Wednesday, February 3, 2016

ANOTHER WOMAN (1988)

Reminiscent of Bergman's WILD STRAWBERRIES, ANOTHER WOMAN tells the story of a professor who is in her 50's and beginning to reexamine her life.  Taking a leave of absence from work to write a book, she rents an apartment next door to a psychiatrist's office, but soon discovers that through some "acoustical oddness" she can hear all of the patients quite clearly.  She tries to ignore them but one patient in particular (Mia Farrow) captures her attention and brings back sad memories from her own past.  Failed relationships, estranged siblings and parents, her decision to not have children, her current dead end marriage to Ian Holm which began with him cheating on his wife with her, her turning down a suitor (Gene Hackman) who was clearly in love with her.

Needless to say ANOTHER WOMAN is not a happy film.  It's not as depressing as Allen's last film, SEPTEMBER, but it's no walk in the park either.  Intimate photography by Sven Nykvist, a steady pace, strong performances by a great cast, interesting story.  ANOTHER WOMAN has a lot of the ingredients to make an outstanding film, but instead it just falls into the "above average" category.  I'm not sure exactly what it is, but it just doesn't have that magic spark to it.  Not to worry though because Allen's next film CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS is one of the greatest films of all time.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

SEVEN IN DARKNESS (1969)

Originally aired on September 23, 1969 as part of ABC's "Movie of the Week" series, SEVEN IN DARKNESS tells the interesting story of eight (yes, I counted them multiple times) blind people who are stranded in the wilderness after their airplane crashes.  All of the sighted people on-board were killed so now it's up to the eight blind survivors to make their way beck to civilization before the blizzard freezes them to death.  Also one of the blind women is very pregnant.

For what it is SEVEN IN DARKNESS is a totally watchable film.  The production values are obviously pretty low (the "Movie of the Week" series was rumored to budget around $400,000-$450,000 per film), but the story is intriguing and the 74-minute runtime doesn't have any wasted moments.  The entire cast was good, but I was especially impressed by Lesley Ann Warren who genuinely looked blind and by Barry Nelson who did an excellent job portraying the internal struggles of a blind dude who is used to being respected and in charge and is now failing to deal with the fact that the survivors are listening to another guy instead.

Wolf attack, lots of bumping into stuff, a young woman playing a guitar and singing on a commercial airplane 5 years before AIRPORT 1975, Milton Berle not really looking like he's blind, walking canes whacking into everything.  Modern audiences would probably fall asleep within five minutes, but I think anybody who has childhood memories of this film or people (like me) that are interested in television from this period will enjoy SEVEN IN DARKNESS.
Not sure why, but my copy has this interesting "Place commercial here" cue included during one of the obvious commercial breaks.

Monday, February 1, 2016

UZUMAKI (2000)

I recently read Junji Ito's manga "Uzumaki" and it was so brilliant, creepy and addictive that I finished the entire thing in two days.  So with some genuine excitement I sat down to watch this live action adaptation and...it was shockingly lame.  The main actress (Eriko Hatsune) is perfect and the atmosphere is sufficiently creepy but the story suuuuuucked.  Not only did they leave out like 90% of the story but they added in a bunch of useless filler.

Some of the residents of the small Japanese town of Kurozu-cho have developed a unhealthy obsession with spirals.  At first they simply enjoy looking at snail shells or other things that have spiral shapes but before long they are mutating their bodies into spiral shapes and turning into snails themselves.  In the manga, things get really demented, but in this film adaptation things just move along at a snails pace until the weak ending.

My advise: read the awesome manga by Junji Ito and only then watch this movie.  Also check out "Gyo".  I'm currently reading that and it's crazy as fuck!

I would love to see another live action remake of "Uzumaki" but hopefully this time it's more faithful to the source material.