Thursday, March 12, 2020

letterboxd backup (24)

A*P*E, Paul Leder, 1976

Has an almost hypnotic charme at times. I wouldn't be surprised if at least 50% of the footage was snatched from instructional / image films produced by the south korean army.

The Ape Man, William Beaudine, 1943

A man dressed up somewhat like a gorilla goes on a rampage, with tactical support from a man dressed up even more like a gorilla. Beaudine directs without any dedication for almost an hour, but the last ten minutes are surprisingly quirky and effective.

Murder by Numbers, Barbet Schroeder, 2002

I had so much fun with this... and looking at the ratings here my guess is most people can't look past cheesy material in films made after the 70s. I mean, this one really earns its Hitchcock references. Also, I miss Sandra Bullock.

Selvi Boylum Al Yazmalım, Atif Yilmaz, 1978

What is love and why? A melodrama about the incompatibility of inner speech and outer speech. Also: a truck as matchmaker. Floored, even on youtube.

A Son, Mehdi M. Barsaoui, 2019

This one has, I guess, what funding bodies call a good script

Bina, Orcun Behramn, 2019

The audience I saw it with mostly wasn't happy. I'm kind of intrigued, though. Behram never manages to unite allegory and genre in a smooth way, but there's always full commitment to the scene at hand. Also, it's really very depressing, all those cool american horror films would never dare to go this dark.

Ceviz Ağacı, Faysal Soysal, 2019

Overstuffed and / but novelistic. Don't quite know what to make of it yet. It's about male melancholia and violence against women and the fact that both themes do not really come together might be the most interesting thing about it.

Dişçinin Korkusu, Murat Erün, 2019

Speaking directly. Heartbreaking.

Küçük Şeyler, Kivanc Sezer, 2019

Yuppie depression comedy, long-take mise-en-scene, well-acted, good use of location. A solid crowd-pleaser but very one note. The eternal crisis of masculinity, nothing ever happens on that front. Don't mind me, though, it will find its audience.

Bilmemek, Leyla Yilmaz, 2019

A clear-cut, topical tragedy embedded in enough detail to make it a bit more than just servicable. Good eye for faces.

Kadinlar Ülkesi, Sirin Bahar Demirel, 2019

Like almost always with films like this the quirky autobiographical essay rhetorics got on my nerves pretty much from minute one... but the home-movie style footage is great and, well, it's about moving to Tampa.

Omar ve Biz, Mehmet Bahadir Er, Maryna Gorbach, 2019

Again, lots of detail, and Cem Bender is perfect for the role (he could easily star in a bunch of dtv TAKEN rip-offs), but the main storyline is just too contrived to let this go anywhere interesting.

Aşk, Büyü, vs, Ümit Ünal, 2019

Love is an island. Absolutely wonderful, a film that trusts its actresses completely.

The Killer, John Woo, 1989

Come on baby light my fire. Pop cinema so pure that melodrama constantly melds into euphoria.
Had fogotten both how crazy this is and Danny Lee`s striped suit.

The Ape, William Nigh, 1940

Interesting one. Another ape that might not really be an ape on the loose (these classic hollywood ape films all seem to negotiate a deep-seated, but not at all clear-cut and not necessarily regressive uneasiness with the human form; its not about becoming-animal, but rather about inter-species playacting). Here, the ape is a killer, but he also makes a woman walk again, and the film refuses to pit those actions against each others.

Also, a touching Karloff performance and some nice deadpan smalltown stuff.

Él, Luis Bunuel, 1953

Every director planning to make an arthouse film about the deconstruction of masculinity should be forced to watch this first and then decide if he / she really can bring on anything that can stand besides EL even for a second. Would save the festival circuit lots of grieve.

Murders in the Rue Morgue, Robert Florey, 1932

It's a shame that Florey's most ambitious feature was cut down to the length of the programmers he was making for most of the rest of his carreer. I'm not even sure that the material suits him especially well, as the film is much slower and at times much clumsier than breezy gems like THE PREVIEW MURDER MYSTERY or THE FACE BEHIND THE MASK, but it's a major exercise in style, maybe distantly related to Borzages LILIOM - expressionistic fantasy europe decor turning even more artificial after the addition to sound. It's also pretty sick, something I always appreciate.

The scene with the german, italian and danish guy one-upping each other's ethnic stereotypes is fabulous.

Dry, Stephanie Linus, 2015

High intensity medical melodrama, basically a single cross-cutting sequence followed through toward its logical, bitter conclusion: how to connect the lives of a black female doctor working in Wales and a suffering child bride in northern Nigeria? Its single-mindedness, not only in terms of narration, but also of the mise en scene, might work against the film's clear intention to also introduce a psychological dimension, but the emotional boosts toward the end, the overflow of pain and crying, stands on its own.

White House Down, Roland Emmerich, 2013

"Your first act as president is going to be bombing the White House?" An innocent fairytale from the Obama era. Chaotic, but always with a live pulse.

Body Language, Moses Inwang, 2017

Oddball Nollywood thriller about a serial killer seemingly hung up on strippers and birdwatching. Stylish and slow. A really strange performance by Ramses Nouah. A film about schizophrenia, but also a schizophrenic film, with mood / desire being inextricably disconnected from narrative / capitalism.

Moses Inwang might turn out to be a Nigerian Brian de Palma one day. This one probably is better suited for Ulli Lommel aficionados, though. (I hope there still are a few around.)

Jeans Blues: No Future, Sadao Nakajima, 1974

Might look, on the surface, like a rather tame, a bit too episodic exploitation take on american lovers on the run films (with good music, though), but the close-ups of Meiko Kaji's face, greedily swallowing up every ounce of mayhem, put it on another level: a modest film about the end of the world. Kaji also smokes a lot and pretty intensely.

Return of the Ape Man, Phil Rosen, 1944

Except for the title card there's no ape in sight, and the Yeti style "monster" featured here is a pure substitute; but the film generally is, quite consciously, more on the quirky side, and there's John Carradine, too.

Rear Window, Alfred Hitchcock, 1954

I`m pretty sure THE GOLDBERGS has already been mentioned somewhere in the REAR WINDOW literature, but I thought of the connection for the first time yesterday. Especially regarding the courtyard: a discursive, conversational, social space in the series, a paranoid, forensic, visual one in the film. The difference between television and cinema, but also between 1949 and 1954 and between the Bronx and Greenwich Village.

Of course, both courtyards are surveillance dispositifs, and while there`s a not all that secret longing in Hitchcock`s film for the older forms of socialization still memorised in architecture (especially evident in the scene with the dead dog), the soft, organic form of neighbourly Goldberg surveillance is by no means less dangerous than the hard, atomized, technology-based surveillance in REAR WINDOW. What gets lost when when one moves toward Hitchcock, cinema and petty-bourgeois bohemian modernism (a rather vile thought: must Thorwald be driven out of the house because he isn`t cool enough?), is the direct contact with the audience through the window opening up into the yard. In THE GOLDBERGS, the yard is the natural and only origin of the audience`s gaze, while in Hitchcock's film we might, by way of the imaginary, occupy every single room of the building - except for the yard.

Drylongso, Cauleen Smith, 1998

Reclaiming the aesthetic, one LA backyard at a time. People just feel different in 16mm, more vulnerable.

Ensayo de un crimen, Luis Bunuel, 1955

Leave it to Bunuel to thoroughly deconstruct the Giallo years before the genre even existed.

Midway, Jack Smight, 1976

Not always well-made, especially the use of stock footage in the combat scenes... bot of course, these very images are absolutely vital, because this is a film still in contact with history. Not only through the decades old blurry, grainy aerial shots, but also through real-life Navy men Fonda and Ford and real-life Imperial Japanese Army aviator Toshio Mifune. Might have been one of the last of its kind: a film that evokes, in its somber, stately, melancholic tone, not only a specific event, but also a sense of shared destiny that has been lost since. In 1976, this might`ve bored the hell out of me (probably a meaningless thought, anyway), but today it almost moves me to tears.

Tarzan of the Apes, Scott Sidney, 1918

The opening animal montage in the beginning leading to the scene with young Tarzan and his ape friend, escaping from a trauma he has no faculties to relate to... all of this is pretty wonderful. Almost as soon as Elmo Lincoln takes over, the film almost completely falls apart, except for a few short scenes with Jane toward the end I couldn`t relate to anything anymore. Lincoln himself might be part of the problem, he`s just too weird a presence... although maybe it`s just that I`m used to smoother Tarzans... Also, it`s hard to judge from the incomplete print floating around what this might have been at one time. Still, it clearly is a version of Tarzan still knee-deep in the colonialism / racism / slavery discourses later adaptations tried to sidestep.

Son of Ingagi, Richard C. Kahn, 1940

Must be not only the first all-black creature film, but also one of the first films with a full-blown female mad scientist (not an assistant, but working completely on her own)? I can`t think of an earlier one from the top of my head... Anyway, it is much more inventive than most 40s low budget horror, there`s a nice, relaxed sense of humour and the cast is good, especially some of the supporting actors.

TGV, Moussa Toure, 1998

I remember being rather impressed by Toure`s LA PIROGUE, but TGV left me cold. The film focusses way too much on the external adventure of the journey; neither the individual passengers nor the dynamics during the ride ever really come into focus.

Mad Monkey Kung-Fu, Lau Kar-Leung, 1979

The emotional stakes are not quite as clearly delineated as in some of Lau`s other films. The death of Ah Mao is the most intense scene in the film; dramaturgically it feels like an afterthought, though... This should really have been all about avenging the monkey!

Still, setpiece for setpiece (+ the marvellous training sequences!) this is prime Lau. It`s all about the art of copying and synching up, almost mathematically: Lau = monkey leading to Ho = monkey leading to Ho = Lau = monkey.

Midway, Roland Emmerich, 2019

MIDWAY is one of his worst films, but still you got to hand it to Emmerich: It takes some kind of guts to put John Ford as a character in a film that can easily be described as the laziest, most wrong-headed version of THEY WERE EXPENDABLE possible.

Indeed, the short scene with Ford might be the only interesting moment in the film, because only here Emmerich acknowledges what takes front and center in his much more interesting disaster films: the inseparable association of visual pleasure and death wish.

My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown, Jim Sheridan, 1989

A bag of tricks. Many of them work.

The Monster Walks, Frank R. Strayer, 1932

Dull mystery with very little ape content, only very moderately enriched by a good Mischa Auer performance and a few effective gothic horror shots (Vera Reynolds in grief, stylishly leaning against a bedpost). Capped off with a particularly vile racist punchline. I try to find something in everything, but some films are just empty.

Status und Terrain, Ute Adamczewski, 2019

Deutschland im Herbst. Controlled execution of an interesting concept.

Bewegungen eines nahen Bergs, Sebastian Brameshuber, 2019

Such a beautiful film... on many levels, but maybe first and foremost as a film with an eye for the particular strangeness of cars.

Im stillen Laut, Therese Koppe, 2019

Frictionless feelgood doc, not without its charmes.

Sie ist der andere Blick, Christiana Perschon, 2018

Playfull, stylish, and often very funny.

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