Saturday, September 20, 2008

Week of August 25th:

Any Gun Can Play (1967): From what I've seen, spaghetti Westerns seem to hit the same blind spot I have for Japanese yakuza films -- while the good ones are very good, the bad ones (which far outnumber the good ones) try my patience with dull, overthought plots involving lots of double and triple crosses by guys with guns who all vaguely look like each other. This one, about a wayward cache of gold and the various unsavory characters after it, settles into that aggravating template nicely. From what I've read, this is intended as a knowing parody of Sergio Leone's Dollars trilogy, complete with Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef lookalikes getting gunned down at the film's outset. All I can say is that if director Enzo G. Castellari demonstrated a tenth of the enthusiasm and invention of Leone's hyperbolic-to-the-point-of-mythic mise-en-scene, this might be worthwhile. Side note: I saw this in a bad video print under the title Go Kill and Come Back which featured quite possibly the worst pan & scan job I've ever seen. I'm not making that a factor in my opinion -- proper framing might make the film more visually pleasant, but it won't help the story, and the ridiculously drastic pans used to fix the framing carry their own unintended entertainment value -- but I thought it was worth mentioning. Grade: C-

A Chinese Torture Chamber Story 2: The first Chinese Torture Chamber Story was about the best possible movie one could make from the material: a sick-minded industrial strength black comedy that aimed for the gross-out and didn't take itself too seriously. This unrelated followup shows that the people who made it missed the point of the first; what we have is a sequel that keeps the grotesquerie but for some reason appears to have been made in all earnestness on a budget of seventeen bucks. Roughly half the film is over before we get any torture, and when it finally shows up in an ever-nastier series of setpieces, it's displayed dispassionately, like everyone on set knew they were making a cash-in sequel and thus decided not to invest any of the trash-fueled energy that made the first film memorable. (No exploding penises, in other words.) I probably think I hate this film more than I actually do -- my aggravation was increased by my recognition of it being the kind of thing I should like were it not so incompetent and lackadaisical. Still, fuck this film. Grade: D

Violence at Noon (1966): I don't feel qualified to talk much about this disorienting film after one viewing, especially a VHS viewing. It's obviously an incredible achievement, and it's even more obviously an elusive one that I haven't quite absorbed. A big-screen viewing would probably help, considering how much information there is to take in, but I'm going to miss its sole screening at the New York Film Festival's Oshima retrospective sidebar. So I'll just say for now that I liked it and hope to encounter it again in the future. Grade: B (a placeholder grade if there ever was one)


Blogger Melisa Marzett said...

Thanks for sharing! Rio Bravo is an old ironic movie; it is more or less the opposite of what we expect! I recommend to watch it... By the way, a well-educated resume writer is ready to fix your self-marketing tool within hours!

3:23 AM  

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