LE CERCLE ROUGE

1970; written and directed by Jean-Pierre Melville; 135 mins

The penultimate film of Melville‘s career is a crime movie that precedes Fargo with it’s opening bullshit text. Utilising a made up story with Buddha saying something unfathomable; “Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, drew a circle with a piece of red chalk and said: ‘when men, even unknowingly, are to meet one day, whatever may befall each, whatever the diverging paths, on the said day, they will inevitably come together in the red circle.'” Continue reading

A FISTFUL OF DYNAMITE/DUCK, YOU SUCKER!/GIU, LA TESTA!/ONCE UPON A TIME… THE REVOLUTION

1971; directed by Sergio Leone; written by Roberto De Leonardis, Sergio Donati, Sergio Leone, Carlo Tritto and Luciano Vincenzoni; 154 mins

[Spoilers.]

“And then, the people who read the books, they all sit around the big polished tables, and they talk and talk and talk and eat and eat and eat, eh? But what has happened to the poor people? They’re dead! That’s your revolution.” – Juan Miranda

About the only film I would say is a genuine underrated classic. Perennially lost amidst all of Leone’s other films, A Fistful of Dynamite (by which it’ll be referred from here on in because that’s the name by which I came to it) is the dirty, smelly, subversive cousin sandwiched in between golden children, Once Upon a time in the West (1968) and Once Upon a Time in America (1984). It’s historically all over the place, to say nothing of the lead actors’ accents. When it came out, it was too ambivalent in it’s politics for the cultural elite and too arty for the studios, both of whom butchered it in their own way. This review is of the 154 minute version… that’s very important! Not the 121 minute version or the 138 minute version which miss out very crucial character beats. Continue reading

IVAN THE TERRIBLE

1944/1958; written and directed by Sergei Eisenstein; 99/82 mins

Part I: Ivan Vasilyevich, Tsar of Moscow, having subjugated the warring Boyars under one leader, is crowned Tsar of all the Russians. This is greeted with suspicion and hostility from the old-school nobility, chief amongst them, Efrosinia Staritska, Ivan’s malicious, scheming aunt who is desperate to put her own, child-like son, Vladimir, on the throne. Much political infighting ensues even as Ivan continues in his plans to fight back against the encroaching forces of the Tatars and the Livonians and trying to establish trade routes with England. Throughout, he learns the struggles of staying strong and true to himself when even victory for his country cannot stop those who wish to depose him. Continue reading

ALEXANDER

2004; directed by Oliver Stone; adapted by Laeta Kalogridis, Christopher Kyle and Oliver Stone; 167 mins

[Spoilers within!]

Another go round* with Oliver Stone’s ballsed-up but unfairly shat upon historical biopic. This time, the 167 minute “director’s cut” that got released instead of the 175 minute cinema cut that bored us all shitless. Trimmed and tuct after the deadly reception it got and also in the wake of Stone’s open criticism of Warners’ treatment of the film in post-production, how does it stack up in-between the two longer behemoths? Continue reading

WHITE MATERIAL

2009; directed by Claire Denis; written by Lucie Borleteau, Claire Denis and Marie N’Diaye; 106 mins

Jesus! I’ve just noticed… it’s ten minutes since the film finished and my heart rate is still up! I should quickly state that this is no pulse-pounding thriller, rather an intense drama depicting the last vestiges of colonialism in Africa and the fallout of an empire coming full circle to ruin it’s own descendants. Continue reading