Archive for The Late Show: The Late Films Blogathon

Red Eye

Posted in FILM with tags , on November 22, 2014 by dcairns

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Today I will mostly be hanging around airports, flying in the sky, and tracking down my accommodation in Paris. So this is just a reminder that the Late Movies Blogathon is nearly upon us, and an open invitation to interested parties to join the fun. I know it’s nicer to be specifically invited, but I hope lots of you will accept this more general invitation.

Image from (what else?) Michael Powell’s last fiction feature, THE BOY WHO TURNED YELLOW.

Late!

Posted in FILM with tags on November 3, 2014 by dcairns

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About time I announced that, as usual, The Late Show: The Late Movies Blogathon will run from December 1st to December 7th. Posting about directors’, actors’, and whoever else’s late or last works for the cinema is welcomed. If you have a blog, post to it and I will link. If you don’t have a blog, would you consider writing for Shadowplay? We welcome guest bloggers.

Whether the movie is mainly wretched (Lew Landers’ TERRIFIED!) or deeply sublime (here’s to THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND), we hope to run lots of incisive, funny, sympathetic, wide-eyed writing on the subject. Over the years we’ve covered a lot of movies, but there are plenty still to be tackled (THE BELL OF HELL, whose director plunged to his death from the movie’s bell tower on the last day of shooting; BLUE and GLITTERBUG, made when their director was blind; CARNIVAL OF SOULS, a first film that is also a last one).

No hurry to sign up, but if you have any ideas, weigh in below!

(Maybe next time we’ll have a First Films Blogathon in January…)

Venus Envy

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , on December 14, 2013 by dcairns

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LA VENERE D’ILLE is an awkward movie to consider for this blogathon — for one thing, it’s not so much a movie as an episode of an anthology show called I Giochi del Diavolo. For another, is it late Mario Bava (his last directorial credit) or early Lamberto? I’ve been inclined to refer to Lamberto as “the idiot son” on occasion but this is unfair — his uncredited co-direction of SHOCK resulted in some of that film’s most memorable moments. I’m just not sure, from the samples I’ve seen, if he’s ever managed a solo effort that could compare to his fathers’.

Since Bava Snr crept into film directing rather reluctantly, forced to pick up the slack when Riccardo Freda started taking longer and longer siestas (in an effort to compel his talented but reticent collaborator into the director’s chair), his first movies were really collaborations, so it’s fitting that his last ones should be too. SHOCK is a twisty, knotty, surreal affair which only suffers from a cheesy synth score and a rather dull suburban home location — Bava worked better with more baroque accompaniment, and I prefer what he did in the studio to his location-set thrillers (though the robustly unconvincing ways he combines the two are among the particular pleasures of his oeuvre).

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The curtains Daria Nicolodi is filmed through seem to prefigure the flames licking around Venus in the image up top.

The most intriguing part of LA VENERE, which deals with an ancient bronze statue of Venus, possibly possessing supernatural powers, which is unearthed on a Portuguese country estate, is that it’s barely a horror movie at all. It’s bucolic fantastique, and it takes a certain effort from the Bavas — shambling nocturnal handheld shots inserted more or less at random — to try and amp up the suspense to suggest a horrific denouement may be en route from somewhere or other. Stretched out to the length of its slot, the show suffers a bit from a passive protagonist and not enough plot going on to occupy our attention, but the finale is very satisfying — it might have played even better without the directorial hints of sinister goings-on, as a purely left-field plunge into terror.

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Visually, the film does feel like piecework, alternating from handheld to tripod-n-tracks from moment to moment. This isn’t necessarily the result of two directors sharing the workload, however — it might merely be the result of shortages of time forcing a more fast-and-loose shooting method in some scenes. Impossible to say without doing the research. I should buy the e-book version of Tim Lucas’s All the Colors of the Dark, which no doubt provides chapter and verse. Maybe for Christmas!

A minor work compared to the v. interesting SHOCK and the savage RABID DOGS, let alone LISA AND THE DEVIL which really serves as a madcap summary of all Bava’s film-making concerns.
Mario Bava : All the Colors of the Dark or better yet.

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