Sunday, 31 August 2014

Rushmore (1998)

Sweet, annoying, charming, pretentious, heroic, petty, childlike and very funny. That pretty much sums up Max and Rushmore; his journey into adulthood, and self-discovery.

A beautifully shot film; Anderson frames and composes every shot with thought and style.

Sic transit gloria

Original letterboxd review

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Inferno (1980)

This sequel to Argento's fever dream of Suspiria is a terrific gothic horror in the tradition of Corman's Pit and the Pendulum and Masque of the Red Death.

Dario throws us into a giallo tinged, demonic thriller filled with a Boris Karloff like antique dealer, vicious rats, bubbling cauldrons, cowled figures half hidden in shadows, organ music, candelabras, dark basements, dusty libraries and cats; lots and lots of nasty cats. Every gothic trope is present and correct but updated with the long knives and black gloves of giallo.

With cinematography tighter and more claustrophobic than Suspiria and Profondo rosso, deep shadows, red and blue lighting and some fantastic sound design, Argento builds tension beautifully until the fire-lit finale.

I've knocked half a star off for Keith Emerson's sometimes, inappropriate score - the taxi ride particularly stands out.

As a parting note: did anyone else notice the parallel between Argento's scene in the music conservatory and Polanski's witchcraft lecture in The Ninth Gate?

Original letterboxd review

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Bettie Page Reveals All (2012)

The following may be a little biased as I was a member of the official Bettie Page fan club.

A terrific little biog of the beautiful Bettie Page. Great archive footage mixed with interviews with Bettie's friends, collegues and even with the queen of pinups herself (voice only as she always refused cameras as she wanted people to remember her the way she was back in the day).

We are taken through Bettie's life from her childhood in Nashville with an abusive father and a mother who abandoned her, through to California and New York modeling days, and finally to her treatment in a psychiatric hospital.

Bye bye Bettie :(

Original letterboxd review

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Deep Red (1975)

I watched the 127 minute directors cut on Arrow Blu-Ray.

Whilst not as immediately beautiful as Suspiria, Profondo Rosso delivers with some stunning camera work reminiscent of Carol Reed's The Third Man, great performances by Hemmings and Nicolodi, one of Goblin's best soundtracks and a plot that will keep you guessing until the end.

This film features some of the best cinematography in any of Argento's work. Each frame is lovingly arranged and composed by Argento, with the subject either in extreme close-up or at the edge of a stunning wide shot. Negative space, deep depth of field, macroshots, reverse zoom, static and tracking shots; Argento throws the lot at us. The only thing missing is his love of colour used in Suspiria to great effect.

A great giallo and a great, possibly the greatest, Argento film.

Original letterboxd review

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The Conspiracy (2012)

A below average faux documentary about the new world order, mithras worship etc.

I had no idea what I was about to watch as I didn't read the synopsis and assumed it was just a documentary. Then, in the first few minutes, we are introduced to an ageing conspiracy theorist in the usual grubby flat with iots walls covered in clippings. This is where my issue with this film started - all the clippings were of a uniform photocopier white and not the expected mixture of whites, yellows and brown aged newsprint - everything was too perfect, too clean, too... arranged. The film was paused while I checked and, yes, it was a mockumentary. Suspension of disbelief (hugely important in this type of film) was broken into little pieces and I just couldn't get into the film again.

I did continue watching and the rest was one telegraphed twist after another. Anyone that is surprised by the final scenes really needs to watch a few more thrillers.

A decent idea ruined in its execution.

Original letterboxd review

Monday, 4 August 2014

Frances Ha (2012)

A film about that weird period in your late twenties when one person in your group of friends starts to settle down and then it's like a virus. Suddenly careers, babies and mortgages start poping up everywhere and poor Frances is the one person left behind, desperately holding on to her carefree life-style.

The soundtrack was pretty good but I'm not sure why they filmed in black and white (or was it post-processed) as it didn't seem to add anything (apart from "hipness") and the contrast seemed a little week to me - all mid-tones and not enough solid blacks and whites.

Original letterboxd review

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)

I cried. Again. I dare you to watch Spencer Tracy's final speech, and knowing the story of him and Kate Hepburn, not do the same.

Original letterboxd review