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Showing posts from October, 2014

For Halloween

A scene from the film, Messiah of Evil (1973) Directed by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz





I first saw Messiah of Evil over a year ago, but it slipped my grasp.As with William Peter Blatty's similarly surreal and brilliant The Ninth Configuration (1980), also viewed in 2013, I was simply unable to write anything substantial about it, at the time.This scene - which significantly presents a murder in a cinema (very self-referential) and riffs on a more famous sequence from Hitchcock's colossal The Birds (1963) - really does deserve to be thought of as one of the greatest of horror set-pieces.
The film, a precursor in its ornate and often fantastical look to the Technicolor terrors of Dario Argento movies, such as Suspir

Key Films #35

Wicked City[Yoshiaki Kawajiri, 1987]:
The representation of women in this film is contentious, to say the least.As with certain other films directed by Kawajiri, such as the analogous Demon City Shinjuku (1988), and perhaps his best known work, the violent and vivid samurai fantasy Ninja Scroll (1993), the female characters here tend to fall into two distinct types.Although strong-minded and independent enough in their own way, they exist, either as pawns to be placed in perilous situations that arise for no other reason than to facilitate an act of heroism from the archetypal male lead, or they become helpless victims that are subjected to lengthy and gratuitous scenes of sexual sadism and violent abuse.While the practicalities of this particular example might seem tame when compared to a more notorious title, like the infamous Urotsukidōji series (1987-1989), or even a live-action feature, such as the Takashi Miike directed Ichi the Killer (2001) - both of which seem to objectify sex…

Key Films #34

The Man Who Lies [Alain Robbe-Grillet, 1968]:
Like the preceding Trans-Europ-Express (1966), the fittingly titled The Man Who Lies is essentially an exercise in cinematic deconstruction.Specifically, a deconstruction of the conventional devices used in narrative storytelling, and - even more specifically - of the role of the protagonist (or narrator) to provide a greater context, understanding and clarification for the events, as they unfold.What Robbe-Grillet does to achieve this hypothesis is to dismantle the notion of accepted (or, more "tangible") reality - which conventionally propels the standard cinematic arc - and, in doing so, places the narrator in a greater position of power over that of the viewing audience.When the narrator (and, by extension, the central character) is gunned down by an armed militia in the film's first scene - only to be brought back to life moments later as if nothing had ever occurred - Robbe-Grillet is communicating the inherent intangibi…

Top Ten: 1990

Ranking the Decades A Year in Film List + Image Gallery

Gremlins 2: The New Batch [Joe Dante, 1990]:

Edward Scissorhands [Tim Burton, 1990]:

Trust [Hal Hartley, 1990]:

Close-Up [Abbas Kiarostami, 1990]:

Innisfree [José Luis Guerín, 1990]:

Nouvelle vague [Jean-Luc Godard, 1990]:

The Comfort of Strangers [Paul Schrader, 1990]:

No Fear, No Die [Claire Denis, 1990]:

Miller's Crossing [Joel & Ethan Coen, 1990]:

Dick Tracy[Warren Beatty, 1990]:

Top Ten: 1991

Ranking the Decades A Year in Film List + Image Gallery

Germany Year 90 Nine Zero [Jean-Luc Godard, 1991]:

The Suspended Step of the Stork [Theodoros Angelopoulos, 1991]:

Only Yesterday[Isao Takahata, 1991]:

The Fisher King [Terry Gilliam, 1991]:

Barton Fink[Joel & Ethan Coen, 1991]:

Kafka[Steven Soderbergh, 1991]:

Europa [Lars von Trier, 1991]:

JFK [Oliver Stone, 1991]:

Jacquot de Nantes [Agnès Varda, 1991]:

The Visitor (aka The Stranger) [Satyajit Ray, 1991]:

Top Ten: 1992

Ranking the Decades A Year in Film List + Image Gallery

Céline[Jean-Claude Brisseau, 1992]:

Chasing Butterflies [Otar Iosseliani, 1992]:

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me [David Lynch, 1992]:

Antigone [Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub, 1992]:

Lessons of Darkness [Werner Herzog, 1992]:

Light Sleeper [Paul Schrader, 1992]:

A Sense of History [Mike Leigh, 1992]:

Dream of Light (aka The Quince Tree Sun) [Víctor Erice, 1992]:

Candyman [Bernard Rose, 1992]:

Top Ten: 1993

Ranking the Decades A Year in Film List + Image Gallery

Oh, Woe is Me! (Hélas pour moi) [Jean-Luc Godard, 1993]:

King of the Hill [Steven Soderbergh, 1993]:

Matinee [Joe Dante, 1993]:

Abraham's Valley [Manoel de Oliveira, 1993]:

Manhattan Murder Mystery [Woody Allen, 1993]:

Three Colours: Blue [Krzysztof Kieślowski, 1993]:

D'Est (From the East) [Chantal Akerman, 1993]:

Blue [Derek Jarman, 1993]:

Carlito's Way [Brian De Palma, 1993]:

Faraway, So Close!