Archive for the ‘Macbre’ Category


21 Sep

Matador – written and directed by Pedro Almovódar. Murder Melodrama. A guilt stricken young man tracks down the real murderers. 110 minutes, Color 1986.


The insane religiously obsessed mother we are to see in The Law Of Desire impels the same actor, Antonio Banderas, to different sexual insanities. His only problem is that he is not guilty of anything, but wishes he were, because it would mean he was a sexual being, which is the one thing his mother decries anthem-like in her every day sermons to him. So he confesses to crimes he has not committed.

The interesting thing is that he is also clairvoyant, so he actually knows where the real bodies are buried. Trouble is he faints at the sight of blood, so he couldn’t have killed a soul.

All this is a comic substrata like something out of a Preston Sturges comedy, while the main and particular story deals with the addiction to slaughter – or slaughter as sex – a compulsion shared with Banderas’ lawyer and with the retired Matador played with utter conviction by Nacho Martinez. They love killing people, and they mate over it. So one is not quite sure whether one is watching grand opera or grand guignol.

Everyone is wonderful – as is usually the case in Almodóvar films. Banderas plays the youth quite simply, so one does not really have to worry about his Mother-Church mother and whether he will recover from her. We are glad to know the mother will never recover, that is all.

There is a crazy Duel In The Sun death at the end which is quite enjoyable, and as is sometimes the case with Almovódar, one feels King Vidor is more in charge than Almodóvar is, but that does not matter.

What matters is all those poster paint colors which countermand everything we see, thank goodness, and give the uplift which turns melodrama into satire in a wink. We are so grateful for Almodóvar for this. He is a tonic for our times.


Ghost Boy

12 Apr

Ghost Boy – Directed by Lamberto Bava. Thriller. Two lovers work out their eternal love after death. 97 minutes Color 2006

* * *

Gosh. Laura Harring is awfully good as the beset mother. And Pete Postlethwaite, of course, lends his natural ambiguity to the kindly but incredulous doctor. I loved roaming around inside that huge thatched African mansion among all those artworks, and I liked seeing those African folks, villages, landscapes. I found the movie held me, and the actress certainly was convincing as the woman who was haunted by lust for her husband and whose child becomes possessed by that husband. The African lore and ju ju certainly carry weight here and so does the soundtrack. Melodrama must have melody.




12 Mar

Destiny –– directed by Fritz Lang –– a drama of redemption –– 99 minutes Black and White 1921

* * * * *

A lavish silent picture. The story of a young woman given three chances to redeem her lover from death. She deals with Death himself –– that Mephistophelean figure which the Germans seem to love –– and the three trials send her to foreign lands with the most elaborate sets and costumes imaginable. A beautifully made picture. It’s acted in the style of the silents with broad narrative histrionical gestures, but they work, because they are designed to, and they are needed to tell such a story. Don’t be put off by the style. It’s not old fashioned; it’s just a style –– mimetic, gestural, broad. Enjoy it for what it is and for what it does. Respect it. Lang is working on a mythic level here, and no medium in the world does this better than film –– for film more than any other art medium resembles dream.



Batman Forever

07 Nov

Batman Forever –– directed by Joel Schumacher –– the caped superhero is beset on all sides, of course. ––122 minutes color 1995.

* * * * *

“Was that over-the-top? I can’t tell,” utters Jim Carrey, and one wonders at the question. Has Jim Carrey ever been under over-the-top? Certainly not in this film. He is clearly a great film creature, and give him a gilded cane and stand back. The picture itself is overloaded with focal possibilities. First we have Tommy Lee Jones miscast as someone who is not a genius and therefore cannot be played by him. All Jones can do is howl with gruesome laughter. He plays a petty thief running a covey of red capped robbers, but he is at once supplanted by Nicole Kidman, whose blond hair brings the only daylight into the night-owl doings of the Batman milieu. God helps anyone who commits a 9-5 crime in Gotham; Batman only saves the night, never the day. Kidman, no matter how ever-glorious, is soon supplanted by Jim Carrey as a sedulous inventor employee of Bruce Wayne. Carrey consumes every scene he is in, with his brilliant physical comedy and hyperbolic acting style and range of invention. He’s wonderful of course. But his Niagara turns everyone around him into a trickle. He is followed but not supplanted by Chris O’Donnell who enters as a fledging Robin. The whole film is all quite lovely, and gives full satisfaction to one’s longing for midnight draughts. Val Kilmer is Bruce Wayne, and why not? The part is cast for the mouth showing under the mask. He is a very good actor and perfectly at ease in the role of the adult orphan. Complaints are irrelevant. So is praise. Who could critique a mud bath at a spa or champagne fountain at a wedding? Not I. Over-indulgence is at times the only proper rule of law. All I can say is that Jim Carrey fifteen years ago was at the perfect age to have played Hamlet, and should have done so. He had the antic temperament, the innocence of eye, and the pain.



Peeping Tom

24 Oct

Peeping Tom –– directed by Michael Powell –– macabre drama about a photographer who kills with his camera. 101 minutes color 1960

* * *

Not as bad as it was said to be at the time of its release, and not as good as it was in later years claimed to be. Its interest does not lie with Powell’s famous sense of color, which is really simply bad taste in Technicolor. Nor does it consist of our interest in this film as a noir, for it cannot be a noir, since it is in color and since it was made 10 years after 1950 when the era of noir ceased. No, a picture of this kind must depend upon our interest in the personalities of the principals, and here they are not sufficient to the task of holding it. Carl Boehm is the leading actor, good looking, blond, and very German, which indeed he was; he was the son of a famous conductor. But why is a German called upon to play a role perfectly suited to Dirk Bogarde? Anna Massey his opposite in the film is the daughter of Raymond Massey, and she resembles him when in profile. She also has the habit as did he of an over-articulating mouth, which she cannot help, but she also delivers her lines from the same inner place her father did, which is that of well-projected unbroken recitation. This wrecks vulnerability. She is costumed oddly, also, for one cannot understand how she can afford such smart clothes when her circumstances are shabby genteel. The direction of this material is skewed throughout, particularly in the film studio scenes, which are handled with contempt as burlesque rather than as serious attempts to make a commercial film. Powell hated the studio system at Pinewood and this hatred sabotages these scenes and displaces the drama going on in them. Worst of all, the film is mis-titled. It has nothing to do with a peeping tom. It has nothing to do with voyeurism, so, if the slimy title did not disgust the reviewers of that time, it certainly must have disappointed them. It is simply a picture about a peculiar maniac. The commentary which accompanies it is numbingly dumb. It reads into the picture symbols where there are really only cymbals. Let us preserve a disrespectful silence then and say no more.


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