Archive for October 5th, 2010

by Joel

#88 in Best of the 21st Century?, a series in which I view, for the first time, some of the most critically acclaimed films of the previous decade.

My Winnipeg filters municipal history through personal experience (or perhaps vice-versa) so forgive me if I do something similar for a moment. Besides, my initial draft of this review was swept away – demolished like the old ice rink shown above – and in starting afresh, I feel compelled to make a meta-blogging and perhaps self-promotional detour. Lately I’ve been blogging rather furiously, trying to meet the demands of a new schedule I forced upon myself; as a result I am often composing my posts at the last minute (as opposed to this past summer where a leisurely pace allowed ample time to develop entries at my own tempo). Due to the way I’ve scheduled things, I end up writing a post in my Wind in the Willows series and the latest entry in “Best of the 21st Century?” every Monday night, and this week I noticed some similarities. To wit: in “Wayfarers, All,” a late and seemingly digressive chapter in Kenneth Grahame’s classic book, the Water Rat meets a Sea Rat who regales him with tales of the Mediterranean; transfixed, the hypnotized creature – who’s never left the riverside before – prepares to follow his newfound friend on a grand adventure. He is stopped, at the last minute, but his faithful but perhaps somewhat oppressive pal, Mole, who physically restrains him and then talks him down from the dizzying height of his wanderlust. Thus “cured” of his restlessness, a depressed Rat sits at his desk and scribbles out some poetry about willow wrens.

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(William Friedkin, 1973)

(essay by Robert)

One the most recognizable films of all time, The Exorcist today remains an unmistakable horror foundation.  Adapted from William Peter Blatty’s novel (see also The Exorcist 3) and supposedly loosely based on true events, the film is synonymous with the genre.  William Friedkin, as a follow-up to his Academy Award winning The French Connection, was chosen to direct what now seems to be a film fated from the start for fame and notoriety. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(Japan 1972 90m) DVD1

Aka. Tenshi no kokotsu

The Four Seasons Society

d  Koji Wakamatsu  w  Izuru Deguchi  ph  Hideo Itoh  m  Yosuke Yamashita Trio

Ken Yoshizawa, Rie Yokoyama (Friday), Yuki Arasa, Masao Adachi, Michiyo Akiyama, Yosuke Akiyama, Susumu Iwabuchi, Yosuke Yamashita,

Koji Wakamatsu is very much a marginalised figure in Japanese cinema, and perhaps that’s understandable.  He was a pivotal figure in the largely disposable and disreputable sub-genre pinku eiga, the Japanese sex films in which extreme violence went hand in hand with copious amounts of sex and rape was more common than eating.  Titles such as Chronicle of an Affair, The Sun is Red, The Embryo Hunts in Secret, Violated Angels, Violent Virgin, Sex Jack and, especially, Go, Go, Second Time Virgin! had promised and delivered much of the same, often shot cheaply inside of a few days, and taking their influence from everything from Japanese pop culture to the films of Jean-Luc Godard. 

            Ecstasy of the Angels is no mere natural progression – should that be regression? – from the earlier films, however.  There’s something different at work here, something political, anarchic one might say.  It follows the fortune of the Four Seasons Society (which needless to say has nothing to do with Vivaldi) a criminal, revolutionary body which, as the name suggests, is split up into factions much like a calendar, with four seasonal heads and month heads under them each in charge of a body of several people named after days of the week.  One such group, October, on the command of Autumn, a woman to whom October is one of several lovers, takes his unit to steal a pile of weapons from a US Army base.  Several of the group are killed and October is blinded and, in the ensuing chaos and going into hiding, the entire Autumn group is demobilised and Winter’s February group sent to take control of the weapons by any bestial force necessary.  This results in the heavy beating of one male member and the beating, stabbing in the thigh and then raping of a female member known as Friday.  When Friday and the survivors of the group find out that their group was being set up to fail by rival factions in the organisation, they set out on a bombing campaign of their own. (more…)

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