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by Michael Barrett

28 Nov 2016


Jonathan Genet in Cosmos (2015)

Where to begin? Evidently at the ending, since this is the final film of the late Andrzej Zulawski, one of the most original, passionate, kinetic and crazy filmmakers in cinema.

To describe the story in rational terms, which is inappropriate, it’s about a romantically deranged young student named Witold (Jonathan Genet) who takes lodging with a demented family: a hyperactive red-haired landlady (Sabine Azéma) given to bouts of paralysis, her nonsense-spouting second husband (Jean-Francois Balmer), her sexy daughter (Victória Guerra) and son-in-law (Andy Gillet), the hairlipped maid (Clémentine Pons) who’s an unnoticed double of an unrelated character, and a polymorphously sexual fellow lodger (Johan Libéreau).

by Michael Barrett

18 Nov 2016


Kate Manx in Private Property (1960)

Shabby and unkempt, Duke (Corey Allen) and Boots (Warren Oates) drift over to a gas station and intimidate the owner into giving them free orange pop. Then they squat on their haunches and talk about sex. Boots says he’s “never made it” because he’s saving himself for marriage, and he bristles when Duke says he’s looking for a “sugar daddy”. To pacify him, Duke says he’ll fix it up for Boots with some “twitch”. When they spot a fine blonde woman, a nervous salesman (Jerome Cowan) tells them she’s out of their class, but they persuade him to give them a lift and follow her car, at one point threatening him with knives to continue.

So these boys are established from the start as all bully and tough talk, giving an air of menace that carries them through a slow-burning psychological study in which we wait to see if anything violent will really happen, or anything sexual, or both. From the empty house next door, they spy on the pretty woman, Ann (Kate Manx), who spends most of the day by her swimming pool. Her heated pool is as much a symbol for herself as the switchblades are for the uptight, sexually bantering drifters, and it’s hard to miss the symbolism.

by Michael Barrett

26 Oct 2016


Vamp (1986)

These ten Blu-rays refurbish classic and sometimes less than classic films calculated to give you goosebumps. Intellectually speaking, some are closer to a speedbump. Which are which in this season of the witch?

Perhaps all these films take seriously Picasso’s observation that good taste is the enemy of creativity, but that doesn’t mean the absence of the former is sufficient to the latter. That’s why you have intrepid reviewers to sit through this stuff for you, Dear Reader, and separate the Tricks from the Treats.

by Michael Barrett

24 Oct 2016


Astro Zombies (1968)

As Kino Lorber continues its Blu-ray avalanche of classic, semi-classic and non-classic horror titles, we confess to being a little overwhelmed. There are hardly enough hours in the day to keep up with these low-budget cult offerings while still sleeping and eating. If you feel like buckling down for a Halloween marathon, here’s a sampling of recent releases in chronological order by year.

by Michael Barrett

23 Oct 2016


José Isbert and Nino Manfredi in The Executioner (1963)

In ‘60s Spain, under the dictatorship of General Franco and amid an influx of international tourists, handsome young José Luis Rodríguez (Nino Manfredi) works as an undertaker. It doesn’t exactly make him a magnet for the ladies.

On assignment at a prison, he meets an old man with an even more undesirable job: Amadeo (José Isbert) the executioner. The dumpy old fussbudget uses a garrote, a metal device that strangles the victim when screws are tightened. Amedeo’s pretty daugher Carmen (Emma Penella) is in a situation similar to José Luis—she can’t get a date, thanks to the family business.

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