Archive for March 8th, 2011

by Allan Fish

(Japan 2010 107m) DVD2

Aka.  Kokuhaku

Just messing with you

p  Yuju Ishida, Genki Kawamura, Yoshihiro Kubota, Yutaka Suzuki  d/w  Tetsuya Nakashima  novel  Kanae Minato  ph  Masakazu Ato, Atsushi Ozawa  ed  Yoshiyuki Koike  art  Tuwako Kuwashima

Takako Matsu (Yuko Moriguchi), Masaki Okada (Yoshiteru Terada), Yukito Nishii (Shuya Watanabe), Yoshino Kimura (Naoki’s mother), Ai Hashimoto (Mizuki Kitahara), Kaoru Fujiwara (Naoki Shimamura), Sora Iwata, Kai Inowaki, Mana Ashida,

Confessions was one of the last films to make it into the book, literally with only days to spare.  It goes without saying that there will always be films that miss out when you have promised deadlines to meet.  It’s a book that will probably be out of date a week after handing it over, but for Confessions to miss out would have been just criminal.  A slight exaggeration to use that word, perhaps, but what is a crime, and what is punishment?

            Before I come over all Dostoyevsky, let’s take a typical Japanese middle school, a group of thirteen year old hormonal battlegrounds sat behind their desks with the usual lack of interest in what their homeroom teacher is telling them.  Their teacher, however, one Miss Moriguchi, is taking it in her stride, and she catches the attention of at least a couple of students when she declares, quite matter-of-factly, that she’s “had enough.  This will be my last month as teacher.”  One smart arse celebrates, others look a little nervously at each other.  She proceeds to go on to unsettle them further, saying how she couldn’t care that such a student wants to lose weight, another wants to die, another says this or that.  She couldn’t trust a word any of them say.  The students left behind – by this time a couple of bullies have kept an appointment to beat another kid on the roof – feel rather aggrieved, but she feels no remorse.  She merely adds that she intends to teach them one final lesson, and make none of them take the words “I want to die” lightly again. (more…)

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Director: Joseph H. Lewis

Producer: Sidney Harmon

Screenwriter: Philip Yordan

Cinematographer: John Alton

Music: David Raksin

Studio: Allied Artists 1955

Main Acting: Cornel Wilde and Richard Conte

What is the greatest film noir that has yet to acquire a legitimate release and a deserving restoration? Many would say Edgar G. Ulmer’s Detour, which is only available on terrible fly-by-night public domain companies, like Alpha and Image (where visual and audio quality go to die). My pick would be this late-in-the-game genre classic directed by Gun Crazy‘s Joseph H. Lewis. The Big Combo is notable for including cinematographer extraordinaire John Alton and a great sleazy jazzy score by David Raskin. With so many companies including Warner Bros, Columbia, Fox, and Universal rushing to package a bunch of noir titles for public consumption, it’s a shame that The Big Combo has failed to graduate to proper DVD status. Even if its affiliation with poverty-row studio Allied Artists may make the picture a relative outsider to the corporations above (who usually deal with specific studio vault properties), it would be a dream come true if someone like Criterion could restore and unleash this wonderful movie to the public. Alas, I won’t be holding my breath, as it seems the best one could hope for is viewing the somewhat decent print that Image used for their 2000 release. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(France 1942 83m) not on DVD

Aka. The Murderer Lives at 21

The Search of Monsieur Durand…or Messieurs?

p  André Greven  d  Henri-Georges Clouzot  w  Henri-Georges Clouzot, S.A.Steerman  novel  S.A.Steerman  ph  Armand Thirard  ed  Christian Gaudin  m  Maurice Yvain  art  Andre Andrejew

Pierre Fresnay (Inspector Wenceslas Wens), Suzy Delair (Mila Malou), Jean Tissier (Lalah-Poor), Pierre Larquey (Monsieur Colin), Noël Roquevert (Dr Theodore Linz), René Genin (Alfred), Jean Despeaux (Kid Robert), Marc Natol (Armand the servant), Odette Talazac (Madame Point), Huguette Vivier (Mademoiselle Vania), Maximilienne (Mademoiselle Cuq), Raymond Bussières (Jean-Baptiste Tulot), Sylvette Saugé (Christiane Perret),

If an award were to go out to Henri-Georges Clouzot’s most underrated film, it would surely have to be his debut from 1942.  It’s a lightweight film compared to many of his others, certainly compared to the following year’s Le Corbeau, another thriller about a mass murderer.  L’Assassin rather takes its cues from Hollywood mysteries of the early thirties, a sort of Gallic Nick and Nora Charles, except with Nick a police inspector not a retired private dick, and Nora a would-be opera singer with delusions of grandeur. 

            The setting is Montmartre where a killer calling himself Monsieur Durand is going around killing people using various modus operandi – strangulation, stabbing, gunshot – and leaving a calling card after each crime.  The police are baffled until our hero, Inspector Wens, receives a tip off from a burglar who, during his nefarious rounds, finds a stash of Durand calling cards in the attic of a boarding house, the Pension de Mimosas at 21 Avenue Junot.  Wens agrees that the killer probably resides there, but rather than run the risk of a raid alerting the killer to flee the coup, he goes in himself disguised as a protestant pastor.  Things are complicated, however, when his other half, Mila, finds out and follows him to 21.  (more…)

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