Tuesday 10 April 2018

10 (exc. shorts) Over the Edge, sketch movies, Rue Morgue, silents, Deadly Sweet, Bluebeard

Deadly Sweet (1967) - Murder in a London of dancing businessmen, Lon Chaney Jr posters on hip pad walls, and beautiful continental people.  Tinto Brass' truly schizophrenic giallo, impossible to understand, follow and really enjoy, despite cameos from Janet Street Porter and Dave Prowse (yes, really). Cuts from stock footage of Israel and Korea to swinging London doesn't work. The soundtrack is great, though. Saw this years ago and the tune still stuck.

Are the Groove Tube and Tunnel Vision too tatty to be funny.... I love Amazon Women on the Moon and like Kentucky Fried Movie, but the others feel amateurish, almost like college jokes.

Over The Edge (1979) - Youth on the rampage movie, though excellently directed by Jonathan Kaplan, the way it goes from Disney kids into The Warriors does take some use to. The characters are annoying, but that may be deliberate. It feels almost post-apocalyptic, so convincingly barren is the new town of New Grenada. A well-made film, though. And the ending packs a punch.

The Man Who Laughs (1928) - Universal silent, the silent horror seems almost more inclined to panto than anything we know as horror (because the first modern horror was Dracula in 1931, obviously).  Things like the 1920 Golem feel almost like magic shows. The Man Who Laughs is this big slice of ham, admirable, and enjoyable. Everyone looks washed out. And lots of silly wigs, which is always a good thing. Conrad Veidt is great.

Phantom of the Rue Morgue (1954) - Karl Malden in strange adaptation of Poe, a colour cash-in on House of Wax, again in 3-D. Looks good, but the same old tosh. Though the trampoline-using climax in a zoo is well-staged.

The Magician (1916 - b/w) - Like the Golem, featuring Paul Wegener (but directed by Irishman Rex Ingram, with assistance by a 21 year old Michael Powell), a US production shot in Paris., based on a Maugham roman a clef of Aleister Crowley. Something of a sentimental melodrama in occultist drag. Nice lab sets, though.

The Unholy Three (1930 - B/W) feels more like vaudeville than anything, even when it leaves the circus (Chaney really reminds me of Stanley Baxter).

Bluebeard (1972) - Utterly confused as to what it is, is it a Dr. Phibes knockoff, a sweeping period epic a la Nicholas and Alexandra, or some sort of quasi-steampunk period romp, or is it a sex comedy? It feels lacking, it's not daft enough. It's ludicrous, but it doesn't feel grounded. It's overlong, goes from place to place, and the death scenes make it look particularly like the cheap Euro-horror it really is, despite all the gloss. Plus the structure forces it to be very bitty.  It feels quite similar to Paul Morrissey's two Andy Warhol-sponsored horror pics, more opulent than the typical Euro-horror, but beneath all the glitz, still the same old tosh. Burton tries his best.

A lot of 70s animated shorts, Crunch Bird, the nonsensical Further Adventures of Uncle Sam and 2000 Year Old Man and some later Chuck Jones feel and look like Schoolhouse Rock. Somehow, the similarly handdrawn likes of the NFB's intriguing dragonfuel parable Blowhard manage to avoid thus style and actually be unique, a lot less scratchy.

The Bronswik Affair (1978) - A partly animated documentary about television.

Summer Legend (1986) - Prime NFB edutainment, based on First Nations myth. See also the similarly worthy but rather unmemorable Lucretia, Blackberry Subway Jam and The Eskimo Legends series, though the latter were by the talented puppeteer Co Hoedeman, behind the  the impressive variety act of Marianne's Theatre, the Ludovic Bear shorts, 55 Socks and the cutesy La Boite. .

Paradise (1984) - Basically a NFB-sponsored music video for the Lonely Shepherd by James Last. Lots of nature and birds.

The Necktie (2008) - Very French-Canadian short, reminiscent of the work of Adam Elliot. Accordion animation is fun.

The Balgonie Birdman (1991) - NFB true story, about early flying, voiced by a man who sounds like Angela Lansbury.

Invasion of the Space Lobsters (2005) - Interesting design (fried egg-flying saucers!) but marred by being made on Flash, see also the poignant Uncle Bob's Hospital Visit (2008).

The Wanderer (1988) - A weird painted b/w NFB western - more art than plot. Lots of shapeshifting.

Watched the Tex Avery-esque NFB Emergency Numbers (1984), the Oirish Hudden and Dudden and Donald O'Neary (1978, narrated by prolific Canuck cartoon voice Walter Massey) and the uncanny valley 1991 enterprise The Lump (see also the similarly disconcerting Madame Tutli-Putli and the CGI blur-heavy stop motion of the Hungry Squid). Most of these are part of the NFB series Canada Vignettes alongside the Log Driver's Waltz, Logger, Spence's Republic, the fun little Catapult Canada and the historical caricatures Fort Prince of Wales and Lady Frances Simpson (about the transport of a piano through the Atlantic), and a mix of documentaries and Jackanory-type stories (e.g. Port Royal and Onions and Garlic) and profiles covering such topics as the Welsh-esque mining choirs of Cape Breton.

Watched the tragic Ryan Larkin's wonderful montage Walking (1968), the beautiful morphing of Street Morphing (1972) and the troll-like nude of  1966's Syrinx.

Shyness (1996) - Probably the best alternative Frankenstein thing I've seen - a spoof from the NFB where a shy monster named Trevor is created, and the doctor and his sidekick try to communicate via sock puppets. He falls in love, but his creators ensure he may come back - his batteries only last a month. Similar to the NFB's Spinnolio - where the puppet is well-behaved, because he never moves, so he fails PE, but is rewarded for his cool head.

Taa Tam (1995) - Visually interesting but rather lacking thing about dreadlocked blue tribespeople. More suited to a title sequence. 

Bossa Bop (1974) - NFB proto music-video, with dancing, painted figures with no faces.

Boy and the Snow Goose (1984) - Charley Says-meets-anime style story about a boy who nurses a snow goose. Like a nicer cartoon adaptation of Kes.

Pies (1984) - A homely, almost fuzzy-felt style NFB short about prejudice. Kind of preachy, but a nice twist (they're both immigrants!).

The Reluctant Deckhand (1969) - Very Vancouver animation that is very wholesome but kind of Uncanny Valley, like a more realistic Charley Says style.

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