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Dressed to Kill

Body Double.
Since listening to the commentary Alan Jones and Kim Newman did for Dario Argento's The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970-also reviewed) I've been aware of the film, but for some reason just never got round to seeing it. Taking part in a best films of 1980 poll,I decided it was finally time to get dressed.

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Inspired by the time his mum urged him to follow his dad and use recording equipment to try and catch him with another woman, the screenplay by writer/directing auteur Brian De Palma slices into the murderous paranoid obsessions which run across his credits, framed in a opening 30 minute set-piece painting frustrated Kate Miller (played with alluring glamour by Angie Dickinson) away from a art gallery to release her desires, that slash Miller into the reflection of deadly obsession.

Superbly unleashing a killer twist in the first 30 minutes, De Palma dices a tense Giallo mystery,that builds on themes from Obsession (1976-also reviewed) in wearing a increased blurring between reality and nightmares (a major recurring De Palma motif) in the fragmented state of the clues Liz Blake sights towards finding the killer,whilst Dr Robert Elliott's rolls out psycho-analysis on the possible motive of the psycho, allowing De Palma to wickedly play on perception that shines to the nightmare final.

Later writing in his autobiography that he found De Palma a brilliant film maker, but showed very few emotions with the cast and crew, Sir Michael gives a very good performance as Dr Elliott, with Sir Michael having Elliott briskly argue back at cops suspecting that a patient of his might be involved.

The first of two times she would play a sex worker in her then-husbands films (the other being Blow Out (1981) ) Nancy Allen gives a excellent turn as Nancy Allen, whose heart of gold stenotype image Allen changes the perception of, with a subtle facial expressiveness undressing Blake's calculations on catching the psycho.

Heating up the screen with a opening that marks a return to the shower scene of Carrie (1976) director De Palma & cinematographer Ralf D. Bode dry Miller off with a astonishing, dialogue-free nine minute sequence, where De Palma's distinctive eye for voyeurism eyes Miller with ultra-stylised long first person tracking shots,whip-pans and soft-focus dissolves over the painting of Miller's desires.

Backed by a beautiful score from his regular composer Pino Donaggio, De Palma steps out of a elevator murder set-piece, to a sizzling Giallo atmosphere of arc shots, knife-edge tilt shots, slow-motion glimpses of clues, close-ups towards burning dashes of red across the screen, dreamy crane shots, and De Palma's signature split diopter which glide towards the murderer getting dressed to kill.

Creepshow: A Creepshow Animated Special: Survivor Type/Twittering from the Circus of the Dead

Animated creep.
Unable to go to sleep,I last night decided to watch a easy-going flick. Finding out about the title after seeing the fun Creepshow: A Creepshow Holiday Special: Shapeshifters Anonymous (2020-also reviewed) led to me getting drawn to the creepy.

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Successfully linking up the tales in the live action series with dips into Comic Book panels, co-writer/(with Melanie Dale) director Greg Nicotero disappointingly goes for a "Flash" animation style in this animation only Special, whose clean, crisp colours stand at odds with the pulpy colours fittingly used in the main series, and the tone that these tales are attempting to chew on.

Although the animation is of a limited movement style,Kiefer Sutherland brings his tale to life with a wonderfully dead-pan pulpy narration to the adaptation of Stephen King's short story Survivor Type, with the screenplay by Greg Nicotero slowly having the lone man lose his sanity on the island,as he joins a creep show.

Je vous aime

"How can you gamble with Ned Kelly's statue? Cut off an arm and you're a one-armed bandit."
After stepping off The Last Metro (1980-also reviewed) I decided to take a look at what other French films from 1980 I have waiting to be viewed. Catching up on X-Mas/New Year films that I did not get round to seeing during the holiday season,I was pleased to find a title set during the festive season from 1980,that reunited the leads of The Last Metro.

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Inviting four of her former partners round during the Christmas/New Year season for dinner, the screenplay by co-writer/(with Michel Grisolia) director Claude Berri rings in Alice's New Year with excellent flashbacks into each relationship, which explores the masculine dominant side of the men coming up against Alice's relaxed confidence for relationships to be on her own terms.

Serving up the failed relationships, the writers impressively avoid this from creating a gloomy mood, thanks to Alice's mature, thoughtful outlook to continue the each relationship as friends, whilst she continues to try and find a partner who shares the same refined outlook,and is at ease over what shape Alice desires the shape of the relationship to be.

Teaming up with Deneuve for the second time in 1980, Gerard Depardieu gives a merry turn as Patrick, whose lively bravado manner swaggers at odds with Alice's calm,contemplating gaze,which also catches the sigh of Serge Gainsbourg's wonderfully over-emotion turn as arty lover Simon,and Jean-Louis Trintignant bringing out a sweet, stumbling shyness in his turn as Julien.

Digging into the history of Alice, Catherine Deneuve gives a sparkling performance,thanks to Deneuve balancing Alice's maturity over staying strong on her beliefs over how the romantic relationships should be,with a infectious optimism for new love in a new relationship.

Le porte del silenzio

RIP Lucio Fulci.
Having enjoyed seeing Jean Rollin's final film Le masque de la Meduse (2009-also reviewed) in December,I decided to check on what obscure titles a DVD seller was listing. Being aware of the title for years,I was pleased to find the final work by Lucio Fulci,leading to me opening the door.

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Revealed in Stephen Thrower's excellent book Beyond terror:The films Of Lucio Fulci that sales manager for Eureka Film International Francesca Massaccesi changed the credited name of the film maker because "Fulci isn't currently fashionable" (such class!)

Making his final trip to Louisiana, writer/directing auteur Lucio Fulci is joined by Sergio Martino's regular cinematographer of the 70's Giancarlo Ferrando, and fully sinks into the pessimistic void which Fulci had been exploring across his works.

Driving round with just a handful of lines for the increasingly worn-down driver played by John Savage, the screenplay by Fulci moves away from his traditional Horror roots,for a more Sci-Fi direction, where Fulci makes each road the driver takes be one that leads to death,from the same hearse blocking his way on the road,to a fortune teller revealing to the driver that he is in the city of the living dead, as Fulci enters the beyond.

Le dernier métro

"When the lights are dimmed in the morning I know it's rehearsal time, and when all the lights go out at night,it means you're on your way down!"
Taking part in a poll for the best films of 1980,I took a look at lists of films from the year. Having seen his other two works from the decade, (1981's The Woman Next Door & 1983's Confidentially Yours-both also reviewed) I got set to discover how Francois Truffaut's started in the decade.

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The second in a planned "Performance" trilogy of Day For Night (1973-also reviewed) and L'Agence Magic (which never got made due to his passing) co-writer/(with regular collaborator Suzanne Schiffman, who is joined by Jean-Claude Grumberg) directing auteur Francois Truffaut reunites with his regular cinematographer of this period Nestor Almendros, and takes a seat at the theatre with a continued expansion of his distinctive tracking shots.

Going behind the curtain,Truffaut stages mesmerising, ultra-stylised long tracking shots, which along with laying out the cosy surroundings by exploring each tight corner, also draws the cramped conditions that Marion is working under to keep her husband safely hidden.

Under the constant threat of being arrested for the stage being shut down, Truffaut gets to the front of the stage with fluid close-ups under the hot lights, burning to the disagreements shared by Granger and Marion off stage,being made visible on the curtain call.

The first of two times they worked together,Gerard Depardieu (who on the audio commendatory,revealed that the first thing he said to Truffaut:" Your film (Love on the Run (1979-also reviewed) was too bourgeoisie!" gives a excellent performance as Granger, whose arrogant swagger and wannabe ladies man attitude is turned by Depardieu into a passion to join the French Resistance.

Reuniting with Truffaut for the first time since Mississippi Mermaid (1969-also reviewed) Catherine Deneuve gives a splendid turn as Marion,thanks to Deneuve holding the mask of relaxed glamour Marion wears when on stage, with the growing anxiety behind it,from news of the continued erosion of the "Free Zone" (where she hopes her husband would be able to secretly enter in order to flee to Spain from) in France.

Paying tribute to the Fantasy genre of French cinema in the early 40's, the writers present the stage as embodying the spirit of free France,where the cast/ crew stand against the hatred growing in the country,with a passionate, loyal tolerance for each other and their differences, as they offer the crowd escapism.

Bringing his former scriptwriter onto the stage, Jean-Louis Richard gives a marvellous turn as Daxiat, (based on real anti-semitic arts reviewer of the 40's Alain Laubreaux, whose pseudonym was Michel Daxiat) who has the thin façade of a jolly bourgeoisie who is a lover of the arts, which snaps on his extremist support for the Occupation.

Seating the majority of the film in the theatre, the screenplay by Truffaut, Schiffman and Grumberg present on the stage a microcosm of the history of the Occupation, with the horrifying anti-semitism screaming across the front pages of newspapers, the radio,and boot-licker mobs wanting Daxiat's ear, stating their support for the Occupation,with a utterly chilling normality.

Strangulation Blues

"A very Parisian night. Not an American "Day- for-night."- Leos Carax's directing debut.
Taking part in a poll for the best films of 1980, I decided to take a glance at French films which came out that year. Having enjoyed (and reviewed) his first three works,I was happy to spot Leos Carax's first movie,leading to me heading out on a Parisian night.

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Years before he would hit the big screen with his indie Rock-scored Boy Meets Girl (1984-also reviewed) debut writer/directing auteur Leos Carax plays closer to the French New Wave rather then Cinema du Look, with Carax & cinematographer Bertrand Chatry following Paul on the streets with fluid FNW-style hand-held camera moves captured in grainy black and white.

Displaying a interest in disillusioned youth which would become a major theme in his later works, the screenplay by Carax tightly blends a poetic stream of consciousness with a nervousness over brutal crime,as Paul gets strangulation blues.

WandaVision: Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience
Episode 1, Season 1

What a Wanda-ful Vision.
Whilst recently catching up on MCU titles I had missed seeing at the cinema, I was pleased to see a trailer for the first Marvel series being made for Disney+,leading to me tuning in to Wanda's vision.

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Introducing the couple with their own theme song on interior set copying the 1960's The Dick Van Dyke Show, director Matt Shakman & Hot Fuzz (2007-also reviewed) cinematographer Jess Hall pay loving tribute to the classic TV Comedy shows of the 60's,from awkward pauses for the low-rent "special effects" of objects magically appearing, to canned laugher drowning out the gags.

Filming this spot-on parody (complete with a fake sponsor advert) in a multi-camera format, Shakman wonderfully brings out suggestion of something darker behind the canned laugher, by moving close-up to a change into single-camera format,as the laughs start to fade.

Bouncing the well-worn punch-lines off writer (who debuted in 2009 as writer/director of the 2009 Emma Caulfield Ford movie Timer) Jac Schaeffer's playful script, Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany give joyful performances, with Olsen being pitch-perfect in her dead-pan turn as the magical housewife, whilst Bettany delivers Vision's arch one-liners with a wonderful dry wit for WandaVision.

El caníbal

Uncle Jess:Devil Hunter.
As the screaming faded on the freeze frame final image of Lucio Fulci's splendid City of the Living Dead (1980-also reviewed) I decided to double bill it,by watching a Jess Franco flick from the year. Finding one of the titles that I've heard about for ages by him, but have yet to see,I got set to join Jess on the hunt.

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Revealed in Stephen Thrower's terrific book Flowers Of Perversion:The Delirious Cinema of Jesus Franco, that Amando de Ossorio originally planned to make the film, until the producers cut the budget so low, that he quit before filming began.

Never in his life running away from a budget no matter how low it could go, co- writer/( Julian Esteban)composer/ directing auteur Jess Franco is joined by his regular cinematographer of the period Juan Soler to roar in the jungle, with Uncle Jess scanning the tribal jungle from his trademark button-bashing zoom-in trombone playing landing on the soft-focus glory of damsel in distress Crawford (played with eye-catching sleazy glamour by Playboy October 1979 Playmate of the Month Ursula Buchfellner) screaming at the chumping at the bit cannibals.

Whilst the main cannibal has a wonderfully unsettling bulging enlarged blood red eyes appearance, the screenplay by Esteban & Uncle Jess blocks the jungle Adventure from swinging into action,by taking a collage approach,via the head-on fight between rescuer Weston and Crawford's kidnappers being scattered across the disconnected, rough edges of the cannibal antics of the islanders.

Getting into the cannibal mind-set with blurred first-person tracking shots, Uncle Jess brings the jungle to life with a delightfully strange score,thanks to Jess overcoming the low budget of the film,with a layered,multi-track soundtrack of chirps from exotic birds, bellowing Jazz and ghostly screams calling out to the devil hunter.

Paura nella città dei morti viventi

Lucio Fulci Gates of Hell trilogy-Part 1: City of the Living Dead.
With a poll taking place for the best films of 1980,I decided that it was the perfect time to check the credits of auteurs Jess Franco and Lucio Fulci. Having seen Fulci's tough crime flick Contraband (also reviewed) I was pleased to find a second credit of his from the year,which led to me entering the city.

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Revealed in Stephen Thrower's superb book Beyond Terror:The Films Of Lucio Fulci that the film maker had said one of his aims with the title was to create "A nightmare film, where horror is ubiquitous, even in apparently innocuous forms."

Co-writer/(with regular collaborator of the period Dardano Sacchetti) directing auteur Lucio Fulci reunites with The Four of the Apocalypse... (1975-also reviewed) cinematographer Sergio Salvati and opens the gates to hell for the first time.

Covering the screen with a chilling smog synch score by his regular composer of this era Fabio Frizzi that sinks the city into a swamp, Fulci brushes his startling, distinctive cross-fades and superimpositions, with a rich, pessimistic Gothic Horror atmosphere,plucked from striking razor-sharp whip-pans on bleeding eyes, (eye gauging being a major recurring motif in Fulci's works) and long panning shots towards a infected decay,which infects the screen in the closing freeze frame final shot,as a scream fades into the beyond.

One of the few leading ladies who Fulci actually liked working with and was respectful towards on set, Catriona MacColl gives a terrific turn as Mary Woodhouse, (named after Mary Whitehouse?) thanks to MacColl bringing out a macabre curiosity in Woodhouse to go deep into the underbelly of the city,a position MacColl keeps intact,even when confronted by people throwing their guts up and maggots being thrown at her.

Made in a rushed production state, the hazy dream logic, (a logic which would play a major part in Fulci's future credits) screenplay by Sacchetti & Fulci successfully holds the suffice level chills from Woodhouse attempting to stop the arrival of All Saints Day unleashing the living dead, whilst continuing to brilliantly building on the Horrors of Fulci's major recurring themes.

Later saying that he "found him (God) in others' misery,and my torment is greater,for I have realised that God is a God of suffering." Fulci (a lapsed Catholic) lays the decayed torment over the land from Father Thomas killing himself in the opening,whose haunting spirit casts eyes over the film, awaiting to open the gates to the city of the living dead.

The Chain Reaction

"I'm in the middle of a chain reaction (Chain reaction),You give me all the after midnight action."
Whilst reading a excellent issue of UK film magazine The Dark Side, I found a great review for a Aussie Sci-Fi title I've never heard of before coming out on Blu-Ray,which led to me setting off a chain reaction.

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Standing on the cliff edge to the apocalypse,Andrew Thomas Wilson makes a incredibly textured synch score in what is sadly his lone composition for a feature film, with Wilson charging up the synch to spread a ominous mood as the camera pans along contaminated water towards the completely unaware locals in the town.

Originally planned for George Miller to direct, (who ended up filming the second unit the and white-knuckle car stunts, after production got a week behind schedule) writer/director Ian Barry makes his feature film debut, by closely working with cinematographer Russell Boyd and editor Tim Wellburn, to boil up an incredibly eerie that gets poured across the wasteland.

Encountering Carmel and Larry whilst suffering from amnesia after going on the run,Barry brings the memories Heinrich with ultra-stylised match cuts melting steam from fresh coffee to dripping nuclear waste.

Bringing a touch of Ozploitation thrills to dystopia Sci-Fi thanks to Larry being a trigger happy chappy in the rural home of the couple, Wellburn swings them both into the middle of the fallout with gritty long whip-pans fired across Heinrich outrunning government officials attempting to stop him spreading the nuclear news.

Waking up in bed with Larry and Carmel looking at him, completely unaware of how he got here, Ross Thompson gives a terrific turn as Heinrich, whose amnesia is used by Thompson to heighten a growing sense within Heinrich of a unknown dread on the horizon.

Despite ending on a optimistic note (boo!) the screenplay by Barry drives in bleak Sci-Fi paranoia fuelled from the splinters of memories/ flashbacks Heinrich holds, which mutates into fear as the government unleash increasingly heavy-handed tactics, in a attempt to stop a chain reaction.

Babylon 5: The Gathering
Episode 0, Season 1

Step aboard Babylon Five.
Despite having heard about it for years,I somehow have never got round to seeing any of Babylon Five. Picking up a complete series box set during the New Year sales,I got set to finally set foot on the station.

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Laying the foundation for the universe under a (attempted) murder-mystery, rather then joining the crew on their first day, the screenplay by J. Michael Straczynski holds the suspicions to the planned murder as a mirror to the fragile state of peace barely being contained within the space station.

Straczynski closely follows commanding officer Jeffrey Sinclair (played by Michael O'Hare,who keeps a fine balance between Sinclair being confident in his role as a officer,whilst nervous about the accusations being spread about him) having to wrestle control from those wanting to take advantage of the act,who are also slyly trying to frame him,as a method of breaking the peace.

Although the early CGI looks rather iffy, (model work would have allowed for more detail,and the various spaceships to have less of a flat appearance) director Richard Compton & cinematographer Billy Dickson listen in on the deals being made by the five major spacefaring races of the galaxy in smooth panning shots across the floors of Babylon Five.

Chin Shun-shin no 'Shinju no tsume'

The Divine Beast Stature.
Being the film maker who I saw the most works from in 2020,I decided to kick the New Year off,by looking at his credits whilst I was taking part in a best films of 1980 poll. Having found his TV Horror Movie The Fang in the Hole (1979-also reviewed) to be superb,I got set to claw open another title.

Note:This review contains some plot details.

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Made the same year he returned to the cinema with Zigeunerweisen, (1980-also reviewed) directing auteur Seijun Suzuki gives this 45 minute TV Movie the same amount of care and attention as he gave his two and a half hour epic made for the big screen.

Crossing the paths of his major recurring motifs, Suzuki continues to expand on the dash of Giallo he had spread in The Fang in the Hole, staging the murder set-piece with a trench-coat wearing killer whose face is out of shot from the viewer, and the strangely named Divine Beast stature, (animals or weird objects that the film is named after being a staple of Gialli titles) being surrounded in locations dripping with shimmering decadent chic reds,pinks and blues.

Putting the pieces of the statue back together as the murder gets investigated, Suzuki expands upon taking his unique distorted framing, Japanese New Wave ultra-stylisation into the increasingly avant-garde surrealist experimentation, brilliantly revealing the motive for the murder by having a flashback taking place which merges into the present setting.

Whilst the excellent cast is sadly not credited with which role they played,Yasuhiro Sakurai thankfully is for the thrilling screenplay. Sculpted from a story by Taiwanese-Japanese author Chin Shun-shin, Sakurai's adaptation makes this the most openly political of Suzuki's works,as the slotting in of clues to the mysterious murder, reveals the ghosts (ghosts being something that would feature in Suzuki's Taisho trilogy) that still haunt those horrified by the horrors performed by Japanese forces during Second Sino-Japanese War,as the divine beast reveals the claws.

Le notti erotiche dei morti viventi

Kinks of the Living Dead.
Despite having heard about him for years,I've not seen one of the near 200 titles directed by Joe D'Amato. Gathering up titles from 1980 to view,I found a D'Amato film I picked up ages ago was from the year,leading to me getting set to witness some erotic nights.

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Risking breaking his back by carrying the whole film on his shoulders,Marcello Giombini brings the dead to life with a terrific score, whose dark synch Prog Rock groove brings a creepy atmosphere to the lumbering zombie walks,and even makes the old fashion "cat meow" jump-scare charm.

Working on a super low budget, cinematographer/ director D'Amato surprisingly treats the lads and lasses in the audience equally, by offering a eyeful of sleazy skin from Laura Gemser & George Eastman (with Eastman also writing the script.)

Although the gore has a sloppy appearance of red paint being dabbed onto the necks of the cast, D'Amato goes back to the early days of zombie flicks, by chewing the slow-moving hungry types with the Voodoo West Indies origins over a erotic night of the living dead.

Le père Noël a les yeux bleus

Santa's New Wave.
After the wicked Comedy Santa Claus Is a Stinker (1982-also reviewed) I decided to check for what other French X-Mas-set films I had waiting to be watched. Finding this to be a title with a runtime of under a hour,I got set to discover how blue Santa's eyes are.

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Sown together from scraps of leftover film stock he got from Jean-Luc Godard, writer/directing auteur Jean Eustache unwraps a French New Wave (FNW) X-Mas tale soaked in a brine pessimism atmosphere of grainy FNW fluid tracking shots walking down the streets with the Santa-dressed Daniel.

Going pass a cinema screening The 400 Blows (1959), Eustache keeps Daniel jolly with the rawness of the FNW, in what appears to be illegally filmed sequences bringing a in the moment grit,thanks to a overlapping soundtrack,where speeding cars on the street drown out parts of Daniel's conversations.

Initially taking the job as Santa in order to raise cash to buy a jacket just before Christmas, the screenplay by Eustache unzips Daniel's jacket to study his frustration at not having a partner, which Eustache does not romanticise, instead biting Daniel with a cynical Vampirism, that reveals itself in this FNW loner having a abusive impulsive side lash out to any woman who gives any hint of affection, to a Santa with blue eyes.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Spidey comes home.
When looking at the MCU line-up on Disney+,I've found it a shame that no deal could be sorted with Sony for the two Spider-Man entries in the film series. Shortly after Christmas, I was happy to find the BBC was playing the first in the MCU Spidey,leading to me welcoming Spider-Man home.

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Webbing a opening which offers a alternative perspective to the Captain America: Civil War (2016-also reviewed) set-piece, co-writer/(with Jonathan Goldstein/ John Francis Daley/ Christopher Ford/ Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers) director Jon Watts & cinematographer Salvatore Totino spin the glossy, brightly coloured, physics defying (this spider should have been squashed a dozen times) CGI action set-pieces of the CBM genre with a sweet high school Drama atmosphere.

Spending the majority of the film in school with Peter Parker, (played by Tom Holland,who gives the MCU quips a breezy charm) Watts sits in on lessons with wonderful rose-tinted yellows and reds,that shine as Watts glides to a close-up of Parker nervously trying to get a date with Liz (played with a real warmth by Laura Harrier.)

Whilst the option to give Spider-Man a advance costume for part of the flick lowers the perception of him being at risk, the writers wisely departing from the CBM baddie template by having Toomes (played with a brooding snarl by Michael Keaton) not wanting to end the world, frees up the pages for a excellent twist into Thriller power-play, that tightens the father-son dynamic between Parker and Tony Stark, as Spider-Man learns from Toomes and Stark that with great power,comes great responsibility.


Perfect Paprika.
After seeing Perfect Blue (1997-also reviewed) for the first time,I discussed the film with Black Lake writer/director/lead K/XI (it is her favourite film.) During the discussion,she mentioned another work by Satoshi Kon, which led to me developing a taste for paprika.

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Examining the parallel lines of reality and nightmares/dreams, the screenplay by co-writer/(with Seishi Minakami) directing auteur Satoshi Kon adapts Yasutaka Tsutsui novel into a continuation of building upon themes reflected in Perfect Blue (1997-also reviewed.)

The writers pull open mesmerising, increasingly fractured state of dreams blurring into reality, where DR Chiba wears a second skin as Paprika,and Detective Konakawa gains entry to his most lurid dreams from the opening of a website, (a website where a character makes a deep personal discovery, and the lead woman having a second skin/personality,being major recurring themes for Kon.)

Unleashing a dream parade on the city, the writers take an enticing forensic approach towards separating each layer of the deep sleep dreams, cutting into Konakawa startling recurring physics-defying hallway nightmare,and the internal struggle Chiba between her own, clinical withdrawn personality, and that of her free spirited second skin Paprika.

Following Paprika floating in the air running, (a major recurring motif of the film maker) director Kon tunes into the dream world with a magnificent eye for detail in the dazzling hand-drawn animation, which Kon unveils with ultra-stylised whip-pans and arc shots taking the audience into the deepest reaches of the crumbling with primary colours dreams being invaded,which are spiced up by a dash of paprika.


Super size me.
During the gap I had of MCU viewings between The Avengers (2012) and Captain America: Civil War (2016-both also reviewed) this was the title which I read the most about having troubles behind the scenes. Catching up on MCU movies I missed,I decided it was time to measure up a viewing.

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Entering at the last minute after film maker Edgar Wright had quit after over a decade of developing the project, director Peyton Reed & Hard Target (1993-also reviewed) cinematographer Russell Carpenter retain some of Wright's unique stylisation with the hilarious use of Thomas The Tank Engine in the final action set-piece,and fluid, whip-pan, arc-shot edits to Lang (played with a bursting with charm energy by Paul Rudd) and his gangs snappy exchanges.

Opening with impressive de-ageing that takes Michael Douglas back to the 80's, Reed sizes up Ant-Man with thrilling set-pieces that zoom-in on the flawless, glossy CGI with a enlargement of the insect world, via Lang walking deep into the colonies.

Following Lang making a choice to become Ant-Man, the screenplay by Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, with co-writers Adam McKay and Paul Rudd later adding Lang's face-off with Falcon, take the superhero origin set-up, and wonderfully twist it into a Sci-Fi Action Comedy heist flick, where Lang and his gang of former criminals (which includes Michael Pena funny snappy turn as Luis) fly onto the superhero side with encouragement from Hank Pym to stop the baddie putting the secret powers of Ant-Man under the microscope.

Black Lake

Lady of the lake.
Having been told by a close friend over the years about the Churel mythical creature for years,I've been surprised by how few depictions it has gotten on the big screen. Viewing the line-up for the online Cine-Excess film festive,I was shocked to find a film involving a Churel listed in the line-up,leading to me gazing into the black lake.

Note:Some spoilers in review.

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Deciding to release the soundtrack before the movie came out, writer/director/ editor/production designer/cinematographer and camera operator (!) K. Pervaiz closely works with composer Burning Tapes on binding an incredibly textured score.

Tapes and Pervaiz layer each shimmering dark synch note with a rustic, subtle ambiance which keeps the fantastical Churel grounded to the earthy horror.

Putting every penny she had into the production, director/ cinematographer Pervaiz weaves an incredibly subtle,ultra-stylised tale with long hanging wide-shots on muted colours opening up a sinking Horror atmosphere, which the audience sips as Aarya peaceful secluded time away from family in the Scottish highlands, is broken by the blazing red of the scarf becoming entwined in her life.

Filmed in England, Scotland and Pakistan, (where in a deeply conservative village,Pervaiz bonded with the locals and got exquisitely haunting shots. Pervaiz shatters the false sense of calm from the opening act with astonishing nightmare-logic surrealist set-pieces, burning with textured red from the rage of the Churail.

Unraveling each thread of the scarf, Pervaiz links Aarya and the Churail together with shudder-inducing, hair-pulling terror manifesting itself in the ghostly mirage of the Churail emerging into the light and entering the frenzied close-ups of Aarya.

Dedicating the film to Jyoti Singh, who on December 16, 2012 was brutalized and murdered by six men on a bus, with Singh dying from the attack 11 days later, the excellent, thoughtful screenplay by Pervaiz explores the monstrous act of brutality which causes the violent monster Churali to be born from the violence.

Receiving the red scarf from her Auntie Ayenah, Pervaiz gradually threads the abrasive horrors of the Churali into Aarya's blood-stained dreams crossing over into an increasingly suffocating reality, as Aarya looks into the black lake.

Le père Noël est une ordure

"Handmade,and rolled under the armpits."
Whilst all of the Christmas lights get taken down,I decided that with having a bundle of set at X-Mas films waiting to be played,that I would continue with some merry viewings,leading to me finding out how much Santa smells.

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Largely set in one apartment building,co-writer/(with Josiane Balasko/Marie-Anne Chazel/Christian Clavier/Gerard Jugnot/Thierry Lhermitte & Bruno Moynot)director Jean-Marie Poire and cinematographer Robert Alazraki stylishly break out from the stage origins with smooth panning shots across walls lined with glossy Christmassy reds and blues, which subtly stands at odds with the pitch-black Comedy taking place.

Darting round the antics of the hotline office, Poire hangs each punchline on the tree with hilarious close-ups on stuffy Pierre trying to hold everything together,as chaos starts twirling towards him.

Bringing the stage show to the big screen in their first non- French Fried Vacation movie, the screenplay by Comedy group Le Splendid fills the stockings with sweet pitch-black one-liners of the increasingly neurotic Pierre and Therese finding their Christmas Eve manning the hotline,becoming from unexpected guests visiting,bringing presents of their troubles.

Along with serving up merry one liners, The Splendid group shares brilliant characterisation,with the trans Katia being shown in a sympathetic light as she voices frustration from being caught in the frantic activities in the building, as Pierre clutches at straws to retain his withdrawn, mild-manner state.

Unable to sip Christmas cheer whilst manning the calls,Thierry Lhermitte gives a gloriously dead-pan turn as Pierre, whose neurotic frustrations Lhermitte has reach boiling point, from the stench of Santa Claus.

Ópalo de fuego: Mercaderes del sexo

"It's true,the instrument's just like a trombone!"
Starting to get into viewings for 2021,I decided that one of the best ways to start the year off was by watching a "new" title from film maker Jess Franco. Taken by the title,I got set to meet two female spies.

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Detailed in Stephen Thrower's superb book Flowers Of Perversion: The Delirious Cinema Of Jesus Franco as being one of the first titles the film maker made on his return to Spain,and at a time when his relationship to muse Lina Romay was starting to become serious, co-writer/(with Evelyne Scott,an actress from some of his past films,in her lone writing credit) co-editor/(with Roland Grillon)co-composer/(with regular corroborator Daniel White) directing auteur Uncle Jess follows the spies with his gloriously disincentive trombone zoom-in button-bashing.

Meeting Cecile and Brigitte, (played by a cute Lina Romay and Nadine Pascal) at the airport, Jess gets into a wonderful Jazz groove in a seedy underworld nightclub, (a major recurring setting in his works) sliding between a continuation of his interest in De Sade imagery with a striking set-piece involving a severed head (!),that glides to a a nifty Euro Spy-style chase from a helicopter across rugged terrain for the captive Estrella Shelwin (played by the alluring Doris Regina, (real name Teodora Segura)making her debut.)

Matching the beat of the stylised directing, the screenplay by Scott and Uncle Jess plays a wonderfully lively tune, that swings Brigitte and Cecile from flirty, Pop-Art strippers,to mad-cap underhanded spies, who in the murky underworld Jazz nightclub,go in search of painted panties.


Crossing paths.
After seeing the excellent Un chien andalou (1929-also reviewed) I decided to look for another short film to pair it up with. Checking shorts waiting to get watched, I found a Soviet Sci-Fi flick, which led to me stepping onto the path.

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Going down a path to return to the spaceship, director Vladimir Tarasov crosses the galaxy with a trip into the gloriously psychedelic,via splinters of multi- coloured light darting over the hand-drawn animation.

Starting up the spaceship to scrambled Johann Sebastian Bach compositions, the narration from Alexander Kaidonovsky travels over Tarasov's beautiful, pulpy colours that spin Freudian symbolism with a lush of kaleidoscope layout across the path.

The Last Witch Hunter

The Witcher.
After watching the incredible Perfect Blue (1997-also reviewed) for my 2,500th review on this site,I decided to relax with a easy-going flick. One of the first flicks to pop up when I checked the Sci-Fi/ Fantasy section on Netflix,I got set to join at the witching hour.

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Directing for the first time since 2010's The Crazies remake, director Breck Eisner & Dead Calm (1989-also reviewed) cinematographer Dean Semler lift the sword for a pulpy Fantasy tale, and completely miss the mark, with a horribly muddy aesthetic, and over reliance on CGI dimming the sparks of playfulness this Fairy Tale Action flick should have been beaming with.

Conjured from lead Vin Diesel being a Dungeons and Dragons fan,and having Olafur Darri Olafsson, Elijah Wood and Sir Michael Caine join in to take a roll of the 20-sided dice, the screenplay by Cory Goodman,Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless promisingly open their tale with Kaulder being cursed with eternal life and working for a secret organisation to keep the truce between witches and humans strong.

Sadly,the writers turn but the pulpy offerings sour, with long, messy dips into a endless memory spell (flashbacks) and plodding non-twists revealing those standing against the last witch hunter.

Pâfekuto burû

My 2,500th review.
When discussing Black Lake (2020-also reviewed) during the online Cine-Excess festival, writer/director K/XI mentioned Perfect Blue. With Black Lake being my favourite release of 2020,I decided for my 1000th Letterboxd review, to discover how perfect this blue is.

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Originally planned to be a live action direct to video film, but after the Kobe earthquake of 1995 damaged the production studio, the budget for the film was reduced to an original video animation, directing auteur Satoshi Kon makes the needed change into animation one that draws up a colourful ultra-stylisation, where the expressiveness of the hand-drawn Anime lines pencils in the fading line between reality and nightmare for Kirigoe.

Performing on stage in the Pop group CHAM! From voyeuristic angles seen by the sold out crowd, Kon melts the vibrant colours of the smooth animation into a excellent study of perception and voyeurism, overlapping close-ups of Kirigoe expressive,smoothly animated face displaying a increased desire for maturity in her career/personal life, that is sharply contrasted by the stark, saturated colours that her obsessive fans/ voyeuristic managers gaze Kirigoe as being.

Drawing from the live action origins,Kon stages the Thriller set-pieces with a incredible knife-edge atmosphere, thanks to experting performing tracking shots, whip-pans and razor-sharp jump-cuts slicing into the increasingly fractured state of Kirigoe's mind.

Getting off the stage wanting to move into being a serious actress, the screenplay by Sadayuki Murai, Rika Takahashi & Lia Sargent adapts Yoshikazu Takeuchi's novel with a astonishing sinking feeling, seeping from the early use of the internet as a plot device, with a website/blog called "Mima's Room" containing posts written from her perspective,that Kirigoe can not remember writing.

As the online writings start to invade on her life, the writers superbly bind the exploitative voyeuristic treatment from fans/her manager, with the deepening fear gripping Kirigoe on the traumatic doubts gripping her view of reality being one that is increasingly far from perfect blue.

Manhattan Baby

Emerald Nights.
After finishing my viewing of the Masters Of Cinema box set: The Early Films of Hsiao-Hsien Hou,I began to look for a finally 80's film on disc to finish my run of viewings from the decade. Whilst digging round, I found a Anchor Bay Lucio Fulci set, from which I had seen the first (The New York Ripper (1982-also reviewed) in the collection,but not the second feature, leading to me finally visiting Manhattan.

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Clipped of a third of the budget during production, then getting a new opening ordered by the producers, after they feared that their budget cuts earlier would not make the film enticing enough for them to be able to sell it to the international market (those cutbacks in the budget sure were a smart move guys!) directing auteur Lucio Fulci overcomes the line in the sand from the production troubles,in order to continue building upon his nightmare-logic motifs from beyond.

Closely working with Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man (1976-also reviewed) cinematographer Guglielmo Mancori, Fulci jabs the screen with his tasty trademark eye gouging in the Egypt-set opening, that Fulci pokes towards the hazy, nightmare canvas he had been conjuring since City of the Living Dead (1980).

Fulci greatly expands his canvas by going for a more classical "ghost story" atmosphere, in the dazzling,ultra-stylised jagged whip-pans, scatter gun zoom-ins on eyes dressed in neon lights,and close-ups of people in bed frozen in terror, casting the impression of a unseen being haunting the screen.

Sinking Manhattan into a state between reality and nightmare, Fulci unleashes the birds from the gates of hell,who even with visible wires (no CGI here) peck open Fulci's delight for bruising Horror set-pieces, in this case ones which turn the problems the screenplay by his regular writers of this period Elisa Briganti & Dardano Sacchetti is hampered with from budget cuts into a positive, by hanging the ending on a eerie note, of terror shimmering across a Manhattan night.

Un chien andalou

The eye of surrealism.
Since first catching a glimpse of his work in the spectacular Wuthering Heights, (1954-also reviewed) I've enjoyed all the Luis Bunuel films that I've seen. Receiving his debut film on a DVD with interesting extras from my dad at Christmas, I decided it was time to see into the eyes of Bunuel.

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Written in less then a week after getting dreamed up with Salvador Dali and shot on a low budget, editor/composer/ writer/ directing auteur Luis Bunuel opens an incredible adventurousness atmosphere in his film making debut, slicing any resemblance of reality into striking surrealism with a eye being cut open wide (this scene was the first ever shot by Bunuel.)

Appearing in a cameo sharpening the razor later used for the eye-opening scene, Bunuel displays a sharp eye right in staging complex surreal set-pieces right from his first movie, as ants emerge from the hands of surrealism.

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