Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
ListsAn error has ocurred. Please try again
The Gamma People (1956)
The Gamma Prisoner.
Taking part in the ICM Sci-Fi/Fantasy viewing challenge,I make sure to take a look at what viewings others are having. With his The Plague of the Zombies (1966-also reviewed) being the first classic Hammer Horror I saw, I was interested to spot a fellow poster praise a John Gilling title I've not heard of before, leading to the gamma ray being turned on.
View on the film:
Stranding Wilson and Meade in a small country which they can't figure it how they arrived, appears not to be on a map, and is impossible to leave, co-writer/(with Robert Aldrich/Louis Pollock and John W. Gossage) director John Gilling & cinematographer Ted Moore touch on the eerie, isolating Sci-Fi atmosphere of the 60's The Prisoner TV show, thanks to stylish wide-shots scanning the sparsely populated village/country, where shops that serve no purpose (such as a telegraph shop) are open and pretending to do business.
Giving Meade and Wilson a warm welcome in John Box's surreal, exotic art design, Gilling wonderfully runs into the direction he would later take with Plague of the Zombies, in the leader of the country having a brainwashed, zombie gang to do his bidding, with Gilling treading on a Horror atmosphere in frantic tracking shots following the zombies sniffing out suspicious locals in the woods like hounds.
Targeting gamma rays at the inner workings of the country, the writers brilliantly twist allegorical Sci-Fi of everyone fearing to speak out in a Eastern European-style country, with a unsettling, seeping chill from Meade (a debonair Leslie Phillips) and Wilson (a great, agitated Paul Douglas) finding the locals trying to normalise the situation, leading to Wilson and Meade taking on the Gamma People.
Remembering Ghostbusters. Remembering the first Ghostbusters.
With the holiday season over,I searched The Electric cinema (the oldest working cinema in the UK) site to see what screenings they were kicking 2020 off with. Having enjoyed the first Ghostbusters & the animated shows, (yet to see the second film!) I was happy to find a doc on Ghostbusters 1 was playing soon,with a Q&A from the makers, leading me to find out if If there's something strange,In your neighbourhood.
View on the film:
Taking 12 years to make, (just like Boyhood!) directors Anthony Bueno & Claire Bueno set their Proton packs to a stunningly detailed examination of the first Ghostbusters, with the Bueno treating everyone from the cast,to the puppeteers with equal importance. Along with footage from the film and production photos, the Bueno's use delightfully quirky animation, which along with bringing to life recollections from the cast/crew, also links to the history animation has with Ghostbusters.
Detailing the hours of cut footage in a 50 minute Q&A after the screening, the Bueno's unveil fascinating behind the scenes archive material which has been unseen until now, from original concepts designs, models, and test runs on how the ghosts looked/moved, (Stay Puff sure got crispy!) to interviews going into the changes made to Ernie Hudson/Sigourney Weaver's plot lines.
Whilst Rick Moranis (who has retired) and Bill Murray, (who has a rep in Hollywood for being a jerk,he stopped Ghostbusters 3 from being made for decade) don't appear, the Bueno's easily overcome this with fantastic interviews from Dan "Crystal Head Vodka" and visual effects art director John Bruno, to Harold Ramis final interview about the first Ghostbusters.
Assassination Nation (2018)
Catching clips on weekly box office chart shows,I was taken by how off-beat this flick looked,but disappointed to find that after it flopped in the US, it got dumped everywhere else. Looking on eBay over the New Year holiday,I was happy to find the title on disc,leading to me at last seeing this state of the nation.
View on the film:
His first upload since 2011's Another Happy Day, writer/director Sam Levinson unlocks the fourth wall in a frenzied opening smashing into future events to take place in the film, which slides into Levinson closely working with cinematographer Marcell Rev & editor Ron Patane, Levinson synch up a ultra-stylised atmosphere of bright red pop-ups and fractured txt messages being layered over the girls.
Sitting with the gang watching the Pinky Violence movie Delinquent Girl Boss: Unworthy of Penance (1971), Levinson takes the pulpy sparks of the Pinky Violence and Giallo genres, and twists them into abrasive Pop-Art of a outstanding long take weaving the camera tracking a home break-in, which rolls into startling streaks of red firing up the avenging Femme fatales.
Whilst the coda is a bit too on the nose, the screenplay by Levinson gleefully laughs at the audience with a sarcastic "Trigger Warning" opening, that becomes locked and loaded to a thrilling survive the night onslaught the gang get caught up in.
Going online in Salem, Levinson takes a wickedly sly twist in creating the Salem Witch Trials for the internet age, where illegally uploaded/stolen files turns the locals into a absurdest online hate mob, whose keyboards lock onto staging a trial for this gang in the assassination nation.
1917:The IMAX version.
Entering 2020,I started to make plans over for what films I would travel out to see. Checking for what had been nominated for Best Picture at the Oscar's, I found out that for 1917,the entire film has been opened up to the IMAX format. This led to me going to the Vue IMAX in Manchester, (second biggest screen in Europe) for my first cinema viewing of the year.
View on the film:
Reuniting from their Skyfall (2012-also reviewed) mission with a idyllic sit in the French countryside before pulling back to reveal the mission that Blake and Schofield are about to accept, co-writer/(Krysty Wilson-Cairns) director Sam Mendes & cinematographer Roger Deakins track them both into a No Man's Land immerse atmosphere, where Mendes and Deakins cloud the "Men on a Mission" the duo must carry with magnificent, ultra-stylised long shadows casting hell across the war zone.
Also reuniting with composer Thomas Newman giving a excellent, shredded nerves score, Mendes and Deakins fully display the 5,200 feet of trenches dug out for the production in breath-taking long crane and tracking shots putting the viewer up-close to the dead bodies (outstanding special effects) laying at the side of the duo on their stealth walks across the wastelands.
Going on a mission with Mendes after editing Spectre (2015), Lee Smith stays perfectly in synch to Mendes, Deakins and Newman's charge to the front line, with razor-sharp invisible edits keeping the one continuous shot appearance on track, descending the duo deeper into this merciless war.
Inspired by his grandfather's book The Autobiography of Alfred H. Mendes 1897-1991.,the screenplay by Sam Mendes and Wilson-Cairns display a real precision in keeping exposition to a bare minimum, instead keeping the war grounded in earthy, clipped dialogue between Blake and Schofield becoming more open as they cross the battlefields.
Spending most of the film on their own, Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay give incredibly expressive, raw performances as Blake and Schofield, whose humble friendship walks on the paths of glory towards the war of 1917.
Bad Boys for Life (2020)
Bad Boys 4 Life.
Chatting to a pal on the phone about us hanging out for the first time this year, he mentioned since we caught the second one 17 years ago, we could go and see the new Bad Boys. Having gone to see 1917 (2019-also reviewed) in Manchester on IMAX (second biggest screen in Europe) it was the perfect time to meet these bad boys again.
View on the film:
Reuniting for the first time in 17 years, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence prove they have not missed a beat, thanks to a infectious camaraderie of quick-fire comedic banter between the duo,with Smith bringing a new maturity to Lowrey over facing the end of his bad boy days,along with Lawrence hitting dead-pan laughs on Burnett's tiredness over being dragged back into battle.
Literally being blessed by Michael Bay to continue the series, co-directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah nod towards Bay's unique style, (a plane going over a Miami billboard, the camera spinning in a slow-motion circle round the characters) but thankfully place the focus on presenting their own moves.
Cracking the sun-kissed backdrops with blood shots, Fallah and Arbi fire up ultra-stylised blue and red flames keeping the cops under pressure, whilst smartly standing back for the explosive chases and hand to hand combat set-pieces, which wipes off Bay's trigger happy editing of Bad Boys 2, to instead brilliantly allow each superbly performed fighting move to breath, with the directors coiling narrow long panning up close to the twisted metal chase.
Originally planning to also direct it before dropping out, the screenplay by Joe Carnahan/ Chris Bremner and Peter "The Town" Craig trim down the racial and homophobic gags of Bay's films, instead leaning to the tough edge of Carnahan's credits, via humor coming from the at-odds state between gung-ho Lowrey & tied Burnet, plus a joyfully odd twist being balanced between giving the baddies a motive, and riding into the past of the bad boys.
Red Hot Redline.
Going to Birmingham a few days after X-Mas for a revival screening of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964-also reviewed)at The Electric (the oldest working cinema in the UK) I decided to visit HMV Vault-"The largest entertainment store in Europe." Checking in their Anime section,I spotted a title in their X-Mas/New Year sale which sounded really interesting, which led to me crossing the line.
View on the film:
Roaring to life with streaks of colours across the opening credits, director Takeshi Koike ignites dazzling, hyper-stylised animation, setting off a thrilling atmosphere from beautiful, vibrant blades of burning colours and smoke covering the page and capturing the adrenalin rush of the drivers.
When taking a pit stop from the tracks, Koike keeps the redline burning with excellent rough-edge Sci-Fi Cyberpunk characters designs, as the slick bad boy & bad girl rebels JP and Sonoshee are drawn with, are sharply contrasted by the snarling rival drivers and pounding robots sent out by big business to take JP down.
Placing JP and Sonoshee on the wrong side of the tracks, the screenplay by Katsuhito Ishii/Yoji Enokido/Yoshiki Sakurai & Alexander Von David paint the sweet Punky romance with the wonderful, bellowing threats from big businesses to grip the top prize, and delightful thumbnail sketches for the other drivers on these wacky races.
Quantum of Solace (2008)
"When you can't tell your friends from your enemies, it's time to go."
Having been amazed by viewing Casino Royale (2006) the day before,I found it to overshadow QoS when I first saw that film on the big screen, with QoS being less smooth than Casino, leading to me wanting to revisit the film on its own,when my memory of CR was less fresh.
Getting the Daniel Craig 007 films for fellow IMDber Red-Barracuda's birthday,and with a revisit having been on my "To do" list for years (!) I at last embraced the solace.
View on the film:
Revealed years later that the main draft of the script was completed just 2 hours before the US Writers Strike began, leading to the production unable to request re-writes, that ended up being done the director and the lead, who caused the movie to be more linked to Casino Royale than originally planned.
The disjointed building in Michael G. Wilson and Paul Haggis screenplay, (who re-wrote the credited Neal Purvis and Robert Wade's first draft from scratch) actually benefits the film,thanks to it capturing the disjointed state of Bond, torn between a dour desire for revenge ignited by the death of his love, with a thrilling blood rush to dive head-first into a mission against the murky dealings of Dominic Greene,and Bond Girl Camille, who is kept tantalisingly ambiguous over who side she is on.
Whilst the production issues were kept undercover in the script, they become visible in the action set-pieces, where co-writer/director Marc Forster and editors Matt Chesse and Richard Pearson piece Bond's fights together with a staple gun, clipping agitated half a second edits on grinding shaky cam.
Taking a completely different approach to the non-Action majority of the film, Forster & cinematographer Roberto Schaefer eye a excellent jet-set Euro Spy atmosphere, stylishly gliding on reflective surfacing mirroring 007's espionage activities,cracking on the sun-kissed locations, dried up from Greene's vicious water business dealings.
Opening a box which she finds contains info on assassinating her,Olga Kurylenko gives a terrific turn as Camille,whose Bond Girl glamour shines by punching into the fight scenes, which are rolled by Kurylenko with a lingering mistrust, whilst Mathieu Amalric gives a tasty, slippery take on boo-hiss baddie Greene.
Injured three times on the set, Daniel Craig gives a wonderful, gritty performance in his second mission, with Craig recoiling Bond's thirst for revenge,which is threaded by Craig with a growing determination to make this mission a success on the cards.
Frozen II (2019)
Frozen 2:Let It Meh.
In December a friend got some vouchers for free cinema tickets to Vue cinema, with the catch being that the vouchers could only be used via given at box office, no online pre-booking.
Invited to go with her and her daughter to a screening, the staff at Vue gave a less then friendly greeting,from openly lying about 3 seats in a row not being spare, (gotta sell those lone spare seats) to the food being cold (lucky I was being tight with cash,so did not eat/buy anything at the place!) After all this,we got set to let it go.
View on the film:
Unable to let things go,song writers Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez attempt to create another monster hit with the new 7 songs being modelled on Let It Go's tempo. With a clear focus on topping the charts, the effect is songs which come-off as sub-par carbon copies,as a basis on singing/describing a characters actions, rather their inner feelings, leading to interchangeable, utterly forgettable tunes.
From the opening sweeping shot returning to Arendelle, returning co-writers/co-directors Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee unveil a backdrop with a impeccable attention to giving the backdrop animation a realistic shine, with the ripples from the rivers dotted across the screen,along with cold winds making leaves shake, and falling snowflakes covering the icy paths Elsa and Anna must take.
Standing badly at odds with what is established in the opening shot, the directors contrast the grounded animation of the backdrop with a wide-eyed, rubbery design for the characters, whose contrasting appearance stops them blending into the world they are meant to inhabit.
Bringing Elsa to the Enchanted Forest with a sirens call, the writers attempt to juggle a crowd-pleasing reunion, with a serious message, only to end up making a total mess.
Going into what led to the creation of The Enchanted Forest, the writers bluntly use thinly-veil allegory to touch on the killing of Native Americans by European Settlers. Freezing in time a moment when a tribe leader was murdered, the writers distastefully shove aside their attempt at a message, for a ill-judged rush to feel-good fantasy,which wastes the potential offered from the mysterious siren a quick and easy fix, whilst stamping all over the plight of the Natives in order to put a Disney bow on a film which does not know where to go.
Proibito erotico (1978)
A Daydreaming Tune.
Getting in late at night I looked for a short Italian flick I could watch for ICM's Italian films viewing challenge. The first to pop up on my list of downloads with the shortest run time,I decided to lift the proibito on a viewing:
View on the film:
Appearing to separate the over 20 sketches in this 66 minute film between themselves, co-directors Luigi Batzella & Derek Ford fails to bond at any time, with smut merchant Ford making making his mark clear in saucy outdoor Sex Comedy cheeky antics, whilst Batzella unzips avant-garde dance numbers erotica, standing at odds with Ford's proceeding sketches, and with some sketches being given just 2 minutes to play out, no room for the gags or frolics to be fleshed out.
Having shown with the fun Lady Frankenstein (1971-also reviewed) that he can come up with a sizzling plot for the Grindhouse, here the screenplay by Dick Randall comes across as aimless, due to attempts to build a romance plot for the budding daydreamer, being prohibited by the need for random sketch inserts.
"Aim for the brain."
Nearing the end of my viewings for the Italian Challenge on ICM,I got in the mood to view a "new" flick from Umberto Lenzi. Despite this being one of the first Lenzi's I heard of,I've somehow kept missing the chance to play it,which led to me deciding to finally enter the city.
View on the film:
Stating in a interview on the DVD that he hated the script and was having constant rows with the producers over their demands for more "Zombie looking" baddies, the distaste director Umberto Lenzi had for the film bites down hard on the screen, as Lenzi's distinctive rapid-fire whip-pans plunge the viewer into burning red gore-dripping zombies (or as Lenzi demanded they were called "Contaminated People") Drive-In munching on naked fitties, but instead of panning towards a pulpy atmosphere, Lenzi pulls to stilted wide-shots on the sparsely dressed sets and stubborn close-ups on the poor burn marks-style zombie make up.
Nibbling at potential thanks to the writers giving hints the zombies are able to plan attacks and use weapons, the 3 writers (!) utterly wastes it all with a stop-start process which never allows the film to fully explore the cunning mind-set of the zombies, in order to push the humans whose on the run adventure hits a dead end as none of the relationships are built on in the nightmare city.
John Brahm's adaptation of Laura.
After having seen the superb Horror Noir Dementia (1955),I began searching for a second Noir from 1955 to double bill it with. Having found The Undying Monster (1942-also reviewed) a splendid Horror Noir,I was thrilled to stumble on John Brahm's near-forgotten TV meeting with Laura.
View on the film:
Working with the director for the third time after the films The Lodger (1944) and Hangover Square (1945), George Sanders gives a delightful performance as Lydecker, who Sanders fills with a dry, dead-pan manner, topped by growing hints from Noir loner Lydecker that he is not showing all the colours he is painting with. Looking at her death mask portrait hanging from above,Dana Wynter gives a terrific turn as Laura, whose shock at learning that she was believed dead, Wynter balances with a calculating to appear relaxed on the outside in order to find out who wanted her dead.
Given the rather challenging task of squeezing a 90 minute movie into a 43 minute TV version, the screenplay by Mel Dinelli wisely leans on the police procedure side of Noir over MacPherson attempting to uncover who the person who had believed that they had killed Laura, a belief which Dinelli uses to grate into Laura's despair over confronting her own death.
Even when faced with the obstacle of this being live TV and the second ep in a series, director John Brahm hangs a refined Noir atmosphere on the walls, stylishly dissolving Laura's face to the death portrait haunting her, with Brahm tightly coiling wide shots to keep everyone imposed by the portrait of Laura's murder.
Listening to a audio commentary from UK film reviewer Kim Newman a few years ago,he mentioned this unique-sounding Horror Noir in relation to fellow indie Horror Carnival of Souls (1962).Finding a poll taking place on ICM for the best films of 1955,I put my mind on finally seeing this Noir.
View on the film:
The lone output by un-credited writer/ director John Parker, (similar to the one-off feature directing of the Carnival of Souls team) Parker closely works with sound effects editor Michael Pozen in layering the complex, dialogue free soundtracks,keeping George Antheil's excellent, spike-driven Noir score descending the woman deeper into the nightmare, which is inter-spaced by Parker and Pozen with pops of disembodied laughs, shattered glass and screams springing out from this hellish unknown.
Puncturing the mind-set of the woman with the discovery of a knife in a draw, director Parker & editor Joseph Gluck jab the viewer with outstanding match-cuts, shattering the sanity of the woman.
Scrambling down the street as cops surround a dead man with her necklace in hand, Parker and cinematographer William C. Thompson (who later did Plan 9 From Outer Space!) magically weave surrealist Horror and a haunting Film Noir atmosphere, bending ultra-stylised close-ups on the face of the woman attempting to reconstruct her diced Noir memories,with nightmare, ultra-stylised high angles on faceless figures stretching their arms out from all she is trying to escape.
Carving into the long troubled history of the unnamed woman, (a superb, walking on eggshells with fear Adrienne Barrett) Parker impressively separates the screen/sets in two,tracking the woman back to the parental abuse she suffered, then pushing her memories into the present.
Cats:The original CGI glitches Midnight Movie cut. So Bad,It's Good.
In the run-up to X-Mas I started reading reviews for Cats, the majority of which had a tone which suggested a special So Bad,It's Good movie. Just before Christmas,I read reports that in a weeks time Universal were going to permanently withdraw this current version, in order to bring out a "improved CGI" replacement edition. Realising this is likely the one chance to see the original cut,I went on Boxing Day to get the Cats out of the box on the big screen.
View on the film:
Stating in interviews at the premiere that he was still working on CGI sequences just hours before the screening, director Tom Hooper & cinematographer Christopher Ross cough up a $100 million (plus another $100 million for marketing) "So Bad,It's Good" grand furball folly. From the opening shot descending into the world of Cats, a utterly strange atmosphere wiggles on screen, shaking in the CGI proportions of the cats changing between shots,and even the CGI fur on the hands/faces of the cast re-appearing/disappearing from shot to shot (and they spent millions on this!)
Having made Les Misérables (2012-also ) reviewed, Hooper gives the impression of unintentionally making a anti-Musical, where would-be decadent vast settings for the cats dancing on the streets of London, is melted by Hooper into appearing it's been dipped in tie-dye acid dripping colours down Hooper's distorted, weaving camera moves on dance movers,originally performed with a skillfulness by dancers, that is hilariously dented by Hooper placing ill-fitting CGI cats skeletons to copy the dance moves.
Closing in with hand-held shots towards the I Dream A Dream-style set-piece with Memories, Hooper makes it come off as a unintended spoof,due to his regular composition of placing the performer into the far side of the screen, causing the fever dream vision of the half human/half animal CGI animals, (complete with human faced bugs,who get eaten!) to be sneezed into the melting backdrop.
Clawing into Andrew Lloyd Webber's Musical adaptation of T.S. Eliot's poems already giving them the challenge that the stage version spends 90% on set-up/intros to the Cats, the screenplay by Hooper and lee Hall try in desperation to place new, additional tension over who will go to the Heaviside Layer, that gets in the way of the tail-shacking, joyfully nonsensical, disconnected to cat buglers (get it?!) old cat dames, and the railway cat who got the cream.
The Dr Goldfoot series:Part 3- the Girl Bombs:The Italian Cut.
When reading a review about the Goldfoot film series in UK film magazine The Dark Side,I was interested to learn that auteur Mario Bava had made the final entry. A huge fan of Bava's works,I got set to meet Goldfoot for the final time.
View on the film:
Finding the mix of Beach Party movie hip teens and Euro Spy coolness to make the first Goldfoot a hit in Italy, studio AIP decided to make a Goldfoot just for the Italian market, where they got rid of the teens and Euro Spy quirks, in exchange for a dire "Slap-Stick" Comedy. Stupidly shoving Vincent Price's Goldfoot and sexy Laura Antonelli's sultry Rosanna to the sidelines, (the only two good actors in the film)the 4 writers (!) instead float in a showcase for comedic duo Franchi & Ingrassia's plodding, gurning act.
Attempting to get out of the contract to make this version (a different English version was shot at the same time,on which he was given no say over the production) director Mario Bava & his regular cinematographer Antonio Rinaldi display some of Bava's unique colourful flourishes in Goldfoot's lair, but otherwise are clearly bored in waiting for this girl bomb to go off.
Nude per l'assassino (1975)
Dressed To Kill.
Gathering up DVDs to list on eBay over X-Mas/New Year,I began digging into a pile of discs I should have played years ago! Left breathless by roles in Sergio Martino's films, I got set to see Edwige Fenech's get undressed for a killer Gialli.
View on the film:
Backed by a uber funky score from Berto Pisano, co-writer/(with Massimo Felisatti and Gene Luotto) director Andrea Bianchi & cinematographer Franco Delli Colli blissfully place one layer of Giallo sleaze on top of each other,via Bianchi ogling the naked fitties in slick panning shots round their lavishly spread out apartments.
Whilst offering viewers a eyeful of Edwige Fenech's giallos,Bianchi balances the glamour shots with a proto-Slasher grittiness into the ultra-stylisation of the Giallo, via striking extended first-person tracking shots reflecting on the visor of the biker-helmet wearing killer, opening to icy long creeping silent shots towards the short,sharp, shock murder set-pieces pulling a red gash across the screen.
Turning the taps onto what led to this wave of killings in flashback droplets, the screenplay by Bianchi/Felisatti and Luotto take a richly cynical stab at all in this tale, where the bourgeoisie victims reek with corruption, and a deep desire to keep misdeeds under water (a major theme of the Giallo genre.)
Rolling out a ripe twist ending, the writers make this Giallo mystery a winning strip, thanks to each additional victim bringing into focus for the investigating Carlo (a jet-set,spinning on curiosity Nino Castelnuovo) and Magda (a sexy,lusting Edwige Fenech) uncover the event which led to the victims stripping for the killer.
Le amiche (1955)
"People talk without understanding each other."
"Girlfriend now,I have a have a girlfriend now
,No way, no how I get a girlfriend now."
With a Italian viewing challenge and best films of 1955 poll taking place on ICM,I looked for titles I could cross both with.Picking this up years ago after hearing it mentioned in the commentary for the doc Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004),I decided to finally spend time with the girlfriends.
View on the film:
Featuring a detailed booklet, Masters of Cinema present a superb transfer, with the picture being crystal clear whilst retaining a film grain,and the soundtrack being smooth.
Stating in a interview that filming had to be stopped for 2 and a half months due to the original studio going bust, co-writer/(with Suso Cecchi D'Amico and Alba De Cespedes) directing auteur Michelangelo Antonioni & his regular cinematographer from this era Gianni Di Venanzo layer foundation over the behind the scenes troubles, to magnificently gaze at the progression of Antonioni's recurring motifs.
Inviting the audience in with a opening shot of Clelia looking in a bathroom mirror of her hotel room, as a glamorous dressed Rosetta lays dying from a overdose in the adjoining room,Antonioni perfectly captures his distinctive stylisation, reflecting in the recurring use of mirrors and glass surfaces the detachment the girlfriends have from the image/person looking back at them,which shines onto elegant, long, stilted wide-shots subtly building a separation between the girlfriends and the viewer.
Entering each of their households, Antonioni highlights the beauty of each girlfriend in close-ups set against a earthy, (separated by their high-class living) ravaged landscape.
Getting the role just two days before filming began after turning heads with a photo shoot,Madeleine Fischer gives a terrific turn as Rosetta, with Fischer using the limited number of credits she had gathered to give Rosetta a dying wallflower innocence, looking outwards as all around her become more insular.
Later called the "Diva" of the set who "felt that she had to act as such,without success." by Antonionoi, the beautiful Eleonora Rossi Drago gives a magnetic performance as Clelia, with her state of being a outsider entering Rosetta's friendships, leading Drago to emphasize a separation between Clelia and the girlfriends.
Freely adapting Cesare Pavese's novel, the writers welcome the girlfriends with outstanding dialogue pulling on how even when they appear deep in conversation,everyone is reflecting complete isolation and a inability to process difference of opinion. Stated later by Antonionoi that he directed each actress in different ways, the writers dress each of the girlfriends in wonderfully at odds styles, from the outward looking Rosetta and the glamour of Momina, (played by Hammer Girl Yvonne Furneaux) to Clelia standing as a square peg in the middle of the girlfriends.
The Dr Goldfoot Series-Part 2: The Wild Weird World.
After catching Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965-also reviewed) I checked to see extras the uploader had included in this set,and was surprised to see a TV special in the contents, which led to me finding out how weird this world could be.
View on the film:
Commenting later on the films, Vincent Price said "It could have been fun, but they cut all the music out". For this TV special, director Mel Ferber put the music back in, for dance numbers, which could have been swinging, but missteps with flat dancing shot with stilted cameras, and plodding, dry lyrics. Designed as a way to hype up the first film, Vincent Price is the lone bright spark in this special, thanks to Price gleefully laughing at creating the bikini machine of Dr. Goldfoot.
The Dr Goldfoot Series:Part 1: The Bikini Machine.
Looking for flicks to watch over X-Mas,I spotted a Dr. Goldfoot fan-made collection, which has been sitting in the "To watch" pile since last X-Mas! This led to me deciding it was the right time to finally meet the Dr.
View on the film:
Cackling as each new bikini-clad robot comes off the conveyor belt, Vincent Price succeeds in stealing the film with a wonderfully hammy turn, thickly sliced by Price snarling like a 007 baddie at Gamble and Armstrong's attempts to stop him. Whilst Gamble is slick as the fish out of water Gamble,Susan Hart zaps the big slap-stick Comedy punch-lines as Diane, thanks to a mix of sass in a gold bikini, and playing all the gags in a deadpan manner.
Stacking the screen with bikini robots, director Norman Taurog & cinematographer Sam Leavitt spin a groovy atmosphere which blends the Teen Beach Party flicks eye candy with the Euro Spy coolness,as the brightly coloured lair of Goodfoot allows the makers to use sets/ wide-shots of the Price film Pit and the Pendulum. The most expensive AIP production at the time, Taurog puts the $1 million budget on screen in a mad dash zany whip-pans final chase to Armstrong and Gamble unzipping Goodfoot's bikini machine.
Il dolce corpo di Deborah (1968)
The Sweet Vice of Deborah.
Recently viewing The Young, the Evil and the Savage (1968-also reviewed) I decided to continue digging into Gialli DVDs I've been meaning to play for years! Despite having read that she is a Queen of the genre,I have only just recently caught sight of Carroll Baker in Giallo mode with Baba Yaga (1973-also reviewed.) In the mood for more of Baker,I went to touch Deborah's sweet body.
View on the film:
Falling the honeymoon bliss of Deborah and Marcel off a knife edge into a pit of murder and betrayal, director Romolo Guerrieri & cinematographer Marcello Masciocchi wed the couple to the first psychological-driven wave of Gialli with a pristine, corrupt bourgeoisie atmosphere of the couple being wrapped in glistening white surroundings, which Guerrieri merrily spoils with dollops of candle wax blood.
One of only two Gialli he made, Guerrieri displays a sharp eye in moving towards the ultra-stylisation which would grip the genre, offering a artful eyeful of topless Deborah, and a groovy nightclub dance with Batman on the wall.
Playing on the notes of paranoia with Nora Orlandi's dreamy score bringing up Marcel's suppressed memories, Guerrieri brilliantly uses obscured angles to heighten ambiguity in the Giallo set-pieces over who is getting stabbed in the back.
Setting the stage for what Sergio Martino (who worked as a general manager here) would do in the Giallo, Sergio's brother Luciano joins Ernesto Gastaldi for a female-led, doubtful couple Giallo terror screenplay, as the writers tighten the screws on fears that Deborah and Marcel might both be losing their minds.
Dipping into the death of Marcel's past partner with fractured flashbacks, the writers raise doubts between the couple by each of them hearing music and phones ringing that appear to be coming from a unseen place. Working on both Gialli made by Guerrieri, Jean Sorel gives a terrific turn as Marcel, whose sorrow Sorel carries with a heaviness which remains even as the Giallo twist ending wraps around him, whilst George Hilton tugs at flamboyant ambiguity as Robert Simack (get the ref?)
Initially holding hands with Marcel in a cheerful state, alluring Carroll Baker gives a excellent performance as Deborah, thanks to Baker taking the loved-up state of Deborah and peeling it away to raw, calculating mistrusts which covers the sweet body of Deborah.
Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)
Going in knowing little about the title,I was surprised in late 2017 how much of a thrill ride Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017-also reviewed) turned out to be. Chatting to a pal about meeting up before X-Mas, he suggested us going to see the new Jumanji, which led to me getting set to play a new game.
View on the film:
Showing they've still got game,Danny DeVito and Danny Glover as old pals Eddie and Milo, who find a new lust for life from the new reality the game offers. Wisely keeping all the players from the last film together,the ensemble cast unlock all the achievements with awesome turns, as fittie Karen Gillan performs Roundhouse's new spinning kicks (which spoofs Lara Croft's old moves) with a real crunch, Jack Black dead pans his frustrations over his avatar having no fighting skills, The Rock and Kevin Hart continue their tag team of Hart's agitated quips with Rock's crowd pleasing one-liners and slick fighting moves.
Coding the new levels, returning co-writer/(with Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg) director Jake Kasdan & cinematographer Gyula Pados open the new game modes up to a thrilling breakneck Action Adventure atmosphere, taking detours from the jungle setting to winter castles caught in sky-high wide-shots by Kasdan. Along with expanding the game setting, Kasdan also merrily riffs on staples of video games, from stuck on repeat NPC's and deadly traps puzzle games, to the gang falling from the sky after losing a life level, as they try to beat the next level.
White Christmas (1954)
"I'm dreaming of a.."
Going to Birmingham for some last-minute shopping for X-Mas presents,I checked to see what was being shown at The Electric (the oldest working cinema in the UK.) Despite having heard the classic title track countless times,I've never had the chance to catch the movie it came from, which led me getting a George Bailey's cocktail,looking out of the window from The Electric at a white Christmas.
View on the film:
One of three films he made in 1954, even with the film not being played in the VistaVision format, (a recently Blu-Ray finally brings the title out in the correct aspect ratio)the craftsmanship of director Michael Curtiz & cinematographer Loyal Griggs in elegantly composed wide-shots held on the growing bond between the couples.
Sparingly holding the X-Mas snowstorm back as bookends glowing in Christmas red, rustic greens and crisp snow scattered across the front of the screen, Curtiz unwraps a Yuletide melancholy atmosphere, snowing down in swift panning shots on Bob and Phil planning how to cheer the General up.
Improvising Bing's and Kaye's version of Sisters after the crew saw them both clowning around on set, Curtiz wipes away Winter blues in dance set-pieces brimming with Hollywood glamour of the era,shimmering in Betty and Judy's high-kicking Sisters,and the quartet gathered to sing a closing version of the title track against a picture (Christmas) postcard backdrop.
Standing out from the jolly attitudes of the leads, Dean Jagger gives a very good turn as General Waverly, whose shaken post-WWII state inspires others to show warmth and compassion to him. Whilst their "crowd-pleasing" double act within the film looks tied and a bit naff, Bing and Kaye lay on the charm in breezy turns as swooning, loved-up pals Bob and Phil. Receiving the swooning from the gents,Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen throw snowballs of sass at the screen as Betty and Judy until they join in with putting up tinsel for a white Christmas.
Shark Bait (2006)
Finding the reefer.
With a friend coming round to visit before X-Mas,I decided to search for a animated flick we could both enjoy watching. Going to a local DVD shop, I spotted a cartoon film I've not heard of before,which led to me lighting the reef.
View on the film:
Whilst Freddie Prinze Jr. Keeps his tone flat as the lead voice of Pi,Donal Logue and Rob Schneider (!) bring colour undersea as Logue's bellowing boo-hiss Troy, and Schneider snaps multiple,lively roles. Exploring the reef, co-directors Howard E. Baker/ Kyung Ho Lee & John Fox give the backdrop to this undersea world a zest lime green appearance, scattering bright plants and sparkling small fish swimming in the background. Going against the tide of the backdrop, the directors give the lead characters a rubbery, dour CGI look, lacking the detailing or shiny shots of colours from the backdrop.
Losing Pi's parents to "The Net" in the opening, the writers take the flick in a intriguingly down-cast direction, where the fear of being reeled in is hooked into the mind-set of every fish, and a surprisingly macabre sting for the baddie. While most animated films retain a feel of staying on track despite a large number of writers, the screenplay by the 4 writers here has a frustrating push-pull quality, where the serious threat of The Net gets torn in attempts half with fishy, plodding attempts to net Pi into a romance on the reef.
Il dito nella piaga (1969)
With Christmas coming up,I started trying to think of a title that a friend would enjoy viewing over the holidays. During this,I began looking for a Italian movie to view for the night,and spotted a WWII flick I think he would enjoy,which led to me rubbing salt in the wound.
View on the film:
Going into battle on what is clearly not a huge budget, debut co-writer/(with Piero Regnoli) director Tonino Ricci & cinematographer Sandro Mancori make invented use of Riz Ortolani's tingling echo score in loading a immerse atmosphere, via tightly held corner shots next to bombed-out buildings,and tracking shots following the soldiers walking in the bushes attempting to not be seen. Sending a tank in on the spotted trio, Ricci gives the action scenes a crunch by keeping to restrained whip-pans creating a closeness in combat between the trio and German troops.
The lone figures fighting to keep a small town liberated against the Germans, the writers bring thrills to the front line from the war within the trio, as the completely disconnected from letting anything hit him Haskins falls in love,whilst Sheppard gains a drive to protect the town, and touchingly, after having suffered from horrific racism, Grayson finds a orphan who looks to him as a father figure.
Joined by Klaus Kinski pounding the hollowness within Haskins, Ray Saunders gives a stand out performance as Grayson, whose warmth for the orphan boy remains bright against the troops,and the racism which has been salt in the wound.
Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun: The Uncut Edition.
Before he suddenly passed away at just age 46 in March 2019,family friend Guy Morgan kindly made me a uncut copy of what he said was film maker Jess Franco's most infamous movie-which still remains cut by 6 minutes in the UK. Wanting to sort out a Franco flick for a pal this X-Mas,I felt it was time to open the letters.
View on the film:
The first of seven titles she made with the film maker after blocking her dad trying to turn his daughter into a international star,(only doing these 7,she retired after getting married to a Brazilian millionaire) Susan Hemingway (a alias name) gives a mesmerising debut performance as Coutinho, with Hemingway bringing out a subtle quality in close-ups on the anguished face of Coutinho,bringing out the sinking feeling of what Coutinho is getting trapped in.
Continuing a major recurring theme of the film maker of a pure, innocent woman receiving a violent sexual awakening, Hemingway plays Coutinho's virginal naif with a delicate touch, which gets torn up to a cathartic guilt placed on her acceptance of suffering/guilt by Coutinho's abusers.
Double teaming on Coutinho, Ana Zanatti and William Berger give wicked turns as Mother Alma and Father Vicente, hammering Coutinho with Zanatti unleashing Alma's holier than thou bellowing facade on the easy to manipulate Continho, whilst Berger slithers on Coutinho and sinks her innocence with Vicente's pitch black venom. Whipping the smile of purity off Continho's face, directing auteur "Uncle" Jess Franco meets the nuns with his regular cinematographer Peter Baumgartner,and has a absolute ball.
With the exception of the Mad Scientist/Mad Doctor, Uncle Jess presents a ultra-stylised greatest hits package of all his major themes and motifs at the centre of his work, darting to Coutinho's punishment in distinctive, button-bashing, trombone-playing zoom-ins,which Uncle Jess circles to the crimson red of his Woman In Prison works dripping from Coutinho's face, panning down to her naked body,where Uncle Jess continues to nail the studying of De Sade in S&M sex scenes which tug Coutinho's Nunsploitation agony into pained pleasure.
Backed by Peter Baumgartner's uncle Walter Baumgartner's powerful mock-religious score, Uncle Jess crosses all his other themes by keeping at the base his major overarching motif of a mistrust in religion and authority figures (here placed against Jess's Historical Horror backdrop) in towering wide-shots on the ruthless Alma and Vicente's fake saintly gaze, that crackles into Uncle Jess's starling surrealism taking Coutinho to the dark side.
The main producer of Uncle Jesse's work in this era, the screenplay by Erwin C. Dietrich, and his occasional co-writer Christine Lembach display a excellent eye for keeping the film on-point to Jess's themes,with a unexpected seriousness being given to the corruption which sends Coutinho to a fall from grace written into her love letters.
Owning a number of their titles,I decided to dig into the Blue Underground DVD's I have yet to play. Having read about it being a "Video Nasty",I felt it was time to at last let the contamination spread.
View on the film:
Surprisingly coy on showing skin (pity!) co-writer/(with Erich Tomek) director Luigi Cozzi & cinematographer Giuseppe Pinori make up for this shortcoming with a Grindhouse atmosphere, thanks to the alien special effects having a sticky, green blob appearance, which when backed by a grinding Electronic score from Goblin, explode in slow-motion and are splattered across the screen.
Not getting permission to film in the US, Cozzi's illegal filming adds to the Grindhouse texture, most prominent in zoom-ins trying to catch passing helicopters. Revealing in 2006 that the production was co-funded by Colombian drug dealers (!) the urgency which cracks open from the opening alien eggs being found in coffee boxes, is allowed to slip away, due to a focus on showing the overseas locations (USA and Colombia) rather than concentrating the contamination.