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I am pleased as punch at Spectacle’s excellently curated ‘Anti-Valentine’s Day’ series, starting Feb. 1st with amazing 60s gender battle ‘The Laughing Woman’. Ranging from psychotic obsession to pure loathing, the four films are excellent antidotes against saccharine concepts of ‘love’ and ‘romance’ that get pushed on well-meaning folk from January onward.

If you’re a fan of Jodorowsky, I highly recommend catching ‘The Laughing Woman’ (also released as ‘The Frightened Woman’, to give you an idea of the power plays going on within the film). It’s gorgeously shot and beautifully set-dressed, each room’s color and design carefully composed. It’s also equally comfortable with sky-high symbolism:

THE LAUGHING WOMAN (Piero Schivazappa, 1969) from Spectacle Theater on Vimeo.

Why yes, that is a giant psychedelic automated vagina-door he walks into! This movie also features the artiest and most ridiculous cutaway for implied sexy doings I’ve ever seen – I couldn’t figure out a way to shoehorn it into the trailer but go see this movie if only to catch it: man at the wheel, stopped at the train tracks, the woman’s head dips out of sight; cut to – a small, brightly decorated train slowly rolling by draped with Mod ladies casually blowing wind instruments IN CLOSE-UP.  And still the description does not do the sheer ludicrousness of it justice. This is shortly followed by them driving along again, only to bank right AND DRIVE INTO THE LAKE BECAUSE IT’S AN AQUACAR. Absolutely outstanding. Oh, also there’s lots of interesting gender politics and psychological torture and whatnot, but mainly, there’s a 60s sportsaquacar and now I must own one.

 

Adding to the visual excellence is the score – by turns ominous, silly, and catchy as all get-out.  It’s extremely 60s – electronic organs, backing chorus, and wah-wah- guitar all over the place, with an adorable ‘theme song’ apparently sung by a French woman reading badly translated Italian to English lyrics. The grimy version pulled from the film is heard in the trailer, but due to a wonky transfer it seems to be sped up a bit from the original. If you visit Spectacle Theater’s page for the movie, you can download the amazing score for yourself and take a listen.

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DAMES!!!

 

Images from the absolutely amazing Movie Title Stills Collection. Only click if you like typography and have several hours free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In the grand tradition of blasting in the new year with unnecessary gunfire, here’s the trigger-happy trailer for ‘Johnny Hamlet’, a 60s Spaghetti Western adaptation of The Bard’s classic tragedy.

JOHNNY HAMLET (Enzo G. Castellari, 1968) from Spectacle Theater on Vimeo.

Playing this January as part of Spectacle Theater’s ‘Fistful of Shakespeare’ program, this film was shot on location in the ‘American’ ‘west’ (note the ‘Native American’ cave paintings and guy getting a beatdown) and features gratuitous violence, soliloquies, and murder most foul.

After a solid week editing this thing, I could still listen to the theme song on loop though I’ve apparently misheard the lyrics the entire time- lines like ‘Find the man who never kills, not even for the love of gold’ I heard as ‘I’m the man…who never kills, not even for a lot of gold…’ I sort of like my lyrics better: ‘The dreamer grows wise when he sees you with his eyes….and shadows seem more real than old men’s lies…’

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After the weekend’s tropical storm debacle, I thought of the perfect movie for this week’s Movie Club – Peter Weir’s unsettling mystery ‘The Last Wave’. Eerie ambiance, indirect answers, a shallow but fascinating glimpse into Aboriginal life in modern times, plus Fortean weather!

Not available on instant view. Well, that’s ok, I have an ace up my sleeve for perfect Labor Day viewing – a classic comedy about the great suburban nightmare, starring America’s Most Likable Guy Tom Hanks! ‘The ‘Burbs!’

Not available on instant view. FINE. Well how about the live-action Fleisher Bros. cartoon ‘The Forbidden Zone?’

NO?! WELL THAT’S IT, I GUESS THIS WEEK’S MOVIE WILL HAVE TO BE ‘DEF BY TEMPTATION’ THEN, WON’T IT? WE’LL JUST HAVE TO SETTLE FOR DWAYNE-WAYNE IN A MOVIE DESCRIBED AS ‘An evil succubus is preying on libidinous black men in New York’, THEN, HUH?

FIIIIIIIIIINE. Unless, of course, anyone else has a suggestion.

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Um….what? Seriously, was this made on a dare? Val Kilmer and Nicholas Cage running around New Orleans, the latter having public sex with underaged hookers and doing piles and piles of drugs (mostly snorted)…exchanges like ‘get those fucking iguanas OFF my table!” “Ain’t no iguanas.”…from the director of “Grizzly Man” and “Stroszek”…did I mention it stars Nicholas Cage?

Some more random thoughts:
-Is anyone in this movie attempting a southern accent of any kind? I ask because I genuinely can’t tell from the trailer. It sounded maybeeee like Kilmer and Cage were…but not really.

-”Shoot him again. His soul is still dancing.” Breakdancing!

-the visual effects for the titles look cheesy, cheap, even. Is this because it’s a promo trailer or did they just not have a budget?

-I still haven’t seen the original ‘Bad Lieutenant’, so it’s not like there’s anything beloved in my memory to be tarnished. That aside, this almost seems like an R-rated episode of any given cop show on TV now.

I’m hoping this is a film of extremes- either it will be so bad it’s amazing (a la “Showgirls” or Nic Cage’s last howler, “Crazy She-Bitches of Honeybee Island” aka “The Wicker Man” remake), or perhaps good in some way I’m not seeing from the trailer. More likely it will be terribly terribly terrible.

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