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Ryakushô: renzoku shasatsuma

Film Essay
Fantastic film essay and a jarring frree-jazz soundtrack makes for a great time travel. Probably closer to 7 stars than 6, in my book...

Dick: A Film by Jo Menell

Boy, are they ugly or what!
A wickedly funny look at men's alleged greatest asset. Also his ugliest, if one could judge according to this documentary that Jo Menell shot back in 1991 (according to my data). The timeless truth makes this short film an instance cult classic. Basically, you'll be treated to the fifteen minutes of rapidly succeeding stills of dozens and dozens of penises while women gleefully take us to pieces, blowing the last shreds of our manly self-respect. Should we hate the she-filmmaker? Good question, but I'd say no. Even if it comes from the feminist point of view it's quite gentle and amusing. In a sense it decriminalizes our tool and proves that all men are created (well, more or less) equal below the belt! Now, if one could only make the same film on the topic of female genitalia. I mean in a gentle way, without sexist bashing. Ah, well.


Not cinematic yet tribute to Chaplin's roots!
Above all else, Charlot was the product of his era. This film best exemplifies his shortcomings. It's actually (unfortunately) a double handicapp: his music hall genius for gag humor has, naturally, dissipated in his talkies. But other handicap, the one seldom if ever discussed, is that - in retrospect of most of his oeuvre - Charlot has been primarily a music hall comedian. Even in his most succesful films, the Keystone comedies and later the great classics such as my favorite "The Goldrush", Charlot was never able to use the film medium in a sense that a handful of true cinematic filmamakers (Griffith, Von Stroheim, Orson Welles)used it even in Hollywood. That is not to mention the most creative film-makers of France (Gance, Vigo, Bunuel), Germany (Murnau, Lang), Scandinavia (Dreyer, Sjoberg) or particularly Russia (the Soviet avant-garde). This, then, is a touching film but like near everything else of Chaplin's lacks the understanding of the film medium itself. It bespeaks his vaudeville background and in a sense it is a lovely, if depressing tribute to the vanished world of the British music halls.

El Bola

Reminded of Dostoevsky's parable (in a quiet way)---
What is particulary gut-wrenching about this film is being reminded very vividly how utterly helpless our children actually are once delivered to the mercies of adults. It must remind one of Dostoevsky's great parable questioning the very foundations of faith and life on this planet: the tears of a brutalized child, how can anything be right if the innocence itself gets choked and humiliated so early on? Who knows how many millions upon millions of defencless little men and women gets brutalized physically and mentally on an endless train of abuse? And to think that this is the age where there's at least some inkling of how horridly despicable abuse patterns are. +++ *Within this framework, shore, one would find the delicate homage to Les 400 Coups (the amusement park scenes, the friendship among the city boys...) *The music score is so brilliant that is stand out on its very own.

Beckett Directs Beckett: Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

Phenomenal! Original Beckett's Directing:
I have doubts about filmed theatre in general and this celebrated Beckett production, brilliant that it is theatrically, does not assuage my concerns. To the contrary, it makes me think of how cinematic Beckett's plays are and what would they look like if they were to be meta morphed into Film language by a creative film-maker--- On the other hand the entire "Beckett Directs Beckett" (San Quentin) trilogy is an invaluable historical/theatrical testament: this is how his plays were supposed to have been performed--- and it is so because seldom had the world Theatre seen a more control-obsessed director/author than Sam Beckett. And he was there manically watching over every breath, every word, even every light change--- So, if one does approach this marvellous production as a verbatim filmed Beckett tragic comedy---it functions splendidly. If on the other hand one expects for the film language to claim its own--- perhaps it's best to leave "Waiting For Godot" to one's imagination.


Lovely but only with Peter and Assumpta!
I really liked the original run. It was very fresh and innocent in a sense. It brought the vogue of Irish small-town comedy to the mainstream feature films(like "Waking Ned Devine"). The success of TV comedy overwhelmingly depends on the cast chemistry: in"BallyK" the chem was just perfect, so I wouldn't miss a new episode! The vagaries of the "illicit" liaison between the utterly charming Father Peter Clifford and the frisky innkeeper Assumpta Fitzgerald were a wonderful love interest motif, around which various (mis)adventures of the Ballkissangelians evolved. Alas, WARNINGPLOT GIVEN AWAY: Assumpta tragically dies; Father Cliffored defrocks and leaves BallyK ---with a new priest, it is different series, without much charisma left.

Les dimanches de Ville d'Avray

Against the prejudice and human brutality!
One of the most beautiful cinematic statements against human small-minded prejudiced brutality. Beautifully shot in very crisp black and white. The imagery will definitely remain lodged in viewer's head for ever. It's a triumph of loving kindness and friendship over prejudice and hatred that indeed know no borders and are more or less alike anywhere on this planet. Sad News From A Strange Planet? I can't remember exactly but that was the title of a chillingly brilliant Herman Hesse story. It stems from the same universal human wound: the sadness of what we do and very frequently are as opposed to what we should and could have been in our starry essence.

The France was never more melancholy, never more beautiful. I mourn her loss and I mourn the loss of films that would evoke as much humane and poetic feeling.

Nineteen Eighty-Four

War is Peace!
A phenomenal book-to-film translation. More poignant than ever before especially in these dark days of Fear and Hatred. It always seemed to me that Orwell referred as much to the United States as he did to the Soviet Union. As a radio journalist for the notorious BBC he knew the inside workings of the propaganda machinery better than most and I believe that Winston Smith has come from that experience. Of course, it could have been the Public Radio or the CNN. In any case, this is a chilling film showing the sad reality of the world we live in presently. The Big Brother is watching you more than ever!


Underexposed but fitting tribute to street washers!
The only available copy is very much underexposed so it's hard to actually see what is going on in this early Antonioni venture. However, it explores the wee hours of a profession altogether unglamorous and is a small tribute to people that keep European cities from being overrun by rats and rubbish.

A worthy pursuit and too bad that Antonioni's crew did not have a better light meter at hand.

La cérémonie

An unlikely lumpenproletarian rebellion
If this is what class war might look like I don't want to take part in it. It reminds of the old adage that no one can hate one's own sort than oneself: so with the veteran bourgeois film maker Claude Chabrol and his social class. I really prefer the goofy irreverence and comical petit bourgeois rebellion against its own a la Godard in his more salient 60's films. Still, this is one of the most coherent, well executed and unsettling of Chabrol's innumerable films. The three grand dames of French cinematography are all phenomenal, especially the unlikely cast lumpenproletarian bitches Bonaire and Huppert. I always marvel at how natural European but French actresses in particular are when compared to so many Anglo-American ice queens. In comparison American actresses look and act dead and lifeless as if dollar schemes are the only things circulating through their clogged chakras (including the secret ones!). Vive La France! One other thing: why this title "La Ceremonie"?

Sedotta e abbandonata

Germi's gems!
Granted, it's not as polished or swanky as "Divorce". No dashing Marcello, no Sophia's curves. Perhaps it dabs in paint too close to that of his more famous predecessor. Yet, what delightful film! The comedy of manners and mores can rarely get any better. And then the cutting, darker, a bit menacing undertones that reveal that fascinating Sicilia of times now lost forever: wow! I love both of Germi's gems but if I could take only one with me it would be "Sedotta e abbandonata". I also marvel at how well Germi, himself un Genovese, understood the very heart and soul of that lovely island off the boot of Italy. Almost perfect: who cares for perfection anyway?

Zéro de conduite: Jeunes diables au collège

The reality of it is that it's incoherent, at times utterly so. Maybe it was not intended to be left at 41 minutes, maybe it wasn't edited at all. For me it's the typical example of an "art" film that snowballs by the laws of dishonest snobbish emulation into "greatest" cinematic works blah . The fact is that there are no follow ups, the scenes end in a succession of non sequiturs etc. In itself that does not warrant exclusion of this film against dozens and hundreds of little known, lost or ignored dadaist and surrealist (short) films of ca 1915 until around the date of the "Zero". This is definitely a cryptic film and if one has enough patience and time maybe succesion of viewings could offer some further proof of its cinematic merit. Of course the SPOILER pillow fighting scene is a brilliant classic, but it has been done before! Vigo must have seen that scene in the famous 1927. masterpiece from guess who? To corroborate that Vigo's short opus is more a bit of artsy snobbery and less of the alleged greatness (which I would gladly concede if proven so!) I am not unfamiliar with his other equally chaotic and incomplete works. Still, the 30's were so much more creative than almost anything filmed today.

Bullet on a Wire

A bit goofy and referential!
I guess this goofy and awkward attempt at wedding Jim Jarmusch' early style with film noir in its later day incarnations would be highly excusable for a debutant in his early to say mid 20's. It's not much worse than lots of European artsy movies shown at the amateur film festivals. It's too bad that very seldom if ever any of these film enthusiasts can manage to record the sound properly! You've got to turn the volume high up and still strain to discern the dialogue. However, Sikora's film is way more coherent than about 95% of the home made film & video products as shown at your local Public Access TV. And, hey, if this film was French and director's name was, not a random shot mind you!, Francois Truffault I doubt not that the film would get many accolades. I wonder if Sikora must have seen films like "Tirez Sur Le Pianiste"? He could have if he went to a film school or, even better, if like Truffault he thought himself through watching great masters of the moving magic! I will definitely check out this author's other work...I've seen a preview for ROCK AND ROLL PUNK which, naturally, is not even listed in his IMDB filmography!! Salut!

Bambi Meets Godzilla

Brevity is the Soul of Wit!
Animated film at its 90-seconds best with a punch line that leaves you giggling as if you have just seen a raunchier moment in the renaissance comedy. I adore the way Rossini's pastoral music is being employed here. Canadian wry humor (and some brilliant animated film history) meet the Bambi ideals of our youthful dreams? You bet! It's like life with its insurance policies when it suddenly steps on your head. And this Godzilla ain't no Inoshiro Honda either! This film has elements of perfection: the simplicity of form, the brevity, the unexpected, the Aesopian morale of the story (ouch, what a punch!)and, best of all, that joyful touch of grouchiness without even being mean-spirited. **** out of 5 stars/or in the IMDB terms 8/10.


Lyrical genius in love with savage violence?
"Brother" makes the "Godfather" trilogy look like a kindergarten Christmas production. Kitano is definitely glorifying gratuitous violence, I am sorry to say it but it's true. He's smart and chic enough to know that he could be making wonderfully poetic films for the artsy crowd but perhaps he wants to offend on purpose. However, he ends up making beautifully directed odes to brutality in which japanese contemporary society appears only as backdrop against the vicious and callous homicidal maniacs obssessed with serial killing. Here, Kitano ,expatriated in LA, quickly manages to practically wipe off entire Cholo (Chicano) mob population: dozens of bodies mowed left and right with an aide from three inept street hustlers (one of whom is his americanized half-brother)... Of course, "Brother" does have Kitano's trademark scenes even if not nearly as elaborate as those in "Sonatine" or "Fireworks": a brief long-shot scene at the beach and a GREAT roof scene with the paper airplane...LOOK, OF COURSE, FOR SOME CHOPPED FINGERS ETC.

I am perhaps rambling a little. It shows you how ambivalent my feelings about Kitano in fact are. On one hand I like him a lot and consider him a rarely gifted film maker. In fact, one of the finest. On the other hand I deeply deplore his basic premises: death and misogyny. I can't make up my mind. I keep wanting to stay away from his films and I end up seeing them one after another. A strange experience for me.

La terra trema

Man of Aran This Ain't....
Too much of the off-camera narration as if we were watching a puppet show. There are better examples in the neorealist field because structurally Visconti makes it half fictional story and half documentary. Flaherty did a much better, more eloquent job on a similar (desperately poor fishermen folk) theme without any words used in MAN OF ARAN. The only thing I really liked about this film is the Sicilian dialect which does not contain any decipherable Italian words. Like Central and Southern Spain the Arabic influence here was very powerful and the insular culture fought a hard battle to keep its own identity (not Italian and not Arabic). Not a very great film from a director who is very highly regarded but for me is not in the league with the best of Italian filmmakers.

Sono otoko, kyôbô ni tsuki

The Bloodbath With No Redeeming Qualities
Takeshi Kitano: NO doubt a gifted cineaste but I just can't abide by the sheer brutality of this film. I believe that even artistically fine films must have at least some vestige of humanity to them, otherwise the sheer meaningless violence: what's the point? Kitano can masterly lull you into complaceny with his peculiar sense of rhythm and motion and then out of the blue: bam, bang and splash! Once again it proves that all violence is useless and a waste of time given us on this planet! Violent Cop is somewhat styled after the classics of the ultraviolent genre a la Clockwork Orange (SPOILER: the opening scene here closely relates to the infamous opening sequence from Kubrick's deviants' study). Even the venerable "Dirty Harry" looks like a babe at times compared to Kitano's brutal cop and his fiendish foe. What makes this and other Kitano cop/yakuzza works so horrifying is the utter lack of any redeeming quality: mayhem is employed for its own sake; the sadistic disregard for any human life and/or dignity make Kitano's works hard to watch, his characters hard to feel for. "Sonatine",for example, does have moments of great lyrical beauty, a sense of humor and poetic feeling. In "Violent Cop" there's little or any of it: the camera work is impressive. I love his tracking shots, his pacing: but over all: 1/10 for its debased human "value" 6/10 for its technical/artistic importance

Bakha satang

The Irreversible Laws Of Karma
An original idea that I can't recall seeing anywhere else: PEPERMINT CANDY's story actually goes in reverse, but not through the flashbacks or the film being run backwards. In seven stages, from 1999 back to 1979, a viewer finds out not only about a grim & brutal personal destiny of the central character Young-Ho, but a lot about the South Korean politics and society in its turbulent past. In the case of this film there'd be a true nasty spoiler if I told you what happened last: but it is definitely worth waiting until the very end. An intelligent cinematic exposition of the irreversible laws of Karma applying to all of us. It takes a while to get adjusted to this reversal of the cause and effect because of our natural conditioning: our natural expectation is what happens next or after. Here only what happens before matters and it matters profoundly because once done the action cannot be revoked or changed. It must have been quite a challenge to make a coherent and convincing story of the script. At the end there were no loose ends or contradictions and it seemed that all the jigsaw pieces fitted perfectly.


Little Gem
One of those small films that grow up on you and canalways brighten one's day. It's a feel good story in a wonderfully understated and modest way, without the Forest Gump gimmicks; we become fond of the characters in this film quickly, especially Malcolm. A great good image of the place that is Melbourne. The brilliant music score ( the Penguin Cafe Orchestre, also those shot from Lisabon, where the gang retires. Just a several shots from Lisabon, the streetcar rid up the hill, which with the previous tram shots from Melbourne becomes sort of underhanded tribute to trams of the world, make this Nadia Tass flick a true little gem.

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