Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Heavy stuff

My cat, Bebert, the image that I have as my icon here, has died.

I woke up this morning and found him dead outside the door.

It was completely unexpected. He was about eight years old and was his usual self last night and early in the morning, even up to a couple of hours before.

This was not what I needed at this point, when the new anti-depressants I was taking and whose dose had then been increased seemed to be working; when I was back on track PhD wise, and when things (sleeping, eating, alcohol consumption, self-harming) were generally getting under control.

Hope you will understand if there are no more posts for a bit...

Monday, 7 November 2011

Contrasting posters for The Designated Victim

I think I prefer the top one, because of the bolder colours. Your opinions?

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Aska susayanlar seks ve cinayet / Thirsty for Love, Sex and Murder

One of the criticisms frequently leveled against Italian genre cinema is that it is derivative or imitative. As Luigi Cozzi said, producers and backers didn't want to know what your film was about but rather what films it was like. Yet few went as far down the copyright infringing route as Patrick Lives Again, that unofficial sequel to the original Patrick. The more usual approach was that taken by the various zombie films that appeared in the wake of Dawn of the Dead: It was clear what their inspiration was, but there was enough that was different and sometimes even original.

From what I've seen, Turkish exploitation cinema is another thing entirely. Most notoriously the so-called Turkish Star Wars uses footage from George Lucas's film, intercut with new material, and large chunks of score from Raiders of the Lost Ark. And then there are the Spiderman, Superman and Batman films.

What we have here, meanwhile, is a Turkish version of Sergio Martino's 1970 giallo The Strange Vice of Signora Wardh, with both plot and scenes lifted wholesale.

Even so, the filmmakers do make some changes and additions:

The maniac in the opening scene is more clearly visible, and identified by his victim before she dies as having a scar. This makes the Mrs Wardh character, Mine, suspect that he could be her ex-lover, the Jean one, Tarik, with whom she had an intense sado-masochistic relationship.

The Mr Wardh character, Metin, is sexually incapable, thus providing a further justification/rationale for his wife's falling for the George Corro one, Yilmaz, when she's introduced to him by her friend, the Carol Brandt one, Oya, at a party.

When Mine is blackmailed over this relationship and Oya goes to meet the blackmailer she isn't killed, merely chased and forced to drop the money.

In final third, the identities of the conspirators against Mine are also different, as is the ending.

The film is also differently paced, in that it runs barely an hour rather than 90 minutes. There's less emphasis upon drama and suspense and more upon action, with the general approach being to get straight into, through and out of each scene via the fastest route possible. Hollywood-style visual grammar and decoupage are conspicious by their absence. While it's not intentionally avant-garde, the effect is often just as jarring. This is particularly evident in the approach the filmmakers take to scoring, where a few bars culled from Morricone and Nicolai crime scores or an original chord, riff or beat almost sound like experiments in sampling, looping and layering.

The killer...


there's going to be a lot of this...

what the... oh, it's a subjective shot from the victim's POV of a plane coming in to land...

and re-uniting Mine and Metin

You can also see that the filmmakers are trying to emulate their model(s) and inject a touch of visual inspiration, with zooms; odd angles; rapid cutting; or the likes of shots partly through liquid-filled glass or the maniac's dark glasses in the foreground; taken at ground level from behind a car; or of Mine framed through the gap between the handle and body of an old-style telephone.

More importantly in terms of their target audience -- read young Turkish men wanting Meral Zeren more than Edwige Fenech or to be Kadir Inanan rather than George Hilton -- the filmmakers don't skimp on the exploitation goods. Just about every woman quickly get undressed down to her underwear, often naked -- though, it should be noted, with no full-frontal nudity -- and, undoubtedly more disconcertingly for more sensitive types, abused, threatened or slashed up.

The scene that best exemplifies this is when a woman comes home, takes off her coat, revealing that she is naked beneath it, goes into the shower and is then slaughtered. Perhaps she was one of the women at an earlier party who was wearing a paper dress that got torn off. But there was no mention of a paper bra and panties.

For today's audiences, the film also has the attraction of providing cultural and historical insights, in terms of showing modern, swinging post-1960s Turks, along with no mentions whatsoever of Islam and little sense of moral disapproval. A lot of this stuff, whether fashions, decors, hairstyles, vehicles or dialogue is also, of course, highly entertaining from a kitsch/camp/trash perspective, if you're not interested in that sort of thing: “You smell of alcohol and cigarettes.” “A man should smell of alcohol and cigarettes.”

If you've never seen any gialli - unlikely for a reader of this blog, I know - then this probably isn't the Turkish exploitation film for you, but if you have and want to start exploring then its an intriguing and entertaining introduction that may well leave you wanting more...