Archive for October 13th, 2014


Note: This tenth entry in the stellar Allan Fish Bonanza Encore series was chosen by a former commentator and good friend, ‘Frederick’ who is tasteful cineaste.  His choice was sent on to me by e mail.  He hopes to comment again in the future.

by Allan Fish

(Czechoslovakia 1970 74m) DVD1/2

Aka. Valerie A Tyden Divu

Valerie the Vampire Slayer

p  Jaromil Jires  d  Jaromil Jires  w  Jaromil Jires, Ester Krumachova  story  Viteslav Nezval  ph  Jan Curik  ed  Josef Vausiak  m  Lubos Fiser  art  Jan Oliva

Jaroslava Schallerova (Valerie), Jan Klusak (Gracian), Helena Anyzova, Petr Kopriva, Juiri Prymek,

Well, it’s certainly more of a mouthful than Buffy.  And slayer probably isn’t quite the word either, but the idea of a young girl coming face to face with vampires was not just created by Joss Whedon; Jaromil Jires beat him to it by over twenty years.  However, though vampires appear it isn’t a vampire movie at all, but rather a study in adolescence and female sexual discovery.  It’s also the sort of film that could never, and indeed will never, be made in the US or even the UK, where it would outrage the moral majority.

Valerie is a thirteen year old redhead who has fantastic dreams and a rich imagination.  She lives with her grandmother, a pale but youthful looking woman who has never been near a man since her seduction and impregnation with Valerie’s mother at seventeen.  Valerie is warned by her grandmother not to wear her mother’s earrings, which seem to possess some sort of magical significance and, not doing so, finds herself in increasingly fantastic scenarios, involving witchcraft, vampirism and ghosts (even involving her dead parents) and at the same time, is beginning to explore her sexuality.  (more…)

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Note: This review of Abbas Kiarostami’s ‘Through the Olive Trees,’ is the ninth posted in the Allan Fish Bonanza Encore series.  It was chosen by Film Noir writer extraordinaire Tony d’Ambra, who confided that Allan himself always favored this piece as one of his own best.

by Allan Fish

(Iran 1994 104m) not on DVD

Aka. Zire darakhatan zeyton

25 or 65?

p  Abbas Kiarostami  d/w/ed  Abbas Kiarostami  ph  Hossein Jafarian, Farhad Saba

Mohamad Ali Keshavarz (the director), Farhad Kheradmand (Farhad), Zarifeh Shiva (Miss Shiva), Hossein Rezai (Hossein), Tahereh Ladanian (Tahereh),

It’s difficult to say where the story begins, or indeed when.  1987 seems a good place to start, with the release of Where is the Friend’s House?  Kiarostami’s film was simplicity itself, following one little boy’s search for another boy in his class because he’s accidentally picked up the other boy’s notebook and, if he doesn’t return it, said other boy could be expelled from school.  The location of the tale is Koker, northern Iran, is not especially important at this time.  There was an old lady who swallowed a fly…

Koker would become known for other reasons soon enough, as the whole area was effectively flattened by a terrible earthquake in 1990.  Around 50,000 people lost their lives, still more lost their homes. Kiarostami, concerned about the people who had welcomed him to make the film a few years previously, decided to make a film about it.  And Life Goes On… would be about a fictional film director, essentially himself by proxy, travelling with his little boy, back to the region to try and find trace of survivors from the earlier film and see how they are coping with their lives after such a calamity.  He has with him a poster of the earlier film, with the little boy from the film, Ahmed, on it.  He asks various people along the way if anyone knows the boy.  One man says he does, but also says he doesn’t know if the boy or his family have survived.  The director goes on and his journey becomes less about the boy and more about seeing people going about their daily shattered lives, including a newly married man and woman.  We don’t find out what happened to the boy.  There was an old lady who swallowed a spider… (more…)

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Note:  This eighth entry in the Allan Fish Bonanza Encore series was selected by the miraculous Jon Warner of Films Worth Watching, and a vital component of the WitD universe.

(France/Poland 1991 98m) DVD1/2

Aka. La Double Vie de Véronique

Four Colours: Yellow

p  Leonardo de la Fuente  d  Krzysztof Kieslowski  w  Krzysztof Kieslowski, Krzysztof Piesiewicz  ph  Slowimir Idziak  ed  Jacques Witta  m  Zbigniew Preisner  art  Patrice Mercier, Halina Dobrowolska

Irène Jacob (Weronika/Véronique), Halina Gryglaszewska (aunt), Kalina Jedrusik (gaudy woman), Aleksander Bardini (orchestra conductor), Philippe Volter (Alexandre Fabbri),

One would be forgiven for thinking that Kieslowski had premonitions of his death, a feeling I had ever since I noticed the use of the number 270641196 in Three Colours: Blue (see the essay from that film for an explanation).  I deliberately avoided watching this earlier Kieslowski film again after first seeing it in 1991 because I wanted to wait for a suitable DVD version to be released.  It was a decision more than vindicated.  For what over a decade ago seemed too perplexing and puzzling, now seems almost prophetic, and I shall try my best to explain what I mean.  The tagline is not ill-used; the colour yellow permeates the entire film, from first to last it seems to be shot in a magical light that is not only symbolic but almost transcendental.  Could it be possible that it and the later trilogy were, in actual fact, a quadrilogy?

Two young women, each called Veronica, both suffering from heart trouble, both with styes in their eyes, both with a passion for music, live in different cities, one in Poland, one in France.  One day, the Polish girl sees her double board a bus in a town square, and the girl on the bus unknowingly takes a picture of her double.  Soon after, the Polish girl dies of heart failure in the middle of a recital, and at virtually the exact moment that she is being buried, while in the middle of love-making session with her boyfriend, the French double feels a tangible but inexplicable feeling of loss. (more…)

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This week’s Monday Morning Diary will become the Tuesday Morning Diary, a shifting I often employ when there are three-day holiday weekends.  So the normal MMD thread will appear late Monday night, and for this week will be published as the Tuesday Morning Diary.     -Sam

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