Twin girls in Budapest grow up separately, both end up dating a thin-faced Tesla-type character (Nostalgia star Oleg Yankovskiy). Lots of appealing birth-of-cinema and -electricity stuff.
From my notes:
– She tries to bomb the minister at the cinema
– They go to the zoo and the monkey narrates a flashback
– Stars and electric lightbulbs whisper to each other
Dorota Segda as Dora:
Dorota Segda as Lili:
Movie opens with “uncle” yelling at unseen hole diggers, then a boy with a (comically? horribly? we don’t know yet) hoarse voice comes out and curses into the camera. For maybe a decade I’ve been half-meaning to watch this movie because it’s supposed to be great, then avoiding it since it’s a horrors-of-war through eyes-of-a-child story. Turns out it’s not the depressing slog I imagined, but has big Emir Kusturica energy, hardly ever stops being amazing even when it starts being completely brutal. Let’s keep avoiding Son of Saul for the time being, though.
Our boy Fliora finds a gun, so is allowed to leave his family and join the Belorussian soldiers in WWII – then he’s ordered to swap his good boots for an older soldier’s, and gets left behind. No fighting yet, already a good amount of crying. He soon teams up with older Glasha and they dodge bombings and forge minefields and swamps, as Fliora and Glasha become ever-more traumatized by their experiences. We get the post-bombing tinnitus sound – I didn’t think they were doing that in the 1980’s. The explosions in this movie look unlike normal war-movie explosions – they look dangerous! It’s an angry movie, also bringing to mind Hard To Be a God, and gets extremely brutal as it goes on.
Bird Content: Fliora stomps on a nest full of eggs (boo), but later a beautiful stork looks in on our heroes (yay).
Mark Le Fanu for Criterion:
The film’s working title, before it turned into the biblical exhortation Come and See, was Kill Hitler. Klimov was always careful to explain in interviews that this was not to be taken in its literal meaning but rather as referring to a sort of universal moral imperative: “Kill the Hitler that lurks potentially in all of us!”
Klimov was married to Larisa Shepitko, whose films I’d very much like to see. Cinematographer Aleksey Rodionov would later work with Sally Potter. Lead kid Aleksey Kravchenko kept acting, was recently in The Painted Bird. Filmed in Belarus, which was in the news for arresting dissidents the morning after I watched this.
Memorial screening for Charles Grodin and Yaphet Kotto, here playing a criminal banker and an FBI agent with his identity stolen, respectively. Robert De Niro is the bounty hunter returning Grodin from NY to LA. It’s a wacky crime comedy road movie, with the cops and the gangsters (led by Dennis Farina) and RdN’s rival hunter Marvin (John Ashton of Beverly Hills Cop) all after them, so it’s sufficiently incident-packed to be a hugely successful commercial hit. Throwing in a sad visit to RdN’s family, and morally letting the criminal off the hook at the end turns it into a solid 80’s classic (pretty sure I saw it in theaters on first release) and also a semi-remake of Remember The Night. Got tired of Marvin, didn’t buy that the criminal snipers would open fire on the cops, otherwise lives up to the legend.
My first Jarman movie, and it’s a proper narrative bio-pic, full of painting and poetry and light. Clear dialogue from a superb group of actors. I did wonder about the 17th century historical accuracy of a few lines – I try not to think about such things, but fortunately Jarman sent the signal to stop worrying when a character pulled out a solar-powered calculator halfway in.
Jarman’s fifth feature, and from the descriptions of the others, this sounds like one of his more conventional movies. Older Caravaggio and his mute assistant and Tilda would become Jarman regulars.
Caravaggio Nigel Terry, who’d played King Arthur in Excalibur:
Assistant and adopted son Jerusaleme: Spencer Leigh
Lover of the boxer and Caravaggio, in her feature debut, Tilda Swinton:
Roustabout boxer Sean Bean, who may have murdered pregnant Tilda:
Young Caravaggio: Dexter Fletcher would go on to direct fellow bio-pic Rocketman.
Cardinal Michael Gough, who encourages all this:
“Linda, this is just like Easy Rider, except now it’s our turn.” Right after buying a new house and mercedes in anticipation of a big promotion, Albert Brooks gets tranferred to New York instead, so he tells his boss to shove it and with wife Julie Hagerty (the Airplane! movies) trades in everything for an RV. On their first night they get the bridal suite at a Vegas hotel, and she stays up all night gambling away their savings at roulette. Kind of a dismal comedy, Brooks mostly insufferable but has some good lines, like how once he’s in a position of responsibility he can finally afford to be irresponsible. Alice Stoehr on letterboxd: “By the end, all these two idiots have discovered … is that they’re incapable of self-discovery.”
Lost in Atlanta:
Just trying to chill with some Chinese action movies on Easter, I end up choosing a film where a Mary and Jesus statue explodes.
Mouseover to blow up the statue:
Before the church job, Chow’s hit in a restaurant goes bad and he blinds a singer after killing 12 guys while using the infinite ammo cheat code on his dual pistols. Danny Lee is a disgraced supercop who also hurt a woman on a job, sent to protect a guy who Chow is sent to kill, but after witnessing the supposedly ruthless Chow save a girl from the line of fire, Danny falls in love with him and they end up fighting together.
Danny Lee was in City on Fire with Chow, had portrayed Bruce Lee in the 70’s:
Thanks to Woo, I learned it’s hard to lipsync when the song plays at normal speed and everything else is in slow-motion. Also dig the trick of burning gunpowder to seal a wound, which I just saw in Monster Hunter. It’s a just-pretty-good movie beloved by people who need to see invincible sunglasses-wearing heroes firing two guns whilst jumping through the air, Woo’s followup to the Better Tomorrow movies. Tsui Hark produced, while Woo produced Hark’s Better Tomorrow III.
Sally Yeh starred in Hark’s Peking Opera Blues, a singer who retired from movies after this:
A swordsman attacks a doll hanging from a string… the motion freezes, stutters and repeats, and the music begins doing the same. A hand-less balding man seated at a table surrounded by inky blackness – his pitcher falls to the floor in a time-locked Brain Candy loop, then appears in a Muybridge time-lapse still, with dark, severe string music. I think we’re inside one of the houses from The Endless.
Librarian and his eagle:
There’s a silly bathtime romp, a scene shot in reverse, a busy library in which all the all the old men are wearing the same old-man mask, the masks and their clockwork motion giving the thing a sense of animation. Naked woman in a wasteland gets trapped in a box. After these unrelated(?) vignettes (DVD description says they’re “all connected by a central staircase”), the last 15 minutes bring something new – all angles and bright lights, TV-static-beings tearing through the screen, revealing perhaps l’titular ange.
Rotterdam says it “lies on the edge between optical and plastic art, in a gap of constant reinvention.” Bokanowski had another hourlong light-vs-darkness film a few years ago which almost nobody has seen, though those few said it’s great, and he’s been producing shorts regularly since the 70’s.
Thought it’d be fun to watch an apocalypse movie during an actual apocalypse, but it was not. Early scenes set up a couple families with typical problems (Jimmy’s girl Ruth tells him she’s knocked up) while global news stories play out casually on background televisions and title cards ominously tell us the population of Sheffield. Then – nuclear war!
Jimmy likes birds, and his brother dies in the blast along with the finches. The families are separated and never reunite in the chaos. The movie flashes forward in regular intervals, family members dying of illness and starvation, finally ten years later, Ruth blind and ravaged by fallout. In other news, the producers bought the rights to Johnny B. Goode, and they’re damn sure gonna play it.
Can’t seem to remember if I ever saw this before – 90% sure that I did not, and that I saw the Kiefer Sutherland remake back in the day. I do remember the girlfriend disappearing at a gas station, the boyfriend searching for years, finally meeting the kidnapper and being given the option of finding out exactly what happened to the girl by experiencing it himself, or never knowing… he chooses the former, and is drugged then buried alive.
But it’s a 100+ minute movie and there’s more to it… like a scene at the beginning where the couple runs out of gas in the middle of a tunnel, and he abandons her in the darkness, some nifty foreshadowing. The man having a new woman in the years-later section of the movie is vaguely familiar – she’s tolerant of his continuing search for his ex, to a point. The main thing I’d lost is that the kidnapper has a major role in the movie. We see him deciding to kidnap people, then figuring out who/when/how. He takes notes and keeps time when knocking himself out with ether, ripped off by Piercing. So the moment when he gets a woman at the gas station to come to his car almost feels like a triumph of luck and planning.
Sluizer’s best-known worked ended up being the two Vanishings. He made other features with respectable actors, dunno why they are obscure. Then he was in the middle of filming with River Phoenix when River died, and Sluizer resorted to making Stephen Baldwin movies. Lead actress Johanna ter Steege turned up in Immortal Beloved and a Philippe Garrel movie.