Been errant of late so here is a round up of what I’ve been watching on Blu-ray over the last month or so.
Fallen Angels (1995, Wong Kar-Wai)
Originally planned as the third segment of Chungking Express (1994) this feels more episodic and thrown together than the earlier film but it gets better with every viewing. A lonely hitman (Leon Lai) half-heartedly carries out contract killings while considering leaving the game, his fixer (Michelle Reis) has feelings for him, while a sweet but crazy mute (Takeshi Kaneshiro) breaks into businesses at night and takes them over. Fallen Angels works as a summation of themes developed through Kar-Wai’s career at that point finding room even for the heroic bloodshed of his debut As Tears Go By (1987) in amongst the now familiar neon-lit yearning and romantic despair. The Blu-ray includes an entertaining interview with director of photography Chris Doyle which ends with the Heineken fuelled cinematographer lying face down on the bar.
This Must Be the Place (2011, Paolo Sorrentino)
Sorrentino’s English language debut is a genuine oddity. Sean Penn stars as a burnt out Robert Smith-type rock star who leads a reclusive life in Ireland until news of his father’s imminent death sends him on a quest to find a Nazi war criminal. Taking it’s name from a Talking Heads song and featuring a beautifully filmed performance by the band This Must Be the Place plays like a Wim Wenders road movie with a sense of humour. Decent features as well with two versions of the film, the UK theatrical release and the original cut shown at Cannes.
Barbarella (1968, Roger Vadim)
Never paid much attention to Vadim until I saw his haunting vampire movie Blood and Roses (1960) last year which made me reassess his work and my view of him as being nothing more than a French caricature who liked to shag his leading ladies. Barbarella is beautifully designed by Mario Garbuglia and has a distinctly pop art 60’s sensibility which is always welcome. Jane Fonda is the perfect mixture of naivety and sex kitten in the leading role and Milo O’ Shea is reliably dodgy. Sadly this Blu-ray is vanilla flavoured.
Outpost II: Black Sun (2012, Steve Barker)
Watchable sequel to Scottish production company Black Camel’s entertaining Nazi/zombie flick Outpost (2009). This time around a Nazi-hunter (Catherine Steadman) finds herself at the Outpost and stumbling into an advancing battalion of Undead SS soldiers. Richard Coyle (Grabbers) co-stars as a expert in Nazi antiquities whose interest in her may be more than professional. While the first film trapped a group of tough mercenaries in the claustrophobic atmosphere of an abandoned bunker ‘Black Sun’ opens out the action which makes the limited budget more obvious but credit to director Barker and his team for making the best of it. There’s a standard making of documentary on the Blu-ray and that’s about it. Apparently there’s a third Outpost movie due out next year though.
Walkabout (1971, Nic Roeg)
Interesting watching this after seeing Roeg and his screenwriter Allan Scott a few years ago at a Director’s Cut event at the University of Aberdeen talking about working on Walkabout. The original screenplay was fourteen pages long and the studio made them pad it out to ease the concerns of the investors. Storywise the film is simple enough, a teenage girl (Jenny Agutter) and her younger brother are lost in the Outback after their father commits suicide. A kindly Aborigine (David Gulpilil) boy guides them and eventually falls in love with the girl though she rejects him. Yet Roeg uses imagery, editing, and subjective viewpoints to craft a story about the end of innocence, the emptiness of modern life, and perhaps of existence too. Universal have done great work on their centenary Blu-ray releases this year but sadly Walkabout didn’t feature on their list.