Hooray! So. Slave from snowy land who can run and jump and fight super sfx-fast helps his owner defeat bad guys using bull stampede. Master dies, but soon gets new master as Red Armor dude being chased by darkwing snowland fella. Slave rescues Queen, kills king, Red Armor is blamed. Queen once sold her happiness to mythic swamp lady for beauty + wealth (after betraying kid who will grow up to be fey supervillain). Slave rescues her a few more times, sometimes fighting and sometimes joined by Red Armor or Darkwing. Showdown with Fey leaves Slave wearing immortal darkwing suit, Queen freed of her curse, everyone else dead.

Maybe the “promise” of the title is the Queen’s. She is forced to keep that one by the goddess, while everyone else breaks their promises (of love, slavery, kinship, etc). Pretty excellent looking movie, and satisfactory ending (more so than Zhang Yimou’s last three pictures?).

Typically depressing movie about poor people, but this time with a goofy “childlike” criminal lead. Funny how he stays likeable even when abandoning his young buddy and selling his baby. Must be the hat and the stylin’ jacket. Redemptive ending in jail. His wife isn’t the focus of the movie… and good, cuz she’d ground it too much in sad reality. Liked it for sure, breezily watchable, but wouldn’t give it the top honors that’ve been floating around (palme d’or, etc). Kinda put me in a low mood and made me not wanna go see the promise. But figured it was my only chance, and went anyway.

Skipping past twenty years, Las Hurdes, the Spanish Filmofono productions and a couple other Mexican movies… to Los Olvidados. I understood that this was one of the pre-60’s movies that Bunuel had the most control over.

Realist drama about a kid named Pedro whose mother barely loves him, if at all, and his friends, thug Jaibo and innocent Big Eyes. When there isn’t violence in a scene, there’s the threat of violence. Even Big Eyes and the little girl pick up a rock or stick and hold it up as if to bash someone’s brains out at one point, then pull back. Jaibo doesn’t pull back, killing a former friend (who supposedly sent him to jail) at the beginning. His crimes catch up with Jaibo, but Pedro’s poverty and lack of parenting and bad associations catch up with him as well.

Well-made movie. Echos of Salaam Bombay (seen a month ago) but with less positivity. Katy liked it pretty well, but watched the clock more than the screen.

Financed by the same guy who produced Blood of a Poet, it turns out. This one’s harder to remember than Un Chien Andalou for some reason. So…

Scorpion documentary intro (commentary guy leads us to believe that like a scorpion’s tail, the film is composed of five segments, ending in a sixth that is filled with poison), then bunch of decrepit guys in a shack hike away to fight the bishops, then group of people stumble upon the dead bishops. Group gets upset at our couple and takes the man away (who angrily kicks a dog). Possibly the first poop joke in the movies. Group lays cornerstone for what will be Rome.

L'age d'Or 1

Man kicks a violin down the sidewalk and guy with bread on his head walks through a field, while our man is being led down the street and our woman (speaking with sync sound) kicks a cow out of her bedroom. After she sees visions in her mirror, he kicks a blind man and escapes.

L'age d'Or 2

During a grand party at which the groundskeeper kills his son (to the approval of everyone present) and a fire kills a maid, our couple reconnects. During a concert after the party, the two sneak off to the garden to suck each other’s fingers and develop foot fetishes with statues. The minister of the interior shoots himself after a phone call and ends up on the ceiling, then it’s another touching scene in the garden. But our woman leaves our man for the conductor of the concert. The man hits the bedroom in a rage, spraying pillow feathers everywhere and tossing priests and burning trees out the window.

L'age d'Or 3

Finally, a Jesus-like man and three guys with fancy hats emerge from a 120-day orgy at a chateau. Jesus returns briefly to the chateau to kill a woman, losing his beard in the process. A bunch of scalps hang on a cross. The end.

L'age d'Or 4

Pretty interesting movie, and really fun in parts. The commentary actually helped on this one, too.

Chien 1

The guy on the commentary makes such a big deal of the opening scene, and everyone makes such a big deal of the opening scene, and I’ve made such a big deal of the opening scene, that I’d forgotten most of the rest of the film.

It does seem to be a lot better thought-out than it’s given credit for… not just a string of remembered dreams filmed nonsensically, but actual characters playing out various aspects of their relationship. Lots of fun imagery, even if Bunuel couldn’t get the framing right half the time.

Plenty of good stuff in there… the “androgyne” as the commentary calls her, the guy pulling grand pianos with dead donkeys on top and Salvador Dali’s priest towed along, the man in a slow-motion gunfight with himself… and that music.

Chien2

Opens with ineffectual dad bedding his whore daughter while she takes photos, and only heads downhill from there. Son is bullied by kids who break family’s windows and shoot fireworks. Son beats his mom constantly. Daughter is mostly absent, and dad is former TV reporter who has lost all respect. Visitor Q is young man who smiles, busts family members in head with large rock, and moves in without asking. Soon, wife is lactating gallons, husband murders then rapes co-worker (and kills a bully or two), and a happy ending has both kids and dad drinking from mom.

So… what’s happening here? Unrespectable dad, druggie mom, tyrant spoiled son and unsupervised promiscuous daughter all need a rock to the head to force ’em to function as a family unit again? Surely it’s a horrid commentary on modern Japan in some way. Enjoyable Miike movie at any rate. One of his most extreme, and probably lowest budget (video made-for-tv look throughout). No special effects to speak of, except mom’s watergun breasts.

Visitor Q

From a DVD that Clay lent me. Pretty neat movie, surprisingly good acting and dialogue (compared to what I’d expected, anyway). Sid “Captain Spaulding” Haig in one of his first roles, and Lon Chaney Jr. in one of his last.

Spider Baby

Money-grubbing relatives come to take charge of the house now run by the family chauffeur, who watches over three grown children with murderous degenerative brain disease (and an obsession with spiders). A fine horror movie, and probably pretty loony compared to other 60’s horrors. The whole thing with 25-yr-old women acting like evil 8-yr-olds is still creepy. Bit of campy comedy thrown in too, mostly in the form of the hitler-mustached lawyer, must’ve been intentional.

Also Spider Baby

Neat DVD. Glad I resisted temptation to buy it, but made a nice rental. Now if I can carve out four hours in two days to watch the second disc…

INTERVALS is pure formalism, edits of precise length set to an even beat, all shot in Venice but with no glimpses of water. PG says the rhythm is something to do with an Italian piece of music, just to make it even more rigorous.

The next four juxtapose grainy old films with off-kilter narration, looking progressively less like home-movies as PG starts getting a bit of a budget. H IS FOR HOUSE is actually a home movie, with a narrator reciting related and unrelated words that begin with the same letter. WINDOWS tells of 37 people who fell to their deaths from windows during a certain year in a certain province. WATER WRACKETS is very nice shots of water with a fake Tolkien-esque background story on the narration. DEAR PHONE, the most diverting of the four, alternates shots of red phone booths with shots of the pages the narrator reads from, stories of people obsessed with the telephone.

Dear Phone

A WALK THROUGH H was the best one here (fortunately, since it’s some 40 minutes long). A journey through “H” (heaven/hell?) with 92 maps, incl. backstory on the maps, the people they were acquired from, and the narrator’s spiritual guide, Tulse Luper. Almost the whole movie was motion close-ups of the maps themselves (and sometimes of the windmills that appeared as the maps faded), with bookend segments showing a gallery in which each map was displayed. Way to turn a painting career into a film career. Gives me real hope that the three-hour The Falls won’t be boring, as it seems it should be from its description. Oh, as the narrator is an ornithologist, we got some nice shots of birds too.

A Walk Through H

Was a fun disc, with scans of paintings and video introductions by PG, and gave nice insight into the genesis of the cataloguing fetish he expressed colorfully in Prospero’s Books and Drowning By Numbers. I’m into the head-smashing repetition of the Michael Nyman scores in his films, too. Still don’t get why some critics say his early stuff is wonderful and everything since (1985? 89?) is crap. Adrian Martin calls him “a totally vacuous phony”, and I know Sam hates PG too. Maybe one day it’ll hit me all at once, and I’ll sing the praises of Cache, late Woody Allen, Carl Dreyer and Robert Bresson while damning Prospero’s Books, Robert Rodriguez and Steven Spielberg.

A Walk Through H

I don’t know much about Tourneur, don’t even know how to pronounce Tourneur, but every time I hear about this movie it’s a (producer) “Val Lewton movie”. So maybe Tourneur isn’t the auteur here. Don’t think I have to care about that. Neat movie, mostly worth watching for Simone Simon. Funny how I’ve recently seen two of her movies (la bete humaine, devil & daniel webster) and didn’t recognize her.

Good scene in a swimming pool, some good psychiatry (“what does one tell a husband? one tells him nothing”) and probably a pretty good (if predictable) ending. Not positive about that, cuz my tape cut off right as Simone entered the panther cage. Loved how she fell in “love” with our generic male hero in less than two days, and lovely the way he proposes to her. She’s trying to tell him about her dark past, and he cuts her off, “We’ll get married and you can tell your stories to our children”. Wow! Of course he’s actually in love with his co-worker, and who can blame him. Not sure about this being one of the greatest thrillers in history, but I enjoyed it.