Archive for October 16th, 2008

by Sam Juliano

     Shot with a cast of non-professional actors and using an unsteady hand-held camera, director Lance Hammer has created in his new film Ballast an earthy realism that has ushered in a new kind of American cinema.  This non-linear kind of filmaking is far more interested in establishing place, tone and textures and a sure sense of alienation, disconnect and loneliness, in this case set in an impoverished  hamlet in the Missisippi Delta.  At the outset the camera follows a boy of about twelve named James, as he watches a torrent of geese flying overhead; the boy’s seemingly aimless and meandering movements eventually yield to revelations that he lives with his working mother in a trailer and he rides around in a motorbike dealing with crack pushers and other riff raff.  In any cast the opening shot is superb as it visually captures the boy’s essential diacotomy: a calm exterior conceals inner turbulance.

     We learn almost immediately that a double suicide attempt among two brothers, Lawrence and Darius results in the death of the latter and the miraculous survival of the former, a burly bear of a man whose role through the film anchors its emotional center.  He reacts stoically when his delinquent nephew attempts a few times to rob him of his meagre possessions by aiming and holding a gun on him.  And he quietly stands firm against the continual verbal attacks of his embittered sister-in-law, Marlee, who thinks the world is against her after her husband’s suicide.  She blames Lawrence for the situation they are all in, yet she eventually comes to realize the dire position that all are in, and her salvos are out of real urgency rather than forced melodramatics. (more…)

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Another Bit of Fun

by Allan Fish

Here we go again, guys.  Same rules apply as before. 

Played Dr Frederick Treves, Henry Wilcox and David Lloyd George, saidI never heard a corpse ask how it got so cold.” and was taken over by a ventriloquist’s dummy.

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Under the Skin ****½

by Allan Fish

(UK 1997 83m) DVD2/4

Mum’s ashes

p  Kate Ogborn  d/w  Carine Adler  ph  Barry Ackroyd  ed  Ewa J.Lind  m  Ilona Secacz  art  John-Paul Kelly

Samantha Morton (Iris Kelly), Claire Rushbrook (Rose), Rita Tushingham (Mrs Kelly), Mark Womack (Frank), Matthew Delamare (Gary), Stuart Townsend (Tom), Crissy Rock (compere), Christine Tremarco (Vron),

In between the justly praised debuts of actors Gary Oldman and Tim Roth, Nil by Mouth and The War Zone, came another feature film debut from an uncompromising director, Carine Adler.  She’d only made one short film, Fever, before it, and has made nothing in the decade since Under the Skin‘s release.  She literally seems to have vanished off the radar.  At the time of its release, I must shamefully admit that I saw the film as a well-acted and -directed but ultimately little film with which I couldn’t really relate.          (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(USA 1949 93m) not on DVD

Aka. The Contact Man

A trip to Almas Perdidas

p  Andre Bohem  d  John Farrow  w  Jonathan Latimer  story  Mindret Lord  ph  Lionel Lindon  ed  Eda Warren  m  Franz Waxman  art  Hans Dreier, Franz Bechlin  cos  Mary Kay Dodson

Ray Milland (Nick Beal), Thomas Mitchell (Stephen Foster), Audrey Totter (Donna Allen), George Macready (Rev.Thomas Garfield), Fred Clark (Frankie Faulkner), Geraldine Wall, Henry O’Neill, Darryl Hickman, Nestor Paiva, King Donovan,

It’s quite appropriate that John Farrow’s mixture of gangsters, politics, film noir and Faust is set partly at a waterfront bar surrounded by a perpetual fog deep enough to lose yourself in.  To look for it now, let alone find favour for it, is like negotiating through such a pea souper.  When someone asked me to describe the film I told them that, if you drew a line betwixt All That Money Can Buy and All the King’s Men and drew a line perpendicular to it at the midway point, there would be Alias Nick Beal.  At the time it wasn’t a success, and indeed it effectively finished the star career of Ray Milland and saw Audrey Totter reduced to small parts thereafter.  (more…)

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