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I knew nothing about The Horror Of The Blood Monsters when I innocently clicked “play” and sat back in my chair. It’s a low budget piece of junk cobbled together from several other low budget pieces of junk like a cut-rate junkenstien, but the sum of all this junk is greater than the individual pieces of junk that constitute the whole. It may be a mess but it’s an endearing mess like a kindergartener’s school play. In fact, many of the production decisions seem as if they were last-minute solutions made by a five-year-old. For instance, large parts of the film were in black and white and when Al Adamson, the director/producer tried to sell the film to drive-ins (his target market) they weren’t showing black and white films anymore, so Al processed the black and white portions of the film turning them into red and white. Again emulating the lack of impulse control indicative of a kindergartener Al decided while he was coloring things why stop at red and white? Al changed some parts to yellow and white, others to blue and white, or pink and white. …

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Raj Kapoor’s 1951 Bollywood epic Awaara is 2 hours and 45 minutes long. More than enough time to deliver two plots, ten musical numbers, a Busby Berkley style dream sequence, a complex moral, and some religion too. It’s a giant-sized story of romance and tragedy coupled with a neo-realist ideology, that borrows heavily from film history.

The plot is baroque, to say the least, but its bare-bones comes down to a Judge named Justice Raghunath, whose honorable wife Leela is kidnapped by Jagga a notorious criminal. Jagga has stood before the judge in the past and was told that he was nothing more than the fulfillment of his own genetic destiny. The judge explains that “Thieves and murders give birth to more thieves and murders.” Jagga finds out that his hostage is pregnant and so returns her to the Judge. Later, when Leela gives birth, everyone thinks she was impregnated by Jagga during her captivity. The judge shuns the mother-child and Jagga makes sure the child grows up to be a criminal. …

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Beginning with its release in 1993 Joel Schumacher’s film, Falling Down, divided audiences and critics alike. The conflict boils down to whether or not Falling Down succeeds as a satire. When asked about the main character, William, Schumacher said “He’s not a bad guy.” The people who find themselves at the wrong end of his machine gun might disagree. Schumacher’s comment is somewhat ambiguous. It could be seen as a humorous nod to William and his “folly,” or it could be seen as a plea for some measure of sympathy for a misunderstood man.

If Falling Down is meant to be a satire it spends too much time reveling in what it is supposed to be satirizing. William is much closer to a hero than a villain or parody. Falling Down is closer to the vengeful tirade seen in Michael Winner’s 1974 film Death Wish than an ironic caricature in a movie like John Avildsen’s 1970 film Joe. We understand Joe, we recognize him, but we do not identify with him. We don’t see things through his eyes. We don’t want to be in his shoes, but in Falling Down, William offers us a chance to finally get the upper hand against all those people who get in our way. Standing in William’s shoes we are given the opportunity to bully Mexican street gangs instead of having them bully us. …

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“How can this be commander? Is this the workings of a mad scientist, black magic, or mumbo jumbo? A nightmare? Nothing of the sort. This is an application of fact. Facts beyond your ken!” Says the aristocratic, megalomaniac bent on doing something bad that isn’t clearly explained in Antonio Margheriti’s 1967 science fiction thriller Wild Wild Planet.

There are quite a few things that are unclear in this film, beginning with the title. The original Italian title was I Criminali Della Galassia (Criminals Of The Galaxy) which is relatively accurate when compared to the plot, but Wild Wild Planet sounds like a movie about gogo dancers in space. To be fair, there is some dancing in this film. The audience is treated to several performances of a butterfly dance that the evil doctor Normi presents. That’s another point of confusion. Sometimes the evil scientist is called Dr. Normi, other times he is called Mr. Norman or Normal. In the credits, he is listed as Nurmi. …

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Broaden your horizons on a whirlwind tour of films from 50 different countries. This is not a list of the most important films in the world. It is a list of great films worth watching. In fairness their are some ludicrous movies mixed in for entertainment value but if you have never see Who Killed Captain Alex, or The Man That Saves The World you really need to.

America — Harold and Maude — Directed by Hal Ashby in 1971

Argentina — La Cienaga — Directed by Lucrecia Martel in 2001

Australia — The Babadook — Directed by Jennifer Kent in…

Embrujada: Sometimes Making A Movie Badly Makes It Better

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Embrujada answers the question what would a Buñuel film look like if Buñuel had no money, no talent, and very little skill. However, it is Embrujada’s clunky, amateurish construction that actually enhances its efforts to be surreal. The surrealists were interested in random juxtapositions and Embrujada excels in this area. The awkward, poorly timed editing emphasizes the contrasting imagery and breaks what is meant to be a montage into a jarring series of images slammed together.

Embrujada (Bewitched) was written, directed, and produced by Armando Bo in 1969. It’s Bell de Jour, meets Rosemary’s Baby by way of Russ Meyers. It’s one part surrealist art film about a wife who is secretly a prostitute, one part a woman convinced that she is being pursued by the devil in order to give birth to his child, and one part soft-core sexploitation flick. …

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The Eyes of My Mother was written and directed by Nicolas Pesce in 2017. It was his first film and was produced by Magnolia Pictures. It is an ambitious and in many ways successful film, but I seriously considered turning it off at the one hour mark. I’m not sure the world needs another film like this, but its quality is a reward in itself.

The Eyes of My Mother is beautiful. The cinematography is dark and rich. The camera moves slowly and smoothly through the film like the main character. It takes place mostly at night allowing deep chiaroscuro and thin halos of light that trace the outlines of figures and shapes. It’s shot in black and white with a wide aspect ratio which suits the rural setting. …

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Carlos Reygadas’s 2002 movie Japón uses the three core ingredients from Ingmar Bergman’s cookbook, death, sex, and god. Death, and its attendant fear, provides the engine that drives everything. Sex is our attempt to distract ourselves and represents our attachment to the materiality of the mortal world. God is a doomed effort at assuaging our fear of death by praying to an absent and neglectful parent figure who requires a kind of hope and optimism many cannot muster. Both Reygadas and Bergman cover these three intertwined themes in similar ways but Japón is visually distinctive.

Everything about the framing and the camera movement is unusual. Its shot in 16mm Cinemascope, so the aspect ratio is very wide, 2.88:1. This suits the rocky and dramatic vistas of the remote corner of Mexico where the film takes place. The views are beautiful, but the framing often cuts out the sky or is dominated by a tree blocking our view or the back of someone’s head. It’s carefully composed but awkward in an almost clumsy way. Much of the film is shot without a tripod, even the wide panoramic shots. The protagonist, whose name we never learn, walks with a cane and has a very pronounced limp all of which is accentuated by the camera movement. The camera often depicts the protagonist’s point of view although on occasion the camera will pan slowly around and he will unexpectedly appear in his own line of vision. …

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Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland was written by Charles Dodgson in 1865. Lewis Carroll was a pen name. Over the last century and a half, it has become a staple of the western canon. On Wikipedia, they list 32 different film versions, and on Letterboxd they list dozens more, but mysteriously none of them mention the ones I found. I managed to unearth 4 cinematic corpses from their graves where they had been laying peacefully until I dragged them back into the light. Please accept my apologies.

The first adaptation I found was a pornographic musical entitled Alice in Wonderland. A title given to the film before the age of search engines where unsuspecting tweens might accidentally stumble across it. The second version was Alice in Pornoland, no explanation necessary. Then hidden in unmarked graves near the dumpsters were the twin movies, Alice in Blackland and its sequel Alice in Whiteland. When my shovel hit these two I was afraid to open the coffins but something had to be done to heal America’s race problem and these two films might hold the key! …

About

Filmofile

I have an MFA in painting and I’m an art professor but I managed to convince the school to let me teach film. https://twitter.com/Filmofile1

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