Archive for the ‘The Fish Obscuro’ Category

macario 1

by Allan Fish

(Mexico 1960 91m) not on DVD

When we’re born we’re carrying our death

p  Armando Orive Alba  d  Roberto Gavaldón  w  Emilio Carballido, Roberto Gavaldón  story  “The Third Guest” by B.Traven  ph  Gabriel Figueroa  ed  Gloria Schoeman  m  Raul Lavista  art  Manuel Fontanals

Ignacio López Tarso (Macario), Pina Pelicer (his wife), Enrique Lucero (Death), Mario Alberto Rodriguez (Don Ramiro), José Gálvez (the devil), José Luis Jiminéz (archangel), Eduardo Fajardo (Virrey), Celia Tejeda (Chona), Consuelo Frank (Virreina), Alicia del Lago (Viuda), Miguel Arenas (inquisitor),

Macario is generally the first Roberto Gavaldón film people get to see, but I only got to it after seeing his melodrama In the Palm of Your Hand, a faintly Hitchockian piece which gave Alberto de Cordoba another chance to shine.  Not a great film, but by a director with one in him, and Macario is that film.  It’s not an easy film, however, in that it is in essence that most problematic of tales, a parable.  It focuses around the Mexican ritual of Day of the Dead, that bizarre hybrid of Pagan and misdirected Christianity where the rich have their own place in the dead world and the poor theirs, totally belying the words of that pesky Christ; what’s he got to do with it, after all?  Yet it’s a tale that could have been told by Christ at Cana just as easily as unfold as it does in colonial Mexico.  (more…)

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plea 2

by Allan Fish

(USSR 1968 72m) not on DVD

Aka. Vedreba; The Prayer

The whole village here gathered…

p  Aleqsandre Jagarbekovi, Tina Ochiauri  d  Tengiz Abuladze  w  Tengiz Abuladze, Anzor Saluqvadze, Rezo Kveseleva  poems  Vazha Pshavela  ph  Aleksandr Antipenko  ed  Lusia Vartikyan  m  Nodar Gabunia  art  Revaz Mirzashvili  cos  Tengiz Mirzashvili

Tengiz Archvadze (Aluda), Spartak Bagashvili (Gvtisia), Rusudan Kiknadze (woman in white), Otar Megvinetukhutsesi (Jokola), Nana Kavtaradze (Gaza), Zura Qapianidze (Zviadauri), Geidar Palavandishvili (Mutsali), Irakli Uchaneishvili (Musa), Ramaz Chkhikvadze (Matsili),

For those who know Georgian director Tengiz Abuladze through his most famous late masterpiece Repentance, The Plea will come as something of a revelation.  And I use that term in a way not forgetting the original 27th and final book of the New Testament.  Watching The Plea one feels that John the Evangelist was here, even Christ himself.

They weren’t the only ones, however.  Nearly forty years earlier the great Russian director Mikhail Kalatozov came here, at 26, to make his first great film, the dramatized documentary on life in the Caucasian mountains, Salt for Svanetia.  His film had depicted ancient stone towers, structures like sentinels from a distant past and how transport had finally connected Svanetia to the modern world.  In The Plea, we’re back in time, but it’s not entirely certain how far.  We’re told that the film is based on the poems of Vazha Pshavela, and as such we presume we’re around the turn of the 20th century.  Yet in Pshavela’s work there’s a sense of something far more remote, as if he was merely a scribe taking down oral traditions going back centuries, after listening to storytellers in tents and caravans for countless hours.  (more…)

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1983 Our Century.mp4_snapshot_00.06_[2015.05.08_10.05.34]

by Allan Fish

(USSR 1983 47m) not on DVD

Aka. Mer dare

a + b + c + ab = 0

d/w/ed  Artavazd Peleshian

Whatever happened to montage, as many film students have asked?  It became a noun is the simple answer, adapted outside of its meaning by Hollywood, no longer anything to do with the old film theory equations; where Pudovkin believed montage meant that one shot followed by another gave a combined meaning (a+b=ab), Eisenstein argued that instead the first two shots gave a third meaning (a+b=c).  It all became literally academic, for these schools of montage gradually evaporated with the coming of sound.

It would be a director, appropriately from the old Soviet Union, who would sound the death knell for old school montage.  Artavazd Peleshian is an elusive figure in every sense, who made just nine films in a 28 year career, with a care taken over each to rival Andrei Tarkovsky.  The difference being all Peleshian’s films run to less running time combined than Andrei Rublev alone.  Peleshian became known – where he is known, for in the west he’s still neglected – for inventing ‘distance montage’, an appropriately  detaching methodology where montage was used to reduce meaning to nothing, where each individual shot meant nothing; the finished film was the meaning. (more…)

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terayama 2

by Allan Fish

(Japan 1971 120m) not on DVD

Aka. Sho o suteyo mchi e deyou

Goodbye cinema

p  Eiko Kujo, Shuji Terayama  d/w  Shuji Terayama  ph  Masayoshi Sukita  ed  Keiichi Uraoka  m  Kuni Kawachi, Ichiro Araki, Itsuro Shimoda, J.A.Seazer  art  Seiichi Hayashi

Hideaki Sasaki (boy), Masahiro Saito (his father), Yukiko Kobayashi (Setsuko, his sister), Fudeko Tanaka (his grandmother), Sei Hirazumi (football captain), Keiko Nitaka (Midori, the prostitute), Maki Asakawa (other prostitute), Akihiro Miwa (Maya at the hell),

Considering my general love of Japanese film, I have to admit there are some directors whose films have not had the impact on me they might have had.  Take a look through the fortunate selected films here and you will find nothing by Kei Kumai, by Kazuhiko Hasegawa, Juzo Itami, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Takeshi Kitano, Koichi Saito, Yoshitaro Nomura or, perhaps most shamefully of all, by Yoji Yamada.  Some of them I have admired individual films, but not to the level required for admittance, and in some cases admit it’s probably a deficiency on my part, not theirs.  (more…)

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tgb 7

by Allan Fish

(Japan 1962 96m) not on DVD

Aka. Shitoyakana kedamono

Putting the Renoir in the bedroom

Osamu Yoneda  d  Yuzo Kawashima  w  Kaneto Shindo  ph  Nobuo Munekawa  ed  Tatsuji Nakashizu  m  Sei Ikeno  art  Atsuhi Shibata

Ayako Wakao (Yukie Mitani), Yunosuke Ito (Tokizo Maeda), Hisano Yamaoka (Yoshino Maeda), Yuko Hamada (Tomoko Maeda), Manamitsu Kawabata (Minoru Maeda), Eiji Funakoshi (Kamiya), Hideo Takamatsu (Katori), Kyu Kazanka (Yoshizawa), Shoichi Ozawa (Pinosaku),

There are fewer films in this selection that can be harder to like, but that in itself is part of what makes Yuzo Kawashima’s black comedy – one of his last films prior to his untimely death – so compelling.  It dares one to look at the underbelly of Japanese society in a way that doesn’t conform to genre.   It’s not a film about prostitutes or yakuza, but everyday people, and if they’re all like the Maedas, it’s a doomed society. (more…)

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nwf 1

by Allan Fish

(UK 2014 75m) DVD2

I peered into hell

p  Sally Angel, Brett Ratner, Stephen Frears  d  Andre Singer  w  Lynette Singer  ph  Arik Leibovich, Stephen Miller  m  Nicholas Singer  narrated by  Helena Bonham Carter

On showing Andre Singer’ potent documentary on Channel 4 the broadcaster made the decision to show the film without interruption from commercials.  It was a deference to the subject and there had been a precedent; the Holocaust episode of The World at War was also shown without breaks.  Breaks in 1974 would have just been one break of four minutes with less offensive adverts.  In 2015, we we’d cut from the emotional heartbreak of a survivor’s interview to cut to an old Scottish man with bad sight shearing his sheepdog to demonstrate he should have gone to Specsavers.  In the seventy years since the events depicted the survivors still cannot forget.  In the forty years since The World at War, the world millions fought and died for has sold its soul to crass commercialism. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(India 1973 135m) not on DVD

Aka. Garam Hava

Should I stay or should I go?

p  Abu Siwani, Ishan Arya, M.S.Sathyu  d  M.S.Sathyu  w  Kaifi Azmi, Shama Zaidi  ph  Ishan Arya  ed  S.Chakravarty  m  Aziz Ahmed, Aziz Ahmed Khan Warsi, Ustad Bahadur Khan

Balraj Singh (Salim Mirza), Gita Siddarth (Amina Mirza), Jamal Hashmi (Kazim), Yunus Parvez (Fakraddin), Farook Shaikh (Sikander Mirza), Jalal Agha (Shamsad), Abu Siwani (Baqar Mirza), Badar Begum (Salim’s mother), Dinanath Zutshi (Halim), Shaukat Azmi (Kaifi), A.K.Hangal (Ajmani Sahab), Vikas Anand,

Considering the availability of so many Bollywood classics of this and previous eras, the other side of Indian cinema can still be difficult to track down.  Satyajit Ray, of course, is now becoming available in Hi Def, while Ritwik Ghatak will doubtless soon follow.  But it’s the next generation of directors who joined those two erstwhile masters in the late sixties and seventies that can be hard to appreciate.  Where can one find decent prints of films by Mrinal Sen, Mani Kaul or the director of the film in question, M.S.Sathyu.  Any that are on DVD are in deplorable condition and interrupted by those God-awful logos so prevalent in Indian DVDs that float in and out of vision like the mother ship in Space Invaders.

One should be grateful then, I suppose, that in an age when British television channels ignore film and its history completely, that occasionally Indian classics pop up in the small hours on Channel 4 in one of the sporadic celebrations of Indian culture.  It’s how I first saw Hot Winds.  Not ideal, perhaps, but you take what you’re given.                          (more…)

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