Tuesday, 16 October 2018

More On Movies VIII

RECENTLY RE/WATCHED


Mr Majestyk (1974)
Classic. It's all about the ford cars, the double denim, the melon massacre, curtains with horsey patterns, the car chases, the hair and the stunning landscape of rural Colorado. Terrific Elmore Leonard screenplay perfectly realised. The pace and the tone were spot on. I believe this is now the fourth Charles Bronson film I've liked and this just might be my favourite. That's 4 out of 7 now, his average is growing. The soundtrack from Charles Bernstein is excellent up there with his other great scores White Lightning and The Entity. Why is Mr Majestyk not rated along with other 70s canonical shit? I get that director Richard Fleischer was old compared to the new Hollywood brats but hey so were Sam Peckinpah and John Huston. Perhaps it's the whole thing of auteur theory being valued above all else in film criticism particularly when it comes to American cinema in the 70s. Whatever.

The Last Run (1971)
The Last Run is an ok lil crime movie if a tad too slow. An ageing criminal getaway driver Harry (George C Scott) plans to retire after one last caper. Will he walk away cashed up and happy or will things go haywire? Spectacular Spanish setting.


The Tenant (1976)
The first time I saw this I thought it was silly, the second time I thought it was cool and this time I thought it was brilliant. Roman Polanski directs and acts in this psychological horror movie. Trelkovsky (Roman Polanski) moves into an apartment previously occupied by a suicide victim. Things get very bloody strange and Trelkovsky gradually becomes unhinged. This is a wonderful time capsule of Paris in the 70s that also stars Isabelle AdjaniThe Tenant is an amazing meditation on paranoia. The sense of unease created here is palpable. Quite possibly Polanski's best film.


Shivers aka They Came From Within (1975)
A parasite experiment gone wrong causes an epidemic of unstoppable orgy/rapey maniacs in a modern tower block. There is some pretty deranged shenanigans going on in this film but it's also pretty funny. At the time of release this was an enormously controversial movie in Canada. It almost feels quaint now but it's still a transgressive classic. David Cronenberg created one of the greatest ever final scenes in the history of cinema at the end of Shivers.


All The Colors Of The Dark aka Tutti I Colori Del Buio (1972)
I like Gialli with masks and black gloves but I also like it when they go unconventional and don't use them. This Sergio Martino movie is in the later category. Three icons of Gialli Edwige Fenech, George Hilton and Ivan Rassimov star. All The Colors Of The Dark is Jane Harrison's (Edwige Fenech) paranoiac nightmarish vision that includes car crashes, dead babies, satanic cults, black masses, a stalker with a knife and more. Excellent Bruno Nicolai score too.


Una Sull'Atra aka One On Top Of The Other aka Perversion Story (1969)
An incredible Lucio Fulci Giallo shot in San Francisco in the late 60s. Is this the only bona fide giallo to be shot in America? Top crime jazz score with occasional psych interludes from legendary composer Riz Ortolani! French actor Jean Sorel, who is the star of my favourite Giallo Short Night Of Glass Dolls and the Buñuel classic Belle De Jour, plays George a shonky doctor who ends up on death row. Is the dodgy doctor being framed for insurance fraud and murder or did he do it?  We've got double identities amongst some classic Giallo shit like inheritances, sexy shenanigans, police, sleaze, detectives, exquisite interior design, airports, people being drugged, photographers and even black gloves.


Mandy (2018)
You know you are in for something different if a movie starts out with a tune from prime 70s King Crimson. This is a fucking mental movie like a queasy bad acid trip. I dunno if I liked it but I watched the whole thing so I can't have hated it. In 1983 Red Miller (Nic Cage) and his girlfriend Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough) are living off the grid somewhere in the wilderness but an absurd hippy Christian cult leader Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache) has spotted Mandy. Jeremiah wants Mandy for himself but his seduction technique doesn't work so the cult wreak havoc upon the couple. That first half of this film is very bloody slow going but the second half is more compelling with Red seeking spectacular vengeance on the lysergically altered cult members. The saturated colour scheme used in this film would make Michael Powell, Mario Bava, Dario Argento, Marty Scorsese and Michael Mann proud. Mandy is some kind of arty cosmic black comedy action revenge horror film, that has instant cult status written all over it.

Mandy is a truly anomalous film. I really have never seen anything quite like it, not that I'm across the last fifteen years of cinema though. The vibe of Mandy did have me thinking of Blood Beat (1983), White Of The Eye (1987) and other such bonkers films. The first film from Panos Costmatos Beyond The Black Rainbow was much more indebted to his influences ie. Kubrick, Lynch, Cronenberg, Tarkovsky etc. If that was his hypnogogic/vapourwave film Mandy is his prog rock/black metal movie. Seedy, unhealthy, gross, sickly, fantastical, icky, psychedelic, nightmarish, hallucinatory, languid, gory, feeble, uneasy, squeamish, nauseating, peculiar, queer and aberrant are all words that could be used to describe Mandy but I feel like we need some new language to elucidate more perfectly what this movie is like. Sorry, you'll just have to watch it but don't blame me if you hate it. Look out for the chainsaw sword fight plus tiger and big black insect. The late Johan Johannsson's gloomy drone score, which is frequently reminiscent of 90s post-rock legends Labradford and atmospheric black metal, is outstanding and this film would be nowhere without it.

Best score since Mica Levi's Under The Skin

Friday, 5 October 2018

More On Movies VII

RECENTLY RE/WATCHED



Short Eyes (1977)
I saw this in the 90s but totally forgot about it until I got a few minutes into the blu-ray. This obscure prison drama is a lost gem. A middle class white pedophile is chucked into a prison. Will he find his comeuppance while inside or have his flimsy case dropped? Short Eyes is very very realistic because they used actual criminals in the cast à la The Wire. Rough, hard boiled and highly recommended. Look out for Curtis Mayfield as an inmate.

At Close Range (1986)
Stan added this to their movie list the other day so I thought I'd give it a go. Turns out I had never seen it. At Close Range is pretty slow to the point of being boring. But it does star Sean & Chris Penn with Christopher Walken as their criminal low-life father. The soundtrack kept making me think it was gonna break out into a Madonna song, I thought I was just being mental until the final scene where it does break out into Live To Tell. An 80s curio worth a look if you dig the aforementioned actors and Mary Stuart Masterson, whatever happened to her? Oh....and Crispin Glover.

Deliverance (1972)
Had not seen this since I was a teenager. I must be conflating it with another movie because I thought there was going to be cannibalism along with the buggery rape. Deliverance is so well done it keeps you transfixed from the start right up until the very end. John Voight, wow! The rest of the cast are great too. Deliverance is a timeless masterpiece. I'm never going bush for the rest of my life. No canoeing for me thank-you.

48 Hrs. (1982)
Wow imagine if this film was released today? Imagine the think-pieces! 48 Hrs. is a sometimes entertaining buddy cop film with Eddie Murphy & Nick Nolte. Not as good as I remember....still...I remember Another 48 Hrs. being a lot worse. One for the nostalgists only.

North By North-West (1959)
Thoroughly entertaining conspiracy thriller from Alfred Hitchcock. It's a tad long innit? He most definitely could have trimmed some fat off here and there. North By North-West contains some of Alfred's most spectacular scenes, you know, the drunk driving, the crop-duster and Mount Rushmore scenes. A film that oozes cold war paranoia and nefarious tones.

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978)
I was expecting to love this but er...it's just not my bag. Why it's much loved by twits and legends is lost on me. 70s remake of a 50s Sci-Fi horror flick. I liked the human dog things. I found the rest rather tedious for some reason despite the best efforts from Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams and Jeff Goldblum plus an outstanding performance from Leonard Nimoy. Maybe if Cronenberg or Carpenter had directed it I might have liked it. I'll give it a year or so then give it a Space Debris reappraisal. It's mainly that me and sci-fi just don't get along anymore or maybe I was a bit grumpy.


In The Mouth Of Madness (1995)
This is the best movie that nobody ever says is the best movie. I remember going to see it in a cinema in Bourke St. Melbourne. Shout out to SJ who used to call me Philippa Hawker* because I was such an opinionated critic. Anyway we left this film saying 'What was that???'  but ultimately agreeing it was silly rubbish. Hey, I'm still perplexed but now I love it. The only other film that has any kind of parallels to this is Lost Highway. John Trent (Sam Neil) is hired to go find missing blockbuster horror author Sutter Kane which takes him on a journey to an apocalyptic non place and back again. In The Mouth Of Madness is a gripping film right from the get go and Sam Neil is at an acting apex. Quite possibly John Carpenter's finest hour.

Death In Brunswick (1990)
They were the days. Alright this one is a bit of a nostalgia trip for me but maybe it's a good film....I just dunno. It's all too close to my heart as I lived in Brunswick for most of the 90s. Good lil story and top performances from Sam Neil and Zoe Carriddes though. This was an instant cult classic in Melbourne at the time like Romper Stomper was. 

Prince Of Darkness (1987)
Kinda silly but funny satanic horror from John Carpenter. He's not at his best here but not at his absolute worst either. I'm not sure any of it makes a hell of a lot of sense but there are some truly memorable scenes. Death by half a bicycle, the chosen evil one's head is chopped off but she just grabs it and puts it back on, lots of gross spitting of evil liquid into each others mouths and Kelly & Catherine getting lost forever to the other side through a mirror. Then there's the great shared dream sequence that changes slowly in small increments throughout the movie. Donald Pleasance, Victor Wong and Dennis Dun are great but fuck me the rest of the cast suck. This feels rushed, a lost opportunity.

Blue Thunder (1983)
Is this the best action movie ever made? It's unbelievably impressive. Blue Thunder must have been such a dangerous film shoot. These helicopter stunts are mental. Warren Oates, Roy Scheider and Malcolm McDowell star in this OTT 80s action epic.

White Of The Eye (1987)
All I knew about this one was that it was a crime movie or maybe a slasher that was rated by the VHS nerds as a high watermark in batshit crazy film making. Halfway through I was nearly falling asleep but yeah I gotta say by the end I was thinking 'WTF?' I dunno if I liked it but the second half was so engaging and just fucking bizarre. What does it all mean? I'm not sure. I definitely have to watch it again then probably again after that. I'm not even gonna try and do a mini synopsis of White Of The Eye suffice to say whether it makes sense or not it's truly bonkers. I think it was based on a bestselling novel(?). This one is for the out there and cult film buffs.

I Spit On Your Grave (1978)
One I had to check off my list before I died. But did I? This is the most brutal movie I've ever seen. I Spit On Your Grave is the ultimate rape revenge movie which is totally compelling from start to finish. Only people who think they are hardcore need apply. I spit On Your Grave is a beautifully shot and tightly made film.


The Mechanic (1972)
Wait a minute here we have another Charles Bronson film I like. Sometimes I wish all movies were like this ie. plenty of action and crazy stunts that I'm pretty sure were seriously dangerous. Then you've got all the early 70s glamour of the beautiful interior design, houses, cars, fashions and hair. Not forgetting that the spectacular action is taking place in exquisitely shot exotic locations. Of all the Michael Winner films I've seen so far this is at the top.

Maniac (2012)
Very excellent cover version of the classic disturbing 1980 slasher Maniac. It's POV all the way from Elijah Wood's character Frank Zito. I can't remember if the original was like that or not. This is a primo example of how to do a remake. 2012's version might even be better than the original. Oh the Sacrilege. What will the VHS nerds say? Love the score from Rob too. Now I wanna watch the old Maniac. Which I remember being very creepy, perhaps a bit crap and maybe just a tad too unpleasant but with a great score.

Death Wish 3 (1985)
Vigilante shit is so satisfying innit? This is now the third Charles Bronson film I like. Charles Bronson goes OTT with his WW2 weaponry as he takes on a neighbourhood of young hooligans who are running amok in 80s NYC. I'm even thinking about watching the first Death Wish movie again just to see if maybe I'll like it this time. The freedom of being able to change your mind and not be a slave to a certain set of aesthetics is an exhilarating feeling.

What We Do In The Shadows (2014)
Totally missed this when it came out. It features 4 vampires from 4 different classic eras living in a share house in current day Wellington. New Zealand. Clever little light comedy that vampire fans will love and everybody else will get a laugh from. Hey, It's got Jermaine Clement and Rhys Darby from Flight of The Concords.

Maniac Cop 2 (1990)
Another spectacular horror/action hybrid written by Larry Cohen and directed by Bill Lustig. The indestructible Maniac Cop Mathew Cordell befriends a serial killer who specialises in the murder of strippers. Look out for remarkable scenes of Cordell attacking others whilst being fully on fire amongst an array of other memorable scenes. This is where the style meets the sleaze and creates riveting entertainment.

Hereditary (2018)
Another mega mix pastiche horror film. This movie doesn't know what it is.  Don't waste your time on this bollocks. The berserk swelling drones of the score were very fucking cool though. Best soundtrack of 2018?

Mother (2017)
Oh dear....anyone wanna be sledgehammered to death with a biblical and climate change allegory? I'm pretty sure this an insult to my intelligence and yours.

Maniac (1980)
Onya once again Bill Lustig. The original Maniac is way better than I remember (I love it when that happens). Joe Spinell is so fucking great as the creepy yet charismatic serial killer Frank Zito. Frank has a variant of agalmatophilia where his mannequins have to have human scalps, hair included. I've gotta say this movie is also excellent like the remake and not one bit crap as speculated above. None of this is POV, so the 2012 version of Maniac is quite different but still very faithful to the original story. Joe Spinell should have been bigger than Jack Nicholson. The score is still in top 10 territory for me, onya Jay Chattaway. Maniac goes into to the Space Debris movie hall of fame!


* Philippa Hawker was a critic and a sex/relationships columnist for The Age newspaper in Melbourne during the 90s or was it The Australian?

**I'm aware of the run-on sentences but hey I'm mentally rusty and it's a blog.