Gerard Brach

Gerard Brach

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Frantic Review


Excellent
It's a common nightmare. A simple mistake -- a mixed-up bag at the airport -- lands you in a world of shit far away from familiar surroundings. In this case, Harrison Ford plays an American in Paris whose wife goes missing while he's in the shower at their hotel. Soon he's mixed up in a drug ring and a smuggling gig, with a sexy vixen (Emmanuelle Seigner, wife of director Roman Polanski) along for the ride. Polanski paces the film very deliberately, with Ford in almost every scene, proving he's an exceptional actor. It's surprisingly taut, quite realistic, and worth watching. It isn't Polanski's greatest work, but it's a great success.

Blueberry Review


Excellent
Moebius, aka Jean Giraud, is best known as the artist who revolutionized Continental comic books in the 1960s and 1970s. His work, highly stylized and fittingly surreal, is synonymous with science fiction illustration and the premier adult fantasy comic magazine, Metal Hurlant (Heavy Metal, in the states.) While he began his work as an illustrator for various French magazines and fanzines, it wasn't until the 1970s, when he adopted the pen name Moebius, that his work became internationally recognized. Despite his frequent forays into science fiction and fantasy, his western strip Blueberry (with Jean-Michel Charlier) is perhaps his best-known work. While Mike Blueberry, the cowboy hero of the eponymous strip, has traveled the dusty back roads for over 30 years there has not been a film adaptation of his adventures until now.

Jan Kounen, the Dutch cause celebre responsible for the hyperactive cult film Dobermann, tackles the epic story of Blueberry with a careful, almost blissed out style - much to the dismay of fans of his earlier work. Blueberry is a meditative work, a somnambulist's ramble through western history and psychedelica. The film is slowly paced but crescendos in a special effects blowout, a literal celluloid peyote trip, which would make Alejandro Jodorowsky jump with joy. (That isn't a random aside, Blueberry is as close an homage to Jodorowsky's El Topo as a big budget western can get.)

Continue reading: Blueberry Review

Cul-De-Sac Review


Very Good
Roman Polanski's character study is strange, creepy, and often compelling. The freaky foursome in the film are a pair of criminals on the run and a husband and wife in whose home they uninvitedly take up residence. The criminals (including Lionel Stander, the butler from Hart to Hart) turn the husband (Donald Pleasence) into a snivelling fool, while the wife (Françoise Dorléac) is alternately a vamp and a freaked-out basket case. How they interact -- and how this all ends up -- is devilishly interesting, though it's ultimately not terribly believable.

The Fearless Vampire Killers Review


Very Good
Even when he's at his most serious (The Pianist), his most stately (Tess), his most gruesome (Macbeth), Roman Polanski is a director with a keen, sardonic black wit. The "real" world, for Polanski, is one in which you might find human teeth embedded in the walls, where the neighbors might happen to be Satanists, where Donald Pleasance appears in drag. It's scary, but for Polanski (who lived through unimaginable horrors himself), it's blackly funny, too. And if the material is ostensibly quite heavy, as it is in The Pianist, so much the better. Weren't Nazis a kind of monster after all? How absurd was their rise to power? And how absurd the situations in which his protagonist found himself obliged to live?

Still, there are few declared comedies in Polanski's filmography. The best of these, 1967's The Fearless Vampire Killers (known outside the U.S. as Dance of the Vampires, and the basis of a recent, successful, European stage musical), is newly available on DVD.

Continue reading: The Fearless Vampire Killers Review

Gerard Brach

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