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Archive for the ‘Allan’s 70s Countdown’ Category

valerie 1

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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god II

by Allan Fish

(USA 1974 200m) DVD1/2

Another offer we can’t refuse

p/d  Francis Ford Coppola  w  Francis Ford Coppola, Mario Puzo  novel  Mario Puzo  ph  Gordon Willis  ed  Peter Zinner, Barry Malkin, Richard Marks  m  Carmine Coppola, Nino Rota  art  Dean Tavoularis, Angelo Graham  cos  Theodora Van Runkle

Al Pacino (Michael Corleone), Diane Keaton (Kay Corleone), Robert Duvall (Tom Hagan), John Cazale (Fredo Corleone), Talia Shire (Connie Corleone), Robert DeNiro (Vito Andolini-Corleone), Lee Strasberg (Hyman Roth), Michael V.Gazzo (Frank Pentangeli), G.D.Spradlin (Senator Pat Geary), Richard Bright (Al Neri), Morgana King (Mama Corleone), Danny Aiello (Toni Rosato), Abe Vigoda (Tessio), Leopoldo Trieste (Signor Roberto), John Aprea (young Tessio), Marianna Hill (Deanna Corleone), Joe Spinnell (Willi Cicci), Troy Donahue (Merle Johnson), Harry Dean Stanton (FBI man), Bruno Kirby (Clemenza), Gaston Moschin (Fanucci), James Caan (Sonny Corleone),

There are not many cases of a sequel that match or surpass its classic original (The Empire Strikes Back, Aliens, The Two Towers, all contenders), but Coppola’s 1974 masterpiece is undoubtedly one of them.  Put quite simply, The Godfather Part Two is a richer, more complex and morally corrupt film than its predecessor and one of the greatest films of the seventies. 

            Rather than just tell Michael’s story, the sequel parallels the story of his father, who loses his father, mother and brother before leaving Sicily for America (reminiscent of Kazan’s America, America) via Ellis Island in 1901.  We see how Vito takes over the New York gangland of the feared Don Fanucci, builds up an olive oil business and becomes Godfather.  In the present, Michael’s ideas of expansion and going legit are forever halted by the machinations of Jewish bigwig Hyman Roth, and it leads to Michael’s having to testify against accusations from the Supreme Court.  (more…)

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ceremony 1

by Allan Fish

(Japan 1971 121m) DVD2 (Japan only, no Eng subs)

Aka. Gishiki

Nothing is unthinkable

p  Kinshiru Kuzui, Takuji Yamaguchi  d  Nagisa Oshima  w  Nagisa Oshima, Tsutomo Tamura  ph  Toichiro Narushima  ed  Keiichi Uraoka  m  Toru Takemitsu  art  Jusho Toda

Kenzo Kawarazaki (Masuo), Atsuo Nakamura (Terumichi), Akiko Koyama (Satsuko), Atsoku Kako (Ritsuko), Kiyoshi Tsuchiya (Tadashi), Kei Sato (Grandfather Kazuomi), Fumio Watanabe, Nobuko Otowa,

Japanese cinema has always been unable to shake off stereotyping, pigeon-holing and the cursed canonical critical approbation theory.  Names such as Kurosawa, Mizoguchi and Ozu – in the order in which they were made known to the west – are rightly fêted, as now are Kinoshita, Naruse, Yamanaka, Ichikawa, and so many other masters.  However, the post-war era – by which I mean directors who worked exclusively after the armistice, has been less discussed in the west.  This is partly due to the two greatest – and certainly most influential – of that generation of directors, Nagisa Oshima and Shohei Imamura, rarely being mentioned in the west for the early films that made their name and remain their best, rather than the later ones that got to the west and were appreciated.  Oshima, to me, is the biggest sufferer, for he is Imamura’s master, the greatest of all the anti-establishment auteurs of the era, and though Ai No Corrida was a masterpiece of its type, it’s this earlier film that is his most important, as well as the crowning glory on three years of masterful work.  Derek Malcolm was quite right when he observed that “he is undoubtedly as significant and skilful a director as most of the great Japanese film-makers of the generation before him.” (more…)

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blanche 2

by Allan Fish

(France 1971 92m) not on DVD

These walls hide strange things

p  Dominique Duvergé  d/w/ed/art  Walerian Borowczyk  novel  “Mazepa” by Juliusz Slowacki  ph  Guy Durban, André Dubreuil  m  13th century ballads  cos  Piet Bolscher

Ligia Branice (Blanche), Michel Simon (The Master), Lawrence Trimble (Nicolas), Jacques Perrin (Bartolomeo), Georges Wilson (The King), Denise Peronne (Madame Harcourt), Jean Gras, Michel Delehaye, Roberto, Genevieve Graves, Stanley Barry, Guy Bonnafoux,

If someone were to ask me what the most Buñuelian film in my list of greats not to be directed by the Spanish genius, I think that, after some deliberation, the film I would select would be Walerian Borowczyk’s Blanche.  This is no idle comparison, for there are various similarities.  True, Buñuel never made a film set in medieval Europe, but just think about it.  Let’s detail the plot to give you a better inkling…

            Blanche is the young bride of a powerful but ageing baron in 13th century France, who is also beloved by her stepson, the somewhat sombre Nicolas.  One day the king comes to visit her husband’s castle (a small, four-towered keep of a place, “pleasantly situated but as gloomy as a Holy Land prison” is how the king describes it”), bringing with him an entourage including a host of monks and his companion, a young page.  Once both the king and the page catch sight of the young Blanche, they fall madly in lust with her.  They see her as ripe for the taking, and both make passes at her; indeed, on one occasion, the king is attacked by Nicolas believing it to be the page, Bartolomeo, who he knows is after her.  Slowly the old baron becomes jealous and believes his young wife has been unfaithful and, after a series of incidents, ends up bricking Bartolomeo up in his wife’s chamber, much to the chagrin of the king.  (more…)

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les deux ang 1

by Allan Fish

(France 1971 132m) DVD1/2

Aka. Anne and Muriel/Two English Girls

I am a puritan in love

p  Marcel Berbert, Claude Miller  d  François Truffaut  w  Jean Gruault, François Truffaut  novel  Henri-Pierre Roche  ph  Nestor Almendros  ed  Yann Deder  m  Georges Delerue  art  Michel de Broin  cos  Gitt Magrini

Jean-Pierre Léaud (Claude Roc), Stacey Tendeter (Muriel Brown), Kika Markham (Anne Brown), Sylvia Marriott (Mrs Brown), Marie Mansart (Madame Roc), Philippe Léotard (Diurka), Irene Tunc (Ruta), Mark Peterson (Mr Flint), David Markham (palmist), Georges Delerue (Claude’s agent),

There’s quite a sadness to be felt at the thought of how François Truffaut is perceived by the average person of my generation who calls themselves a film buff.  If asked about Truffaut’s contribution to the cinema, they would very likely mention his performance as the scientist in Spielberg’s Close Encounters.  Forgive me for saying this, but that’s like saying Orson Welles should be remembered for appearing in whisky commercials.  That cameo came late in Truffaut’s career, with for me all his great films as a director behind him.  And though Les Quatre Cents Coups and Jules et Jim are definite masterpieces of cinema to be covered later in this list, Deux Anglaises is his greatest and richest film.  Like Jules, it’s based on a novel by Henri-Pierre Roche, and concerns a romantic ménage à trois in the early years of the century, but this time between two women and a man.

            Claude Roc is sent for a holiday with his mother’s friend in Wales, where he encounters her two daughters, Anne and Muriel, having met the former in Paris.  Over the following weeks, he becomes intoxicated by their presence and realises they are destined to play a large part in each other’s lives.  But does he prefer the more open Anne or the staid, puritanical Muriel, who reserves her emotions behind dark glasses? (more…)

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00000ood09

by Allan Fish

(France/Spain 1977 103m) DVD1/2

Aka. Cet obscure object du désir

The Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus

p  Serge Silberman  d  Luis Buñuel  w  Luis Buñuel, Jean-Claude Carrière  novel  “La Femme et le Pantin” by Pierre Louys  ph  Edmond Richard  ed  Hélène Plemiankoff  m  Richard Wagner  art  Pierre Guffroy

Fernando Rey (Mathieu), Carole Bouquet (Conchita), Angela Molina (Conchita), Julien Bertheau (Judge), André Weber (Martin, the valet), Milena Vukotic (woman on train), Maria Asquerino, Ellen Bahl, Valerie Blanco, Jacques Debary, Auguste Carrière,

Could Luis Buñuel have chosen a more fitting film to make as his swansong than this variation on Pierre Louys’ oft-used chestnut of romantic obsession?  It had first been filmed in 1928 with Conchita Montenegro shocking all with her full-frontal nudity in the dance sequence – included as an extra on the Criterion DVD of Buñuel’s film – and then Von Sternberg had made the immortal The Devil is a Woman in 1935, before a remake with Bardot in 1958.  Even while listing those goddesses one can imagine others in the role – say Louise Brooks at the height of her powers – and for his version, Buñuel had considered his favourite Catherine Deneuve before settling on Last Tango’s Maria Schneider.  However, as she had done – perhaps understandably – on Caligula, Schneider walked off set and Buñuel replaced her not with one actress but two.  (Many wished Kubrick had done the exact reverse in Eyes Wide Shut and had Nicole Kidman play all the female characters in that film.)

            When a young Spanish girl comes to work for the middle-aged Mathieu he is instantly smitten with her.  He tries a seduction over some green chartreuse only for her to leave during the night.  He then bumps into her in several places around Europe, and though she lives with him, she never gives herself to him sexually, even resorting to a chastity corset.  Finally he has enough and throws her out, just prior to her and her mother being thrown out of France as undesirable aliens.  Finally he tracks her down again to Seville, where she has a final humiliation in store for him. (more…)

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china 1

by Allan Fish

(USA 1974 131m) DVD1/2

Sister…daughter…sister…daughter

p  Robert Evans  d  Roman Polanski  w  Robert Towne  ph  John A.Alonzo  ed  Sam O’Steen  m  Jerry Goldsmith  art  Richard Sylbert  cos  Anthea Sylbert

Jack Nicholson (J.J.Gittes), Faye Dunaway (Evelyn Mulwray), John Huston (Noah Cross), Perry Lopez (Escobar), John Hillerman (Yelburton), Roman Polanski (Knife man), Darryl Zwerling (Hollis Mulwray), Diane Ladd (Ida Sessions), Burt Young (Curly),

Chinatown is a film to make film buffs salivate, a wonderfully cynical, labyrinthine descent into corruption and murder in a burgeoning city.  The Los Angeles of Chinatown is the Los Angeles of legend, before the war made all Americans conscious of the darkness lurking below the surface.  This is a film set in the era before film noir came to Hollywood, a 1937 as immediately recognisable to both those who lived through it and to those who wished they had.  Here was the last great homage to old fashioned noir cinema made, like so many of the great noirs, by a director who wasn’t even American (think Billy Wilder, Jacques Tourneur), let alone from the City of Angels. 

            In the late thirties Jake Gittes, a P.I. and former D.A.’s assistant, is hired by a woman looking to find out the truth about her husband, who she believes is having an affair.  It turns out that not only is he not having an affair, but the woman is an impostor and the real wife threatens legal action over his investigations.  However, when her husband is murdered, Gittes comes to realise that there are very shady motives behind the killing and everything is not what it seems.  (more…)

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celine 1

by Allan Fish

(France 1974 192m) DVD2

Aka. Céline and Julie go Boating

One, two, three, eagle-eye and blockhead

p  Barbet Schroeder  d  Jacques Rivette  w  Eduardo de Gregorio, Jacques Rivette, Juliet Berto, Dominique Labourier, Bulle Ogier, Marie-France Pisier  stories  Henry James  ph  Jacques Renard, Michel Senet  ed  Nicole Lubtchanksy, Chris Tulio-Altan  m  Jean-Marie Senia  art/cos  none

Juliet Berto (Céline), Dominique Labourier (Julie), Bulle Ogier (Camille), Marie-France Pisier (Sophie), Barbet Schroeder (Olivier), Philippe Clevenot (Guliou), Nathalie Asnar (Madlyn), Marie-Thérése Saussure (Poupie), Anne Zamire,

If there is one director of the nouvelle vague who has drawn as much exasperation as admiration, it has to be Jacques Rivette.  Many of his films stretch beyond the absolute limit of human endurance.  Not just in their length, but in the way he tries to justify that length by the movie itself; even his greatest film La Belle Noiseuse, clocks in at four hours and this – his most famous – at over three.  Yet Céline is referred to by many as one of the masterpieces of the cinema, with David Thomson exclaiming it as simply “the most innovative film since Citizen Kane.”  So what is it that makes Céline so magical to so many?

            In truth it’s that indefinable something that is the magic of Céline in itself.  I love the film, but I am also maddened by it, irritated by it, puzzled beyond belief.  It’s a film that sometimes you literally have to take a break from and come back to, which makes it perfect for home viewing.  There are influences abound, from Jean Cocteau and Marcel Proust to Lewis Carroll and Chytilova’s Daisies (and a touch of Monty Python at their most intellectually baffling).  Based very loosely on a couple of tales by Henry James, and with a script virtually entirely improvised by its actors and director, it’s a film in a million. (more…)

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taxi 1

by Allan Fish

(USA 1976 114m) DVD1/2

All the animals come out at night

p  Michael Phillips, Julia Phillips  d  Martin Scorsese  w  Paul Schrader  ph  Michael Chapman  ed  Marcia Lucas, Tom Rolf, Melvin Shapiro  m  Bernard Herrmann  art  Charles Rosen

Robert DeNiro (Travis Bickle), Cybill Shepherd (Betsy), Jodie Foster (Iris Steensma), Harvey Keitel (Sport), Leonard Harris (Charles Palantine), Peter Boyle (Wizard), Albert Brooks (Tom), Diahnne Abbott (concession girl), Martin Scorsese (taxi passenger),

Was there ever a less lovely film made during the seventies, a film so willing to wallow in the dregs of modern urban (in) humanity?  It is to Martin Scorsese’s great credit that the humanity of the piece shows through and, in the end, conquers all as, from the opening strains of Herrmann’s immortal score puncturing through the red lights and smoke, we recognise a true hell on earth, as real as the one adorned by Dante’s immortal words “lasciate ogni sperenza voi ch’entrate.”  Abandon hope indeed. 

            Travis Bickle is a Vietnam vet honourably discharged from the marines who is willing to work “anytime, anywhere” and who is given work as a cab driver.  Willing to take all sorts of fare to all parts of the city, he slowly becomes horrified by the filth he encounters until, when he comes across a twelve year old prostitute, he decides enough’s enough and sets off to meet out rough justice to the perpetrators. (more…)

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ai no 1

by Allan Fish

(Japan/France 1976 105m) DVD1/2

Aka. In the Realm of the Senses/Empire of the Senses

101 things to do with a hard boiled egg

p  Anatole Dauman  d/w  Nagisa Oshima  ph  Hideo Ito, Kenichi Okamoto  ed  Keiichi Uraoka  m  Minoru Miki  art  Jusho Toda

Tatsuya Fuji (Kichi-zo), Eiko Matsuda (Sada), Aoi Nakajima (Toku), Maika Seri (Matsuko), Taiji Tonayama (old beggar), Hiroko Fuji, Naomi Shiraishi, Kyoko Okada,

Of all the films in my list, this is a prime contender for the most controversial.  Up until 1991 the film was totally banned in the UK and was only released for DVD ten years later.  It is a film that has aroused many, repulsed a good many more and never been less than contentious, sometimes legally dangerous and always thought-provoking.  Oshima may have made more potent political statements with his earlier films The Diary of a Shinjuku Thief, Death by Hanging, Boy and The Ceremony, but they are very hard to see these days.  Perhaps the greatest irony, considering its past history, is that Ai No Corrida is now by far and away the easiest Oshima film to get hold of.           

It’s based on the same real life events of 1936 that formed the basis for Noboru Tanaka’s A Woman Called Abé Sada, that of a nymphomaniac who leaves prostitution to work as a maid for an inn owner, with whom she begins a destructive sado-masochistic sexual affair, which turns to asphyxiation, strangulation and ultimately, death. (more…)

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