Archive for Anna Karina

A Small Town in Austria

Posted in FILM, Politics with tags , , , , , , , on February 5, 2019 by dcairns

Having gotten some interest out of LE MANS, I was interested to see more of director Lee H. Katzin’s work — Peter Nellhaus, via Facebook, commented “Katzin followed up with the reportedly incomprehensible spy movie, THE SALZBURG CONNECTION, killing any aspirations Anna Karina may have had of being an international movie star.”

Well, say the words “incomprehensible spy movie” and I am ON IT. In fact, I’d call this one merely garbled and narratively inefficient — you can work out easily what the MacGuffin is — they explain it, thereby destroying everybody’s chance of sympathy — and you can more or less tell who the goodies and baddies are. As usual with this kind of thing, a few surprises are attempted there.

Barry Newman is a lawyer gently press-ganged into undercover work for the CIA. Anna Karina is another innocent mixed up in the caper.

The MacGuffin, I guess I have to explain now, is a box full of details of Nazi collaborators’ IDs. It could be used by Israel for revenge or by other nations for blackmail — the Americans have employed and protected many war criminals, and they don’t want to wind up with the Russians, for example, pulling their strings. This is what our man in Salzburg, Barry Newman, is fighting for. I couldn’t exactly get worked up about whether he succeeded in protecting all those poor Nazis.

The film also suffers from a setting that seems uncinematic — Salzburg is undoubtedly beautiful, but the skies are grey and the place is small — it’d do for a visit in some globe-trotting Bondian romp, but to be stuck there for a whole film seems claustrophobic and limiting. And, shorn of exotic glamour, the film probably needed more edginess, a bit of sex and violence. The latter is all red paint, the former comes not from Anna Karina in a rather dowdy, downbeat role, but from Karen Jensen as a duplicitous honeytrap, brazenly coming on to Newman throughout, to lure him to a sticky demise. Unlike Eva Marie Saint’s fey faux-casual pick-up routine in NORTH BY NORTHWEST (comparably suspicious), Jensen plays it HORNY. DIRTY, even. The film threatens to come to life.

Among the action highlights are a slow car chase through orderly Austrian traffic and a punch-up between Karl Maria Brandauer and Udo Kier, which should give you some idea of the low octane character of the whole venture. On the other hand, a sequence with Karen Jensen trapped in a stairway is highly tense and cinematic, with a bit of Katzin’s extreme slomo on display when Jensen drops the cardboard tube full of evidence she’s carrying and it bounces downstairs, end over end, huge echoing CLUNKS on the soundtrack, revealing her position to her pursuer.

Hitchcock, of course, would have realized (after his British period, anyway), that such a sequence should never be assigned to a minor character. It has to be the hero or heroine in jeopardy.

Another bit of nifty technique, though: Katzin, perhaps alone of the feckless freezeframers of the seventies, is able to use stop-start motion PSYCHOLOGICALLY: the film pauses for a moment of shock, an adrenalin-surge felt by a character and transmitted, showily, to the audience. It’s pretty OK. But somehow the movie still feels like TV, perhaps because most of Katzin’s direction is fancy, decorative, rather than dramatic and emotional. And his tricks, the lens flare and the crash zooms and the freeze frames, had all found a home in telly. As had Barry Newman, or he was about to.

THE SALZBURG CONNECTION stars Anthony J. Petrocelli; Natacha Von Braun; Alfred Redl; Dr. Mabuse; Dr. Frank Mandel; Floyd Evenright; Professor Teenage Frankenstein and the Wiener Spatzen Boys’ Choir as itself.

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What a dramatic airport!

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on July 3, 2018 by dcairns

The above line is spoken by Mel Brooks at the end of the opening title sequence of HIGH ANXIETY, and I always think of it when I see the opening of SUSPIRIA, as we did in Bologna. Having booked a cheap but very lengthy two-stage return journey, we found ourselves waiting for a flight to Paris from which we would, hopefully, go on home (last year I got stuck in the City of Light for two days, but what are the chances of that happening again?)

We were sat in a crowded airport café when I noticed a familiar, tiny bird-like figure drop by. We offered our seats. “No no no!” But we told her getting to give up our seats was the highlight of Il Cinema Ritrovato for us. A brief conversation ensued. “Would you like a photo?” asked the Goddess. We readily agreed.

Anna Karina asked where we were from.

Scotland.

“Andy Murray!” declared the star of VIVRE SA VIE. A bit of a conversational dead-end as I’d struggle to tell you who he is or what he does for a living.

Edinburgh.

“We have been there!” she declared. “We were looking for singers.” Her friend, the photographer, added, “And we also went to that other, darker city.” This made us laugh, and it’s going to be Glasgow’s new nickname from now on, at least in our household.

That was about it. We were on the same plane. We knew nothing could happen to us.

Timehorse

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on August 31, 2015 by dcairns

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LE TEMPS DE MOURIR (1970) is one I started for Seventies Sci-Fi week but didn’t finish quickly enough. Despite some shaky direction — first timer Andre Farwagi hadn’t learned the 180º rule yet — I was sufficiently intrigued by the basic plot premise to finish watching, and was reasonably glad I did.

Anna Karina starts the movie by riding her horse into a tree, She’s rescued by millionaire Bruno Cremer, who is startled to discover in her possession a video recorder showing him being shot by a man he doesn’t know (but we know him: it’s Jean Rochefort!). Both Karina, who has total amnesia of the kind only available in sensational fiction, and the tape appear to have come from the future. With the aid of bodyguard Billy Kearns (one of the detectives in Welles’ THE TRIAL, speaking execrable French), Cremer tries to find out why a total stranger is apparently going to kill him on camera.

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What nobody, including the writers, explore, is how Karina time-traveled back from the end of the film to the beginning. She’s a one-woman Moebius strip, apparently existing only in this temporal loop, her memory erasing itself as her life circles eternally round. This is actually the film’s most intriguing element, and it’s left to the audience to explore it after the story is over. Nobody in the movie gets a chance.

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Is Anna Karina’s horse a time machine?

I was very taken with Cremer’s home computer, a tinted plastic face, illuminated from behind, set into the wall. I would like a computer like that.

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Farwagi’s career has been quite sporadic. His next production was in 1978, a sexy girl school romp with Nastassja Kinski, LEIDENSCHAFTLICHE BLUMCHEN, which I watched on late-night TV as a teenager in hopes of nudity. I was not disappointed: Farwagi opens the film with a zoom out from a close-up of a tit. Probably influenced by Kubrick.