Thu Sep 01 2022 21:15 August Film Roundup:
By chance I ended up watching all of August's films without Sumana, so this is a bunch of films from my huge cinematic pile of "Sumana probably won't like these." And I think I was right!
- The Horizontal Lieutenant (1962): I admit I mainly watched this movie because the title sounded kinda dirty for a 1962 Hollywood film, and I wanted to see what they'd try to get away with. In fact, I suspect this is why most of the people who've ever watched this movie decided to watch it. They don't try to get away with very much. There are some good jokes, but if you watch to the opening credits you've seen a lot of them. Then you can enjoy the classic 1960s animated opening credit sequence, and move on with your evening.
- Raffles (1939): Another film watched in the spirit of "how much can they get away with?" I read The Amateur Cracksman in the early 2000s and liked it a lot, but the mood of the stories—jewel thieves are awesome and jewel owners have it coming to 'em—seems irreconcilable with the Hays Office diktat that Crime Doesn't Pay. How would the film end? Would they tack on a jarring ending that restored the tottering edifice of conventional morality? Sort of: the ending is ambiguous. A decent ending, though. Way better than the ambiguous ending of The Devil And Miss Jones. David Niven is fun, and I enjoyed the odd moment where the cops take a break from not solving crimes to watch cricket on the office TV. Relatable!
Rififi (1955) is famous for its 30-minute silent heist sequence, but there's an eight-minute heist sequence in Raffles that's got just one line of dialogue—kind of a test run.
- The Black Godfather (1974): What if Michael Corleone had a social conscience? I guess it might go like this, but this film's "get the drugs off the streets" plotline seems copied from other blaxploitation movies and not an attempt to critique or rip off The Godfather (1972). (The other guy's definitely Vito Corleone, though.) Although this isn't a good movie overall, there are certain parts that are disproportionately good given the low budget. Half the stunts are cheesy MST3K fare, but half are really impressive and well-executed. There's a sequence shot in a coffin warehouse (SYMBOLISM) where the titular Black Godfather makes heavy use of his portable suitcase phone. They built a sci-fi Dick Tracy-esque prop out of a suitcase and a telephone and a tape recorder, and it looks pretty believable. Stuff like that.
- Repeater (1979): I forgot everything about this movie, including why it was in my queue, and I stayed mystified for the first five minutes (7% of the running time!) but eventually I figured out that Repeater is a British parody of/homage to the French New Wave. It's got a strong Celine and Julie go Boating feel, and if you start both movies Repeater will end around the time Celine and Julie gets interesting, so it's got that going for it. But it's always got a little bit of British snark that isn't present in the very sincere Celine and Julie or, let's say, Truffaut's parodies of American genre film, which is what they were really going for here. That said, I had a good time. There are bits that are super pretentious and some that didn't seem to fit the movie at all, but also some really good... I don't know the filmmaking term for those little vignettes that you string together when your movie doesn't have a through-line, but some good ones of those. Bonus: a pre-Young Ones Alexei Sayle.
Old video game notice: there's a pretty long montage set in an arcade in (I assume) Wales with lots of fruit machines and novelty games as well as some kind of Space Invaders electronic thing and a Cinematronic Space Wars cabinet.
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