marți, 23 iunie 2020

The Double Man (1967)

Dan Slater (Brynner): May I ski with you?

Gina Ericson (Eklund): No.

Dan Slater: Why?

Gina Ericson: Because I prefer to ski alone.

Dan Slater: But, it's safer to ski with someone. It says so in the book.

Gina Ericson: I'm afraid we don't read the same books.

Another one to Catch-up, this one for Franklyn J. Schaffner, whose films I”ve been revisiting lately (Lionheart, The Boys from Brazil, Sphynx). The Double Man is a dark gritty spy thriller that precedes the skiing adventures of James Bond !  It was shot and came out one year before On Her Majesty”s Secret Service (1969). The (aerial) cameraman John Jordan worked on both of them and died tragically during the shoot of Catch 22 in 1969. He was just 44. The skiing is just beautiful and is a major part in the plot, cable car and night skiing and chases, shot of course some on day-for-night.
The Double Man (1967)
Filmed in location in Tyrol in Austria, specifically in the St. Anton resort.
Yul Brynner (CIA”s Dan Slater) plays a double part as in title, the effects are well done, they stand even today.
It's Sweed beauty Brit Ekland”s 1st part in an international important studio film (WB), after After the Fox on which she was put by her hubby, Peter Sellers. Her character is also named Gina, this time not Romantica :), but Ericson.
Clive Revill has a nice a secondary straight part and Anton Diffring is the German antagonist working for the Russians.
Also good atmospheric score by Ernie Freeman, unknown composer to me.
7 ******* out of 10 !
3 1/2 out of FIVE !

luni, 22 iunie 2020

RIP Joel Schumacher

Joel Schumacher, the director of Falling Down (in my book, his best film) died today. He was 80.
He shot a film in Romania, where I was supposed to meet and interview him. It never happened :(
The film, a Gothic horror movie, Blood Creek (aka Town Creek), flopped. I kinda liked it and here's my review !
I kinda liked his first Batman film, Batman Forever, all the comic book colors, and even Val Kilmer. His second one  (Batman & Robin, as we called it, Fatman & Wobin ?) was painful, like crucifiction (pun intended !). B and R killed Batman for over 10 years and now has its place in the kingdom of worst movies ever. Was it so bad ? I don't know, I've seen much worse, it was not a man film, just dumb.
My second favourite film of his is Phone Booth, written by Larry Cohen.  And Tigerland, done before, with the same Colin Farrell. I kinda liked his Phantom of the Opera, which was again massacred by critics and hated by the audiences. He did a good thriller with Nicolas Cage, the snuff themed 8MM and he worked again with Cage on Tresspass (2011), which was his last film, after this he only directed some House of Cards episodes. 
A director of many genres, and former costume designer (The Last of Sheila and two Woody Allen films, Sleeper and Interiots), he rose to proeminence with the so called ”Bratpack” films, St. Elmo's Fire, The Lost Boys and Flatliners. Then he did the John Grisham law thrillers (The client, A Time to Kill), plus some drama with Julia Roberts, and the comedy remake of Cousins. He was at best uneven, maybe picking too much of what he was offered. But he crafted some damn good films, if he would”ve done them in the 50”s, 60”s or 70țs he would”ve been compared with great journeymen directors like Edward Dmitryk, Robert Aldrich, Don Siegel, but he was doing big studio pictures, so called A pix, with ans A Budget and with B sensibilites, and in those smaller ones he succeded best !
Obituary in Variety here . 

sâmbătă, 20 iunie 2020

RIP Ian Holm

Ian Holm is gone. He was 88. Grand English character actor, knighted in 1989 -CBE- and 1998. TV in the 60's, omnipresent in the films of 70's til 2000's.  Great parts, unforgettable, from the android Ash in Alien (1979, breakthrough part, in which he impressed me for life)
Holm, right, with Yaphet Kotto and Sigourney Weaver in Alien.
to the coach in Chariots of Fire (nominated for Oscar for best supporting actor) , to cpt. Philippe D'Arnot in Greystoke, to Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings series. 
Highlinghs:  in Terry Gilliam's Brazil, played Napoleon in Time Bandits and in Emperor's New Clothes, in David Croneberg's films, Naked Lunch & Existenz, sir William Gull in From Hell career high in Atom Egoyan's The Sweet Herafter. Saw him now in a long lost film of my childhood, Shout at the Devil (1976), as the mute Turk Mohamed, a treat !
obituary in The Guardian. 
video clip of his career on imdb 
Imdb-Sir Ian Holm is one of the world's greatest actors, a Laurence Olivier Award-winning, Tony Award-winning, BAFTA-winning and Academy Award-nominated British star of films and the stage. He was a member of the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company and has played more than 100 roles in films and on television. 

marți, 16 iunie 2020

Les Aventuriers (1967)

LES AVENURIERS (1967)  is one of my favourite films, at least French films or Alain Delon flicks, even though I haven't seen it in my childhood, Only in the late 90's !!!
It puts together with great effect Alain Delon with Lino Ventura, as they were reuntited as opposites in Le Clan des siciliens  two years later, another masterwork which I yearned all my childhood to see and only saw in my twenties. 
Alain Delon and Lino Ventura in Les aventuriers (1967)

Based on a novel by the great Jose Giovanni (Le Trou, Le deuxieme Souffle as screenwiter, later on a directror on its own ramge), from which Enrico used only the 1st part (Giovanni used the second part as his directorial debut, next year, La Loi du Survivant).
A young woman encounters two excentric friends, Manu and Roland, one an aviator, another one a car enthusiast. After many (mis)adventures, they stumble into a plot of a loot, a lost plane, submerged somewhere near Congo, with a treasure in it, diamonds and gold. 
So, in brief, it's a one of a kind, and one of the greatest films no one got to see. In English it was called The Last Adventure and was released in the US by Universal as a double bill, so it went totally unnoticed.
Les aventuriers (1967)
I saw it has 10 critic reviews on imdb, so this would be the 11th cos I nee to write about this, especailly with the love for the director, Robert Enrico, whose son, Jerome, also a director I meeet many years ago (well, no so many, in 2012 or 2013 in Cluj, at Comedy Cluj festival, and we spent an entire night tight to the bar discussing the films of his father, also The Old Gun/Le Vieux Fusil, which I saw as a kind on Romanian communist Television, Great and tough war movie and revenge film, And Le Boulevard du Rhum, also with Lino Venura. And Les Grandes Gueules, with Lino Ventura :) and Bourvil !
Alain Delon, Joanna Shimkus, and Lino Ventura in Les aventuriers (1967)

greatness, found the Romanian posters of the film, Robert Enrico is billed Roberto on both of them !

Les aventuriers (1967)
and the alternative poster too, still Roberto !!!
One of the major ingredients in the film is the wonderful music by Francois de Roubaix, a marvelous French composer who died very young, in a diving accident in 1975 when he was only 36 years old. The coincidence with the diving scenes in this film, they were done by his father, here credited with special effects (his only credit of this sort, as he did the underwater scenes), short educational film director (and producer) Paul De Roubainx, who survived him and died at 90 in 2004 !
Les Aventuriers has a very curious and particular pace, sort of a Nouvelle Vague rhythm, and a triangle relationship between Delon, Ventura and a very young Joanna Shimkus,  a la Jules and Jim, maybe lifted from there and here by William Goldman for the script of Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid-always thought that Kathrine Ross' character is a lift from the French films. 
Canadian Joanna Shimkus, who went to become Sidney Poitier's wife, was cast as the title character Zita in the next Enrico film, in 1968, Tante Zita. 
Also the film features Serge Regianni as the pilot and Euro-character actor Hans Meyer as the mercenary. The final and climatic act is shot in the now famous Fort Boyard (due to the TV show), which I always wanted to see just because of this movie !
It;s one of Joe Dante's favourite films and he recalls about it in the Trailers from hell section, about cult movies, calling it  a Hidden gem. Which is what it is.
10 out of 10, 5 stars out of FIVE
Alain Delon, Joanna Shimkus, and Lino Ventura in Les aventuriers (1967)

I heard this was remade in Japan in 1974 as The Homeless/Yadonashi, though Giovanni is not credited. Also in Russia in 2014 as The Adventurers/ Avantyuristi.  But like that it was lifted also for Into the Blue (2005), another sunken cargo /airplane film.  
It also has a sort of sequel, in Le Ruffian, made by Jose Giovanni in 1983, also with Lino Ventura, about a sunken treasure, this time in Canada. 

luni, 15 iunie 2020

The Ninth Gate (1999)

"Mambo Jumbo , Mambo Jambo...." 
                           (Boris Balkan)
 "I don't believe in the occult. I don't believe. Period."          
 (Roman Polanski)

I saw this film back in 1999, or maybe it was later in 2000, it didn't come out in cinemas over here so I was forced to watch a shitty VHS copy, panned and scanned. I was a huge fan of the Arturo Perez-Reverte book, El club Dumas, his best as far as you ask me, not that I've read any other :), and fascinated with the Alexandre Dumas lost chapter of  Les Trois Musquetaires, Le Vin d'Anjou. It was my faved thiong about that topic then , so I was uber-dissapointed when I saw the film
Let's not forget in 1999 Eyes Wide Shut came out, with the illuminati orgy in a castle, and by those means Polanski 's stuff seems to be more like an irony.  Very Freench too. Also Polanski's New York resembles Kubrick's NY, both being shot in Movielands in Europe.
What strikes you most  looking back at this after 21 years (it's a big hit these days streaming on Netflix), it's uncanny how Johnny Depp plays straight, the 'book detective' Dean Corto  (in the book, Lucas Corto, or LC !). 
*-any Dario Argento influenza ? or topics ? Definetly with Suspiria, and the Three Mothers, mostly Inferno. And adds more Grand Guignol than on regular Polanski !
*-very simillar with Angel Heart, cult film from 1987 by Alan Parker, with Mickey Rourke as Harold Angel, PI and here Frank Langella as Boris ! Balkan !!!, chewing the set-up and standing in for De Niro's Louis Cyphre !
*-as book movies go, this is the closest to a literary film as the puzzle of The Name of the Rose (1985), with who it has special intellectual liasons !
The Ninth Gate (1999)
Amazingly- or not, these days the internet is full of stuff regarding the occult and obscure so, this, as a big critical and box office flop when it came out, made its name from video, dvd, vod and TV. That is where you study shit, my friend-o, surely !
I just link here one silent Kilar's music overt, Esoteric meaning of film video ! from it you'll get more links and dig in if you want, imo the info is quite shallow and takes out the fun of contorversy!
If you have time you'll find a lot to watch and learn :), more than the duration of the film, at the time it was long and dense, but definetly not overlong and/or boring, I would't mind it going on for another 15-20 mins.
Also the ending is so abrupt and yes, controversial. I think it's more or less a Roman Polanski typical (TM/RPTM) black/dark joke.
Huge assets / or +++++++++:
music by Wojciech Kilar, brilliant, majestic, dramatic, a classic on its own ! With a Korean soprano, added the value of Ennio Morricone, and based on La Havaine by Camille Saint-Saens. 
-the whole score from vinyl rip here !
Darius Khondji's only collaboration with Roman is just beutiful ! llate fall location shot in Portugal, spain and France helps :)
Set design:
Dean Tavoularis, master of set and design (wondered if Depp's character Dean in the film came from him or from a real Dean, or James Dean ?, ask Polanski )
Directing -with panache, of course, you can see Polanski's having fun, working with Depp for the fisrt (and only) time, casting his beautiful wife 2.0, Emmanuele Seigner, doing some Hitchcock and even quiting himself (Chinatown, The Tenant, Rosemary's Baby, Frantic, Bitter Moon, etc)
-the script, if you read the novel and liked it it's not your juju
-the albino sidekick -in the novel we had Rochefort, this one is quite risible and dumb (and dumb), no lines til the castle, what if you went with a cliche glasseye or Bela/Lon/Boris/Vincent ? a Cushing/Lee approach ?
-act 3 1/2, I mean the last two castle set pieces are just for laughs, but now seeing it again for the 1st time in a decade, I think more things are intentional here than unintentional, esp the witty dark irony of  R.P.The Ninth Gate (1999)
The New York scenes, obviously faked, but actually it gives a Hitchcockian sense of set, retro projection, old style. Why James Russo, and what you did with it ? 
-watch out for symbolisms, that come out much better on second or repeat viewings. Like Shell, 
Shells ? 
-also loved the way Johnny D. smokes himself silly in every scene, Lucky no filters ? Plus the whisky's. Classic Film noir cliches and homages ! Though, Polanski said of Depp, "He decided to play it rather flat, which wasn't how I envisioned it; and I didn't tell him it wasn't how I saw it"
7 out of 10, *** 1/2 out of Five, 
would've loved this to be a real 9 !

sâmbătă, 13 iunie 2020

Da 5 Bloods (2020)

As Spike Lee was supposed to be the president of the now -no go-Covid-72th Cannes festival , his latest film, Da 5 Bloods, was supposed to be part of an -OUT OF COMPETITION-slot.  and it would've been a treat to see it there, on the big screen, with all the commotion and especially NOW, when the #BlackLivesMatter movement is Right on, spot On.
Da 5 Bloods (2020)
A Vietnam flashback film, action drama movie, old folks heist flick combined with Spike's old agenda, racism, and black injustice all fit together in a nicer, longer format, now put together by Netflix, in their first colaboration. I saw last BlacKkKlansman in Cannes in 2018 and like it, almost loved it if  I would've forgot his always fervent agenda and dogfights. BlackKk went on to win the best screenplay for Lee at the next Oscars edition !
This is a brilliant filmmaker (and I mean FILM), who would do much better if he gets off social activism and a political agenda. But now all this with Spike its becoming Cliche. Anyway now he has 3 1/2 hours to play with Vietnam, Martin Luther King, the brothers and the bloods, retribution, sin, and remorse, Marvin Gaye songs, some French attached (a colonial baddie by Jean Reno, a n ecological hipster by Melanie Thierry, I guess all that would've been great for Cannes and a French release, Mais Oui!).
Da 5 Bloods (2020)
Then threre's the cast, a marvelous -over-the -top and Career best Delroy Lindo as Paul !-definetly an Oscar nomination and WIN, if this can work out with a non-theatrical release in time of all releases being non-theatrical. The other 3 bloods left are Otis- Clarke Peters (The Wire), Norm Lewis as Eddie and Isiah Whitlock jr. as Melvin. And young "Blood, as Paul's son shows up -Jonathan Majors (the upcoming Lovecraft Country).
I wonder if Spike didn't try to attract bigger box office names to this, old friends, people whom he helped shaped their career (Denzel, Sam L..; Larry F. ?). Not that these guys don't work, they do, totally. But I would've loved to see Eddie Murphy and Wesley Snipes per se, or Billy Dee W or Carl Weather, or yes, rambling on, but we got Chadwick Boseman as Stormin' Norman (yeah, man, The Black Panther no less, take it as a statement and a BO staple as well), the 5th Blood and key piece of this jungle puzzle, in which somehow Kelly's Heroes meets Triple Frontier (last year similar Treasure of Sierra Madre take on Netflix) meets, well, The Treasure of Sierra Madre , as quoted ("we don't need no stinkin' badges again). 
Great war classical music by of course, Terence Blanchard, here with a mega horn section, all the strings in the world and yes, more horns ! And did I mention the Marvin Gaye songs ? Also well included in the story line...
 3 1/2 or 7 out of 10 !

-couldve been an eight for some restrain, restriction of self-indulgence and pointed in your eye ideology, we are all here, man, #BlackLivesMatter, #RestinPower (even pronounced in the film).
Its a powerful film disguised as a genre ride, a Political joint, and I can say its probably the best flick on netflix this year, and will remain as one of poignant movies of 2012. In a theater very close to you, not in Cannes, where this would've been welcomed with a warm applause ! Kudos Spike, especially that continuous oneshot in the camera monologue by Delroy Lindo.s Paul, as expected, made me feel the power of your filmmaking virtuosity !

marți, 2 iunie 2020

Malone Sibun-Live From Home part 2@Transilvania Blues Nights

part deux :)
În luna aprilie 2020 inauguram seria ”Live From Home” cu Marcus Malone și Innes Sibun. După două luni și un pic, ne-am hotărât să încheiem concertele de acasă cu întreaga trupă Malone Sibun, adică Chris Nugent, Kevin Jefferies, Innes Sibun și Marcus Malone în direct online cu Transilvania Blues Nights și ulterior re-live pe scena din Rockstadt în cadrul primului lor concert la Brașov, 26 ianuarie 2019, redescoperit de curând în arhiva noastră video!
In April 2020 we started the ”Live from Home” series with Marcus Malone and Innes Sibun. After two months and a bit, we decided to close this series with the whole the Malone Sibun Band, as in Chris Nugent, Kevin Jefferies, Innes Sibun and Marcus Malone, live online with Transilvania Blues Nights and live on tape afterwards for the premiere of their first concert at the Rockstadt club in Brasov / Romania on the 26th of January 2019!
Sponsori: Butangas, Miele Shop Brasov, BCR, Tehnic Mihor S.R.L.
Parteneri: Brahouse Imob., Velvet Winery
#TransilvaniaBluesNights #LetThereBeBlues #MaloneSibun #LiveFromHome #StaySafe

event facebook aici / here 

Part ONE of Malone Sibun-Live From Home@Transilvania Blues Nights HERE !

all the gig & event on youtube on the
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