BFC 2016 Movies Review: Part 3

A roundup of the BFC screenings for 2016

20 mins

The nights are drawing in and we bring out the big guns for the autumn season. Kubrick, Cronenberg and Godart.

The daddy of the maniacal horror, Tobe Hooper pays us a visit (with his chainsaw) and nuns run amok completely starkers. What’s not to like?

At BFC we show the pictures as they were intended to be shown. Warts and all. Don’t like watching a man thrusting a gun into his stomach…tough. Don’t like watching a man having his hand nailed to the window sill …paff.

BFC members are made of stronger stuff.  Actually the Giraffe being murdered in Sans Soleil was particularly gruesome, but I’ll gloss over that.

Best foot forward.

  

Screening List:

The Shining (1980)

Thunderbolt & Lightfoot (1974)

Persepolis (2007)

Sans Soleil (1983)

The Devils (1971)

Alphaville (1965)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Videodrome (1983)

Get Carter (1971)

Blood Simple (1984)

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

 

 

The Shining (1980) directed by Stanley Kubrick

Starring Jack Nicholson, Shelly Duvall, Danny Lloyd

Nominated by Darren Street

Jack Torrence (Nicholson) takes a winter job as the caretaker with his wife Wendy (Duvall) and young son Danny (Lloyd) in a secluded and cut-off hotel in the snowbound northwest mountains of Oregon. During the interview Jack is told that a previous caretaker went mad during the winter, murdering his wife and two small girls with an axe.

Seminal haunting horror shocker from Stephen King. What was in Room 237? Beautifully shot, dramatic synth from Wendy Carlos and cutting edge camera shots means this picture hasn’t aged a day. Nicholson is wonderful as the deranged and maniacal husband, Duvall in her best performance as Wendy who is having a really bad day. Great support from Scatman Crothers as the Cook who along with Danny has the shine too.

Wonderfully over the top from a masterful and insightful director. Arguably Kubrick’s last good movie.

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Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974) directed by Michael Chimino

Starring Clint Eastwood, Geoff Bridges

Nominated by Nik Stanbridge

This is BFCs second Chimino outing this year which he made fresh out of shooting commercials. Loner Thunderbolt (Eastwood) running from old robbery buddies (George Kennedy and Geoffrey Lewis) is picked up by Lightfoot (Bridges) as they embark on a bank job where they do some male bonding. Shot on location in Idaho and Montana, the picture looks beautiful and the initial playful tone is replaced with a darker narrative which is both very violent and deeply touching.  A bit like Every Which Way but Loose without the laughs.

Bridges steals the show as happy go lucky drifter caught up in events far beyond his talent and guile. Chimino’s direction is sharp, tender and fast paced. Thunderbolt and Lightfoot as a Buddy movie or perhaps a straight road movie, defines the time it was set, and shot both Chimino and Bridges (who won his second Oscar nomination) to stardom. 

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Persepolis  (2007) directed by Marjane Satrapi

Starring Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve

Nominated by Darren Street

Animated Iranian coming of age auto biographical story of Marjane growing up in Iran in the 70’s before the revolution. Marjane is sassy and streetwise and does not want to conform but is forced to seek asylum in Europe to avoid the regime.

Her story is moving and thought provoking, the animation being the perfect medium to show the story and the hard characters and experiences she encounters. If I had a moan I would say it was over long, with the script sometimes lingering on events peripheral to the main storyline.

The animated style uses monochrome block artwork to set the timeline to great affect which was based on the comic book from Satrapi.  Our print was shown in the native French with English subtitles.

Persepolis is sometimes brutal using the animated medium to dramatic effect with simplicity and flair. Strongly urge you to view.

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Sans Soleil (1983) directed by Chris Marker

Nominated by Nik Stanbridge

San Soleil is an essay or documentary examining the quality of the modern human existence, and the dehumanisation that accompanies massive industrialisation. The film jumps between stock images of poverty stricken Africans, and of the modern civilised Japanese people, together with original Marker material shot in 16mm. It also utilises a video synthesizer effect overlade on some images for reasons I couldn’t fathom.

Sans Soleil is a hard film to like. The narration doesn’t follow the images in places and generally does a good job of confusing the narrative. Clearly Sans Soleil is a very personal film to Marker and his followers, but for the rest of us it appears rather trite and clichéd.  It’s a bit like watching someone’s holiday video for 100 minutes. It shows a bunch of images but doesn’t put them into a context. But I guess that is the point of the film.

Exponents would say that Marker presents us with a challenging and cerebral workout with San Soleil, which shows a rich and varied tapestry of life from either spectrum. Hmmm OK. Love it or hate it, is a rite of passage for any lover of film. 

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The Devils (1971) directed by Ken Russell

Starring Oliver Reed, Vanessa Redgrave

Nominated by Darren Street

Burning at the stake, naked nuns running amok, torture, dead babies, induced vomiting, and masturbation with femurs. Phew!

Based (and loosely I suspect) on real events in Loudun in France. The Devils from a book by Aldus Huxley concerns the fall of Urbain Grandier, a 17th century Catholic priest determined to avoid handing direct control of his town to the King.

OK its controversial, buts it’s a wonderful romp if you can stomach the gruesome torture & gratuitous nudity. Reed does a fine job of holding it all together, the set design by Derek Jarman looks suitably sterile and cold, but it is Russell firm direction that assaults the senses and bedazzles the mind. A skill that seems to be such a rare commodity today.

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Alphaville (1965) directed by Jean-Luc Godard

Starring Eddie Constantine, Anna Karina

Nominated by Nik Stanbridge

Lemmy Caution (Constantine) is a hard edged, no nonsense, weather beaten Sam Spade type FBI agent, dispatched to the dystopian city of Alphaville with a secret mission. Throw in Natacha von Braun (Karina) in her captivating best as the love interest, and you get a sci fi movie that still feels very science fiction today.

Arriving in Alphaville, Caution checks into a luxury hotel and is shown to his room by a professional seductress, who then attempts to murder him in a scene reminiscent of Ray Cooney’s Run for your Wife.

Sure Godard cut corners and the grating computer voice, sounds naff by modern standards but it really doesn’t matter. Alphaville doesn’t feel like a regular sci fi movie as the sets aren’t particularly futuristic. Indeed Godard used the best of modern Parisian architecture as the backdrop, and any notion that it is set in the future is conveyed by the cast and their behaviour.

Alphaville deserved its place as film royalty, if only to witness the swimming pool execution scene, that has to be one of the most bizarre in movie history.

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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) directed by Tobe Hooper

Starring Marilyn Burns, Gunnar Hansen

Nominated by Darren Street

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of those movies that everyone has heard of, even if they haven’t seen it. The picture garnered fame in the eighties as the quintessential video nasty and for good reason. It is rough and nasty. Kermode would call in visceral, and it has lost nothing in the intervening years since release.

I came to know this feature when I working in a video shop in my teens. The VHS copy was extremely tatty and well used. When the tape was withdrawn, everyone wanted to see it. However what we remember of the film’s horror and splatter, doesn’t add up to what is shown on screen. The power of the movie is that it creates such tension and suspense that the horror comes from your own imagination. The film itself doesn’t contain much gore at all.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is not really a film you can enjoy, but endure. Its certainly a thrill, but an uneasy one, best seen through your fingers.

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Nocturnal Animals (2016) directed by Tom Ford

Starring Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhall

Nominated by Nik Stanbridge

Classy, super cool Susan (Adams) is a successful gallery manager, living in an ultra modern mausoleum with her cheating husband. She has lost her life spark until one day she receives a manuscript “Nocturnal Animals” from her ex husband Edward (Gyllenhall).

The book Nocturnal Animals tells the story of family being viciously attacked during a road trip in the outback of Texas, and the subsequent investigation that follows… Read full review here.

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Videodrome (1983) directed by David Cronenberg

Starring James Woods, Debbie harry

Nominated by Darren Street

Max Renn (Woods) is a sleazy low-life Cable TV producer trying to get the next new sex/horror fad onto the airwaves of his TV network. When he comes across Videodrome a show that shows beatings, rape, mutilation and murder, he is immediately hooked and tracks down the inventors wanting the rights to screen it. Max discovers the Videodrome signal has caused him brain damage when he experiences a series of erotic and horrendous hallucinations.

Videodrome is a film of its time when TV networks were experiencing phenomenal growth and the advent of video cassette recorders. Cronenberg continues his body horror genre as Max experiences a bizarre transformation replete with chest vagina and integral pistol hand.

What was disappointing however was the picture seemed out of touch and juvenile today. The menace all but gone replaced with odd latex and goo reminiscent of a Ghostbusters flick. Videodrome has definitely suffered on the shelf, losing much of its shock horror impact. Best moment: Max picks at his chest where a sore has developed with his gun…hmmm you really need to see it.

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Get Carter (1971) directed by Mike Hodges

Starring Micheal Caine, Britt Ekland, Ian Hendry

Nominated by Nik Stanbridge

British gritty gansta picture, Carter (Caine) travels to Newcastle to investigate and avenge the murder of his brother. Like many of the British working class pictures of the time, Get Carter exudes the grim harshness of the tenements, the grey climate and the hard social underbelly, people drinking and fighting in the pubs.   

At no point does Caine’s performance turn into parody. He maintains the cold civilised killer persona and never tries to be reasonable. Totally gripping.

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Blood Simple (1984) directed by Joel & Ethan Coen

Starring Frances McDormand, M. Emmet Walsh

Nominated by Darren Street

Stylish debut thriller from the Coen’s, Blood Simple is a story of lust and revenge, betrayal and even more revenge.

Visser (Walsh) is a private eye that takes a job to murder Abbey (McDormand) the wife of bar owner Marty (Dan Hedaya), who has been cheating with one of his employees. However, Visser has his own ideas how the murder will occur and who will be indicted.

Indeed the story’s intricate plot seems to weave this way and that, but you never lose sight of where it’s going.  I couldn’t help feel a touch of Hitchcockian influence in the character interaction and the lighting of the set pieces. For a film debut Blood Simple is nothing short of remarkable.  You never quite know what plot twist is going to happen next. Truly compelling ciniema.

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Dr. Strangelove  (1964) directed by Stanley Kubrick

Starring Peter Sellars, George C Scott

Nominated by Nik Stanbridge & Darren Street

USAF general Jack D Ripper goes nuts and orders a first nuke strike against the commies. Meanwhile The president in his war room tries to recall all the bombers to avert a nuclear holocaust. Due to a malfunction, all but one of the bombers is unable to receive the order to abort. 

To call this a black comedy is an understatement. To quote Eric Olthwaite, “even the white bits are black”. As a viewer I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or be horrified. It starts with footage of a huge bomber aircraft being refuelled mid air to the soundtrack of “Try a little tenderness”. This dichotomy continues throughout the picture to the last frame.

Standout performances from Sellars playing three roles, Keenan Wynn as Gen. Ripper and George C Scott as Gen. Turgidson. It’s a laugh out loud funny and just as potent today, satirising the machismo of the US war machine.

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Crazy Stats

Out of the 31 screenings in 2016 this is the breakdown of films created by decade. 

20's 1 film

50's 1 film

60's 3 films

70's 10 films

80's 6 (3 in 1980)

90's 2 films

00's 3 films

10's 5 films

Well done the 70's being the most popular film decade for the second year in a row.

 

Notable mentions for pictures seen in 2016 but not on BFC nights:

Victoria (2015) directed by Sebastian Schipper. 

German drama shot in a single continuous take.

 

Under The Skin (2013) directed by Jonathan Glazer. 

A woman picks up men on the promise of sex, luring them into an otherworldly lair.

 

 

Hearts of Darkness (1991) directed by Eleanor Coppola et al. 

Documentary detailing the shooting mishaps of Apocalypse Now

 

 

The Last Man on the Moon (2014) directed by Mark Craig. 

What it is to be Astronaut Eugene Cernan and being the last man on the moon.

 

 

Westworld (1973) directed by Micheal Crichton. 

Futuristic playground for adults that fulfills their every savage need.

 

 

The Revenant (2016) directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. 

Just remarkable...see it...today!

 

I hope you have enjoyed my screenings review.  As many of the movie studios are re-mastering many of the old classics, now is the perfect time to re-visit some of your own favorites.

Bring on 2017.


Last updated on: 24 Jan 2017 10:36 AM

The Lobster 2015 The Shining 1980 Thunderbolt & Lightfoot 1974 Persepolis 2007 Sans Soleil 1983 The Devils 1971 Alphaville 1965 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1974 Nocturnal Animals 2016 Videodrome 1983 Get Carter 1971 Blood Simple 1984 Dr Strangelove 1964