Saturday, January 11, 2014


Frankenstein '80 (1972): Cinematographer Mario Mancini's only film as a director should be easy to love for an old hand in Italian genre movies like me. Its combination of awkward direction, awkward early 70s fashion, an awkwardly stupid plot full of awkward sleaze, and a surprisingly awesome soundtrack is the sort of thing love affairs are made of. Unfortunately, for some inexplicable reason the film's script decides to put its emphasis on the investigative aspect of the story, with a police investigation of the film's murders and that of a journalist with a personal interest in what's going on running parallel to one another and giving the film many possibilities to repeat exposition of the same boring facts twice with a different set of actors. The film doesn't improve on the problem by telling the audience most of what it needs to know early on, which results in a film full of dull scenes in which the characters have to catch up to the audience. Needless to say, this does not make for a very exciting experience.

Captain Sindbad (1963): Byron Haskin's US/German co-production is an excellent reminder of the excellence of the Schneer/Harryhausen mythological by virtue of not having any of those films' virtues. It's not just the markedly worse special effects - though they certainly don't help - but really that the film gets everything about the power of imagination wrong, being childish where it should be childlike, stupid where it should be simple, and lacking all the conviction and joy that should run through them. Turns out making a film of childlike wonder is harder than it looks.

The Fall (TV-Show, 2013): The other thing apart from costume drama and Doctor Who British TV is really good at are various more or less realist modes of crime shows that leave productions from most other countries in the world (except for Scandinavia, sometimes) in the dust with the care and intelligence put into them. This Gillian Anderson starring show is a case in point. It moves on the very dark and cold spectrum, the sort of thing that leaves house favourite Luther looking like a light comedy. I find the show's clinical, non-judgemental way to look at victim, perpetrator and cop alike particularly remarkable, with nary a scene that doesn't seem utterly concentrated on showing us characters’ mental states without ever feeling the need to explain them to us. The thinking - about ethic, morals, and everything else is the job of the audience here.

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