conformist_poster   1970 – Bernardo Bertolucci                                                                             

“Everyone wants to be difference… but you want to be the same as everyone else”  


 Italy 1938:
A weak-willed man, crippled by dark secrets from childhood, is seduced by Fascism. Volunteering as an assassin for Mussolini’s secret police, he’s dispatched to Paris to kill his old professor, now a political dissident.                                                                              .

cam_03   Part political thriller, character study and torn love story, The Conformist is a fascinatingly drama that studies the psychology that lies behind Fascism.

 In a tale full of treachery, cowardice and sexual decadence – The Conformist makes a provocative connection between repressed sexual desires and fascist politics. Jean-Louis Trintignant plays Marcello Clerici, a man scarred by a childhood experience, who is obsessed with the idea of regaining a “normal” life by trying to fit into the Italian Fascist State. Weak willed, opportunistic and devoid of any moral centre, Clerici serves as a symbol of the corruption of Italian society.

Director Bernardo Bertolucci, still only 29 at the time, named Max Ophüls, Josef von Sternberg and Orson Welles as his idols and the staging of The Conformist is comparable to theirs in it’s sense of operatic self-confidence. In fact, The Conformist seems on occasion to be more a visual poem than a movie and, in spite of some of the dark themes of the film, it still manages to remain uplifting for its sheer breathtaking style.                                                                                                                                         Besides all else, The Conformist is an absolute explosion of cool!                                     The Conformist is acclaimed like few other films for its sumptuous visuals and extravagant, artful cinematography, ravishing compositions, production design, camera gymnastics and atmospheric resonance . Exquisitely photographed by Vittorio Storaro, the sum total is a blend of the sensual haziness of ’70s European art-house fare and the high-contrast, anxious angles of film noir.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       



Birth of a renaissance … Dominique Sanda & Stefania Sandrelli in The Conformist














 5easy_poster  1970 – Bob Rafelson                                                                             

“He Rode The Fast Lane On The Road To Nowhere.”  


Bobby Dupea, a drop-out from the upper-class, struggles to find meaning in a rootless, blue collar existence in America’s West. When he is drawn back home to his family’s estate to attempt a reconciliation with his dying father, his inner conflict deepens.                                                                              .

cam_03 The identity crisis that wracked American society in the late 60s and early 70s was reflected in a dramatic shift in American film. There was now a strong reaction against some of the earlier traditions of American storytelling in film, often typified by the John Wayne western, where existential questions could be resolved through the direct action of a morally self-assured protagonist.                                                                           Many contemporary film makers now shifted their focus inwards towards an greater expression of the inner world of their characters in an attempt to reconcile many of the uncertain and often contradictory elements they encountered in this new moral landscape of American society. And when this increased emphasis on the psychological components of the individual and how that might serve as a reflection of society at large, were blended with a new freedom of expression through the increasing influence of the French “New Wave” –  a new high point in American film was the result. Of the many of masterpieces produced during this rebirth, few stand out like Bob Rafelson‘s Five Easy Pieces.                                                                                                                                                              Although it is true to the spirit of the times, and there are no easy answers to moral questions in Five Easy Pieces, that doesn’t mean that it is an overly sombre affair. Here is a work of art that delights in many dramatic shades – from the many instances of anarchic black humour through to the most beautifully poised, heart felt moments of drama.                                                                                                                                Jack Nicholson, who had garnered deserved attention the year before in Easy Rider, was confirmed as a genuine powerhouse star in Five Easy Pieces, and his performance of the charismatic but restless, alienated and self-obsessed Bobby Dupea, still ranks as one of his best of his stellar career. And Karen Black, as Bobby’s uneducated and downtrodden girlfriend Rayette, gives a nuanced portrayal of such naked vulnerability that the likes of which have rarely been seen before or since. Above all else, Rafelson and co-writer Adrien Joyce refuse to degenerate into gross sentimentality or sermonising, but lightly yet effectively touch on themes of morality and mortality, family and masculinity, identity and existence.                                                                                                       Five Easy Pieces is a film of stark, superbly judged and beautifully sustained contrasts. It contains some of the most memorable scenes in all cinema, and an ending that is such a master touch that it will echo long afterwards in your thoughts.                                                














 devilsposterA  1971 – Ken Russell                                                                                                

“Hell holds no surprises for them.”  


In 17th-century France, Father Urbain Grandier seeks to protect the city of Loudun from the corrupt establishment of Cardinal Richelieu. Hysteria occurs within the city when he is accused of witchcraft by a sexually repressed nun.

cam_03  The film critic Pauline Kael once described British film-maker Ken Russell as “an appalling talent” – and there can be is no doubt that he has been responsible for some of the most tasteless, excessive and flatly ridiculous works in the history of cinema. Where most directors are ascetic, Russell is the consummate glutton – often gorging himself on every manner of cinematic overindulgence and cliche, occasionally to the point of producing a sense of abject nausea in the viewer.                                                                   And yet… looking beyond his trademark “baroque vulgarity”, Russell’s work is also notable for its intensity, ferocity, and imaginative boldness. A certain type of creative energy and verve that only comes from a deep and authentic personal expression that, if all the stars were aligned, just might produce something special. That masterpiece could be The Devils.

Based partially on the 1952 novel, in turn based on historical events, The Devils of Loudun by Aldous Huxley, Russell plunges headlong into a twisted world bursting at the seams with pernicious political intrigue, religious psychopathy, unbridled savagery, wanton psycho-sexual abandon, witchcraft and mass hysteria. The results of which is a heady brew of phantasmagoria, the likes of which had never been committed to film before. Immediately upon release it caused a storm of controversy, being banned in many countries and existing in many heavily censored versions, and everywhere attracting many scathing reviews. One critic called it a “grand fiesta for sadists and perverts”.

If only for this infamy, The Devils would probably still be remembered, but what really qualifies this film as a potential work of genius is Russell’s unique interpretation of the material. It starts with his anarchistic blending of elements of modernity into a historical drama – the astonishing set designs were designed by Derek Jarman, before he began directing his own movies. The huge set for the walled city and the stark white-tiled convent, cheekily modeled on public lavatories of the time, rank right up with 2001 A Space Odyssey as some of the most audacious production design ever. Complemented by Shirley Russell’s costumes, avant-garde composer Peter Maxwell Davies‘ powerful score and the brilliant cinematography of David Watkin – it all results in a electrifying fusion of the past, present… and the timeless.                                                                                       The bravura performances the two central characters are also stand outs! In the best role of his career, Oliver Reed as Father Grandier is the spirit made flesh! – aloof, ironic and brusque but also rampantly masculine, sensual and magnetic. And he even manages to under score his rock star charisma with an authentic sense of piety. Vanessa Redgrave too is transfixing as the crazed hunchback nun, Sister Jeanne – pitiful and hateful in equal parts, she gives a totally enthralling portrait of the human spirit torn apart by frustration and loneliness.

The Devils is almost guaranteed to polarise any audience – it can be most confronting, extreme and not a little unhinged. But love it or hate it, for film fans interested in a unique cinema experience, it simply can’t be dismissed.                                                                     















  conversationPoster 1974 – Francis Ford Coppola                                                                                                

“We’ll be listening to you.”  


Harry Caul,  a lonely and secretive surveillance expert who is haunted by his past, has a crisis of conscience when he suspects that a couple he is spying on will soon be murdered.

cam_03     The Conversation is a tour de force in its blending of a powerful character drama with a slow burning conspiracy thriller. As vibrant and pertinent today as when it was made – this luminous masterpiece is one the most significant American films of the 1970’s.

The Conversation captures the zeitgeist of a time when American society was grappling with the horrors of the Vietnam War and the American Dream-souring revelations of the Watergate scandal. Here is a deeply ambiguous world where ethics are build on shifting sands and behind every ideal might lie a infesting wound. The film draws heavily on this atmosphere of high anxiety to construct a mesmerising tale with an edgy yet masterfully simplistic execution.                                                                                   The Conversation focuses on the moral issues arising from the emergence of the surveillance state with its all pervasive voyeurism and annihilation of privacy, and its subsequent questions of perception versus reality. The film clearly suggests that moral disintegration, on both a personal and social level, begins with the abnegation of responsibility. So when Harry Caul, dismissively says at one point in the film, “I don’t know about human nature”, he seems to sum up the moral disorder of an entire society as well as his own.                                                                                                          Considered to be his most personal work, Coppola cites Michelangelo Antonioni‘s Blowup as a major influence and this seems reflected in the film’s deliberate pacing. A subtle ambiance develops, perhaps more European than American in style, in which there is ample space to reflect on this psychologically acute, visually striking modernist work.                                                                                                                         Francis Ford Coppola‘s writing and direction is stylish and incisive, and never lets the levels of tension subside or the complicated plot get muddled. Walter Murch‘s editing and inspired sound collage – including taped conversations, stifled voices, background and other mechanically-generated noises, are absolute outstanding features of the film. David Shire‘s reoccurring piano inhabits the film with a haunting atmosphere and the cinematography by Bill Butler is marvelously mechanical like a piece of surveillance equipment. The acting too is superbly crafted – Gene Hackman, at the height of his powers, is assisted by brilliant contributions from John Cazale and Allen Garfield and others.

Engrossing from the very first memorable frame to the last –The Conversation is multi-layered, intelligent and…haunting.                                             















Get_Carter_poster 1971  –  Mike Hodges                                                                                                

“Jack’s Return Home” 


A London gangster returns to his home town for the funeral of his brother. Determined to learn the true circumstances of his death, he ruthlessly pursues his vengeance amongst the local underworld.

cam_03 This landmark British thriller has a hallowed reputation as one of the best crime films of all time.                                                                                                                         Hard-boiled, ice cold and gritty in such a certain way that only the British seem to understand – if Samuel Beckett wrote a gangster film, it might come out something like Get Carter. Here the “swinging 60s” is transposed over the slow-burning existential terror  of working class Newcastle, and exposed as a absolute dead end.                                    At the centre of this abject bleakness is the iconic performance by Michael Caine – Jack Carter is played with such chilly authority that he is the complete epitome of ironic cool. Capable of wry and darkly humourous observations, and ocassional moments of reflection that give us subtle hints of something deeper, Caine’s Carter is nonetheless as comforting as a shard of plate glass on a frosty night.                                                           Director Mike Hodges‘s stylish but naturalistic approach, aided by Roy Budd’s minimalist soundtrack, slowly builds a sure feel for the underbelly of society.                                   Get Carter is impossible to imitate or to under rate.  













AguirreGermanPoster_ 1972  – Werner Herzog                                                                                                 

On this river, God never finished his creation.



In the 16th century, the ruthless and insane Don Lope de Aguirre leads a Spanish expedition into the impenetrable jungles of Peru in search of El Dorado, the legendary city of gold.

cam_03 One of the great haunting visions of the cinema!                                                       The first and most famed collaboration between New German Cinema director Werner Herzog and eccentric leading man, Klaus Kinski, this epic historical drama was legendary for the arduousness of its on-location filming and the convincing zealous obsession employed by Kinski in playing the title role. It leaves you feeling as if you are watching a documentary rather than a fictionalized drama. In some ways, what you are seeing is less storytelling than a visually disturbing fever dream and nothing short of the absolute truth.  An essential hallucination, subsequently mined by Coppola, Weir and Malick but Aguirre, The Wrath of God is unsurpassed in its vision of the withering yet liberating madness beneath our armor.












sweetback_poster01 1971  – Melvin Van Pebbles                                                                                                 

“You bled my momma – you bled my poppa – but you won’t bleed me “



Sweetback, a performer in a sex show, is captured by the police, violently interrogated and framed for murder. After he defends a Black Panther from a brutal assault, he breaks out he flees through decrepit South Central Los Angeles. Using his formidable abilities, he evades the manhunt by any means necessary.

cam_03 One of the most polarising American films ever made!                                              Written, produced, scored, edited, directed by, and starring Melvin Van PeeblesSweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song is raw, low budget and totally independent – and amongst the first, and most important examples of African American cinema.                                  Born out of the climate surrounding the civil rights struggle, it is seen as a potent reaction to the general depiction at the time by Hollywood of African Americans as, stereotyped, marginalized and disempowered.                                                        Lauded as a militant yet refreshing cinematic breakthrough for black aesthesis in film (it was mandatory viewing for the Black Panther Party), or condemned as crass and lurid merchandising of social injustice, it somehow comes across as a audacious mix of both commercial and ideological ingredients.                                                                                   Totally uncompromising and ocassionaly grindingly repetitive, it nevertheless accumulates a kind of hallucinatory groove, with unexpected shafts of bizarre humour and vigorous, experimental new wave direction (psychedelic negative images, split screen etc.). Trailblazing and certainly one of a kind, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song, led to the creation of the  blaxploitation genre.

Rated X by an all white jury!