Monday, June 30, 2008

I Wanna Be An Atlantis Interceptor!


Ranging from a few to several times a year I get what I like to refer to as ‘completely burned out’. It’s a particularly daunting feeling that hits me hard and when it does I don’t want to read, listen to music, watch movies, communicate with friends, work or honestly even get out of bed. To snap myself out of these particularly dreadful moods I have several things I do, most of which I am not going to go into here, including watching a certain number of films that for whatever reason help to bring me back to normalcy.
There isn’t any rhyme or reason to the films that help me out…what exactly the common ground is between Clive Donner’s What’s New Pussycat, Stuart Rosenberg’s The April Fools, Francois Truffaut’s The Man Who Loved Women and George P. Cosmatos’ Cobra is I just couldn’t say but it doesn’t matter as there is something in each that brings a feeling of relief to my dragging spirit.
I love nothing more than stumbling onto a film that promises to be one I can turn to in these dark moments and they typically turn up in the most unlikely places at the most unlikely times. Recently I discovered a new one for me that I can safely add to my list of films that will no doubt bring a little sunshine to my darkest and dreariest of days.
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Now I am not going to sit here and write that Ruggero Deodato’s 1983 film L’Predatori di Atlantide (The Raiders of Atlantis or, as I prefer, The Atlantis Interceptors) is what you might call a ‘good’ film but Deodato’s delightfully goofy follow up to the grueling one-two knockout punch Cannibal Holocaust and House on the Edge of the Park goes way beyond the definition of ‘good’ into a whole other realm of greatness. This is the kind of gloriously off the wall movie that people simply don’t make anymore…it’s the kind of film the recent Doomsday wanted to be but you simply can’t recapture this kind of magic with a lot of money, a big cast and CGI effects.
The Atlantis Interceptors (currently wearing a solid 2.9 rating at IMDB proudly on its sleeve) concerns the lost city of Atlantis suddenly re-appearing off the coast of Miami after some goofball scientists go and spill some nuclear waste into the ocean waters surrounding it. Arriving with the legendary lost city is a group of crazed motorcycle riding tattooed Road Warrior rejects (the kind that populated so many of these early eighties spectacles) who are fought off by our ready for action heroes struggling to save the world from total disaster. It is awesome.
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Our heroes are led by Christopher Connelly, the late and beloved genre favorite who brought so much to many Italian horror and action films in the eighties. Joining Connelly is everyone from Cannibal Apocalypse’s Tony King to future directorial giant Michele Soavi to the badass team to beat of Ivan Rassimov and George Hilton. In other words, The Atlantis Interceptors is an Italian film fanatic’s wet dream.
Scored by the mighty Guido and Maurizio De Angelis (under the great pseudonym of Oliver Onions!!!) and directed with the kind of ‘go for broke even though I have no budget’ inspired mania that Ruggero Deodato thrived at, The Atlantis Interceptors is just an absolute blast and more than any other ‘great’ film I have watched recently reminded me of why I love cinema so much. Add on one of the most simultaneously irritating and catchy theme songs in cinema history and some truly insane stunt work (I was struck watching this film just how boring and safe modern action films typically are) and you’ve got all the ingredients for a real camp classic…forget The Rocky Horror Picture Show, let me dress up for a midnight showing of The Atlantis Interceptors and I’m online!


By the end of its 89 minute running time (my copy was cut which made me feel like I had rented it back in the day) I was totally refreshed and ready to take on the world again (in an albeit illogical and badly dubbed kind of way).
The Atlantis Interceptors can be seen on the budget box set The Grindhouse Experience Volume Two in a decent enough print ported over from an old British VHS tape that is missing 3-4 minutes of gore including an unforgettable decapitation that can be seen in the trailer I have attached. I would sell a couple of pints of blood in a New York minute to buy a special edition re-mastered copy of this monster as it’s that amazing.
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Even the most narcotic coated and hazy mind couldn’t even begin to dream The Atlantis Interceptors and if I ever get to the point where I don’t enjoy a movie like this then I will hang it all up for good and surrender myself to a cinematic world obsessed with logic and ‘good’ taste…what a horrifyingly dull place that must be.

A Double-Dip You Can't Refuse


Paramount has officially announced the new five disc Godfather Collection and the details can be read here at DVD Active. The set includes everything the older one did as well as a bonus disc of all new featurettes. The first two films have reportedly been completely restored and the third film has been remastered. This is frankly one of the no-brainer purchases of the fall for me.

Here is a trailer advertising the upcoming release:

Computer Vs. Banjo


One of the most surprising and adventurous albums of the year is out now courtesy of a Nashville act called Computer Vs. Banjo. The group, a duo consisting of Beau Stapleton (formerly of Blue Merle) and Johnny Mann (Gran Torino's inventive guitar player), is an odd and invigorating mixture of electronics and cosmic folk that sounds like nothing else out there right now.
Opening up with a meditative and lovely keyboard instrumental reminiscent of some of David Holmes work, Computer Vs. Banjo's first full length LP kicks off with the gloriously off the wall "Jubilee", a song asking to "keep your enemies near" while delivering some of the most exuberantly American music I have heard in a long time.
Stylistic similarities to everyone from The Flying Burrito Brothers to Pere Ubu to the more recent Arcade Fire pop up through the album, but Computer Vs. Banjo manage to sound defiantly individualistic throughout the 12 tracks on offer here.
Highlights of the record include the quirky but melodic "Outerspace" and the beautiful "Low", a track that owes more than a little to the David Bowie album as well the underrated Minnesota act who mined similar ground in the mid nineties.
The album works best in its further out electronic moments and only falters slightly in the more traditional sounding numbers like "San Joaquin". Still, minor quibbles aside, Computer Vs. Banjo's first LP is a resounding success and fits in nicely in a year that has been marked by albums celebrating the outskirts of traditional sounds ranging from Portishead's astonishing Third to Goldfrapp's marvelous Seventh Tree.
More information on Computer Vs. Banjo can be read at their official site and at their MySpace.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mimsy, Morricone, Melt-Downs and Madness All This Week At Harry Moseby Confidential

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My week long celebration of Dario Argento's Four Flies on Grey Velvet begins tomorrow at Harry Moseby Confidential.

Soundtrack Playlist Added


I have added a LastFM playlist just to the right for visitors here. It contains several complete Nastassja Soundtracks (Stay as you are, Tess, Cat People, Paris Texas, The Claim) as well as tracks from Faraway so Close, Spring Symphony, One Night Stand and more. I will be adding more as I find them at LastFm and I hope they prove enjoyable to listen to while reading through the posts. Enjoy and let me know of any that I might have missed.

Overlooked Classic: Laetitia Colombani's He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not (2002)

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After her infectious turn as the title character in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s worldwide smash hit The Fabulous Destiny of Amelie Poulain (2001), talented actress Audrey Tautou suddenly found herself as one of the most in demand young actors in Europe. She followed up Jeunet’s instantly iconic film with an impressive flurry of roles that would show off her abilities as a comedian (2001’s God Is Great and I’m Not), an ensemble player (2002’s The Spanish Apartment) and a dramatic force (2002’s Dirty Pretty Things). Between Amelie and the release of the unfortunate The Da Vinci Code in 2006, Tautou impressively appeared in nine films, all of which (despite their varying quality) marked her as one of the most talented and creative young actors in France. None of these projects were more interesting than Laetitia Colombani’s 2002 production He Loves Me He Loves Me Not, a sly and subversive genre hopping film which finds Audrey giving perhaps her greatest performance outside of Jeunet’s modern classic.
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Colombani got her start in French film as a camera operator in the late eighties. In 1998 she released her first film, a short entitled Le Dernier Bip, in which she functioned as writer, director and star. The film would help her get financing for her first feature length project, an inventive paranoid thriller masquerading as a romantic comedy.
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He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not tells the tale of a young art student named Angelique and a married doctor named Loic. The film’s story of their relationship is effectively told twice through both of their vastly different points of views and is followed by a chilling little coda that helps to subvert everything that has come before it. I’ll not go into plot specifics for people who haven’t seen it as the mysteries at the heart of He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not are among its biggest assists.
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Photographed beautifully by Hate (1995) cinematographer Pierre Aim, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not is one of the most colorful meditations on obsessive love ever filmed. It’s opening shots of flowers in bloom to the final chilling Pharmaceutical Mural that closes the film show Colombani as having a true painters eye for how her films should look. The costume designs for Tautou by Cesar nominated Jacqueline Bouchard are equally dazzling and work well into the more than slightly twisted psychology of the piece, as the seemingly naive and innocent Angelique is rarely seen in anything that doesn’t at least carry a trace of scarlet red.
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Colombani’s first feature film as a director is refreshingly un-showy but is propelled by a palatable motivation, both of which mark her as one of the most interesting talents to emerge from this decade. Her direction just tells the film’s story and she doesn’t fall into the trap of letting the film’s plot get lost among all of a novice filmmaker’s new toys. He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not is a smart and ambitious film that works throughout its rather slim running time even when Colombani’s screenwriting sometimes slips, as in the first half when a little too much of Angelique’s neurosis is revealed.
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The cast surrounding the luminous Tautou resonate quite nicely with special note going to Samuel Le Bihan as Loic, who is effectively the star of the film’s second (and more effective) half. Bihan, probably best known for his work in Kieslowski’s Red, had worked with Tautou early in her career on Venus Beauty Institute and he delivers a nicely tortured and paranoid performance for Colombani as does Isabelle Carre as his pregnant wife Rachel. The film also features several up and coming young French actors all in good form, including Clement Sibony and Elodie Navarre in a small but scene stealing performance as Loic’s incompetent secretary Anita.
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The film belongs to Tautou though, who delivers a sublimely chilling, and at times heartbreaking performance centered on the idea of unrequited love. Audrey is at turns delightful and terrifying in the role and is never less than utterly convincing. Hats off to her as well for taking on a star role that essentially disappears for a good portion of the film. Tautou’s work here is strikingly unselfish and seems motivated by a strong personal force, and was entirely deserving of the acclaim in received upon the film’s release in Europe and the States.
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He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not falters a bit here and there, more due to Colombani’s script than direction, but it’s a of little matter when listening to the striking Pino Donaggio styled score by Jerome Coullet or just watching Tautou delightfully subverting everything that was expected of her after Amelie.
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Colombini’s film would receive a mostly positive critical reaction when it was released in France in the spring of 2002 and it would perform well at the box office. It would take a couple of years to reach American shores but it was mostly greeted positively here as well, with Mick LaSalle from The San Francisco Chronicle perhaps best summing it up best when he said, “This is an acerbic examination of erotic obsession, told from different perspectives, with wit, suspense and cold-blooded detachment. It's the first feature from 26-year-old Laetitia Colombani and represents about as assured a debut as they come.”
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The film is available looking DVD from Columbia TriStar but unfortunately has no extras, not even a trailer. The French version, which I haven’t seen, reportedly has a commentary and deleted scenes.

Colombani is currently wrapping up production on Mes Stars et Moi, a sure to be intriguing film featuring the combined talents of Catherine Deneuve and Emmanuelle Beart.
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My Look at Waking The Dead at The Amplifier


My look at Keith Gordon's Waking The Dead (2000) starring Jennifer Connelly and Billy Crudup can now be viewed here at The Amplifier for those interested.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Jesus and Mary Chain Get Boxed

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I was thrilled to hear yesterday that the long awaited Jesus and Mary Chain Box Set, The Power of Negative Thinking: B-Sides & Rarities has been finally granted a solid release date. The 4 CD Rhino produced set streets on September 30th and promises to be one of the most intense and powerful of all time. Long time fans of the Brothers Reid will know that, like Siouxsie and the Banshees and My Bloody Valentine among others, a lot of their best material was relegated to b-sides and compilation albums. I've waited for years for this stuff to be compiled together and can't wait to get my hands on this monster. The full track listing and press release can be viewed here but I haven't yet found a link to the artwork. There's some stuff on here I haven't heard before and some favorites like their Syd Barrett cover "Vegetable Man", a beautiful acoustic take of the sizzling "Teenage Lust" and their explosive Elvis tribute "Guitar Man" are reappearing for the first time in years...I can't bloody wait.

Ebert's Take on Harry Moseby


Although I have never really stated completely why I named my seventies blog Harry Moseby Confidential, the reason is actually fairly simple. Arthur Penn's 1975 film Night Moves is my favorite American film of the seventies. There, I said it and I will stand by it.
The film obsesses me and has for many years now. I find myself watching it more than any other and certain scenes (and its extraordinary unreleased Michael Small score) play in my head constantly. I love the film and regard Gene Hackman's performance as Private Detective Harry Moseby as one of the best I have ever seen, so I was thrilled to see Roger Ebert including his original 4 star 1975 review in his Overlooked DVD of the week column. Check it out if you haven't read it before or if it's been awhile.
As to why I haven't written on the film or posted much of anything on it. Well, it's just one of those handful of films like Kieslowski's Red or Figgis' Leaving Las Vegas that just feels too damn personal to me. I really wouldn't even know how to begin writing on it but who knows, maybe one day I'll give it a shot.

Screenshot of the Day: Unfaithfully Yours

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To The Devil A Daughter Lobby Cards

I captured these from the Anchor Bay Special Edition DVD of the film.
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