Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A cast of a hundred thousand + …COMPETITION #3


I've just had over 100.000 visitors here at CiNEZiLLA, and to celebrate this happy moment it's competition time once again!

Photobucket


Together with my great friend Bill over at ONARFILMS we’ve set up a grand prize of five spiffy, spunky and surreal gems, that you really need to have in your collection.

CAPTAIN SWING THE FEARLESS

TARZAN IN ISTANBUL

THE RED PLUME GENGHIS KHAN

CASUS KIRAN – SPY SMASHER

THE SERPENTS TALE

Not to forget the 40 page booklet cataloguing the Turkish Fantastic Films!

But we’re not going to give them away for free! You will have to work for it if you want to walk away with the booty this time.

OK, so below you will find SIX questions, and you need to email me your answers (killfinger (at) hotmail (dot) com) before 2:20 am on the 15th of April 2011 to be valid. Thereafter Bill and I will draw a winner who will receive this awesome pack of psychotronic cinema from Turkey!

1. What’s the name of Turkey’s equivalent to Hollywood?

2. Name 5 Hollywood characters transferred to Turkish films.

3. Who played Tarzan in TARZAN ISTANBULDA?

4. Which ONE of these characters has NOT appeared in a Turkish film: FU MANCHU, DR. NO, THE INVISIBLE MAN, JACK THE RIPPER or THE ANGEL OF DEATH?

5. CASUS KIRAN stars Yildrim Gencer and Irfan Atasoy both starred in another Turkish masked avenger series directed by the same director. Who was he and what was the movie series?

6. Name 3 titles of Superhero/Fantastic movies with female characters in them!


There you have it! Get to work, and good luck to you all!


J.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Massacre Time

Massacre Time
Original title: Tempo Di Massacro
Directed by: Lucio Fulci
Italy, 1966
Spaghetti Western, 92min
Distributed by: Substance

The Lucio Fulci Spaghetti Westerns, all three of them - five if you count his two adaptations of Jack London’s Call of the Wild [Zanna Bianca (White Fang) 1973 & Il ritorno di Zanna Bianca (Challenge to White Fang) 1974 - but as far as straight Spaghetti Westerns – three. Nowhere near enough if you ask me. There’s plenty of shitty comments and hard critique aimed against these flicks. Perhaps more than the praise really they deserve is aimed at theses three movies. But they are important movies, and movies where Fulci explored and rooted some of his most favoured themes and traits.

From the opening scenes of “Junior” Scott’s merciless manhunt, obviously inspired by Ernest B. Schoedsacks The Most Dangerous Game 1932, the tone of Lucio Fulci’s Massacre Time is set instantly. A hard, brutal and sadistic movie is exactly what is being served up here, and if you didn’t quite catch just how bad ass Junior is, there will soon be several more occasions to see just how deep his hate of mankind goes.

There are a lot of fans that like Massacre Time, and try to force the works of Fulci upon other filmmakers, as to give some sort of cultural value to the works of Fulci. I can completely understand them, and appreciate why they do it, but for myself I have reached a point where I don’t feel the need to evaluate Fulci’s work compared to others. He was a masterful visionary, and a great director, so there’ nothing to debate, Fulci stands alone. As should every filmmaker! One point that commonly get’s “forced” into Fulci’s final scenes to Massacre Time is that it’s supposedly a influence or sometimes “similar in style to the ballistic ballet” of John Woo’s eighties action flicks. This is obviously completely absurd. Yes it's an amusing thought, but we don’t need to force Fulci referents into other works, and I’ll get back to what those pigeons mean in a while.

The only scenes in any Fulci movie to seemingly have had an apparent inspiration someone further down the road – apart from the obvious effects and grotesque moments - is the Egyptian bookend that opens and closes Manhattan Baby 1982. A little movie called Hellraiser 1982, directed by Clive Barker opens and starts in the exact same way. A mysterious market, a strange merchant and the obvious one, the Medallion/Lament Box being passed on and on. Fulci considered Barker to be one of his friends and dedicated Voci dal profondo (Voices from Beyond) 1994 to Barker, and Claudio Carabba.

The Fulci westerns are decent westerns, and they certainly do polarise their audience, where most Spaghetti Western fans consider them so-so, the gore hounds find them slow and tedious, whilst the hardcore Fulci fans are fascinated by them lapping up every second of the narrative as he brings his assortment of traits to the wild west. That’s where you find me; I’m still finding new stuff on each occasion I re-watch a Lucio Fulci flick.

Franco Nero, somewhat mimicking his performance in Sergio Corbucci’s Django, (Franco who also starred in Mino Guerrini’s Giallo Il terzo Occhip (The Third Eye) Antonio Margheriti’s I diafanoidi vengono da Marte (War of the Planets) and as Abel in John Huston’s The Bible all in the same year - no wonder the guy looks tired), gives an somewhat engaging performance as the young Tom Corbert, who after receiving a letter from home returns to the town he once rode out of. There’s an uncertainty to who summoned him when he confronts his drunken half-brother Jeffrey [George Hilton], who obviously didn’t call for Tom’s assistance. Although there is a very clear protagonist presented when Tom first rides into town and sees the insignia of J.S. on almost everything in town, and moments later the scornful Junior [Nino Castelnuovo in an awesome performance]. The two brothers share no love, and there’s some really sublime stuff going on in the Colt house. In one scene Junior points out to his father how he misses his late night love… make what you will of it, but there’s definitely an incest theme going on there, and they climax the scene by playing a tune together on the piano!Needless to say Tom and Jeffrey – who proves to be the real hero of the piece if we where to apply Joseph Campbell’s The Heroes Journey as he’s the one who “refuses the call” – argue and bicker until they have a good old classic bar brawl that more or less joins them at the hip and they decide to take on the sinister Scott family. Which exactly what they do, with a few obstacles along the way – obstacles like a good old whipping, some sneaky shot in the back executions and a jolly violent massacre at the end.

An important thing to keep in mind here is that up until Massacre Time, Fulci had only directed comedies and rather chirpy movies with musical segments. Massacre Time is of importance as this is where he first starts to explore the traits that would become synonymous with his later work in the seventies and eighties. The wonderful sadistic and exploitative violence of Lucio Fulci, and if you fail to see it, then just check out the whip scene and think of Non si sevizia un paperino (Don’t Torture a Duckling) and/or Paura nella città dei morti viventi (City of the Living Dead), and you will know exactly what I’m talking about. Where Dario Argento frequently uses several waves of assault in his violent scenes – like being pulled though a glass window, stabbed repeatedly in the heart, tossed through a ceiling window, hung and then finally fall to the ground, see never an easy death in an Argento flick – Lucio Fulci often tended to focus on the sadistic effects of events on his characters. It’s not just one or two bullwhip lashes that tear the skin of Tom Corbett, but an exaggerated and prolonged suffering that is a classic Fulci trait, all 87 of the lashings.

Being a stereotypical Spaghetti Western Massacre Time uses the schematic laid by previous movies, and has the hero take one hell of a beating before standing back up and settling the score. Massacre Time has the splendid peculiarity that the “Hero” in the traditional meaning still stays quite passive, and it’s brother Jeffrey, who actually is the sharpshooting settler of scores when it all comes around.

The script was written by Fernando di Leo, who was writing a lot of crime and Polizietti flicks at the same time, taking into consideration that there are No female characters of importance – a trait quite common in di Leo’s work – it’s most likely that Fulci didn’t have too much to do with the script. Because Fulci commonly had at least one cornerstone female in the most of his best works, and here’s that vital “Fulciesque” ingredient is missing. But this is not just a cheap spaghetti western when you start to explore it. I’d like to point out that there’s almost a story with Greek tragedy proportions hidden away in that great script. – Now before I get into explaining this, I need to warn you that I’m going to spoil a huge part of the movie here with this thread, so you ma want to skip over to the next section. - Tom Corbett is missing, lacking if you like, or even yearning for a family It may not seem so considering that he abandoned his mother, and he never really had any connection with his brother Jeffrey. But he packs up and heads home in a jiffy when receiving that letter summoning him back to Laramie. He has no idea of who his father is either. He’s quite a lonely character when it all comes around and there lies the desire to belong to a unit, a positive value, a family. He tries to bond with his older half brother Jeffrey, but Jeffery won’t have it, and instead they annoy each other. So during the final act, there’s a great sinister twist about to hammer down on the Tom character. An ironic twist, with a definitive tragic motif as Tom learns that his real father was Mr. Scott [Guiseppe Addobbati]. It was also Mr Scott who sent the letter to summon Tom back to Laramie, and Mr. Scott’s hidden agenda was to leave all the Scott fortune to Tom! This is also why Mr. Scott reacts to that exaggerated whipping earlier on; after all it’s his “favoured” child that’s getting his ass kicked. But it’s all going to be a waste of time as Mr. Scott is shot dead by his other son Junior after telling Tom about his inheritance plans. This leaves Tom’s final revenge on Junior even more cynical and harsh.

As for the Pigeons in that final shoot out… well to be true, the only thing the pigeon’s symbolise here is peace! The town of Laramie has had peace reinstated with the death of Junior. The town, the inhibitors and even the Corbet’s finds peace, hence the flying pigeons. To think that a simple shot of pigeons flying into the sky after a shoot out is an influence on Woo is about as abstract as claiming that George Hilton’s “Excuse Me Guys”, catchphrase used throughout the movie, was an influence on Richard Donner’s Goonies 1985 and The Sleuth’s “Hey You Guys!” catchphrase. It’s wishful thinking, and completely taken out of context, it’s peace they symbolise and this is further proven when sharpshooting Jeffrey lowers his revolver instead of shooting the dove that flies away in the last scene.

Massacre Time has a pretty catchy theme song “A man alone” sung by Sergio Endrigo to Coriolano Gori’s composition. Riccardo Pallottinis’ camerawork is nothing spectacular and never really gets above just doing the job, but it’s true to the genre and all the required wide shots and extreme close-ups of concerned gunfighters are in place. And I have to applaud the brilliant wagon-shooting stunt at the final battle, because that one is a gem.

A further co-worker of importance on Massacre Time was editor Ornella Micheli who once again worked with Fulci on what would end up a string of eighteen movies together. A string of movies that would contain some of Fulci’s finest mid-period works like Una sull’altra (One on top of the Other) 1969, Non si sevizia un paperino (Don’t Torture a Duckling) 1972 and Sette note in nero (The Psychic) 1977.

Massacre time – a great starting point for Lucio Fulci’s western trilogy, only to be followed by I Quattro dell’apocalisse (Four of the Apocalypse) 1975 and Sella d’argento (Silver Saddle) 1978.


Image:
16x9 Widescreen

Audio:
Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, English dialogue, no subtitles.

Extras:
Nothing fancy, a small poster gallery and the US and Italian trailers.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ond Tro

Ond Tro
English Title: Bad Faith
Directed by: Kristian Petri
Thriller, 2010
Sweden, 105 min
Distributed by: Nordisk Film.

Think of the mystery of Italian genre thrillers, add the melancholy of Scandinavian Cinema to that and then spice it all off with the cinematography of award winning Hoyte van Hoytema, and you will have a movie so delicious that it will have the genre fans drooling from the mouth. Ond Tro is a god damned good movie. It looks like a genre fans wet dream, hardly surprising as Hoytema also shot the stunningly beautiful Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In) 2008, the movie’s riddled with several referents to old Italian genre flicks, and the overall mysterious isolation is like something out of a Herzog movie.

Ond Tro is a very narrow movie, and it’s definitely not a movie for everyone, it’s a cryptic and delicate movie that has more than one obvious referent to genre cinema. And if you are ignorant of the referents within the movie, they it’s going to be lost on you. This unfortunately, what I see happened to this movie here in Sweden. Either you get it or you don’t, and this was painfully clear when the movie hit the screens here at the end of last year. Because when you read the movies narrative from the standpoint of a fan of genre, you will see stuff that probably was lost on a lot of the audience just wanting to see a thriller or a detective movie or what ever the hell they thought this movie would be. It when you wear the glasses of a genre fan that you see the greatness of this movie. No it’s not pretentious; it’s simply a splendid movie that pays homage to one of the finest genres of all time, the mind fucking and brain twisting Giallo.

Mona [Sonja Richter] has just moved from Denmark to a small town somewhere in Sweden. She’s got a new job, new colleagues, and a new apartment –in other words a new life. Going to a night out with colleagues Mona comes across the body of a dying man, the latest victim in a string of murders by the so-called Bayonet Killer. The encounter evokes something within Mona who becomes obsessed with the crimes and their perpetrator. Seeking solitude in a church, Mona meets Frank [Jonas Karlsson] and a reluctant attraction is started. Later she witnesses two men fighting in a car park, where one is left severely beaten, and the man still standing stares right at her shouting “don’t’ stare at me!” Mona becomes convinced that she’s seen the murderer, and her mania becomes almost an addiction. Her friendship with Frank blooms and eventually they become intimate. Frank also presents her with a theory that the killers face is left imprinted on the murder victims’ retinas when they die. Mona’s constant search and stalking of her suspected killer, peaks when she receives a phone call where the caller demands that she leave the him alone!

The somewhat underground cult author Magnus Dahlström penned the script to Ond Tro and the reason that this is interesting is because Dahlström who after a string of more or less minor successful novels vanished of the face of the earth. But now he’s back, and apart from the script to Ond Tro, he’s also got a new book out as of now. His writings could be compared to something of a Swedish William S. Burroughs, or even J.G. Ballard if you like, where texts and narratives are somewhat fragmented, but make sense the deeper you get into the worlds he’s describing. This style is something that find quite similar to the narrative of Ond Tro, the almost fragmented, dreamlike, ambivalent style in which the movie tells its tale.

Now it may sound farfetched to say that this movie is filled with referents to genre cinema, but it is. A few examples are the referral to the murderers identity being etched onto the retina of the victims – Dario Argento’s 4 mosche di velluto grigio (Four Flies on Grey Velvet) 1971, the amateur sleuth, the taunting killer – who even goes so far as to call Mona and demand that she leave him alone – although I don’t really see that this exposes him, but instead acts as a red herring. It’s also pretty apparent when you think of the “dream like state” of the characters in the movie… does stuff like Aldo Lado’s La corta notte delle bambole di vetro (Short night of Glass Dolls) 1971 sound familiar or Francesco Barilli’s Il profumo della signora in nero (The Perfume of a Lady in Black) 1974 to name to movies fast. Searching deeper, there’s childhood motifs too and I’ll return to how these affect the outcome of the movie later.

One can draw parallels to the tripper movies of say Herzog, Antonioni and Polanski, but that’s where pretension comes into play. I don’t think of the movie as something that’s aiming that high, because for me this movie is all about Giallo, Krimi and euro thrillers, not art house movies – even though it may be one, much like Amer 2010. Let me give you an example of how this works with one of the most Giallo defining traits – the amateur sleuth. Mona witnesses a murder, she crouches next to the victim and get’s blood on her hands, which she shortly thereafter wipes off on her dress. Meeting her colleagues at the pub later she is questioned about her dirty hands and bloody dress. Like so many Gialli, Mona is inhibited from going to the police, as this would directly put her in the position of prime suspect. After all there are no other witnesses to give her an alibi, hence Mona is forced to start her own investigation to find the answer to the killer’s identity and prove her innocence. It’s a definitive Giallo trait, and there's more than one red herring in this movie too, just like in the Gialli.

There’s a neat little twist to the final act that can be seen as a logical culmination to the theme of isolation, solitude and yearning that the movie has held throughout. At the same time it’s also questions characters morale - but looking at the arc of Mona, it’s still a reasonable finale, and I feel that the ending is fitting. Somewhere near the midpoint of the movie Mona tells Frank a story from her childhood about how her father killed a stray kitten that she had found. This is the origin of her isolation, her distance to her emotions and also the reason why she won’t let anyone in. She rejects her new boss when he openly hits on her on more than one occasion. She’s hesitant to Frank, but when he shares her fascination for the killer’s identity – which Mona is determined of already – their relationship grows. The final moments of the movie tests their faith towards each other and the outcome is the only way to go. All else would have gone against the traits and development that has progressed so far and her fascination for serial killers makes this the reasonable choice.

I'd also go as far as claiming that our old pal guilt has a part to play in the character arcs too. Guilt over causing death - even if it was her father who killed the kitten - is what keeps Mona from getting involved in any relationship. This is apparent in the reoccurring scenes where Mona looks at her hands, and tries to "wash the blood away" as in metaphorically washing away her sins. Guilt of being a killer is also in the mix to, as this is a key to understanding the final scene. Forgiveness means tabula rasa and a new world can be created. I could go on, but I don't want to bust anything for you here.

The link between director Kristian Petri and genre cinema isn’t that too far fetched either. He’s already slated to helm the next John Ajvide-Lindqvist project Hanteringen av Odöda (Handling the Undead) in whatever shape or form it may take. And when he made his documentary Brunnen (The Well) 2005 - he spent a fair amount of that documentary talking to Jess Franco. Obviously about Franco's work with Wells, but still it was Franco. The style of the movie can easily be explained if you look at Petri’s body of work. His documentaries are often very visual, and at times dreamy. Tokyo Noise 2002 and Brunnen are two completely different kind of documentaries, but still they have a rather laid back driving force, which at times can be undetermined as they can swerve off track at any point. His fiction movies Detaljer 2003, and Sommaren 1995 deal with rather heavy topics, and both have themes of loss and loneliness. Themes not to far away from those found in Ond Tro.

Where Tokyo Noise is an impressive experiment in audio and editing, Brunnen is almost a mystery thriller in its approach, and looking at Ond Tro it’s once again the visual impression of the movie, the artistic pacing and the very deliberate minimalistic editing that build up the impact of the movie. This is obviously has a lot to do with the way editor Johan Söderberg has put the movie together, and at times he really stays with a shot for ages evoking something of a Tarkovskyan feeling to the images.


Hoyte van Hoytema’s cinematography is absolutely stunning. I’d be surprised if he hadn’t spent the weeks before the shoot watching a bag of old Gialli classics and then just adapted all that he saw onto his already trademark wide-angle photography so familiar from Let The Right One In. Then when he really gets’s in close for his close-ups they are so god damned beautiful that it’s almost like looking at an old oil painting covered in grit, grime and dirt.

Ond Tro is definitely a flick for patient fans of the good old Gialli, Hitchcockian thrillers and movies heavy on dreamlike narratives. It’s a wonderful piece of art, but also a great ride and undoubtedly one of the best Swedish genre pieces so far. It’s a movie that I know I’ll be going back to, so make sure to check it out.


Image:
Widescreen 2.35:1

Audio:
Dolby Digital 5.1 Swedish dialogue with optional Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish and English subtitles.

Extras:
There’s fuck all on the extras, which is an outrage. You could easily fill a disc with commentaries by Petri, Dahlström, Hoytema and Söderberg that would have easily have been one of the most fascinating commentary track put to a Swedish movie.

Japan.

I have family in New Zealand, Christ Church right in the midst of those two quakes they had. So I've at least two moments of waiting in a vacuum awaiting to hear signs of life. It's a completely devastating time I can assure you.

So obviously my thoughts go out to friends, readers, idols and the people of Japan in this terrible moment in time.

And obviously all the people in the Asian Pacific area who are affected by the quakes and tsunami.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful


...is a bloody great tune by the late genius Ian Dury. But another reason to be cheerful is that the lad with the Midas touch is up to new antics. This time he's launching his own movie lable that goes under the name of ATTACKAFANT ENTERTAINMENT (and no you CAN'T write that in small caps.)


Anyways it's a cheerful event that will allow me, and you, to see films that haven't been available this close to home before. And I'm always the one to back an enthusiast when they are distributing smaller titles. So make room amongst your Mondo Macabro and OnarFilms titles, because here's ATTACKAFANT ENTERTAINMENT! Nice one Mate!

Check out the majestic kingdom of Ninja Dixon for more info on this new bold venture!