Pilar Miró – El Crimen de Cuenca AKA The Cuenca Crime (1980)

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The Cuenca Crime (79) became a cause celebre for critics of the limitation on freedom of expression in Spain (the film is set in 1912 and is about an innocent peasant tortured by two members of the Civil Guard in order to extract a murder confession). The film was briefly suppressed and Miro was tried unsuccessfully for defamation. When released in 1981, it became the highest grossing film in Spanish box office history. Continue reading

Henri-Georges Clouzot – Manon (1949)

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Henri-Georges Clouzot (“The Raven”/”The Wages of Fear”/”“Diabolique”) directs one of his lesser efforts and co-writes with Jean Ferry an adaptation of Abbe Prevost’s 18th century lusty classic French novel ‘Manon Lescaut.’ It’s updated to immediately after World War II France. It was shoddily made, the characters were sketchily drawn, the lead couple is unlikable, the screenplay was ridiculously inept and the novel’s bawdiness was compromised to make it more Hollywood safe, nevertheless Clouzot’s craftsmanship and style made an impression at the Venice Festival and it won Best Film in 1949. It did a good job capturing the sleazy atmosphere of the low-life underground scene in a post-war Paris. Continue reading

Bill Duke – Deep Cover (1992)

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Plot
Laurence Fishburne plays no-nonsense LAPD narc Russell Stevens, Jr., who has worked all his life to expunge the memory of his dope-addict father, whom he saw die in a liquor-store robbery. DEA agent Jerry Carver (Charles Martin Smith) orders Stevens to work as an undercover operative on a major case. The cop is to pose as a dealer in order to get the goods on South American drug lord. Stevens is so convincing as a dealer, that he fast works his way up through the ranks and gains the trust of lawyer and narcotics dealer David Jason (Jeff Goldblum) and his sinister associates, all lackeys to the kingpin who is the target of Stevens’ assignment. Through a series of fantastic but credible circumstances, Stevens eliminates the lower echelon, getting closer to his quarry, but in the process he finds himself so deep into the sinister and seductive world of the drug trade that he may never get out. In a surprise move, and just when he is about to bring the ringleader down, the DEA pulls the plug on his assignment, because the top dealer, an influential Latin American politician, may someday be useful to the State Department. allmovie,com Continue reading

René Clément – La baby-sitter aka Jeune fille libre le soir (1975)

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Whatever one says about the plot of this film is going to be a spoiler. Let’s just say that a girl takes a baby-sitting job for one night and in the morning finds that things are not what they seemed and she is in a big load of trouble.

The film has been trashed by just about everybody who ever bothered to write about it, and that’s unfair. At least among Clément’s thrillers – Les felins, Le passager de la pluie, La course du lièvre à travers les champs, etc – it can stand its ground, sharing their dreamlike ambiguity and opaque plot structure. It may not be a masterpiece, but it’s certainly a worthwhile couple of hours. Continue reading

Noboru Tanaka – Edogawa Ranpo ryôki-kan: Yaneura no sanposha AKA Watcher in the Attic (1976)

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Watcher in the Attic is a 1976 Japanese film in Nikkatsu’s Roman porno series, directed by Noboru Tanaka and starring Junko Miyashita.

In 1923 Tokyo Lady Minako is the owner of a shabby boarding house with a collection of bizarre characters for tenants. Gōda, one of her tenants, spends most of his time in the attic spying on the other tenants through holes he has drilled into the ceiling. During one of his peeping sessions, Gōda witnesses the murder of one of the tenants at the hand of Lady Minako. Gōda becomes obsessed with Lady Minako, and determines to commit a grotesque murder in order to prove to her that he is her soul mate. He kills another tenant – a priest – by dripping poison into his mouth through the ceiling. A series of grotesque murders follow. The film ends apocalyptically with the Great Kantō earthquake which kills both of them during their intercourse. Continue reading