Monthly Archives: April 2008

Something a Little Different

My first post on the blog looked at the Alejandro Jodorowsky film CRAVATTE and today, I finally got round to watching FANDO Y LIS (1968 ) which is the second film from this very unique, South American director. It won’t IN ANY WAY suit everyone’s tastes but there’s something about it that draws you in and doesn’t allow you to avert your gaze, even if the scene does involve Fando dragging his crippled lover Lis down a rocky pathway by her legs, Fando being seduced and cross gendered with Lis by a gang of guys in drag or a crazed midget dancing wildly round a rather portly naked girl……. Like I said, not one for the kids or to be rented on a first date but if you like your cinema occasionally on the subversive artistic side, and it is EXTREMELY beautiful and powerful in parts, look no further. The scene I’ve selected is where Fando has strayed from Lis whilst searching for the mystical land of TAR, he comes accross a series of strange characters, none stranger than this band of old ladies playing cards for peaches whilst pawing what can only be described as their gimp…… Best enjoyed with a loved one.

 

 

Hands Down

I caught THE CINCINNATI KID (1965) on TCM last night, what a great picture! Featuring a height of his game Steve McQueen as “The Kid” and an aging Edward G. Robinson as Lancey Howard or “The Man”, both are heavyweight card players, The Kid being the young upcomer and Lancey being the old hand who has taken men to the cleaners the length and bredth of the country. A meeting between the 2 is set up and what unfolds is a tense battle of minds, the card game scenes are perfectly acted and shot.

What’s interesting about the casting is that this film, for Steve McQueen, comes 2 years after THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963) and 3 years before BULLIT (1968), right in the middle of his purple patch. Robinson would only remain in the movies for another 8 years, finishing up with Richard Fleischer’s SOYLENT GREEN in 1978. The dynamic of the actors is very fitting to their respective careers at that time. McQueen, the hotshot with a big future, Robinson, the old master with the seen it all done it all, can’t teach me nothing attitude. Perfect for what this film is all about.

There are many notable support roles in this picture, including a memorable performance from Ann-Margaret as Melba the cheatin’ dame who is married to Shooter but really wants The Kid. Have a look at the trailer with its horrific transitions….

 

4 Days Away With Wilder

Just back from the rural residence of friend and director Jamie Stone where a vast amount of quality time was spent creating minescapes that, quite frankly, will look ace on 16mm. What’s great about being in Torrance is that after a hard days graft, the crew eat a tremendous meal together then congregate in the lounge to watch a film on the projector….. forget plasma, PROJECTION is where it’s at, a true cinema experience. Anyway, one night everyone else had gone to bed and, being only 11pm, I decided to take in another flick. The choice was inspired, Billy Wilder’s DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944). I’ve seen this film many, many times on dvd but never on such a big scale, it was trully amazing. The film stars Fred McMurray as Walter Neff, an insurance salesman who falls for his clients wife, the cold, steely Phyllis Dietrichson, played by Barbara Stanwyk. Edward G. Robinson is his usual fantastic self as Barton Keys, the bloodhound claims manager who can smell a bogus claim a mile off.
What’s great about this movie is you find out who the killer is within the first few minutes, there’s no great reveal at the end of the picture, no massive finale. The journey this film takes you on however is one of the greatest in cinema. How far will a guy go to get the girl? How evil can the lure of the dollar make people? If you’ve got an interest in discovering film noir, there’s no better place to start.

This clip that shows the first meeting between Walter Neff and Phyliss Deitrichson, I love the dialogue especially, why can’t you get away with it in real life?…….

Something to keep you going

Tomorrow I’ll be disappearing for 4 days to finish off building the set for THE PITTS which starts shooting at the start of May. As I’m an art director on the film and have been placed in charge of creating a fake mine, I thought it appropriate to introduce the wonder of the Italian director, Mario Bava onto the blog. Bava is well known for creating amazing things out of next to nothing, and on a miniscule budget, which is pretty much what we’re doing with THE PITTS. In this clip from HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD (1961) we see Hurcules, played by the late Reg Park, use his amazing strength to get himself and Theseus out of another sticky situation in the underword, this one being a lake of lava which of course, must be crossed. The clip is only a minute long but is rammed with good stuff. Look out in particular for the trajectory of the rock, the atmospheric wide shot with the trademark smoke behind glass effect and the rock actually taking hold on the other side. Give me that over CGI effects any day.

David Cairns, my tutor at eca, gave me a copy of this movie and KILL BABY KILL (1966) which has really got me wanting more Bava in my collection and has reinstated a lost love for old school horror that doesn’t rely on the modern “quiet, quiet, LOUD” method to scare the audience. I’ll talk about that and find a few clips on returning from Torrance.

Great Movie Openings: Touch of Evil

Ok, it’s late and I feel it may be time to turn in. The next snippet in the “Great Openings” series is maybe a bit obvious…. I make absolutely no apology for that. I’ve posted it bacause it’s one of the most amazing tracking shots in cinema history (go on, look for a cut, I dare ya!) and bacause Charlton Heston has bid us farewell for the final time. I’m tempted to post the chariot race, but I won’t……. Goodnight and enjoy.

The Only Film to Suplement Today

After attending the Newcastle v Sunderland match today at St. James’ Park I was struck with 2 thoughts…

The first was ” How many policemen does it take to put a handful of Scots on the train home” and

2: How long has it been since I’ve seen ESCAPE TO VICTORY (1981)? Which I’ve just this second found out was directed by John Huston!!…. I’m flabergasted…… from KEY LARGO (1948 ) with Humphrey Boghart and Edward G. Robinson to Sylvester Stalone in goals…… “half time Hatch”.

Have a look at this clip which, against my better judgement, shows you the end of the picture.If you’ve not seen it TURN IT OFF!…. for those of you who have,  once again enjoy the feast of cinematically re enacted football skill on show. they don’t make em’ like that any more!………. And yes, the bicycle kick is in there.

Great Movie Openings: Manhattan

It’s only the second post and already I’m going to get Woody Allen in on the act. I’m an unashamed Allen fanatic who views his style of filmmaking as an antidote to the stream of green screen explosionfests we get in the multiplexes nowadays. Before a rant starts I’ll get on with the real subject of the post……. Great Movie Openings. Allen actually hates the film, which is astonishing. I struggle to think of a picture that captures relationship politics better. Anyway, enjoy this first taste. More great openings soon. (feel free to suggest examples)