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Continental Film Night

PETER WIX:

BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL - LILIANA CAVANI 1977  
After exploring sado-masochism in The Night Porter, Cavani takes us down some dark alleys with a rather distressed Nietzsche in this tedious and disjointed film. She goes to pretentious lengths to reveal the latent homosexuality of her characters to us (as well as to themselves).
Nietzsche would not have been impressed. Not sure if the beer bottle Robert Powell gets shoved up his jacksy (that's 19th Century slang) did wonders for his career. I'll stick with the image of Dominique Sanda in her white stockings. 3/10

A STUDY IN TERROR - JAMES HILL 1965
One of the lesser-known Sherlock Holmes films and a somewhat gruelling attempt to mix the consulting detective up with Jack the Ripper and a touch of Hammer Horror. A few nice Victorian pub sing-along’s. John Neville is Holmes, Donald Houston is Watson. After the 1940s you never know quite whether actors are doing Holmes or Basil Rathbone. I was blown away by the brilliance of Conan Doyle's original stories when I actually got round to reading them. Even though Rathbone and Nigel Bruce created a very entertaining duo, the films have never come near the books, a bit like the Bond films never capturing Ian Fleming's superb 007 novels. 3/10

THE GUNS OF NAVARONE - J. LEE THOMPSON  1961
An example of those countless war films that always make me wonder what soldiers who did see action make of such boy's own nonsense. Cardboard Nazi soldiers, unconvincing, knee-creak Hollywood stars who dance through exploding shells just feet away without so much as an ear ache, and lines that might be exchanged between prep schoolboys in a wide game. David Niven's priggish remark that the Germans have "shocking taste in undies" amply explains allied policy. Dire editing. Surely if God exists, he looks like James Robertson Justice. 1/10

THE PAPER CHASE - JAMES BRIDGES   1973  
Do you have a teenage son or daughter who needs to get a perspective on study? Try to get hold of this virtually disappeared movie in which the bright law students of Harvard (yeah, the crop that goes on to lead the world) are stretched to meet the demands of their brilliant and ruthless professor (John Houseman). Timothy Bottoms is great as the student who has to put love and sleep to one side in order to make the grade. I miss films with this mellow tone, of which there were many in the 1970s. 7/10

THE IDIOT (HAKUCHI) -  AKIRA KUROSAWA  1951
Surreal melodrama based on Dostoevsky's novel but a snowy, weird world of its own. Mifune is there, mad as ever. Masayuki Mori as the world's nicest man, is mesmerising. Some stunning scenes and cinematography if you have the patience to get through its more claustrophobic moments. I got a 3-hour-plus version of what was once savagely cut. Hence, it often makes no sense at all. The full version is apparently lost. A shame.  7/10

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