Allan King – A Married Couple (1969)

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Quote:
Unnerving in an altogether different way, A Married Couple, from 1969, ventures into the world of adult showmanship through the conflicted relationship between Billy and Antoinette Edwards. King is given full access to their marriage, and his cameras watch as the suburban façade of happiness and understanding quickly crumbles away to reveal a tense power struggle for control within the modern middle-class household. Simple conversations become scenes of endless bickering, and assumptions about duty, responsibility, and loyalty turn into verbal daggers of resentment, clouding the colorful 1960s interiors with presumptuous hot air. King also finds the comical within the tragic, best on display when Billy walks out in a red Speedo and wool vest, a peacock flexing his feathers for a woman who no longer cares. The final quiet conversation between husband and wife takes a turn toward the absurd, but considering the jockeying that’s proceeded, this final compromise of love makes perfect sense. It’s hard to imagine a fiction film being able to capture this type of potent human dichotomy linking gradual suffering and survival. Continue reading

Jacques Demy – Lola (1961)

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Quote:
Jacques Demy was arguably the greatest romantic of the French New Wave, and Lola was one film in which he proved how vital both sides of that equation were to his vision. While Lola exists within the same workaday France of Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut’s early films, Raoul Coutard’s cinematography allows Demy to find a beauty and poetry in the most ordinary circumstances; Coutard’s moving camera brings the grace of a dancer to the film’s visual proceedings, no matter how shabby some of the characters’ circumstances may be. The narrative is so fluffy it threatens to blow away at any moment, but Demy primarily uses it as a device to focus on the emotional lives of his characters, and it is their common search for love that moves the story and keeps the film compelling. Demy’s casting is nothing short of superb: Anouk Aimée is joyously radiant in the title role, and her every word and movement convey such a seductive charm that it’s no wonder three men are vying for her hand; Marc Michel, Alan Scott, and Jacques Harden all resister in their own way as Lola’s suitors; and Annie Duperoux is spot-on as Lola’s teenage counterpart. Lola is a film whose goal is obviously to touch the heart rather than the mind, but Demy tells his simple story with such a rare blend of passion and intelligence that he’s able to please the intellect as well. The result remains one of the most purely pleasurable products of the French Nouvelle Vague. Continue reading

Çetin Inanç – Demir pençe (korsan adam) AKA Iron Claw the Pirate (1969)

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With his operations in Istanbul being continually upset by the masked patriot-cum-vigilante Iron Claw the Pirate (Demir Karahan) and his female sidekick Mine (Nebahat Cehre), the legendary super villain Fantomas (Necati Er) travels to the city intent on eliminating the pair. In the meantime, a government operative, Yilmaz (Oktar Durukan), is killed during a raid on one of Fantomas’s lairs and his brother Yildirim (Yildirim Gencer) vows revenge. Teaming up with Iron Claw, Mine and the mysterious agent Uncle (Danyal Topatan), Yildirim soon finds himself in the thick of the action. But if our heroes are going to defeat Fantomas, they must first get past his chief henchman, the hulking, metal-handed Behcet (Behcet Nacar). Continue reading

Serif Gören & Yilmaz Güney – Umut AKA Hope (1970)

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Synopsis:
In this bleak tragedy, a crude and illiterate man who drives a horse-drawn taxi survives his meager existence by hoping each day that this will be the day he wins the lottery. One day his coach is hit by a car, killing one of his two horses and damaging the buggy. Because the automobile driver has social standing, the traffic judge rules in favor of the automobile driver, and does not give the poor man any damages. Creditors soon remove everything from his house except the remaining horse and damaged buggy. Despairing, he strikes out at his family and anyone weaker than he is. Eventually, he joins a wandering “holy man” on a quest for desert gold, and goes mad in the process. Continue reading

Edwin Zbonek – Der Henker von London AKA The Mad Executioners (1963)

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Synopsis:
‘A band of hooded men have formed a court and they are exacting justice upon the criminals who have escaped the reach of the law. The sentence they exact is death by hanging. Using the hangman’s rope from the Scotland Yard Museum they leave their victims hanging from various locations with a file detailing the case against them pinned to the body. Scotland Yard is stumped and have assigned their best man to break the case. Meanwhile another fiend is on the loose, one who is neatly severing the heads of young women. The bodies are found the heads are not.’
– dbborroughs Continue reading

Otakar Vávra – Kladivo na carodejnice AKA Witches’ Hammer AKA Witchhammer (1970)

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Synopsis:
The time is the seventeenth century. The beggar Maryna Schuchová hides the Host in her scarf at the Communion. She admits to the parish priest Schmidt that she intended to give it to the midwife Groerová to heal her ailing cow. The young priest declares her a witch and convinces the Sumperk countess De Galle to summon the inquisitor Boblig from Edelstadt. This failed student of law sees the offer as a great opportunity. He uses torture and threats to force the women from the to testify to their meetings with the devil and learn by heart the lies he has made up for the inquisition tribunal. Boblig accuses the wealthy burghers of witchcraft as well, and so wants to seize their possessions.

— IMDb. Continue reading

Robert Houston – Shogun Assassin (1980)

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A sort of remake of Lone Wolf and Cub for the western market condensing the series in one film. In 1980, Americans David Weisman (producer) and Robert Houston (director) stumbled upon the Japanese Lone Wolf and Cub films (in turn based on a hugely successful manga comic book), and realised that while Western Audiences at the time would lap up the violent battles, they might not be ready for the Chanbara genre’s comparatively slow pacing and period politics. They decided to take the best bits of Lone Wolf and Cub parts 1 and 2, and add their own dubbing and simplified plot. Shogun Assassin was born, and is probably responsible to this day for the Chanbara movie’s arrival in the West. Best approached as an introduction to the Lone Wolf and Cub legend. Continue reading