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Archive for the ‘The Fish Obscuro’ Category

hotwinds

by Allan Fish

(India 1973 135m) not on DVD

Aka. Garam Hava

Should I stay or should I go?

p  Abu Siwani, Ishan Arya, M.S.Sathyu  d  M.S.Sathyu  w  Kaifi Azmi, Shama Zaidi  ph  Ishan Arya  ed  S.Chakravarty  m  Aziz Ahmed, Aziz Ahmed Khan Warsi, Ustad Bahadur Khan

Balraj Singh (Salim Mirza), Gita Siddarth (Amina Mirza), Jamal Hashmi (Kazim), Yunus Parvez (Fakraddin), Farook Shaikh (Sikander Mirza), Jalal Agha (Shamsad), Abu Siwani (Baqar Mirza), Badar Begum (Salim’s mother), Dinanath Zutshi (Halim), Shaukat Azmi (Kaifi), A.K.Hangal (Ajmani Sahab), Vikas Anand,

Considering the availability of so many Bollywood classics of this and previous eras, the other side of Indian cinema can still be difficult to track down.  Satyajit Ray, of course, is now becoming available in Hi Def, while Ritwik Ghatak will doubtless soon follow.  But it’s the next generation of directors who joined those two erstwhile masters in the late sixties and seventies that can be hard to appreciate.  Where can one find decent prints of films by Mrinal Sen, Mani Kaul or the director of the film in question, M.S.Sathyu.  Any that are on DVD are in deplorable condition and interrupted by those God-awful logos so prevalent in Indian DVDs that float in and out of vision like the mother ship in Space Invaders.

One should be grateful then, I suppose, that in an age when British television channels ignore film and its history completely, that occasionally Indian classics pop up in the small hours on Channel 4 in one of the sporadic celebrations of Indian culture.  It’s how I first saw Hot Winds.  Not ideal, perhaps, but you take what you’re given.                          (more…)

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JE

by Allan Fish

(UK/USA 1930 120m) not on DVD

Of cabbages and kings, and cockroaches on whisky

p  George Pearson  d  James Whale  w  Joseph Moncure March, Gareth Gundrey  play  R.C.Sheriff  ph  Benjamin Kline  ed  Claude Berkeley  m  none  art  Harvey Libbert

Colin Clive (Capt. Dennis Stanhope), David Manners (2nd Lt. Raleigh), Ian MacLaren (2nd Lt. ‘Uncle’ Osborne), Billy Bevan (2nd Lt. Trotter), Anthony Bushell (2nd Lt. Hibbert), Robert Adair (Capt. Hardy), Charles K.Gerrard (Pvt. Mason),

Ask most people of my generation about World War I and there’s a strong chance they will have first become acquainted with it through TV comedy; if not by the Python sketch ‘Ypres 1914’ (“how about ‘one potato, two potato’, sir?”) then by the adventures of Blackadder and co..  Yet for comedy to work, especially small screen comedy, there must be a familiarity with the setting or else much of the humour is lost.  More than from any other source, the familiarity came from R.C.Sheriff’s play Journey’s End.

Set entirely in the dugouts and trenches on the front and supply lines in Saint Quentin, France, in March 1918, it follows four principal officers over a four day period.  Captain Stanhope has just returned from furlough.  He’s well respected by his men but three years on the front lines have exposed understandable cracks in his façade and he’s turned to drinking to keep his nerves in check.  His right-hand is the older Osborne, nicknamed Uncle, who tries to keep him going.  With them is Trotter, a salt of the earth type who’s risen to the rank of officer through the ranks.  To this motley trio is added Raleigh, a wet behind the ears public school type who answers every request with either “I say”, “right-o” or “rather” and who is delighted to serve under Stanhope, the man he worshipped at school and who had been in love with his sister before the war. (more…)

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IA20

by Allan Fish

(USSR 1965 189m) DVD0 (Russia only)

Aka. Mne dvadtsat let

Stand up, damned of the earth!

Viktor Freilich  d  Marlen Khutsiyev  w  Gennadi Shpalikov, Marlen Khutsiyev  ph  Margarita Pilikhina

Valentin Popov (Sergei Zhuravlyov), Nikolai Gubenko (Nikolai Fokin), Stanislav Lyubshin (Slava Kostikov), Marianna Vertinskaya (Anya), Zinaida Zinovyeva (Olga Mikhailovna Zhuravlyova), Svetlana Starikova (Vera Zhuravlyova), Lev Prygunov (2nd Lt. Aleksandr Zhuravlyov), Lev Zolothukin (Anya’s father), Aleksandr Blinov (Kuzmich), T.Bogdanova (Lyusya Kostikova), Gennadi Nekrasov (Vladimir Vasilyevich),

There is no better barometer of the cold winds of change that swept through Soviet Russia in the years 1959-1965 than Marlen Khutsiyev’s I am Twenty.  It’s a film that should be remembered with the best of Soviet films of the period, but by the time it was ready for release, a deep freeze had set in.  From the mid-late fifties, after the death of Stalin, Russia moved to a less extreme position with regards to the arts under Nikita Khrushchev, allowing such films as Kozintsev’s Don Quixote, Kalatozov’s The Cranes are Flying, Chukhrai’s Ballad of a Soldier, Bondarchuk’s Destiny of a Man and Heifits’ The Lady With the Little Dog to play successfully at western film festivals.  It was in 1959, at the height of this period, that Khutsiyev’s masterpiece entered its gestatory stages. (more…)

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lupo 1

by Allan Fish

(Italy 1949 77m) DVD2 (Italy only, no English subs)

Aka. Il Lupo della Sila: The Wolf of the Sila

A tale of two crosses

p Dino de Laurentiis d Duilio Coletti w Duilio Coletti, Steno, Mario Monicelli, Carlo Musso, Ivo Perilli, Vincenzo Talarico ph Aldo Tonti ed Adriana Novelli m Enzo Masetti, Osvaldo Minervini art Ivo Perilli

Silvana Mangano (Rosaria Campolo), Amedeo Nazzari (Rocco Barra), Jacques Sernas (Salvatore Barra), Luisa Rossi (Orsolo Barra), Vittorio Gassman (Pietro Campolo), Olga Solbelli (Signora Campolo), Dante Maggio (Gennaro), Laura Cortese (little Rosaria), Michele Cappezzuoli (little Salvatore),

One hesitates to call director Duilio Coletti forgotten because it’s unlikely he was even known in the English speaking world in the first place. More surprising is that The Lure of the Sila isn’t better known; or at least, until recently. For too long, perceptions of post-war Italian cinema were that there was nothing but neo-realism and, indeed, little but Visconti, de Sica, Fellini and Rossellini. There were other neo-realist directors and films, of course, and it was one of these, Giuseppe de Santis’ Riso Amaro, that gave neo-realism its poster girl, Silvana Mangano.

What has until recently been overlooked is that Italian film c.1945-1955 was also home to many historical spectaculars and melodramas. The Lure of the Sila is one of these, and yet it seems to owe its ancestry not to Italy at all. It rather recalls the great Scandinavian melodramas of the silent era which Mauritz Stiller, Victor Sjöstrom used to turn out in Sweden and which were still then being made by Teuvo Tulio in Finland and other directors in Denmark and Norway. (more…)

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nv2

by Allan Fish

(Brazil 1964 93m) not on DVD

Aka. The Empty Nigh

One night in Rio

p Nelson Gaspari, Walter Hugo Khouri d/w Walter Hugo Khouri ph Rudolf Icsey ed Mauro Alice m Rogerio Duprat art Pierino Massenzi

Norma Bengell (Mara), Odete Lara (Regina), Mario Benvenuti (Luisinho), Gabriele Tinti (Nelson), Lisa Negri (Nelson’s lover), Marisa Woodward (girl in club), Célia Watanabe (Japanese waitress),

Though considered one of the key films in the cinema novo moment in its native Brazil, Noite Vazia has never been accorded the same status on an international level. There are probably other reasons and yet is it a coincidence that, of the seminal works of that same movement which made Glauber Rocha, Nelson Pereira dos Santos, Ruy Guerra and Anselmo Duarte figures on the world stage, Walter Hugo Khouri’s film seems very much the odd one out. The cinema novo movement owed its debts to Italian neo-realism and the art-house cinema of the past. Khouri’s film seems indebted not to the past but to the Italian cinema of the early 1960s, the intellectual masterpieces of Fellini, Zurlini, Visconti and, especially, Antonioni. (more…)

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h95 2

by Allan Fish

(UK 1970 6m) not on DVD

Defeating boredom and its vicissitudes

p/d Bob Godfrey w Stan Hayward m John Hawksworth

voices by Bob Godfrey, Monika Ringwald

Whenever I think of Bob Godfrey’s little gem I am reminded of my favourite Terry Gilliam animation from Python. The one with the middle-aged, nagged man sat in front of the gogglebox, out of which bashers, scrubbers and suckers emerge to try and pull his eyes out of his sockets. After surviving this attempted involuntary eyectomy, we hear a shout from the kitchen; “Henry, turn that television off, you know it’s bad for your eyes.”

The name Henry might have something to do with it, but in truth Godfrey was, along with Borowczyk and Lenica, surely one of the antecedents of Gilliam’s anarchic animation style. Just watch Godfrey’s The Do It Yourself Cartoon Kit, a near classic in itself, which not only uses similar techniques nearly a decade earlier, but even had faint echoes of Python’s famous ‘Blackmail’ sketch. (more…)

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morning a

by Allan Fish

(Yugoslavia 1967 75m) not on DVD

Aka. Jutro

Freedom starts in the morning

d/w Mladomir Djordjevic ph Mihajlo Popovic ed Mirjana Mitic m Miodrag Ilic-Beli

Ljubisa Samardzic (Mali), Neda Arneric (girl), Milena Dravic (Slobodanka), Mija Aleksic (Capt.Straja), Ljuba Tadic (Gen.Milan Prekic), Neda Spasojevic (Marklena), Jelena Jovanovic (Ruza), Olga Jancevecka (Stana),

When it comes to Yugoslavian cinema, the west remains fairly ignorant. Essentially, it’s based around two figures; Makavejev in the sixties and Kusturica either side of the war that would tear the country into six or seven pieces. Yet Makavejev was only one of many directors at work in the sixties, and there are many whose work is worthy of some attention; Branko Bauer, Velkjo Bulajic, France Stiglic, Alexander Petrovic, Zvonimir Berkovic, Vojislav Rakonjac, Bostjan Hladnik, Ante Babaja or Zivojin Pavlovic, whose The Awakening of the Rats and When I am Dead and White came to embody the ‘black wave’ of Yugoslavian film of the period.

Only one or two of those directors have work represented here, but this is quite possibly a defect on my part, for Yugoslavian film has always been the odd one out amongst the old eastern bloc cinemas. We know Polish film, we know Czech, we know Hungarian. Yugoslavian was different. The people were different, the Romany DNA and the close proximity to Italy lent itself to exaggerated passions and structureless anarchy. Like Czech film, Yugoslavian film was subversive, but Czech film was gentler; its films seemed to ring the doorbell of authority and run. Yugoslav films rather seemed to put a Molotov cocktail through authority’s letterbox. (more…)

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fruit 1

by Allan Fish

(Czechoslovakia 1970 99m) DVD1

Aka. Ovoce stromu rajských jíme

Ye shall surely not die

p Pavel Juracek, Jaroslav Kucera, Bronka Ricquier d Vera Chytilova w Ester Krumbachová, Vera Chytilova ph Jaroslav Kucera ed Miroslav Hajek m Zdenek Liska art Vladimir Labsky

Jitka Novakova (Eve), Karel Novak (Joseph), Jan Schmid (Robert), Julius Albert,

When Vera Chytilova died earlier this year film, enthusiasts, writers and critics tweeted about the influence she had on feminist cinema. Her film Daisies was trending, but there was no mention of any of her other works. She made seventeen fictional feature films and yet most people have only seen one. Is there any other director in history of film to be remembered for just one film out of so many? Her gender undoubtedly had to have played a factor, but even then, were the feminist readings accurate? Daisies never seemed a particularly feminist work to these eyes, but rather an anarchic essay, a petrol bomb in the face of the establishment, like its two female protagonists were urinating on the desks of those in authority.

(more…)

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aiwma 1

by Allan Fish

(USA 2000 300m) DVD2 (France only)

A little fragment of paradise

p Jonas Mekas d/w Jonas Mekas ph/ed Jonas Mekas m Auguste Varkalis

narrated by Jonas Mekas

There’s a scene in Stephen Poliakoff’s masterful Shooting the Past when Emilia Fox’s Spig and Blake Ritson’s Nick arrive at Timothy Spall’s Oswald’s flat. Oswald is in a coma after a suicide attempt, but not before letting his old colleagues know that he’s made a discovery potentially vital to their staying in business. As Spig and Nick arrive, though, they realise they’re faced with a decision. There’s so much stuff in Oswald’s flat that they’ll never get through it all in the time left to them. So they have a toss of the coin decision to make; do they take the material from one side of the room or the other.

That was 1999, and around that time one can imagine Jonas Mekas making a similar sort of decision. He tells us about it in his opening narration. “I have never been able to figure out where my life begins and where it ends”, he begins. “I have never, never been able to figure it all out. What it’s all about. What it all means. So when I began now to put all these rolls of film together, to string them together, the first idea was to keep them chronological, but then I gave up and just began splicing them together by chance, the way that I found them on the shelf.”

(more…)

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dupes1

by Allan Fish

(Syria 1972 106m) not on DVD

Aka. Al Makh-du’un

The heartbeat of the earth

d/w  Tewfik Saleh  novel  Ghassan Kanafani  ph  Bahgat Heidar  ed  Farin Dib, Saheb Haddad  m  Solhi El-Wadi

Mohamed Kheir-Halouani (Abou Keïss), Abderrahman Alrahy (Abou Kheizarane), Bazzan Lofti Abou-Gazzala (Assad), Saleh Kholoki (Marouane), Thanaa Debsi (Om Keïss),

One of the biggest stumbling blocks to composing a work like this is to put aside but not entirely dismiss personal taste and familiarity.  Where this becomes most difficult is with regard to foreign classics tailored for home audiences.  The most obvious example is Bollywood, which western audiences can either embrace or shun, but there are others.  Take the often broad comedy employed in Hong Kong action films or the gypsy subculture that forms the heart of several important Yugoslav films from Petrovic to Kusturica.  Then there’s the biggest blind spot of all, African film, a true appreciation of which requires an immersing into the culture, flavour and aroma of what is, to western eyes, the most unknown of continents.  (more…)

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