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  • So Big!

    So Big!

    ★★★★½

    Movies like this are why I love the pre-code era so much—not just because of the permissiveness or lack of moralizing, but also the ramshackle approach to plot construction in early 1930s films. This film skips around time—we get snapshots of Stanwyck’s life as a little girl, a young schoolteacher, a married farmer’s wife, and then a widowed farmer with a grown son. The film resembles nothing less than an Ozu film in its approach to plot events: significant events…

  • The Legend of Frenchie King

    The Legend of Frenchie King

    ★★★★

    Wild West Summer 2017 Challenge

    “The west ain’t no place for a man”

    This feminist S & M eurowestern is a blast! The film opens with Frenchie (Bridgette Bardot) and her four sisters robbing a train, all clad in black leather. Among their stolen goods is a deed to a farm where they decide to settle down to “live like ladies.” Unfortunately their neighbor Claudia Cardinale and her four dimwitted brothers find out that Bardot’s new property is sitting on an…

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  • Blood and Black Lace

    Blood and Black Lace

    ★★★★★

    A visual masterpiece. The mise-en-scene pops with exquisite colors and a baroque set design filled to the brim with odd knick-knacks. The camera floats supernaturally through this fantastic reality, sometimes connected with the killer and sometimes not. The film’s magic has little to do with the plot, although it establishes key motifs of the giallo, including the sexually charged setpiece murders. The twist is fun, too.

  • The Perverse Countess

    The Perverse Countess

    ★★★★½

    This one is all about the locations: the Zaroffs live in an incredible modernist mansion, all crazy angles jutting out in all directions like Jenga blocks. The inside is bright red with incredibly elaborate staircases cutting across the huge room. There are also extended boat ride sequences in which the surrounding rocks loom overhead, heightened by low angle shots. Indeed, low angles dominate the cinematography: when the characters walk into the house, the low shot makes the doorway look like…