one other here I saw this in a theater, in Memphis in 1959, when I was five. I clearly remember, to this day, EMERGO which was a 15-foot illuminated paper skeleton that ran in and out of the theater on a wire to the right of the screen. This was my first movie (in a theater) and I'm gratified to see from all the comments here that it wasn't just me being sensitive but a goddamn nightmare of a scary movie which it absolutely is. It was claustrophobically atmospheric in William Castle's own unique, low budget, way. I also saw 13 Ghosts in its first run with the color viewers and I saw a cheesy presentation of The Tingler at the Film Forum in NYC around '91 where at the moment the theater is supposed to go dark and selected seats are to start buzzing, instead a man jumped up into a spotlight and wrestled with a rubber lobster. Not nearly as impressive as a giant glowing skeleton that had just forced a woman into an acid vat! That and the severed heads marked me for life. If you like HoHH and want to see more Castle (the guy was a genius on so many levels and we will never see his like again) check out any of the Whistler movies, When Strangers Marry, Johnny Stool Pigeon, all of his classics from the 50s and 60s especially Strait-Jacket, The Night Walker, the previously mentioned Bug and Shanks, his final film, which Leonard Maltin calls "one of the strangest movies ever made". The last of the barnstorming producers! With a gimmick! His book is great too.
I watched this recently. Tired attempt to shock and really only for those susceptible to hype.
I'm saying this as someone who went to Texas Chainsaw Massacre, way back when, with a headful of LSD and found it to be the same sort of experience. A lot of fake suspense (that's where the hype comes in) and then some curiously detached, "formal", torturing of uncomprehending victim. Is it pretentious? Is it transcendent? That's in the eye of the beholder.
If you have a taste for sadism this might be right up your alley. If you are interested in other kinds of cinematic experiences you should probably skip this one. I guess I'm immured against this sort of thing since it's basically the product of a debased material culture.
Synecdoche, New York (2008)
I saw this yesterday and enjoyed it immensely. The huge cast of mostly familiar faces was a revelation as if being seen for the first time. That goes for Tom Noonan, Dianne Weist and especially Samantha Morton. I've seen her before but never has she been this warm and believable as a stock character in a "movie". The obsessive reiteration of Caden's vision, to my mind, succeeded in creating a living, breathing work of art. You should see it and judge for yourself. Some people definitely won't like it but watch the performers, keep your eyes and ears open for the little touches (super duper spoiler: the first thing Caden does in the movie is open the morning paper and read the headline: "Harold Pinter Vindicated at 78" and says: "Harold Pinter is dead. No, he won the Nobel Prize.") From that point on enjoy the performances, the production design and the way the story wends its way to the conclusion.