Friday, 26 June 2020

Mo Movies 34

RECENTLY RE/WATCHED
I have watched a lot more movies than this since the last movie post but I just didn't feel like writing about them. I reckon I started about ten movies that I abandoned as well. Then there's the nights where I scroll through all the streaming sites looking for something to watch then all of a sudden its midnight. The eternal scroll is somewhere between window shopping and choice paralysis. I'm also very mentally distracted currently by the authoritarian cult of regressive extreme left political activism which alarmingly makes 2020 resemble 1984 more and more with each passing day. Nobody seems to give a fuck, that's frightening. The show must go on though...

La morte negli occhi del gatto (1973)

La Morte Negli Occhi Del Gatto aka Seven Deaths In The Cat's Eye (1971)
I accidentally bought this on the internet thinking it was the below movie. When the opening credits started rolling mentioning Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg I knew I'd got mixed up and had the wrong film. Too many gialli with the number seven, cats, eyeballs and death in the title, sometimes makes it a confusing genre to navigate. I didn't mind though I was quite intrigued. I mean Serge Gainsbourg as a Scottish detective come on everybody needs to see that! So this is set in a gothic Scottish castle. When? I couldn't say exactly maybe its the olden days but when Corringa (Jane Birkin) arrives at the estate by a horse drawn carriage she's wearing sort of modern mid 20th century clothing so it's an atemporal zone. None of that matters to the story which is pretty funny and perhaps needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Near the beginning we see what they call an Orangutan watching Corringa through a window but its definitely a man in a Gorilla suit though like Mighty Boosh's Bollo. Anyway there's a scary cat, burning of a bible, dungeons, secret passageways, kissing cousins, a black gloved killer, ye olde shaving razors, vampires (?), lesbians, red herrings, priests, tombs and inheritance issues. If you want a faux-gothic Giallo movie that's light and a bit silly then here you go.
 
Shirley Corrigan and Anthony Steffen in Sette scialli di seta gialla (1972)

Sette Scialla Di Seta Gialla aka Crimes Of The Black Cat (1972)
One of my all time favourite Gialli. This is set in the picture-esque city of Copenhagen, Denmark. Blind movie composer Peter (Anthony Steffen) becomes the amateur sleuth after his ex-girlfriend dies. The police don't think its murder but Peter knows better. I mean he's blind but even he can see its murder. Hold on to your hats we get overheard conversations, a modelling agency, a fashion house, adultery, a deadly cat, a phoney drug addict, sex photo extortion, silk shawls, 70s restaurants/bars, pet shops, a bus chase, a shocking death shower scene, blackmail, a white caped murderer, a body count, a butler, red herrings, tape recordings and more. Unusually we get an incredible set piece on a construction site (?) with the blindman Peter having to dodge murderous machinery whilst on dangerous scaffolding. This is an intense action sequence that sets this Giallo film apart. Highly Recommended.


The Jade Eyed Cat aka Il Gatto Dagli Occhi Di Giada aka Watch Me When I Kill (1977)
This is not your usual flamboyant outrageous fun Giallo. The tone here is quite serious. Its like Antonio Bido wanted to make a significant bleak revenge drama but he had to wrap it up in the genre of the day to get it made. You know things are different right out of the gate as the killer has white gloves. I know shocking right? This movie has to be seen if only for the death by gnocchi scene or are they dumplings? The amateur sleuth in this one is a recording engineer so surprise surprise we have lots of stuff on tape and phones. The soundtrack from Trans Europe Express is notable for its Goblin-isms but it gets particularly freaky when there are these amazing vocal-drone incantations which are very haunting. The Jade Eyed Cat is for Giallo enthusiasts who want to go deep into the genre.

Coherence (2013)
A good premise executed badly. A white upper middle class dinner party goes awry due to a comet passing during the evening. This causes a bunch of alternate realities ie. this dinner party with these same guests is happening across the road in the same house. First of all to make your horror/sci-fi/thriller flick watchable the characters or at least one or two of them need to be relatable, nice or sympathetic. I didn't care what happened to these dinner party guests because they were all dicks. Their reactions to this crazy uncanny scenario just didn't feel real or have enough hysteria. I feel like the movie makers just didn't think this whole concept properly through. Did something go wrong in the development stage? They needed to edit down the concepts and make it more minimal. If the realities were infinite why did it just come down to the actions and consequences of one character. Perhaps to give Coherence more coherence the comet should have just caused Emily (Emily Baldoni) to have one doppelgänger. It's got Xander from Buffy though so it was good to see him again. There was also another dude who looked exactly like him and I mean a whole other actor/character Kevin (Maury Sterling) which was not part of the parallel lives plot. So that was a bit weird. Twilight Zone, Black Mirror and a bunch of other films cover this conceptual territory a lot better. Don't bother pressing play on this at netflix.


Defcon-4 (1985)
A cult-y Canuxploitation flick produced by Roger Corman's New World Pictures. Defcon-4 starts out very promising but ends just alright. Three astronauts witness WWIII from their secret space station. They crash down to post-apocalyptic earth a couple of months later. One Astronaut Jordan (Kate Lynch) is knocked into a coma, one gets out of the aircraft only to be immediately killed while Howe (Tim Choate) makes it out alive but gets captured. Vinny (Maury Chaykin) a renegade takes Howe to his fort. There is a fascistic new world order and crazed cannibals on the loose. Everyone needs to leave this radioactive zone otherwise they will all die. The only hope is to get a boat to a safe zone in South America. I loved the opening 25 minutes in the space station but once we got to earth it was c-grade Mad Max (1979) all the way. Fans of the post-apocalypse sub-genre need to see this though.



The Sender (1982)
Pretty good lil Horror/Sci-Fi gem. Telekineses is the order of the day here. A young man mysteriously walks into a lake with rocks in his pocket but he is saved before drowning. John Doe #83 ( Željko Ivanek) ends up in a psych ward. What's going on in his brain though and just who the hell is he? The Sender's got a great tone and many terrific chaotic set pieces to put it right up there with that other similarly themed movie of the time David Cronenberg's masterpiece The Dead Zone (1983). There must have been something in the air at the time or was it just Stephen King's brain? Well worth a look.


THE SUCKLING (AKA SEWAGE BABY) LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY SLIPCOVER ...

The Suckling aka Sewage Baby (1990)
1990? While watching I was trying to guess what year it was made and I decided on 1985 or 86 but thought it could have been even earlier. It definitely has an atemporal vibe going on. Now this a batshit crazy movie but to add to that I think tubi's streaming service was fucking up. I was getting replays, flash forwards, flashbacks, scenes repeated more than twice and all kinds of glitches which made it feel like I was on an intense acid trip that was going down a dark and delirious path. It was like one of the most out there experimental cut up/loopy film experiences I've ever had. Now I'm eager to watch the actual blu-ray to see just how avant-garde this absurd monster flick really is. The Suckling is the story of a young lady and her boyfriend going to a brothel that seems to be in a time-warp to get an abortion (?). Yes you read that right. The coat hanger abortion takes place and the foetus is flushed down the toilet. Then all hell breaks loose as the foetus quickly becomes a mutant monster. This low budget flick contains some of the strangest cinematography, if you can call it that, I've ever witnessed. The mutant baby monster is pretty good though. This is well worth a watch for a bit of WTF? fun. Late night movie of the week.



Raw Force (1982)
This is a mega-mix genre mash up 80s stylee. It starts out with a bit of T&A and white boy kung fu. Then there's sex trafficking involving mad cannibal monks, ghostly kung fu zombies, a German baddie Hitler lookalike-y complete with wonky moustache, a decapitation, pyromania and even piranhas. It's all wrapped up in an exotic 80s action/adventure set in the south seas. Raw Force is nuts el-cheapo entertainment but one of the main protagonists of the film is just not quite who you want as the hero as he sleazes on to somebodies wife at the beginning and is lecherous towards her for the entire movie. Odd.


Bay Of Angels (1963)
The legendary Jaques Demy directs the legendary Jeanne Moreau in this peculiar existential gambling drama that takes a romantic turn even if it's a somewhat dark one. Moreau is absolutely magnetic as the mentally scattered gambling addict Jacki. She inhabits this character like she's lived it her entire life. Jacki's not necessarily likeable with her cold dark heart but you can't turn away as sometimes she reveals vulnerability. Jean (Claude Mann) the conflicted gambler who becomes enamoured by Jacki is also impeccably portrayed. Then there is France photographed in black and white which is stunning. Bay Of Angels is not just a character study par excellence it is movie making of the high calibre variety.




1984 (1984)
I don't want to write prescient because the George Orwell story Nineteen Eighty Four has been relevant to society ever since it was published in 1949. 1984 mirrors the stupidity going on right now on both sides of the political spectrum ie. The fascistic police state and the authoritarian left. Both of which are totalitarian. Although 1984 is largely a critique of what goes wrong with the regressive extreme left once left to their own devices. This cautionary tale is so pertinent to this very minute. Big Brother style law enforcement surveillance is prevalent now days and in a lot of cases justice depends upon it. Cancel culture is right here as Winston Smith's (John Hurt) actual job. His job is to unperson people, wipe out any evidence that they ever existed. Sound familiar? Is George Orwell not taught in schools or universities anymore. I can't imagine many professors wanting their students to read this indictment of their extreme leftist doctrine of unfreedom of speech and compelled political correctness. What would happen if the kids realised they've diminished themselves as individuals at the behest of authoritarian groupthink?

1984's most applicable to today's situation with fake news and computerised manipulation of narratives towards your particular political bias despite the facts and the truth. Sorry, I mean we could all write an essay, a thesis or a phd dissertation on this subject and probably have. This really does feel like school but you know how you always used to say to teachers "What relevance is this going to have on my life?" I think a teacher/lecturer could confidently say this is probably the most relevant and useful topic you'll ever learn about in the education system.

What about the movie though Tim? Yeah it's a good lil disturbing dystopian drama with the good actoring and ace retro-future vibes. 2020's world is basically 1984's world with just a few cosmetic adjustments. The forbidden love story between Winston & Julia takes up a surprising amount of the movie. I'm not sure how much of the book that took up because I'm not sure I ever read the bloody thing to the end!

There's a surprising amount of full frontal female nudity from Julia (Suzanna Hamilton) for bush fans. No full frontal male nudity though. When was the last time you saw a man's cock in a mainstream movie? I recall Harvey's Keitel in The Piano (1993), Ewan's McGregor in that boring Greenaway movie and was there someone starkers in one of the Monty Python films. That's not a lot and perhaps I'm showing my age. As discussed recently on The Projection Booth Podcast seeing a man's penis on screen is still a rarity.

Everybody over the age of 15 should watch this movie. While these concepts are not news to me they might just well be for a 22 year old. If you are one of these people be prepared to have your life and world turned upside down as reality and nefariousness comes crashing into your face.




Top Of The Heap (1972)
This unique picture has been discussed on both The Movies That Made Me and Pure Cinema podcasts recently. I guess there's something in the air with all the George Floyd demonstrations and riots. Christopher St John writes, directs and stars in this wonderful piece of cinema. George Lattimer (Christopher St John) is an African American cop on the streets of Washington DC. He's been doin his job as a street cop on the nightshift for over 10 years. Lattimer becomes disillusioned after a white moron gains a promotion over him. Throughout the movie he becomes more and more unhinged as his work, family and social life spiral out of control along with his mind. He hates himself and the system.

There are two key scenes that make this relevant to today: He gets racially profiled by another cop after getting off a bus. The White cop doesn't realise Lattimer's a cop as he has a trench coat over his uniform. Lattimer has this coat on so as to not alienate himself from the black community and because he's become conflicted about his job. This scenario could have quite easily gone pear-shaped George Floyd stylee. Showing things haven't really changed with regard to police attitudes in fifty years. The trench coat over his police uniform mirroring images off today's news where cops are turning up to work in plain clothes in fear of their lives.

He gets into a fight with a bunch of black people who run the club where his mistress works as a singer. Black on black violence in America is an ongoing concern. It was pointed out to me recently that university studies have shown that African Americans are just as likely to be killed by other African American cops as white cops. This study totally shocked me when I read it the other day. So this was totally relevant.

Anyway despite the dark and serious social issue subject matter this movie is also a whole lotta nihilistic fun. Sometimes it is absolutely hilarious. One particularly memorable funny scene is when Lattimer turns up at his mistress's (Paula Kelly) place. She's so stoned she can't take his heavy vibe seriously so she mocks him by repeating what he's saying in soulful singing over her jazzy chords on acoustic guitar. This is comic gold that had me laughing out loud and it felt so real. The daydreaming sequences where Lattimer is an astronaut are off the wall and make up a substantial part of the film. Fans of 70s cars, fashion, music and interior design are in for an eyeball treat.

This is a visionary work of African American cinema that should be right up there with Symbiopsychotaxiplasm, Take One (1968), Cotton Comes To Harlem (1970), Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971), Killer Of Sheep (1977), Penitentiary (1979), Do The Right Thing (1989) etc.


Django (1966)
There was a time in the 90s when it felt like I watched every single Spaghetti Western ever made, well at least half, they made a lot of them. SBSTV also seemed to have a year where that was all they showed movie-wise. Good times. So I totally had Spaghetti Western fatigue. While I've remained enamoured by the soundtracks in the new millennium, I don't think I've watched one of these flicks since the 90s. Tubi has changed the movie watching landscape though. They have so many ye olde films, heaps of good ones. I thought signing up to Amazon Prime was great but tubi's even better and its free. So they've uploaded a motherlode of 60s/70s Italian westerns and not only that they seem to be great prints. I think they have a deal with Arrow Video so there's a bunch of Ringos, Djangos and Sartanas to watch. Everybody knows and loves Sergio Leone but now you get to watch the rest. I can't stand Clint Eastwood so its lucky they made over 350 spaghetti westerns not starring him for our pleasure.

Django is a great place to start because it's one of the best Spaghetti Westerns. Django (Franco Nero) turns up in a muddy border ghost-town dragging a coffin. All that's left in the deserted town is the saloon, the barkeep and his harem of ladies. There will be violence, quicksand, gold, Mexicans, racist Confederates, a western take on the trojan horse, much blood shed, revenge, a cemetery and quite possibly the greatest opening song ever in the history of film. Recommended.


Cemetery Without Crosses (1969)
You know you're in for a treat when Scott Walker sings the opening song of a Spaghetti Western! Well it's an Italian-French co-production innit. So what is a French Western called? A Baguette Western? Robert Hossein writes, stars and directs here. This is a tragedy with more tragedy followed by some tragedy. We get vengeance, more vengeance followed by some more vengeance. Maria's (Michèle Mercier) husband is killed and she wants vengeance but not just any old vengeance. She wants the posse who killed her husband to be humiliated in front of the entire town and that's just for starters. Along with the horseys in the desert we get the Spaghetti Western perennials: Lynching, a corrupt Sheriff, ghost towns, robbery, coffins, gold, fast gunslingers, minimal dialogue, cemeteries, mucho bloodshed, a dead dude on a horsey, nihilism, kidnapping, romance and of course revenge. This one is for the ladies. Cemetery Without Crosses is stylistically beautiful with a terrific story which makes this a gem and probably a masterpiece of the genre. Highly recommended. 

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Ekoplekz Complete. Nick Edwards ReBegins.


Last year Ekoplekz aka Nick Edwards called it quits. As far as I know the Ekoplekz moniker is finished with. Edwards has been quite mysterious over the years appearing and disappearing on social media. A few months back I noticed he had popped up on Instagram only to disappear recently. In the last 12 months he also joined and then left twitter again (don't blame him, twitter's fucking toxic). Anyway during correspondence late last year with one of his record company people, I was told his fantastic 2019 tapes Metabolism and In Search Of The Third Mantra were to be the last new Ekoplekz recordings ever.

Ekoplekz is finished but you can't keep a good man down. Nick Edwards is back under his own name with a new digital album For Now, Our Desire Is Nameless. This one's on a more minimal tech tip. The opening tune Watching is a subtle repetitive minuscule lock groove that he has somehow made mellifluous. The Same is a lightly defective neo-cosmic jam. The push and pull rhythm of Old Things could have made it an absolute banger but it's like rhabdomyolysis has occurred and it's barely hanging on to its anaemic life. Definition is a standout tune that feels like a homage to the glory days of the Basic Channel/Chain Reaction milieu. Track 4 On Higher is supreme pulsating enviro-electronic-ambience. Screens has got to be the most minimal thing he's ever done as it shape shifts out of its psychedelic circular pattern and almost dissipates as it unfurls into tiny wisps of sound with a Carpenter-esque sting as the album's finale. Wow this is pretty fucking elevated stuff. It feels really meticulous but these are live improvised jams which makes me think he has mastered his craft to a sublime degree. 


Recently though there has been a whole lot of archival activity over on the Ekoplekz bandcamp page. Edwards has been putting every little bit of Ekoplekz's audio history up on this digital platform to properly catalogue and conclude the ten year Ekoplekz era. I believe this project is now complete. So for starters he has put up Volume 1 (2010) which was the first Ekoplekz release. By the time I became aware of this limited to 20 copies cdr and its abridged second edition of only 50 copies they had all been snapped up. Luckily someone uploaded it onto a sharity blog at the time and that's where the obsession began. Edwards describes this as primitive unproduced early demos recorded on a four track cassette.


Now if you thought it was hard to get your hands on Volume 1, it was virtually impossible to your hands on Doctrine: 789305 (2010). This private press tape of less than 10 copies was only given to his friends! Edwards says he never had any intention of this ever resurfacing again but some of his friends told him that it was one of his best recordings and urged him to release it. So voilà after finding the master tape at the back of a drawer Edwards has put it up on bandcamp for you to download digitally. His friends were right this is easily one of the best Ekoplekz albums. Doctrine: 789305 is full of splendid crunchy dubbed out no-fi electronic goodness. Ekoplekz hedz need to hear this!  


Volume 2 (2010) is the third Ekoplekz release and it was another private press cdr of just 50 copies. I've never heard this one either so I was pretty excited to see it on bandcamp. I gave up on ever getting a version of this album years ago. I know some of the tracks because they were on that Pontone mix which must have been done in late 2010.


I did not know this even existed. This 2012 recording might just be the ultimate Ekoplekz release. I fucking love these berserk noisy electronics and the two 20 minute tracks totally suit this delirious saga of radiophonica. Discogs has The Nunton Complekz filed as an artist name. I dunno, maybe it was an alias. Nick Edwards was quite fond of an alias like Ensemble Skalectrik, PLKZFX, Phlekz etc. Then there were his collaborations eMMplekz (with Baron Mordant), EKOCLEF (with Bass Clef), pHarmerz (with Farmer Glitch) and so on.    



If that wasn't enough for you or you already had those obscure early releases just hold on to your horses. On the first of this month Nick Edwards unleashed the motherlode of Ekoplekz rarities. Wrekage 2011-2019 is an hour and forty minutes of tracks that have previously exclusively appeared on other compilations. On the bandcamp page this compilation is described as "An anthology of orphans from the main discography." This is the most diverse collection of tunes ever issued under the Ekoplekz moniker. Wait for it...there is a cover of Syd Barrett's Late Night with vocals and psych guitars which is.....well, to put it mildly surprising.