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September 30, 2013

How to Seduce a Virgin

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Plaisir a trois
Jess Franco - 1973
Mondo Macabro Region 1 DVD

Signed with the pseudonym of Clifford Brown, this is a Franco film probably best appreciated by Franco completists. Inspired by the writings of De Sade, the emphasis here is more on eroticism than horror, although there are some elements of horror to be found. The noodling jazz on the soundtrack and the almost conventional and often leisurely, at least for Franco, narrative, belie the fact that the film was shot in a matter of days and with a tiny production budget.

We're not exactly sure what Martine did to get institutionalized, but we know it had something to do with cutting a naked man with a straight razor. A visit the the basement of her mansion is enough to let us know that whatever treatment Martine had gone through for the past half year hadn't done anything to cure her of certain obsessions. Reunited with her husband, Charles, the two make plans to seduce a young woman, Cecile, into their particular world of pain and pleasure. As things progress, there is the question of whom is the seducer, and whom is being seduced? The French title, by the way, translates as "happy three".

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While her parents take off for a trip, Martine and Charles promise to take care of Cecile as if she were their own daughter. Eeeek! And sure, the hosting couple are handsome, but what about the creepy chauffeur, the creepier gardner, or the young woman who is more like a family pet, giggling, mewling, never speaking? Voyeurism and various couplings, and some group groping ensue.

It is almost hard to imagine that about forty years ago, neighborhood theaters would show movies that were relatively sexually explicit following the success of Last Tango in Paris. Less surprising is that most of these films were European. Alice Arno, Tania Busselier and Lina Romay will never be accused of being camera shy. This film is notable for being Romay first significant role for Franco on her way to becoming his longtime muse. Franco team player Howard Vernon doesn't do much except look faintly menacing, which is all he needs to do.

Helping put this film into some critical context is horror film historian Stephen Thrower, who discusses the making of How to Seduce a Virgin from its original written screenplay to final production. There is also an interview with screenwriter Alain Petit, who first encountered Franco as an enthused film critic. There are also production notes, as well as biographies of the actors. The folks at Mondo Macabro have done their best to give this less known Franco film a DVD rescue. After the generous displays of female nudity, what it most memorable here is Alfred Baillou's performance as the seemingly mad, hunchbacked gardner, and the very wide eyes of Lina Romay.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at 07:00 AM

September 29, 2013

Coffee Break

Joseph Cotten in Gaslight (George Cukor - 1944)

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at 09:12 AM

September 26, 2013


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Nattawut Poonpiriya - 2012
Cai Chang International Region 3 DVD

Normally, my coverage of anything related to the Academy Awards is minimal. That's not going to change. I was planning on writing about Countdown around New Year's Eve, when this film takes place, but with the news that this film will be Thailand's entry for Foreign Language Film, I decided that coverage should be sooner rather than later.

What's surprising is that this film is Thailand's entry. Instead of a costume drama taking place in the past, or something arty, we have a contemporary horror movie. It isn't even a ghost movie, or at least in any way that connects with traditions in Thai horror films, although some of what happens can be described as uncanny. Countdown doesn't even take place in Thailand, but mostly inside an apartment in New York City.

Three young Thais, Jack, Bee and Pam, who share the aforementioned apartment, want to score some marijuana for New Year's Eve. Their regular connection has gone straight, but has a card for a dealer named Jesus. Showing up at the appointed hour, Jesus (pronounced Hey-zoos) is a bit too friendly and a bit too curious about the three friends. Stories are told about killing a fat girl who bursts out of a closet, wearing a bikini, and disciplining a dog by removing his teach with a pair of pliers. The stories are outlandish, and couldn't possibly be real. And then all hell breaks loose.

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There is a curious mix of discussions of Buddhism with Christian imagery, not the least of which is in the name and physical appearance of this film's Jesus. There is also a scene in a church, where Bee sits in a confessional to escape the wind. I am not quite sure of what Nattawut's message is, other than it has to do with Buddhist mindfulness, filial piety and not spending money wastefully. Maybe all of the theological concerns are just so much window dressing for a rant about spoiled college aged kids from wealthy families. There are some exterior shots that were filmed on location, although English is the second language of all of the actors with speaking parts, creating an extra layer of cultural distance.

Genre fans may enjoy the scenes of Jesus terrorizing the three friends, often just by being an intimidating presence in their lives. There is one superb moment when Bee tries to escape from Jesus. Fleeing to the elevator, a button falls out, and the elevator stops with the door refusing to open. From the hole that held the button, a cockroach appears, and then another, and more, until Bee finds herself screaming in that small, enclosed space, with hundreds of roaches.

Countdown was one of the five films nominated for Thailand National Film Association Awards, Thailand's equivalent to the Oscars. The film won awards for Best Actor - David Asavanond, who played Jesus, Panayu Khunwallee for editing, and Nattawut for his screenplay. Nattawut was also nominated for Best Director, while Thanawutthi Busamsai was nominated for make-up. Jarinporn Joonkiat deservedly was nominated for Best Actress for her performance as Bee. Mostly because of genre prejudices as well as the fact that this is in no way a "lovable" movie, I doubt Countdown will get through the first round of voting by Academy members. The film will be available on Region 1 DVD sometime next year. Even as a violent thriller, Countdown is not in the same league as a film like Silence of the Lambs. Be that as it may, the Thai Film Association periodically makes some baffling choices, so I do appreciate that this year's Oscar entry is both a critical and commercial hit.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at 08:15 AM

September 24, 2013

Running in Madness, Dying in Love

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Kyoso joshi-ko
Koji Wakamatsu - 1969

Watching Japanese "Pink Films" when their reason for being was mostly about the sex, I felt the need to see something older, something with higher aspirations. Koji Wakamatsu could be counted on for busting taboos. Running in Madness has its fair share of sex and nudity, yet doesn't feel like an exploitation film as none of it is particularly erotic.

There is a lot of running, though. A student activist, Sahei, is running from the police following a student protest and riot, taken from documentary footage shot by Wakamatsu. In the small apartment of his brother, a policeman, the two men get into a violent argument where the politics are personal. The sister-in-law, Yuri, attempts to stop the brothers from fighting. While the three are tangled together, a gun goes off. Did Yuri shoot her husband with the gun he was wearing, intentionally or accidentally? Neither Sahei nor Yuri knows for certain. The two leave Tokyo for a journey through northern Japan.

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Primarily a two person film, what Wakamatsu is more interested in here is a criticism of Japanese society. As Sahei and Yuri venture further north, the landscape becomes more desolate and colder. Life is to be understood as following specific rules. In one small village, a young woman is punished for falling in love with a stranger. The two lovers are subject to ritualized punishment in the name of preserving the village. Sahei and Yuri go against the grain with their relationship, even with Sahei addressing Yuri by her given name, rather than using the honorific title of sister-in-law.

Jasper Sharp's book, Behind the Pink Curtain is quite helpful concerning the production of this film. Wakamatsu and screenwriter Masao Adachi became informally associated with Nagisa Oshima during this time, with Wakamatsu and his crew making their film while following Oshima who was making Boy, traveling north to Hokkaido. At a time when several filmmakers internationally, most famously, Jean-Luc Godard, were discussing making films based on intellectual theories, Oshima influenced Adachi, who created his "landscape theory" of filmmaking. As Sharp explains, "Landscape Theory drew attention to the political implications of fixing a landscape on film: how environment shaped personal and political identity; how State power was embedded in everyday landscape and came to yield its force over the individual; and how it should be represented by filmmakers."

The treatment of women is certainly subject for debate. I think Wakamatsu is criticizing how women fare in traditionally minded Japan, with both Yuri and the village woman shown beaten by men, including Sahei. At the same time, the use of nudity might be seen as self-contradictory. While there is a love scene with both Yuri and Sahei nude, that scene is followed by the village scene, with the nude woman running in the snow, pursued by men fully dressed for winter. The debate is at least as old as when the MPAA rules changed with the then new rating system, introduced in part due to the challenge of what was depicted in European 'art" movies, which in turn caused a liberalization of what was shown in films internationally. I am reasonably certain that the audience that came to see Running in Madness in search of titillation, probably left the theater confused or disappointed. In a snowy landscape lies the suggestion of vast emptiness, a blank page. In the end, there is only nihilism.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at 07:28 AM

September 22, 2013

Coffee Break

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Glauco Onorato and Vincent Gardenia in The Big Racket (Enzo G, Castellari - 1976)

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at 08:54 AM

September 19, 2013

Fighting Fish

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Julaluck Ismalone - 2012
PMP Entertainment Region 0 DVD

A subject that might be worth exploration is of female filmmakers, and masculine environments. Among the films that come to mind would be Ida Lupino and The Hitch-Hiker, Kathryn Bigelow with Point Break and The Hurt Locker, and Lexi Alexander and The Green Street Hooligans. There are probably other films that I have overlooked or are unknown to me at this time. Thai filmmaker Julaluck Ismalone might be worthy of at least a footnote in this regard.

The former model turned actress, also known as Ying, wrote and directed here. Ying also appeared in Bangkok Revenge, a film I wrote about a while back. The story is by her husband, David Ismalone, a filmmaker whose main credits are for stunt work and action choreography, including Ong-Bak and Beautiful Boxer. This film was made primarily for the niche market of films centered on martial arts, more specifically of the kind of fights where there are no rules.

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One thing that Ying gets absolutely right is the occasional craziness of riding around in a tuk-tuk. For those unfamiliar, a tuk-tuk is described as a motorized rickshaw. Depending on the driver, the ride can be quite hair-raising. Plus there is the challenge that the driver will understand your mangling of Thai in telling him where you want to go, and that he actually knows how to get there. And there was the one time a driver picked me up, only to answer his cell phone, and drop me off a short distance because something came up that was more important than getting me to my destination. Fighting Fish begins with two tuk-tuk rides. One with a driver who whizzes around Bangkok, and at one point falls asleep at a stop sign, before dropping the visiting farang (foreigner), Mike, to the Muay Thai boxing stadium. After watching the fights, Mike is given a ride by another tuk-tuk driver who takes him to a dark alley where he gets beat up by a bunch of guys, but not before Mike shows that he can take them on.

Mike's luck seems to take a turn for the worse when his money is taken by a street hustler, whose shell game is disrupted by the police. Mike chases down the guy through the streets, a huge warehouse, and Buddhist temple grounds, where a fight turns into friendship. The guy, Yo, lives with his wheelchair bound wife, Katoon, and they invite Mike to their home. Unknown to Katoon, part of how Yo earns money is through an underground fight club. There are fighters, and then there are the Fighting Fish, a select group of fighters who face the reigning champion, a fierce little guy named Maddog. Those who lose against Maddog also lose their life. Mike, a former boxer from an unnamed country, thinks he has the stuff to take on Maddog, and make the kind of money needed for Katoon's surgery.

The story is hardly original. The action scenes, especially in the early part of the film, show talent in action choreography. There is also one funny bit in a pawn shop run by identical twin brothers. What I find most interesting about Fighting Fish is that it serves as an example of why it is not a good idea to stereotype female filmmakers. Maybe that's enough of a reason to give a film like this, some consideration.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at 08:04 AM

September 17, 2013

The Last Tycoon

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Da Shanghai
Wong Jing - 2012
Well Go USA Entertainment Region 1 DVD

This is suppose to be a movie about big set pieces and big emotions. And there is some good stuff here. My problem with The Last Tycoon is that there are at least three moments which struck me as derivative of other, better, films. I would have expected a greater attempt at originality from producer Andrew Lau, if not from the commercially successful, if often critical maligned, director and co-writer Wong Jing. There's a scene involving would be killers in the rain, with some overhead photography, that made me think of Sparrow, by the current king of Hong Kong action movies, Johnny To. Then we hae a shoot out in a church, with a bunch of gun toting priests. Maybe this scene was to remind the younger viewers that Chow Yun-Fat first gained attention in another film with a church shootout, The Killers. Lau and Wong restrained themselves from including any doves. Later, Chow, big hearted guy that he is, sees to it that the love of his life flies to safety with her husband, while the hated Japanese take over Shanghai. That scene played better in a movie you might have heard of called Casablanca. And it might seem odd that I have a problem with this, as I have gone on record praising films that have quoted other films and filmmakers. The overall effect is of something forced, as if Lau and Wong decided that that the only way they could get serious critical attention was by showing off their own cinephilia.

The film centers on Cheng, a young man who gets framed for murder, and escapes with the help of a professional killer turned warlord. The scenes of Cheng's youth take place during 1913 through 1915, while the adult Cheng's scenes are set during 1937 through 1940. Cheng leads a street gang in Shanghai, and after demonstrating his fighting skills in one very large rumble, is adopted by Hong, the top gangster in Shanghai. In the meantime, Cheng's childhood love, Zhiqui, makes a name for herself in Chinese opera. Cheng rises to the near top in Shanghai based on his business savvy, and ability to form alliances with those who might otherwise be enemies. Cheng maneuvers his way between various forces, both Chinese and Japanese in the years leading up to the fall of Shanghai.

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Even though the narrative is in part about Cheng's love for both Zhiqui and his wife, Bao, what comes across in the film is the emotional bond between Cheng and Hong's wife, Ling Husheng. It is Ling who encourages Hong to first take on Cheng as an "apprentice". Ling and Cheng have several moments of private conversation. Maybe it's the chemistry between Chow and actress Yuan Li, but the bond between the two is more easily perceptible, while totally unspoken. As Zhiqui, the spunky Joyce Feng grows up to be the less resilient Quan Yuan, whose best attribute might be a slight resemblance to Audrey Hepburn. The young woman who begins her career as a street performer somehow evolves into an emotionally fragile person offstage. Quan does shine near the end of the film when she puts of the performance of her life as part of a special staged show. Monica Mok lets her dresses and make-up do most of the acting for her, but also has a powerful final scene.

In addition to Chow, there is also Sammo Hung as Hong, and Francis Ng as Mao Zai, the warlord who draws young Cheng to seek of life of adventure in Shanghai. For all of the money spent on huge sets, special effects, and big name stars, the emotional hook is missing. Chow's legendary charisma is more evident in the "Making of" segments. The Well Go USA DVD is the complete theatrical release running a little under two hours, and not the shorter release version that played in mainland China.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at 07:03 AM

September 15, 2013

Coffee Break

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John Wayne in Circus World (Henry Hathaway - 1964)

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at 06:26 AM

September 12, 2013

Hidden in the Woods

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En las afueras de la ciudad
Patricio Valladares - 2012
Artsploitation Films All Region DVD

It's no surprise that Patricio Valladares is remaking his own film in an English language version. If he wasn't making that film, somebody else would. What is so initially striking about Hidden in the Woods is that I got the sense that if the story wasn't filmed in a less travelled part of Chile, it could easily be transposed with little change to some dusty spot in Oklahoma or Kansas. You could even have the small bar where some of the action takes place, a dive called "Tiajuana", and it really would not seem out of place.

Maybe my own sense of judgment will be questioned, but I can't really say wether this is a good or bad film based on conventional critical criteria (how's that for alliteration?). What I can say is that I did keep watching the mayhem because I never was quite sure what would happen next. What I can say is that I didn't feel the sense of moral outrage that this film brought out of some critics. There is a definite query in place regarding a small group of people who act in a predatory fashion, either by choice or as a mean of survival. I can also see Valladares' point of describing the film as a "comedy", although that might not be the most accurate word - certainly the scene revealing the well-scrubbed and comfortable wife and daughters of the baddest of the bad guys makes for a remarkable contrast, and a kind of parody, of the family that are the film's main protagonists, a family that only knows a hard-scrabble existence.

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One might be able to argue that the film is essentially an argument against the concept of male privilege. Even the two hikers who might be the closest to being identifiably like the film's core audience are revealed to be ready to take advantage of a young woman discovered to be in the process of cleaning herself. The local gangster is known as "Uncle", lording over his underlings and anyone perceived to be weaker than him. Felipe, whose livelihood is based on hiding drugs on behalf of this less than kindly uncle, uses his bulk to control is two daughters and son. Felipe's children are caught in a situation where any sense of humanity may need to be sacrificed in favor of an animal-like existence not too philosophically different from their pursuers. As the film progressed, and as I thought about it further, it seems that intentionally or not, Hidden in the Woods does lend itself to a Buddhist reading based on the concept of life conditions. While the idea of "Animality" is usually expressed in the action of the stronger preying on those weaker, it also has a more literal representation here. But also, while not fully articulated, the elder daughter strives to live a more tranquil, human existence.

The burly Felipe survives being knifed and shot to seek revenge against the crime boss. When we have seen how he has treated his wife and children, it is both comic and rancid that Felipe would want to reclaim his family. The film was inspired by a true story, but I'm not sure if that really important. Valladares doesn't shy away from the blood, and at first I thought the film could become the "Chilean Chainsaw Massacre". The ending does provide catharses when the sisters and brother finally find their escape to the beach, wandering into the water, to let the ocean wash away their blood, and hopefully, their past.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at 08:18 AM

September 10, 2013

An American Hippie in Israel

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Ha-Temprist / The Hitchhiker
Amos Sefer - 1972
Grindhouse Releasing Region 0 DVD / BD Region ABC

The story of the making of An American Hippie in Israel is a sobering reminder that for every film festival discovery or cult auteur, there are at least a dozen failed filmmakers, and movies that remain virtually unseen. I know of one local filmmaker who put herself on the financial line. I also recall a story in the New York Times about a filmmaker whose efforts resulted in nothing more than a collection of rejection letters from film festivals. It may be easy to get smug and snarky about a film like An American Hippie in Israel, but I'm at a point in my life where I don't see the point of pissing on some else's dream.

The story is about a disillusioned Vietnam war vet, Mike, traveling throughout Europe, who decides to leave Rome for Tel Aviv. Hitchhiking to the city proves a problem, probably because Mike looks too much like Charles Manson. He gets picked up by a young actress driving a huge white boat of a car. The two get in on quickly, skip into town, and hang out with a bunch of hippies in a some kind of warehouse-art studio. The gang is entertained by a duo, two young women with great voices, and a protest song that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I've never heard the words, "I hate you", sung so lovingly. The hippies are all slaughtered by a pair of gun toting, white faced, gangsters. Maybe they belong to the mime mafia. They pop up out of no where, chasing after Mike. Mike, his new girl friend, and another couple, go off to a tiny island. Mike is looking for a place with no people to create his own kind of utopia, and is told about this desolate island. It never seems to occur to anyone that the place is desolate for a reason. Due to someone not thinking about moving their rubber raft fully away from the shore, the quartet finds themselves on this small, rocky island with no food. Mike's plan to swim ashore are foiled by the discovery of two sharks. Unexplained is why the sharks weren't around when the four were skinny dipping, and how come they're around when there don't seem to be any fish to snack on. Mike and the other man, Komo, and the two women, all start attacking each other. The men devolve quickly into grunting beasts. Things go badly for everyone.

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One can argue that Sefer's film is an unintended self-commentary. Neither the film, nor Mike's ideas about freedom, are well thought out. Setting aside the topical elements, there is at least one glaring plot hole that demanded an explanation. If the two machine gun wielding guys symbolize death that Mike has thus far eluded, it doesn't make sense that everyone else can see them. Just as Mike's dreams of a hippie utopia prove unsustainable, so to was Sefer's dreams of cinematic glory. A primarily English language film would not get support in Israel. The film received a U.S. release from the grindhouse distributor, Box Office Spectaculars, a company better known for for its association with gore-meister Herschell Gordon Lewis.

The BD/DVD discs include interviews with the two stars, Asher Tzarfati and Schmuel Wolf. There is also a DVD of the earlier cut of the film, The Hitchhiker, which includes English subtitles for the Hebrew dialogue that is not subtitled for An American Hippie. Tzarfati has had a long acting career, including a supporting role in Tsui Hark's Double Team. Schmuel Wolf may not have had the advantage of speaking English, but he is still active in Israeli productions. There is no information on the two actresses, Lily Avidan or Tzila Karney. Maybe this film's only value is as an artifact cemented to its time. For work done on a very limited budget, it is technically competent. The symbolism, like the flowers crushed by the tractor during the opening credit, can be heavy-handed. I have to concede that Amos Sefer's heart was in the right place, even while his art is subject to question.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at 07:05 AM

September 08, 2013

Coffee Break

Michelle Jenner in Extraterrestial (Nacho Vigalondo - 2011)

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at 08:21 AM

September 05, 2013

The Nikkatsu Erotic Films Collection - 17 and 18

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Story of White Coat: Indecent Acts / Hakui monogatari: Midasu!
Hidehiro Ito - 1984

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Horny Diver: Tight Shellfish / Zetsurin ama: Shimari-gai
Atsushi Fujiura - 1985
Impulse Pictures Region 1 DVD

For those who have read Jasper Sharp's monumental book on "Pink Cinema", he even admits that many of the films were made simply to have product in the theaters. Neither of these new entries in Impulse Pictures presentation of this series of films have the kinds of ambitions that would mark something like Fairy in a Cage, which criticized Japan in World War II, or the politically subversive Sex Hunter: Wet Target. Of this new released pair, Story of White Coat may have been perfect for a salaryman's lunch hour diversion, with a running time of less than an hour. Horny Divers has a more developed narrative and has the kind of moments that evoke a critical response of, "What the fuck did I just see?". Arguably, the pairing of these films is appropriate in a manner of speaking, as sexual focus of Story of White Coat is outward, while Horny Divers looks inward.

Story of White Coat is priapic, with one of the main characters, a guy known as Junior, who is so well hung that in the beginning of the film, he is stuck inside one of his conquests. Brought to the hospital where his father makes major financial contributions, Junior chases after a nurse, a self-proclaimed 27 year old virgin. Another nurse throws herself on top of Junior, giving him crabs, and not the kind that the Horny Divers swim for underwater. Junior's chauffeur also has his heart set on the nurse. Junior and the chauffeur liken themselves to a one-hundred dollar bill versus a nickel, and the comparison also extends, as it were, to the size of their respective cocks. There are a couple of scenes involving the shaving of pubic hair, both male and female, with a straight razor. There's also a group of nurse in pink uniforms who are simply extras, but provide some goofy facial expressions, giving this film a few genuine chuckles. Overall, this is a disappointment considering how much more erotic and visually interesting Ito was with his film, Debauchery.

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Horny Divers was undoubtedly inspired by the "Girl Divers" movies from the Fifties. In those films, simply having attractive young women in bikinis or having a flash of breasts was enough. There was also some underwater photography that took advantage of erotic possibilities for imagery that could not have been done otherwise. Of course, the secondary title, Tight Shellfish pretty much spells things out for the audience. There is a lot of diving here, if you know what I mean, and anybody reading this probably doesn't need my help. This reminds me that there was a grindhouse flick titled, Tale of the Bearded Clam.

Horny Divers is about a real estate developer swooping down to buy out a small fishing village. Sex is the bait for monetary favors. The fishing chief and the real estate mogul share the same temptress. There are also a couple of sub-plots involving family secrets and newly discovered relationships. Sure, there are topless and sometimes bottomless women on the beach, but the really action takes place in a bar, yes, I'll say it, a dive. One of the bar's featured performers is a young woman who inserts a straw and draws in liquids, several kinds in fact. Nothing goes to waste, as the mixed drinks are imbibed by some lucky (?) guys. Another bar girl takes a tiny octopus inside her, the kind of scene that could well have made Ian Fleming rethink having the title Octopussy. One of the bar patron's decides that the little critter needs company and inserts an electric eel. Add to this, the incongruous use of "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain" on the soundtrack at the end of the film. If you're curious, see this movie with your best chum.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at 07:00 AM

September 03, 2013

The Odd Angry Shot

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Tom Jeffrey - 1979
Synapse Films BD Region A

Prior to seeing The Odd Angry Shot, I had some knowledge that Australia had troops in Vietnam. It's probably not so coincidental that the one film previously seen that tangentially was about Australians in Vietnam also starred Bryan Brown. That 1982 film, Far East was about a former soldier who stuck around to run a bar primarily for ex-patriates who chose to live in Southeast Asia. The Odd Angry Shot was released three years earlier, before Brown became a top Australian star.

Jeffrey's film makes an interesting contrast with Hollywood films about Vietnam. It's not simply a change in the nationality of the troops that occurs here. There are only a couple of battle scenes, and both are small scale. What I found out later in doing a little bit of research is that the film is fairly accurate in showing the fighting style of the Australians - slow, methodical treks through the jungle, only fighting the identifiable Viet Cong. Much of the film is devoted to time at the base camp - playing cards, downing what appears to be an endless supply of Foster's beer, and simply fighting off boredom. There is some discussion of the meaning of the war, and who benefits from the Australian presence, but Jeffrey is mostly interested in simply showing the experience of war from the point of view of a group of ground troops.

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There is the question as to why Synapse has chosen to give this film a DVD/Blu-ray release as it seems to fall outside of their usual offerings. As far as Australian films, and even Australian war films go, The Odd Angry Shot hovers in a space somewhere between Peter Weir's high-minded Gallipoli and Brian Trenchard-Smith's more viscerally oriented Siege of Firebase Gloria. Jeffrey's other films, based on the descriptions, would also place him as being more serious than those filmmakers associated with "Ozploitation", while perhaps not serious enough to include with those filmmakers like Bruce Beresford, Peter Weir and Gillian Armstrong, who brought critical attention to Australian cinema in the late Seventies. Most of Jeffrey's work as been with television. If The Odd Angry Shot does bring renewed attention to Jeffrey, I would hope to see his first feature, The Removalists from 1975, featuring a young Jacki Weaver.

The DVD/Blu-ray also includes a commentary track by Jeffrey with producer Sue Milliken and actor Graeme Blundell. Milliken produced several films for Bruce Beresford, and has been a significant part of the Australian film industry. There is discussion not only of the logistics of making a war film with a limited budget, but also about the differing acting styles, with a supporting cast that included many non-professionals. Cinematographer Don McAlpine and camera operator John Seale would go on to become Oscar nominated, and in Seale's case, Oscar winning, for their work behind the camera. The disc also included a brief interview with stunt coordinator Buddy Joe Hooker, whose expertise in staging fights was called upon when Milliken and Jeffrey found that there was no one qualified in the Australian film industry at that time. This release of The Odd Angry Shot might be best appreciated for its historical value, part of transition from a time between when Australian cinema rarely merited critical discussion and the the emergence as a world cinema powerhouse.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at 08:35 AM

September 01, 2013

Coffee Break

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Edith Taliaferro in Young Romance (George Melford - 1915)

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at 10:00 AM