Concept of filmmaking.
Concept of filmmaking.
Image: 123rm.com

ARTHOUSE ESSENTIAL:

Chocolat — Mubi.com

Not to be confused with the saccharine 2000 romantic drama featuring Juliet Binoche’s chocolatier and Johnny Depp’s gypsy bohemian; this is the 1988 debut feature of modern French master Claire Denis.

Set and filmed in Cameroon, it’s a coolly examined tale of unrequited erotic attraction and forbidden desire that makes some uncomfortable but undeniably astute observations about the relationship between colonial masters and their subjects.

A young French woman — unfortunately but aptly named France — is visiting Cameroon on holiday, decades after living there as the child of French colonial parents. Travelling on a road in the now independent nation she is overwhelmed by a flood of memories from her childhood and we are taken into her past to witness a series of events that she is now able to see with a clarity she didn’t have as a child.

It’s anchored by a stellar performance from the great Isaach De Bankolé in the role of the family’s servant Protée, who is also the object of the tragically forbidden desire of France’s mother Aimée (Giulia Boschi), and a perfectly executed soundtrack by SA jazz maestro Abdullah Ibrahim.

Beautifully shot and guided by Denis’s assured direction through some difficult emotional and political territory, it’s a film that still stands as one of the more thoughtful examinations of colonial power relations.

TRAILER: https://mubi.com/films/chocolat-1988/trailer

STONE COLD CLASSIC:

The Big Combo — YouTube

As a genre, film noir still remains one of the most influential and endlessly entertaining; darkly-lit, smoke-filled shadowy post-war potboilers filled with callous gangsters, disillusioned cops, gumshoes and the scary, independent-minded women who lay traps for them all at every turn.

Social attitudes may have changed, but the imagery and snappy dialogue that post-war male anxieties created in these films continue to exert their influence into the corners of much of present-day popular culture and iconography.

No-one did film noir with quite the moody, visual dexterity and sharp eye for detail as director Joseph Lewis. This 1955 tale of a morally ambiguous cop, his obsession with notorious underworld kingpin Mr Brown and his lust for Brown’s girlfriend is a standout example of all the best the genre has to offer.

Highlights include a torture scene involving a hearing aid and some unrequested too-loud jazz drumming; one of the first on-screen suggestions of oral sex; and some real zingers: “A woman doesn’t care how a man makes a living, just how he makes love”, and “I’d rather be insane and alive than sane and dead”.

Lewis thought it not quite as good as his 1949 classic, Gun Crazy (not available on YouTube, unfortunately), but time has been kinder than he was to what is undoubtedly one of the more vicious and nightmarish visions of one hell of a dark night.

If you like this movie and our channel, please subscribe: https://goo.gl/0qDmXe | Police Lt. Leonard Diamond is on a personal crusade to bring down sadistic gangster Mr. Brown. He's also dangerously obsessed with Brown's girlfriend, the suicidal Susan Lowell. His main objective as a detective is to uncover what happened to a woman called "Alicia" from the crime boss's past. Mr. Brown, his second-in-command McClure and thugs Fante and Mingo kidnap and torture the lieutenant, then pour a bottle of alcohol-based hair tonic down his throat before letting him go. Diamond eventually learns through one of Brown's past accomplices that Alicia was actually Brown's wife. The accomplice suspects that Alicia was sent away to Sicily with former mob boss Grazzi, then murdered, tied to the boat's anchor and permanently submerged. Diamond questions a Swede named Dreyer, who was the skipper of that boat (but now operates an antiques store as a front, bankrolled by Brown). Dreyer denies involvement, but this doesn't prevent him from being murdered by McClure within seconds after he leaves the shop. Diamond tries to persuade Susan to leave Brown and admits he might be in love with her. He shows her a photo of Brown, Alicia and Grazzi together on the boat. Susan finally confronts Brown about his wife and is told she is still alive in Sicily, Italy, living with Grazzi. Brown next orders a hit on Diamond. However, when his gunmen Fante and Mingo go to Diamond's apartment, they mistakenly shoot and kill the cop's burlesque dancer girlfriend Rita instead. Diamond sees an up-to-date photo of Alicia but realizes it wasn't taken in Sicily (since there's snow on the ground). This leads Diamond to suspect Brown didn't kill Alicia but his boss Grazzi instead. Diamond is able to track Alicia to a sanitarium, where she is staying under another name. He asks for her help. Brown's right-hand man, McClure, wants to take over. He plots with Fante and Mingo to ambush Mr. Brown, but ends up getting killed himself because they are loyal to the boss. At police headquarters, Brown shows up with a writ of habious corpus, effectively preventing Alicia to testify against her husband. Brown also brings a big stash of "money" to Fante and Mingo while they are hiding out from the police, but the box turns out to contain a bomb that apparently kills both. Brown shoots the lieutenant's partner Sam and kidnaps Susan, planning to fly away to safety. Diamond finds a witness that could finally nail the elusive gangster -- Mingo, who survived the blast and confesses that Brown was behind it all. Alicia is able to help Diamond figure out where Brown was likely to take Susan, a private airport where Brown intends to board a getaway plane. However, the plane doesn't show up and the film climaxes in a foggy airplane hangar shootout. Susan shines a bright light in Brown's eyes and the lieutenant places him under arrest. The last scene shows the silhouetted figures of Diamond and Susan in the fog, considered to be one of the iconic images of film noir. --- Directed by Joseph H. Lewis, produced by Sidney Harmon, written by Philip Yordan, starring Cornel Wilde as Police Lt. Leonard Diamond, Richard Conte as Mr. Brown, Brian Donlevy as Joe McClure, Jean Wallace as Susan Lowell, Robert Middleton as Police Capt. Peterson, Lee Van Cleef as Fante, Earl Holliman as Mingo, Helen Walker as Alicia Brown, Jay Adler as Sam Hill, John Hoyt as Nils Dreyer, Ted de Corsia as Bettini, Helene Stanton as Rita, Roy Gordon as Audubon, Whit Bissell as Doctor (scenes deleted) (as Whit Bissel), Steve Michaell as Bennie Smith - Boxer, Baynes Barron as Young Detective, James McCallion as Frank - Technician, Tony Michaels as Photo Technician, Brian O'Hara as Attorney Malloy, Bruce Sharpe Detective, Michael Mark as Fred - Hotel Clerk, Philip Van Zandt as Mr. Jones (scenes deleted) and Donna Drew as Miss Hartleby. --- Source: "The Big Combo" Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.. 28 February 2013. Web. 12 March 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_Combo. If you like this movie and our channel, please subscribe: https://goo.gl/0qDmXe #FilmNoir #TimelessClassicMovies #ClassicFilm

DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH

Beirut Oh Beirut — Netflix

The film world was shocked in 1993 when it learnt of the death of Lebanese director Maroun Baghdadi, who fell down an elevator shaft in his beloved city of Beirut aged 43.

In a brief but prolific career, Baghdadi chronicled the tumultuous life and times of Lebanon in a series of films that quickly established him as one of the best Arabic filmmakers of the 20th century.

His debut in 1975 was this prescient, multi-character examination of the hardships of life in Beirut in the aftermath of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war that many believe foresaw the civil war in Lebanon — which broke out as the film was being finished.

Despite the vicissitudes of the civil war that ravaged the country for most of the remainder of his lifetime, Baghdadi continued to make films and emerged as one of the most significant members of the Lebanese new wave.   

Previously near impossible to see outside Lebanon, it’s now available on Netflix and offers solid early evidence of Baghdadi as a political filmmaker with the distinct ability to tackle potentially incendiary themes through sensitive careful, human centred storytelling.

If it’s visibly a little rougher around the edges than his later work that’s because it was made as his graduation film. Still, lays the firm foundations for Baghdadi’s subsequent career as a filmmaker who was deeply committed to peace and cried out as best he knew against the futility of war.

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