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Chianciano Biennale


Continental Film Night

PETER WIX:  Live, learn and, of course, watch films. 

Without any pretense at front-line criticism, here is a fortnightly digest of my own personal late evening sessions with old and new movies, and with armchair observations that might offer a hint of what to search your own cinema sources for. 

Blind Chance – Krystof Kieslowski  1981

Slightly tedious metaphysical and political tussling set in Communist Poland. Powerful lead performance by Boguslaw Linda, who has a very memorable face. 6/10

Hachiko Monogatari - Seijiro Koyama 1987

This is a true story about Japan's most famous dog, Hachi, an Akita breed male who is so loyal to his master he waits for him at the railway station every day years after his  

master's death. Not played for sentiment, really, so the film feels a bit matter of fact. Have the tissue box handy. Haven't seen the more recent Richard Gere version (and don't really want to). 5/10

MOON - Duncan Jones 2009

There are better films about solitary life in outer space (Solaris; 2001; Dark Star...) but this is curious and watchable.  6/10


They don't make 'em like this anymore. Bizarre, almost horror genre but  gets better and bigger as the plot develops - drivers nearing the outback village of Paris are led into fatal accidents so their cars can be trashed and revamped as Mad Max style (many years before MM) vehicles for the crazed youth of Paris. Truly engaging central  

performances. The question of Australian nationalism will never be more interestingly dealt with. 7/10

THE GO-BETWEEN - Joseph Losey 1970

Twee turn of the century England with some beautiful countryside and a nice script by Harold Pinter. Losey sets it all up, and has Alan Bates and Julie Christie at his disposal, but doesn't turn these opportunities into very intense drama. 6/10

THE CRANES ARE FLYING - Mikhail Kalatazov 1957

This is beautiful cinema but it's tough to digest. Awesome camera work, especially the opening shots and the crowd scenes. The hard swallow is the patriotic message 

that war means great sacrifice and that the happiest ending you can get out of it is that although your entire life has been screwed up, you have suffered nobly for your comrades.  8/10

MILK - Gus Van Sant 2008

Sean Penn is very good, so too the sense the film conveys of what little can really be done in politics. It's Hollywood but watchable. 5/10

THE SHUTTERED ROOM - David Greene 1967

Hilarious horror movie that I remember with nostalgia from its constant late night showings when I was a kid. Great score, though slightly inappropriate, by Basil Kirchin.

Tries to establish a Straw Dogs small village atmosphere through Oliver Reed's menacing features (rather let down by his meandering American accent and seeing ageing Gig Young do all the toughs with a touch of Get Smart karate). Fun. 5/10

THE CASTLE - Michael Haneke 1997

What an amazing film version of Kafka's story! Ulrich Mühe (The Lives of Others) as K. I'm going to have to see this again and again. It's like a dream. It's like my dreams!

Perhaps that's why I like it so much. It's dark and painful but it brings out the depth and humour of Kafka. 8/10

I TEMPO SI E FERMATO - Emmano Olmi 1959

A forgotten gem, basically a two-hander. An old guy looking after a dam construction site in winter high up in the snowy mountains is joined by an adolescent who 

knows Jack Shit about work and the conditions up there. A series of mundane events are turned into magical moments as we begin to understand the need 

for elder, wiser folk to have patience with the young...and vice versa. Stunning black and white photography and processing. This is a beautiful film most people

will never see. Such a shame. 8/10


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