The Good The Bad And The Ugly (1966 Italy)

Proof that the simplest ideas are the best ones. The plot is fairly simple: three men try to reach a buried fortune of Army gold coins while the American Civil War erupts around them. The story is even simpler and yet the audience gets wrapped around in it and those 180 minutes just seem to whip by so fast that when it does end, we’re craving for more. The film is also evidence that the Western cannot be a dying genre, for this landmark film from Italian director Sergio Leone has aged like wine. Time has done nothing to varnish its style and authority. Spaghetti Westerns, which are low in budget and oftentimes flamboyant and over-the-top, can be art too. I urge women to give this a watch too. It will put hairs on their chest. Its hypnotic. It’s operatic. It’s sad. It’s funny. It’s gritty. Its the Psycho of Westerns. [Read more…]

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The Villa In Italy (Elizabeth Edmondson)

e edmondsonIf you are easily entertained, are over the age of 60, use words like ‘beastly’ and refer to yourself as “one”, then this book may appeal. If you refer to lesbians as lesbians rather than “not the marrying kind” (or a liz? what’s that all about?), don’t know any opera singers, artists or landed gentry, and prefer your mystery novels to have some substance other than unbelievable coincidence and intuition, then don’t read this book, let alone buy it. [Read more…]

Seven Deaths In The Cat’s Eye (1973 Italy)

seven-deaths-in-the-cats-eyes-1973-antonio-margheriti No prizes for guessing which actor is the star of this flick. I’ll give you a clue. He or she ain’t human. A very unusual kind of giallo film, taking place as it does not in modern times, but rather in what appears to be the early 20th century. Is it a giallo or is it a Gothic murder mystery with a high body count? Who cares when a picture is as fun as this one. [Read more…]

FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (1965 Italy)

dollars 1This would have to be in the Top Ten Coolest Movies ever and it contains the most spine – tingling musical score in cinema history. (Kudos to Ennio Morricone) Sergio Leone was a popcorn director – a visual stylist who always entertained first and maybe provoked a thought or two second. However, his films were never intellectual so when he added more depth the results became uneven. “For a Few Dollars More” is his best film. [Read more…]

I tre volti della paura (1963 Italy)

bk 1963You can’t speak Italian? Neither can I, so “Black Sabbath” it is. 1945’s Dead of Night introduced horror cinema to omnibus films, and Black Sabbath brought it back! Italian produced films were making a lot of money in the early 1960s and former cinematographer / horror genius Mario Bava was brought in to direct this compendium of horror tales. [Read more…]

Once Upon A Time In The West (1968 Italy)

Picture-1041Leone had always been a director who packed his films with atmosphere, style and rhythmn, but here he organizes every single element to create one overwhelming mood. Everything in the film is geared towards reminding us of death, of a time coming to an end. The pace is slow and measured. The buildings are rickety and creaking, many of the minor characters and extras are old and look worn out, and the wind howls across the open spaces. [Read more…]

Inferno (1980 Italy)

2547Dario Argento’s follow up to Suspiria. It’s a loose sequel that epitomizes both the strengths and weaknesses of its director. It’s probably the weirdest film that Argento ever directed. One thing is certain though – if you require your movies to be plot-driven, coherent and with fully rounded characters then there is a very good chance you will hate this. [Read more…]

The Talented Mr Ripley (Patricia Highsmith)

Patricia-Highsmith-in-1962-Talented-Mr.-Ripley-US-1st-EditionA deeply amoral thriller, and none the worse for that. Written in the limited third person, Patricia Highsmith allows us into the thoughts, actions, and motivations of Tom Ripley, a totally insidious personality who is at once charming and frighteningly devious. Get ready for a double life, and at times, a triple life of complications. [Read more…]

AMARCORD (Italy 1973/74)

0f30f03b9e25e702ff4d2b387f07ef8aTranslated as ‘I Remember’, the great Italian director Federico Fellini’s Amarcord is a series of slowly paced comedic vignettes that look back at his childhood in a 1930’s coastal town. Apart from the intertwining inhabitants, there is nothing thematically or even tonally linking the stories together. Much like memory itself, this requires patient sifting by the viewer. [Read more…]

SUSPIRIA (Italy 1977)

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Dario Argento’s finest, as well as his first film to deal with the supernatural, “Suspiria” maintains its cult following for good reason. Illogical and dreamlike, it’s filmed in rich red, blue and green hues, and the elliptical story is punctuated with several extremely gory (if technically unconvincing) murders. [Read more…]

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