Friday, July 4, 2008

I Luv Video Pick Shelf for 7/4 + some good news

Fernando Di Leo and Company welcome you

Not only does I Luv Video's site not suck anymore, under the guidance of Charles Lieurance it should become a pretty important resource, with new content cycling through regularly, and hopefully an RSS feed soon so you can subscribe to it.

So good news.

Here are my weekly I Luv Video pick shelf titles.


Is this the best double DVD ever? The two best LSD themed films on one disc. Richard Rush's PSYCH OUT (unfortunately truncated by a few minutes on the disc) starts with a drug-scare exploitation script along the lines of RIOT ON SUNSET STRIP and builds some credible characters into it with the help of actors like Jack Nicholson, Susan Strasberg, Dean Stockwell, Adam Roarke and Max Julien. It's not a realistic film but its brand of Hollywood candy is superior. Alamo pal Gary Kent plays Thug #1 and rigged all the magnificent fire effects in the climactic trip sequence. You want to see some scary-ass fire? Check it! Roger Corman's THE TRIP could never have been made by people who hadn't taken acid. It makes a huge difference. You can read about LSD all day, but you can never translate the experience to film without actually taking it. Corman, screenwriter Nicholson and presumably the stars Peter Fonda, Bruce Dern, Dennis Hopper etc. had all ridden that merry-go-round. The film really is an acid trip from beginning to end. Of course it's cheap and silly at times but it blows away any other LSD movie. PSYCH OUT trailer here.

This is a movie that deserves to be a far bigger cult item than it is. Kind of a buddy movie, kind of a heist film, kind of a gender parable, kind of an autopsy of the American dream. It is all over the place but it never feels like a mess. Writer-director Michael Cimino knows what he's doing, even though we're never sure. If you like movies like THE LONG GOODBYE and FREEBIE AND THE BEAN you'll love this. A snapshot from the film: Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges, on the run from George Kennedy and Geoffrey Lewis, catch a ride from Deliverance ass-raper Bill McKinney, who pushes his muscle car full of caged raccoons to the limit in a harrowing sequence, gets out, opens the trunk (which is full to the top with adorable white bunnies for some unexplained reason) and begins firing wildly at the rabbits with a giant pistol. Also with Gary Busey, Catherine Bach, Vic Tayback (in one scene) and the great Dub Taylor. Check the trailer.

Like Max Pecas' earlier I AM A NYMPHOMANIAC (available at the Airport I Luv Video), this film puts gorgeous sex starlet Sandra Julien through the Juliette/Justine paces. As with most French sex films the experience is primarily an ambient one. Plots are matters of convenience, and largely alike - though this film has a politically incorrect howler of a plot contrivance that's memorable. Mostly you'll remember the space-age interiors, the surreal set pieces, the sex appeal of the actresses and the Euro-funk basslines. Clip.

Cheap, cheap trash that is half sci-fi paperback, half dream. The first 40 min. or so is a pretty typical atomic age scenario but once Peter Graves ends up in the aliens' hideout (the extremely familiar Bronson Canyon cave interiors) things get weird and awesome. The scenes with the aliens and their (illusory?) monsters perfectly embody the kind of late night, chiller theater TV watching experience that I was lucky enough to have as a kid (hopefully you too), where you struggle to stay awake and finally when it ends and you fall asleep on the couch, you're not sure if you really saw what you think you saw or only dreamed it.

And at Airport:

Another French sex movie. I actually showed this one as a Weird Wednesday a while back. If anyone other than me likes it, they've been very discreet about it. If you need a compelling, original plot to stay interested, you'll be bored. You might be bored anyway, but that's the breaks. The Feuillade/Fantomas pulp antecedents of this are right at home in the tacky, shaky black and white photography, filmed in gorgeous squalor with shadows wildly climbing the walls and go-for-broke pictorial compositions. While the film admittedly breaks down into atoms by the end, it starts exceedingly well, with creepy eye-patch wearing Willy Braque and his gorgeous moll fucking people up.

With the possible exception of LEGEND OF THE WOLF WOMAN, this is the screamingest movie ever. It's also master Mario Bava's final theatrical feature. It's a late work, and should be judged along those lines. The late works of a master can be summations of a life, cases made to the academy, extended middle fingers directed at detractors, leaping off points into immortality - at any rate they cannot be judged in the same way as the work of an artist in his prime. But let me pull back the throttle a little here - it's not Beethoven's late quartets - but it does contain some of the better examples of Bava's bag of tricks, and that's something. The film's centerpiece is Daria Nicolodi's fevered nightmare/hallucinations as she is seemingly haunted by the ghost of her dead husband. I could watch Daria Nicolodi watch TV for an hour and a half and be totally entertained so the spectacle of her in a diaphanous gown floating around her mansion in a state of perpetual fear, or twisting above the camera in a wild Bava setpiece is pretty fantastic. And within these confines - a single performer, a well-used premise - Bava goes off. Italian trailer.

Fernando Di Leo's black mob comedies are among the shining high points of seventies genre cinema. This is his best. Gaston Moschin, who looks like a cross between Bruce Willis and Mr. Potato Head, plays an ex-con who enters the free world again after several years only to continually dogged by mobsters who think he has hidden a giant stash of money. Despite his protests, Mario Adorf and company beat the shit out of him, tear up his apartment and make his life miserable. Midway through there's a genius plot twist that turns the whole story on its head and the payoff is PERFECT. With Barbara Bouchet, who looks better than ever, Phillip Leroy as a king free-agent badass, gruff-voiced Lionel Stander as Mr. Big and a brilliant prog rock soundtrack by Luis Enrique Bacalov and Osanna. Raro video trailer here.

Many of you saw Jamaa Fanaka's PENITENTIARY III, and probably wondered about the previous two films. The first one is surprisingly naturalistic, with a big Hollywood conceit lodged in the middle. The language, characterization and tone are all on point. If you can resist quoting this film fifty times a day after you see it then mister you're a better man than I. Long trailer here.

1 comment:

Hungarian Great Bela Tarr. said...

Aaaargh! I've thought the very same thing about that Trip/Psych-Out DVD: the best DVD double-bill imaginable.

Love the blog, by the way. I've just moved back to Austin after a few years away, and am relieved to see that, even though this city has started sucking in ways I wouldn't have believed possible, Weird Wednesdays are still here to save us from the suck.