#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)

#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)

#246 The Umbrellas of Cherbourg/Les parapluies de Cherbourg

Watched: November 11 2019

Director: Jacques Demy

Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Nino Castelnuovo, Anne Vernon, Marc Michel, Ellen Farner, Mireille Perrey

Year: 1964

Runtime: 1h 31min

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Geneviève Emery (Deneuve) lives with her mother Mme Emery (Vernon) in Cherbourg, selling umbrellas. Not umbrellas, bags, shoes, and raincoats, or anything which might help them actually earn a living. Nope. Just umbrellas. We’ve never been to Cherbourg, but now our impression is that of a rainy town filled with forgetful and/or wasteful people.

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“Maman! Maman! I think I see a raincloud! If someone didn’t check the forecast before they left the house today we might actually eat something this week.”

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Not surprisingly, the mother-daughter-team struggle to make ends meet and Maman wants her daughter to marry rich. Specifically Roland (Michel), a character we remember from Lola, who has taken a fancy to the young umbrella salesgirl. Geneviève on the other hand is in love with mechanic Guy (Castelnuovo) and plans to marry him, money be damned!

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“Don’t worry about money, my love. The constant rain makes the roads very slippery, so my mechanics business is thriving!”

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Then, Guy is drafted into the army and sent off to fight in the Algerian War. A few months later, Geneviève confesses to her mother than she is pregnant. She is also worried about Guy who only answers her letters sporadically.

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“You did actually get something in the mail, but it’s possible all the wallpaper in this house has damaged your eyesight to the point that you cannot read simple letters”

 

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Roland (who may or may not have grown up a bit since the last movie where he famously made his unrequited feelings for Lola her problem instead of dealing with it on his own) is still willing to marry Geneviève despite her being pregnant by someone else. He offers security and comfort. So what should she do?

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Just try to blend in and wait for all this to blow over.

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Oh, and did we mention that all of this is conveyed to us through the medium of song? Because it is. Every single word in this movie is sung (not necessarily by the actors), and continuously accompanied by the wonderful score. Additionally, the photography and colours are so bright and vivid that you can’t help being sucked into the story.

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It’s enough to give you a toothache. But, like, a good one.

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We loved the colours, the music, the random interruptions by passers-by during Geneviève and Guy’s date, the wallpaper (we want ALL of it – we don’t care if it blinds us!), and drama queen Auntie Élise (Perrey).

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“As I keep saying, I’ll probably die soon. Most likely when you’re away. When that happens, be a dear and send all my capes to a couple of sisters in Trondheim, Norway.”

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The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is a sort of continuation of Lola (1961), and also connected to the upcoming The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967). It’s an intriguing universe filled with men befriending the mothers of young girls, and storylines that don’t always go where you expect them to. It is a universe we recommend you visit at some point.

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Gorgeous!

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What we learned: Use protection. Also, life doesn’t always turn out the way you planned. But it might be OK after all.

Next time: Topkapi (1964)

#234 A Hard Day’s Night

Watched: June 10 2019

Director: Richard Lester

Starring: The Beatles, Wilfrid Brambell, Norman Rossington, John Junkin

Year: 1964

Runtime: 1h 27min

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It’s been a hard day’s night, and I’ve been working like a dog
It’s been a hard day’s night, I should be sleeping like a log
But when I get home to you I find the things that you do
Will make me feel alright

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“Wait, why are we all running in the same direction if I’m going home to my girl..?”

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You know I work all day to get you money to buy you things
And it’s worth it just to hear you say you’re going to give me everything
So why on earth should I moan, ’cause when I get you alone
You know I feel ok

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“Finally. We’re alone…”

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When I’m home everything seems to be right
When I’m home feeling you holding me tight,

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“tight, yeah!”

 

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It’s been a hard day’s night, and I’ve been working like a dog
It’s been a hard day’s night, I should be sleeping like a log
But when I get home to you I find the things that you do
Will make me feel alright, oww!

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“So, turns out I have to find my own girl to go home to. I can’t share Ringo’s. Any takers?”

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So why on earth should I moan, ’cause when I get you alone
You know I feel ok

When I’m home everything seems to be right
When I’m home feeling you holding me tight, tight, yeah

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“Now pout for the camera, boys!”

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Oh, it’s been a hard day’s night, and I’ve been working like a dog
It’s been a hard day’s night, I should be sleeping like a log
But when I get home to you I find the things that you do
Will make me feel alright
You know I feel alright
You know I feel alright

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“So, we’re all happy with these lyrics?” “Sure!” “Yeah!” “Love ’em!” “I mean, they are a bit repetitive maybe…?” “Shut your filthy mouth! This is perfection!”

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Very silly and charming, and an inspiration for so many different genres. Definitely watch this. Such fun!

What we learned: The Spiceworld of its time was almost as good as Spiceworld! But of course, Paul, John, George and Ringo will never be as charismatic and popular as Ginger, Scary, Sporty, Baby, Curly, Moe, Larry, Huey, Louie, Dewey, Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Zeppo, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy, Dopey, Doc, Posh and all the other Spice Girls.

Next time: A Shot in the Dark (1964)

#187 Beat Girl

Watched: July 11 2018

Director: Edmond T. Gréville

Starring: Gillian Hills, David Farrar, Noëlle Adam, Christopher Lee, Adam Faith, Oliver Reed

Year: 1960

Runtime: 1h 29min

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Jennifer (Hills) is a poor little rich girl with daddy issues and a need to distinguish herself and find her identity. She spends her time with sort-of boyfriend Dave (Faith), a musician with a magical guitar that can play all instruments, and his beatnik friends in a bar in Soho.

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As all teenagers, they are the only ones who have found the real answer to life. Skipping school and living for kicks, unlike those other squares!

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When her rich architect dad Paul (Farrar) brings home his new French wife Nichole (Adam), Jennifer is less than impressed. She rejects all of Nichole’s attempts at forming a relationship, even though her new stepmom might just be the only one who really tries to understand the girl.

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It helps that the daughter and the new wife are practically the same age

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Paul is more interested in his vision of a future city he wants to build than he is in his daughter, which drives Jennifer to increasingly risky behaviour to get his attention. When a local stripper recognizes Nichole, Jennifer makes it her mission to dig up dirt from her stepmother’s past, which puts her on the radar of dangerous strip club owner Kenny (Lee).

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“I am Dracu… I mean, I am Kenny! Dammit.”

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We really enjoyed Beat Girl despite our sympathy for Jennifer being a bit limited. Maybe we’re too old to empathise completely with a spoiled girl playing at being special and shocking, although we can understand her motivation and we like that she shows some spunk and self-preservation, especially in her dealings with Kenny.

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Pictured: not the father figure you’re looking for.

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Still, she’s a bit of a pretentious bitch. However, we loved the opening scene, the music (by John Barry), the now dated slang used by the teenagers, and the very salacious strip tease.

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FYI, if you like women who know their way around a sheet, this is the film for you!

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It’s a well-scored and interesting perspective on the disenfranchised post-war generation and well worth watching.

What we learned: Play with fire and you’ll get burnt. Also, we need Dave’s magical guitar!

Next time: Black Sunday (1960)