Saturday, February 24, 2007

Ennio Morricone Festival, pt. 1

The Film Forum here in New York City just finished up a series of movies scored by Ennio Morricone. They showed 26 different movies over a period of 3 weeks. I saw 18 of them in the theatre during those 3 weeks. The other 8 I had previously seen. This entry is the first of many, examining each of those 18 pictures, often with visual/aural aids. Some of them have already been reviewed here, and for those I will simply post a link.

Mr. Morricone is receiving an honorary Academy Award tomorrow. I can only hope this means brief clips of some of the below movies get shown on national television. To be very, very brief, my favorites of the bunch I saw were Arabian Nights, The Burglars and The Big Gundown.

Big posters of some hand prints.


February 3, 2007 - 35mm/Film Forum

The title of this picture is pretty much the sum up its parts, though it leaves out the very Philip K. Dickian twist that the investigator is also the “citizen above suspicion.” After meditatively, deliberately murdering his kinky mistress, the titular citizen (and investigator) sets out on an Ouroboros quest that begins as an intellectual experiment and folds upon itself to Dostoyevskian/Dickian paranoia. Dostoyevsky meets Dick is a fine way to describe this artsy and introspective, yet pulpy, handheld detective yarn.

The anti-establishment bent of the picture and the detective’s proto-fascist power abusing intents build something that is more intellectually palatable for the Film Forum-going audience than say, Burt Reynolds as a Navajo, and thus it makes a very fine two-day long opening to the Morricone program. It tastes a bit like a much trashier detective version of Army of Shadows or The Conformist (both of which enjoyed extended runs at Film Forum). The brand new 35mm print looked pristine and is clearly indicative of an impeding, overdue DVD release in the near future and a chance for Dickheads all over to imagine a world where Elio Petri could direct Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said.

Arabian Nights
dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini


February 5, 2007 - 35mm/Film Forum

Pier Paolo Pasolini’s mythological celebration of life takes the form of a series of short moral tales strung together with hyper-ecstatic energy. The lesson or moral of each is fairly unclear, but what is clear is that the characters in this blissful, meandering journey are more than likely to be spending their time fucking or dying than anything else.

The story charged with holding the picture together and running from start to finish revolves around the lusty passion between a young boy (of about 14 or 15) and his young (also 14 or 15) dominating slave girl. They are beautiful kids and the young boy’s beauty is so paralyzing that as he loses his slave girl and searches for her far and wide he ends up copulating with a wide variety of smitten young women. This young kid looks like one of the heroes of Larry Clark’s wonderful Wassup Rockers and Pasolini rests his camera on him with the same affection and awe, marveling at his frequently nude figure, skillfully blending human, animal passions with fantastical elements with an ease that would make Guillermo del Toro blush.

This joy-filled movie is currently not available on this country on DVD, though once was, briefly. I do not want to assume this is due to the frank use of graphic teen sexuality, and rather the delay to gather the best elements for a marvelous American Pasolini box set.

Danger: Diabolik
dir. Mario Bava


February 6, 2007 - 35mm/Film Forum

Danger: Diabolik is a silly, sly, visually stunning, yet entirely straight-faced comedy about a handsome James Bond-ish super villain and his lover’s adventures in lucrative, victimless crime. While John Philip Law is the charming, statuesque “star” of the movie as the titular character, the set design and visual gags clearly take center stage. Eva, his lover, sterilely writhes around in piles of money and the two passionlessly kiss the night away, as we crane our necks to observe the gadgetry that adorns Diabolik’s lair. Eventually all gadgets are exposed, and are creatively designed, though all a bit too polished. The polish and camp making the stuff of cult appreciation, Danger: Diabolik is best when it is a music video, not just to the Beastie Boys’ “Body Movin'," but to Ennio Morricone’s electric guitar twang as well.

After The Burglars, this manages to take the prestigious spot as the 2nd best of the Ennio Morricone scored emerald heist movies. Though the score for Danger soars among the greatest, with Morricone flexing his silly muscle and elevating the 60'sness excess of James Bond music to another level. Danger is great fun, but for its lack of substantive material (minus the score and visuals) and its impression on the ham-fisted idiotic bullshit of Roman Coppola’s CQ, it deserves to sit in the corner of this series with a dunce cap atop it’s funny little head.

dir. Henri Verneuil


February 6, 2007 - 35mm/Film Forum

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