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  • Written by lezard on 25.02.2020

    The early 50's. America still sees itself in white. Mc Carthy's obsession for communism ruins thousands of lives. The cold war is The USA daily bread. The cinema, as always a mirror of the American life, is full of witch hunts, in films noirs (Pick Up on South Street, I Was a Communist for the FBI...) as well as horror movies (The Thing from Another World, Invasion of the Body Snatchers..). The threat clearly comes from the east and the cold.

    Robert Aldrich, who has just directed two iconoclastic western movies (Vera Cruz and Bronco Apache) tackles the film noir and litterally dynamites the genre.

    The opening scene is like a slap in the face.
    Night. Two naked legs run on a road. The soundtrack is a breathing, between panting and orgasm. The credit list unfolds, backward. A woman, naked under her trench coat stands in the middle of the road. Mike Hammer manages to stop his car, in a screech of tyres. She hops in. A police road block. A woman, runaway from a psychiatric asylum is on the run. She takes Hammer's hand and pulls it between her bare legs. Silent deal. The road block once passed, the car is stopped by gangsters. Hammer knocked out. The woman tortured.
    Kiss me deadly indeed! Only one motto: survive!
    Hammer wakes up in hospital. The investigation starts and follows the classic steps: witnesses, suspects, false leads, threats, explosions, gunfights... Still, we know from the beginning it's not a classic movie. Everything seems new. The framings, the rythm give the movie a paranoid emergency. Numerous shots of stairways, corridors, distorting depth of field. We are in a sick America, a suspicious America. The characters are often alone in the shots whic conveys a suffocating atmosphere. The villains are mean, the vamp tempts but the hero isn't a hero anymore and our landmarks are no longer valid . Hammer isn't kind-hearted Bogart. He nearly pimps his secreatary, is way more cruel than the hoods and thrives on torturing the suspects.

    The investigation comes to an end. Grande finale. Once more Pandora opens the box. Fire takes over and the sea seems to erase humanity.

    A great hallucinating, exhilarating movie. A lesson in film directing.

    Kiss me Deadly! Vavavoum!

  • Written by lezard on 08.02.2020

    A lost motel run by a misfit. Janet leigh, undressed. Does it ring a bell ?

    This scene was watched by Alfred Hitchcock (who must have been inspired) before he actually shot it and made a masterpiece out of it. But the movie we are talking about is « Touch of Evil » by another genius: Orson Welles.

    The movie begins with a piece of anthology : a 3-minute-12 long sequence shot. Of course, every movie-maker would gulp at the sheer virtuosity of the scene, but rather than the very performance it highlights, it is its absolute relevance and the way it heralds the whole movie which fascinates. It starts with the timing of a bomb and ends up on a kiss, which litterally triggers the explosion, a brilliant idea. Between the 2 moments, a carnival of sound and pictures unfolds, illustrating what the movie is about : the crossing of (all) borders. Seldom have we heard such an invading and essential soudtrack as well.

    The movie is set in a border-town between the USA and Mexico. Corruption, smuggling, violence are everywhere. Vargas (C. Heston), a Mexican cop married to an American (J. Leigh) comes to help detective Quinlan (O. Welles) in an investigation.

    The plot is thin but matters much less than the toxic, stifling atmosphere. The picture itself seems corrupted and many framings are twisted. Everything looks as excessive, distorted and fat as Quinlan's body. It is a theatre of shadows, a carnival of lost souls, the sunset of a decaying world. Gang rape, hallucinations, drugs. Very rare and stunning scenes in the puritan America of the 50's.

    « Touch of Evil » is the baroque poem of the night, a somnambulic ambulation between 2 worlds : a hybrid border-town, a grey zone between law and order, good and evil, rough bars, sleazy motels, industrial no-man's land. Borderline characters flirting with insanity, silhouettes, nightmares.

    Final scenes among oil-wells where machines, like Welles himself, fumble deep into the world's heart to dig out the blackness/darkness it hosts.

    Welles, as usual is a monster of an actor. His funeral oration is recited by Marlene Dietrich, like a ghost right out of a Von Sternberg movie : « He was some kind of a man ! »

    This movie has the beauty of the devil.

  • Written by lezard on 09.01.2020

    She goes to God amidst the deflagration of the snow,
    the blackness of Man and childhood thrown out of a window.
    She is as naked in her walk as she was yesterday in the arms
    of her first lover, barefoot on the cold tiles on which she danced.
    She goes to God in silence and no one knows if she hopes and seeks a shelter, a light, a remedy, a stronger embrace, or the forgiveness of the forests in which the dead awaited her step on the leaves.
    She goes to God now alone, widow of this woman drunk with memory.
    She goes to God and doesn't look back.

  • Written by lezard on 14.12.2019

    Following teenage girls who are going to a rock-concert, entering through a back door, we break into the movie like burglars. We are in Russia in the early 80's and rock'n'roll if of course regarded as decadent. We discover Mike, the lead-singer of Zoopark, and the camera lingers on a crowd of young people, watched by members of the party. They look like inmates, forced to remain seated while watching Johnny Cash.

    The beach, a radiant sun. Viktor Tsoi (a legend of Russian rock) comes to see Mike and his friends who are having a picnic/party. He wants a piece of advice about the songs he writes. It's summer and their youth is shining, blinding. The music they play is great. The b&w photography is nothing but sublime.

    The film features the early days of Russian rock'n'roll, along with the last days of communism. All this is seen through the eyes of Natacha, Mike's girl-friend who quickly falls in love with Viktor.

    The movie is interspersed with «music video-clips», which unexpectedly pop up, and bring a vibrant, joyful and desperate energy to the story.

    The soundtrack features Bowie, T. Rex, The Velvet Underground and so many others, plus of course Viktor Tsoi and Zoopark.

    A GREAT movie !

  • Written by lezard on 26.11.2019

    It begins like a western movie. A desert under a scorching sun. A bird of prey. It goes on like a road-movie. Two men driving from Texas to L.A. Then it turns into a melodrama. Torn people, a family secret. Howewer, it's not a movie by John Ford, Monte Hellman or Douglas Sirk and the miracle is that this strange patchwork works out perfectly.
    This is Paris-Texas, 10Th film by Wim Wenders and a great movie indeed!
    The plot? A man comes out of nowhere. He meets his brother again. This latter has welcome his abandoned son. Together, they search for his long unheard of wife.
    Where does this man come from? Why has he run away? What has happened?
    These questions will be answered. The movie is a quest/inquest. It is also a tribute paid to different genres of American cinema, but these genres are revisited. As the title suggests it, there is also a European touch. It is a melting of two cultures and imaginations. The story starts in a border-place called Trelingua (3 languages).
    The film constantly deals with origins, filiation, fatherhood, roots and routes. For it is also a journey. Travis, as his name says, is the one who travels. He travels through space but through the language too. He is the one who comes from silence (mute, at the beginning) and journeys to the story, the tale (the final scene).
    The son is essential to this story. Once again the child is a father to Man. He is Hunter, the one who hunts for his mother. He has two fathers, two mothers. He is a bit lost.
    We first discover Jane, the mother, through a super-8 movie. Vision of Paradise Lost. A moment of great emotion, which as Wenders shows it, can only be expressed by a silent movie, the movie of the origins, the one that doesn't need words to touch us.
    The final meeting between Jane (Nastassja Kinski) and Travis (Harry Dean Stanton) is an awsome moment of cinema, some sheer genius in acting. She can't see him but he can. He can but doesn't stand the pain of seeing her which reopens a wound. He turns his back to her to be able to start speaking, and we listen, like children at bed-time in the dark, mesmerized by the power of story-telling.
    As a modern cowboy Travis vanishes in the distance of the night, back to silence.

    The movie was awarded the Palme d'Or.
    The music by Ry Cooder is unforgettable.
    You may emerge from this movie like Travis from the original desert. In this case, it will take you some time to have access to language.

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