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Archive for May, 2013

bakumatsu 2

by Allan Fish

(Japan 1957 110m) DVD2

Aka. The Sun Legend of the End of the Tokugawa Era

I’d kill all the crows in the world

p  Takeshi Yamamoto  d  Yuzo Kawashima  w  Keiichi Tanaka, Shohei Imamura, Yuzo Kawashima  ph  Kurataro Takamura  m  Toshiro Mayuzumi  art  Shohei Imamura

Frankie Sakai (Inokori Sahaiji), Sachiko Hidari (Osome), Yoko Minamida (Koharu), Yujiro Ishihara (Shinsaku Takasugi), Izumi Ashikawa (Ohisa), Toshiyuki Ichimura (Mokubei), Nobuo Kaneko (Denbei), Hisano Yamaoka (Otatsu), Yasukiyo Omeno (Tokusaburo), Masao Oda (Zenpachi), Masumi Okada (Kisuke),

There were times when I felt that I was never going to see Yuzo Kawashima’s comic masterpiece.  There’s a bitter irony to the fact that Kawashima is neglected in the west while his protégée Shohei Imamura is rated by many as the greatest Japanese master of the post-war era.  Imamura made excellent films, but Kawashima, Oshima, Yoshida and Masumura were his peers and there are cases for Shindo, Yoshimura, Teshigahara, Wakumatsu and Ichikawa, too.  Kawashima was the biggest loss, however, as he died prematurely.  The year he died Imamura made his greatest film, The Insect Woman, starring Sachiko Hidari, who’d been so splendid in this, Kawashima’s most saluted film. (more…)

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MastersOfHorrorPaulLeni

by Jaime Grijalba.

File #7 – Paul Leni

Hey, look! Another director that is familiar in the ranks of Wonders in the Dark, at least, I think he is. I wanted to start right on topic just to sway a little bit into my usual wandering of ideas in this opening paragraph, because I know that this is much more a niche project than anything and I wish that those who enjoy it continue to do so, but at the same time I have to cover some ground regarding the times and the prospect of this project, and the thing is that it will become huge any moment now, and I need more time to write these retrospectives and watch the films (that is one of the main reasons as to why this particular post is coming up so late), so I’m having some ideas on how to solve that, they aren’t entirely constructed so I’ll keep it shush, but for now I’m just going to say that maybe we’ll only have two Masters of Horror every month and the other two thursdays will be used for something different, what is and how/when it will appear, I’m not sure, but you’ll find out eventually. So, back to the topic at hand, here we have another german director who directed silent cinema in Germany and went on to direct silent cinema in the US, gaining some fame and following as well as being tremendously influential to the studios and filmmakers of the time, he practically invented the (at that time) modern haunted house genre with hidden passageways, murders and mystery, all influenced by the mystery novels that were popular at that time, but adding the layer of supernatural entities and presences that may or may not be real, but the fear and the horror is there, and that’s what counts. He was also one of the most interesting people in terms of visual craft, as he worked as an art director and custome designer in many german films before having directed his first feature (and even after that he continued working on some german films), and he is, for all we can say, a worthy disciple of the visual school of german expressionism, mainly because he managed to bring it to the films of the US and we can say that his movies there influenced the likes of Tod Browning and James Whale when they started to make their own horror films with visual lavish and grandiose scope, he brought the over-complex image to the american screen, filling it with labyrinths and people, moving and always interacting with each other, people marching towards the camera or the camera itself moving to develope a visual wonder, it’s all there and he is most assuredly related to Richard Oswald (previously discussed in an earlier installment of Masters of Horror) than to the likes of romanticists like F.W. Murnau, in a sense I can say that those who fell into the expressionism and never truly left it (like Leni) failed to deliver more profound works of art if they evolved into a more romanticist point of view towards the visual language (like Murnau did). Besides all this, I can honestly say that I can’t wait for the first non-german Master of Horror (no offense here). (more…)

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like-someone-1

© 2013 by James Clark

 With regard to Searching for Sugar Man, quixotic and heart-warming factors tend to divert attention from a significant area of its production. Though a resident and citizen of Sweden, director Malik Bendjelloul has Algerian roots, which, in his case, is to say, heightened sensitivity about reactionary imposition. Though a rock and roll TV journalist at the time of landing his big story, he would find in the subtext of apartheid something speaking to him very loud and clear. There the homing device was that primally raw, hard-edged confinement, acting as a catalyst to an upshot of peculiar affinities with an instance of going-for-broke.

    Accordingly, we’ll resist addressing the work of Abbas Kiarostami along lines of Bressonian and Surrealist endeavors, though no doubt he has been most attentive to issues emanating from such predecessors. With respect to his recent film, Like Someone in Love (2012), set in Japan, it is the weight of Japanese patriarchal tradition that rings bells for his production. And so, in tracing the informing source of this film’s great lucidity and power to possess us long after seeing it, we give its due to his Iranian compatriots and the fact that his work is outlawed in Iran. We find ourselves, as with Bendjelloul’s big surprise, thrilled by the investigative motif of atavistic dispensations unwittingly cultivating extraordinarily acute and resolute opposition to their fondest hopes. However, this rather sociological, documentary orientation must not (we’re about to fully comprehend) be pressed as science would have it; and that gets us right into Like Someone in Love. (more…)

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Jean Gabin and Andre Bourvil in Claude Autant-Lara’s marvelous 1956 farce “La Traversee de Paris” (A Pig Across Paris) showing for one week in glorious restored print at Film Forum

Al Pacino and Gene Hackman in sadly underrated 1973 road movie “Scarecrow”

by Sam Juliano

May is birthday month in the Wonders in the Dark universe.  Today is Allan Fish’s landmark 40th.  Thursday, my oldest daughter Melanie turns 17, while yesterday my youngest son Jeremy celebrated his 11th.  Beyond that young Sammy turned 16 on May 15th, while Danny is now 14 as of May 17th.  Thanks again are in order for the incomparable Dee Dee, who provided yet another holiday banner on the sidebar, reminding readers of Memorial Day.

The western polling will continue until the 1st of August, at which point tabulation will be completed and essay assignments will be reserved.  Six ballots have been submitted to this point, with a number of others promised after viewings and re-viewings are managed by some of the enthusiastic participants.

The Cannes Festival concluded with the announcement that the French film La Vie d’Adele (Blue is the Warmest Color) was crowned Palme d’Or winner.  An emotional drama about a love affair between two women, La Vie was directed by the Tunisian Abdellatif Kechiche.  WitD friend Craig Kennedy was there for the entire festival, reporting back with a batch of reviews, including a glowing one on the Palme d’Or winner.  Here are the winners: (more…)

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Tel Book 2

by Allan Fish

(USA 1971 88m) DVD1

The searching white lights of Moo

p  Merwin A.Bloch  d/w  Nelson Lynn  ph  Leon Perer  ed  Ian Saltzberg  m  Nate Sassover  art  Jim Taylor

Sarah Kennedy (Alice), Norman Rose (John Smith), Barry Morse (Har Poon), Jill Clayburgh (girl with mask), Ultra Violet (Miss Whiplash), William Hickey (man in bed), James Harder (caller #1), David Dozer (caller #2), Lucy Lee Flippin (caller #3), Dolph Sweet (caller #4), Ondine (narrator),

Just reading the synopsis of Nelson Lynn’s film made me smile.  The initial recollection was of that Python sketch about the world’s funniest joke; the one we never actually heard more than the first line of, but which proved as fatal in wartime as the worst mustard gas.  Here we have a girl in Manhattan, an everyday 18 year old chick; no brains, little in the way of anything really, except perhaps a nice figure.  She’s relaxing in her apartment when, while trying to sleep, she receives a phone call…

Today it’d probably be a cold-caller, that tell-tale background noise of a call centre prompting a replacement of the receiver before they’ve had a chance to say anything.  For our girl Alice though, it’s the call of a lifetime.  She is the recipient of the world’s greatest ever dirty phone call, one that gets her so aroused and so ecstatic that she just has to track down the caller.  He tells her to look him up, he’s in the directory.  His name is John Smith, so she calls up every John Smith she can find trying to find out which one he is, with initially no success.  Her quest takes her to the set of a stag movie directed by and starring the ageing Har Poon (a hilarious Barry Morse, humping away in his boxers and socks, while a bevy of naked beauties writhe all over him).  (more…)

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As per normal WitD procedure the regularly-scheduled Monday Morning Diary will be moved to Tuesday (May 28) because of the three day Memorial Day weekend stateside.  Hence, the Tuesday Morning Diary will be posted on Tuesday, and will take in a period of eight days, and the activities through late Monday night.  This will of course mean that the following week will only consider the itinerary of six days (May 28 through June 3).  Many thanks to all who have supported this weekly thread since it was instituted four years ago.  Hope everyone enjoying the extended weekend and managed some interesting and worthwhile endeavors!

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1992

by Allan Fish

Best Picture Unforgiven, US (7 votes)

Best Director Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven (7 votes)

Best Actor Denzel Washington, Malcolm X (9 votes)

Best Actress Emma Thompson, Howards End (10 votes)

Best Supp Actor Gene Hackman, Unforgiven (8 votes)

Best Supp Actress Judy Davis, Husbands and Wives (8 votes)

Best Cinematography Philippe Rousselot, A River Runs Through It (6 votes)

Best Score Wojciech Kilar, Bram Stoker’s Dracula (7 votes)

Best Short A Sense of History, UK, Mike Leigh & Stille Nacht III: Tales from the Vienna Woods, UK, Stephen & Timothy Quay (2 votes each, TIE!!!)

(more…)

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