I’m glad I gave Pereda another shot after Greatest Hits. This starts out rough, but leads to some likeably awkward scenes when Luisa’s new man Paco is failing to make an impression on her dad. Luisa’s brother Gabino is visiting at the same time (played by Gabino, who plays “Gabino” in all of Pereda’s films). Paco is an actor with a nonspeaking role on a season of Narcos, and the others want to see him perform, so he creates a larger speaking role for an impromptu acting showcase at a bar. The master-shot real-time thing, playing with performance and identity, all pretty appealing. But just like Greatest Hits replaced Gabino’s father halfway through (one of the fathers is playing his father again here), this movie shifts modes, becoming a story created by Luisa about strangers meeting at a hotel, all the actors from the first half as different people. It all feels minor but I was smiling the whole time.

Photojournalist Jack Nicholson isn’t having a great time in Saharan Africa, sees an opportunity and grabs it, stealing the identity of his suddenly deceased hotel neighbor, the only other white guy in town. Jack’s abandoned wife Jenny Runacre (The Final Programme, Jarman’s Jubilee) investigates, while Jack faithfully follows the dead guy’s appointment book, even after learning that he was an arms dealer, and meets the same fate as the guy he’s impersonating, though he gets to hang out with Maria Schneider along the way.

Maria, Jack, Gaudi:

Thought I’d seen this a long time ago, but maybe I’ve confused it with The Conformist again. MA: “Actually, the entire story takes place in a short period of one day, from early morning until some time before sunset” – that’s not true, it’s set in four countries and we see a UK newspaper article about Jack’s death in Africa, and we see Jack’s appointments spread across a week in the book. Maybe he meant as the film was originally written. The fourth movie I’ve seen in the last few years to play in the 1975 competition at Cannes. Argh, the execution footage in this wasn’t faked.

Las Ramblas:

A late television inventor’s missing heir is sought, and ends up being TV repairman Jerry Lewis. Unusual for Tashlin that the movie (from the writer of Pufnstuf and Lidsville) is TV obsessed but not in a negative way. Rich aunt Cecilia is Mae “Betty Boop” Questel, easily the highlight of the movie, meant to marry a thin-mustached man (Zachary Scott, sex criminal of Bunuel’s The Young One) who only wants the money. The hot house nurse is Joan O’Brien (Blake Edwards submarine movie Operation Petticoat), and Wait Until Dark baddie Jack Weston a hired killer. Also featuring robot lawnmowers, a classier-looking movie than necessary.

I thought this would be more Four Weddings and a Funeral, but all the lives/deaths in the title belong to Marcello Mastroianni, who lives at least three different lives in this almost-anthology movie.

Birds and snake:

Firstly, Marcello had walked out on his wife, rented an apartment down the street, and fallen asleep for 20 years, hypnotized by tiny Parisian fairies. When he escapes, he talks his wife’s current guy (Féodor Atkine of a couple Rohmers) into listening to his story, then coming to the apartment and taking his place (less “talks” and more “kidnaps and murders” at that point) while Marcello returns to wife Marisa Peredes (an Almodóvar regular).

Marisa:

Atkine, swimming in chicks

Then Marcello is a bachelor professor with an invalid mum until he gets the sudden urge to leave home and becomes a very successful street beggar and befriends CEO/prostitute Alla Galiena (The Tulse Luper Suitcases), living a double life with her dangerous husband.

Galiena and perverse husband:

Polyamorous couple Martin (Ruiz fave Melvil Poupaud) and Cecile (Marcello’s daughter Chiara Mastroianni) have a mysterious benefactor in Marcello, who leaves them a mansion then performs as their mute butler, and this turns out to be a scheme to steal their newborn and deliver it to Wife #1 Marisa Peredes. Marcello is introduced as a fourth character, a businessman whose young wife is cheating on him, but we’ve already seen characters from the other stories interacting, and now it turns out there’s only one Marcello, and he starts rapidly flipping between personas, then all Marcellos share one death after a fateful meeting at the cafe between the women from each chapter.

A Poupaud and two Mastroiannis:

Marcello is excellent in this, and would die a couple months after it came out. It played a stacked Cannes with Crash, Fargo and Breaking the Waves.

This Triet was a real treat… hmu if you need pull-quotes for the 8K reissue. Snappy movie with shocking editing, scenes overlapping, no time wasted – a temporal pincer as complex as Tenet but an hour shorter and possible to follow.

Sibyl is Virginie Efira (of Elle, and soon Benedetta), a therapist cutting back on her case load so she can write novels, then actress Adele Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Color) shows up with all kinds of twisted drama (she’s pregnant by her famous costar Gaspard Ulliel, who’s supposed to be with their director Sandra Hüller). Eventually Adele will only speak to Sibyl, so the film production flies her out to Stromboli as a go-between. Of course Sibyl is stealing all this for her writing, which the movie keeps slipping inside, shifting all the roles and drama, while in reality Sibyl is losing her sobriety and her family.

Triet’s Age of Panic and Victoria also got good reviews. This played Cannes 2019 in competition with ten other films I’ve now seen – it’s easier to catch up when there’s no Cannes 2020 to distract me.

The 2020 post-election ceremonial final SHOCKtober movie of this extended season. Convoluted murder-mystery involving a pianist getting a hand transplant then being set up by a con man to believe his new hands are committing murders.

The movie is mostly Conrad Veidt (halfway between Somnambulist and Laughing Man) or his wife (Alexandra Sorina, also of Veidt’s Rasputin movie) standing very still, paralyzed with wide-eyed terror.

Fat-faced Fritz Kortner (Berlin Express, Pandora’s Box) is the con man. Veidt’s doomed father is Fritz Strassny, villain of The Man Who Laughs – but the 1921 version, of which Veidt’s was a remake. I must now see the Peter Lorre remake Mad Love.

Kortner, trapped:

Some good German words in the intertitles… making rubber gloves with the dead man’s fingerprints involves Gummihandschuhe mit den Fingerabdrücken.

Fun, crazy movie with default ambient horror music. Andrea Riseborough (the titular Mandy, and I think Oblivion is due a rewatch) is a hitman who possesses the minds of people who can get close to the target, kills target then self. Jennifer Jason Leigh is her boss, and she ends up going two levels of virtual – so far, so eXistenZ. She possesses Chris Abbott but stays too long, and he begins to see her memories and visit her home and kill her family.

Michael Nouri (of Flashdance and the original Captain America) is hotshot supercop Beck, and after an ordinary citizen goes on an outrageous crime spree, Beck is joined by serious FBI-guy Kyle MacLachlan (the year after Blue Velvet) who’s on the trail of a body-swapping alien that likes fast cars, hot girls, loud music, and doing murders. The alien’s motivations seem more human-joyride than world-endangering, so its interest in a senator is aiming for high-stakes Dead Zone/Omen III drama but I dunno. Either way, FBI Kyle turns out to be possessed by an alien hunting the rogue alien, and when he check “himself” out in a mirror it’s extremely Twin Peaks.

The first alien host is Hank Jennings, Norma’s husband in Twin Peaks, and the second host (William Boyett’s final film was Theodore Rex which has a surprisingly stacked cast) has a heart condition, to the annoyance of the alien who can’t run fast enough to carjack a convertible, so has to go to the dealer and steal one like an ordinary lunk. Then comes a stripper (Claudia Christian of Babylon 5 and Maniac Cop 2), then a dog… a cop who kills Danny Trejo… and the senator. Our heroes prevail, but Beck is fatally shot so Kyle Luzes into him. It is an 80s thriller, so there’s also a shootout in a mannequin factory, a ray gun, and a flamethrower.

The writer later hit it big with Operation Dumbo Drop, then the National Treasure movies. Director Sholder, the DP and a couple producers had just made Nightmare on Elm Street 2, and apparently they expected to make part 3 since “the third elm street venture” is their copyright company. The 1993 Hidden sequel was directed by nobody, starred nobody, recast Beck and his wife, and had a lead character named MacLachlan.

LOL Forky. But was it worth making a whole theatrical sequel to showcase a makeshift toy who wants to be trash? Sure, why not, these have been reliably good, and it looked beautiful on the big screen, where we finally caught it before it closed so Joker could take over every theater. I suppose having the missing Bo Peep reappear as a bold carnival adventurer with misfit action-hero friends was a fun move, though I’m suspicious of Pixar/Disney’s intentions and read it as faux feminism. The door is open to more sequels, though Woody’s talkbox got removed by a ventriloquist-dummy surgeon and given to a friendless antique-shop Gabby Gabby doll, so there will be no more snakes in my boot.