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Archive for April 12th, 2010

by Allan Fish

As you know, this will be my final countdown at WitD (suppress the cheers).  It’s true I have been spending less time at the site this last six months or so as I have been trying to obtain copies of various rarities to view to see if worthy of inclusion in my long-in-the writing book (since September 2003 and my opening review of Invasion of the Body Snatchers).  I have used bribery but would have been unable to do as well as I have without the help of some close friends who have supplied me with rarities, not least Tom, who I have just received some goodies in exchange, and Neil, into whose paypal account I will be depositing more cash at the end of the month to pay for a package of rarities.  Tom doesn’t have a site, but cdan be contacted at thomas.hamilton65@btinternet.com , while Neil’s goodies are obtainable via his site www.raredvds4sale.co.uk .  Email him and he’ll send you his catalogue of ultra-rare titles (including many featured on my previous countdowns), very reasonably priced, but note that whenever a title becomes available in a legitimate release for the English speaking world, they are removed from his site.  Without these two guys in particular, I’d be pretty stumped. 

However, even they are unable to track certain rarities down, so I enclose here a list of films I was unable to get hold of to view in English friendly editions and which are destined to be listed only in the Final Apologies section of my book in the vain, anorexic hope a reader out there in the blogosphere who can get hld of them…

The Grey Motor Car (Mexico 1919…Enrique Rosas, Joaquin Coss)

The Smiling Madame Beudet (France 1923…Germaine Dulac) HAVE UNSUBBED COPY

The Chronicles of the Grey House (Germany 1925…Arthur Von Gerlach) HAVE UNSUBBED COPY

Les Misérables (France 1925…Henri Fescourt)

The Last Days of Pompeii (Italy 1926…Amleto Palermi, Carmine Gallone) only have 60m narrated cut

Maria do Mar (Portugal 1930…José Leitáo de Barros)

Raise the Roof (UK 1930…Walter Summers)

Rookery Nook (UK 1930…Tom Walls)

From Saturday to Sunday (Czechoslovakia 1931…Gustav Machaty)

Love and Duty (China 1931…Bu Wancang)

L’Affaire est dans le Sac (France 1932…Pierre Prevert) HAVE UNSUBBED COPY

The Great Consoler (USSR 1933…Lev Kuleshov)

Eclipse (Japan 1934…Hiroshi Shimizu)

Lac aux Dames (France 1934…Marc Allégret) HAVE UNSUBBED COPY

Golgotha (France 1935…Julien Duvivier) HAVE SEEN UNSUBBED COPY

By the Bluest of Seas (USSR 1936…Boris Barnet) SEEN UNSUBBED COPY

Stolen Death (Finland 1938…Nyrki Tapiovaara)

Earth (Japan 1939…Tomu Uchida)

Bastard (Norway/Sweden 1940…Helge Lunde)

Doña Bárbara (Mexico 1943…Fernando de Fuentes) UNSUBBED VERSIONS AVAILABLE

Lumière d’Été (France 1943…Jean Grémillon)

World of Plenty (UK 1943…Paul Rotha)

The Tower of the Seven Hunchbacks (Spain 1944…Edgar Neville)

Children of the Earth (India 1946…Khwaja Ahmad Abbas)

Caccia Tragica (Italy 1947…Giuseppe de Santis)

Le Diable au Corps (France 1947…Claude Autant-Lara)

Der Apfel ist Ab (West Germany 1948…Helmut Kautner)

Les Frères Bouquinquant (France 1948…Louis Daquin)

Les Amants de Vérone (France 1949…André Cayatte) HAVE UNSUBBED COPY

Only a Mother (Sweden 1949…Alf Sjöberg)

Rendezvous de Juillet (France 1949…Jacques Becker) UBSUBBED VERSIONS AVAILABLE

Four Chimneys (Japan 1953…Heinosuke Gosho)

La Rage au Corps (France 1954…Ralph Habib)

Distant Clouds (Japan 1955…Keisuke Kinoshita)

Times of Joy and Sorrow (Japan 1957…Keinosuke Kinoshita)

Une Vie (France 1958…Alexandre Astruc)

A Stranger Knocks (Denmark 1959…Johan Jacobson) HAVE UNSUBBED COPY

A Wife Confesses (Japan 1961…Yasuzo Masumura) CAN GET UNSUBBED PRINT

Keeper of Promises (Portugal 1962…Anselmo Duarte)

Twin Sisters of Kyoto (Japan 1963…Noboru Nakamura)

Forest of the Hanged (Romania 1964…Liviu Ciulei) AVAILABLE WITHOUT SUBS

491 (Sweden 1964…Vilgot Sjöman)

Ormen (Sweden 1966…Hans Abramson)

Adalen 31 (Sweden 1969…Bo Widerberg) UNSUBBED VERSIONS AVAILABLE

Anatomia Milosci (Poland 1972…Roman Zaluski) UNSUBBED VERSIONS AVAILABLE

Kaseki (Japan 1975…Masaki Kobayashi)

Manila, in the Claws of Neon (Philippines 1975…Lino Brocka)

The Journey (Sweden/Canada 1987…Peter Watkins)

La Morte Rouge (Spain 2006…Victor Erice)

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Screen cap from taut Australian neo-noir thriller “The Square”

by Sam Juliano

The ‘almost silents’ poll has concluded, and the completed ballots are now being examined by Polling Tabulator Extraordinaire Angelo A. D’Arminio Jr., who has promised to forward the results within a few days. Meanwhile, Allan’s final decade countdown (putting the magnifying glass to the new millenium) will almost certainly bring the most intense interest around the blogosphere of any of the previous pollings, and will likely generate the highest number of completed ballots yet.  This is the decade that is most dominant among the younger bloggers, and it’s the one with the most hands-on familiarity.  Not waiting for the silent results, Allan has begun with another marathon Top 100, which will bring the voting into late July.  Voters have already begun posting on the proper thread over the site header, and others are welcome to follow suit at any time.

Film Noir, on the other hand, is thriving mightily in the Buckeye State, where Dave Hicks is nearing the end of his extraordinarily popular and spectacularly navigated Top 100 Film Noir countdown.  The form’s greatest entries are appearing daily, and even for the few who have resisted so far, the next week will be the time to dive in, hook, line and sinker.  This week, Dave brought about some terrific discussion with his posts on The Big Sleep, The Maltese Falcon, The Postman Always Rings Twice, and today’s essay on a French masterwork, linked here: http://goodfellamovies.blogspot.com/2010/04/14-touchez-pas-au-grisbi-jacques-becker.html

Jeffrey Goodman is moving ahead too with his well-trafficked annual film countdown, which started in the 1930’s and has now reached the 90’s.  Goodman, a filmmaker proceeding with his new film Peril, has made a number of refreshing and audacious choices for his respective top choices.  Sunday’s #1 pick is a film from independent darling Hal Hartley: http://cahierspositif.blogspot.com/2010/04/1990-trust-hal-hartley.html

At Wonders in the Dark, the gifted writer and science-fiction zealot Bob Clark produced one of the greatest comment threads ever at the site this week with a marathon essay on George Lucas’s Attack of the Clones, which so far has attracted a whopping 119 comments.  Both the review and the quality of the comments rank among the best ever at the site.  Meanwhile, James Clark (no relation to Bob, but similar in that his work is unfailingly superlative) penned another exceedingly popular entry in his David Lynch series, this time examining Blue Velvet and Wild At Heart.  The post attractted buffo attention as well.  Dee Dee’s glorious reporting on the Metropolis restoration (she is in the process of interviewing Gilcrest Anderson) also posted a few days ago here at WitD, and this is perhaps the most celebrated cinematic happening of 2009/10.

On the movie scene, despite intentions to see a few more, I managed three films theatrically this past week – all over the weekend in fact – and frankly I’m relieved, as too much of anything is never a good thing.  I saw:

The Square **** (Saturday Night) Landmark Cinemas
Everyone Else *** (Friday night)  IFC Film Center
Black Waters of Echo’s Pond *  (Friday afternoon) Secaucus multiplex
    THE SQUARE, an Australian film noir, which, in its simplest definition is a ‘take the money and run’ yarn involving the head of a construction business and his mistress, who steals a large sum of money from her husband planning to convince  her boyfriend Ray to run off.  But the film includes some shocking events that lead to a startling conclusion.  It’s an atmospheric, riveting thriller that leads to an explosive climax, but it conforms to the definitions of noir, in that greed and doom are interwoven into the film’s fabric.  The “square” of the title has to do with a secret within the four-sided foundation of a planned structure.  E mailing me from Australia tonight, Film Noir king pin Tony d’Ambra informed me that  THE SQUARE opened Down Under in 2008 to very lukewarm reviews and was limited to a short run.  Said d’Ambra: “We are very hard on our own product.”  And how!
    EVERYONE ELSE is a highly-praised German film that examines a relationship with a stronger magnifying glass that any film in memory, yet it’s insistence on monitoring every blemish in that relationship, makes for an uneasy and often torturous watch.  There are some fascinating revelations for sure, and director Maren Ade has a talent for building some genuine tension, but after a while the style becomes suffocating.  I can’t imagine sitting through this a second time, regardless of its filmmaking artistry and strong acting by the two leads, Birgit Minichmayr and Hans-Jochen Wagner.

     BLACK WATERS OF ECHO’S POND  This is the kind of movie that usually has you questioning your sanity after you leave the theatre.  Why did you waste 90 minutes of your life?  Why did you flush money down the toilet?  Why did you drag others along?  Guilty as charged on all three counts.  This is a horror film executed by rank amateurs, embracing every cliche in the book, and promugating some really nasty gore.  When no screening is held for critics in advance, it almost always spells disaster.  The “story” here is a horrific take on Van Allburg’s “Jumanji.”

And here’s the goings-on in the blogosphere: (more…)

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