Friday, 30 April 2010
The trailer makes “Zombie 3” look like a dream-come-true film: flamethrower action, explosions, helicopters, keyboard soundtrack and hordes of zombies. However, the actual movie is quite slow-paced and underwhelming.
I had pretty much zero reaction when first watching "Zombie 3", but had returned to this odd film numerous times over the years. Sequences involving soldiers in contamination suits are by far the most exciting ones.
80’s fashions are abominable and there’s an air of poverty hanging over the locations. Zombies look like tramps, limping about with mud caked onto their faces.
“Zombie 3” is lacking the dynamics Bruno had previously managed to lend to his own uneven, but faster-paced films: “Emanuelle in Prison” and “SS Girls”.
The film’s biggest problem has to be the bunch of hateful lead characters whom it’s impossible to care for. Beatrice Ring has always seemed to me the most unbearable of the lot. Ring, a late-comer to the Italian horror industry has dubious honour of starring in perhaps the weakest horror-themed work to come out of Italy, Lamberto Bava’s tedious TV production “Graveyard Disturbance”.
Massimo Vanni has the best scene – fighting a load of zombies by the swimming pool.
Action sequences are plentiful, but what’s in between is such dreck!
“Military VS doctors” scenes in Romero’s “The Crazies” on which Mattei modelled his film are just as boring as their imitations in “Zombie 3”.
Yet something makes me revisit this film now and again. Perhaps, it’s the near-legendary "flying skull" scene. Or the occasionally atmospheric synth score by Stefano Mainetti.
No matter what you think of it, “Zombie 3” will remain a unique film in the history of the genre just by virtue of strange circumstances under which it was made.
Tuesday, 27 April 2010
-distinctive score by Peer Raben;
-Lommel, Shygulla, and even Fassbinder himself are (almost) turned into Gods (or at least idols) by Diretrich Lochmann's fetishistic framing;
What doesn't work:
-relationship between the trio of leads remains merely touched upon, never fully explored.
-Most banal of plots.
Liebe ist kälter als der Tod is likely to seem pretentious and overindulgent to some. Yet Fassbinder's feature debut is a work of impressive integrity. The film succeeds purely through confident direction (by which I mean both visual style and style of performances). Even the most common episodes stand out due to the way they are executed.
Sparsely furnished sets. Harsh light. Incredibly artificial, purposely comatose acting. Scenes extended well beyond the limit of most viewers' attention span. Decidedly fake, staged action. Mockery of Gangster film clichés.All the dialogue would easily fit on 20 pages. No character development. Long silent stretches that in hands of a less confident director would have been terminally boring. Somehow, Fassbinder manages to breathe life into this unlikely combination.
Of course, Fassbinder relies on a lot of Godard's finds here, but Liebe ist kälter als der Tod stands firmly on its' own feet .
The ending twist is confusing and doesn't really clear up after repeat viewings. It would seem, RWF isn't ready to reveal a certain crucial something about his characters, leaving their motives somewhat vague.
A hypnotic experience that will likely prove too frustrating for the viewer not accustomed to Fassbinder's manner of storytelling.
Liebe ist kälter als der Tod(Germany, 1969)
Written and Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Starring Ulli Lommel, Hanna Schygulla, Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Saturday, 24 April 2010
Plot in one sentence: disappointed in door-to-door sales, a trio of youths choose to requalify into robbers.
One of the earliest surviving film works by Fassbinder, DAS KLEINE CHAOS was funded by Rainer's lover Christoph Roser in exchange for an acting part. You get youngsters being cocky, reading didactic texts aloud and attacking the establishment.
DAS KLEINE CHAOS feels very much like a short tribute to BANDE A PART. Heavy Godardian influence, excellent B/W cinematography devoid of unnecessary eye-candy, lively performances, tight running time - whenever you need a quick shot of RWF, DAS KLEINE CHAOS is the way to go.
Friday, 16 April 2010
What works: -Running time. The film's only about an hour long, and very wisely so for a plotless porn that doesn't try to arouse and only has weird imagery to offer by way of redeeming qualities.
-Cinematography. Images are colourful, camera movements - unpredictable. Jess zooms up people's assholes and pans along poster-covered walls with equal enthusiasm.
-Music. I don't remember actor's names or faces but the tunes playing over the yucky copulation scenes are quite memorable.
What doesn't work:
-Sex. No, seriously. I had great trouble watching most of it. Performers come in various shapes and sizes and the intrusive camera often captures them in rather unattractive detail. I'd say its healthier to go out for a cigarette during some of the less flattering closeups then to brave it and suffer nightmares.
-Lina's wig. H o r r i b l e . Somehow being caked in pale makeup and wearing a red wig made my favourite Lina Romay look sort of creepy. Like a witch smoking and wanking while looking right down the lens with her bottomless eyes.
-Having Antonio Mayans in the credits when he's nowhere to be found in the actual film.
Even though EL MIRON is sure to be a stressful experience for those more used to actually attractive nudity, it still shouldn't be considered a failure. Thanks to brief running time and Jess' boundless formal creativity behind the camera, EL MIRON is worth a glance. But mainly for those already fascinated enough with JF to bear the discomfort. Dear porn lovers - go watch APOCALYPSE CLIMAX or any other "proper" porn.
I don't plan to seek out other hc titles by Franco as EL MIRON is said to be the best of them(or perhaps the least painful). Honestly, it's easier to sit through this, than through director's absurd and worthless self-mockery MARI-COOKIE AND THE KILLER TARANTULA IN 8 LEGS TO LOVE YOU or mercenary LOVE CAMP.
Friday, 9 April 2010
Until recently my favourite self-funded digital film has been Miguel Coyula's award-winning RED COCROACHES. Now it's been pushed off the top by Markus Widegren's original KRAFTVERK 3714.
When putting the DVD on, I was a little worried by the running time stated on the sleeve: 136 minutes (in my opinion a good enjoyable film shouldn't really run over 75). My worries were in vain. KRAFTVERK 3714 doesn't drag or feel padded at any stage. I actually didn't want it to end.
KRAFTVERK 3714 is hard to categorize. On a superficial level it is about aliens appearing in a remote rural area. So, if one had to label it, it would be a "sci-fi movie" label. Only it would be more fun to enthusiasts of Andrey Tarkovsky and Lars Von Trier than to STAR WARS fans.
I loved the main characters who in the first half of the movie were just normal people doing normal things. It's a great achievement on the part of the director that the build-up doesn't feel routine or tiresome despite lack of superficial action. A lot of filmmakers today are afraid to use the zoom. Such is not the case with director/cinematographer Markus Widegren, who doesn't shy away from some adventurous shots and camera moves, creating a pleasantly unusual mise-en-scene.
I will not give away any of the plot, which is full of mystery and unanswered questions but remains interesting due to believable characters and good structure. The finale is actually pretty mind-blowing with some over-the-top action, stunts and crazy moments that reminded me a little of Takashi Miike's DEAD OR ALIVE final battle.
After the atmospheric opening the film could take a wrong turn. Too many nice premises get wasted in both studio and self-funded films. I was afraid the usual "alien invasion" clichés would kick in, with lots of stupidity, screaming and running around. Well, there was some screaming and running around (not to mention sex and explosions) in KRAFTVERK 3714. But none of it is done in a typical predictable way. Thankfully, characters don't do anything idiotic that could make the viewer hate them.
Screenwriters Markus Widegren and Fred Andreson obviously know a thing or two about their craft. Throughout the film I was glued to the screen, not knowing what the hell was going on but finding the whole thing fascinating. The story does come together in the end, after much mystery, and the few ambiguous moments that remain unresolved still somehow manage to work on a level of dream logic, like in Coscarelli's classic PHANTASM.
My favourite piece of music has got to be the melody playing when Elizabeth (Sandy Mansson) who's shopping at her local supermarket discovers that all the customers have been abducted by aliens.
KRAFTVERK 3714 gives one hope that the future of self-funded independent film is bright.Unfortunately, unless you contact independent filmmakers directly, their amazing films remain quite hard to find today.
I know that I'll be revisiting KRAFTVERK 3714 before long. So many things that I consider beautiful and essential in good cinema come together in this unique film.
KRAFTVERK 3714 (Sweden, 2005)
Directed by Markus Widegren
Written by Markus Widegren, Fred Anderson
Starring Sandy Mansson, Maria Bergguist, Emil Jonsson, Michael Mansson, Fred Anderson.
Alexander "FLE" Zhemchuzhnikov (born 9.04.1986 in USSR, now Russia) is a multy-instrumental musician currently based in Rio De Janeiro.
Apart from having recorded two albums with his band [Br]om, he is also active as a film composer and has recently formed a band called Biu.
Most reviewers of my film NAKED TRIP commented on the intense and original score he had provided.
But apart from all that, he's just a cool guy who I am very glad to know. Happy Birthday, man!
Alexander "FLE" Zhemchuzhnikov runs a blog(in Portugese) dedicated to quality Russian music called conexão russa
Saturday, 3 April 2010
Ridiculous script has stock gothic characters saying banal things and behaving in that shockingly illogical fashion that has become trademark of Italian horror cinema. Giacomo Rossi-Stuart (D'Amato's DEATH SMILED AT MURDER, Lenzi's HELL'S GATE) is bland and theatrical. The period costume does look good on him, however. Erica Blanc is good-looking but her character is forgettable. Most lovingly Bava films the clean-shaven skull of Luciano Catenacci.
Catenacci, playing the village mayor also gets "Producer" credit on OPERAZIONE PAURA - a project that famously ran out of money halfway through, with cast and crew finishing the picture for free.
The "ghost" played by a boy in drag certainly looks eerie but overall OPERAZIONE PAURA is a dull film. Despite some nice gimmicky cinematography, it's just gothic cliches without a speck of life.
Thursday, 1 April 2010
Guest review by MARIO
What is a "Tinto Brass fan" and what is a "Tinto Brass film"?
Long before Tinto Brass has established himself with his erotic T&A movies
he made movies in the late 60's /early 70's that could be tagged under a "arthouse" or "surreal" category. Describing L'URLO entirely is difficult, perhaps impossible, but for sure it would need more space to write about it.
Basically the movie is a slideshow of grotesque surreal and psychedelic scenarios and idejas,
where lead actress Tina Aumont jumps from one "adventurous" event to another.
She is supported here by the very fine performance of Luigi Proietti who plays a not too deadly-serious character...
In the first minutes of the movie, we see the "altar of marriage" : a priest with a weird "shrinkhead" as an amulet, a man with shampoo on his head.
Anna (Tina Aumont) who is covered with white make-up and strong black eyeliner…
Seemingly she isn’t very convinced about this marriage. She sees Coso (Proietti) lurking on the side, and decides to "run away" with him.
After a grotesque "Hitch hike" drive in the car (including dialogues...) they both piss on the front-window of the car.
Both "check in" to a bizarre hotel with some special rooms:
Nude, semi-nude people around, somebody with a gas mask on, a woman with a swan, a goose that gets beheaded.
Behaviour somewhere between "zoo" and "lunatic asylum".
A weird scenario as if a Hieronymus Bosch painting comes to live with an extra dose of "psychedelics".
Another scene: a nude and "great philosopher" as he calls himself, who wears an ancient wig
first welcomes the two strangers into his home... the free nature, just to notice afterwards that he is a cannibal!
In one scene we see Tina Aumont and Luigi Proietti running in a hurry : here a short scene is intercut and edited from Brass previous movie COL CUORE IN GOLA where we see Jean-Louis Trintignant running and screaming (which sort of suits to this moment) Anna asks "who was this?" and Coso replies to this simply : "Trintignant"… this makes almost the impression of a slight tongue-in cheek self-parody.
The film features also various short archive footage from war and executions, speeches from Mussolini and a certain Führer from Germany.
Scenes of people demonstrating...
In one scene a ludicrous "mini-version" midget of the Führer appears, as a sort of parody.
Soldiers appear relatively often in the movie who also in one scene rape the "heroine"
In the end of the movie, after a fatal car crash of Anna (which changes the scene with a big question mark that zooms up!) she marries the man she first escaped from.
In her wedding dress and again with the strong make-up, this ceremony somewhere in the woods… makes a bizarre impression.
Surely, the film is a "work of it's time" which shows a psychedelic culture linked to "revolutionary idejas" which don't exist today.
Speaking of Tina Aumont, it can be said that this is the role of her life.
Besides the great ideajs and music, etc... it’s as if the movie was made "for her"... as if everything is circling around her..
I don’t believe there is "another" L'URLO in her filmography!
(Fellini's CASANOVA can be considered also "grotesque" but she had a small side role in it).
In an old interview Tinto Brass explained the reason why she never became a real "star"… she was a "moody" person that shifted from happiness to depression, and also that she was "involved" in drugs...
Years later she has a "come-back" in Tinto's SALON KITTY where he commented that this time it was "a different Tina- less stunning".
He might be right, but this rather small and conventional side-role hardly asked her to do something "special".
"Un mondo cattivo non tolera l'amore" (an ugly/bad world which doesn’t tolerate love) is to hear during a song in the movie, which can be interpreted in various ways (including political),
Well this might "still" today be true-but if "love" even exists (except for 17 year olds... ) is another question... Sooner or later the "mondo cattivo" will show its’ thorns.
The film is an experiment, a joking around with the conventions of cinema.
The "chaos" of the movie represents the anti-authoritarian attitude. Ultimately a passionate scream that wants to gain freedom...
Its the sort of a cinematic experience that cannot be reproduced by the "film industry"
(unlike Tinto Brass’ later erotic films… and in contrary to idejas and imagination the flesh will never die... well at least not soon…)
A uniqueness that finds its relatives possibly somewhere between Jodorowsky and Dusan Makavejev.
L'urlo(Italy, 1970)Directed by Tinto Brass
Written by:Tinto Brass, Gigi Proietti, Franco Longo, Gian Carlo Fusco
Starring: Tina Aumont, Gigi Proietti, Carla Cassola