Tuesday 17 April 2018

17-ish. Some of these films were so bad I didn't quite finish it - Taviani, Black Lizard, Assignment to Kill, Black Lizard, Fuller, Death Valley, Bartel, Liquid Sky, Because of the Cats, Siege of Firebase Gloria

Black Lizard (1968) -  Kinji Fukusaku's strange drag queen criminal mastermind caper. For most of it, it's badly lit.  A sort of distaff Japanese Diabolik (played by famed drag queen Akihiro Miwa), and tonally all over the place.

Watched the Taviani Brothers' Kaos (1984), in tribute to Vittorio Taviani's recent passing. They're nice films, beautifully done, but they could almost be the other lives of people in wine/olive oil ads (many of which I believe stole from these kinds of films). Not quite my thing, maybe because I was exposed to too many such ads as a youth.
I call it the "Cinema Paradiso" Paradox.

Harry and Walter Go To New York (1976) - Gould, Caan, Caine, Keaton and Durning in very 70s, very glossy but empty caper. See also the Fortune (1975). Couldn't finish it.

Assignment to Kill (1968) - Eurospy-ish thriller with Patrick O'Neal in Switzerland, very TV movie-level, sort of ITC-ish, reminiscent of early US TV movies like Istanbul Express or the Scorpio Letters or the Spy Killer or the theatrically released but similarly dull Feature Film Corp films like the Bamboo Saucer (1968) or Panic in the City. Joan Hackett an interesting choice as female lead, Gielgud and Herbert Lom make appearances. O'Neal not a good fit as hero.

Les Sedecteurs (1980) - Odd, otherwise nothingy Europudding anthology with Ugo Tognazzi, Gene Wilder (directing alongside Bryan Forbes, Dino Risi and Edouard Molinaro),  with video-burned credits and a rollerskating Wilder. The  Roger Moore/Forbes segment is set in a middle-class dream of Concorde, private castles, American heiresses and Tate and Lyle, To quote Simon Underwood, Do you think anyone ever told Bryan Forbes he was a massively heavy-handed, not particularly good filmmaker? Like the Naked Face (also by Forbes), one of Moore's more forgettable films. A lot of these nothingy pan-national romcoms were about at the time etc.

Shock Corridor (1962 - B/W)- It's well-made, but Fuller's stuff doesn't really get me, apart from White Dog (1982). It's a sort of Southern noir, and that doesn't do me. And why is there random colour footage of mondo-style tribal footage? Some of the performances are hammy, but it feels like an episode of the Twilight Zone.

Verboten (1959 - B/W)- Like Fuller directing an episode of Combat, or some other 60s war show. Tries to be realistic, despite the backlot sets. Unmemorable.

Querelle (1982) - I admire the effort, it's a leather-bar melodrama shot like a 1950s musical. Lots of attractive sailors and strange artificial sets, buildings on coastlines that look like boats against boats.  I like the look but not the film.

Death Valley (1982) - Begins like a Cassavettes drama set in New York, then becomes a sub-Duel film. Wilford Brimley is sheriff. Little Peter Billingsley wears a cowboy hat. It's very TV movie, but then it was a mid-budget Universal release.

Cannonball (1976) - Very strange. I like Death Race 2000 in a sort of 70s Doctor Who way, and I like Private Parts, but Paul Bartel I usually prefer as an actor.  This is no exception. And racing/chase films like this don't tend to work.

Forbidden Zone (1982 - B/W) - WTF? Whatever it is, it isn't enjoyable.

Liquid Sky (1982)- Like Forbidden Zone, garishly ugly arty bollocks. Couldn't finish it.

The Siege of Firebase Gloria (1989) - Though well directed by Brian Trenchard Smith, very rote Vietnam War fare beloved by dads.

Because of the Cats (1973) - Picturesque Dutch locations, an interesting but rather irritating Dutch giallo with Byran Marshall as Van Der Valk, a group of posho youths (including Mollie Sugden's boy Christopher Blake) wreaking havoc. Glam rock soundtrack by Hans van Hemert, the Dutch Shay Healy. Includes Sylvia Kristel and George Baker and Edward Judd!

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