Favorite films

  • Once Upon a Time in the West
  • In the Mood for Love
  • Ace in the Hole
  • Metropolis

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  • Stardust Memories

    ★★★★

  • The Haunted Palace

    ★★★½

  • The Lost Weekend

    ★★★★½

  • Chinatown

    ★★★★★

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  • Stardust Memories

    Stardust Memories

    Turns out the early ‘difficult’ Woody Allens were anything but. This has a wonderful structure - dreams, film excerpts, memories, hallucinations all culminating in a third wall breaking ‘real life’ ending. Some wonderful Felliniesque strange faces and imagery crowding the b&w frame.

    Potential criticisms - narcissistic, self indulgent - are gleefully batted away by Allen’s stand in Sandy Bates. Charlotte Rampling is memorable as a fragile old flame and Jessica Harper and Tony Roberts are most welcome. A perfect culmination of, and rumination on, Woody’s 70s output.

  • The Haunted Palace

    The Haunted Palace

    ★★★½

    I find impossible not to compare the Bava and Corman gothics of the early/mid 60s. Whereas Mario played with a straight deck, genuinely trying to freak you out, Roger wasn’t far removed from spoofery. See the latter for a relaxing chuckle, the former for chills.

    This is a rag bag of Poe tropes. Elisha Cook has a webbed hand a la Dagon; the present day Price character is called Charles Dexter Ward, but it’s hardly a faithful adaptation of either…

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  • The Sadness

    The Sadness

    ★★★

    Here we go, post (?) Covid horror is upon us. 28 Days Later is the obvious lineage, but with added sadism, like James Herbert’s 80s nasties, The Fog and The Dark. Trouble is, the rudimentary narrative (separated couple trying to reunite) just doesn’t engage; the film becomes a succession of shock moments, like a Loony Tunes cartoon on bad acid.

    Attempts at profundity (our deepest desires etc) fall flat. If gore is all you’re after, you’ll have a ball - the effects are excellent - but it felt superficial to me, lacking a true gut punch.

  • Rope

    Rope

    ★★★★½

    Just delightful. Hitchcock obviously knows Hamilton’s play is straight up horrific for a mainstream picture (unwitting parents dining over their dead son’s corpse?) so he (and the writers) go for a kind of ghoulish pantomime feel. Even James Stewart seems mannered, at least at first, like he’s playing a haunted uncle.

    As the noose tightens though, and the gloriously fake looking skyline goes from cloudy pastoral to full noir, the tension gets ridiculous and moral judgement looms. The pre-post modern…