Friday, November 16, 2007

kinski- le orme (1975)


Ok, so it's taken me a while to get to the Kinski films. Last week I managed to watch "Circus of Fear," but it didn't do a whole lot for me, and I didn't have all that much to say about it. The past couple of weeks have been pretty wild. At first, things seemed like they were going really well, then at the end of last week everything kind of started falling apart- literally. Things kept breaking or getting lost. I probably shouldn't be admitting this, but I actually managed to flush a pair of glasses down the toilet. I've worn glasses for about 20 years, and I never imagined that even physically possible, but it happened, so there you go. My sofa fell apart and I nearly fucked up my computer trying to install some new software as well. At the same time, I've still been searching for a job and a new roommate, and some medication I've been taking has been making me excessively drowsy at times...I don't mean to complain, just to set the general scene of where my head's been at recently, which is pretty much all over the place, everywhere and nowhere at once. So I haven't had a ton of time or energy to focus to watch a lot films (though I did manage to peep Behind the Mask- the Rise of Leslie Vernon, which was really good, and also an excellent Russian film for my internship, with the world's best title- "Fat Stupid Rabbit"). When a friend's come over to watch something recently, it's usually been something pretty lightweight, and when I've been alone I've mostly been interviewing potential roommates, applying for jobs, or sleeping...

Anyway, this week has been a vast improvement. I managed to fix most of the general damage to my surroundings, and am starting to at least feel like I'm making progress on the roommate and employment fronts. My personal life has been oddly ambiguous of late and I'm sort of enjoying it even if I do get frustrated at times. And I'm sort of happy because I managed to get through all of the bullshit last week without really ever feeling like I was "in crisis" or getting excessively depressed, although there was one day recently I just laid in bed all day and didn't deal with anything.

Anyway, I guess the point is that things, for the moment, are settling down and I'm feeling some focus again, so I'm hoping to get back on track with the Negative Pleasure film reviews. Fortunately, the last film I watched was kind of a winner. "Le Orme" (1975) is a very odd blend of Italian giallo with some elements of science-fiction. It was directed by the decidedly non-prolific Luigi Bazzoni, who only did about six other films, most notably the faux spaghetti western "Man, His Pride & Vengeance" (1968, also with Kinski) and the giallo "The Fifth Chord" (1971, with Franco Nero). Bazzoni co-wrote the film with Mario Fanelli (who also wrote the novel on which this was based, as well as "The Fifth Chord," and oddly seems to have directed a number of films in the former Yugoslavia). The exquisite cinematography is by Vittorio Storaro ( who also did The Fifth Chord, and of course The Conformist, Apocalypse Now, Reds and other films for Bertolucci, Coppola and Warren Beatty) and should have perhaps received a starring credit, as it's one of "Le Orme's" main attractions (not that the rest of the film is bad, just that it's especially beautiful). The excellent musical score is by Nicola Piovani, who's composed for everything from "Flavia the Heretic" to Fellini's "Ginger & Fred" and Roberto Benigni films (the sounds here are very Italian 1970s prog-lounge with some orchestration and, of course, synthesizer blips and bleeps).

The very compelling Florinda Bolkan (also in "Flavia," as well as Fucli's "Lizard in a Woman's Skin" and "Don't Torture a Duckling") stars as Alice, who either lives in the near future or just has hyper-mod, super-stylish decorating tastes. Alice seems to be having some kind identity crisis. In addition to having visions and dreams of an astronaut being abandoned on the moon, which may be prophetic or just relating to a sci-fi film she once saw, she's also finding herself losing gaps of time and memory. This leads to her losing her job as a translator at some sort of astronautics agency. This in turn leads her, somehow, to visit a sleepy resort town, where her memory issues are confounded further when people claim to have seen her there before she arrived, and a young girl is convinced she is another woman altogether. It's all totally convoluted and wonderful, fabulously stylish, strange and beautiful. It's certainly an odd trait of Italian filmmakers of the 1970s to make gorgeous, arty exploitation films that make absolutely no sense yet still manage to satisfy somehow.

Klaus Kinski, as is often the case, appears far too briefly. Here, he's "Dr. Blackmann," the mysterious scientist behind the abandoning of the astronaut in Alice's visions. Unfortunately, in the version I saw it sounds as though Kinski's voice was dubbed (sounding close, but not quite right, it could almost be him, though I don't think it was), but his grim visage speaks volumes. Even in his few scenes he makes a strong impression with the absolute piercing severity of his gaze. Of course, it would have been preferable for him to have more screen time, but I suppose a large part of the Kinski mystique is that he played so many strange supporting roles in so many odd films.

"Le Orme" was also released as "Footprints," "Footprints on the Moon," and "Primal Impulse." At some point it was released on VHS in the states (as "Primal Impulse"), but as of yet it's had no DVD release (the version I saw came off a pretty rough-looking print, though letterboxed , and it had what I think were Dutch subtitles). Even so, it's well worth trying to track down. Though vague, elusive and frustrating, it's also...well, vague, elusive and frustrating (as well as beautiful, stylish and Kisnki-fied), pretty much the perfect Negative Pleasure.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

You thought behind the mask was good? Isn't it just a rehash of man-bits-dog (but light).

Anonymous said...

You like Behind the Mask? isn't a rip off of MAN BITES DOG

Anonymous said...

Bazzoni cerainly wasn't prolific, what a gap between the 70's and more recent work.

Agree entirely on the cinematography. I wrote a review of this film and The DEsignated Victim on my blog and mntioned the very same thing.

http://cinematheque.leithermagazine.com/2010/04/07/retro-reviews-%e2%80%93-giallo-a-darker-shade-of-yellow/