The new trailer is both riveting and tense, showcasing cinematographer Alain Levent’s striking imagery and teasing Rivette’s complex ideas. Often regarded as one of the most poignant works of French cinema, The Nun centers on Suzanne Simonin, a young woman who is forced to dedicate herself to a convent of nuns. Suzanne faces difficulty as she begins to challenge her newly instated vows – the institutional pressure weighing on her in the form of three superior mothers and their radical behavior.
The Nun–not to be confused with another film of the same
Special Edition Blu-ray
1967 / Color / 1:85 widescreen / 120 (?) 111 105 min. / Le streghe / Street Date January 30, 2018 / 34.95
Starring: Silvana Mangano, Clint Eastwood, Annie Girardot, Francisco Rabal, Massimo Girotti, Véronique Vendell, Elsa Albani, Clara Calamai, Marilù Tolo, Nora Ricci, Dino Mele Dino Mele, Helmut Berger, Bruno Filippini, Leslie French, Alberto Sordi, Totò, Ciancicato Miao, Ninetto Davoli, Laura Betti, Luigi Leoni, Valentino Macchi, Corinne Fontaine, Armando Bottin, Gianni Gori, Paolo Gozlino, Franco Moruzzi, Angelo Santi, Pietro Torrisi.
Cinematography: Giuseppe Rotunno
Film Editors: Nino Baragli, Adriana Novelli, Mario Serandrei, Giorgio Serrallonga
Original Music: Ennio Morricone, Piero Piccioni
Written by Mauro Bolognini, Fabio Carpi,
In a day and age when video distribution companies are mostly concerned with the bottom dollar and release or re-release films they know are guaranteed to sell (anyone care to count the number of Us releases of The Evil Dead series or Night of the Living Dead?), one of my favorite things about Arrow Video USA is their apparent fearlessness in releasing films and box sets that are probably only going to appeal to a very small niche audience.
Along with Arrow Academy, Arrow Video USA’s arthouse imprint, the company has released a good portion of Walerian Borowcyzk’s films and is busily releasing the early works of Seijun Suzuki as well as other, relatively obscure, 50’s and 60’s Japanese films. While I applaud Arrow for releasing these films and enjoy them all immensely, I’m just not sure the typical movie fan has a
Here is a 40-years-on rerelease of William Friedkin’s treasured personal project: his 1977 movie Sorcerer. It’s a study of an existential ordeal, and a reworking of Clouzot’s classic film The Wages of Fear, though avowedly drawing directly on the 1950 source novel by Georges Arnaud. (It’s a story that incidentally still seems to fascinate film-makers: Ben Wheatley is reportedly pondering a remake of his own.)
Sorcerer is a distinctive, gritty and gloomy movie – a determined slow-burner, resisting the traditional structure of narrative and central character. It involves four guys in four desperate situations, each introduced in leisurely vignettes: New Jersey mobster Scanlon (Roy Scheider), crooked Parisian businessman Manzon (Bruno Cremer), Mexican hitman Nilo (Francisco Rabal) and Middle Eastern terrorist Kassem (played by the Moroccan actor Amidou). For individual reasons,
That is, of course, an oversimplification, just as the other charge popularized by the likes of Peter Biskind – i.e. George Lucas’ grand space opera and Steven Spielberg’s personal blockbusters killed Hollywood’s interest in movies for adults – is an oversimplification. In all truth, it isn’t surprising that audiences didn’t go for Sorcerer or New York, New York, two especially challenging-for-the-mainstream features that pushed their creators’ aesthetics to greater extremes than before while tracking in subject matter that was pessimistic even for the time. But while both films and their troubled productions saw directors burned by their ambition, they are also exceptional works showcasing how exhilarating it can be when all commercial sense goes out the window.
Friedkin’s Sorcerer can lay more claim to having been actively harmed by the arrival of Lucas’ megahit, arriving exactly one month later, on June 25, and competing for a thrill-seeking crowd. (One theater reportedly pulled Star Wars for Sorcerer for a week, only to replace it when Friedkin’s film failed to lure an audience.) The film, a remake of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s 1953 masterpiece The Wages of Fear, was also hurt by its confusing title — named after one of the trucks transporting dynamite through a dangerous jungle to put out an oil fire — and a budget that ballooned from an initially planned $15 million to $22 million following a difficult production.
Friedkin, hot off the Oscar-winning The French Connection and hugely successful The Exorcist, already had a reputation for his temperament and arrogance. They were in full force on Sorcerer: he clashed with cinematographer Dick Bush, who left halfway through filming, as well as producer David Salven, whom Friedkin fired after fights over the expensive location shoots. Friedkin extensively clashed with Paramount brass, sometimes reasonably (kicking executives off set after perceived interference), sometimes amusingly but questionably (the evil oil execs pictured in the film are actually Gulf & Western’s executive board, and they repaid him by not promoting the film). The jungle shoot itself was hell, with about 50 people quitting following injury or illness while Friedkin himself contracted malaria and lost 50 pounds.
But it’s only appropriate that the making of Sorcerer was so desperate, given the story it tells. Friedkin’s worldview has always been bleak and cynical, and Sorcerer may be the purest expression of that. Its heroes are a hard-bitten New Jersey hood (a spectacularly testy Roy Scheider) hiding out after shooting a mobster’s brother, a crooked French banker (Bruno Cremer) on the run following fraud accusations, a Palestinian terrorist (Amidou) behind a Jerusalem bombing, and a Mexican hitman (Francisco Rabal) who gets in on the job after murdering the fourth driver (Karl John), apparently a fugitive Nazi. The film presents their crimes as facts and without real judgment, their rottenness just another bad part of a burned-out, brutal world.
Where The French Connection and The Exorcist gave viewers visceral thrills early on and some sense of right and wrong (even if it’s fatally compromised), the early action in Sorcerer is more painful, with suicide, terrorism, and the loss of friends and partners forming the four prologues introducing the men at this film’s center. Friedkin then drops us into squalor and despair in a small South American town where the heat and rain are nearly as oppressive as the police state, the work is dangerous and pays little, and the mud seems to soak up any sense of hope. It’s little wonder that they might take up the dangerous assignment of driving through an arduous jungle landscape with unstable explosives that could set off at any moment. When you’ve been driven into no man’s land by your sins, any way out is worth it — no matter how unlikely it is that you’ll survive.
The actual drive up to the oil well doesn’t begin until about halfway through and takes on the tone of an unusually fraught funeral march for the protagonists. Friedkin’s immediate, docurealistic style helps ground the proceedings as set-pieces grow more heightened, most memorably when the drivers guide their trucks over a deteriorating bridge as the river beneath it overflows — the most expensive sequence in the film, as well as the most difficult-to-shoot of Friedkin’s career. As Popeye Doyle’s car chase in The French Connection and Regan & Chris MacNeil getting jerked around in The Exorcist evince, Friedkin always had a gift for making scenes that were already dangerous in conception even more tactile and nerve-wracking. Here, his emphasis on the mechanics of the crossing – the snapping rope and wood – as well as the fragility of the bodies attempting to cross (particularly as one rider steps outside to guide the truck and risks getting thrown off or crushed in the process) make the danger of their situation all the more palpable.
Yet there’s a more existential doom permeating the film compared with the nihilism of his earlier efforts, a more complete melding of his hard-bitten style with expressionistic touches that peppered The Exorcist. Part of that comes from Tangerine Dream’s ethereal score, which accentuates a sense that the elements are set against the drivers. But Friedkin also lends the film’s grungy look a sort of otherworldly menace, whether the camera soars through gorgeous greenery while a fire burns in the background or Scheider envisions a stream of blood soaking the dirt. Even the small moments of beauty (e.g. a butterfly hiding from the rain or a woman briefly dancing with Scheider) seem to tease the protagonists and underline their utter hopelessness. By the time we reach a grim conclusion, Friedkin has taken us through a world without mercy or decency, in which fate mocks even the most resilient of us.
Martin Scorsese’s New York, New York, released just a few days earlier on June 21, was less plausibly affected by the release of Star Wars, and more likely the victim of critics and audiences being put off by its mix of glossy, Vincente Minnelli-esque musicality and aggressive, John Cassavetes-influenced verisimilitude. Scorsese, with the story of a creative and personal relationship collapsing under the weight of jealousy in a postwar environment, sought to bring to the forefront the unhappiness lurking under the surface of films such as Meet Me in St. Louis and My Dream is Yours.
It, like Sorcerer, had a difficult production, with the director battling a severe cocaine addiction while breaking up with then-wife Julia Cameron and carrying out an affair with lead actress Liza Minnelli. The film’s herky-jerky rhythms and circular intensity seem to take cues from that tension, the big-band musical numbers clashing with deliberately repetitive improvisations and screaming matches. Scorsese had mixed realism with melodrama (Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore) and grit with florid formalism (Taxi Driver) previously, and would go on to marry his classic and New Hollywood interests more palatably in Raging Bull. But New York, New York isn’t a marriage so much as it’s a push-pull war, one that’s sometimes exhausting.
Acknowledging the unattainability of Hollywood fantasies makes it no less vital a love letter. Scorsese opens with an astonishing crane shot on V-j Day as Robert De Niro’s Jimmy gets lost in the excitement of a crowd, only to appear under an arrow that both pinpoints and isolates him. De Niro’s first interactions with Minnelli’s Francine, meanwhile, are less a meet-cute, more an ongoing, insistent harassment that eventually wears down her defenses. The entire opening sequence communicates a sense of spiritual and personal emptiness amid celebration, an early warning that not all is well in the postwar era.
De Niro continues playing Jimmy as a halfway point between his insecure, jealous bruiser in Raging Bull and his relentless, obnoxious pest in The King of Comedy, but Scorsese finds some truth in his and Francine’s romance (even as it’s rotting from the inside out) in their musical performances, with the two finding a better balance and greater chemistry as they perform “You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me.” Their partnership flourishes out of a mutual recognition of talent — or, in his case, recognition of greater possible success together. Still, that balance begins to tip whenever Francine asserts herself, as in a scene where she tries to pep up the band following one of Jimmy’s criticisms, only for him to tear her down. And the film’s most gorgeous images undermine any possibility of happiness between the two, with De Niro proposing (badly: “I love you… I mean, I don’t love you. I dig you; I like you a lot”) in front of a fake forest.
Purposefully, the film’s first two hours give more emphasis to Scorsese’s more discursive side, major arguments between Jimmy and Francine getting interrupted by Jimmy’s ability to get into a minor argument with anyone he encounters. It’s in the final third that focus shifts to the director’s inner formalist and New York, New York turns into a proper musical with the remarkably bittersweet “Happy Endings” sequence. Francine’s finally given a chance to flourish as a performer, unhindered by Jimmy’s jealousy, and Scorsese jumps into an unabashedly stagey finale not unlike that of The Band Wagon or An American in Paris.
Yet the climax still reflects the inherent unhappiness in Francine’s life, telling a story of a relationship ended by success, only to double back and conclude with a wish-fulfillment coda that only makes it more painful. We’ve already seen the truth in the lives of Francine and Jimmy, and no rousing performance of “Theme from ‘New York, New York’” is going to change that. Their final encounter twists the knife further, giving one last tease of possible reconciliation before recognizing that it’s impossible, leaving Jimmy with a final, lonely shot echoing that V-j Day opening.
Audiences and critics largely rejected New York, New York and Sorcerer, with neither film making its budget back or earning the raves their makers had come to expect, but time has been kind to both. They haven’t exactly seen widespread reevaluation as their makers’ best works — Sorcerer wouldn’t be too far off for this writer, and Scorsese’s film has its passionate advocates — but they’ve developed cult followings and at least partly shaken off their previous distinctions as merely ambitious follies. Perhaps it’s appropriate that they’re not as widely cited as Taxi Driver and The Exorcist – they’re pricklier than their more popular predecessors, better suited as advanced viewing than introductory works. They may not generate thousands upon thousands of appreciations 40 years later, but they’re there, waiting for curious viewers to make a discovery.
The Nominees were...
Leslie Browne, The Turning Point
Quinn Cumming, The Goodbye Girl
Melinda Dillon, Close Encounters
Vanessa Redgrave, Julia
Tuesday Weld, Looking for Mr Goodbar
Readers are our final panelist for the Smackdown so if you'd like to vote send Nathaniel an email with 1977 in the header line and your votes. Each performance you've seen should be rated on a scale of 1 to 5 hearts (1 being terrible 5 being stupendous) -- Remember to only vote for performances that you've seen! The votes are weighted to reflect numbers of voters per movies so no actress has an unfair advantage.
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To celebrate the release of L’Eclisse, available on Est 21 September 2015 and released on Blu-ray for the first time (as well as on DVD) 28 September 2015, we are giving 3 lucky WhatCulture readers the chance to win one of three copies on Blu-ray.
Filmed in sumptuous black and white, and full of scenes of lush, strange beauty, it tells the story of Vittoria (the beautiful Monica Vitti – L’Avventura, La Notte, Red Desert – Antonioni’s partner at the time), a young woman who leaves her older lover (Francisco Rabal – Viridiana, The Holy Innocents, Goya in Bordeaux), then drifts into a relationship with a confident, ambitious young stockbroker (Alain Delon – Le Samourai, Rocco and his Brothers, Le Cercle Rouge). But this base narrative is the starting point for much, much more, including an analysis of the city as a place of estrangement and alienation and an implicit critique of colonialism.
Zombies don’t run! …or something like that right? I never actually stick to that; I’m not one of the people who think that Romero wrote the rules about zombies. Nightmare City, which is being released by Arrow Video, is a batshit crazy zombie movie which may be the first instance of running zombies, all the way back in 1980, though I’m probably wrong about that…
When an airplane arrives at an airport full of bloodsucking zombies, the unstoppable force soon starts to invade the city. Dean (Hugo Stiglitz), a reporter who witnesses the original attack fights to find his wife Anna (Laura Trotter) at the hospital before the horde completely take over the city.
Directed by Umberto Lenzi.
Starring Hugo Stiglitz, Laura Trotter, Mel Ferrer, Maria Rosaria Omaggio, Francisco Rabal, Sonia Viviani, Eduardo Fajardo and Ugo Bologna.
A mysterious radiation exposed airplane lands, unleashing a deadly crew of blood sucking zombies. A reporter and his doctor wife track their progress on their deadly mission across an unnamed European city.
Taking in elements of classic horror gore and crafting a flawed yet exhilarating slice of horror trash, Nightmare City is a bonkers fusion of non-stop jumps and fast-moving zombies.
Following television news reporter Dean Miller (Hugo Stiglitz) as he waits at an airport to interview a scientist and radiation expert , the film sets off at a frenetic pace. Soon enough quick footed zombie types are piling out of the plane, shooting, biting and knifing absolutely everyone in sight.
Miller records and reports on these horrific events, as
On June 5, the theater began a career spanning retrospective surrounding the work of iconic cinematographer and Mexican film industry legend Gabriel Figueroa. Taking a look at 19 of the photographer’s films, the series is running in conjunction with the new exhibition at El Museo del Barrio, entitled Under The Mexican Sky: Gabriel Figueroa – Art And Film.
Best known as a pioneer of Mexican cinema, primarily with his work alongside director Emilio Fernandez, Figueroa’s work was as varied as they come. His work with Fernandez is without a doubt this retrospective’s highlight, particularly films like Wildflower. One of the many times Mexican cinema’s “Big Four” worked together, the film saw the
Written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar
No matter if his protagonists are deranged or distraught, happy or sad, or if his stories are light or dark, comedic or tragic, the films of Pedro Almodóvar are usually at the very least enjoyable. Even at their most disturbing, there is something inescapably jubilant about his lavish use of color, his vibrant characters, and his unceasing passion for life and filmmaking. And when he aims to make something purely amusing, the results can be astonishing. It is for all of these reasons that Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, surprisingly the first Almodóvar film released by the Criterion Collection, is such a treat.
In this 1989 feature, made just after Almodóvar’s award-winning breakthrough Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Victoria Abril stars as junkie porn star turned respectable leading lady Marina Osorio, the object
From the Press Release:
The 47th Sitges Film Festival, to be held from 3 to 12 October, will be loaded with films that are all eagerly awaited by fantastic and, especially, horror genre film lovers. Festival Director Àngel Sala has announced the names of a good handful of new films that will be included in Sitges 2014.
These new Festival incorporations have been added to the lineup of an edition that will be opening with Jaume Balagueró’s [Rec] 4: Apocalypse, presenting its Grand Honorary Award to Roland Emmerich, and including presentations of the latest productions from important directors like Jean-Luc Godard, David Cronenberg, Kim-ki Duk, and Takashi Miike. See more details on those
Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
Written by Michelangelo Antonioni and Tonino Guerra
L’eclisse is the third film in Michelangelo Antonioni’s so-called “Trilogy of Alienation,” the preceding works having been L’avventura and La notte. (With justification, some would argue that Red Desert, his next film, truly rounds out what would then be considered a tetralogy). While the three films taken together do explore many of the same themes relating to spiritual emptiness, the disbanding of relationships, and a struggle to communicate in an increasingly modern and alienating world, L’eclisse differs from the two earlier works most notably in its increasingly experimental style and its blatant departures from conventional storytelling and formal design.
A tumultuous relationship begins L’eclisse, as we arrive in medias res, near the end of the rather unpleasantly crumbling relationship between Riccardo (Francisco Rabal) and Vittoria (Monica Vitti). Inside Riccardo’s claustrophobic home,
A beautiful woman, Vittoria (Monica Vitti), tiredly pads back and forth in her lover’s (Fernando Rabal) apartment, a fan providing the
Written by Julio Alejandro and Luis Buñuel
Directed by Luis Buñuel
The Cannes Film Festival has long been a venue to court controversy, and filmmaker Luis Buñuel was likewise one who consistently reveled in the divisive. At the 1961 festival, Buñuel brought his latest release, Viridiana, and the results were spectacular, and spectacularly contentious. The film, which shared Palme d’Or honors with Henri Colpi’s The Long Absence, was subsequently met with charges of blasphemy from the Vatican’s newspaper, and it was promptly banned in Buñuel ‘s native Spain.
The Spanish reaction was particularly critical. Viridiana’s production in Buñuel’s place of birth was already a hot topic. Having left for America and Mexico in 1939, Spain’s surrealist native son was back home, the adamantly leftist filmmaker now working amidst Francisco Franco’s fascist dictatorship. What’s the worst that could happen?
Viridiana is what happened,
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