Le Doulos

 

Film, 1962

I don’t really get the allure of the cool criminal movie. Sometimes when I read about one like this it turns out that the director based it on people he actually knew. So that seems legit, but having been raised in a culture soaked in Tarantino and his derivatives, that aspect of these films is kind of wasted on me. But that’s okay, because these things are usually so well done and absorbing, like slipping into a bubble bath, that by the end of it you don’t know if it lasted an hour or four. This one’s got some canny storytelling tricks, but occasionally jostles you awake with its overabundance of style. Unless there really is a time and place where women who look like that spend hours getting their hair and makeup to look like that and then wear those nylons just to lay around reading before tucking in for the night, because if that’s case sign me the fuck up. The only thing not to like here is that this movie, at its core, is about bro love, which is kind of annoying.


Bob Le Flambeur

Film, 1956

Sometimes it’s hard for me to come up with any specific thoughts on a film like this, an old movie that is a pleasure to watch from beginning to end and full of hot shit cool people from the 50’s, not to mention its mind-numbing lead actress. I feel like the ending probably has something to say that I’m too loaded on coffee to process- The protagonist spends the whole move in a slump, and breaking it causes the untimely death of his protege. One actual thought I did manage to have while viewing this was this it sure didn’t seem storyboarded, and I mean that in a good way. I don’t know if it was or not, but it felt loose. Like they showed up for filming and shot everything the best way they could figure out, and some pretty interesting angles came out of it. There’s room to breathe, not every single shot advances the plot. Sometimes it’s nice to take a moment to just watch the characters.

The Naked Kiss

Film, 1964

Quite a trick here- Fuller spends the first good chunk of the movie, in which a woman’s illicit past claws at her as she attempts to leave it behind, humming along as normal as far as appearances go, but what he’s really doing is building a delicate house of cards. When it all falls down watching each one float by is really devastating. The lead actress is the film’s secret weapon. Her hypnotic naturalism overcomes any choppy editing or bad lighting to help the film establish a totally believable and absorbing word. Absolutely killer opening, great music and fun pulp language.

The Man Who Laughs

Film, 1928

A lot of quality weirdo actors, great sets, a good story and the occasional striking image make this worth watching.

Onibaba

Film, 1964

Boy, they do not make horror movies like this any more. In fact, most modern viewers would probably not categorize this calm and infrequently chilling film as a horror movie, but that is what it winds up being (even if it takes a while to get there). Onibaba, despite it’s simple plot about three characters doing their best to make a living in the hauntingly lonely, war torn fourteenth century Japanese countryside, is a actually a fairly complex morality play exploring what depths people will sink to in order to survive, first turning on strangers, then on their own loved ones. I was told ahead of time that Onibaba was “atmospheric”. In my experience this usually means one of two things: the film is either going to be completely absorbing or unbearably boring. Onibaba falls into the absorbing camp, using the starkness of it’s setting and cast, along with some fun camera and sound work, to draw you further and further into their world. Even with these great elements I found myself a little disappointed by the lack of otherworldly thrills I was looking forward to. Although in the end, despite being a ghost story that lacks any truly fantastic elements, Onibaba makes up for it by delivering one heck of an unsettling ending. 3.5


Le Samouraï

Film, 1967

Le Samurai doesn’t have much to offer beyond beautiful colors and a mesmerizing pace, but it’s more than enough to get satisfyingly lost in for it’s running length. 3.5


The Tingler

The Tingler is everything you want out of a B Movie. Weird, awkward, inept and possibly psychologically disturbed, it exudes just the right levels of wtf-ness. Most times when you decide to watch a bad old movie you end up regretting it, losing an hour and a half of your life to boring nonsense, but The Tingler is entertaining all the way through. Plus, there is something kind of flat-out, non-ironically brilliant about Castle’s movie gimmicks. 3.5/5


Dead of Night

I was really excited about seeing this movie, and wasn’t let down. It’s kind of like a more horror oriented Twilight Zone, made a couple of decades before that show came out. It’s really well written and fun to watch, and genuinely creepy in a couple of places. 4/5


The Wages of Fear

Film, 1953

I’m having trouble coming up with another movie that comes close to this one on terms of sheer intensity. The definition of “edge of your seat thriller”, masterfully composed. Great, great movie. 4.5


The 400 Blows

Film, 1959

An alarmingly sophisticated, while remaining very human, portrait of a juvenile delinquent in 1950s France. The camerawork, editing and especially the performance on the part of the child portraying the protagonist, are all used to full effect, absorbing and bonding with the viewer. 4.5