Archive for July, 2013

Knight Without Armour

by Allan Fish

(Bulgaria 1966 77m) not on DVD

Aka. Ritzar bez bronya

The knight of the shining crystal

p  Vulcho Yordanov  d  Borislav Sharaliev  w  Valeri Petrov  ph  Atanas Tasev  ed  Ventzeslava Karenesheva, Evgeniya Radeva  m  Vasil Kazandziev  art  Mariya Ivanova

Oleg Kovachev (Vanyo), Apostol Karamitev (uncle), Mariya Rusalieva (Emiliya, mother), Tsvyatko Nikalov (Stamov, father), Tanya Massalatinova (Miss Kirilova), Sonya Markova (reporter), Katya Stoyanova (Rosamund), Oleg Popov,

When Toto Cascio first beamed from movie posters for Cinema Paradiso he seemed like all the movie moppets of the past rolled into one.  His wasn’t so much a performance as a thematic condensation of what it is to be a child.  At the time I’d never seen a kid like him, and while we have seen some special child/teen talents come and go, especially on the distaff side (Ana Torrent, Patricia Gozzi, Jaroslava Schallerova, Zsuzsa Czinkóczi), Cascio still remained the moppet’s moppet.

All that changed with discussion with a fellow film buff who pointed me in the direction of a film called Knight Without Armour.  My initial thoughts were naturally of the film on the preceding page, of Donat and Dietrich in revolutionary Russia, but it quickly became clear that this was something very different.  A Bulgarian film about childhood, not a film you would find in western film histories. (more…)


Read Full Post »

Cate Blanchett in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine”

by Sam Juliano

I want to thank everyone who sent me e mails or left phone messages in regards to Lucille’s condition.  She is feeling better and is home resting, though she was adamant she wanted to see the new Woody Allen movie over the weekend.  As I reported in a previous post we all had a traumatic week.  Lucille was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), though she has the less aggressive remissive strain.  The vast majority of people live full lives and normal life expectancy  with this condition, and the treatments have been known to keep symptoms and progression at bay.  Two people in our school system have lived with this for over 40 years and are doing fine.  New medicines for MS have done wonders for so many people, and Lucille will begin with these meds when we return.  Our lives will change to be sure, and at this point I will know what my own priorities will be.  Lucille’s doctor said the upcoming U.K. trip is a blessing after the hectic week, and he advised against cancellation.  So all seven of us will be flying out on August 7th, and returning on August 21st.

I just received a beautiful e mail from my good friend Patricia in Washington State, who related in her correspondence that a close movie going friend, who is now a grandmother at age 66 first had her MS diagnosed during her first pregnancy. (more…)

Read Full Post »


by Allan Fish

Best Picture Mulholland Dr., US (13 votes)

Best Director David Lynch, Mulholland Dr. (14 votes)

Best Actor Gene Hackman, The Royal Tenenbaums (7 votes)

Best Actress Naomi Watts, Mulholland Dr. (11 votes), by one from Huppert

Best Supp Actor Steve Buscemi, Ghost World (9 votes)

Best Supp Actress Helen Mirren, Gosford Park (8 votes)

Best Cinematography Roger Deakins, The Man Who Wasn’t There (8 votes)

Best Score Angelo Badalamenti, Mulholland Dr. (9 votes)

Best Short Chosen, US, Ang Lee (2 votes)


Read Full Post »

The ‘Anthology Heaven’ series is taking a rest for four weeks, but will continue on Saturday, August 24th, three days after we return from our two week trip to London and Kendal.

James Uhler has volunteered to offer up a piece on the famed television comedy show Seinfeld for today, and may opt to examine a few other episodes of that show over the coming three weeks.  If not, the Saturday space will remain empty for that short interval.

I want to thank the many people from the bottom of my heart who have e mailed me on Lucille’s improved condition.  Yes, she was diagnosed with a strain of multiple sclerosis (MS), but she has the less severe kind, which is known as remissive.  The vast majority of people who are diagnosed with this live long and full lives, some into their 80’s and 90’s.  Life expectancy for people with MS is the same as people who don’t or have not had it.  We were all overjoyed to bring Lucille home this afternoon, and were thrilled that her neurologist told her that the U.K. trip was a blessing, and it came just as the right time for her to unwind after the stress and trauma of this past week.  A few others in our school system have worked with M.S. for well over 40 years running, and everything is under control with the medication.

I needed to take a two week break from the series for obvious reasons, but I decided to make it four taking in the 14 day London trip.  I plan on doing 8 more Thriller episodes to join the 6 I have already done, and then will move on to The Twilight Zone.  I wish Mr. Uhler luck on his promising Seinfeld appreciation.


Read Full Post »


La Pris 2

by Allan Fish

(France 1968 104m) DVD2 (France only, no English subs)

Aka. Woman in Chains

I’m not much fun

p  Robert Dorfman  d/w  Henri-Georges Clouzot  ph  Andréas Winding  ed  Noëlle Balenci  art  Jacques Saulnier

Elisabeth Wiener (Josée David), Laurent Terzief (Stan Hassler), Bernard Fresson (Gilbert Moreau), Dany Carrel (Maguy), Noëlle Adam (Josée’s mother), Claude Piéplu (Josée’s father), Michel Etcheverry (surgeon), Daniel Rivière (Maurice), Joanna Shimkus, Charles Vanel, Michel Piccoli,

Bearing in mind the history of Clouzot’s previous two films, La Véritè and the unfinished L’Enfer, it’s hard not to watch the opening scene of his final film without equating the master to his protagonist.  It’s a nothing scene really, a man in glasses with a miniature doll in his hand, whose white cloth top he pulls down to reveal her breasts.

As with his friend Hitchcock there was always something voyeuristic about Clouzot, so it’s hard not to imagine him as the photographer snapping Suzy Delair in Le Quai des Orfèvres or directing Bardot in La Vérité and wishing he could do as with the doll, but had to content himself with a blink and you’ll miss it flash instead.  Following the death of his actress wife Vera in 1960, Clouzot descended to a dark obsessive place.  The surviving footage of L’Enfer show a masochistic voyeurism towards his female stars, with a naked Romy Schneider tied to a train track – bear that in mind watching La Prisonnière – and behind the scenes footage showing the cameraman taking an interest in Dany Carrel’s breasts making an escape bid from her top.  There’s something psychedelic about the colour filters used in L’Enfer that Clouzot returned to in La Prisonnière, and it wasn’t the only thing that would return.  Carrel would be back, too.   (more…)

Read Full Post »

by Jaime Grijalba.

Du zhan (2012, Johnnie To)

Remember the badass 90’s Hong Kong action films that everyone loved and seemed to enjoy so much? Well, they didn’t stop in the 90’s, people loved it not only overseas but inside of Hong Kong as well, the police-mob dramas with a lot of gunplay and action are among the top earners any year in the island, as well as being among the most exportable films that come out from there, sometimes bringing them over on direct-to-video releases and in smaller doses, theatrical releases. Of course the genre took a huge blow in the early 2000’s when a little movie called ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ (2000) came out to everyone’s disbelief and practically put the kung fu and the wuxia back in scene, this time more based in Mainland China than in Hong Kong, but with products that came from both sides of the sea, giving old stars as well as newcomers the chance to entertain the people, again with the same results, some small theatrical releases while most of the rest came out on DVD or never saw the light of day in this side of the world. Just as much as the crime films of the 90’s have continued to this day, the wuxia movies have been for a while since the late 60’s with varying degrees of popularity and critical approach, while most of them being catalogued as part of the cult or bizarre world, others were elegant supporters of the beauty of the genre and the martial arts, competing even to what was wrongly called the first ‘elegant’ wuxia, the oscarized 2000 movie directed by Ang Lee. But let’s get back to the crime films, while there was an auteur in those starting years that finally made the jump and started doing crappy action films in the United States, John Woo, there was another great amount of Hong Kong filmmakers that wanted to imprint a personal style to the films they made, some of them made the jump from the crime to the wuxia when they saw the opportunity (Wai-keung Lau, Alan Mak and Felix Chong come to mind at first), while others have maintained some kind of loyalty to the crime and the mob that gave them their initial fame (although with some reservations and wild cards here and there), and here I’m talking about the much talked-about Hong Kong director Johnnie To, who has directed 53 movies since 1980 and has no sign of stopping. (more…)

Read Full Post »


(c) 2013 by James Clark

When all is said and done, the impact of the cinema of Robert Bresson comes down to humanity, verging on empty shells, having a brush with their betters, off somewhere on the other side of the universe. A matter of speculation worth inserting here is why he wrapped things up for good, with our film today, L’Argent (1983). For, despite hard questions, of where his palpably challenging interventions could possibly go within the arts and entertainment galaxy, this was far from a project crippled by self-doubt and material desperation. We must come back to this puzzle, later on here, because it rests upon that heart of his discoveries which many other filmmakers, tracking right up to today (and undoubtedly beyond), have run with, often to magnificent (if largely overlooked) consequences.

Since we are extraordinarily drawn, in the case of this film of ours, to the defining features of Bresson’s remarkable career and legacy, let’s tear open this astonishingly rare gift with regard to a matter so quirky as to be persistently lost in those celebrated self-reliant doldrums seemingly prohibiting ingredients from beyond his Olympian heights. The preamble has put onstream fake currency (something Jackie Brown and the gentle woman in Certified Copy become obsessed with), and a gas delivery service man unwittingly accepts it in payment for his duties and products. We won’t, for now, grab on to the rapid and lugubrious course of events streaming out from there; but, rather, we want to highlight the simple manoeuvre of installing the dicey payment. He places the counterfeit French franc notes into a neat little leather pouch. The scene abruptly swings to a bistro window where a placard announces a boxing card. The single term, Boxe (in large case), hopes to get the ball rolling for passers-by. But in its conjunction with a leather container that could lead to monstrous trouble, we find ourselves signed into (that is to say, we could find ourselves signed into, but seldom do) a bout with Pandora’s Box. And if we should find something amiss in the English-tending word (where the French boite would seem far better) we have to face up to our oh-so-French auteur being devoted (like others of his compatriots dating from mid-century) to a Hollywood thriller, of all things. The spectre of the leather-bound-box containing nuclear explosives, in the noir, Kiss Me Deadly, had, many will be saddened to learn, deeply penetrated Bresson’s comportment toward the horrors of intent dominating his art and his whole existence (including that long theatre of non-filmic action following the release of L’Argent). (more…)

Read Full Post »

Happy End 1


by Allan Fish

(Czechoslovakia 1967 71m) not on DVD

Aka. Stastny konec

The End

p  Milos Stejskal  d  Oldrich Lipsky  w  Milos Macourek, Oldrich Lipsky  ph  Vladimir Novotny  ed  Miroslav Hajek  m  Vlastimil Hala  art  Karel Skvor

Vladimir Mensik (Bedrich Frydrych), Jaroslava Obermeierova (Julia), Josef Abrham (Birdie), Bohus Zahorsky (Tchán), Stella Zázvorková (Tcyhné), Jaroslav Stercl (Stráznik), Helena Ruzicková (Cernovláska), Vladimir Cech (Kat), Josef Hlinomaz (Komisar), Martin Ruzek (Zalobce), Bedrich Prokos (Knez), Merko Musil (Dozorce), Lena Birková (Zajicová),

Cue opening credits.  Konec.  The End.  Right, that was short and sweet.  Or not.  The idea of narratives going in reverse was in fashion at the turn of the century, with Memento and Peppermint Candy.  A few years ago there was the The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, with not a narrative but a life in reverse.  Oldrich Lipsky’s film, however, goes beyond any of these, like Memento multiplied by ten to the power of infinity and scripted by Spike Milligan.  In Happy End the whole film is played in reverse, literally backwards, so characters go back in, rather than come out, jump from in the water to the jetty rather than jump into the water and lovers come back to life from being dead in the street and jump through the upstairs window rather than gets thrown out of it and killed.  As for dialogue, answers come before questions, which come before the previous answer. So one early exchange goes “one…has he got any children?…five seventeen…what’s the time?”  You’ll need a clear head for this one. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Michael B. Jordan as Oscar Grant in electrifying “Fruitvale Station”

by Sam Juliano

The heat wave continues to melt everything in its path.  NYC has been mired in the mid 90’s with oppressively high humidity, and people across the country are reporting intolerable conditions.  Even in Kendal, where Allan Fish usually boasts of more moderate temperatures, the situation is dire.  As I prepare the lead-in to this DMM on late Saturday afternoon we are promised that a cold front heading south from Canada will finally break this scorching stranglehold, but the proof will be in the pudding.  The heat did in fact break a bit on Sunday, when the number only reached the mid 80’s.

Another ballot was submitted this week for the western polling (by Drew McIntosh) and it was a real beauty.  There are now only ten days left for voters to have their choices submitted.  It is expected that the official results will be sent to me by Voting Tabulator Angelo A. D’Arminio Jr. a few days before we depart on August 7th for our two week trip to the U.K., at which point I will send around an assignment grid.  A number of films have actually been claimed already by voters are are well aware certain titles are a cinch to make the Top 70 that will be covered starting on September 1st.  The countdown, like last year’s on comedy films, will run into December. (more…)

Read Full Post »


by Allan Fish

Best Picture  A One and a Two, Taiwan (5 votes)

Best Director Wong Kar-Wai, In the Mood for Love (5 votes)

Best Actor  Tony Leung, In the Mood for Love (6 votes)

Best Actress  Bjork, Dancer in the Dark (7 votes)

Best Supp Actor  Willem Dafoe, Shadow of the Vampire (6 votes)

Best Supp Actress  Jennifer Connelly, Requiem for a Dream (7 votes)

Best Cinematography  Christopher Doyle, etc, In the Mood for Love (13 votes)

Best Score  Clint Mansell, Requiem for a Dream (8 votes)

Best Short  Heart of the World, Canada, Guy Maddin (3 votes)


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »