|From D-Day to the Liberation of the|
Death Camps, LEE MARVIN leads an
all-star cast in SAMUEL FULLER'S
autobiographical masterpiece of
WORLD WAR II.
Dir. Samuel Fuller
Starring: Lee Marvin, Mark Hamill, Robert Carradine, Bobby Di Cicco, Kelly Ward, Siegfried Rauch, Stéphane Audran
Review By Greg Klymkiw
Samuel Fuller made films that pulsated with the stuff of life and yet, at the same time, crackled with the pulpy, hard-boiled crispness of paperback potboilers and tabloid news rags. The guy was a true original and his 1980 classic The Big Red One practically reeks with the stench of death.
It's one of the great war movies of all time and is quite possibly one of the few explorations of men in battle to benefit from an exquisite amalgam of both the terrible truths it conveys and Fuller's terse, almost machine-gun-like style of presentation. Fuller, of course brought the life experience of being an investigative reporter to bear upon all his films, but he also infused them with his horrific exposure to the senseless waste of humanity during his years as an infantryman in the legendary Big Red One of the title.
Fuller himself was present at D-Day and made it to the liberation of Nazi Death Camps. He knew what it was like to be in battle and he especially understood both male camaraderie and the sickening heartache of encountering the remnants of massive genocide. He put all of this into The Big Red One.
Though he approved a much shorter version of the picture for theatrical release, he always regretted not holding out for his lengthier version. Thanks to a shooting script, detailed notes and the dogged persistence of film critic Richard Schickel, we're now able to experience a version of the film that's much closer to what Fuller intended.
It's one corker of a war movie - touching, exciting, wildly humorous and finally, deeply moving. With gruff Lee Marvin leading the charge, Robert Carradine as a cigar-chomping Fuller surrogate and a post-Star Wars Mark Hamill, we're told the tale of several survivors through a harrowing tour of duty. Bodies blow to bits, blood splashes liberally, tanks creak over raw terrain and finally, we experience the charred remains in Nazi Death Ovens.
Fuller hands us one episode after another that evokes the horror of war. Lee Marvin, especially, gives the performance of a lifetime. Seeing him befriend a starving child-survivor of the Death Camp is proof positive of Marvin's versatility.
It might also be the only time Lee Marvin will have you in tears.
NOTE: Samuel Fuller's daughter Samantha, who played a war orphan in The Big Red One, will be present at the FNC screening to introduce the film and engage in a question and answer session.
THE FILM CORNER RATING:
***** - Five Stars
|I WILL KILL YOU! I WILL SAVE YOU! HARLOT!|
Dir. Ken Russell
Starring: Kathleen Turner, Anthony Perkins
Review By Greg Klymkiw
This is a rare opportunity to see Ken Russell's deliciously scary, funny and perverse thriller in 35mm, thanks to screenwriter Barry Sandler's collection at the Academy Film Archive. (Sandler will also be present for the screening.) It's sometimes hard to believe certain films are as old as they are. Crimes of Passion turns 30-years-of-age and it feels as insanely cutting-edge and over-the-top as it did when I first saw it first-run. FNC will be screening the rare director’s cut which has been available on DVD, but I can assure you, there's nothing like seeing its grotesque colours and glorious grain on actual film. You'll be able to thrill to Kathleen Turner's sexually-explicit, no-holds-barred performance as a repressed housewife who transforms herself by night into the ultra-hote-babe China Blue.
This alluring, albeit low-track street hooker, engages in all manner of aggressive sexual gymnastics as an addictive, though empty antidote to frigidity. Matching Turner's brilliant, outrageous performance is everyone's favourite Psycho Anthony Perkins as a demented preacher malevolently stalking her. He will save China Blue, even if he has to eventually snuff her out. She has another stalker, though. He wants to love her. Oh, what's a $50-per-trick hooker supposed to do? Decisions. Decisions.
THE FILM CORNER RATING: **** - Four Stars
|Beware of sneaky, sword-wielding EUNUCHS!!!|
Dir. King Hu
Starring: Bai Ying, Miao Tien, Han Ying-chieh, Shih Chun, Cho Kin, Hsieh Han
Review By Greg Klymkiw
In the middle of nowhere lies the last outpost before the border, a godforsaken hellhole called the Dragon Gate Inn. This is where political exiles are banished to during the Ming Dynasty of ancient China. When the cruel Emperor executes one of his officials, the unfortunate's family are booted out of town and sent packing to the ends of the earth. Sadly, exile isn't their only problem since the big bad ruler has sent a nasty eunuch to spy on them and eventually effect their deathly eradication from the planet. Like some mad kung-fu spaghetti western, a whole passel of deadly killers descend upon the Inn and we're treated to intrigue and action. King Hu was one of the grand masters of cinema and his masterpiece Dragon Inn was recently afforded a gorgeous 4K digital restoration - all the better to take in the sumptuous vistas, cleverly composed (and designed) interiors and the astounding choreography and direction of some of the most stirring sword fights and hand-to-hand combat ever wrought within martial arts movies. Hu's frame is always lively, his moves masterful and his sense of spatial geography always dead-on. Here you'll have the opportunity to witness a director at the peak of his considerable powers, working in tandem with ace choreographer and action helmer Han Ying-chieh. Between the two of them, Dragon Inn is one of the most thriller martial arts pictures of all time - one which influenced Tsui Hark, John Woo, Jacky Chan, Ang Lee, Zhang Yimou and yes, Quentin Tarantino. It's a classic in all respects. Best of all, it feels like it could have been made yesterday.
The skill and technique on display has not dated one single, solitary bit and you'll constantly be catching your breath, doing double takes and needing to pinch yourself to make sure you're not dreaming. And even though it feels as modern as all get-out in terms of its movie-making sophistication and savvy, the fact truly remains that they actually don't make 'em like this anymore.
THE FILM CORNER RATING: **** - 4-Stars
For further information visit the FNC - Festival international du nouveau cinéma de Montréal website HERE. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ORDER THE AFOREMENTIONED FILMS FROM AMAZON BY USING THE LINKS BELOW, AND IN SO DOING, SUPPORT THE ONGING MAINTENANCE OF THE FILM CORNER.