Sunday, January 22, 2006

My movie week: 1/16-1/22

I've posted a review of Flavia the Heretic over on my main site.

Beyond that, I watched Sergio Martino's All the Colors of the Dark (1972), yet another showcase for the giallo's golden couple of George Hilton and Edwige Fenech, who I last saw in The Case of the Bloody Iris. While this film has more style than that film, it's equally boring. The plot follows a woman who, seeking something to cling to after a car accident causes her to miscarry, is drawn into a circle of Satanists. There is an ulterior motive behind the events, and director Martino uses some "is it real?/is it a dream?" trickery to disguise the plot (a tendency compounded by the director's insistence on trading out blatantly absurd dreams with dreams that look like the mundane reality the movie presents as "reality"), but in the end, I thought to myself: "That's it? That's all there is? If that's all there is, then let's keep dancing, let's break out the booze and have a ball..." The more films from this tradition I see the more I appreciate Dario Argento. I had intended to review this for my site, too, but I just can't get enthused about it either way. It happens.

Much the same thing can be said of Larry Fessenden's Habit. (1997). I had seen and kinda sorta liked Fessenden's subsequent film, Wendigo. Like that film, Habit, is a fine character study that seems uncomfortable with its horror elements. It also labors under the "vampire" film as metaphor for some other contemporary problem" syndrome (addiction, in this case, as if the title of the film weren't a tip-off). I had intended to review this film for my site, too, but I nodded off at about the hour and ten minute mark. It had to be back at the video store the next day, so I didn't push myself to finish it. I may go back to it.

I had no problems at all with Hideo Gosha's Sword of the Beast from 1965, though. This is a cracking samurai film that inhabits its genre so completely, and executes its generic elements with an such expert hand that one barely notices that the film is completely disillusioned with the genre. Gosha, along with Kihachi Okamoto, was one of the principle "revisionist" samurai filmmakers, and in this film's dismantling of the notion of feudal honor, one can see the seeds of the total negation of the samurai film Gosha would later perpetrate in Goyokin. While I'm grateful to Criterion for putting this out, I wish that they had done right by the movie. Christ, there's not even a trailer on the disc. This is the most "bare bones" disc I've ever seen from Criterion, but I guess they have to do this stuff for themselves now that they don't have Home Vision to take on the second-tier releases. Alas...

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