Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Revenge is a Dish Best Served Again and Again and Again...
The latest in the Euro-Western...well at least at my place

Ok. I gotta make this somewhat quick. Let's get down to brass tacks.

Cemetery Without Crosses (aka. Une Corde, Un Colt, 1969, d. Robert Hossein)

Synopsis: Maria Caine hires reluctant gunslinger Manuel, an old flame, to exact revenge on the Rogers family who led to the death of her husband and who are hounding her brothers out of the territory.

Review: Hmmm. I literally just turned this off, so I'm trying to put my thoughts together.

I had been waiting for some time to finally take this one in, though I must confess that much of my obssession with this movie revolved around the title. It was kind of like One Damned Day at Dawn...Django met Sartana. The title alone gave it some pull. Over time of course, I'd catch a bit about it here and there, and it was always positive (about Cemetery not One Damned Day... Miles Deem movies almost never truly favorable comments).

Finally, I was kindly provided with a copy...and well, here we are.

I enjoyed the movie on the whole. I'll start there.

It had a wonderfully melancholy to it that I enjoy in these types of story. It's the air of Roman tragedy that many Italian Westerns manage to pull into them. Of course, this one was directed by and starred a Frenchman, Robert Hossein. I'm not going to compare him to Jean Pierre Melville, but there's a distinct French cinema feel that's very much a part of that era (sort of latter Nouvelle Vague).

At the same time, it's a spaghetti western, and that demands more action. At least a little more. If not action, then something to speed things along a little. That's what it lacked: something to keep things moving along. Melancholy does not a rousing story make...well unless you're going for a sort of total introspective mental study like an Ingmar Bergman film. This is a movie with lots of men with guns. So, it doesn't work here. At the same time, I must admit that Castellari's Keoma does a pretty solid job of combining the two.

Cast-wise, Hossein does have the look and provides the necessary emotion for the lonely gunfighter. Perhaps the best combination of performance and direction came in surrouding our hero in a dilapidated town. When Manuel is first introduced, he provides a wonderful speech about the never-ending cycle of revenge. Michele Mercier likewise provides a good balanced performance of the grief-stricken woman on the edge of madness. Much of the rest of cast is filled out with many of the usual stock Spaghetti baddies.

My final comment where the performances fail is tied into failure in the direction. There's an inordinate amount of glance exchanging spread throughout various scenes. It's an almost amateurish method of trying to communicate depth or understanding. Once or twice is fine. This movie eventually began to remind me of the scene in the gangster parody Johnny Dangerously where Peter Boyle has to yell at his guys, "Alright, no more nodding!"

The movie is well shot. Though it's not in the usual cinemascope, it makes great use of the various desert-like mountain vistas. As usual, the score is a fun and well-written piece that could be both rousing and downbeat. The editing works well enough, but is ultimately failed by the languid pacing.

All the same, I'm going to place this one towards the top of the heap of the Spaghetti Westerns that I've seen.

I've still got two more new ones to go (Thanks again Franco.). So I'll be back with more.


Monday, February 07, 2005

Fantastically Insane...
The occasional disappearing act.

So, another show ended and I'm out of a job again. Hence, I don't post to often, which blows.

Funny enough, in unemployment, I find I have less time to actually write these things. Go figure.

What stinks is that I do watch quite a few movies in the meantime, which I would love to comment on. I can't quite recall if I did Temptress of a Thousand Faces from the Shaw Brothers, or Journey to the Seventh Planet with John Agar. Come to think about it....what about Invisible Invaders with John Agar?

All I can say is: If John Carradine told me that invisible aliens were going to God, I would've believed him.

I guess I should mention that for B-List comic books, I would happily announce for those who don't already know: Bob Burden has started up a new round of the Flaming Carrot.

Rejoice. Rejoice.

And I'm proud to say that Bob's still got it. That's for sure.

Pity to say, I never got any of them kooky Flaming Carrot action figures that were out for a while. Not that I need them.

The only other comic book news I can think to mention is that I was happy to see the return of Melvin Potter, better known as The Gladiator, to Daredevil. He was always a B-level villain back in my early days of reading comics. He was right up there with the original Eel and probably my all time favorite B-villain of that era, The Enforcer.

Unfortunately the Enforcer was offed by that dude who killed a whole hella bunch of B-level villains in one issue of Captain America.

I found that out (at the time) all thanks to my old Marvel Universe: Books of the Dead.

Some call me morbid, but those were my favorite books. I'd find a cool character and then find his first appearance and his last. And of course, if I liked them enough, I try and find everything in between. Like with the Enforcer or the Torpedo. (The Torpedo, I must mention had a long run in one of my favorite B-level comic book series, ROM: Spaceknight. ROM was probably one of the only really well written toy tie-in comics ever.)

Moving along, I've also got me a host of new Spaghetti Westerns that I really should go over. I've got something like 45 of them now, I believe. There's no stopping me. I don't want them all, but there are quite a few more that I would like.


I risk babbling.

I'll be back. I swear. Stick with me.