Yilmaz Güney, Part II: The Poor Ones (1975)

Not a happy dude. At all.

The screening of The Poor Ones / Zavallilar [M] (1975) marks the approximate midpoint in the TIFF Bell Lightbox’s current retrospective of Turkish actor, writer, director Yilmaz Guney, and although not as powerful as his Cannes-winning Yol [M] (1982), Poor Ones has its moments of sharp social commentary. It’s also one  mother of a bleak film, yet Guney clearly took a popular genre from one country and created his own hybrid, infusing it with the so-called mirror images of Turkish society as filtered through his sensibilities.

A production affected by a major incident – Guney’s arrest and incarceration – the film features one of his last major roles in front of the camera before he switched to writing and directing, most of those efforts done from behind bars.

Ti West’s The Innkeepers

Just uploaded is a review of Ti West’s latest horror film, The Innkeepers (2011), which opens at the TIFF Bell Lightbox Friday February 3rd, and whose soundtrack is available January 31st.

I loved West’s last film, the salute to eighties slashers The House of the Devil (2009), and appreciated the bulk of his little-seen forest thriller Trigger Man (2007), and in all three films one can trace his gradual recognition of tighter & coherent plotting – aspects largely absent in his debut feature The Roost (2005), a film that does have admirers, but it’s a film hampered by the kind of contrived scenes and slow pacing that can become interminable.

John Guillermin at Fox

Just uploaded are a reviews of Rapture [M] (1965), making its premiere Blu-ray release via Twilight Time, and Guns at Batasi [M] (1964) from Fox, a still-timely drama set in an African country trying to assert itself in spite of lingering effects of British colonial rule.

Both films, alongside The Blue Max (1966), were directed by British import John Guillermin, best known as the actor-friendly co-director of The Towering Inferno (1974). That film was his reward for building up a strong body of work in various genres in film and TV, but it also arrested any chance of tackling the kind of small dramas with which he excelled.

Festivals-a-Go-Go --- Cold War Sci-Fi on the Big Screen

Swinging to the Politico-Trippy-Headiness of Cold War Wow!

In perusing the TIFF Bell Lightbox’s latest catalogue, alongside retrospectives of Turkish filmmaker Yilmaz Guney and French filmmaker Robert Bresson (starting next week), some may have noticed a splashy section devoted to sci-fi films produced during the Cold War era in Eastern Europe, when Soviet and Soviet-style regimes were in power, and the mandate of the Party was mirrored in government-approved films.

The attraction to these films isn’t tied down to one reason. They’re artifacts of dead regimes, perhaps politicized representations of man’s place in the cosmos, subversive efforts by filmmakers to explore themes and critiques in B-movie scenarios, or outright escapism with trippy visuals, set designs, shiny spacesuits and bulbous helmets, and music that’s either dead serious, cerebral, or wacked-out.

The best-known director among the 17 represented films - spanning the former USSR, East Germany, the former Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Estonia - is Andrei Tarkovky, via Solaris and Stalker, and while these two films may receive the lion’s share of attention, there’s a whole slew of works by directors few have ever seen, or seen on DVD.

Screening from January thru March, the movies that make up Attack the Bloc: Cold War Science Fiction from Behind the Iron Curtain are largely anchored around Fridays, which tends to be TIFF’s cult film slot, and I think that’s a programming error in the sense that it restricts the wackier, B-movie efforts for the Friday crowd, and deliberately redirects the more intellectual, genre-transgressions to Sundays.

Soundtrack Reviews & Score Release Tally

You might think that with us now in the middle of winter, and with the U.S. Congress wrestling with SOPA, an anti-piracy bill symbolic of the corporate paranoia where entertainment is being being stolen by all / bought by none, that there would not only be fewer releases each year, but less labels surviving, but as this month's tally indicates, people are still interested in film music releases, be it classic or new material in digital or physical form.

Yilmaz Güney, Part I - Yol (1982)

No, that isn't Sean Connery carrying Isabella Rossellini.

Spanning January and February, the TIFF Bell Lightbox is running a retrospective of Turkish director Yilmaz Güney, best known for his international and Cannes-winning hit Yol (1982).

The retro, The Way Home: The Films of Turkish Master Yilmaz Güney,  consists of 8 films: Hope, The Herd, Yol, The Poor Ones, Elegy, Bride of the Earth, The Hungry Wolves, and The Friend, and with the exception of a French Region 2 DVD release of Yol, apparently none of his films are available on video in North America (and probably the same in Europe, Yol excepted).

Jan Kadar does CanCon - Lies My Father Told Me (1975)

As happens with most Canadian films produced during the seventies, their eventual DVD release takes decades, and Lies My Father Told Me [M] (1975) finally emerges via Ergo Media.

If you’re counting, that’s 36 years for an Oscar-nominated film with an Oscar-winning director to reach audiences again, after disappearing from circulation, except on TV airings and rare screenings (such as the recent Canadian Open Vault showing at the TIFF Bell Lightbox).

Just Don't Go There...

Still sick with this cold thing, and while not a full-blown monster, it’s the more stealth version: exhausted, pounding headaches, and pounding headaches. Did I mention pounding headaches?

The plus side is when not holding my cranium until the Advil kicks in, I can do things, so in addition to more tests with the camera, there was cooking silver beet soup, which may not be heavy on protein, but is almost as soothing as chicken soup (of which I have none because I never replenished the chicken stock that had to be turfed when the fridge died a few months ago. But that’s another story for another cold day).

When Henry Frankenstein decided it was worth risking everything to create his monster, he pretty much deserved everything that ensued; had he stuck to studying mould /mold on cheddar cheese as original planned, he and Elizabeth would’ve wed, and the two could’ve started their own firm, beating Kraft and Black Diamond to the finish line as the dominant cheese manufacturer.

But no, Henry wanted to play with dead things, reanimate them into something better than reconstituted beef, and move on to a bride for his all-singing / all-dancing creation, losing everything he was destined to enjoy had he stayed on the straight and narrow path of orange cheese products.

Horror Tales + Desert Noir

Normally I’d blather a bit about the thematically grouped film reviews that are now live, but I’m coming down with a cold thingy, and until the mega-dosing of Vitamin C & ginseng kick in, I’m condensing two posts into one, and keeping things brief (which may actually please readers wanting less blather, and just the facts).

Suburban Tales III


Belated wishes for a Happy New Year, as we’re finally rid of 2011 and it’s now a fresh year! I did fulfill a few small resolutions this past weekend, and aim to scratch a few more the list, and among them will be a handful of short films that I’ve been working on.
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