THE SONG OF SPARROWS (2008) is an Iranian film in which a working-class father loses his ostrich-farming job (I’m curious if that has the same exotic quality to Iranians it has here), goes to work as a motorbike-taxi driver and copes with both oddball customers and the occasional temptation to steal. Aimless, but entertaining——and I always find it interesting to watch films about ordinary life in a nation on our hit list. “What about the three herring?”
DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (1971) opens with Sean Connery avenging the death of Mrs. Bond in the previous film by killing Blofeld (Charles Gray) then starting a new job cracking a diamond smuggling ring which results in encounters with Jill St. John, Lana Wood (both great eye candy, though after Diana Rigg, their lack of acting talent is obvious), a Howard Hughes-style recluse (Jimmy Dean) and a not-so-dead Blofeld. This doesn’t hold up as well as I remember——the plot is pretty muddled, Blofeld’s final fate is quite anticlimactic and the film once again pads the running time with a car chase (which also looks suspiciously like product placement for a lot of Vegas hotels). Even so, quite entertaining and not a bad one for Connery to bow out of the official series with (he hadn’t wanted to return at all, but got to do two pictures of his choice in return, though only The Offense got made)——though he’d eventually return to the role in Never Say Never Again. “I know that in a relationship like ours, it isn’t the girl who’s supposed to ask.”
THE WAGES OF FEAR (1951) is a gripping drama in which a handful of down and out drifted in a pest-hole South American town (French stage star Yves Montand is the best known name to me) agree to transport two truckloads of nitro to an oil field to damp out a raging fire, despite the fact it’s rough, rocky road and if they jar the nitro too much … This Criterion edition includes the full print, with details of what got cut from various American releases (scenes critical of Big Oil, and some the distributor thought suggested too much homoerotic subtext) along with excellent documentary material about the director, Henri-Georges Clouzot (also known for Diabolique and Le Corbeau). Very good, and frequently nail-biting though the ending doesn’t work as well for me as it did first run.
INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS (1973) is one of my all time favorite bad films, with batshit mad science and lots of eye candy (Veronica Vetri as the heroine has the Hot Librarian look down pat): After several government scientists drop dead during sex (with the women notably absent), government agent Neil Agar tries to figure out what, exactly is going on, unaware it’s the diabolical scheme of entomologist Anitra Ford to create——the Bee Girls! The DVD version has much more toplessness than my off-the-air tape, though some of it is in an attempted-rape scene (which thereby becomes even sleazier). Still, one I love much more than it probably deserves. “I’m about to discover the 90 percent that lies below the surface.”
BLOOD SIMPLE (1984) was the first of several neo-noir films the Coen brothers have done, wherein Dan Duryea discovers wife Frances McDormand’s affair and hires sleazy detective M. Emmett Walsh to get proof. Walsh, however, soon sees a way to profit from the situation, which results in a steadily increasing body count. True to the noir tradition of characters doomed by one mistake and very well done——though it’s sloppy that Duryea’s constant canine companion (and the dog following his wife’s lover around) both simply disappear mid-film without explanation. “If you point a gun at someone you’d better make sure he’s dead—that’s the only thing they taught us in the service that’s worth a damn.”


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9 responses to “Movies

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