Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Niyazi Gül Dörtnala (2015)

Niyazi Gül is a lauded local vet, known both for his charming attitude with animals, and his girm principles. e's alao completely oblivious to an infatuated secretary/maid, and perpetually unable to find the last ingredient to his grandfather's miracle elixir for animals. One day he thinks he's finally found it, and two rival horse racers [gangsters] get wind. Each trying to come out on top, they conspire to either blackmail or threaten Niyazi for his serum...

Niyazi Gül Dörtnala in an enjoyable modern comedy. =

The plot is fairly straightforward, and develops at a good pace. It's got enough going on to be engaging, while also not overflowing with unnecessary subplots or convoluted twaddle. The last act does get a bit weird, when the serum is perfected, but it all works relatively well, and is funny at the least

The movie is very funny, with both = dialogue, physical humour, and more. My favourite being the wine bottle toss (a great example of slapstick, and character!)

characters   Hediye meanwhile is a delight! Both maid, secretary, and lab assistant to the professor, she's also madly in love with him, and tries coming onto him in various ways, with little success. She's amusingly mother-ish, acting beyond her years as like a [nagging] wife. She also has a near-constant litany of hilarious and elaborate insults, from "May your hands stick together! May your ass be boiled in hell's cauldron's!" to "May guinea pigs eat your peppers and tomatoes!", and "May jackals eat your asses!"

My only complaint is that since there's the 3rd act break-up as it were, plus her being kidnapped/held hostage, she gets less screentime and interaction with Niyazi in the last act, and we don't really see them being romantic until the very end. This is all understandable though, and what we do get is great. The ending to the film is [understated] and sweet.

The villains are surprisingly neat! They're over-the-top evil schemers, but both with softer sides. All of the scheming and = that Riza goes through isn't for money, power, fame, or anything, but instead just to win Sultan's hand. It's kinda sweet, in a = way, especially when seeing Sultan's own feelings towards him. They're pretty multi-dimensional, and she unloads to her = in a really effective scene later on. From thoughtful, to silly, dramatic, and fun, there's a lot to enjoy with this duo.

The rest of the cast are  too, from the dopey but friendly store clerks, =, Sultan's [manservant] Suleiman, and more.

Ata Demirer is a good lead, playing the hero well with both straightfaced deliveries and comedy moments. One thing that amused me was a flashback scene to his younger years, and the make-up used actually seems to make him look older than in the present! Oops! Sebnem Bozoklu is great as the fiery maid, and Demet Akbağ and Levent Ülgen are fun villains.

One major surprise to me was seeing Kevork Malikyan's name in the credits! He's a Turkish actor, but worked a lot in English media, namely the superb U.K. sitcom Mind Your Language, where he played the Greek student Max. This was my first time seeing him in another language, and he does a great job! With his face alone he is extremely expressive, and a real highlight of the film. He gets lots to do too, never wasted.

The soundtrack here is your typical Oriental rhythms and tunes, which is a positive. They're always a treat to listen too. I especially dug the lower-key synth track during Niyazi's nighttime freakout. It sounds against type, in a cool way.

Niyazi Gül Dörtnala is a fum time. A bit weird and over-the-top, but in all the right ways for me.

Monday, November 16, 2020

It's a Great Feeling (1949)

In the backlots of Hollywood, temperamental actor Jack Carson is assigned to direct his own starring picture, after everyone else in the industry takes a hard pass. Together with his rival and costar Dennis Morgan, he has to get the picture together or he's out of a salary. Luck comes along with the arrival of smalltown waitress Judy Brown, eager to become a star, and the perfect pawn to further their plans...

It's a Great Feeling is a very funny little gem! Coming early in Doris Day's filmography, it's a big in-joke from Hollywood, set on the Warner Brothers' lot and featuring appearances from just about everybody who was anybody, from directors to stars. The plot reflects Day's own rise to stardom, but with more hijinx, because real life is sadly too boring.

At first I thought the story would be focusing on these two dopes trying to get this picture made with this hopeful new actress, but the crux of the movie is moreso on trying to get her cast. I'm mixed on this. On one hand this is all very funny, but I would've liked to see them actually make Madamoiselle Fifi. Still, their repeated attempts to manipulate the producer are great, driving the poor guy around the bend!

The plot of bringing an innocent smalltown girl into stardom is an old and hoary one, and the movie knows this. While this is still a plot that can definitely work time and time again, it can be annoyingly cliched if done improperly. It's a Great Feeling has a funny spin on it the whole time. I also respected/appreciated that the climax ends up turning the whole idea on its head, and going the reverse. Although I do think the movie overestimates the difficulty of/how difficult it'd be to get someone who looks like Doris Day cast in a movie.

The ending is a little disappointing. It is a hilarious reveal, and a perfect ending, but the movie also just stops, basically, and we never find out how everything ends up. We can infer I guess, but I wanted to know what happened! Did the movie get made? Did she say yes? These and more lingering questions were on my mind as the credits rolled.

The comedy in It's a Great Feeling is often hilarious! The scene with the train conductor is one of the best, and has a jawdropping finish. Some of the jokes do go just a little overboard though, like the very end of the train station scene, or the ending of the screen test, where it goes beyond a simple editing stuff-up and into intentional messing about territory. I also disliked the Cousin Itt speak that warbles during the producer swaying scene. It's a shame, as the scene is otherwise really funny, but almost a little spoiled by the sound effects.

The cameos are pretty fun, though can sometimes verge on the obnoxious, with all the 'Hey, look over here, it's a famous celebrity, ' moments. Although this may not matter if you don't even recognise the people in question. My favourite cameos were those of Joan Crawford and Edward G. Robinson. It's fun to see them as regular people, in amusing subversions of their onscreen personas.

The dialogue is fluffy and amusing, with many one liners or gags. My favourite bit of dialogue was "Even though Mr. Trent had a nervous breakdown and has to go away, and the picture is cancelled, and they foreclosed on your house, I want you both to know I'm not discouraged one bit!"

The cast do great. Dennis Morgan and Jack Carson play fictionalised versions of themselves, and are  conniving and backbiting while also still remaining likeable and friendly. They have great chemistry, and make for a duo almost as fun as Hope and Crosby. Doris Day rounds out the trio superbly, lending an air of innocent fun. She gets to be happy, sad, exasperated, and pissed off. Bill Goodwin is funny as the increasingly neurotic producer, and Claire Carleton is nice, though sorely underused.

The songs here are few and far between, but in a nice way. There's a decent amount of tracks, and while this isn't a full musical, they make for an occasional treat. The performers all do well, The score is very nice too, with good tunes throughout. The funniest is the Fats Waller-esque Big Fat Lie, although it scared me at first when Jack recommends singing it in French! As someone who's seen Doris Day sing in another accent for real, I can tell you I never want to see it again! But thankfully it's funny when it's for laughs, and Carson does the goofy singing for that part.

The direction here is great! There are many stylishly shot scenes, with my favourite being the moonlit night out by the Hollywood Bowl. There's also an amusingly bizarre dream sequence, and fun scene transitions too.

Whether you're into old Hollywood, or are just a fan of Doris Day, It's a Great Feeling is best summarised by its title. Great to watch, and never dull...

Please Don't Eat The Daisies (1960)

I had a reasonably good childhood, in that I saw at least a few Doris Day movies when I was a young'in. I was always eager to catch any classical films I could. One such movie was Please Don't Eat the Daisies, and I had a fun time with it, and yet was unable to finish it, since the movie ran to almost 2 hours, 3 with adbreaks! Some things are beyond a child's patience, even one who loves classic cinema! But for years I've been eager to revisit the film, all the way through this time, and now I've finally got the chance...

Kate and Larry Mackay are a married couple with four misbehaving kids, smack dab in the city centre, trying to earn a living. While happy, there are problems they face, such as rarely seeing each-other due to Larry's demanding job, and =. Things change when he quits his teaching position to become a theatre critic, and despite his protests to the contrary, a change begins to come over Larry, and he develops more of a mean streak. =...

Based on the book of the same name, Please Don't Eat the Daisies is a fun time. It's funny, has a good story to tell, successfully captures the stress and frustration of this couple. You really feel for them, and are invested in their struggles.

Kate and Larry are fine lead characters. They're likeable, but with believable flaws. Kate is nice and supportive, but also isn't assertive enough, not putting her foot down enough with either Larry or the roughshod kids. Larry is nice and caring, but begins to grow colder and snobbier as hs job takes him up in the world. To some it might seem a bit out of character how this guy who swore he'd never change ends up changing so quickly. Although on the other hand this is perhaps a  strength of the film, showing just how easy it can be for even a regular person to fall into such a trap, saying they'll be ok one day, then ignoring their own advice the next.

Kate's mother is nice and reasonable, often acting as a font of wisdom, namely in the reverse psychology laden ending (at least, I hope that's what she was going for!). The kids meanwhile are mercifully a fun presence. They're misbehaving and spoiled, but are never too bad, and never brats. The movie nails a good balance between naughty, but not too much.

Actress Deborah Vaugh seems like the stereotypical homewrecker, but is actually surprisingly nice, not to mention fun. While she may give off looks that say "I want you below me in the bedroom, stud!", she never once actually makes a move on Larry, and the two have cool interactions. I would've liked to see more. I also dug her exchanges with Joe at the end.

Alfred  townspeople  so what we think it's a good enough play to perform

Where Daisies doesn't excel in is the length. Some movies can be 2 hours long, but this isn't one of them. It's never boring or overlong, and I was never wanting to throw myself from a balcony, but it's still too long for a movie with this story. It could have easily lost 20 minutes. I also thought the ending was a little quick, which is something that should never happen with a film this long. I'm also bummed ou that we/Larry never actually get to see the play in action.

I also had a problem with the country move. It's not that I don't like that story, or thought it was a bad idea, but just didn't like the execution as much. This is because the movie builds up this negative critic storyline, only for it to be interrupted by the move, then the move gets interrupted by the critic storyline. In trying to focus on both, it instead can't pay enough attention to either.

This was an interesting role to see Day in. It's nothing too out of the norm, but she gets more of a chance to flex some genuine drama skills, moreso than in her usual domestic comedies. David Niven is great too, both as an affable nice guy, and as a more frayed and grumpy one. This was the angriest I've seen him at times! He and Day share good chemistry, even if I do find the idea of them dating weird. It's not that they're a bad item, but you always imagine Doris Day as young, and David Niven old, and have a hard time = that they were actually in the same age range, more or less.

The rest of the performers all do well, from Janis Paige as the sultry vamp, to Spring Byington as the wise mother/in-law, Richard Haydn as the long-suffering producer friend, Jack Weston as would be playwright Joe, and all the actors playing the kids. And of course it would be remiss of me not to mention the amazing dog!

While the film isn't a musical for the most part, Doris/Day still gets to show off her musical skills, from a cheery stage rehearsal, to a fun recital of Please Don't Eat the Daisies with a group of schoolchildren.

To finish, Please Don't Eat the Daisies is a charming movie, and well worth a watch for fans of Day and Niven, as well as anyone else who's interested...

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Danger: Diabolik (1968)

Masked supercriminals were a dime a dozen during the 60s in Italy. They all have the common ancestor of French pulp villain Fantomas, but each brought something fun and different to the table, regardless of how derivative they were. It was a fun time for eurocrime fans! The best of these by far was Diabolik, still a popular comic character in his homeland to this day, and yet he only ever had one movie! A disappointment for sure, but at least the one film he did get has long been hailed as a classic...

In the European city of Clerval, archcriminal Diabolik reigns. Striking from nowhere, he steals everything he sets his eye on, and makes the police and government look like fools. Eventually he earns the ire of sadistic gang lord Valmont, and the two come to blows. How will the masked thief deal with all these opponents at once? Or rather, how will they deal with him?...

The story to Danger: Diabolik is an effectively simple one. It's just about this rogue stealing valuables and outwitting the police, with no other distractions. No complexities necessary here, as the movie easily centres the action on this in a way that never feels boring or lacking. It's great fun watching the cat and mouse game between Diabolik and his opponents, seeing the insurmountable odds he's up against, and wondering how he'll make it.

The film also has amusing commentary on useless ineffective police bureaucracy, in a way that's not exactly subtle, but never meant to be, and it's funny in a way that's never overbearing.

One of the few problems I have with Danger: Diabolik is that is is a bit long, and some scenes do drag a bit. The Italian version is 100 minutes, while other cuts are about 10 minutes shorter, mercifully so, feeling a bit more streamlined.

It also runs out of steam by the end. The main villain dies when there's still about an hour left, leaving the movie to amble on aimlessly for the next 40 minutes. I know the encounter with Valmont was never intended to be the finale, but they could've shifted it a little further ahead, or trimmed the fat in-between.

Diabolik has both the roles of villain and hero, and is always fun to follow, with we audience rooting for him. The only moments that seem weird are when he seems to kill some policemen, which goes against the character from the comics, and makes him go too far. Making them look like fools is one thing, but stabbing them to death or crashing their cars over cliffs feels more deranged and psychotic. The ending is the culmination of Diabolik's character, as he's managed to pull of another perfect heist by the skin of his teeth, only to realise things might not be as perfect as they seem, and could bring everything he's earned crashing around him.

The gangster Valmont makes for a good antagonist, even if it's clear he's totally outclassed. It's still fun to watch a he goes from seemingly having the upper hand to losing the whole deck. And lastly, Inspector Ginko  The remainder of the cast is  with an on-form Terry-Thomas being a delightfully funny presence.

John Phillip Law is a great villain/protagonist, nailing the role of Diabolik down pat. He has the perfect stance, the slender movements required, and always has the air of being on his toes, and having an ace always up his sleeve. His booming evil laugh is great, and his delivery effective. Marisa Mell is equally good, gorgeous and seductive, and you really believe her as a gun moll. Adolfo Celi is an entertaining villainous presence, while Michel Piccoli is fine as the strong arm of the law.

There are many thrilling setpieces here, from the heist at the beginning, to the theft of the emeralds, retrieving the gold, and the battle between Diabolik and Valmont, which is pretty spectacular! The lengths he goes to to win are really something, and his opponents seriously underestimated him.

The direction is stunning. Famous horror icon Mario Bava proves himself perfectly suited in other genres, and makes up for his abominable Dr. Goldfoot sequel in one fell swoop. Everything is shot through a stylish lens, and the camera does some interesting stylistic tricks to, like the disorientating spinning effects. They work on a visual level, but also have a kind of metaphorical flair to them too, if I'm not looking too much into things.

The overall look of the film is special too. It's a perfect time capsule to the 60s. when everything was groovy, swinging, and like totally far out man. The outfits are both unique and garish without being ridiculous or stupid. And the locations are awesome, especially Diabolik's lair. Everything visually that Danger: Diabolik has to offer is nothing short of spectacular.

The score is another great addition to the movie, and one of its most defining features. Composed by Ennio Morricone, it's groovy, fun, and has some varied tracks, like the triumphant piece that plays during the theft of the gold. The main theme Deep Deep Down is great, even if it is repeated a bit much.

50 years later, Danger: Diabolik still remains the gold standard of 60s crime capers, and shows that Diabolik is the best in the business for a reason...

Satanik (1968)

Marnie Bannister is an elderly and disfigured female scientist. Angry at the world, she murders a fellow scientist and steals his new youth serum, his warnings that anyone who takes it will turn homcidal going unheeded. Now beautiful, the malevolent Satanik begins plotting a string of heists and murders, all to make herself better. But how long can she last before the formula wears off, or drives her hopelessly insane? And will the dogged Inspector Trent catch her before she can do more harm?...

Satanik is a rather misleading film. It presents itself as a masking supercriminal film along the same vein as Diabolik, with a poster to match, but when you actually sit down to watch the movie, it doesn't deliver. It definitely has a swinging sixties Eurocrime vibe, but the titular antagonist doesn't don a mask until the final 15 minutes.

As far as I know a pretty faithful recreation of the original comics. That series would go on to have more fantastical elements, including ghosts, monsters, and even a vampire named Baron Wurdulak. Obviously all of the stuff is absent, but that's not a problem since this is only the first movie. I can't imagine even an Italian studio back then making a masked supercriminal feature with werewolves, but stranger things have happened. I for one would have loved to see that!

The beginning of the film is brisk, to the point, and has a nice spooky atmosphere. Thunder booms and mad scientists fiddle with beakers, creating madness goop that turns people crazy! It's a 10 minutes that sets us up wonderfully for what's about to come.

The lead 'protagonist's' personality and motives are summed up immediately, in an effective way. Although, considering she immediately jumped to murder in order to get the formula, I'm willing to bet it didn't exactly make her any crazier than she already was. Perhaps if the movie wanted a bigger impact, she should have taken the formula innocently, then stabbed the doctor to death once it took its effects.

The film's structure is pretty good. A little slow in places, but overall I enjoyed myself. Some people are quite negative to the movie, and I can see why in some areas, though going into it with those critiques in mind didn't automatically spoil the movie for me. As for my opinion, I think Satanik's misleading nature can be a problem if you go in expecting what it's selling, but even then she's a fairly neat supercriminal. Although her plans don't exactly get as complex as Diabolik's or Kriminal's could be.

Things can get a little confusing in places, like when we see a redhead babe in a nightie and panties  who actually turns out to be a completely different character! I thought she was Satanik herself, given the looks and hair colur , then when the real Satanik showed up I wondered if this was like a visual split personality deal, but nope, just two random characters looking the same.

The characters that populate the movie are pretty good, from the noble but overworked Inspector Trent, to the various men Satanik seduces and murders, and the crime lord she manipulates, which may be biting off more than she can chew.

The only real disappointing part of the film for me was the climax. Despite the movie building up to a big heist, nothing happens, and all we get is a striptease, before Satanik is spotted the police and scarpers, giving way for one last chase. An all round letdown of an ending, with little trace of fun.

The direction in Satanik is very creative. Some scenes are filmed from interesting angles and heights, the transitions can be inventive, and there's an all-round care into what's being presented onscreen/visually. Sure, the majority of it might be strip-shows of Magda Konopka, but hey, they're well directed strip-shows!

Visually, Satanik is pretty neat. Cheap in places, and the absence of a good costume for the majority of the runtime hurts it, but a lot of the locations are cool, and the fashion is neat! Ridiculous in the ways you would expect from the swinging sixties, but neat all the same! The make-up for old Marnie at the beginning are pretty rubbish though. She looks more like a decaying zombie than an old woman! If that's what they were going for, congratulations, give the effects man a raise! But otherwise, maybe give him a word out back.

The score here ultra groovy! The main theme has an almost Bondian feel, and the rest of the soundtrack follows suit  My only complaint is that at times the action onscreen doesn't really have a chance to breath. Case in point the ending, where what should have been a moment to hold the silence for instead immediately blared the DUN, DA DA DA DUN in less than 5 seconds.

Overall, Satanik isn't a great picture, and the problems that many have with it are at least true to an extent, with the only variable being how much you feel personally. These issues aside it's still a fun Italo-crime flick, and I don't think it's one to be steered clear of. Just don't go in expecting it to totally match the Diabolik vibe and you should enjoy yourself just fine...