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I'll Sleep When I'm Dead (2003)
I'll Sleep When I'm Dead
An elegant, psychologically interesting film noir-like thriller about a man taking revenge for his dead brother.
Clive Owen gives one of his better performances as the loving brother, an ex-gangster who returns to London after learning about his brother's (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) suicide. With a little help from Charlotte Rampling and Jamie Foreman, he finds out that his brother's been raped shortly before by Malcolm McDowell...
Luckily, "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" takes its time for excellent character and story development. Therefore, some may find it a little slow-moving, but due to the overall solidly acting cast, nice locations (Wales and SW9 in London) and gripping story, it's still very good entertainment.
Dallas Doll (1994)
Sandra Bernhard comes to Australia to play golf and seduces an entire family: son, father, mother. There are some UFOs around, the dog tries to commit suicide and the birds are strangely curious about human sexuality. Jake Blundell discovers that sexy Sandy is kind of manipulative and has not the best intentions and saves the day.
A strange film indeed, but lovable from the first to the last minute. Sandra (who hated this film and had it banned from the US) gives her best movie performance since "The King of Comedy" and is (although not pretty) drop dead sexy here - it's beyond belief actually! And Jake Blundell is equally desirable. A pity he hasn't done anything great since.
If you can get a copy of "Dallas Doll", you won't regret watching it. The strip mini-golf game with Doris Day's "Move Over Darling" is simply hilarious!
Bella, ricca, lieve difetto fisico cerca anima gemella
A must-see for Marisa Mell fans? Not quite sure. "Bella, ricca..." is a talkative, old-fashioned, and unfortunately dusty Italian comedy about the dangers of feminism. Actually, it's attitude is based on sexism. The feminists in this movie are portrayed as an ugly, frustrated bunch of witches who beat up every man that crosses their path. Well, there must have been some people who thought this was funny, because it was a great hit in Italy when it was released in 1973. Odd enough.
And what about Miss Mell? She certainly had star-qualities. She received a star billing here, her name appears above the title. If you watch this for her, you'll be disappointed: Her first appearance comes after 53 minutes. There is a funny twist in the end, though, when the male lead wants to join her in the bathroom, opens the shower curtain and discovers that this beautiful woman is a man! While he was in prison, Marisa/Paola had a sex change and became Paolo. She/he then fell in love with Erica Blanc (the wife of our poor leading man) and actually got her pregnant. Marisa is dubbed in the last few minutes by a man to give her at least some masculinity. This actually IS very funny. The rest of the film ... sorry ... kind of sucks.
One of the less popular Polanski films, made between his sleeper "Repulsion" (Catherine Deneuve's star-turn) and the hilarious horror comedy "The Fearless Vampire Killer" (starring Polanski himself alongside his ill-fated wife, Sharon Tate), "Cul-de-sac" is a bizarre film indeed. In his autobiography, Polanski stated that this was his favorite film of all, and, if he had the choice, he'd only do movies like this.
"Cul-de-sac" is hard to classify. It is an odd kind of comedy, but not really funny, it has some thriller elements, but it's not suspenseful, there are traces of a mystery slash horror thing, but they're never obviously visible, and, finally, it is the story of a marriage. There isn't much happening, really, and if you're not into weird movies, you'll most certainly find "Cul-de-sac" boring, but if you are, it will give you lots of pleasure.
The movie has a lot of charm, and it's craziness brings it quite close to Lester's "The Knack". Donald Pleasance's performance might be the best of his entire career. This alone makes Polanski's little masterpiece worth watching. Lionel Stander and the unforgettable Jack MacGowran are equally remarkable, and Ian Quarrier (who later played a gay vampire in "The Fearless Vampire Killers") can be seen in a supporting part. The setting (an old castle), though, is the real star of this film, and the entire thing is beautifully captured: the black-and-white-photography is timelessly elegant and Oscar-worthy. A pity "Cul-de-sac" was not a success when it was released. It came out on DVD a couple of years back and is a must for Polanski fans and film fans alike.
I have to stop myself or I will rave, rave, rave about this movie (movie? no, it's rather a revelation, I suppose) all night long. Boe has delivered a true piece of art: LOVE made into a movie! Many, many European and Asian directors have tried this before, but I can't remember anyone with Boe's narrative, poetic and artistic skills. Technically, "Reconstruction" is also brilliant.
The actors, well, the actors: Bonnevie is pure enchantment, and Nikolaj Lie Kaas is, well, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, simply one of Europe's best contemporary actors. Usually cast in weird comedies, he turns into an extremely passionate performance as the desperate man who loves two women (both played by Bonnevie). Maria Bonnevie does a very elegant Hitchcockian blonde while Nikolaj becomes more and more the anti-hero we know from the French classics. Both of them know damn well how to seduce their audience, they surely made me tremble over and over again with admiration and lust.
"Reconstruction" is a masterpiece who all those who enjoy thought-provoking entertainment. I will stop myself now and try to sum it up in one word: Excellent!
La silla (2006)
The man from Argentina, Julio D. Wallovits (who's pleased us with his little masterpiece "Smoking Room"), presents his new film, "La Silla" (or, in English, "The Chair"), a proof that fine film-making is by no means dead.
Not quite sure whether to regard it as an Argentinian or a European film (shot in Europe, but made by a South American director), I think it's one of the finest films of the new century. And it works on many different levels. It is, first of all, good entertainment. You won't get bored for a second. And then, it is also a deeply philosophical movie, a minor piece of art.
Set in Barcelona, "La Silla" is beautifully staged, photographed and edited. And it also provides some marvelous performances, from Esther Bové to Iván Morales. Brendemühl and Schneider also make remarkable appearances.
I don't want to give away too much. Wallovits is a maverick director, and "La Silla" is definitely worth a second and a third look.
Deed Poll (2004)
After his brief appearance in Greenaway's "The Tulse Luper Suitcases" and before his three-months-run as Puck on West End, Andre Schneider found the time to write, co-produce and star in this film, apparently his most personal one to date.
Schneider plays Nathaniel Griffin, a hustler getting hired by two rich siblings who, after having him under the influence of cocaine, ecstasy and various other drugs, paint playing cards all over his body and cut them out. The last scene is a breath-stealer, but the rest of the movie is often slow-moving and the siblings, played by Barbara Kowa and Rainer Wittenauer, fail completely to intrigue. Schneider's performance, though, remains a justifiable reason to sit through this, it's an impressive knock-out.
The nicely photographed film suffers from the sheer unbearable narcissism of the director whose crashing self-love screws the otherwise beautifully written and acted film up. Most of the time, Biermann seems to say, "I'm the director, I outsmart you all, you're just some stupid audience." If you can deal with this attitude, you will enjoy "Deed Poll".
After a string of equally disappointing works in Germany, Schneider turned his attention to France, Great Britain, Ireland and Spain, where he gave stellar performances in interesting films like "La Silla" and "La paz de tus ojos tristes".
Without You I'm Nothing (1990)
Without You I'm Nothing
Sandra Bernhard is quite a character, and certainly one of the funniest women on earth. She began as a stand-up comedienne in the 1970s, but her big break came in 1983 when she starred opposite Jerry Lewis and Robert De Niro in Scorsese's underrated masterpiece, "The King of Comedy". Her film career never quite took off, though. She did make a couple of odd but entertaining pictures, such as "Dallas Doll" (1994) or "Dinner Rush" (2000), but the most amazing parts were those she created for herself.
"Without You I'm Nothing" is undoubtedly her best effort. It's an adaptation of her smash-hit off-Broadway show which made her a superstar and Madonna's best friend for about four years. In ten perfectly choreographed and staged scenes, Sandra turns from Nina Simone to Diana Ross, talks about her childhood, Andy Warhol and San Francisco and performs songs made famous by Burt Bacharach, Prince, or Sylvester. Director John Boskovich got Sandra to do a 90-minute tour-de-force performance that's both sexy and uniquely funny. If you are a Bernhard fan, you can't miss out this film; it's a tribute as well to her (weird) beauty as to her extremely unconventional talent as a comedienne. And it has influenced filmmakers in their work "Hedwig and the Angry Inch", for instance, would look a lot different if "Without You I'm Nothing" didn't exist.
Les innocents aux mains sales
They both longed to work with each other for many years, but when it finally happened in 1974, Romy Schneider and Claude Chabrol failed miserably. "Les innocents aux mains sales" is a low point of both their careers, a slow-moving and unconvincing film that meanders somewhere between crime story, sex drama, baroque thriller and social study.
"Les innocents " pairs Schneider and Rod Steiger as Julie and Louis Wormser, a rich couple living in a grandiose villa in the Southern part of France. Louis is very rich and about twenty years older than his wife who is disgusted by his alcoholism and rude manners. One day, Julie meets Jeff Marle (hunky Paolo Giusti), a writer and neighbor who flies kites and shows eminent sexual interest in her. Together, they plan to drown Louis and run away with the inherited money. Of course, something goes wrong, and a supposedly dead Rod Steiger suddenly stands on the doorstep again, ready to take revenge
Schneider solidly acts her way through the 125 minutes of Chabrol's mystery, and certainly she's prettier than ever, but you don't get to see the passionate performer that made films like "L'important c'est d'aimer" or "Les chose de la vie" so unforgettable. As a matter of fact, Romy seems obviously bored and out of place, and she doesn't watch with either Steiger or Giusti. She later declared that she and Chabrol just didn't get along together: "He just sat there playing chess while the cameraman and we tried to make this picture. He left me alone, something I cannot bear. I need either a challenge, like with Welles, Visconti, or Zulawski, or cooperation, like with Sautet."
" does have its moments of greatness, but all in all, it remains an unsatisfying experience.
La piscine (1969)
After a string of commercial flops and the birth of her son, Jacques Deray's "La piscine" marked the turning point of Romy Schneider's ill-fated career and made her a major star in French cinema. A massive box-office hit by its release in 1968, the movie achieved rave reviews and turned producer Gérard Beytout into a multi-millionaire.
Though extraordinarily photographed and nicely acted, "La piscine" is not very good. The story holes are too big, the film itself about thirty minutes too long. Like most French films, it's a love-triangle. This time, it turns into some kind of thriller. Set in a beautiful Saint Tropez villa, "La piscine" takes a lot of time to visualize the sexy relationship between Jean-Paul (Alain Delon) and Marianne (Schneider) which experiences an unpleasant twist when Marianne's ex-lover (Maurice Ronet) shows up and joins them with his 18-year-old daughter (Jane Birkin). Jealousy leads to murder and distrust, and by the end, the relationship between our good-looking protagonists are not the same.
Michel Legrand's jazzy music and several shots of Miss Schneider wearing a black bikini make this slow-moving, talkative piece of film bearable. It might have been an erotic sensation back in the 1960s, but it's now outrun by sexier and more entertaining movies.