Showing posts with label 1980. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1980. Show all posts

6 April 2015

Blu-ray Review - Rude Boy (1980)

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Music, Drama
Fabulous Films
Rating: 18
BD Release Date:
6th April 2015 (UK)
David Mingay, Jack Hazan
Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Topper Headon, Ray Gange
Buy:The Clash - Rude Boy: Collectors Edition [Blu-ray]

Rude Boy is a fascinating document of its time: it’s a fake documentary about a kid named Ray Gange (who is played by, well - Ray Gange), and he’s a young punk who becomes a roadie for The Clash. The film’s reputation over the years has been mixed to say the least, and The Clash famously boycotted it and got badges made with “I don't want Rude Boy Clash Film” on them. It does, however, have many virtues as a document of a band on the verge of mega stardom and of late ‘70s Britain.

Ray - like so many young punks at the time, is an uneducated and naïve kid who develops a passion for punk music, but despite the leftist views of punk he doesn’t really get it. Ray spouts anti-left wing nonsense and is sympathetic at times towards the fascist National Front. The Clash’s front-man Joe Strummer is in a great scene in which he tries to explain to him why the left is better than the right. It’s an interesting coming of age film that is almost reminiscent of the Robert Bresson’s The Devil, Probably in the sense that it’s a about a young man drifting through life with different ideologies, never truly finding the answer he is looking for.

The film’s obvious highlight is the footage of The Clash which is really them at their peak before they left to become huge in the States. The footage dates around the time of their first album and around the time they started recording their most famous album London Calling - it ends with a song from it, ‘Rudie Can’t Fail’. The live concert footage, with the possible exception of the So It Goes footage for Granada television, is the best document of The Clash in a live environment and all the energy and urgency is on show.

Despite overall enjoying the experience, Ray Gange regrets a lot of what the filmmakers did. They tried to force situations in the film, and all the political stuff was apparently the director’s decisions - he just went along with it. The film infamously has a blowjob scene in a bathroom which is unnecessary and simply there for shock-value and to show how much of a dick the character of Ray Gange is.

Despite many virtues, it’s terribly flawed in so many ways; there is a bizarre unconnected subplot about a black kid who gets arrested and goes nowhere, for example, but I guess it’s there to try and show that white middle class kids shouting about revolution can make it (The Clash) whereas blacks are still stuck where they are. It’s naïve, stupid and really misses the point of The Clash, but ultimately it just makes the film drag.

The film’s length is ridiculous: it’s over two hours long, and the aforementioned subplot should have been left in a skip somewhere outside of Slough. Realistically, 100 minutes would have been a better length, combined with a tighter edit or perhaps just the concert film that The Clash wanted instead. It’s still a very captivating film, however, and the Ray Gange kid - despite playing a total dick - is strangely charismatic on screen.

This new Blu-Ray looks shockingly good for a low budget British film from the late ‘70s; the print shows very little signs of dirt or grain. The live footage already just kicked you in the stomach in previous versions but it almost puts you right in the midst of the crowd. The disc includes interviews with Ray Gange who talks about his reservations of the film, the road manger Johnny Green and the two directors who come off as middle class twats. Like previous DVD editions, it has "Just play the The Clash" feature, a lot of deleted footage and some great earlier footage of them live in Munich in 1977.

Ian Schultz

26 January 2015

Blu-ray Review - Bad Timing (1980)

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Psychological Drama
Release Date:
26th January 2015
Rating: 18
Nicolas Roeg
Cast: Art Garfunkel, Theresa Russell, Harvey Keitel
Buy: Blu-ray - Bad Timing

Bad Timing is a film that marks the end of an extraordinary run of films by director Nicolas Roeg. He made his name being a cinematographer in the 1960s but through a series of films such as Performance, Walkabout, Don’t Look Now, and The Man Who Fell to Earth he became quite arguably the finest British director of the 1970s. The 1980s would become an extremely difficult time for Roeg, but Bad Timing is there among his best.

Art Garfunkel plays the extremely creepy psychoanalyst (but is there really a different kind?) Alex Linden, who is having a very complicated but passion love affair with Milena Flaherty (Theresa Russell) in Vienna. Milena has overdosed in an apparent suicide attempt and a local detective is trying to piece together what happened. The audience also tries to piece it together, as they discover the relationship between Alex and Milena though non-linear flashbacks. Alex is a suspect in some form of foul play and he is forced to come to terms with his motives.

The casting of Art Garfunkel is fascinating; Roeg is a master of getting strong performances out of musicians like David Bowie and Mick Jagger. Garfunkel certainly has an air of a creepy intellectual, which was what Roeg wanted - he was his first and only choice for the role. He also has a strange off-kilter smugness that is reminiscent of Jesse Eisenberg. Garfunkel only did a handful of films and it’s a shame cause he certainly had some ability as an actor.

This was the first major role of Theresa Russell and she brings a rare intensity to her portrayal of the troubled Milena. She would marry and divorce Nicolas Roeg and star in much of his work from Bad Timing onwards. Harvey Keitel also co-stars as the inspector on the case, and despite not even attempting to do an Austrian accent, it is strong early role of his that is not from a Martin Scorsese film.

Overall, Bad Timing is a fascinating, fractured psychosexual thriller which two strong leads. The cinematography by Anthony Richmond is quite gorgeous, it’s a shame he shoots terrible comedies now. The film was extremely controversial on release, with some branding it’s sexual content ‘tasteless’, however it has become a minor classic in the rich career of Nicolas Roeg. The disc contains an interview with Jeremy Thomas, one of the few film producers who continuously takes risks, along with the trailers and deleted scenes.

Ian Schultz

5 October 2014

Jarmusch Collection Blu-ray Review - Permanent Vacation (1980)

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Soda Pictures
BD Release Date:
6th October 2014 (UK)
Rating: 18
Jim Jarmusch
Chris Parker, Leila Gastil, John Lurie,
Buy:Jim Jarmusch Box Set [Blu-ray]

Permanent Vacation is the debut film by Jim Jarmusch. It was made on a shoestring budget of around $15,000 after he dropped out of film school in New York City. It’s a fascinating film, if somewhat pretentious and amateurish: I’m sure Jarmusch himself wouldn’t disagree, and that’s part of its charm.

The film has the loosest “plot” of any of Jarmusch’s films, which is saying something. It’s about a New York New Waver called Allie (Chris Parker) who wanders aimlessly around the barren landscapes of late 70s New York City. He meets a series of random strange individuals though his travels and ponders his place in the world.

Permanent Vacation is a prime example of No Wave filmmaking. No Wave was a movement in the arts that came out of the New York punk scene, it’s most associated with music but it included different forms of visual art including filmmaking. It was a partly a response to the commercialization of punk and the labelling of more pop-orientated punk bands as “New Wave.” The music became increasingly more experimental, incorporating influences from Free Jazz and Avant-Garde music; Jarmusch himself was in the band The Del-Byzanteens, who are quite good.

The most surprising thing about Permanent Vacation, however, is how fully formed Jarmusch really is at such an early stage. It’s full of references to literature, music and film. There is whole scene dedicated to the protagonist reading excerpts from Comte de Lautréamont’s Maldoror and in pure nihilistic fashion, he tells a friend he can have the book because he has no more use for it. He also goes to see a Nicholas Ray film and the concession girl is reading a copy of J.G. Ballard’s Crash. It has similarities to Bresson’s The Devil, Probably so much so that he picked that as the film to play along side it once at a retrospective. It is also full of the extremely deadpan humour that runs though all of Jarmusch’s films.

It’s flawed but it has enough charm, and the short running time makes it an intriguing watch. It’s great to see the development of one of directors who would become a leading light in the American Independent world of the 1980s and 1990s and who continues to be relevant to this day.

It has been restored onto Blu-Ray, but obviously it still looks rough around its edges due to the film’s budget. It also includes a fantastic documentary on Jim Jarmusch made for German TV around the time of the release of his next film, Stranger Than Paradise.

Ian Schultz

24 November 2013

Blu-Ray Review - Heaven's Gate Restored Edition (1980)

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Western, Drama,
Second Sight
BD/DVD Release Date:
25th November 2013 (UK)
Michael Cimino
Kris Kristofferson, Christopher Walken, John Hurt, Isabelle Huppert, Sam Waterston
Buy Heaven's Gate 2 disc restored edition:
[Blu-ray] / [DVD]

Heaven’s Gate, in the last thirty years or so, has created a reputation for being one of the most notorious flops in the history of film. In the past thirty years since its initial lukewarm reception it has been considered a masterpiece by many critics, but it’s equally reviled as being one of the worst films ever made, albeit that viewpoint has increasingly dwindled in recent years.

The making of Heaven’s Gate is as infamous as the film itself; it went wildly over budget, there are confirmed stories that the director Michael Cimino would literally wait for exactly the right cloud in the sky, and there are unconfirmed reports that a sizeable amount of the budget went on cocaine for the cast and crew.There’s been a very famous book on the making of called Final Cut, which was later made into a TV documentary which is included on this disc. It has been cited as the single film that took the power from the director, which was very much a thing of the 70s to more studio-controlled films, which is still sadly the case.

The story of Heaven’s Gate is relatively simple it’s about Jim Averill (Kris Kristofferson) who is a marshal in Johnson County, Wyoming. Averill is from money but has rejected his classes’ rejected attitude to the poor immigrates of Johnson County. The immigrates sometimes steal the rich cattle barons’ stock for food and the cattle owners have decided to create a kill list and have hired men to do the job and have got political power from Washington to do so. The rest of film shows the people of Johnson County and the war they fight with the cattle barons.

The film’s initial reaction from New York Times critic Vincent Canby has went down in history as one of the most infamous bad reviews with the line “it fails so completely that you might suspect Mr. Cimino sold his soul to obtain the success of The Deer Hunter and the Devil has just come around to collect.” The truth of the matter is it’s actually a better film than the much-loved The Deer Hunter and a more interesting film; it doesn't have the tour de force of the legendary Russian roulette scenes. It’s a considerably slower film but Cimino’s intention was to transport you to experience the west, as it was not some romantic version, which is so often the case.

The cinematography of the film is some of the best ever committed to film so some initial reviews like saving “there are no redeeming features” is absurd. Vilmos Zsigmond who was the cinematographer of the 1970s shot it. The famous roller skating scene is spellbinding and there are shots in the film, which are literally just jaw dropping in their beauty.

The cast Cimino complied is simply outstanding including Kris Kristofferson in possibly his finest performance. Christopher Walken is great as usual as one of the hired killers. The film’s supporting cast is complied which like people as Jeff Bridges, John Hurt and a very young Mickey Rourke and if you watch carefully you can spot a young Willem Dafoe in the cockfighting scene. The one flaw in casting is Isabelle Huppert as madam of a whorehouse in Wyoming but even that works cause the film is almost dreamlike at times.

Heaven’s Gate seems to have become a modern classic for many and rightfully so, it’s a film that has became legendary for the both the right and wrong reasons. It deserves the 2nd chance it’s now receiving with the recent theatrical and Blu-ray reissues here and across the pond in the USA. It’s well worth the 3 hours and 40 minutes of your time.


Ian Schultz

This is a shared review with The People's Movies

23 July 2013

Dressed To Kill Blu-Ray Review

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Rating: 18
BD Release Date (UK):
29th July 2013
Brian DePalma
Nancy Allen, Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson
Dressed to Kill [Blu-ray]

Dressed to Kill is a film directed by Brian De Palma really at the peaks of his powers. It comes out after some of his least successful films the experimental Home Movies and The Fury (despite a glowing review by one of his biggest champions Pauline Kael) and a year before his magnum opus Blow Out. The film like many of De Palma’s films owe a clear debt to the Alfred Hitchcock, this is both unintentional and intentional on his part. Dressed to Kill was unfavourably compared to Psycho at the time because he kills the lead early on and the killer is a transvestite (Psycho) or transsexual (Dressed to Kill). The Hitchcock aspects are literally in his DNA cause Hitchcock was such a master of cinema that you can’t help but steal, as any student of cinema knows.

The film starts with Angie Dickinson (a role she considers her finest) as Kate Miller, a sexually frustrated housewife who is visiting her shrink Dr. Robert Elliot (Michael Caine). She attempts to seduce him but he refuses even though he is attracted to her. She decides to go to the New York Metropolitan museum of art. In the museum scene (which is without any dialogue) she playfully stalks a stranger. They eventually end outside and she hopes into a taxicab with him and they proceed to have sex in the cab. They continue when they get back to his place.

She awakes hours later and then tries to call her husband on the phone explaining she will be late but fells too much guilt. She leaves her fling a note but she is writing it notices a letter than says he has a sexually transmitted disease. She leaves in a rush and leaves her wedding ring goes back and retrieves it. She takes the elevator and it stops on a floor and a very manly looking woman slashes her to death with a razor. The apartments in reality are where Wall Street bankers go with call girls and a call girl Liz Blake (Nancy Allen) witnesses the crime. She is naturally the prime suspect and a target of the killer and she then though the rest of the film tries to clear her name.

Ralf D. Bode very beautifully photographs the film as expected of De Palma in his career especially at this point. It has an operatic over the top nature, which he perfected in Scarface and the earlier Phantom of the Paradise. The film boosts very fine performances from the 3 main characters which an obviously fearless performance by Michael Caine as Dr. Robert Elliot aka. Bobbi. It is brilliantly written by De Palma and has very sharp dialogue throughout. He wrote it after failing to get the rights to Cruising. There is also the right amount of sleaziness and class to make it work.

The always-impressive Arrow Video has beautifully restored the film on Blu-ray. It boosts lots and lots of bonus material including a 50-minute documentary, interviews with all the main actors except Michael Caine and one with the producer and a comparison of the different cuts. It’s a very highly recommended release and look out for later Brian De Palma blu-rays being released by Arrow soon such as Sisters, Phantom of the Paradise and The Fury.


Ian Schultz

29 June 2013

Brian De Palma's Dressed To Killing Will Killy Your BluRay This July

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Arrow Video is pleased to announce the UK Blu-ray debut of Brian De Palma’s erotic crime thriller Dressed To Kill on Monday 29th July.

One of De Palma’s best loved films, Dressed To Kill  has been lovingly re-mastered by MGM studios, and will finally be available uncut and on blu-ray for the very first time in the UK. Arrow’s deluxe edition of the film will come loaded with an exclusive selection of special features and bonus material.

Starring legendary British actor Michael Caine (The Italian Job, Get Carter) alongside Nancy Allen (Carrie, Blow Out) and Angie Dickenson (Point Blank, The Killers), Dressed To Kill begins as sexually frustrated housewife Kate Miller (Dickenson) consults her psychiatrist about her husband’s lacklustre performance in the bedroom. Following the session with Dr Elliot (Caine), Kate silently seduces a stranger in a New York Art gallery, before going back to his place.

Upon leaving the man’s apartment, Kate is brutally murdered in the elevator; the only witness is high-end prostitute Liz Blake (Allen), who is in-turn accused of the murder.

One of De Palma's darkest and most controversial suspense thrillers, Dressed To Kill was as acclaimed for its stylish set-pieces and lush Pino Donaggio score as it was condemned for its sexual explicitness and extreme violence.

The glee with which De Palma turns this material inside out is completely infectious, as he delves deep inside the troubled psyches of his characters (critic Pauline Kael said that the film was "permeated with the distilled essence of impure thoughts") in order to undermine expectations at every turn.

Following Obsession and Blow Out, Dressed To Kill is the third film in Arrow Video’s De Palma Collection. Restored Blu-ray editions of Sisters, Phantom Of The Paradise and The Fury will follow in 2013/14.

Best known for his psychological and often violent thrillers, De Palma’s use of split-screens, slow panning shots and Hitchcockian suspense have made his films instantly recognisable. Alongside Dressed To Kill, some of De Palma’s most revered works include Scarface, Carrie, Blow Out, The Untouchables and Mission: Impossible.

De Palma has proved hugely influential, inspiring many modern-day film makers to get behind the camera; Quentin Tarantino hails De Palma as the greatest living American director. Also known for discovering and nurturing new acting talent, De Palma is widely credited with fostering the early careers of Robert De Nero and John C. Reilly.

A complete list of the special features included on the deluxe blu-ray edition of DRESSED TO KILL is as follows:

- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the feature.
- Optional original uncompressed Mono 2.0 Audio and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound.
- Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing.
- Symphony of Fear: Producer George Litto discusses his working relationship with Brian De Palma.
- Dressed in White: Star Angie Dickinson on her role in the film.
- Dressed in Purple: Star Nancy Allen discusses her role in the film.
- Lessons in Filmmaking: Actor Keith Gordon discusses Dressed to Kill.
- The Making of a Thriller – A documentary on the making of Dressed to Kill featuring writer-director Brian De Palma, George Litto, stars Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen, Dennis Franz and more!
- Unrated, R-Rated, and TV-Rated Comparison Featurette.
- Slashing Dressed to Kill – Brian De Palma and stars Nancy Allen and Keith Gordon discuss the changes that had to be made to avoid an X-rating.
- Original Theatrical Trailer.
- Gallery of behind-the-scenes images.
- Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Nathanael Marsh.
- Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic and author Maitland McDonagh, and a new interview with poster designer Stephen Sayadian by Daniel Bird, illustrated with original archive stills and promotional material.

3 June 2013

The Long Riders (1980) Blu Ray Review

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The Long Riders is a film by Walter Hill, who is perhaps one of the more under appreciated directors of the “New Hollywood” generation. He started out writing screenplays for Sam Peckinpah (The Getaway) and John Huston (The Machintosh Man) and eventually starting directing films starting with Hard Times. His next film was The Driver (which shared many similarities with the modern classic Drive) and the bonafide classic The Warriors. He has also been involved with the Alien franchise from the beginning. He also wanted to make a western and finally got his chance with The Long Riders and since it’s release he has many some more and he was involved with the tv show Deadwood.

The Long Riders is in a long lineage of films about Jesse-Younger Gang. There have been many better films made about Jesse James such as The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford and I Shot Jesse James. Both of those films however deal more with the difficult relationship between Jesse and his assassinator Robert Ford and because of this it’s interesting to see a film about his and his gang’s exploits. The film features real life brothers as the 4 groups of brothers… The Keaches play the James, The Carradines play the Youngers, The Quaids play the Millers and lastly The Guests play The Ford (yes…. Christopher Guest of Spinal Tap fame). This gives the film a extra authenticity other films on the subject lack and all them give very fine performances with David Carradine and Stacy Keach being the standouts.

Walter Hill has said, “Every film I've done has been a Western" and there is certainly some truth in that and he has elaborated "The Western is ultimately a stripped down moral universe that is, whatever the dramatic problems are, beyond the normal avenues of social control and social alleviation of the problem, and I like to do that even within contemporary stories.". It’s interesting to see him tackle a “real western” and his take is very much influenced to his mentor Sam Peckinpah despites his claims he wasn’t with this film. The slow motion scenes certainly recall Peckinpah’s masterpiece The Wild Bunch. It’s a very romanticized version of the west which Peckinpah dealt with often in his western but the difference is Peckinpah was much more cynical.

Overall it’s a very fine western by one of 70s/80s more underrated autuers with beautiful cinematography and very fine acting. Second Sight has released it blu-ray and marks their second release of a Walter Hill film, the first being the superior Southern Comfort. They are planning to release his later film Streets of Fire later in the year.


Ian Schultz

Rating: 15
BD Release Date: 3rd June 2013 (UK)

Buy: The Long Riders On Blu-Ray