Saturday, August 8, 2020

Three Films Make A Post: Blood is Coming

Revenge Ride (2020): With a female director in Melanie Aitkenhead and omni-present genre movie actresses like Pollyanna McIntosh involved, I suspected this “female biker gang on a rape revenge ride” movie to be a bit more interesting than your usual entry into this genre. It has a couple of moments you probably wouldn’t see in a male-centric film of the type, and it’s certainly not going for exploitative rape scenes (thankfully), but otherwise, most of the film is just terribly tepid.

In fact, this doesn’t play at all out like the subversive version of the rape revenge movie you’d hope for, nor as a clear-cut exploitation movie, but feels like a melodramatic TV movie with neither emotional nor intellectual depth enough to be able to allow itself to be this bland as a piece of exploitation filmmaking.

Crime Hunter – Bullet of Range (1989) aka クライムハンター 怒りの銃弾: This V-cinema action film directed by Toshimichi Ohkawa is apparently the first film in a long-running series. In typical V-cinema style, this is barely an hour long and still manages to pack an actual plot, copious action scenes and a handful of mildly crazy ideas in.

The film follows the attempts of a cop (Masanori Sera) in Little Tokyo, USA to avenge the (too early) death of his partner (Riki Takeuchi!) while hopped up on very strong painkillers. Also involved are a gun-toting Catholic nun (Minako Tanaka) who does undercover stripper work (no actual nudity involved though), as well as a criminal with pretty awesome hair (Seiji Matano). There’s much shooting, manly wearing of sunglasses and a finale with a really high body count, all shot with rather impressive efficiency. If that sounds like low praise for Ohkawa, I don’t mean it that way: there’s an art to pack an actual film, even one with a simple plot like this one has, into a runtime this short and still make it feel like a movie instead of a series of random scenes, and Ohkawa does this perfectly.

Daguerréotypes (1976): This is a relatively early long-form documentary by the great Agnès Varda, portraying the predominantly elderly small shop keepers on the street she lived on for decades. At first, the film does seem to border on the cute a bit too much, until you realize that Varda has looked at these seemingly very bourgeois people and found people marginalized in their place and time, country people and immigrants having come to the city decades ago, now suggesting a part of Parisian life – and a way of life - that’s coming to an end. And because this is Varda, she treats her subjects with kindness and compassion, not setting out to make fun of them, or reveal their hidden depths in a dramatic fashion, but looking at them and consciously seeing them as something different than the quaint background to other people’s lives.

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