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Blue Ruin

Jeremy Saulnier makes a striking debut that brings to mind Blood Simple and Pulp Fiction.

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The Other Woman

While "The Other Woman" raises some thoughtful questions about independence, identity and the importance of sisterhood, ultimately it would rather poop on them and then…

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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* This filmography is not intended to be a comprehensive list of this artist’s work. Instead it reflects the films this person has been involved with that have been reviewed on this site.

#51 February 23, 2011

Marie writes: In a move which didn't fail to put a subversive smile on my face, works by the mysterious graffiti artist Banksy began to appear recently in Hollywood as Academy Awards voters prepared to judge Exit Through the Gift Shop, which is up for best Documentary. (Click to enlarge.)

The most controversial thus far was painted on a billboard directly opposite the Directors Guild of America HQ on Sunset Boulevard. A poster advertising The Light Group (a property, nightclub and restaurant developer) was stenciled over with images of a cocktail-guzzling Mickey Mouse grasping a woman's breast. As it was being removed, a scuffle broke out between workmen and a man claiming the poster was his "property" - presumably triggered by the fact that an authentic piece by Banksy is worth thousands. To read more visit Banksy targets LA ahead of Oscars at the Guardian.  And to see more pictures go HERE.

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#34 October 27, 2010

Welcome to a special Halloween edition of the Newsletter! Marie writes: the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise in Paris is considered one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world, in addition to being the final resting place of many a famous name. From Édith Piaf, Sarah Bernhardt and Chopin to Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison and Georges Méliès, the well-known sleep on the tree-lined avenues of the dead and which you can now explore in a virtual 360 degree tour...

ENTER Père-Lachaise

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TIFF #9: And so then I saw...

I always try to find at least one film at Toronto that's way off the beaten track. I rarely stray further afield than I did Tuesday night, when I found myself watching "Wake in Fright," a film made in Australia in 1971 and almost lost forever. It's not dated. It is powerful, genuinely shocking, and rather amazing. It comes billed as a "horror film," and contains a great deal of horror, but all of the horror is human and brutally realistic.

Donald Pleasence in "Wake in Fright"

The story involves a young school teacher in the middle of the desolate wilderness of the Outback. The opening overhead shot shows a shabby building beside a railroad track, the camera pans 360 degrees and finds only the distant horizon. and then returns to find a second building on the other side of the tracks. One building is the school. The other is the hotel. To get to either, people must have to travel a great distance.

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Gérard Brach, 1927 - 2006

Collaborator with Roman Polanski on "Repulsion," "Cul-de-Sac," "Fearless Vampire Killers," "The Tenant," "Tess," "Frantic," "Bitter Moon" and others. From The Guardian: "Cul-de-Sac" (1966) had echoes of "Waiting for Godot," but was more directly influenced by Harold Pinter, not only in the casting of Donald Pleasence, who had triumphed in Pinter's "The Caretaker" a few years previously, but also in the portrayal of sexual humiliation and in the relationship of the two gangsters. However, the depiction of a married couple's sexual tensions that erupt into violence when an outsider intrudes on their world was a favourite theme developed in the Polanski-Brach screenplay.... [...]

Throughout their partnership, Brach did most of the writing. "We talk and then he writes it," Polanski explained. "Then he comes back into the room and we change it together."

Besides his work with Polanski, Brach co-wrote screenplays for several of the most notable films of the 1980s, mostly for non-French directors: "Identification of a Woman" (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1982), "Favourites of the Moon" (Otar Iosseliani, 1984) and "Maria's Lovers" (1984) and "Shy People" (1987), both by Andrei Konchalovsky. Nevertheless, his most acclaimed screenplays were for Frenchmen: Berri, the two-part Marcel Pagnol adaptation, "Jean de Florette" and "Manon des Sources" (1986); and Jean-Jacques Annaud, "The Name of the Rose" (1986), "The Bear" (1988), "The Lover" (1992) and "Minor," currently being shot in Spain.

Brach was agoraphobic, and for almost the last 10 years he hardly ever left the Paris apartment where he lived alone, rarely receiving visitors, except for the occasional director.

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Opening Shots: 'Raw Meat'

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They don't grind 'em out like "Raw Meat" anymore. I don't know if horror movies will ever seem as seedy as they did in the first half of the 1970s, when even the emulsion itself seemed to carry dread and disease. In this British horror-thriller, released in the UK as "Death Line" and directed by Gary Sherman ("Dead & Buried"), there's Something in the Underground. Yes, there's a through-line to "The Descent" here. And Guillermo Del Toro ("Cronos," "The Devil's Backbone," "Pan's Labyrinth") considers it one of his favorites.

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A Semi-Important Brit (with mustache and bowler hat) is seen checking out various porn shops and strip clubs in a seamy area of London, before descending into subway where he attempts to pick up a prostitute and is then found dead. That begins an investigation by Inspector Calhoun (a tartly over-caffeinated Donald Pleasence) and long-suffering Detective Sergeant Rogers (Norman Rossington -- the put-upon manager, Norm, from "A Hard Day's Night"). Christopher Lee also appears as an MI5 operative, doing what seems to be a nutty send-up of Patrick MacNee's Steed on "The Avengers."

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The opening shot itself begins with an out-of-focus blur of colors, accompanied by a dirty, grinding, sluggish, metallic guitar/bass/drums riff that sounds like Angelo Badalamenti's score for the endless-nightmare Roadhouse scene in David Lynch's "Twin Peaks; Fire Walk with Me." As the image comes into focus we see a Magritte-like silhouette of a British gent looking at dirty magazines. Then the shot goes out of focus again. The pattern is repeated throughout the titles sequence as the naughty fellow visits one unseemly establishment after another: out of focus (indistinguishable, unidentifiable); then in focus (ah, that's what we're seeing/where we are); then back out again. And, wouldn't you know it, that's the shape of the mystery (and the investigation) itself: Someone's whereabouts are unknown. Then he is seen. Then he disappears. The aim is to fill in those out-of-focus parts, to figure out where he came from, how he got there, and where he went.

I'm sure "Raw Meat" is not as shocking as it must have seemed in 1972, but Sherman's use of real, atmospheric locations is still eerily effective. And for fans of long takes, this guy loves 'em! There are whole stretches where the camera simply prowls around underground, revealing its horrors one by one. The film was cut for its original release in the UK -- some gore, a bit with a rat's head, an attempted rape -- and wasn't passed by the censors until the DVD release in 2006.

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