#287 In the Heat of the Night

Watched: December 27 2020

Director: Norman Jewison

Starring: Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, Warren Oates, Lee Grant, Larry Gates, James Patterson

Year: 1967

Runtime: 1h 50min

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Officer Sam Woods (Oates) is doing his rounds in a small Mississippi town when he comes across a dead body. The dead man turns out to Mr Colbert – an investor come to build industry and save the town. There also happens to be a black man waiting for a train at the station, so obviously Woods arrests him for the murder.

“Well sir, he was behaving in a very suspect sort of a way. He was reading while being black.”

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Virgil Tibbs (Poitier), the man arrested, is brought to the Chief of Police Gillespie (Steiger) and questioned. It turns out he is far from a suspect – he is in fact a homicide investigator from Philadelphia. Better than that, he is the homicide investigator in Philadelphia. So his boss suggests he stays behind in Sparta to help solve the murder.

“This is a local murder for local people! There’s nothing for you here!”

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Tibbs is great at his job, something Gillespie recognises despite his racist views. In this small Southern town a black investigator meets with a lot of resistance though, and especially the local Angry Young Men™ mob up to kill him. After some potentially lethal encounters, Gillespie advices Tibbs to leave, but he is unable to walk away from a case. Can the unlikely duo solve it and survive the investigation?

“Actually Chief, we’re presidentially sanctioned Proud Angry Young Boys™. We think you’ll find our tiny dicks are proof of this. We suggest you step out of our way and let us deal with our insecurity by letting a rich white man use us for his own benefit.”

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Even on a freezing December evening in Norway, we could feel the oppressive heat of Sparta, Mississippi. In the Heat of the Night is exciting and unnerving, and edge-of-your-seat tense. Unfortunately, it says a lot about the world that it did not even occur to us for the first hour that Tibbs could survive the movie… It’s a sad statement indeed.

Despite being over 50 years old, it’s still a relevant movie. Its themes of racism, prejudice and social distancing seem surprisingly modern and contemporary!

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Sidney Poitier is mesmerising, the chemistry between him and Rod Steiger is great, the mystery is as intriguing as the exploration of racism and prejudice, and the soundtrack is excellent. This is what you get when you combine a fantastic cast, director and script. It’s a sort of buddy-cop movie, a social commentary drama, a character study, and a great murder mystery all wrapped up in one. We loved it!

Trust us, it’s worth watching for this scene alone. Fight the power!

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What we learned: Don’t let your prejudices cloud your judgment.

Next time: Le Samouraï (1967)

#286 In Cold Blood

Watched: December 6 2020

Director: Richard Brooks

Starring: Robert Blake, Scott Wilson, John Forsythe, Paul Stewart

Year: 1967

Runtime: 2h 14min

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Perry (Blake) is a slightly simple ex-con who dreams of fame and fortune. He breaks his parole so he can return to Kansas in order to meet up with old cell mate Dick (Wilson), who can offer him a sure thing. Monetary wise, that is. Not a date or anything.

If you can think of a single date idea which would require a trip to the hardware store in preparation, we’d like to know. Then, leave your contact information and the number for your local police.

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Another old prison buddy has told Dick about a hidden safe in the basement of a farmer, and the pair plan to get their hands on it. However, what could have been a simple burglary soon turns into a bloodbath…

“Bubble bath. I said I wanted a BUBBLE bath. You need to get your hearing aid fixed.”

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We don’t want to reveal too much here even though it’s a 50 year old film based on an even older book based on a yet older real crime… Suffice to say investigators are soon on the criminals’ trails. But what really happened? And who pulled the trigger?

Also, who wore the easily identifiable shoes to a crime scene???

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This movie is amazing and you should watch it. We loved the build up to the crime and the fact that we then skipped neatly to the aftermath without seeing it play out. It is excellently structured, well acted and overall really well done. The 2+ hours fly by!

Like the lit-up club, casino and hotel signs in old-timey montages! Imagine “Mas Que Nada” playing in the background.

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Now, Dick is a dick from the beginning. Perry is perhaps a bit more sympathetic, but they both share the same anger issues. They are disenfranchised young men with a murderous streak and little left to lose.

They are also traumatized by abusive childhoods and war. Sorry, it’s hard to make hilarious captions about this story…

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As the movie plays out, you keep forgetting that Perry and Dick have killed an entire family – probably because you don’t actually see them do it. Which is somewhat unsettling and uncomfortable when you find yourself giggling at their shenanigans and sort of hoping they’ll get away.

On the other hand, we’re also introduced to this ridiculously wholesome family, who certainly did not deserve their fate. Our loyalties are torn, is all we’re saying. And we guess that’s sort of the point…

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Real question though, are trials in the USA that revenge-driven, or are they just that way in movies? Because for us rational (some would say cold and unfeeling, we prefer logical and Spock-like) Norwegians, emotions and ideas of revenge are not what should decide the outcome of a trial… Just a thought there, America.

What we learned: American trials are insane… Also, sometimes things just don’t make sense.

Next time: In the Heat of the Night (1967)

#285 Dont Look Back

Watched: November 23 2020

Director: D. A. Pennebaker

Starring: Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Albert Grossman, Bob Neuwirtz, etc.

Year: 1967

Runtime: 1h 36min

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We have a confession to make. We don’t really care that much about Bob Dylan…

Sorry ’bout it, Bob

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I mean, sure, we know the hits, we know the face and we get the general gist of his appeal, but he was never really our cup of tea. Or coffee for that matter. Still, we thought, we’ll give this a go. Perhaps it will be our come-to-Jesus-moment?

Real question: would Jesus amass the same following if he played the harmonica..?

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For those not in the know, Dont Look Back is a documentary covering one of Dylan’s UK tours. It’s an interesting look into the folk music scene in the ’60s, the “proper” establishment versus the young, rebellious musicians, fame versus artistry, and it’s probably a perfect film for Bob Dylan fans to enjoy together, preferably with a couple of beers and loads of cigarettes.

Why yes, Bob, that would be the ideal place to host such a gathering.

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Esthetically, it’s very pleasing as well. The black and white photography is beautiful, the start is very cool, the music is of course excellent, and the style works very well with the contents. Also, the negotiation scene is surprisingly intriguing, and overall we enjoyed it.

What’s that Bob? What are you trying to say? Did Timmy fall in the pig pen?

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However, Dylan himself comes across as an arrogant, argumentative prick. Which isn’t really the best way to win us over as fans, reported genius aside. In fact, we found him quite annoying… Which probably wasn’t the intention, but that was the unfortunate result, and we tend not to like artists who are argumentative bastards, no matter their cultural importance.

Perhaps it is, Bob. Perhaps it is. But is it ours or yours..?

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In conclusion: esthetically, filmatically, culturally and historically, this movie is definitely worth watching and you get a fantastic sense of the 1960s. Personally, it’s hard to like Bob Dylan in this – sure he’s cute and charming, but he’s also fucking annoying and arrogant. Then again, he was 23 years old and everybody worshipped him, so can you really hold it against him..?

You know, you’re right. You should dig yourself. Way too many people are too hard on themselves. All we’re saying is that there’s nothing wrong with being nice to other people even if you think you’re better than them.

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What we learned: We’re the wrong audience for this movie.

Next time: In Cold Blood (1967)

#284 Cool Hand Luke

Watched: November 15 2020

Director: Stuart Rosenberg

Starring: Paul Newman, George Kennedy, J. D. Cannon, Lou Antonio, Robert Drivas, Strother Martin, Jo Van Fleet, Dennis Hopper, Wayne Rogers

Year: 1967

Runtime: 2h 7min

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Lucas Jackson (Newman) is given 2 years for destruction of property after a drunken sabotage of parking meters. He’s sent to a chain gang where he first gets off on the wrong foot with his fellow prisoners, particularly Drag (Kennedy), before ultimately earning their respect for his cool manner, egg eating ability, and utter lack of fucks to give.

Behold the field in which I grow my fucks. Lay thine eyes upon it and thou shalt see that it is barren.

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Luke’s prison stay seems to go all right considering the circumstances. That is, until his mother (Fleet) dies. The guards are sympathetic and make arrangements for him to get a day’s leave to attend the funeral. Just kidding! They lock him up in their torture device “the box,” which is exactly what it says on the tin – a tiny wooden box where he is forced to spend his days/nights until the burial is over. The reason: he might be tempted to escape to go see his dead mother.

We could probably make a bunch of jokes comparing the size of the box to an average NYC apartment. But we’re better than that.

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After his stint in the torture-box, Luke, who seemed content enough to do his time when he sort of flew under the radar, has had enough. His new goal is to get out, and to cause as much disruption for the guards as possible. So he escapes. And is caught. And put in chains. And escapes. And is caught. And given even more chains. And then tortured physically and mentally to his breaking point.

“Please. No more. I can’t. It’s not right. It’s inhuman. No more burpees!!!”

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We loved, loved, loved this, and are cursing ourselves for having to get a ridiculously time consuming project like this in order to actually watch it. What took us so long? Do not make our mistake!

We’re tempted to punch a bitch. A.k.a. ourselves.

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Like most prison movies (we’re thinking The Hill, The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Great Escape, etc.) Cool Hand Luke is infused with a distinct sense of dread, even through the scenes which are pleasant enough like the poker playing and the tarring of the road. You just know that this cannot possibly end well.

“Hey guys! Let’s humiliate the power hungry sadists pointing guns at us! It’ll be hilarious and not at all dangerous.”

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It’s also a fantastic cannot-hold-me-down-movie with a hero who is quietly rebellious and awesome throughout. And though his lack of self-preservation is a bit frustrating for sensible Norwegians, we recognize the defiance and opposition of Luke. We share those traits – we’d just break a lot sooner…

Also, none of us has ever eaten more than three eggs in a single sitting. Other than that, our similarities to Luke are uncanny. Uncanny.

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Also, we absolutely loved the gratuitous scantily-clad-woman-washing-car scene. Whether it’s the result of the sex starved imaginations of the prisoners, or a woman desperate for “safe” attention (they can’t really do anything), it’s hilarious.

Our similarities to “Lucille” are also uncanny. Uncanny.

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What we learned: Prison is all fun and games until they decide to break you.

Next time: Don’t Look Back (1967)

#283 Bonnie and Clyde

Watched: November 14 2020

Director: Arthur Penn

Starring: Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Michael J. Pollard, Estelle Parsons, Gene Wilder

Year: 1967

Runtime: 1h 51min

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Bonnie Parker (Dunaway) is a bored small town waitress looking for trouble. Trouble arrives in the form of recently released convict Clyde Barrow (Beatty). The two fall instantly in love when he tries to steal her mother’s car and then performs a robbery just to prove to Bonnie that he really is a convict.

“Impotence and poverty don’t bother me none, but there’s no way I’ll ever date a man who doesn’t have a record.”

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Bonnie and Clyde take off to travel around the US robbing and looting. You know, normal first-year-of-a-relationship-stuff. Soon, the two hook up with gas station attendant C.W. Moss (Pollard), kill their first man, and go see a musical. Two of those things might be more important to the plot than the other. Once Clyde’s brother Buck (Hackman) and his wife Blanche (Parsons) join the group as well, the Barrow gang is born.

We pillage, we plunder, we rifle and loot!
We kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot!
We also need all your money and a fourth for our barbershop quartet.

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The gang continue the crime spree started by the protagonists, and as they grow in notoriety and their crimes grow in brutality, the web starts closing in around them. It’s not long before law enforcement starts to catch up…

“No, ma’am, I ain’t here to arrest you. I just wanted a picture for the grandkids. Much obliged!”

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Bonnie and Clyde doesn’t really follow a traditional structure – it starts right in on the action and then has a fairly flat structure throughout, until the final shoot out and credits. Which is not a criticism – it works. There’s just not a lot of ups and downs in action and tension. In a lot of ways, it reminded us of some of the French movies we’ve watched from the ’60s, which is probably intentional from the director. The flat structure also gives it a bit of a documentary feel, although there’s very little else which gives that impression.

Least of all Gene Wilder’s face. There’s no way you can watch his scenes in this movie and not project the character of Fronkonsteen onto this hapless young man.

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We loved the old timey car chases, the costumes, the clip from Gold Diggers of 1933, and the match made in hell of Bonnie and Clyde. As always with movies based on real events, we fall for the temptation of doing some fact checking, and so here is some trivia, based on about 5 minutes of googling. Inaccuracies may occur.
1. There’s little evidence to substantiate the claim that Clyde Barrow was impotent or otherwise unable to perform sexually. There is however some evidence that he was brutally raped in prison, and also that he was bisexual.
2. The couple killed their first man in 1932, but then went right to the cinema to see a movie musical released in 1933. We can only conclude that the pair owned a time machine [citation needed].

“Hey, Clyde!” “Yeah, Bonnie?” “Do you think maybe we should have used that time travel thingamajig to foresee this predicament?” “Well, it’s too late now!” “Uhm… Is it..?”

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Despite the historical inaccuracies and the fact that Bonnie and Clyde never once used their time machine to do anything except watch movies, we really enjoyed this. It is of course an inaccurate version of the very real criminals, but they’re perhaps not overly romanticized – they’re both flawed people in difficult situations, neither heroic nor vilified. All in all, very good. And we can’t wait for the inevitable sequel where they team up with Marty McFly.

“Just gotta get this bad boy up to 88 mph and we are home free!”

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What we learned: The minute someone orders you to change your hair is the minute you should dump them. Also, Arthur Penn was in love with Faye Dunaway’s face.

Next time: Cool Hand Luke (1967)

#282 Belle de Jour

Watched: November 2 2020

Director: Luis Buñuel

Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Jean Sorel, Michel Piccoli, Geneviève Page, Pierre Clémenti

Year: 1967

Runtime: 1h 40min

Séverine (Deneuve) is married to Pierre (Sorel) and on the surface their relationship is perfect. He is a respected and successful doctor and she is… pretty. That’s basically all you need to make a marriage work.

Well, that and the occasional light BDSM

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However, there is trouble in paradise. Séverine struggles with her sexuality after childhood molestation and is unable to have a normal sexlife with her husband. Her sexuality is further confused by her BDSM/rape fantasies – fantasies she cannot act on or even communicate to Pierre.

“You’re right, it has been a while since we saw your parents. Perhaps we should go next weekend? Oh, and could you pick up some milk after work tomorrow? Great. By the way, I’m going to need you to tie me up and rape me in order to get over my sexual hang-ups. And Renee says hi! We played tennis earlier today.”

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Since therapy was obviously not yet invented in France in the 1960s, Séverine decides to deal with her problems in her own way, by becoming a prostitute. Every day between two and five, she entertains at Madame Anais’ (Page) brothel as “Belle de jour” – Beauty of the day. Now, while this gives Séverine an opportunity to explore her sexuality in a “safe” way (i.e. with no emotional involvement or societal expectation of purity), this charade cannot last. Especially when one client becomes more than just a random John…

What woman can resist an underfed, criminal, alternative rock band front man with violent tendencies and an emo haircut?

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We love us some Buñuel, and Belle de jour delivers. The surrealism he’s known for may not be as pronounced as in many of his other works, but there are definite influences in the blurring of fantasy, dream and reality. It’s also an excellent example of how to make something sexy and alluring without actually showing much skin, and a very interesting exploration of “broken” female sexuality.

Oh, and did we mention Séverine’s outfits by Yves Saint-Laurent? That girl looks gooood in this movie (as opposed to her usual drab and dowdy look, you know).

Life Hack: You can always tell fiction from reality based on how many coats a person owns. If you’re supposed to be middle class but have a new coat for every day of the month, you’re a fictional character. If you’re unsure about your own status, check your closet and start counting.

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The costumes were great, we loved the Asian client (what’s with the bells?? What’s in the box???), we loved to hate Mr Husson (a truly horrible man), and we really enjoyed not always knowing which part was real life, which part was fantasy… There was also a touch of À bout de souffle towards the ending. All in all, this was a winner!

“I never imagined it could be so… small. And shiny! Has it always been detachable?”

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What we learned: All the things that can fuck up a girl’s sexuality. Also, men can proudly visit prostitutes, but prostitutes must be ashamed of providing the service. Go figure.

Next time: Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

#281 What’s Up, Tiger Lily?

Watched: October 22 2020

Director: Woody Allen/Senkichi Taniguchi

Starring: Woody Allen, The Lovin’ Spoonful, Frank Buxton, Louise Lasser, Tatsuya Mihashi, Mie Hama, Akiko Wakabayashi, Julie Bennett

Year: 1966

Runtime: 1h 20min

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What’s Up, Tiger Lily? is a strange little thing. Basically, Woody Allen has taken a Japanese James Bond-style action comedy and redubbed it to make a whole new, and very silly, story. The new film revolves around the quest for the ultimate recipe for egg salad, and it is packed full of silly jokes and sexual innuendo.

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This was clearly an American influence – the original movie was clean as a whistle

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Ok, so the idea is good, and the first 30-40 minutes were very funny and entertaining, in a silly comedy à la Airplane sort of way. The juxtaposition of the action thriller with the decidedly silly dialogue, and specifically the club dancing with the music of “The Lovin’ Spoonful”, worked well and we found it funny and entertaining.

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Oh, how we were waiting for a “drinking problem” joke. None was forthcoming…

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However, after about 35 minutes, we must admit that both sisters started to lose interest. It didn’t really go anywhere new anymore, and the jokes, which were always a bit hit or miss, were beginning to grow a bit tired…

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At this point, the Japanese version was starting to seem more intriguing (and absurd) than the parody. Check out the fancy pirate flag!

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By the end, we became the movie audience we personally hate – the ones sitting on their phones while “watching” a film. We’re sorry. To all those who had faith in us, we apologize and promise to do better on the next one.

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Love in the time of Corona

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Despite the fact that Woody Allen does not appear onscreen a lot, there are some uncomfortable connotations from a modern point of view in this movie, especially during the credits. Innocent enough jokes in 1966 take on a new dimension given everything that has transpired since. However, that’s not our problem with this. In our opinion, the movie’s main weakness is that the concept doesn’t quite work for 1h 20 – it might have been better as a series of 20 minute episodes based on different films, or even a stand-alone 30 minute short.

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“30 minutes? I’m way too funny for a 30 minute short! Imbeciles…”

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In conclusion: we enjoyed the first half more than we thought we would, and lost interest in the last half. This is definitely not a movie for all audiences, and we suspect that it’s one of those love it or hate it kind of things. Although we neither loved or hated it. We were just a bit underwhelmed.

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Also, we don’t find the idea of tricking women into stripping on camera as amusing as Allen apparently did.

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What we learned: Bring the cattle prod.

Next time: Belle de Jour (1967)

#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)