Posts uit 2015 weergeven

Police Python 357 (1976)

Dir: Alain Corneau - Cast: Yves Montand, Simone Signoret, Stefania Sandrelli, François Périer, Mathieu Carrière, Serge Marquand, Vadim Glowna
The movie’s title (a reference to the weapon used by Montand, a Colt Python 357) could suggest that this is just another Dirty Harry clone, and yes there are a few similarities, but this is definitely another type of movie. It's not an action movie (in spite of a brutally violent finale) but rather a suspense yarn playing with genre conventions. One of the conventions of the suspense genre is that we do NOT know what’s going on until the detective of service reveals us the identity of the killer. In Police Python we know more than any of the characters involved, including the police inspector investigating the case: we know what’s going on and who was responsible for what. But this doesn't hurt the suspense. Quite on the contrary: the movie is edge-of-your-seat material from beginning to end.

Montand is Marc Ferret, a s…

The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973)

Director: Alan Gibson - Christopher Lee (Count Dracula), Peter Cushing (Van Helsing), Joanna Lumley (Jessica Van Helsing), Michael Coles (Inspector Murray), William Franklyn (Peter Torrence), Barbara Yu Ling (Chin Yang), Freddie Jones (Dr. Julian Keeley), Valerie Van Ost (Jane)
Dracula’s Sunset would have been an appropriate title as well. In 1973, the adventures of the Evil Count were definitely coming to an end - at least as far as the famous British Hammer House of Horror was concerned. There was one Hammer Dracula to follow, but it would be a crossover movie with Shaw Brothers, so this is the logical conclusion of the series that spanned a decade and a half (1958-1973).

Like its predecessor, Dracula AD 72, Satanic Rites is set in modern day London. In his Last Hurrah, Dracula has become a scheming villain: He has built a business tower above an ancient crypt and has persuaded four prominent members of society into performing satanic rites on the eve of…

The Chase (1966)

Director: Arthur Penn - Cast: Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda, Robert Redford, E.G. Marshall, Angie Dickinson, Janice Rule, Robert Duvall
I had watched this movie only once, decades ago, and actually re-watched it because some people told me it was a failure. With a man like Arthur Penn in the directional chair and a stellar cast including Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda, Robert Duvall, Angie Dickenson and Robert Redford, you don’t expect a movie to be a failure.

The screenplay for The Chase was based a novel (and a play) by Horton Foote, an author I'm not familar with. Reportedly screenwriter Lilian Hellman only used a couple of sparse elements from Foote’s original writings (1). Several directors had turned the offer down to direct the movie, among them Elia Kazan and Fred Zinneman (2). The original plot centered on a escaped convict seeking revenge on the sheriff who had brought him up; the movie is still about an escaped convict (Robert Redford) and a sheriff (Marlon Brando), but their r…

The Maze Runner (2014)

Dir: Wes Ball -  Cast: Dylan O'Brien (Thomas), Will Poulter (Gally), Kaya Scodelario (Teresa), Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Newt), Patricia Clackson (Ava Paige), Ki Hong Lee (Minho), Aml Ameen (Alby), Blake Cooper (Chuck)
The umpteenth dystopian movie set in a post-apocalyptic world featuring young actors, but it’s a good one. The approach is darker and the atmosphere creepier than in most other juvenile book-to-movie adaptations in recent memory. With shades of Alien(s) and (the novel) Lord of the Flies this is as close to a horror movie as this new sub genre will ever get.

It’s the story about a young adult, Thomas, who arrives in a strange, railed-off world called the Glade, a grassy area surrounded by high walls. He doesn’t know who he is, nor where he comes from. It turns out that every month a boy of his age arrives in the Glade without having any specific recollections of the past. The Glade is surrounded by a gigantic maze which may (or may not) provide the only …

Sky Riders (1976)

Dir: Douglas Hickox - Cast: James Coburn, Susannah York, Robert Culp, Charles Aznavour, Harry Andrews, John Beck, Zouzou, Werner Pochath, Antonys Antipas
Sky Riders is a straightforward action movie, good guys versus bad guys (with a few daredevils thrown in) with a good a cast and excellent stunt work. Moreover it was shot on truly magnificent locations. So what could have possibly gone wrong? Not too much actually, it’s quite entertaining, but it’s also one of those straightforward action movies which make you wonder who are more stupid: the villains or the heroes.

While staying in Greece, the wife and children of an American industrialist are kidnapped and taken to an abandoned monastery, situated on a high rock. The police have located them and surrounded the rock, but the stronghold is impregnable. Is it? Well, not to the woman’s ex-husband (and the father of one of her two children) who has a brainstorm when watching a flock of birds hovering over the impressive landsc…

Audition (1999)

Dir: Takeshi Miiki - Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Jun Kunimura, Miyuki Matsuda, Toshie Negishi,  Tetsu Sawaki, Shigeru Saiki, Ken Mitsuishi, Ren Ohsugi, Renji Ishibashi
 “Kiri kiri kiri”

Miiki’s international breakthrough movie is a truly disturbing piece of film making, a romantic drama that turns into a visceral horror movie. Audition tells the story of a shy, emotionally inhibited widower, Shigeharu, a middle-aged man who lives alone with his teenage son. He would like to start dating again but doesn’t know how to approach women. His friend, a not so successful film maker, offers him to arrange a fake audition for a film that will never be made. Shigeharu immediately feels attracted to one of the candidates, the fragile Asami. His friend signals to him that there must be something wrong with the girl, because her autobiographical stories don’t seem to match with reality, but Shigeharu refuses to give her up, walking like a lamb to the slaughter ...

The first ninety minutes o…

Brannigan (1975)

BRANNIGAN (1975, Douglas Hickox) 
John Wayne, Richard Attenborough, John Vernon, Mel Ferrer, Judy Geeson, Ralph Meeker, Daniel Pilon, John Stride, Lesley Anne Down 
By the mid Seventies the cop movie had almost entirely elbowed out the western, so everybody was making movies about tough renegade cops, capitalizing on the popularity of Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry movies. John Wayne was no exception. If McQ (1974) had been a fairly standard Dirty Harry clone, Brannigan is more closely modeled after Coogan’s Bluff, the Clint Eastwood-Don Siegel collaboration that had served as a traditional movie for Eastwood’s career: it had transferred the man with no name from the dusty western towns to the urban jungle of the modern metropolis (1).

Like Coogan’s Bluff, Brannigan is western disguised as a cop movie. Or rather a cop movie with a western heart. After all anything starring John Wayne has a western lurking beneath the surface. Big John is Big Jim Brannigan, a no-nonsense Chicago detec…

The Party (1968)

THE PARTY (1968, Blake Edwards) 
Peter Sellers, Claudine Longet, Marge Champion, Al Checco, Corinne Cole, Dick Crockett, Frances Davis, Danielle De Metz, Herb Ellis, Paul Ferrara, Steve Franken
A cult classic by the director and star actor of the Pink Panther movies. It was virtually shot without a script to create maximum headroom for Sellers' famous improvisations.

Once again Sellers is a foreigner, but this time he’s not Inspector Clouseau, the clumsy police detective from France, but a bit player from India called Hrundo V. Bakshi, probably the worst actor in the world. He was engaged to play a bit part in a Gunga Din like production, but has ruined this chance of a lifetime by literally blowing up the set. The producer wants to make sure that this idiot will never work in Hollywood again, but due to a misunderstanding, Bakshi is invited for a Hollywood jet set party. Of course the over-polite but extremely clumsy Bakshi has no trouble to do to the party what he did to the mov…