INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN ABOVE SUSPICION

1970; directed by Elio Petri; written by Elio Petri and Ugo Pirro; 115 mins

A study in Fascism from a Communist director and a then-Communist star, Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto) is a dark, perverse forgotten gem. A satirical look at one man’s sadomasochistic desire to be humiliated, be it in the bedroom or in the full glare of his empire. Continue reading

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RIOT IN CELL BLOCK 11

1954; directed by Don Siegel; written by Richard Collins; 80 mins

Issue-tainment don’t come much pulpier than this! The passion project of producer Walter Wanger, who’d served time for armed assault and saw, first-hand, the hideous conditions that prison inmates had to endure, the film was made in a disused Folsom Prison block with real inmates and directed by industry fixture, Don Siegel. This is one of those movies, I was hooked in by the title (I think about the same time I first watched Assault on Precinct 13) and have spent the last however long trying to get my hands on a copy! Continue reading

LETTER NEVER SENT

1959; directed by Mikhail Kalatazov; adapted by Grigori Koltunov, Valeri Osipov and Viktor Rozov; 96 mins

The unsung great of Russian cinema, Mikhail Kalatazov was a propagandist. He made films for the Soviet Union that fell in line with the official party thinking. However, what the party didn’t seem to appreciate was that Kalatazov was a cinematic genius. Alongside key collaborator, cinematographer Sergei Urusevskiy, Kalatazov crafted some of the most revolutionary images in film. Continue reading

AIRPLANE!

1980; written and directed by David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker; 88 mins

It’s telling that even in star Julie Hagerty’s IMDb bio, the writer seems to rue the fact that she got her start in a comedy. It’s a strange thing about comedies that they’re not treated with the respect that dramas get and yet, as someone who does stand-up, I would argue, it’s much harder to make someone laugh than it is to make someone think. All comedy requires at least a modicum of thought and thence, hopefully, laughter. Perhaps this is why that twat Woody Allen got such an easy ride for his chin-stroker comedy*. Sub-par dramas will get an easy ride if they give off the appearance of trying to make an audience think about something… but comedy? It ain’t enough to give the appearance of trying to make people laugh. In a way – fair enough – but d’you you see my point? Continue reading

LOS OLVIDADOS

1950; directed by Luis Buñuel; written by Luis Alcoriza and Luis Buñuel; 77 mins

The eye-slicing bit from Un chien andalou really put the shits up me when I accidentally saw it at the age of 12, so consequently, I shied away from watching Luis Buñuel films. Still! This one turned up for free so I figured I’d give him a go. Turns out this is one of his least surreal films – not without its bizarre moments but pretty close to the era’s definition of a docudrama. Continue reading

CHILDREN OF PARADISE

1945; directed by Marcel Carné; written by Jacques Prévert; 186 mins

Made under extraordinary and dangerous conditions during the Nazi Occupation in WWII, this is one of those movies often trotted out as a film beloved by critics and filmmakers. Knowing nothing of the director’s work, I thought it time to give this one a whirl. Happily, it’s an absolutely wonderful film. An immersive epic about love and romance and all the people in-between. It’s a classical costume drama that still, after more than 70 years, has a lot to say about the traps we all fall into in love and the traps society pushes us into, because, this being a very French film, it deals with class distinctions in a very acute and intelligent way. Continue reading