Andrzej Zulawski – L’Amour braque AKA Limpet Love (1985)

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Synopsis:
Inspired by Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot and intended as “a homage to the great writer,” this film is set in modern France rather than 19th century Russia. This is a story of Léon (Francis Huster), who has been recently released from a mental asylum and claims to be a descendant of a Hungarian prince. On his way from Hungary to France, he meets Mickey (Tchéky Karyo), a hood who has committed a successful bank robbery and plans to take brutal revenge on the brothers Venin for what they did to his girlfriend Mary (Sophie Marceau). Léon can hardly understand what Mickey is up to but he follows him everywhere and soon falls in love with Mary. This odd love triangle resolves in a tragic ending. The frantic pace of the film’s action can be compared to that of a runaway, hell-bound train. The colors and sounds go out of control, and violence abounds — all of which is intended to convey to a viewer the craziness of the time.
— (allmovie) Continue reading

Karel Reisz – Night Must Fall (1964)

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Albert Finney stars in this 1964 psychological thriller, as a psychotic killer who murders a woman then becomes the handy man at a local house where his girlfriend works. Once there he proceeds to slowly torment the old lady who owns the house and attempts to seduce her granddaughter. Continue reading

Marcel Carné – Le Jour se lève aka Daybreak (1939)

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Le Jour se lève (or Daybreak) is a 1939 French film directed by Marcel Carné and written by Jacques Prévert, based on a story by Jacques Viot. It is considered one of the principal examples of the French film movement known as poetic realism.

In 1952, it was included in the first Sight and Sound top ten greatest films list.

Synopsis:
After committing a murder, a man locks himself in his apartment and recollects the events the led him to the killing. Continue reading

Phil Karlson – 5 Against the House (1955)

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Synopsis:
Four college buddies enjoy a night at a Reno casino and overhear a cop saying that robbing the casino “cannot be done.” That gets the brainiest rich kid among them thinking up a plan for the perfect robbery. He convinces the others to join in when they hear that it will only be a college hoax, his plan being to let the police know where the money is afterwards. The thing is, one of his friends has a head injury from the war, and has no intention of returning a dime. Continue reading

William Friedkin – Cruising (1980)

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A 1980 psychological thriller film directed by William Friedkin and starring Al Pacino. The film is loosely based on the novel of the same name, by New York Times reporter Gerald Walker, about a serial killer targeting gay men, in particular those associated with the S&M scene.
Poorly reviewed by critics, Cruising was a modest financial success, though the filming and promotion were dogged by gay rights protesters. The title is a play on words with a dual meaning, as “cruising” can describe police officers on patrol and also cruising for sex. Continue reading

Takashi Miike – Dead or Alive: Hanzaisha (1999)

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Quote:
Handed a tedious script about a turf war in Shinjuku’s Kabuki-cho entertainment district (a maverick Chinese gang pulls a robbery which upsets organised crime; a care-worn cop lumbers towards a showdown with the troublemakers), Miike threw away half of it and used the rest as a springboard to amazing inventions. The exposition scenes are boiled down to an entire reel of ‘abstract’ action – a cataclysmic restaurant ambush, a gay man killed while sodomising a kid, the world’s longest line of coke, a homo-erotic knife-throwing act in a girlie bar – while the unrevealable ending is turned into the ultimate blast. In between, Miike offers a series of electrifyingly sad vignettes of death, failure and loss, including what must be the most disturbing stoned murder scene the genre has ever known. A future classic. (Time Out Film Guide) Continue reading

Seijun Suzuki – Tôkyô nagaremono AKA Tokyo Drifter (1966)

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Tokyo Drifter stands with Branded to Kill as one of the best-known and most acclaimed films of Seijun Suzuki, one of Japan’s most talented maverick directors. A colorful riot of an action drama, Tokyo Drifter, like many of Suzuki’s films, transforms a standard gangster film plot into a vehicle for his own loopy brand of filmmaking, featuring gorgeous cinematography, unconventional storytelling techniques, and a dark sense of humor. This particular example centers on Tetsu, a yakuza member who, when his gang is disbanded, remains loyal to his boss and attempts to go straight. This is no easy task, however, as the yakuza are determined to get him back into the life — or kill him if he refuses. The pressure soon forces Tetsu to go on the road, becoming the “Tokyo drifter” of the title, but even this is not enough to prevent his past from violently catching up with him. The film’s choreographed action and vibrant color palette make the frequent action sequences, including one of the most raucous barroom brawls ever put on film, seem almost like musical numbers, resulting in a spectacularly entertaining and truly original take on the gangster drama. Continue reading