Making her theatrical debut in 1947, Jeanne Moreau went from actress and singer to director and screenwriter with this film, one of three she’d direct (along with L’Adolescente and Lillian Gish). It’s a semi-autobiographical tale about the lives four actresses, their loves and their friendship.
Nearing forty, Sarah (Moreau) invites her best friend Laura (Lucia Bosè, Arcana, Something Creeping In theDark), Caroline (Caroline Cartier, The Nude Vampire) and Julienne (Francine Racette, Four Flies On Grey Velvet) to stay a few days. Each woman has a tale of love to share — which makes this ironic that it’s a New World distributed picture, as it’s a classier version of the narrative in their occupation films — as Sarah has just left her longtime lover. Laura may be pregnant, but is having an affair with a woman. Caroline is unlucky in love and Julienne is dealing with the overly amorous attentions of an American actor (Keith Carradine).
Some could say this is a self-indulgent film about the women that Moreau knew. But it was all rather interesting and shows a side of women of a certain age that we never really get to see on film and is therefore brave of Moreau to share with us.
François Truffaut started collecting tales from and about children since he made The 400 Blows and used them in this film, including the story of his first kiss. The main kid is the motherless Patrick Desmouceaux (Geory Desmouceaux) and his friend Julien Leclou (Philippe Goldmann), who is dealing with abuse at home. Yet most of the movie is episodic, with kids getting in trouble, learning about love, going on dates, watching a cat in peril, bad haircuts and yes, that first kiss.
It ends with Julien’s abuse becoming known to all and a teacher telling the students, “Of all mankind’s injustices, injustice to children is the most despicable! Live isn’t always fair, but we can fight for justice. It’s the only way. It’s a slow process, but we do move forward. All people with power like to claim they are impervious to threats. But they do give in to pressure. A show of strength is the only way to get results. Adults understand that and they obtain what they ask for by demonstrating. I want to show that when adults are determined they can improve their lot. But children’s rights are totally ignored. Political parties are not concerned. With kids like Julien or you. Do you know why? Because children don’t vote! If kids had the right to vote, they would have better schools and sports facilities. You would get them because the politicians need your vote. You could come to school an hour later in winter instead of rushing out before daylight. I also want to say, because of my own childhood, I feel kids deserve a better deal. That is why I became a school teacher. Life isn’t easy. You must steel yourselves to face it. I don’t mean ‘hard-boiled’. I am talking about endurance and resilience. Some of us, who had a difficult childhood are better equipped for adult life than those who were overprotected by love. It’s the law of compensation. Life may be hard, but it’s also wonderful. When we are confined to the sickbed, we cannot wait to get out and enjoy life. We sometimes forget how much we really love it. Time flies. Before long, you will have children of your own. If you love them, they will love you. If they don’t feel you love them, they will transfer their love and tenderness to other people. Or to things. That’s life! Each of us needs to be loved!”
The translation of this movie’s French title L’Argent de poche is Pocket Money, but it was Steven Spielberg who came up with this title. He also directed Truffant in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
This movie feels like childhood does, small moments that begin to add up, many faces and friends finally giving way to one set group of friends and eventually, when you grow old and look back, memories. As I read back on that speech above, I see so much honesty in it.
How amazing that again, Roger Corman was the one to release this in America. There was even a paperback of the script, which Truffaut wrote with Suzanne Schiffman.
George Armitage wrote Gas-s-s-s, Private Duty Nurses, Night Call Nurses and Vigilante Force before scoring mainstream success with Miami Blues and Grosse Point Blank. He told Film Comment, “I wrote Darktown Strutters in three days, and the script form is all one sentence, the entire script is one sentence.”
While he had wanted to direct this, William Witney ended up making it. Witney was a Hollywood vet, starting all the way back at Republic where he worked n movie serials. He worked a lot with Roy Rogers and at the end of his career, made a few movies with Gene Corman, including I Escaped from Devil’s Island and this movie.
This is less a narrative film and more a collection of hijinks as a gang of black bikers interacts with the police, all until Syreena starts to search for her missing mother, Cinderella. Turns out an evil barbecue chain — with an owner in full Klan regalia — has her.
Tomorrow’s Hope is about The Beethoven Project, a school in the middle of the South Side of Chicago and one that tried to — as the title says — give hope to students who otherwise had none. It eventually became a project called Educare and this film is about three students from the first class: Crystal, who is about to go to college with the dream of being a psychiatrist; Jalen, who hopes to be a pediatrician and Jamal, who has a future in music.
Directed by Thomas A. Morgan (Storied Streets, Scrum) and produced by The Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation, this movie is just 45 minutes but instills a promise for tomorrow. For a program that began in the largest public housing project in America, this program has found committed teachers and students willing to put in the work to not only transform their lives, but the lives of everyone around them.
Christine (Eva Green) designs clothing for children and one day, at work, she has a breakdown after receiving a phone call. Then, a ghostly dog appears and shakes ticks and fleas all over her with one lodging at the nape of her neck. Her life is destroyed, her work suffers and she must take multiple drugs and sleep with a mask on just to keep some semblance of health. That’s when her new caregiver Diana (Chai Fonacier) — who she doesn’t remember hiring — comes to save her. Then again, as we’re in the realm of folk horror, much less Filipino folk horror and more specifically Bisaya/Cebuano folk horror, a lot can and will happen.
Her husband Felix (Mark Strong) distrusts Diane yet she’s able to return the spirit and health that Christine lost while being able to find a way to bond with Bobs (Billie Gadsdon), their unreachable daughter. Of course, that’s because she’s an ongo, a sorcerer of sorts who was given her powers when she watched an old woman die and her powers — in the form of a bird — flew into her mouth. While her power allowed her to heal the people around her, they also feared her and stayed away.
Felix finds Christine’s drugs, which have been hidden away, as well as an altar in Diane’s room. They make her leave the house but by then, the spell has been cast. The illness inside Christine is directly related to her destroying — man, spoilers on, obviously — Diane’s life when she demanded that the sweatshop that makes her clothes — the same place Diane made her living — increase production and be locked so that people can’t leave with her product. A fire soon destroys everything and because the door was locked, everyone dies, including Diane’s daughter while she watches helplessly outside, clutching the coconut water that her daughter had asked for.
Sadly, that tragedy in the factory is based on reality. The film’s credits have the Filipino song “Pugon” by The General Strike, a song all about the 2015 Kentex slipper factory fire that killed 74 people. The lyrics state:
They died at work This box caught fire Imprisoned and buried They were burned there In the factory that became a furnace
The credits feature the words “Justice for all Kentex fire victims.”
Sadly, it will have to be in this movie.
Directed by Lorcan Finnegan and written by Garret Shanley, the surprises may be easy to see, but to see capitalism destroyed in such a final way by someone that has been forgotten makes this a film worth watching.
If anything, this movie has a relationship that you want to see make it. Maja (Josephine Park) and Leah (Ellie Kendrick) meet cute in a library and accidentally switch books. As they meet up again to trade, the two go for tea, which turns into wine, which turns into the kind of relationship that shuts out of the rest of the world. Everything is perfect until a night when Leah has a seizure that breaks her leg. That’s when all the missed calls from her mother and avoidance of her past life all make more sense.
Maja goes with Leah back to her home in London, in the same building as her mother Chana (Sofie Gråbøl), a woman who seems to believe that only she can take care of her daughter. As you can imagine, there are the worries of a new relationship, much less what could be a forbidden one within the orthodox Jewish community where Chana and Leah live.
It might seem strange for anyone. But then throw in all those symbols, talk of demons and meetings with bookstore owner Lev (David Dencik) who reveals that there’s even more going on — he’s also Leah’s uncle and gets pulled into this drama — and you have quite the predicament for young love.
Director and writer Gabriel Bier Gislason allows the leads time to win you over while also building the tension with Jewish mysticism and mentions of golem and dybbuk. It’s intriguing to see a side of possession film outside of Catholic religion and Lev makes both great comic relief, source of exposition and someone who is amazed when what he has only read of in books because horrifyingly real.
Distributed by United Artists in director and co-writer François Truffaut’s native France, this was put out by New World in the U.S. It’s a love story about Adèle Hugo (Isabelle Adjani), the second daughter of Victor Hugo, and also was a love story for Truffaut, who fell for his twenty-year-old leading lady. She turned him down; dude, I saw Possession and yeah, I get it. I totally get it.
Also, by love story, I mean that Adèle spends the entire movie pining for Lieutenant Albert Pinson (Bruce Robinson), first in innocuous ways and then in ways that ruin his life and then in ways that grasp at straws, such as trying to have him hypnotized into loving her and attempting to connect with her dead by drowning sister from beyond the grave to aid her in winning over the military man.
She says at one point that she will walk across the ocean to be with her lover. She has built him up into near mythic levels of nobility and romantic power. Surely, were their relationship to ever be consummated, he could never live up to the man that he is inside her head. Again, I totally get it. While never consumed with the mania that she displays — the film ends with her wandering the streets of a foreign country, unable to even recognize Pinson but still in love with the man she conjured years before — I am guilty of falling in love with the people I have believed people to be, want them to be, need them to be and unfairly wondering why they can never live up to my near-impossible romantic notions. It’s a horrible thing to be in love with someone who does not exist as the person you know them as.orrible thing to be in love with someone who does not exist as the person you know them as.
It’s pretty amazing seeing how many movies from New World or distributed by Roger Corman are in the Criterion Collection: The Harder They Come, Cries and Whispers, Fantastic Planet, Amarcord and this movie. While Corman’s produced films may be about car crashes and half-nude nurses (in jail), he could certainly pick movies to champion.
The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum, or: How violence develops and where it can lead is based on the novel of the same name by Heinrich Böll and is an indictment of how society and the media can demonize women, which is a heady subject for a movie, again, distributed by Corman.
Katharina Blum (Angelina Winkler) is a housekeeper whose lawyer boss refers to as “The Nun” because of what a prude she is. Yet when she gets involved with Ludwig Götten (Jürgen Prochnow), an anarchist and bank robber, she gets her name hung out to dry in the tabloids and accused of aiding and abetting the would-be terrorist. That newspaper goes so far that it ruins all of Katharina’s relationships and even causes her mother to die in the hospital, misinterpreting her last words to make it appear like she hated her daughter.
Unable to get her own story out, she finally kills a reporter and his photographer. That reporter is buried as a hero, seen as someone using his ability to tell the real story. His coffin gives the film an opportunity to call out the yellow journalism of German tabloid Bild-Zeitung.
When this was made, West German tabloid newspapers worked hand in hand with the police to publish pretty much anything they wanted about anyone they wanted. The reporter makes up stories about Katharina for the entire film and then expects her to sleep with him because he gave her what so many people want. He made her famous.
Lucky Girls is the name New World Pictures gave to Qui comincia l’avventura or the even better title Blonde In Black Leather. It was directed by Carlo Di Palma, who is probably better known for his cinematography on movies like Mighty Aphrodite, Shadows and Fog, Hannah and Her Sisters, and, under the name Charles Brown, Terror-Creatures from the Grave. He also directed Teresa the Thief and was a focus puller all the way back in 1948 on Bicycle Thieves.
He co-wrote this film with Barbara Alberti, who also worked on one of my favorite films, Hotel Fear, and Amedeo Pagani, who had collaborated with Alberti on that film and The Night Porter.
What emerges is a charming romp in which the leather-clad Miele (Monica Vitti, dubbed by Carolyn De Fonseca) takes her friend Claudia (Claudia Cardinale, The Butterfly Affair) on an episodic adventure driven by the sheer force of the personality of its leads. Miele spends one moment having her leather suit hand polished while she’s wearing it; if you were Claudia, slaving in a laundrette for a horrible husband, wouldn’t you leave behind your mediocre life and jump on the back of Miele’s motorcycle?
There’s also an incredible moment where Miele and Claudia outfight every man in a casino and the scene almost takes on a filmstrip feeling where with each click, we’re seeing her knock out another man. As if that isn’t enough, the score by Riz Ortolani makes it all work even better.
By the end, maybe Miele is more of a tall tale teller than we originally believe, but she’s given agency and escape to Claudia. Consider this Thelma and Louise but with a happier close.
New World released this on a double feature with Candy Stripe Nurses, which is what I call a dream night at the drive-in.
The fabulous Temple of Schlock shared this image of it playing under the Blonde In Black Leather title.