Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Film: Stanley Kubrick's Fear and Desire (1953) and an assortement of other strange films

Fear and Desire
We had another film festival at the cabin with some friends of mine. (Here and here are posts on the earlier festivals.)

One of the most interesting films we watched was the first feature film by Stanley Kubrick, Fear and Desire (1953) that Kubrick himself had put a ban on, so it hasn't been legally been available for decades. It's recently been released on DVD and is easily available. None of my friends had seen it, so it was all new to all of us.

It's a war film set somewhere in an unknown war, so it's heavily symbolic and abstract to the edge of being almost meaningless. Fear and Desire was written by a playwright, Howard Sackler (who also wrote Kubrick's second film, Killer's Kiss), so it's no wonder it resembles an absurdist play a lot. At times it gets bogged down by hilariously "deep" dialogue and monologue, but the first half-hour is actually quite good. Kubrick - who himself shot and edited the film - edits quirkily, against the rules, using quick flashes of people's faces and pieces of action. Kubrick was at least in the beginning of his career a noir director and there's a strong noir feel also in this little war film. It's an intriguing film, well worth a watch.

Other films with snappy mini-reviews and starrings:

The ass of the Machine Gun Woman
Ernesto Díaz Espinoza: Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman (Chile 2012): sounded great, but proved amateurish and boring.

Lucio Fulci: Beyond (Italy 1981): confusing and dead-serious zombie flick. **

Willard Huyck: Howard the Duck (USA 1986): absolute bore-fest, with people (and the duck) just shouting, running and jumping all the time. *

Kaarlo Kortelainen: Makkarakalakeittoa, sano Tympee Huttunen/Sausage fish soup, said the Grumpy Huttunen (Finland 1988): one of the worst films ever, only video-released calamity shot somewhere at a deserted cabin and in near-by woods. Very hilarious. * or *****

Veikko Itkonen: Mullin mallin/Topsy-turvy (Finland 1961): nonsensical and incoherent musical comedy made near the end of the Finnish studio system. Probably one of these: * or ****

Adam McKay: Anchorman (USA 2004): I'd never seen anything by Will Ferrell, but even though this was mildly funny, I don't feel an urgent need to watch more of his films. **

Robert Culp: Hickey & Boggs (USA 1972): pretty hard to follow without subtitles, but still great early seventies' crime flick, without any of the genre trappings. ****

Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel: Leviathan (USA 2012): experimental documentary of a fishing ship somewhere in the Atlantic, quite hypnotic at times, but don't go looking for a content. ***½

Tobe Hooper: Lifeforce (USA 1985): interesting movie about space vampires, but even though the main monster is one of the most beautiful women in the history of cinema, suffers from too much length and uninteresting lead actors. **½

Andrzej Zulawski: The Third Part of the Night (Poland 1971): very interesting allegory on Communist Poland, with lots of grotesque and surrealistic imagery thrown in. ***½

Fred Cavaye: Point Blank (France 2010): capable and snappy thriller. ***

Kinji Fukasaku: Message from Space (Japan 1978): a hapless Star Wars clone should've been more hilarious than it really was. **

Albert Band: Zoltan, Hound of Dracula (USA 1978): I didn't watch this myself, but from what I gathered is either * or *****

Ismo Sajakorpi: Merkitty/Branded (Finland 1984): early Finnish horror TV movie, not bad, but somewhat dated. ***

Steve Carver: Lone Wolf McQuade (USA 1983): hilariously serious Chuck Norris vehicle, quite entertaining if you're willing to forget it's very stupid and clichéd. **½

More Overlooked Movies coming in at a blog near you!


Rittster said...

Reading your review makes me feel like i've seen them all, so now i don't have to waste the time to actually see them. Thanks!

Juri Nummelin said...

Of these one should check at least FEAR AND DESIRE and HICKEY & BOGGS.

Anders E said...

I saw HOWARD THE DUCK years ago, as I recall it was not at all as bad as they say. It may depend on your taste for 1980s cheese, however.
I gave ANCHORMAN a try on TV once and lasted about 20 minutes. As for Will Ferrell, OLD SCHOOL is somewhat watchable.
Btw, why not review also the booze?

Juri Nummelin said...

I'm not very good on 80s cheese, that is true, but not one of us present liked HOWARD THE DUCK, not even in a cheesy camp sense. I'm now wondering why we bothered to watch it through the end.

The booze: some good British and Finnish cider (the Finnish specimen being an artesan one) and a bottle of tequila and some lemon soda with a dash of lime thrown in. I wasn't actually drunk enough to be able to see some of the films, i.e. ZOLTAN.

Anders E said...

I know exactly why you all watched HOWARD THE DUCK all the way through - because Lea Thompson was in it, and sometimes wearing very little. Fair enough, lads.

Juri Nummelin said...

I didn't actually find her all that attractive. But some of the other lads did. I would've stopped after the first 20 minutes had I been watching it alone.