Thursday, 31 October 2013

The Mummy (Karl Freund, 1932)

Contrast Dracula with The Mummy and the tone changes. Mark Cousins celebrates Dracula and Frankenstein as the two films that shaped Hollywood genre filmmaking – and The Mummy appears to primarily repeat the success of Frankenstein by casting Boris Karloff as the unnatural monster in the world. Karloff, iconic and unforgettable, continues to play a large, imposing, gaunt and deeply unsettling monster. Make-up (by Jack Pierce) is impressive as Karloff emerges as ‘The Mummy’ in the opening sequence and – in the final moments – breaks down into a bag of bones on the floor. The Mummy was hugely successful and is considered a “photographers film”, celebrating the director Karl Freund – a director who had working with Browning on Dracula and Fritz Lang on Metropolis.

The Mummy is the first version of the deceased Egyptian whereby he is brought back to life and, crucially, seeks to find his loved one in the modern world (A mummy had been brought back to life in a silent film in 1911). The film begins in 1921, whereby ‘The Mummy’ is raised. Ten years later under the name Ardath Bey, The Mummy advises the expedition to search in a specific location to find the remains of his lost love. In an attempt at raising her from the dead, he requires an Egyptian woman’s body. The Egyptologists and archaeologists (actors from Dracula include David Manners and Edward Van Sloan) realise that Ardath Bey is, in fact, Imhotep, but it is too late as Imhotep kills and controls mortal’s minds as he inches closer to reviving his princess.

Clear parallels can be created between the two films. They both arrive to an alien location (Modern day in The Mummy; London for Dracula) and kill others for the love of a woman they intend to make their own – mummifying and vampiricising (?) respectively. Considering this, it is strange to imagine how 1999’s The Mummy, starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz, is a remake of this horror classic. While The Mummy was turned into a successful million-dollar, CGI-laden blockbuster, Dracula remains amongst the spooky horror sub-genre movies. Unlike The MummyDracula cannot be reinterpreted easily. Dracula has so many iconic, defined elements that cannot be adjusted or erased ensuring that the 1931 original holds its lofty place in the horror canon. The long, static moments as the camera waits silently, observing Bela Lugosi or Boris Karloff is a testament to the skill and power of silence – a type of filmmaking that these filmmakers and actors were more than accustomed to. Modern horror is grim and gruesome; explicit and shocking. As Dracula leans into bite his victims, Browning cuts to the next scene. We could learn from these masters of horror. So, it is only apt that we watch these films again – in darkened rooms, with the lights down low, as the crazed laughs of madmen echo down the halls. The old footage, and marks on the film reel, only support the spookiness of these Classic Horror films.

This is Part II of a double-bill screening with Dracula. Click here to read Part I of this review. The full review can be read at Flickering Myth

Dracula (Todd Browning, 1931)

Define Gothic and Dracula immediately comes to mind. The high-arches and cobwebs, the creatures that scurry across the floor and the long drapes that falls from the ceilings – blood on the tips of fangs and white-skin like moonlight in the night. Kim Newman goes as far to state that 1931’s Dracula this “was the true beginning of the horror film as a distinct genre and the vampire movie as its most popular sub-genre”. Indeed, only in this month’s Empire magazine, they have noted how 31 actors have portrayed the fanged-villain – and Bela Lugosi’s unforgettable performance surely remains the most defining portrayal. The double bill of Dracula and The Mummy may initially appear to be connected by their supernatural content alone, but the Universal Horror films are joined by their mutual understanding of how to scare the audience, their measured style of writing and the use of recurring character actors.

F.W. Murnau’s silent Nosferatu is an unofficial version of Count Dracula and the stories remain the same. A man, Renford (Dwight Frye), travels to Transylvania to attend a meeting with the Count (Bela Lugosi), to the horror of the native Transylvanians. Renford’s purpose is to sign-off the deeds to Carfax Abbey in England to Dracula, as the night-dweller intends to move to London. Though unafraid by the superstitions, Renford becomes victim to Dracula and his ghostly women and becomes a crazed vampire himself. Now, with the assistance of (blood-sucker of small insects) Renford, Dracula travels to London by ship, killing off the sailors in their journey. Renford almost steals the show as his sinister laugh reveals a complete lack of sanity. Combined with his desperate hissing for appreciation from his “Ma-a-aster”, Renford is under Dracula’s spell. The major bonus in the final act is in Edward Van Sloan’s ‘Van Helsing’. A man of reason and intellect, he clarifies to the audience what needs to be done: Dracula needs to be impaled on a stake, a crucifix to be used as a weapon, note the missing reflection in the mirror. Van Helsing, we know, will take us into the light.

Every classic, gothic horror trait seems to map its way back to Tod Browning’s version of Dracula. The intonations and voice of Bela Lugosi is what many “know” Dracula sounds like – and considering ‘The Count’ from Sesame Street has been based on Lugosi’s portrayal, even children will recognise whose presence we are in. But influences are further afield too, as Van Helsing’s thick, circular glasses and hunched frame is echoed in Shutter Island in Max Von Sydow’s ‘Dr Naehring’. Special effects are a little out of date and, one would forgive you if you are forced to stifle a chuckle when the puppet bats and mechanical spiders move in jittery, unnatural ways – but the sets hold their own. Used in many more films, the scale of the first act is outstanding – the small size of Renford as he looks up the enormous staircase that Dracula sits atop; the tiny, dinky-car size of the horse and carriage as it rides towards the castle. These are effects that, even now, remain breath-taking.

This is Part I of a Double-Bill screening with The Mummy... click here to read Part II of this review. The full review of the films are on Flickering Myth.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

150W: Captain Phillips

Short reviews for clear and concise verdicts on a broad range of films...

Tom Hanks defies expectations and proves he is amongst the greatest actors in the world in Paul Greengrass’s Captain Phillips. Based on true events, Hanks leads the American cargo ships across the horn of African before it’s boarded by Somali pirates. Captain Phillips weaves tension and horror in this true-story – with an expert at the helm in Greengrass. Isolated on the vessel as authorities say “hold tight”, we are stranded with the crew. The vast open-ocean and cramp spaces of the engine room or lifeboat constantly play with our fears as guns jut into the screen uncomfortably. Losing a little pace halfway through, the high-calibre of acting remains impressive. Phillips thinks fast; his panic and fear palpable yet he never loses his head. There is no shine in this Tom Hanks film and by the final five minutes, when literally stripped down, he proves how powerful he can be.

Rating: 4/5

The Curse of the Cat People (Robert Wise/Gunther V. Fristch, 1943)

As part of a double-bill, BFI Gothic additionally screened The Curse of the Cat People, Robert Wise’s strange sequel starring the same characters but with shoe-horned Gothic elements that fail to truly connect to each other. Strangely, The Curse of the Cat People does not feature any cats – except a feline that runs up a tree in the opening moments of the film.

Taking place roughly 9 years after the events of Cat People, Alice and Ollie are now married with a young daughter named Amy (Ann Carter). Amy is a day-dreamer, often becoming side-tracked by butterflies and old, scary houses. Akin to Miss Havisham in Great Expectations, within the spooky house resides a reclusive old lady. Serving as a minor-narrative, Amy befriends this woman not knowing how fractured the old lady’s relationship with her own daughter is. Meanwhile, Amy has created an imaginary friend in her garden – and we realise it is Irena from Cat People. Understandably, Alice and Ollie are concerned and worried for their daughter – and perplexed by how she could imagine a woman whose death was prior to her birth.

Cat People toyed with the pseudo-psychological reality of the ‘Cat People’, while The Curse of the Cat People seems to only flirt with the idea that there is a wealth of psychological theory in a child’s behaviour. In one sequence a primary school teacher relays multiple justifications for the imaginary friend of Amy’s – quoting a poem and specifically highlighting a book named ‘The Inner Child’. Instead, The Curse of the Cat People uses gothic tropes to give the film a look that enhances the environment. Cat People has an almost film-noir tone in New York, while The Curse of the Cat People moves the story to a suburban estate with white-picket fences. A decrepit house, replete with cobwebs and old jewellery becomes the haunted house on the hill. Irena’s gown is white, flowing down her feminine figure so that standing in the garden, Irena is a mysterious ghost that offers advice and friendship to Amy.

A fascinating double-bill as Cat People inspires cinema and remains an established staple of tense, mysterious horror filmmaking, The Curse of the Cat People is a misjudged amalgamation of child psychology and haunted-house genre filmmaking. Director Robert Wise went on to direct The Sound of Music and West Side Story, so it is worth seeing a director in his early years flexing his artistic muscles, but it is Jacques Tournier’s suspicious characters and story that remains with you into the night.

This is Part II of a double-bill screening with Cat People. Part I of the review can be found here. The full review is on Flickering Myth.

Cat People (Jacques Tourneur, 1942)

The title Cat People could be misleading. Half-cat, half-human creatures roaming the streets (akin to An American Werewolf in London) is the first thought that comes to mind when the title – and its sequel The Curse of the Cat People – appeared in the BFI Gothic Season guide. Instead, this 1943 staple of the Universal horror film catalogue is a moody, sinister approach to psychiatry. Indeed, the question lingering in the fog, as to whether the woman is a cat at all is only answered in the third act of the film.

Set within the misty, fashionable streets of New York, Irena (Simone Simon) is a Serbian woman who is obsessed by the panthers and large cats in the New York Zoo. While drawing the majestic creatures (including a dagger, through the heart of the cat), she meets Ollie Reed (Kent Smith) – an architect. A brief flirtation and falling deeply in love, Irena and Ollie are married despite the paranoia that eats away at Irena each day. She recalls legends of the “Cat People” in her native country whereby women would turn into cats when filled with envy or greed – in fact, she believes that if she kisses a man, she will devour him shortly after. Suffice to say, the no-kissing and lack of intimacy within their marriages takes its toll. Ollie’s flirtations with his friend Alice (Jane Randolph) only makes matters worse and Irena’s paranoia may have more truth in it than people realise…

Highlighted in the BFI notes, producer Val Lewton “tossed away the horror formula right away from the beginning”, he adds “no grisly stuff for us”. Indeed, this is Cat People’s strength. We are forced to consider who Irena really is and stand-out scenes linger in your mind through Simone Simon’s edgy, convincing performance. In one scene she follows Alice home while director Jacques Tourneur cuts between the two sets of feet running down the street. Another sequence remains eerie as Alice leaps into a swimming pool as reflections flicker around the pool as we hear cat sounds. Val Lewton/RKO-produced horror films of the 1940’s were hugely influential, and Cat People has a charm that resonates. In 1942, it became RKO’s highest grosser for the year bringing in $4m. Because it was cheap and successful – like a contemporary Hollywood horror film such as Paranormal Activity - it was copied across Hollywood in the following years. But, the subtlety and growing intensity was harder to imitate. Getting under your skin, Cat People toys with a fear of loneliness and detachment, as if we are witnessing a husband who fails to understand his wife’s challenges – and pushes her away in the process.

This is Part I of a double-bill with The Curse of the Cat People, Part II of the review can be read here. The full review is on Flickering Myth.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Parkland (Peter Landesman, 2013)

John F. Kennedy’s assassination is a moment in history shrouded in conspiracy theories. Parkland aims to recreate the three days – beginning with the day the President was shot – through to the immediate aftermath and death of JFK shooter Lee Harvey Oswald. Well-documented and thoroughly researched, Parkland is the directorial-debut of Peter Landesman - a journalist himself seeking to ignore the myth and focus on the reality. ‘Parkland’ itself is the hospital Kennedy died within – and where, days later, Oswald was rushed to. Clearly capitalising on an intriguing and important story, Parkland fails to match the cinematic scale of the event. It is held back by the safety-net of ‘accuracy’, becoming a pedestrian and bland version of one of the most iconic time-periods in American history.

Told from multiple perspectives, Parkland shows us how this death immediately changed the lives of everyone who woke-up on 22nd November 1963, excited to see the motorcade in Dallas. Multiple doctors and nurses within Parkland hospital (Zac Efron, Marcia Gay Harden and Colin Hanks) who desperately tried to save his life; Mr Zapruder (Paul Giametti), capturing the infamous footage on the Dealey Plaza; Robert Oswald (James Badge Dale), the brother of the assassin; Jim Hosty (Ron Livingston), an FBI agent ‘tracking’ Lee Harvey Oswald and Secret Service agent Forrest Sorrels (Billy Bob Thornton), tasked with finding evidence on the murder itself.

Ensemble dramas lend themselves well to historical events (as Emilo Estevez’s Bobby did in 2006, covering the final hours of JFK’s brother, Robert Kennedy). In a post-9/11 world, an influx of terrorist-attack film and television has shown ensemble-versions of fictional US-tragedy ranging from televised action-series 24 through to Hollywood-trite Vantage Point. The explosive scale of the latter suited the big-screen while Parklands reserved and thoughtful approach fails to require such scale. Actors from 24, Band of Brothers and The Pacific only reinforce the televisual style of story-telling delivered. Following the shooting, Jackie Kennedy (Kat Steffans) is covered in blood from the shooting until she boards Air Force Once; guards have blood spattered all over their suits. It looks gruesome and horrific, but more akin to E.R. rather than World Trade Centre.

This begs the question whether Parklands should be a feature film at all. The tiny time-frame may have a limited scope but the broad range of characters and the potential for further characters (such as Oswald-killer Jack Ruby, a character Landesman considered in early drafts of the script) surely could have suited the much-heralded, longer-medium of the TV-series. The same stylistic 1960’s milieu as Mad Men would gain a large audience – especially with Tom Hanks as producer. The alternative is a documentary, as talking heads can reflect on the event and provide further insight into the accuracy of the reconstruction. Barry Ackroyd (of LFF Opening Gala film Captain Phillips) is cinematographer and his work shows-off a depth of colour that highlights the bloody work within an A&E department in the 1960’s.

Unfortunately, the efforts to capture accuracy restrain the director. Unlike Argo, whereby the closing credits alone show how accurate their depiction of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis was, Parklands weaves original footage throughout the film itself. Conspiracy theorists will conspire. Though Parklands actively chooses not to dwell on these ideas, a central character to sympathise or empathise with could pull you into the story rather than split our attention. Multiple characters falling to the floor, head in hands when the President dies (at least two) or wandering speechless, in shock to the situation (at least another two), is inevitable and expected – so what is Landesman adding to the story except recreating it? Those who have accepted the non-conspiracy version of events will gain little from seeing a recreation of a moment that has been documented so much. While Parklands may not require a ticket-stub, it could’ve been amongst the higher-quality television – and in fairness, that is no easy feat.

Written as coverage for The 57th London Film Festival for Flickering Myth.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Adore (Anne Fontaine, 2013)

Sex, sea and a highly commended cast; one would imagine Adore to be a sultry and deeply affectionate take on lust and love. Two actors from the critically acclaimed Animal Kingdom, the scene-stealing Robin Wright from House of Cards should bode well. Instead, Adore is a weak romance with a clunky and laughable script. Smug direction believes that holding on a character that looks to the mid-distance will automatically generate a heightened sense of emotion. It doesn’t and the forced attempt at passion rings false.

In New South Wales, off the coast of Australia, Adore immediately switches sharply from girls playing on the beach (is this about childhood?) to a funeral (is this about death?) and finally to the relationships at hand (is this about love?). Roz (Robin Wright) and Lil (Naomi Watts), in the first scene, lust after the “God”-like bodies of their sons Tom (James Frecheville) and Ian (Xavier Samuel). A small-cast indicates that we may be in a similar territory to Closer. A foursome – made five by Harold (Ben Mendelsohn), Roz’s husband – may find themselves switching roles throughout the film to dramatic and passionate effect. Unfortunately, this is an expectation that is not met. Instead, Harold disappears for the majority of the film, while the director charts the relationships between the remaining four characters.
These strapping young men, and Frecheville carrying himself like Michelangelo’s David with his curls, defined nose and chiselled torso, seem to lack any social skills. The young boys are confident enough to successfully bed their mothers friends, with smooth, sexy exchanges such as – “Have you forgotten something”, and he replies “yes…” before kissing her. But it begs the question where the young, beach babes of Australia have hidden away. For example, towards the end, we join a 21st birthday party and, it turns out, they are not complete recluses. Attractive friends we have never seen before seem content in swilling the drinks on offer – are these friends oblivious to the incestuous relationships brewing behind the scenes?
Adore plays to an older crowd, sexualising the younger men for the gratification of the voyeuristic audience, but this only highlights how Roz and Lil are powerless to their desperate urges. The young men place pressure on, and convince, their respective mother’s mate to sleep with them. Tom even takes it upon himself, without consent, to sleep in Lil’s bed. He is aware that his abs cannot be resisted by the desperate old-lady Naomi Watts. Certainly, this relationship only emerges through the reveal of Roz and Ian’s trysts – as if Lil and Tom are only sleeping together out of spite. As incredibly attractive, mature and intelligent women, Lil and Roz aren’t shy and should choose to initiate the sexual exploits. Instead, the loner sons - whose idea of a fun weekend is getting drunk with their Mum and her friend – are the initiators.
The jumps between years are flippant and skip past moments we are keen to see giving no sense of pace. We plod along with an early awareness that resolution and a satisfying conclusion is not on the cards. All actors try so hard at weaving truth into the lines that awkwardly shape the story. But when a montage of the relationships in full-swing is followed by a dull conversation, as Roz and Lil matter-of-factly state how they feel, you know there is a serious problem. In fact, that particular sequence was met by a loud laugh from the entire audience I was with during the London Film Festival.  That can’t be good. Adore is a drawn-out mess of a film. The perfect beaches and rippling waves only remind you that, rather than sitting inside a dark room, maybe a couple of hours on a beach is what we all need. In fact, a production on a stunning beach for a couple of weeks, may be what attracted the cast in the first place – because it sure as hell wasn’t the script.
This London Film Festival review was originally written for TQS Magazine.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Twenty Feet from Stardom (Morgan Neville, 2013)

Hearing Gimme Shelter by The Rolling Stones is nothing earth-shattering. Martin Scorsese alone has embedded the songs so deeply into our collective, cinematic consciousness that even if Mick Jagger isn’t your cup of tea, you’ll know the song. Listening to Gimme Shelter in Twenty Feet from Stardom, on the other hand, brings a tear to your eye – if not, it’ll have you weeping into buckets at the sheer talent and force of the vocals. And not Mick Jagger’s vocal either.

The vocals are by Merry Clayton. Her agent, waking her in the evening, calls her to the studio, telling her “The Rolling … something … need you”. Mick Jagger recalls the moment too – warmly describing how Merry was in her silk pyjamas when recording the vocals. Another backing vocalist Darlene Love recalls her hiring under Phil Spector whereby she recorded, what was to become her first solo record, He’s a Rebel – only to hear the full version she sang on the radio and credited to The Crystals. The same Crystals who herself, alongside her group The Blossoms, provided backing vocals for previously for hits including Da Doo Ron Ron and Then He Kissed Me. They also provided the backing vocals for Frank Sinatra, Elvis and The Supremes. The list goes on and on.

Morgan Neville directs this fascinating documentary (the first to document the history of backing vocalists) focusing primarily on singers from different generations from the 1960’s through to modern backing vocalists who continue to support The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Sting and Stevie Wonder to this day – and these artists, amongst others, all feature in Twenty Feet from Stardom, singing the praises of these outstanding performers.

What could be a historical by-the-numbers documentary or a pure self-indulgent sales-publicity for the artists albums, Twenty Feet from Stardom is neither as Neville balances deftly the need to praise, celebrate and clearly define the importance of these artists in popular music. He captures moments of pure beauty as Lisa Fischer sings fluidly and naturally, without lyrics, surpassing every voice that even approaches the American Idol stage in her flexible, wide range combined with complete control and awesome prowess as a powerful woman. Indeed, these are not weak women (and men - in Oren Waters, a member of The Waters family who have supported Paul Simon and Michael Jackson amongst many others) who are subservient to the leading male performers. They carry an air of grace and a humility that has not been tainted by fame and fortune – they carry with them dignity and a pride in their profession.

Twenty Feet from Stardom doesn’t shy away from highlighting the singers attempt at becoming the leading stars themselves – but it seems, like many success-stories, making that stretch to the front of the stage is a gamble unto itself. Judith Hill, supporting Stevie Wonder, remains in awe of performing with the Motown legend and the gamble of giving this up for a shot at the big time is a risk. It is clear as Springsteen, Wonder, Jagger and Sting (who all talk about a sense of “ego” you must have to become a lead-singer) are in absolutely awe of these singers and give them the utmost respect.

Listening to The Rolling Stones again, after the guitar solo 2-minutes in, listen to how Clayton peaks at the high notes during the legendary lines of Gimme Shelter - notice her voice cracks. It cracks as she gives this one, single line – and she is giving everything she has got. It is breath-taking and a moment that many may never have noticed before now – and after hearing the vocals alone in Twenty Feet from Stardom, we shall never forget in the future. To hear, and see, the women who created such a glorious sound is a privilege unto itself and highlights how true singers still do exist in pop music - they simply appear behind those who are front and centre.

Originally published for Flickering Myth on 14th October 2013 covering the 57th London Film Festival

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Le Week-End (Roger Michell, 2013)

Poignant, heartfelt and considered, Le Week-End is a captured 48-hours of playful banter, deeply cutting remarks and a reminder that relationships, at whatever age, are on a knife edge. One ill-timed comment or an unspoken moment of doubt can give the impression that everything could be lost. But things are not lost with Nick (Jim Broadbent) and Meg (Lindsay Duncan). This particular weekend harks back to a honeymoon of bliss, whereby marriage was fresh and new. Needy, adult children and aching bodies was the last thing on the mind of this teacher-lecturing pair. Thirty years later, and the original hotel has lost its charm – and a sense that maybe Meg and Nick have lost their own sense of self. Like the cheap hotel, they might’ve outstayed their welcome - and one member of the marriage may want out…

Under the Eiffel Tower, amongst the stunning landscape shots we see as we peer through the window of the hotel, there is a sense that this weekend will be a moment of change. Nick reveals his lack of security in his job and teases Meg, vainly hoping that she may allow one night of passion, while Meg seems to be pushing forward; keen to make a change and move ahead with her life – could she be interested in a new man perhaps? Her tone switches from cheeky and excited to snarky and harsh within moments – one moment discussing plans, the next telling her husband he’s a “f**king idiot”. Their arguments are passionate and full of resentment and brutal honesty – but something works. Something works between them on a level that only thirty years of marriage truly understands. Not a smug, rose-tinted version of a successful marriage but a revealing portrait that doesn’t veer down a route of sadness and overwhelming loss – such as Amour.

In fact, if you consider Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset/Before Sunrise/Before Midnight trilogy as a starting point, there are many similarities between the films. Both detail a specific moment in a relationships history within a European city – and the couples are both creative ‘types’ with passionate women. In fact the limited time-period and memorable meals in both Before Midnight and Le Week-End give the impression that maybe writer Hanif Kureishi may have had a hint of inspiration from Linkater’s films.
The performances are mesmerising and Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan manage to create characters that are familiar and charming to be in the company of. Decisions to “not tell the kids” about failing to pay a bill and their playful chasing in the hotel lobby is warm and relatable - and young adults will surely watch the film and realise that their own parents may not be as stuffy as they let on. Indeed, the child on the other end of the phone line becomes the buzzing bee that irritates – and a quick swot is needed.

Far from being a laugh-out loud comedy or deeply-depressing drama, Le Week-End manages to have its French Fancy and eat it, as Nick and Meg see through the weekend in a splendid fashion as Jeff Goldblum hosts a memorable meal with a black-comedic twist. An adoring film that may not be unique, it has a charm that could see it as ‘Before Old Age’ – and, in fairness, that’s not a bad thing to be.

Originally published for Flickering Myth on 12th October 2013

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

150W: Crimes and Misdemeanours

Short reviews for clear and concise verdicts on a broad range of films...

Crimes and Misdemeanours (Dir. Woody Allen/1989)

Two stories; two marriages; linked by a final, fleeting moment. Esteemed ophthalmologist Judah (Landau) has trouble managing his mistress (Huston) as she threatens to destroy his family by revealing their affair to his wife (Bloom). Contrasting with this, with his marriage falling apart, filmmaker Clifford (Allen) is documenting the life of smug brother-in-law Lester (Alda) leading to an affair of his own with producer Halley Reed (Farrow). Not so much a comedy and more an attempt to analyse humanity as a whole, Crimes and Misdemeanours is successful in its high-brow thoughts and incisive comments on an unfair world that, according to Allen, implies that the only judgement made is how you judge yourself. Exploring morality and faith, Allen argues, if you choose to rise above faith and select your own morals than you are dictating your own happiness. Very much on form, this film lingers long after the closing credits.

Rating: 9/10

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

150W: Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid To Ask)

Short reviews for clear and concise verdicts on a broad range of films...

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (But Were Afraid To Ask) (Dir. Woody Allen/1972)

Prior to filmmaking, Woody Allen was a comic-writer – making more money than both his parents combined at the age of 17 writing. EYAWTKAS*(*BWATA) (Wow…) is a great example of his darting mind and surrealist humour. Split into seven different stories, references range between Hamlet in the first sketch through to Antonioni and Fellini in later sequences. Women climaxing only in public, Men in love with sheep and sperm as men ready to jump to their doom in ejaculation, surely this can only be Woody Allen at his most playful – the latter scene amongst his very best as Woody’s nervous sperm worries: “What if he's masturbating? I'm liable to end up on the ceiling.” The bite size chunks of comedy and frank discussion about sex make it a favourite. Though Gene Wilder stands out in his short, sheep scenes, it’s Woody’s film – and a joy to watch him in his prime.

Rating: 9/10

This Review is part of Woody Allen Wednesdays on Flickering Myth