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Well, it is going to be a theme month once again in The Magnificent World of Dave K. As I attempt to watch 365 films this year (most of which that I have never seen before), in the month of April 2017, I will be viewing only Asian films of various genres, concentrating on more sleaze and exploitation this time out. Daily, I should be doing a round up of other links and reviews that catch my eye plus the films that some of my film buddies see. It’s pretty loose this time out, just let me know if you do a review, a video or just mention a film you have seen. Now a small round of film posters I gathered…
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I “met” Alexandra through her writing a couple of year back when I read one of her previous books, Rape Revenge Films: A Critical Study. To me, just that title alone is a home run but when I was about half way through I knew I was reading words from my “new” favorite film writer. While the book has that scholarly air about it, Alexandra shows she is a down to earth film fan first and writes so that dumb shulbs like me can understand. I found out about a couple of films she wrote about in a positive fashion and picked them up.
I later learned from her at the time, that she was working on two future books, both single film specific. One was about Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977) and the next, the one I was most interested in, Abel Ferrara’s 1981 Classic Ms. 45. Little that I knew it was going to be a bit for it to be released. The countdown began at that moment…
^ Contents page…
Last week, the book arrived in my mailbox and I fast tracked it to the top of the pile. I was first surprised at the small size of the book and then realized it was perfect. Sized like a classic paperback you would find on the racks of seedy magazine shops (like Seven Star News in the city of Linden, New Jersey where I grew up), the subject material fits it like a glove. In a historical fashion, Alexandra breaks down the making/creation of the film, from it’s beginnings to the finished product hitting the screens.
She is a researcher who likes details and doesn’t skimp on them. While Alexandra doesn’t have a direct interview with any of the particulars, there are many referenced quotes from all who were involved with the proceedings. There is a big focus on Zoe Lund, from the acting in Ms. 45, her writings & collaborations with Abel on other productions, such as Bad Lieutenant (1992). Small details do not get unnoticed, it seems for one big scene in the film, Ferrara hired for day work, people hanging out in the Revolutionary Communist Party Bookstore on 18th Street/NYC, as his studios were upstairs. Weird, I was at that place a few times in the 80’s, who knew such greatness was up above! There is also words written about the recent “uncut” DVD release by Drafthouse Films. While I knew there were many versions of Ms. 45, I wasn’t aware that it was never released in full until 2013. Crazy.
Overall, as with much of her previous work, Alexandra writes for the “common folk” when it comes to film critique. I would say about 15% of the book would be considered psycho babble but the rest is hardcore film criticism and looking into the film’s production, the screenings and reactions afterward. Ms. 45, when you look at it at face value, is not an easy film to fully understand and everybody comes away from it differently. Even though I have seen the film a few times over the years, this book illuminated somethings I missed (again, I’m a dumb shulb, don’t sue me…). If you are like me and enjoy reading about movies, Cultographies: Ms. 45 is a sure pick-up.
Find the book and Alexandra on the Web here:
I have been on a mission to see at least 365 films in 2017. Here’s a list of the 1st 50 titles I haven’t seen before and my Fiend ‘O’ Meter ratings!
#1) Zombie Fight Club (2014) Fiend ‘O’ Meter: 9/10
#2) Fences (2016) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 6/10
#3) Tangerine (2015) Fiend ‘O’ Meter: 8/10
#4) Tiger House (2015) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 5/10
#5) Neighbor (2010) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 6/10
#6) Assassination (2015) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 9/10
#7) The Stratosphere Girl (2004) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 7/10
#8) Franklin: A Symphony of Pain (2015) Fiend ‘O’ Meter 6/10
#9) SS Hellcamp (The Beast in Heat) (1977) Fiend ‘O’ Meter 4/10
#10) Phantasm: Remastered (1978/2016) Fiend ‘O’ Meter 9/10 (A rewatch of the new print)
#11) On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 8/10
#12) Tokyo Psycho (2004) Fiend ‘O’ Meter Says: 3/10
#13) Make Them Die Sleazy! (2014) Fiend ‘O’ Meter 7/10
#14) Sin Dejar Huella (Without A Trace) (2000) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 6/10
#15) 31 (2016) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 6/10
#16) Massage Parlor Murders (1973) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 1/10
#17) Helga: She Wolf Of Stilberg (1977) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 7/10
#18) Killbillies (Idyll) (2015) Fiend ‘O’ Meter 5/10
#19) Hell’s Caretaker (2013) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 5/10
#20) Madame O (1967) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 9/10
#21) Experiment In Terror (1962) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 9/10
#22) Piranha (1978) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 6/10
#23) The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake (2011) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 8/10
#24) 3 A.M. (2001) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 8/10
#25) Slaughter of the Vampires (1962) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 5/10
#26) What Have You Done To Solange? (1972) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 8/10
#27) Thanatomorphose (2012) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 9/10
#28) The Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai (2003) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 5/10
#29) Spider Baby (1968) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 7/10
#30) The Loveless (1982) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 7/10
#31) Naboer (Next Door) (2005) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 9/10
#32) Shock (1946) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 7/10
#33) See The Sea (1997) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 7/10
#34) The Woman In Black 2: Angel of Death (2014) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 6/10
#35) Gun Crazy: A Woman From Nowhere (2002) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 8/10
#36) The Shiver of the Vampires (1971) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 7/10
#37) Possession (1981) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 8/10
#38) Lower Level (1991) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 5/10
#39) Subway (1985) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 7/10
#40) Twenty Plus Two (1961) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 6/10
#41) Repulsion (1965) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 8/10 (A rewatch/reevaluation after 20+ years)
#42) Mexico Barbaro (2015) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 8/10
#43) Gurozuka (2005) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 3/10
#44) Variety (1983) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 6/10
#45) Lady Street Fighter (1981) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 1/10
#46) The Last Best Sunday (1999) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 7/10
#47) Night Angel (1990) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 7/10
#48) Lady Snowblood (1973) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 10/10
#49) Siren (2016) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 5/10
#50) Tell Me Something (1999) Fiend ‘O’ Meter says: 8/10
Gut (2012) film/Bluray thoughts… This choice for my COEURS NOIRS closer might be confusing to some, as it it always promoted as a horror film. The truth is Gut, directed by Elias is a psychological horror/neo-noir. One of my favorite indie films in years, Gut recently had it’s Bluray debut and I wanted to give it a once over again.
Tom is married with a young daughter but is “looking” for some else to make his life more fulfilling. The grass somehow is greener on the other side of the fence. His childhood friend, Dan, who he works with and is quite clingy, is upset they don’t spend time together anymore. Tom says he pretty much has moved on from “hanging out”, but Dan will not let it go. He tells Tom about a “film” he got off the internet and he has to view it, he has never seen anything like it. Since they used to like horror films together, Tom pretty much gives in. The “film” is a semi clothed woman strapped to a table who proceeds to have a scalpel cut methodically into her stomach area and is seemly killed. Tom can’t believe what he has just seen and tells Dan he is nuts. But sadly, Dan is a tad unstable and will not let his relationship with his old friend go.
Gut is dark and moody. While it’s a lower budgeted affair, all players and the director pull out all the stops to make this film extremely good. Jason Vail plays Tom as basically having a partial mid life crisis in his late 20s, becoming obsessed and trapped into the world of what is on the discs. Nicholas Wilder’s Dan reminds me of someone in my past, so I was able to relate to this character. I do also have to note the experimental music of Chvad SB, especially the end title theme, it sets the tone for this film completely. It’s bleak. Do order the Bluray of it if you can, the DVD is still available and of course GUT is on most VOD services.
City That Never Sleeps (1953) film thoughts… I actually had the VHS of this film a couple of years ago, intending it for the 30 Film Noirs in 31 Days series I did but had more films than I needed then. Gig Young plays Johnny Kelly, a Chicago cop who just doesn’t care for his job or the marriage that he seems stuck in. He has a girl on the side and the plan is to run away with her to California and start over. He has an opportunity to make a small windfall before the trip and decides to take it. The problem is all the twists, double crosses and misunderstandings in this film are preventing him from making that task easy…
I did really like City That Never Sleeps. It doesn’t seem like the cheap programmer it was, the actual Chicago locations and the great look it has elevates it up to the bigger pictures. It does have a lot of changes in the story that keeps you on your toes. Before you think you know where it’s going, they throw another curve ball your way. Good acting from all players and I liked that Marie Windsor had a devious role in it. Definitely one to add to your film noir collection.
Play Misty For Me (1971) film thoughts… I am not the biggest Eastwood fan but I have always heard about this film, just never got around to it. He plays Dave Garver, a Jazz DJ in Carmel, California who ends up meeting one of his fans who always calls in and asks, “Play Misty For Me”. The fan is played by Jessica Walter, who has sex with Dave. He being the upright, alpha male type, thinks it’s just a one night stand. He is sadly mistaken when after he makes a couple of nice gestures, she becomes consumed with him. She is always there at his house, always demanding his attention. After he tries many times to brush her off, one incident pushes her over the edge and Dave’s life becomes a true nightmare.
The film is important for at least a couple of things: it’s Clint’s first film behind the camera and there really hasn’t been this “type” of film before. It’s now a common film trope to see an violent, obsessed person in a movie, but there really wasn’t anything like this previous. I do like Play Misty For Me but it does suffer from things that are just my preferences. It’s truly dated, from the look, the film style & the editing. They try really hard to make it look like there are stabbings but the editing is too quick and choppy. Today, they make this more direct. While I do like Walter’s performance as the crazy lady Dave wishes he never met, I found the acting a bit over the top at times. I know Clint is beloved as an actor but he is pretty one note as he is in most of the films I have seen him in.
All in all, Play Misty For Me is a solid neo-noir. You know right from the beginning nothing good is going to happen in this film.