713 words on Films
The December film roundup almost got lost! And I wouldn’t want that to happen as it’d mean I wouldn’t have notes if they did. So here they come, featuring I Hired a Contract Killer, A Fistful of Dollars / For a Few Dollars More, Teorema, and abomiable xmas classics.
In Aki Kaurismäki’s 1990 film I hired a contract killer [IMDB] French clerk Henri who’s working in the UK loses his job as his department is closed down. He decides to kill himself and, failing to do so, hires a contract killer to do the job for him. Then he gets drunk, falls in love and changes his mind. But, shock-horror he can’t find the guy to cancel the job. We still see a happy end.
It seemes strange to me that a Frenchman should play a role in London, but the guy really looks (and is) French. And it’s amazing how the city looks generally dark and bleak as you’d expect in a Kaurismäki film. Not too many smiles there - but a short scene with Joe Strummer!
Ages ago, a colleague recommended Sergio Leone’s films to me. It was the kind of recommendation that sounds like an order. One that isn’t to be messed with. And one that should’ve been followed years ago. And many months later I actually ran across the classic A Fistful of Dollars [IMDB, Wikipedia]. I’m not a huge Western fan but its story about the loner, or rather the cool loner, who plays the powers that are against each other and doesn’t miss a shot was rather cool. The film also looked very stylish and possibly I can understand why people think Clint Eastwood is a cool guy (although I wouldn’t claim I’d have recognised him in the film).
Likewise, the ‘sequel’ For a Few Dollars More [IMDB, Wikipedia], was as cool if not cooler as it sees the man without a name but with a fast gun meet an equally competent colleague played by Lee Van Cleef whom he has to get along with. Both of them are in for the same bounty, neither of them wants to be killed, together they’re more than twice as cool. Seeing Klaus Kinski play a psychologically ‘challenged’ role in such a film was curiously funny as well. Can’t wait to top this trilogy off with The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
I was split on the film Teorema [IMDB, Wikipedia]. On the one hand I would have watched it for its mathematical sounding title alone (the German subtitle is even Geometrie der Liebe, Geometry of Love). On the other hand, the film is directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini, the director of Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom which is the most disgusting cinema experience I sat through (I can tolerate disgusting in a great film, but it seemed gratuitous in this not-great one), so I was a bit reluctant to watch it.
Luckily there was no need for this fear. Apparently the film was quite controversial when it was released in 1968. It plays in a rich family of a factory owner. One day a stranger announces his visit - he shows up, stays and is charming. During his stay he seduces mother, father, daughter, son and housemaid. They all love it and it will change their lives. Each of those stages is shown in a little episode for each person. Finally the guy vanishes again.
Is he a great guy because he changed people’s lives, possibly for better, like that? Or is he devious in the way he turns honest people into ‘sinners’? Certainly questions that pop up and which make the film so charming. The fact that there’s very little speaking in the film also helps that.
When staying with my parents for xmas I had the ‘opportunity’ to watch a few more ‘seasonal’ classics like Sissi [IMDB, Wikipedia] the film that made Romy Schneider famous (obviously totally not my cup of tea). There was also Die Hard [IMDB, Wikipedia] which I keep finding embarrassingly entertaining.
I love the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly — one of the first DVDs I ever bought, way back when. You mentioned Joe Strummer in your post, an coincidentally Mick Jones’ Big Audio Dynamite samples the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly heavily in the song “Medicine Show”.
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