Monday, August 13, 2007
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Flashing lights, neon numbers and arrows make up the black and white world of Alphaville. Where electricity pylons feed into sub-stations and every scene opens with a flickering light.
Alphaville is a film noir set in the future, but deeply entrenched in an early to mid sixties bleak French city. Nothing is as it seems: loud suspense music booms out sporadically for no apparent reason and scenes open with someone doing something least expected. This is a film where all the rules of cinematography have been turned upside down.
Set in the future, Lemmy Caution has come from the Outlands to Alphaville to capture Dr. Von Braun, the inventor of the Death Ray. Dr. Von Braun is a member of the Nazi style SS organization which runs Alphaville, with the help of a super computer called Alpha-60. The computer’s deep croaking voice booms out sporadically in a surreal loudly over-dubbed way. No one is permitted to think logically, and those that do are executed in the most unusual way. People have now long forgotten what the word ‘why’ means, and are only permitted to you ‘because’.
Lemmy Caution, who along with a cheap instamatic camera, disguises himself as a reporter and tries to infiltrate the ‘organization’. On the way he befriends Dr. Von Braun’s beautiful daughter, one of the many seductive actresses in this unusual picture.
Made by Jean-Luc Godard, this is a very unusual movie where nothing is as it seems. In a small way it reminded me slightly of Terry Gilliam’s ‘
Saturday, March 10, 2007
As a child Ochô Inoshika witnesses her father, who’s a detective, being murdered by three assailants. Twenty years later Ochô’s past catches up with her when she saves a young man who is being chased after a failed assassination attempt on a Yakuza boss. In the gambling house where she works, she witnesses the execution of one of the gamblers who was caught cheating. While alone with her, in his dieing moments, he asks her to go to one of the other cities to free his sister from indentured labor in a brothel. After arriving in the city and meeting up with the young girl, she comes into contact with the young assassin, two British spies, the Yakusa boss and his wife, and the indentured girl’s boss. As the movie progresses it become clear that all these people have something in common, leading to an explosive finally.
Sex and Fury is Japanese pink film, which features beautiful camera and picture compositions, and is directed by Ochô Inoshika, who is a prolific director within this genre. One stand out scene is where a gang of attackers attack Ochoa whilst she’s stark naked and how she fights back. This one scene is an excellent example of delirious cinema. Beautifully shot in slow motion, Ochô, using a Samurai sword, slices her way through her opponents as snow flakes fall around her. This scene was more or less recreated in Quentin Tarrantino’s Kill Bill. The final fight scene is also impressive in its own way, and the use of cheesy library music or seventies rock should sound out of place in a film set in 1905, but in some way adds to the uniqueness of the whole experience.
One scene though, which translates badly to western tastes, is the one comedy scene where a male student, who’s a friend of the girls, falls onto his behind and then panics because he believes it may be damaged. To check that it is still working, he farts into his hand and then sniffs his hand, and is relieved to find it's still okay.
Being a pink movie, there’s plenty of bare female flesh, including one interesting murder where the heroine uses her naked body covered in poison.
All in all, this is a great revenge movie and a worthy addition to any pink collection.
This movie has been released by Panik House Entertainment.
Monday, March 5, 2007
A pretty girl is murdered in a park and a few people witness a man in a hat and raincoat hurriedly leaving the scene. The police are called in and an inch by inch forensic operation takes place. The investigation begins to slow down until one of the witnesses recognizes the man as being the same as a TV presenter. He is questioned and all the clues and evidence fall into place. He appears in court where all the evidence against him is overwhelming. Found guilty, he is sent to prison and that should be the end of the story….but the murders continue!
The Bloodstain Butterfly is well crafted Italian giallo, with nice cinematography and is shot in some beautiful locations. The first half of the movie involves the painstaking investigation and trial of the main suspect. I was just starting to think to myself that this movie’s a bit slow, when out of the blue another murder takes place. This is then followed by yet another. Suddenly, everything which has been presented is thrown into disarray. A number of other possibilities to the murders arise leaving you completely unsure of who could be involved and what is happening
Gore hounds may be a little disappointed with the lack of splatter, but what this move lacks with violence, it definitely makes up with the intricate narrative and style. This is definitely a giallo that’s worth seeing and the link below is for the Italian language version, plus English subtitles.
Friday, March 2, 2007
In the mid-90s I used to go to Goa in India every year and attend their famous trance parties. They always took place in places like the 'Jungle', 'Hilltop' or the famous 'Disco Valley'. They would start around midnight and would continue until about 11am the next day. When the sun came up they could be quite an eye-opener with the many freaks dancing or wobbling through the rising dust as the sun quickly warmed up the dry Indian soil. No half measures were taken at these and at that time there seemed to be a high contingent of British revelers on Ketamine. We would occasionally rest on one of the many Indian tea mats spread out around the edges of the party. These were run by the local women and the Indian chai (tea) was always refreshing, although I never had the appetite to sample the many colorful cakes on offer. We would always make sure we stayed at the party until the very end and at one time we were the very last to leave, even after the sound system and the organizers had gone. We would have stayed longer if it wasn't for the fact that all the Indian beggars were now homing in on us, including the guy with the dancing cow. We would then take a hair-raising motorbike journey back to our room for a quick shower, and then we would spend the rest of the day sipping beers on our favorite part of beach whilst listening to mellow tunes. I haven't participated in anything like that now for about ten years, but I still have fond memories and deep down I still have that hidden urge to repeat it one more time.
At these parties, people were very wary about being filmed, so I was surprised to find this short clip of a New Year's Eve party from 2005. I'm glad to see they're still going strong!
Sunday, February 25, 2007
P.S. Attention Khmer speakers! Can you identify the tracks on this compilation by going here.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Revolution is a documentary about the the 60’s hippie scene in
Around the central subject of Today we meet other characters in Height Ashbury. One leader of a commune based out in the countryside predicts that cyberspace will rule our lives more in the future as well as predicting that we’ll have more leisure time (I’m not sure if everyone would all agree with the last point).
Interspersed throughout the documentary is some great music by the likes of Country Jo and The Fish, Quicksilver Messenger Service and one interesting, but very brief clip of the all-girl group Ace of Cups. There are the obligatory psychedelic oil lights and camera zooms in and out of psychedelic posters. Also there is a fair amount of nudity, from the hippie commune in the countryside to an interview with swingers on a beach to a group of naked people doing some performance art infront of some liquid lights.
Towards the end of the movie there is quite a serious discussion with Today and one of her friends on the effects of LSD on human chromosomes and they ponder the probability of giving birth to mongoloide children. This is backed up with a stern warning from a scientist.
I enjoyed this documentary and Today seems like a nice average girl living the hippie life in
Thursday, February 15, 2007
It’s a typical early 70s low budget exploitation movie concerning a town where the local male inhabitants are slowly being found dead after having sexual intercourse. As the movie trailer proclaimed “they’ll love the life right out of you” and this they literally did. Who is the woman or women committing these crimes? The first victims all worked for a local scientific research laboratory. Could there be a connection? Hmmm, maybe! Enter our hero, Agent Neil Agar. He is a chiseled jaw guy who can beat up six rapists and not get a hair out of place.
The movie plodded a long until the scene where a new girl is initiated into the bee colony (I don’t want to give too much away), but this scene was actually quite eerie as she stands naked and is coated in this gooey stuff by the other girls. She then stands inside a chamber and bees swarm on to her. I have a soft spot for movies where the evil character’s eyeballs are blank like in the Omega Man where they are totally white and in this movie where they are totally black.
As the murders continue in the town the army is called in to quarantine it. Well, army is probably not the best description. After the small army convoy of trucks is shown, the only soldiers seem to be two guys who are the least likely soldiers you could find. They were probably recruited straight out of a roller disco or something. Eventually these two soldiers are easily over powered by a sexy chick showing her breasts. In fact all the girls in this film strip off at some point. So if you like silly low budget 70’s exploitation then you’ll probably enjoy this movie.
Monday, February 12, 2007
Sweet &Savage: The World Through the Shockumentary Film Lens.
By Mark Goodall
Published by Headpress
Reality TV shows have become the staple bread of TV viewing from police car chases, to natural disasters, to groups of people stuck on tropical islands, but long before these became part of our television culture, there were mondo documentaries or shockumentaries. These documentaries can be traced right back to the early days of cinema, but it wasn’t until Italians Jacopetti and Prosperi’s 1962 seminal Mondo Cane that the genre finally took hold. This landmark documentary consisted of a travelogue of bizarre rituals and practices from the third world as well as the western world. It was tinged with a sense of black humor, but would also leave the viewer feeling unsettled. An example of this is a close-up of the breasts of girls parading to attract American sailors along the French Riviera to cut suddenly to the breast of a
Friday, February 9, 2007
The story concerns the beautiful Nami Matsushima (aka
Being a ‘women in prison’ movie, it contains all the usual clichés - lesbianism, catfights etc., but this Japanese movie is different. The cinematography is stylish and the artistic direction is amazing leading the viewer to never feel bored. One scene which stands out involves Nami remembering her past with her boyfriend. This is played out like a large stage play with the action moving from one part of the stage to the other with the scenery revolving to create the next scene. It’s a clever ploy and very mesmerizing in what could have been just another women in prison movie. Another scene of significance is when a fellow prison is trying to attack her in the showers and in her fury the prisoner temporarily transforms into a possessed witch.
Sunday, February 4, 2007
Returning to Java in 1999, I discovered that the innovations of Sragen musicians had been taken much further, and a new craze was sweeping Java. This was 'Campur Sari' which means 'mixed elements'. The elements refer to traditional gamelan instruments (drums, gongs, and other percussion instruments) and modern instruments, such as electronic keyboards, small guitars, and percussion instruments from various musics, such as maraccas, tambourines and so forth. Manthou's, a musician from Wonosari, in the province of Yogyakarta, developed this new eclectic style around 1995 and it has since become unbiquitous, at live performances at weddings, circumcisions, and state celebrations, and on television and radio. Manthou's is able to charge as much for one night's performance as a shadow puppeteer. Other troupes charge less, and are providing a new form of competition to shadow plays as the most standard form of entertainment in Java. More
In my first year in Thailand I was working with an interesting Canadian guy who had just arrived from travelling around Indonesia. Whilst on his travels he was sitting in an Internet cafe where the owner was playing a tape of very unusual Indonesian music. When my friend enquired about it the owner kindly gave him the tape as a gift. I was able to make a copy of it which I have posted here. Sorry about the minor imperfections of the recording, but the tape had been played a lot in the shop even before it was given to my friend. Also the cover scan is a black and white photocopy of the original cover - my Canadian friend has long since moved on. I've also tried to name the tracks as correctly as possible, which wasn't easy because they didn't match the track listings on the back. Manthou's was involved in the music on this tape as well as a couple of other singers. The first two tracks you'll hear are fairly standard, but then it proceeds to get quite unusual. Recommended!
Campur Sari: Gunung Kidul
Dasa Studio (1995)
1. Nyidam Sari (6:06) - vocal: Manthou's
2. Gunung Kidul Handayani (4:24) - vocal: Manthou's/Narish K.
3. Jenggleng George (10:25) - vocal: Manthou's/Wuryanti
4. Campur Manis II (6:19) - vocal: Bulik Minul
5. Kripik Telo Puhung (4:12) - vocal: Bulik Minul
6. Kripik Telo Puhung (5:07) - vocal: Bulik Minul
7. Campur Sari II (3:49) - vocal: Bulik Minul
8. Pripun (5:07) - vocal: Wuryanti
9. Jineman Uler Kambang (4:16) - vocal: Wuryanti
10. Kutut Manggung Rukan Agawe Santoso (2:31) - vocal: Bulik Yanti & Bulik Minul