Saturday, March 17, 2007

Alphaville (1965)

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 ‘Brazil’, but Alphaville is much more down to earth in a world where everything on the surface is normal, aesthetic and drab. This could have been made on quite a small budget because Goddard only uses what he has around him and on that level too it’s incredibly imaginative, as well as surreal. This would be recommended to any student of film and lovers of atmospheric French movies, as well as those who enjoy breaking the rules of cinema.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Sex and Fury (1973)

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.

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Monday, March 5, 2007

The Bloodstained Butterfly (1971)

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.

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Friday, March 2, 2007

Spaced-Out in Goa

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!