#280 Tokyo Drifter

Watched: October 11 2020

Director: Seijun Suzuki

Starring: Tetsuya Watari, Chieko Matsubara, Ryûji Kita, Eiji Gô, Hideaki Nitani, Tamio Kawaji

Year: 1966

Runtime: 1h 29min

Small disclaimer: we were unable to get our grabby hands on the recently added #279 The War Game in time for the blog, so we’re skipping that for now. We might return to it later if we can find it. But for now, we have moved on to #280: Tokyo Drifter!

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Hey kids! Wanna watch something incredibly stylish and cool? But at the same time you feel the need to watch something which will up your social capital and teach you something about a different culture? Or perhaps you’re just really tired of the world and want to look at some pretty colours? Well, have we got the film for you!

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“Which colour did you want in this shot again?” “ALL OF THEM!”

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Tokyo Drifter is as stylish as they come (checks the cool-box), is Japanese (checks the culture-box) and is also filled to the brim with pretty colours (checks the why-can’t-the-world-just-leave-me-alone-box)!

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Actiony AND artsy. It’s like a cheese-covered broccoli-movie!

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Tetsu (Watari) and his boss are reformed yakuza who are trying to go straight. However, their former rivals have other plans, and soon they are drawn back into the world of crime. To avoid brutal death, Tetsu must go a-roaming around Japan. But sooner or later return to Tokyo becomes unavoidable…

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“These shoes were made for walkin’, but not in this fucking snow! One of these days these shoes are gonna walk back to Tokyo.”

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Did we mention how cool this film is? ‘Cause it is so cool! The clothes, the colours, the sets, the music, the gangsters – you’ll be hard pressed to find something more stylish. It is as ’60s as they come in all the right ways. Also, there are both guns and swords at play here, which is never wrong.

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“All right, so everyone is clear on the rules? We get up and dance around, and whoever is still standing when the music stops has to die.”

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So OK, Tetsu annoyed us a little bit in the end, walking away from his girlfriend to live as a “Tokyo Drifter,” which struck us as a bit of a self-serving “sacrifice.” Other than that, there was nothing here we didn’t love. And now we want to visit Japan in the 1960s… Wearing bullet proof vests, obviously.

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Bullet proof vests can only get you so far though…

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What we learned: It is hard leaving a life of crime behind.

Next time: What’s Up, Tiger Lily? (1966)

#278 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Watched: September 22 2020

Director: Sergio Leone

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee van Cleef, Eli Wallach

Year: 1966

Runtime: 2h 58min

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We must admit that there’s little we can say about this movie other than how much we enjoyed it. But we’ll give it a go!

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Yodle-odle-ooooo! Wah-WAH-waaah…

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Blondie (Eastwood) and Tuco (Wallach), a.k.a. the Good and the Ugly, respectively, have a lovely little scheme going. Blondie hands over Tuco, a wanted man, to the authorities, collects the reward, then frees his partner just as he is about to be hanged for his crimes.

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Yodle-odle-ooooo! Wah-wah-WAAH!

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While they’re doing their thing and occasionally backstabbing each other for cash, Sentenza (Cleef), a.k.a. Angel Eyes a.k.a. the Bad, is a gun for hire who by accident learns about $200 000 hidden somewhere and goes off in search of a good pay day.

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Yodle-ooAAH! WAH-wa-wa-wa…

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Eventually, during another attempt at killing each other, Blondie and Tuco also learn of the money, and since they both hold some information about its location, they must stick together in order to claim their reward. Oh, and the American Civil War is also in full swing around them.

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Yodle-odle-ooooo! Wah-WAH-waaah…

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly might be the most famous Western in the world, and it certainly delivers. There’s dust, tumbleweed, weatherbeaten clothes, weatherbeaten men, weatherbeaten horses and donkeys, and lots of beautiful landscapes filled with cacti.

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Yodle-odle-ooooo! Wah-wah-WAAH!

It’s beautiful, intriguing, exciting, funny, tense, occasionally horrific, and thoroughly entertaining, even at three hours long. Ennio Morricone’s score alone is worth the time, and we love how Sergio Leone was not scared of making three hour epics and telling complex stories. If you’re only going to watch one Western in your life, this should be it. Although why on earth would you only watch one Western? They’re amazing!

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Yodle-ooAAH! WAH-wa-wa-wa…

What we learned: Never have a bath without a gun. Also, you’ll never get rid of this earworm…

Next time: Tokyo Drifter (1966)

#277 Seconds

Watched: September 12 2020

Director: John Frankenheimer

Starring: Rock Hudson, John Randolph, Frances Reid, Murray Hamilton, Salome Jens

Year: 1966

Runtime: 1h 46min

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Arthur Hamilton (Randolph) is a middle aged, middle class banker who is tired of his unfulfilling existence. One day he receives a phone call from a deceased friend with promises of a whole new world.

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“A whole new wooorld! A new distorted point of view…”

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He seeks out the address given to him on a train and before he knows it he is pretty much blackmailed to go through with “rebirth” – a faked death, a new name, a new face, and a new life.

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“No point in screaming ‘no’ – you’ve nowhere to go! You’ll wish you’re only dreaming!”

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However, what could seem a dream to many in reality turns into a nightmare when Arthur, now Tony Wilson (Hudson), struggles to adjust to his new existence.

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“A whole new world (each new face a surprise!)”

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Seconds is tense, uncomfortable and unsettling. Tony’s decline and his ultimate fate are completely out of his control and very brutal.

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“A hundred thousand grapes to squeeze (get undressed, you’re a pagan)”

The film gave us a bit of a noir-vibe, possibly because of the way it is shot. We were gripped throughout though very uncomfortable, especially for the last 30 minutes or so. You can see where it’s going, but you still can’t look away.

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“Stop shouting who you are – you’ve gone too far!”

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The only weakness here is in the script – possibly the original book: we would have thought it even more impactful if Arthur/Tony chose to go through with the rebirth. As it is, he was tricked into it, which makes the message somewhat less poignant. In our opinion.

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“Now we’ll take your whole new world awaaaay…”

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All in all, if you want a depressing and disturbing sci-fi film for a rainy Tuesday night, go for Seconds. You can do a lot worse.

What we learned: Don’t believe the hype! (Except the hype about this movie. That’s all true.)

Next time: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

#276 Persona

Watched: August 31 2020

Director: Ingmar Bergman

Starring: Liv Ullman, Bibi Andersson

Year: 1966

Runtime: 1h 20min

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Actress Elisabet Vogler (Ullmann) stopped speaking after a performance of Elektra, and nurse Alma (Andersson) is tasked with looking after her and, if possible, bring her back to the world.

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“I was sure I heard the doctor say you should take care of me, not just stand around posing in the background…”

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The two women retreat to an isolated summer house for some R&R. Soon, Alma bonds strongly with her patient – to the point where she starts finding it difficult to distinguish between herself and Elisabet…

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“OMG, I can’t even tell us apart anymore! #twinsies!”

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So far, this might be our favourite Bergman, and not just because Liv Ullmann is from our city (sort of. Technically, she was born in Tokyo but our local cinema has a whole exhibition about her which is irrefutable proof that she’s officially from Trondheim). As regular readers will have gathered, we love psychological horror dramas with strong female characters and beautiful cinematography, and Persona checks all the boxes.

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If anyone’s wondering what to get us for Christmas, this entire outfit, luggage included, would not go amiss. Make a note!

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We loved the Un Chien Andalou-esque opening, the performances of both main characters, the very explanatory exposition scene at the beginning (we enjoy a good tell-don’t-show-scene), and the Swedish language (this might be considered treason, but Swedish is perhaps more beautiful than Norwegian, despite sounding a tiny bit whiny..).

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Just a second – you’ve got something on your face.

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It is quiet and violent at the same time, beautiful and repulsive, impossible to understand (although Bergman claimed it’s very straight forward and simple), and thoroughly fascinating. It is also a very probable inspiration for Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) – the two might make a good, though emotionally exhausting, double feature. Definitely recommended!

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Say cheese!

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What we learned: Ingmar, your idea of “simple and straight forward” is very different from ours…

Next time: Seconds (1966)

#275 Kill, Baby… Kill!/Operazione paura

Watched: August 20 2016

Director: Mario Bava

Starring: Giacomo Rossi Stuart, Erika Blanc, Fabienne Dali, Piero Lulli, Luciano Catenacci/Max Lawrence

Year: 1966

Runtime: 1h 26min

August, 2016. Two Norwegian sisters drunkenly come up with the idea to skip ahead a bit on the list they recently started. A die is cast. The fates have decided. The choice is Mario Bava’s 1966 horror Kill, Baby… Kill!

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Four years later, the same sisters dig out their notes from that fateful day, ready to write an insightful and witty blog entry based on the impeccable and detailed notes they always keep. However, what they find proves not to be decipherable by the sober mind. Thus, we present them here in their entirety, paired with pictures that may or may not refer to the notes.

“Good dress.”

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Picture this, but in tartan.

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“Dracula, carriage, inn, suspicious locals”

“Remember: suspicious death of good-dress-girl”

“Pronunciation of autopsy

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It’s an autopsy-turvy world!

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“Burgermeister [sic] + witch = plot thickens. Love us some witches.”

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Magica De Spell never seemed to get the love spells quite right

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“Yul Brynner. He dead.”

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Ok, we admit that referring to this guy as Yul Brynner might make us a bit baldist… We’re sorry…

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“Good colours”

“#Creepydoll”

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We have no idea which one we’re referring to…

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“Twin Peaks dude”

“Set in past but 60s pointy boobs”

“So much cobweb! Nothing changed for 20 years.”

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Terrors of the Carpathian Mountains. A list: 1. Dracula. 2. Mutant spiders. 3. Ghostly girls. 4. Endless rooms. 5. Evil doppelgangers.

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“Love the mad woman.”

“Cool shots. Spiral staircase.”

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Wow. That is cool! Well spotted, drunk us!

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Perhaps astute readers will make sense of our ramblings. Or the notes could be the basis for a new, fun drinking game. The possibilities are endless!

What we learned: Who knows? We enjoyed it immensely though.

Next time: Persona (1966)

#274 Gambit

Watched: August 5 2020

Director: Ronald Neame

Starring: Michael Caine, Shirley MacLaine, Herbert Lom

Year: 1966

Runtime: 1h 49min

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Hong Kong. Harry Dean (Caine) approaches nightclub dancer Nicole Chang (MacLaine) with an offer she cannot refuse.

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Who wouldn’t accept $5000 to stand around, say nothing and be alluring for a night? In fact, you can contact us at 1000filmsblog@gmail.com for available days…

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Harry has it all figured out. He will distract the incredibly rich Shahbandar (Lom) with Nicole’s uncanny resemblance to his dead wife. While Shahbandar focuses all his energy on Nicole, Harry will be free to case his apartment and later on steal a valuable bust. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

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…or is that Easy peasy racist squeezy?

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Naturally, everything goes according to plan, both Nicole and Shahbandar play into Harry’s schemes perfectly, none of them has any ideas or agency of their own, and it’s all smooth sailing. It’s a very short film.

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“Look, lady, I didn’t hire you to smile. Or speak. Or be human. Why can’t you just stand around all silent and mysterious and do as you’re told like the woman in my dream heist???”

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You know it’s going to be a good movie when the opening credits include “gowns designed by” and “hairstyles designed by.” At least visually. And Gambit delivers in every way.

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“Just throw in some tinsel and that old Dracula cape we found lying around. Fashion!”

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We loved the contrast between the dream heist and the reality, how much Nicole saves Harry’s ass throughout the movie (he really should have prepared better!), and everything Shirley MacLaine.

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“Now that I’ve got my hands on the prize I will stare wistfully into the distance and think deep thoughts about life, love, priorities and such.”

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This is a very fun, engaging and exciting heist comedy, with some screwball elements and wonderful actors. We were thoroughly entertained!

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Just try to ignore the unfortunate brown-face and cultural appropriation. It’s of its time.

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What we learned: People never behave the way you plan. And some people are worth more than money.

Next time: Kill Baby, Kill! (1966)

#273 Fantastic Voyage

Watched: July 27 2020

Director: Richard Fleischer

Starring: Stephen Boyd, Raquel Welch, Donald Pleasence, Edmond O’Brien, Arthur O’Connelly, William Redfield, Arthur Kennedy, Jean Del Val

Year: 1966

Runtime: 1h 40min

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During the cold war, an important scientist is nearly assassinated, and ends up in a coma.

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Then, to add insult to injury, someone glued a bunch of numbers and letters on his head. For shits and giggles. At least they’re all responsibly wearing masks.

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Surgery to repair the trauma to his brain proves to be too dangerous, and his knowledge is invaluable (if he still retains it), so naturally they come up with the only possible solution: shrink a crew of surgeons, captains, security people etc., and send them into the scientist’s blood stream in a submarine. With a possible traitor. And a laser.

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Why on earth didn’t they just send the surgeon in with the crew who went in to install all the lighting? Would have saved them hours.

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Inside the comatose man (sounds slightly illegal..?), Grant, Cora, the doctors and the rest of the crew encounter many obstacles. Chief among them being antibodies, arteriovenous fistula (learned a new word!), sabotage and sound. Not to mention cobwebs…

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Behold: the consequence of all the spiders you have accidentally consumed throughout your life!

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Fantastic Voyage is a fun and thrilling adventure film which has spawned many a spoof, parody and tribute. We loved the ’60s aesthetics, the disclaimer and title sequence, the lava lamp blood stream, generally everything to do with the design.

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Journey to the Centre of the Lava Lamp

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The plot was also intriguing and exciting, though we did unfortunately peg the traitor from the beginning. We were hoping for a double bluff, but alas!

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Spoiler alert: the saboteur is somewhere in this picture…

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Is it scientifically accurate? Probably not. We’re not physicians or physicists, but our basic understanding of human biology informs us that some artistic liberties may have been taken. However, it is very entertaining and just a tiny bit silly. Definitely worth a watch.

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Then, imagine these guys swimming inside of you. Among the cobwebs…

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What we learned: Humanity has NOT focused enough energy on the development of shrinking technology. Get your priorities straight, science people!

Next time: Gambit (1966)

#272 Daisies

Watched: July 15 2020

Director: Věra Chytilová

Starring: Jitka Cerhová, Ivana Karbanová

Year: 1966

Runtime: 1h 14min

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Two young women, Marie I and Marie II (Cerhová and Karbanová), decide that since the world is going bad, they will get down with the badness and no longer live up to the female ideal of temperance.

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This isn’t even from the film. This is just us on a regular Tuesday.

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After eating apples (Symbolism Alert!), they go on an indulgence spree, eating, drinking and generally helping themselves to everything life has to offer, consequences be damned!

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Even when the consequences include decapitation

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Daisies is hard to describe, it needs to be experienced. And you should. The protagonists are wonderful, and there is still, 50+ years later, something unusually freeing about watching two young women gorge themselves on food and drinks the way they do.

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Our rational, practical, Norwegian brains are still worried about ants in the bed though

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We absolutely loved this – it is strange and surreal, and the costumes and sets are fantastic in every way.

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Sometimes the set even bleeds into the costumes. It’s a whole thing.

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Interestingly, after initial good reviews, the film was pretty much banned in its native Czechoslovakia by the communist regime for “depicting the wanton.” However, it is now generally regarded as one of the great Czechoslovak movies of all time.

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To be fair, what could ever possibly top this?

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Excellent comedy with a message! What’s not to love?

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This will be you as you watch. Trust and believe!

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What we learned: Everyone needs nourishment. And sometimes you have to break the rules.

Next time: Fantastic Voyage (1966)

#271 Cul-De-Sac

Watched: June 29 2020

Director: Roman Polanski

Starring: Donald Pleasence, Françoise Dorléac, Lionel Stander, Jack MacGowran

Year: 1966

Runtime: 1h 52min

For our thoughts on Polanski in general, read this.

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Two injured gangsters, Dickie (Stander) and Albie (MacGowran), come upon a castle on a tidal island where they are stranded due to the tide. The castle’s inhabitants, George (Pleasence) and Teresa (Dorléac) are taken hostage and pulled into a powerplay with Dickie.

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“We may be in a hostage situation, but it’s important to make time for bathing and bonding in between the threats of violence.”

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We were very excited about the concept of this, and it was definitely beautifully shot. We loved parts of it and other parts were a bit meh. For instance, we loved the opening credits, George’s bad paintings (they were supposed to be bad, right..?), the horrible Horace who came to visit, that one clearly fake seagull, Donald Pleasence, and the setting.

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“I sure hope no hardened criminals decide to invade us while we’re playing dress up. Like my wife, they will never take me seriously as a man.”

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However, we didn’t quite get the humour in this comedy… Which probably says more about us than the film itself, but there it is. The dinner party and the grave digging were fun scenes, and Pleasence was a joy to watch, but otherwise we weren’t that into it.

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Alas, poor Albie. We didn’t know him well.

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We also found Teresa a bit confusing as a character. First off, what woman who’s a victim of a home invasion will proceed to sleep naked when the (male) invaders are still in the house? In addition, we’re very much over women in movies/books/etc. who cry rape the minute a prank or seduction goes wrong. Considering the director as well, it left a bad taste.

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Pictured: perfectly normal behaviour for a woman captured in a bad marriage and an ACTUAL HOSTAGE SITUATION! Not gratuitous at all.

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It’s a great concept and beautifully shot in black and white. There are also good performances by all the principal players. But we don’t think this one will stay with us the way many other movies have done. To us, it became a bit forgettable. Perhaps we’re just too biased against Polanski to really enjoy his work..?

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It’s pretty to look at though. So we guess that’s something.

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What we learned: Dames! Also, if you want to come visit, have the courtesy to telephone in advance. Especially if you’re bringing your brat…

Next time: Daisies (1966)

#270 Blow-Up

Watched: June 13 2020

Director: Michelangelo Antonioni

Starring: Vanessa Redgrave, David Hemmings, Sarah Miles, John Castle, Verushka, Jane Birkin, Peter Bowles, Gillian Hills

Year: 1966

Runtime: 1h 51min

Disclaimer: You may experience some unscheduled breaks between blog posts. This is perfectly normal and nothing to panic about. The delays may be due to the fact that Trondheim is finally sunny and thus blogging sisters must spend as much time as possible outdoors before the temperature drops again (and it will). Other delays may happen because of Sister the Youngest’s fancy new job which she started this month. Please be patient, and we’ll be back to normal in no time at all. Or in a while. Who knows?

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Thomas (Hemmings) is a self-centred asshole fashion photographer in swinging London. He is also, as spoiled, rich people often are in movies, bored and disillusioned.

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“Do I objectify women? Of course not! I open my shirt while I’m working and have them squirm half naked underneath me because it’s the professional thing to do.”

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After stalking a couple in a park and ignoring the woman’s request that he stops taking her picture, he is surprised to find the same woman (Redgrave) at his studio. She has come to ask for her pictures back, even going so far as to offer sexual favours for their return.

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“I might consider giving you the film if you get half naked and squirm a bit…”

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He eventually gives her a film roll, but not the one she’s after. Instead, when she leaves he develops the pictures. But what he finds is unexpected: did he acidentally capture a murder on film?

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“Oh no! A white blob! Must be murder.”

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Our favourite scene in Blow-Up was the titular one: where Thomas develops the photos and gradually blows up parts of the images to reveal what was hidden in the background. It’s very well done and exciting to watch.

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Pictured: our second favourite scene and coincidentally our new summer wardrobe.

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We also enjoyed the mystery of what really happened in the park and who the woman was. However, if you’re looking for a mystery which neatly wraps up in the end, stay away! You will find no resolution here.

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Although, according to some sources, you will find the pubic hair of one of these lovely ladies. So if that’s your fetish, enjoy!

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What you will find are such things as excellent mod fashion, great (occasionally stressful) music, gratuitous nudity, an asshole protagonist (who is also a clear inspiration for Austin Powers, but without the charm), beautiful photography, a very Norwegian rock concert audience (no one moves!), an amazing old antiques-dealer who reminded us a bit of Rebecca Femm (“Can’t have landscapes!”), and existential crises.

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Oh, and there are mimes. But don’t let that put you off. It’s actually very tastefully done.

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Overall, we enjoyed this movie. We HATED the protagonist, and the fact that no one seems to have a name (except Ron) made it confusing to take notes as we were watching (yes, we take notes. We are that nerdy…), but it is beautiful to look at and intriguing to watch.

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Life lesson: don’t be like creepy Thomas. Don’t take photos of strangers and then refuse to stop when they ask you to. Have we mentioned that Thomas sucks? ‘Cause he does!

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What we learned: If you find a dead body, try calling the police BEFORE you go partying.

Next time: Cul-De-Sac (1966)