Jiro (Black Sun star Tamio Kawaji) is a tormented James Dean type. Once I caught onto the fact that he tears off running at the end of every scene, it was always funny. A youth-gone-wild movie, all the parents lived through hell in the war, now their kids are all owowowowoe is me. Even if I hate all the whiny characters, it’s still a great-looking film that moves like a bullet.
There’s an abortion plot, plenty of money troubles, some muggings and car theft, then Jiro kills his widowed mom’s boyfriend with a wrench, and drives into the night to his own death. A bartender gets the last word, “Jiro was a nice boy,” but no he wasn’t.
Yoshiko Nezu is good, was in two more Suzuki movies in the next year, then disappeared:
Cagney is a Serious Fast Talking Businessman who yells all his lines in Cold War Germany. He’s a Coca Cola executive (which means a lotta references to Atlanta), pitting pop culture and business against commie mentality. The German language jokes are sharp and funny, from former Berliner Wilder. Oscar nominated b&w cinematography by Daniel Fapp, who shot color oscar winner West Side Story the same year. The jokes and politics are good, as is most of the farce stuff, but Cagney is a disaster.
The daughter is with beau Horst Buchholz, just off The Magnificent Seven:
“You want the papers in triplicate or the blonde in triplicate?”
“See what you can do.”
Sexy secretary Ingeborg was in Rivette’s The Nun, the boss’s Southern party-girl daughter was in the following year’s State Fair, and her dad had been in Shockproof. The boss isn’t doing a Southern accent, exactly, but I like that all you can see out the window of his Atlanta office is parking lots. References to Omaha, La Dolce Vita, and Playboy.
This was pretty good, and less than half the length of Woodlands Dark & Days Bewitched, which I watched as an extended intro. After his men and horses died with bright red paint for blood, romantic lead Ian Ogilvy (Puppet Master 5 and a Peter Cushing haunted junk shop movie called From Beyond the Grave) returns home to marry his beloved Sara (Hilary Dwyer, who’d return to Vincent Price and witches in Cry of the Banshee) with the blessing of her preacher dad. Meanwhile, Vincent Price is going from town to town with his brute beardo torturer sidekick Robert Russell (of the pre-Revenant Man in the Wilderness) getting paid for ferreting out witches, who are drowned using the Monty Python & The Holy Grail technique or burned or whatever’s convenient.
Next time Ian is away, the witchfinders roll into town. Price’s game is to get cash and get hot women. Sara agrees to sleep with him for a time, but he drowns her dad and brands her a witch, and Ian forgives her (weird for a dude in a period film) then sets to hunting the hunters. Price is on the outs with Beardo and has to hire a substitute torturer in the next town, finally gets beaten to death when Ian catches up.
Appreciate that the townspeople left her alone except to enter her house with ladders and put up this witch sign like a happy birthday banner:
Reeves and DP John Coquillon (soon to join Peckinpah) acquit themselves nicely, with a lotta zooms, some nicely framed closeups, a real cool water-to-fire transition. The sound editor however had a minute of anguished cries and kept looping them.
Metrograph and Criterion are both in Doris Wishman Mode, but I’m afraid I can’t join in. This is an outrageously bad movie with a groovy jazz soundtrack (must be library music, not credited), somewhat enjoyable to watch just to goggle at every bizarre decision. Between the makeup and sets, I wouldn’t be surprised if Anna Biller was a fan, and there’s something of Blaze’s posed, modeling manner (with a long pause after every line) in the Love Witch performances. The one thing that could save Blaze is The Mads/Rifftrax, if Something Weird would lend them some cheap
Blaze is a hot Florida celeb being hounded for autographs, supposed to marry Tony, her agent with a preposterous mustache. She discovers there’s a nudist resort nearby and checks in under a fake name, spending weekends hiding from other obligations, finally dumping her mustache man and running off with the nevernude colony leader. In the colony, everyone smiles too much and pretends to be having great fun doing boring activities like drinking coke and picking flowers and shooting suction-cup archery, just because they’re nude. The movie’s main technical achievement is its careful avoidance of showing anybody below the waist from the front, just as carefully as it cuts to reaction shots to avoid dealing with sync sound in dialogue scenes.
Hot nude chess:
“Do women have freedom?” Two young sisters trash a large house and grouse at each other until the masters return, and everyone yells at each other, and there’s a lot of slapping. The girls announce that they’ve wrecked things because they’re unpaid and mistreated, sabotaging a year’s vintage of wine which was to be included in a deal to sell the house. The servants stick around, and the family puts up with a lot – too much, and the sisters finally murder the wife and daughter and are sentenced to death in postscript.
Francine Bergé, the older of the sisters, played the villain in the great Judex the same year, later the villain in Rivette’s The Nun. Nico’s directorial debut premiered at Cannes 1963 (in competition with Harakiri, I Fidanzati, Baby Jane, big winner The Leopard). Watched as part of a Criterion spotlight – they say he was a controversial figure who worked with Casssavetes and Jean Genet. Took a break halfway through the movie when Katy came down, and we watched Farran’s introduction to Judy Holliday, and perhaps I should’ve watched a Judy instead of a Nico.
Demy’s followup to Rochefort is disappointing. He’s in California shooting a charisma-free Gary Lockwood (his followup to 2001). It’s a clean looking movie with big meaty closeups, but feels clunky, has no snap, the actors practically reading off scripts.
The Model Shop is a chaste peepshow where photographers hire a camera and a sexy girl for private sessions (Gary once calls it a “tart factory,” which would’ve been a better film title). Broke, doomed Gary stumbles into the place and obsesses over Lola (THE Lola), stalks her relentlessly until she agrees to sleep with him. At the end he’s drafted, loses his cute girlfriend, his cute car, and all the cash he borrowed (in the movie’s weirdest scene) from the band Spirit.
Gary disappointing his gf Alexandra Hay (Skidoo):
Demy stitches together an Interconnected Universe here, sending Lola back to France at the end, reporting that her Sailor Frankie has died in Vietnam. Lola speaks of an ex who left her for a French gambler named Jackie (Bay of Angels) and we’ve already seen her boy Roland marrying Catherine Deneuve in Umbrellas. Unknown whether Gary’s tooling around town in the limited time before he has to report for duty has Cleo from 5 to 7 in mind, or if it’s more a reference to Sailor Gene Kelly on shore leave.
Rare is the movie that makes me daydream about making my own movies. I have no particular vision or story, no equipment or skill, no network of collaborators, no funds, no interest. But all during this movie I was imagining making my own little home movies, alone, with my phone camera. I don’t expect they’d be an improvement on this movie, they’re almost guaranteed to be worse, which is depressing, since this movie was barely watchable, with its flailing sub-Ruizian visuals – I think you have to be on this guy’s particular wavelength of religion and art and history to understand what he’s on about. He does some surreptitiously-filmed drunken performance art in a public square. Searching the Vogel for fitting keywords: “exasperating… grotesque… constant aural bombardment.”
Superbly assembled from the original footage, news stories and present-day interviews. Some songs are allowed to stand on their own, some are used as montage fodder, or backdrops for related stories. Mainly I appreciate a music doc that never lets the music stop playing.
Stevie Wonder gets drum and piano solos. David Ruffin has a very high voice and long legs on “My Girl.” Nina Simone and Sly Stone in top form. I wasn’t expecting the gospel section to be so strong – Mavis Staples and Mahalia Jackson walked off with the movie.
Abby Sun in Filmmaker:
Politically, the films’ interviews and archival footage holds no bars. The Reverend Jesse Jackson’s sermons are woven throughout … The film is explicitly pro-Black Panthers, pro-Young Lords, pro-interracial and transnational solidarity movements. It is conscious, as its organizers were, of the complex mapping of the formation of Black identity — in style and hair, musical expression and commercial ownership, political position, Afro-Caribbean modalities — and against mainstream media narratives, while putting forward a multi-sensorial view of a festival space, integrating attendees’ memories of the smell and taste of being present.
Devil Got My Woman: Blues at Newport (1966, Alan Lomax)
Either these performances were filmed outside of the actual Newport Folk Festival, or the Blues tent at Newport was just a house, capacity roughly 30. A couple songs each by Son House, Skip James, a couple other new-to-me names. The revelation here was Howlin’ Wolf (below, cash in hand) with added sax and drums.
The High Lonesome Sound (1963, John Cohen)
Oh no, a narrator.
Oh no, Southern Baptists.
In a few Kentucky locations. No sync sound, and more exteriors and context than the blues doc. This (to its detriment) is more of a movie, the other one is more a document of a happening.
Banjoist Roscoe Holcomb:
Ratty (2020, John Angus Stewart)
The making of King Gizzard’s Rats’ Nest. VHS aesthetic with poor sound recording, but I know the album well enough that it’s still thrilling to be here.
I’ve watched a ton of fake online concerts, including: