Daily Archives: February 1, 1989

Broken Noses

Bruce Weber’s arty black-and-white documentary (1987) about Andy Minskera professional junior-lightweight boxer who runs a boxing camp for kids in Portland, Oregonaccompanied by the music of Chet Baker and Julie London, among others. Visually striking but otherwise not very absorbing, apart from its homoerotic interest, this conveys some of the modulated glamour of Weber’s Calvin Klein magazine ads. But its romantic vision finds a much better subject in Weber’s subsequent documentary about Chet Baker, Let’s Get Lost. (JR)… Read more »

Branded To Kill

Reputedly one of Seijun Suzuki’s finest works and unquestionably very stylish in its ‘Scope framings (Jim Jarmusch copied a few shots from it in his forthcoming Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai), this 1967 gangster film stars Jo Shishido as Hanada Goro, Tokyo’s number three killer, who carries out a series of gangland murders while his boss is seducing his wife. Then Goro flubs an assignment and finds himself marked for a rubout. The film’s cynicism and coldness led to Suzuki being fired from Nikkatsu studio, sparking a major controversy in the Japanese film world; it was a decade before Suzuki made another film. With Annu Mari and Mariko Ogawa. (JR)… Read more »

The Big Red One

The most ambitious war film in Samuel Fuller’s career, a chronicle of his own First Infantry Division in World War II, was a long time coming. When it finally made it to the screen, a wholesale reediting by the studio and a tacked-on narration (by filmmaker Jim McBride) made it something less than Fuller originally intended. But it’s still a grand-style, idiosyncratic war epic, with wonderful poetic ideas, intense emotions, and haunting images rich in metaphysical portent. The effective cast is headed by Lee Marvin (as the grim and hardened sergeant), Mark Hamill, Bobby Di Cicco, and Robert Carradine. Packed with energy and observation, it is full of unforgettable, spellbinding moments (1980). (JR)… Read more »

Eclipse

From the Chicago Reader (February 1, 1989). — J.R.

The conclusion of Michelangelo Antonioni’s loose trilogy (preceded by L’Avventura and La Notte), this 1961 film is conceivably the best in Antonioni’s career, but significantly it has the least consequential plot. A sometime translator (Monica Vitti) recovering from an unhappy love affair briefly links up with a stockbroker (Alain Delon) in Rome, though the stunning final montage sequence — perhaps the most powerful thing Antonioni has ever done — does without these characters entirely. Alternately an essay and a prose poem about the contemporary world in which the love story figures as one of many motifs, this is remarkable both for its visual/atmospheric richness and its polyphonic and polyrhythmic mise en scene (Antonioni’s handling of crowds at the Roman stock exchange is never less than amazing). In Italian with subtitles. 123 min. (JR)

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