A film is a petrified fountain of thought.

International Film.

A DEGREE OF MURDERGermany 1967.

Anna.

Despite its film noir trappings, director Volker Schlondorff’s dispassionate thriller transcends its sub genre to become a more broad-based study of alienation and angst in West Germany during the 1960s. Clearly a product of its times, the film stars erstwhile sex symbol Anita Pallenberg (Performance) as Marie, who shoots her ex-lover (Werner Enke) when he comes to her apartment and attempts to rape her. Afterward, she pays two strangers to dispose of the body, becoming their lover in the process. Although there is a good deal of passion on display, both criminal and carnal, Schlondoff presents his characters as lacking even the most rudimentary emotional involvement with their actions. This is by design, and represents the so-called “German cinema of alienation” at its most bemusing. Brian Jones, who was dating Pallenberg at the time, makes a brief appearance in the film as well as writing and performing the bouncy, psychedelic score just months before his untimely death. It is the only recording he ever made as an ex- Rolling Stone.

Anna – France 1966.

Anna.

Released in 1966, this was the first color film made for French
TV. Starring Anna Karina (of Godard film fame), Marianne
Faithfull (who sings one song) & Serge Gainsbourg (who also
wrote the amazing music); Anna is a bizarre pop art/comedy/
musical filled with bright vibrant colors, strange, hallucinatory
scenes and some of the best songs Serge ever wrote. The
story is about a man obsessively looking for a woman he saw in
a photograph. A truly charming and entertaining movie that any
Gainsbourg fan should see, even if you don’t speak French.
This disc is in French with no English subtitles.

Arrebato – Spain 1979.

Arrebato.

Made in 1979, this incredible art film by Spanish director Ivan Zulueta tells the delusional story of an independent filmmaker and his bizarre dissent into drugs, vampirism, and his own cinematic visions. While watching, one can’t help but see the connections to David Cronenberg’s Videodrome, which this film predates by 5 years!

This daring film combines the best elements of Bunuel, Arrabal, Cronenberg and Lynch without ever seeming derivative, phony or self-conscious.  Arrebato is without a doubt a lost classic that needs to be revived. Simply put, this is one of the most haunting, strange and original films you will ever see!

Asesino de Otros Mundos.

Asesino de Otros Mundos.

Santo, the masked Mexican wrestling superstar returns! This is one of the more unusual Santo movies out there, mainly because it strays from much of the normal Santo cinema formula. Gone are the long stretches of stock footage wrestling as well as numerous scenes of a turtle necked Santo drinking tea and driving his European sports car. No my friends, this one features more of a superhero Santo, complete with cape, taking on a Hitler like millionaire out to destroy the human race whose headquarters contains a moon room and guards with giant flame throwers! Not to mention the impending horror of the evil man eating blob. And did we mention the Ornette Coleman like free jazz soundtrack? It
truly does not get much better than this one!

Alyas Batman en Robin.

Alyas Batman en Robin.

This mind melting genre hodgepodge is a Filipino musical action comedy romance parody of the American TV show “Batman”. Filled with bizarre song and dance numbers centered around classic American oldies, like The Everly Brother’s “Bird Dog” or Danny & the Juniors “At the Hop!” the movie conveys a sense of humor that seems to be totally confined to it’s own corner of the world. For the rest of us, the effect is stupefyingly wonderful, in a painfully sublime kind of way. In other words, any and all fans of weirdo international cinema will certainly be hitting the proverbial jackpot when viewing this.

Featuring such Batman luminaries as The Joker, The Penguin and even a slightly out of place Spiderman midget, you can’t have more idiotic fun any place else!

The Bed-Sitting Room starring Dudley Moore.

The Bed-Sitting Room starring Dudley Moore.

Made in 1969 and based on the Spike Milligan play of the same name, The Bed-Sitting Room stars Dudley Moore, Peter Cook, Spike Milligan & Ralph Richardson and was directed by Richard Lester (the man who brought us HELP!, Superman II, The Knack & Royal Flash.) The story takes place in a post apocalyptic world where a group of bizarre people travel from one pile of burning rubble to the next repeatedly told by police to “keep moving”. Using a surreal starting point, the film establishes a fevered kind of satire about the evolution of man via objects, possessions and technology.

BIG COMMOTION

BIG COMMOTION.

Made in 1968, this episodic Help! inspired Japanese mod rock film is essentially a vehicle for the band The Spiders, whose sound comes off as a weird hybrid of The Beatles, The Ventures and the The Electric Prunes. The film starts with the Spiders tearing away from an overrun bus depot filled with screaming teenage fans. They make a break for it in their 64 Ford Galaxy 500 station wagon only to have a mod girl in a sports car crash into them. After undergoing some bizarre treatments in the hospital, it’s off to practice for their big Tokyo show that night. And from there, the films delves into weird episodic fantasy romps involving a battlefield, a soccer game, a wedding, a Sgt. Pepper’s inspired moment, a Charlie Chaplin segment and more. Mixing live concert footage, staged backstage practice sessions, and absurdly comic moments reminiscent of the Monkees, Big Commotion is like no rock film you have ever seen. The film is in Japanese with NO English subtitles, but the language bearer does not take away from the sheer lunacy and absolute love for 60’s era American music Highly recommended!

Cannabis.
Starring Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin.

Cannabis.

Starring a stubble faced, chain-smoking Serge Gainsbourg and a seemingly completely naked Jane Birkin, Cannabis is a French gangster movie that boasts a top-notch soundtrack by Gainsbourg. The story is about an international drug smuggling conspiracy and its eventual violent end. Featuring a memorable shoot out in a chicken coop, Cannabis is guaranteed blast for fans of Gainsbourg and Birkin.

The Committee.

The Committee.

The Committee is a 1968 British film made by Peter Sykes featuring a rare soundtrack by Pink Floyd. The story is a Kafkaesque existential study detailing a wandering man who is known only as a Draughtsman as he becomes part of a mysterious institution known as “The Committee.” Also on this disc is the amazing 18-minute film San Francisco, directed by Anthony Stern detailing 24 hours in the life of San Francisco in 1966. The soundtrack is a truly brilliant live version of Interstellar Overdrive.

And finally we have the rare 16 minute Syd Barrett documentary R.K. Barrett: A Day So Dark, So Warm.

The Fabulous Baron Munchausen.

The Fabulous Baron Munchausen.

Brilliant film adaptation of the incredible stories of Baron Munchausen mixing animation with live action, as well as incorporating a seemingly revolutionary technique of applying distinct and wildly varying color jells throughout the movie. Directed by Karel Zeman, who is known as the father of Czech animated film, “The Fabulous Baron Munchausen” is an astounding work of film genius, crafted with painstaking detail and dedication to truly capture the whimsical nature of Munchausen’s breezy, airy tall tales.
Anyone who loves the Terry Gilliam Munchausen film should certainly see this for a fascinating take on the same story. Karel Zeman certainly deserves a real revival and appreciation as a true visionary filmmaker.

Highly recommended!

The Fabulous World of Jules Verne.

The Fabulous World of Jules Verne.

Karel Zeman’s 1958 masterpiece is a breathtaking film, filled with visionary use of animation, graphics, painted sets, stop action animation and live action that bring the words of Jules Verne’s book “Facing The Flag” to life. Told in a muted late Victorian style, the film creates a world that seems both familiar and totally alien at the same time. Filmed in crisp black & white, the visuals are non stop astounding, driving the viewer into sensory overload with its elaborately painted sets made up of designs so ornate and impressive, they call for the pause button throughout.

Four Nights of a Dreamer.

Four Nights of a Dreamer.

The ‘dreamer’ is Jacques, a young painter who by chance runs into a woman, Marthe as she’s contemplating suicide on the Pont-Neuf in Paris. They talk and agree to see each other again the next night. Gradually he discovers that Marthe’s lover promised to meet her on the bridge that night but failed to show up. Over the next couple of nights, Jacques falls in love with her. But on the fourth night, her lover returns. For director Robert Bresson, this is a much lighter film than his usual fare but he turns the story into a beautiful human meditation on love, loss and life.

Godspeed, You Black Emperor.

Godspeed, You Black Emperor.

This obscure 1976 black & white documentary was director Mitsuo Yanagimachi’s first film. It documents the exploits of the Japanese biker gang The Black Emperors. From their “club” meetings to some near rumbles with other bike gangs, the film crew is allowed into just about every aspect of the gang’s existence. Watching this film certainly shows the vast difference between Japanese bikers and American bikers, which happens to be a monumental difference with the Japanese gangs seeming more like a social club than a lifestyle. Turned into a much sought after cult film thanks to the band of the same name, this subtle documentary is certainly deserving of it’s new found fame.

Groupie Girl.

Groupie Girl.

Made in 1971 and directed by the amazingly neglected Derek Ford, this British coming of age film has been strangely repackaged as a sexploitation film. Sure there is some nudity and sex, and its director made such classic sex films as Sexplorer and The Sex Express, but it’s far from the skin soaked celluloid of much of the early 70’s grindhouse films. It’s really a pretty right on youth film about a girl who dreams of meeting rock stars. She becomes a groupie and goes from band to band to band and eventually ends up addicted to drugs and surrounded by tragedy. In many ways it’s a damnation of the British rock scene of the 70’s, presenting the rock stars as drug using assholes (what a shock!). The soundtrack is about as good as they get (if you’re into late 60’s garage rock) and the film is actually quite good, despite its now bizarre exploitation associations. It seems to have packaged much of the mood and feeling of the late 60’s pretty well and it holds up nicely as a document of that time. A highly recommended lost film.

HEAD AGAINST THE WALL.

HEAD AGAINST THE WALL.

Director Franju is best known for his films Eyes Without a Face, Judex and the harrowing documentary Blood of the Beasts. Franju’s prior training in documentaries helps to bring a veneer of reality to this harrowing glimpse within the walls of an insane asylum. Pierre Brasseur plays Marbeau, a traditionalist “head doctor” who takes on the case of young Francois (Jean-Paul Mocky). Though not really insane, Francois has been institutionalized for daring to defy his wealthy father. The story is told from Francois’ point of view, as he teeters on the edge of madness during his involuntary internment. The film is essentially a plea for more sensible treatment of the mentally disturbed and the emotionally distressed, calling for much-needed widespread reforms — something that, alas, was not readily forthcoming in the late 1950s. Life Size.

Life Size.

Great 1974 Italian weirdo sex comedy starring iconic actor Michel Piccoli (La Grande Bouffe, Danger: Diabolik) about a man whose wife grows tired of his enormous amount of sexual kinks and eventually finds him cheating on her with his new lover, a life size love doll. Everything seems wonderful for the weirdo until he begins to think his new love doll may be cheating on him!
Filled with amazingly absurd straight-faced sex scenes between Piccoli and the love doll, Life Size is a brilliantly deadpan sex farce that deserves to be seen! Also starring Italian genre actress Rada Rassimov and written by Rafael Azcona who wrote many of Marco Ferreri’s best films!

Serie Noir.

Serie Noir.

The title Serie Noire refers to a popular French mystery series, and literally means “Black Series.” The story is based on American author Jim Thompson’s hardboiled detective story A Hell of a Woman and is close in spirit to the U.S. film noir mysteries of the 1940s. Frank Poupart (Patrick Dewaere) is a 30-year-old loser, a salesman who is barely scraping by whose wife has just left him “just to think things over.” He meets Mona (Marie Trintignant), a quiet, dreamy 15-year-old girl whose aunt has offered her to him for his sexual pleasure in return for a sweater. They become lovers and both of them see a way out of their impoverished dead-end existence when Mona tells him that her aunt (who is also her landlady) has a large stash of money hidden away. They decide to kill her, and also kill a Greek boxer who owes Frank money, making it look like a murder/suicide. When Frank’s wife returns to him, eager to begin their marriage again, he kills her out of sheer frustration. Later he is blackmailed by Staplin (Bernard Blier), his employer, and is left with no loot, no wife, three heinous crimes on his hands and a clueless adolescent girlfriend.

Ypotron.

Ypotron.

One could argue that Ypotron’s hero, secret agent Lemmy Logan, is nothing more than a cheap Italian knock off of James Bond. And you’d be right. But that doesn’t mean Ypotron doesn’t have a charm and psychedelic sophistication all it’s own. First there’s the fact that the now forgotten British beat band The Sorrows do the amazing theme song. Then take into account Nico Fidenco (Black Emanuelle) produced one of his finest film scores for Ypotron. Add on the fact that Logan has access to much cooler secret agent gadgets, like cigarette lighter communicators, instant oil slick capsules to derail people chasing you, a briefcase movie camera which not only develops the film automatically but will also project it onto a tiny screen, a receiver in a Norelco shaver, a nifty gadget that makes phones ring, and a radar tracking device in a Bible!

Oh yeah, the plot concerns a deadly weapon “space weapon” called Ypotron and Lemmy Logan’s mission to stop it’s deployment before it is too late!


ANNA
ANNA
France 1966
France 1966

©5minutestolive.

The End.

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