(1959, Howard Hawks)
I’ve made my opinion on the western genre pretty clear in the past, through my review of The Searchers especially. I find them very slow, very samey and generally very fond of playing up really mundane things as being incredibly important. Will Rio Bravo win me over? We shall see.
When an alcoholic former deputy sheriff by the name of Dude (Dean Martin) gets into a bar brawl with Joe Burdette (Claude Atkins), Joe shoots a bystander who tries to break it up, killing him. Sheriff John T. Chance (John Wayne) appears and arrests Joe for murder, taking Dude on as his deputy. However, this creates trouble as Joe is the brother of local land-owner Nathan Burdette, who decides to surround the town with his men to intimidate Chance into giving up his brother and preventing him from leaving to bring in assistance. Alongside this, a passing stagecoach drops off a young woman named Feathers (Angie Dickinson), who develops a fondness for Chance.
(1963, Alfred Hitchcock)
“How could we possibly hope to fight them?”
BIRDS. Scourge of the sky. Horror from the clouds. Monsters from up on high. I mean, have you seen those pudgy baby sparrows, aren’t they terrifying? What? No? You’re saying that not all birds are terrifying? Well, let me tell you, you are wrong and have clearly never seen Hitchcock’s classic horror movie that isn’t Psycho, The Birds.
The Birds starts out pleasantly enough. A young socialite named Melanie (Tippi Hendren) meets a DASHING MAN named Mitch (Rod Taylor) in a pet shop where he pretends to think she’s a shop assistant and asks her about lovebirds he’s trying to buy. Intrigued, she buys some lovebirds and tracks down Mitch’s address with the help of her father’s newspaper so she can deliver them in person. But during her adventures in Bodega Bay, birds start acting strangely and begin to attack people at random, turning the film from a comic romp into a nightmare.
(1941, Ben Sharpsteen)
“I ain’t never seen a elephant fly”
So, after In The Realm Of The Senses last time, I need something to come down from the un-erotic and borderline creepy non-step sex; preferably something more wholesome and refreshing. Do I have any more Disney movies to review?
YES! YES I DO. Here’s Dumbo.
Dumbo is the fourth film in the Disney Animated Canon, and quite possibly one of their simplest. It’s about a baby elephant who gets made fun of because of his big ears, gets ostracised by his fellow elephants following the imprisonment of his mother and eventually triumphs over adversity to teach kids that you shouldn’t make fun of someone with physical deformities, especially if it gives them special powers. It’s basically Disney’s X-Men before X-Men became Disney’s X-Men.
愛のコリーダ (Ai No Korida)
(1976, Nagisa Oshima)
“A girl like you can stab a man’s heart without a knife”
WARNING: TRAILER IS VERY MUCH NSFW! (as if that thumbnail didn’t make that obvious)
There’s something odd about Japan’s attitude towards sex. They have a reputation for producing incredibly debauched and outright weird pornography, despite their strict censorship laws that prevent genitalia being shown on camera. On top of this, traditionally there seems to be a bizarre link between sex and death, no more obvious than when, in 1936, former prostitute Sada Abe strangled her lover, Kichizo Ishida, during sex then removed his penis and carried it around with her everywhere.
In The Realm Of The Senses is based on this true story, and is the most sexually explicit movie on the Movies You Must See list. The movie is an account of Sada (Eiko Matsuda) and her affair with Kichizo (Tatsuya Fuji) leading from his initial sexual advances while she worked as a servant in his home to the eventual murder. And because their relationship was known for being very sexually charged, so is the movie, since a great deal of it features entirely un-simulated sex scenes. That’s right, it’s practically porn.
(1931, Fritz Lang)
“I have no control over this evil thing inside of me”
M is one of those old films I’d vaguely heard of in the past. I knew it was the first sound movie by Metropolis director Fritz Lang, and I knew it had Peter Lorre in it, a German actor well-known for his many roles alongside Humphrey Bogart. But that was all I knew, so it’ll be interesting to see what I think of this.
M is set in an unnamed city where children are being abducted and killed, and the police are at a complete loss about what to do due to lack of clues. To combat this, they put the entire city on lockdown, conducting random searches and treating everyone as a possible suspect. The criminal underworld naturally don’t like this as it gets in the way of their “business transactions”, leading them to start an investigation of their own, creating a lynch mob in the process. And shenanigans happen.
(1998, Vincent Gallo)
“I’m asking you to come there and make me look good”
OK, so I complained about Europe making incredibly self-indulgent movies, but it turns out it’s not exclusively a European problem. Exhibit A: Vincent Gallo. Originally an actor, it turns out he’s made a ton of independent movies, all of which seem to star him as a character that the universe seems to revolve around. Here’s Buffalo 66, a movie that seems to have been made just to satisfy Gallo’s own ego.
Gallo plays Billy Brown, a man who’s recently been let out of prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Having lied to his parents about disappearing due to a high-profile government job contract, he’s invited to dinner along with his non-existent wife. In order to maintain the illusion, he kidnaps a young woman, Layla (Christina Ricci), and gets her to pretend to be his wife. And then it all goes downhill from there.
(1973, Nicolas Roeg)
“The one who’s blind. She’s the one who can see”
I’d always been kind of curious to see Don’t Look Now despite not knowing much about it beyond the fact that we see a little girl in a red coat throughout the movie. I’d heard it was spooky and weird and another example of a great British horror movie. So let’s watch it and see if it’s actually any good.
(1994, Kevin Smith)
“I’m not even supposed to be here today!”
Slackers! A key aspect of nineties American pop culture. An entire subculture emerging from the grunge scene. Directors were quick to represent this subculture in numerous cult hits about people in their late teens and early-to-mid-twenties with no direction, working terrible jobs and generally pondering what the hell they’re going to do with their lives.
Kevin Smith was one of the key figures in this movement, and it was this film that marked one of the major representations of the slacker scene, and one of its biggest hits. Clerks is about Dante Hicks (Brian O’Halloran), a self-depreciating convenience store employee who’s called in on his day off. The film follows Dante on this one day as he gets visited by his friend, Randal (Jeff Anderson), ducking out of work at the video rental shop next door, and his girlfriend Veronica (Marilyn Ghigliotti) while trying to deal with his inability to get over his ex, Caitlin (Lisa Spoonhauer).
(1976, Brian De Palma)
“They’re all gonna laugh at you”
It’s pretty terrible being a teenage girl, isn’t it? All that DRAMA and HORMONES and emergence of breasts and your first periods and all those troublesome psychic powers. Wait, hang on, psychic powers?
That’s what happens to Carrie White (Sissy Spacek), an awkward and misunderstood young girl attending Bates High in the 1970s. Raised by a strict religious mother (Piper Laurie), Carrie is oblivious to the nature of the menstrual cycle and freaks out when she starts bleeding in the school showers, prompting all the other girls to make fun of her. When gym teacher Miss Collins (Betty Buckley) punishes the entire class for being so cruel to Carrie, lead bully Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen) vows revenge, and the girls plan to humiliate her at prom.
However, at the same time, Carrie begins to learn that she has some kind of strange powers…
(2007, Joe Wright)
“I can’t escape from what I did or what it meant”
A few reviews ago, I berated directors from mainland Europe for making navel-gazing, self-obsessed, pretentious arthouse films. Guess it’s time to turn the spotlight on my home country for another unnecessary genre that needs to stop: period drama. I don’t know what it is, but British cinema just cannot get away from adaptations of novels set around nobility in the days before the breakup of the Empire. Even more bizarrely, Keira Knightley seems to be in every single one of them. Atonement is no exception.