Right after watching the season of Search Party with the incest-twink, everyone in this movie is in love with their relatives. Masuo (Kenzô Kawarasaki of Shinoda’s Himiko) is a flailing weakling at the center of a powerful doomed family. In his late 20’s his family picks a bride for him, she runs away and they make him go through the wedding ceremony alone, since all the guests had arrived. His friend and his aunt die, and bestie Terumichi (Atsuo Nakamura of Kwaidan and Kill!) leaves his wife Ritsuko then sails off and kills himself. I like Oshima’s anarchist youth movies better than the late prestige dramas – the voiceover is excessive and slows everything down.
I brought this book to read on the plane, but the book turned out to be a play, and I finished it before we boarded. It’s not much of a book – there’s mostly stillness and offstage sounds and atmosphere – so I thought I’d watch the newly-restored film while it was still fresh in my head. From the start the order of scenes is shuffled, opening with the beggar woman (never seen), the voices and music separate from onscreen action (not in sync with the scene we’re watching, discussing outdoor lights while the camera is indoors).
Delphine and Claude, with Mathieu Carrière (the guy being followed in The Aviator’s Wife) sitting up:
Delphine Seyrig plays the main character, what slight character there is, loved by both Claude Mann (the Bay of Angels star with blond 80’s hair) and, from afar, Michael Lonsdale (who was in two Losey movies the same year). Stillness, slow dancing and gradual lighting changes, the atmosphere finally broken by Lonsdale’s offscreen screams over an hour in.
Duras’s sixth feature as director, with great use of mirrors in the staging. The India Song itself, by composer Carlos D’Alessio, is great too. Nominated for Césars, losing to Black Moon and a Zulawski – a very arthouse year. Played out of competition at Cannes with Tommy, Moses & Aron and those Loseys, the year that Chronicle of the Years of Fire and The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser took the top prizes. Super interesting and innovative – on the other hand it put me to sleep more than once – Dave Kehr called it “extremely boring in rather fascinating ways.”
“Our tolerance was a mistake.” After the poisoning death of a martial arts master, a brown-suited dude is sent to insult and challenge his disciples during the memorial service, a crass move that earns the wrath of disciple Bruce Lee. This starts out way better than The Big Boss by pitting Bruce against forty guys early on instead of waiting for the second half – “Next time I’ll make you eat the glass.”
The titular fist:
Lee’s confuse-o-vision technique:
This is Shanghai, and all the villains are Japanese. Not a master of history, I’d forgotten that the Japanese colonized parts of China throughout the 1930’s and I was amazed at their nerve. Bruce goes on a righteous rampage through the city, smashing racist Japanese in their jerk faces, then in case we’re tempted to feel bad for them, the Japanese massacre all of Bruce’s friends (including poor James Tien again). There is a love interest, just barely, and a couple of fun disguises. The big boss sports an absurd long mustache and has hired an English-speaking Russian tough who fights in a bow-tie – Bruce punches a guy’s dick off before taking them on, the action in this movie always great. Same as The Big Boss, the army closes in on Bruce post-killing-spree. Must see Lo Wei’s New Fist of Fury, a sequel starring Jackie Chan in his first major role.
love interest Nora Miao:
the big boss Chikara Hashimoto:
“Homesdale will help you to face the truth.” It’s like a secret society summer camp, attended by a group of returning visitors and new guy Malfry. The new guy is upbraided for smoking during the treasure hunt – meanwhile Mr. Levy goes skeet shooting and kills an assistant, and a musician is beheaded in bed. Guess it’s supposed to be a dark/twist ending that Malfry, who never fit in, is a staff member when the next boatload of campers arrives. Pleasantly eccentric hourlong movie, a one-shot deal for most of the actors, though Kate Fitzpatrick appeared in a 1980’s superhero spoof and Richard Brennan produced Gillian Armstrong’s Starstruck.
“This is a book about the subversion of existing values, institutions, mores, and taboos… by the potentially most powerful art of the century.” I saw it was Amos Vogel’s 100th birthday and celebrated by beginning to read his Film as a Subversive Art. The plan is to watch some movies covered within, though sticking to grand long-term viewing projects isn’t my forte. Hey, Vogel went to UGA before moving to NYC, wonder what the Athens film scene was like back then.
A modern alienation movie, the still camera and attention to jukeboxes presumably an influence on Kaurismaki. The Goalie is on leave after arguing with a ref, wanders about with nowhere special to be, seeing movies and picking up women, the movie sexlessly fading to black whenever he’s alone with one. After spending some time with ticket taker Gloria he randomly strangles her, and it fades out on this too. The people get more eccentric as he goes to the country to visit an old friend and his focus on the local newspapers turns from soccer scores to the murder investigation closing in on him.
Wim’s debut feature. A film marquee advertises a then-nonexistent Patricia Highsmith adaptation – a few features later, Wenders would make his own. Our hero Arthur Brauss (who explains the title in the final scene) had smallish roles in a Peckinpah, a Frankenheimer, an Elaine May.
His world – a glossy, Americanized Vienna – is seen as existential mystery, lacking explanation. Fearful matters are touched upon in laconic, strange dialogue. An air of vague dread, intensified by the film’s magic realism, permeates the mysteries hinted at but never confronted.
This is the second movie I’ve watched this year after Cold Weather that partly takes place at an ice factory. In this one, incompetent drug dealers are hiding packets of heroin inside blocks of ice… which are transparent. When a couple of employees find the nondescript packets, the baddies tell them there’s heroin inside, then murder the entire workforce. Strange logic abounds, but this is also a movie that was partly written during filming – per Matthew Polly in the extras, the first half was Bruce Lee’s screen test, and it was decided during filming that James Tien would get killed off and Lee take over the movie.
James, far right, wondering if he’s doomed:
A good, violent movie, though it was touch-and-go during that first half. Mostly low-rent and effective, badly dubbed with a bit of style (aka whip-pans). Even in the modern Criterion HD remaster the music sounds like it’s being played on a faulty tape machine. All the movie’s precision comes in the form of Bruce. Said to have been a dancer who fights with a cha-cha tempo, his first action scene makes the flailing clumsiness of the movie’s first half disappear.
Bodies in the ice:
The drug dealers are led by Big Boss Ying-Chieh Han – before Bruce kicks his ass, he frees the Boss’s pet parakeet as a power move. To get to this confrontation, every single person Bruce knows has to be murdered, so the movie’s death toll is high. Some weird humor in here too – Bruce apparently doesn’t know how liquor works and downs a half-bottle of cognac while out with his boss. Later he’s making growling monkeywolf noises as he Wile-E-Coyotes a guy through a wooden wall.
Robert De Niro trying to pick up girls at a VJ Day party runs up on Liza Minnelli, whose first 20 lines in the movie are “no.” De Niro plays a guy with social problems, if you can believe that. It’s a talky hangout drama with some good character moments, gradually accumulating plot as their music careers develop.
Then after an entire two-hour not-great movie, Liza’s husband is having a crisis because she’s more famous than him, and she stars in a play where her man runs off because he can’t bear being with a woman more famous than him… the movie finally, gloriously becoming the full-blown musical it had been hinting at, Liza’s glamour more interesting than De Niro’s aimless dissatisfaction. According to the wikis, the movie-within-the-movie was cut from the theatrical release version – no wonder it wasn’t commercially successful. And here I was stupidly wondering if it’s based on the real couple who wrote the titular classic song in the 1940’s/50’s, but the song was written for this movie.
Dick Miller, being the man:
Movie about a poor hotelier who’s being distracted from his job by flashbacks and allegations from when he was a mass murderer. Max (Losey regular Dirk Bogarde, a couple years before Providence) had passed himself off as a doctor during the war, “none of his patients survived.” Max has a cabal of nazis working on his legal case… including Greyburns (Gabriele Ferzetti, interrogator of The Confession, also of Fulci’s The Psychic) and Monocle Guy (Philippe Leroy of Le Trou). But the appearance of his surviving victim Charlotte Rampling (never seen her so young, she costarred with Connery in Zardoz the same year) throws everything off. Dirk and Charlotte have some kinda forbidden love thing going on, get gunned down at the end. The dubbing is slightly off, as are the characters… everyone here is psychotic, with no normal people to bounce off. Mike D’Angelo on letterboxd: “Mostly it’s tastefully dull.”
Nazi baroness dies giving birth in bombarded Berlin, the movie unconvincingly marrying perfect interiors with very rough stock footage. The baby is murdered, then in color the present-day baron speaks of a family curse, and a dirt-digging reporter gets her car pitchforked and runs headlong into the woods.
From here out, it’s your traditional story of a busload of people arriving at a haunted castle then getting killed one-by-one by a hot succubus in a revealing black dress, while the alchemist baron and his butler gradually parse out secrets. Not a generically bad horror movie though – it’s pretty much excellent from start to finish, including the ending where the devil deals with a priest to trade his soul for the bus people, then they all awaken and immediately die in a fiery bus crash.
Mouseover to manifest a succubus:
Brismée’s only feature, unfortunately! The writers made some 70’s porn, and this script was remade in 2012 by some low-budge Massachusetts residents. Rififi star Jean Servais plays the baron, Erika Blanc (The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave) the succubus, and Daniel Emilfork (OMG, Krank from City of Lost Children) the devil.