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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A silly funny drugs comedy, 25 April 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If Michael Glawogger had gained any kind of international reputation, it was perhaps for serious-minded, left-leaning features and documentaries about the struggles of the working man. CONTACT HIGH is not that sort of film. Branching out into the world of drugs and idiots, it is instead not a million miles away from an Austrian WITHNAIL AND I (only not as laugh-out-loud funny).

An American gangster in Vienna (Jeremy Strong) needs a bag retrieved from Lodz in Poland. He tells a gay garage-owner (Detlev Buck) to fetch it, who in turn asks a manic half-wit called George (or Schorschi - Georg Friedrich) to fetch it, who decides he'd rather watch the Le Mans 24 Hour Race so he asks a girl he knows (Pia Hierzegger) to fetch it, who finally asks the hapless pair who run her hot-dog stand for her. One of them (Raimund Wallisch) fancies him a bit of a sausage king and can't wait to sample Polish Würst; the other (Michael Ostrowski, who co-wrote the screenplay with the director) is just a good-natured dope-head.

There's also Wallisch's obnoxious daughter who discovers all sorts of excellent hallucinogenics lying around and alters several people's perceptions as a result; plus the perfect girl for Ostrowski; and a whacked-out hotel.

There's pleasure for non-Austrian audiences in seeing players like Buck and Friedrich, more familiar from Michael Haneke pictures, letting their hair down and having a wild time; there's pleasure, too, in the craziness of it all. It has that dopey, generous quality associated with all the best trips. Not incidentally, it's also among the best films I know about being stoned.

Unfortunately, the makers appear to have got high on their own supply, since, by the final couple of reels, they give up on the plot entirely and just have everyone tripping off their faces to general bemusement - not least the audience's.

That aside, I suspect you already know whether you're going to like this film - or whether you're going to think it a gross breach of public morality.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Two out of five is okay..., 24 October 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A compendium film of the sort which were so popular with Italian producers (and presumably audiences) throughout the fifties and sixties and, like so many of them, a very mixed bag. The idea is an ironic disquisition on love at five different points from 1900 to 1943 and three of the episodes suggest that, either through the producers' whim or budgetary restraints, an artificial, almost fin de siecle style was being imposed. The most notable directors, however, Rossellini and Germi, have resisted and insisted on getting their camera outside into the fresh air, so that ultimately there's no unifying manner at all.

First up is Pellegrini with a predictable, arch tale about a woman from a noble family who loves a pianist but whose father and aunt push her toward marrying the wealthy count who can resurrect the family fortune. Staid and starchy, it can only safely by recommended to lovers of ambulant waxworks.

Not much better, alas, is Germi's story of a young couple who decide to marry even though they feel certain that the first world war will drag them apart. The plot is horribly schematic and the material finds the director (who wasn't responsible for the screenplay) at his most sentimental. There's a little glint of the wit and acerbity which would make later films like SEDOTTA E ABANDONATTA such gems in his depiction of the elderly school teacher but, even as a fan, I feel I'm clutching at straws.

Chiari gives us a wildly overplayed comedy about a fascist leaving his small village and going to see the glories of Rome, exchanging his black shirt for a tux and becoming quite the ladies' man at the casino - until his old girlfriend comes looking for him and neatly turns the tables on him. It's not really funny enough and would have been better had it been subtler (it also doesn't make much sense: where does the young man's money come from and, assuming he has any, why is he reduced to begging to be a movie extra?) but it marks the film's up-swing in quality.

Predictably, Rossellini does best with a fragment of a tale about an extra and a recovering soldier taking refuge from an air raid in Napoli in 1943 and, perhaps against her better judgement, falling in love. The tragic ending isn't earned and looks tacked on but otherwise this is superbly shot (you'd know it was Rossellini even without the credit), with some nicely judged comedy from a trio of peddlers.

Finally, an elegant roundelay from Pietrangeli (a director who strikes me as being ripe for re- evaluation) with a doctor discovering he's much in demand by men and women who want to take lovers. Some brilliant editing turn this into a whirlwind of cynical fun. None of the tales is above fifteen minutes in length, so even the less successful ones don't outstay their welcome and the result is pleasant entertainment that, on balance, probably deserves to be better known.

4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
An excellent modernist noir, 16 September 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Fritz Lang's last film in America saw him reunited with some of the people with whom he had made WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS, and while the budget is still clearly poverty row, once again he comes up with a terrific commentary on the ills at the heart of fifties America. This time, it's the death penalty that forms the centrepiece of the film - or it seems to be, since that's the plot motor. But look closer, and you'll find it's actually about two of Lang's most familiar subjects: guilt and hypocrisy. Almost everyone in the film lives a double life, most obviously Dana Andrews' writer, but even Joan Fontaine's deeply frustrated spinster, who really can't wait to marry Andrews, and whose horror, when she discovers his double life is palpable. Lang floats above his subject matter elegantly, occasionally dipping his toe into the sleaze (a wonderful scene towards the end with a Miami strip-joint owner), getting terrific performances and indicting an entire society.

3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Very mild tele-series compendium, 3 March 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A compendium of three adventures for Boris Karloff as the eye-patched Scotland Yard man in charge of D3 - Department for Queer Complaints (really). Stitched together (without ceremony) as a plug for the British television series, it clearly worked, since twenty-odd subsequent episodes appeared over the next four years, keeping Karloff in genial, efficient work.

Here, he investigates a bank robbery, the murder of a Japanese dancer and a young couple whose house is apparently haunted by a pair of murderous gloves. I bow to no man in my admiration for the director, a victim of the McCarthy blacklist, but he brings no distinction to this assignment, filming flatly and cheaply (Richard Wattis' nightclub appears to be no more than one table, a tiny stage, an even smaller bar, and a dressing room) and apparently most interested in getting to the end of each story.

Which leaves only the plots, and these are mild indeed. Each turns on a supposedly mysterious twist which only Colonel March's brilliantly insightful mind can discover - the culprits are never in much doubt, the question is how they thought they could get away with it - but the audience is never allowed into the deductive process. We're left with Karloff twinkling away (always a pleasure) and a lot of ropey old technique. The Endfield who made, for instance, "The underworld story", is nowhere in evidence.