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Almost forgot about the Ken Russell double feature on Imports tonight (or tomorrow for you Easties).  Love him, hate him, or love and hate him, he is one of the most startling directors.  Visually lush, extravagant, his movies for me are sometimes tiring to watch, sometimes irritating, but never boring.  I haven't see either of the two movies slated, Mahler (1974), and Lisztomania (1976).  But the two subjects of his movies, Mahler and Liszt, are right in line with his style.

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There's something to be said for the director who can make several great traditional movies that everyone loves, like Billy Wilder or Alfred Hitchcock. But Ken Russell's movies aren't traditional, often they slip into dream worlds, flashbacks, revisionist history-all sorts of disorienting segments.

Like Kubrick, Russell tried pushing the boundaries of the medium to create a different kind of emotional experience for the viewer of his films, it's not all spelled out in a traditional linear story.  While I enjoy "doing the work" as a participant in Kubrick's films,  often Russell's work is offensive and I'm often too repulsed to give it any more effort.

Then, this guy turns around and makes THE BOYFRIEND, VALENTINO and even **** - all pretty straightforward movies.

Most of Russell's films I've seen first run in theaters and that's really my preferred way to see them. Even though I have THE DEVILS '71 on DVD, it's just too tiring to slog through it.

 

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I watched LISZTOMANIA. Without intending to offend anyone, I'll just just say I think it would fit in perfectly in the Underground time slot.

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2 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

Then, this guy turns around and makes THE BOYFRIEND, VALENTINO and even **** - all pretty straightforward movies.

I'm thinking that last title is a 1990 film starring THERESA RUSSELL (no relation to Ken) yes?

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I like Ken Russell movies but feel that some of them are not as good or outrageous as they're claimed to be, for example the composer films. I think Russell's greatest films are Women in Love (a noble attempt to bring D.H. Lawrence's novel to the screen); The Devils (which is rarely seen, perhaps thanks to naughty things that the nuns do); and The Lair of the White Worm, a very enjoyable film based on a Bram Stoker story. (A really disappointing film is Gothic, which should have been much better).

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Hugh Grant and Peter Capaldi in The Lair of the White Worm

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1 hour ago, Swithin said:

I think Russell's greatest films are Women in Love (a noble attempt to bring D.H. Lawrence's novel to the screen); The Devils (which is rarely seen, perhaps thanks to naughty things that the nuns do); and The Lair of the White Worm, a very enjoyable film based on a Bram Stoker story. (A really disappointing film is Gothic, which should have been much better).

 

I still have not seen WOMEN IN LOVE (GLENDA JACKSON irritates me) but I am 100% on board with everything else you say.

THE DEVILS is one of my favorite films of the 1970's.

I also have read some of THE LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM by BRAM STOKER and WOW, it is TERRIBLE, but RUSSELL managed to make a pretty faithful (in its own way) retelling of it.

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3 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

I'm thinking that last title is a 1990 film starring THERESA RUSSELL (no relation to Ken) yes?

Yes, didn't think Otto would censor that. I enjoyed that movie, but my friend did not. He said, "I knew we'd be in trouble when she talked to the audience". Where the hex IS Theresa Russell?

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2 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

She’s aged past “D.A.” and into “MISS DAISY” (In the eyes of HOLLYWOOD at least)

But not before making unexpected appearances in the like of Wild Things and Spider Man III (!).

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11 minutes ago, CinemaInternational said:

But not before making unexpected appearances in the like of Wild Things and Spider Man III (!).

I avoided SPIDERMAN III as if 'twer  a snake with fangs at both ends, but I did enjoy her in WILD THINGS.

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3 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

CRIMES OF PASSION (1984)- while flawed- is worth seeing for the performance of KATHLEEN TURNER. It would make a pretty good film for TCM UNDERGROUND.

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See above. Completely agree, but it should be the director’s cut. The theatrical release was butchered and somewhat incomprehensible. 

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Got around to watching the movies.  Ken Russell holds true to form in them.

In Lisztomania (1976) Ken Russell, having seen he created something extravagant, felt irresistibly compelled to create something more extravagant.  And he went on, piling extravagance on extravagance, striving for Olympian heights.  The movie, as far as I can make out, depicts the development of romantic music in the nineteenth century as an allegorical conflict between Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner, posing Liszt as champion of true artistic virtue and Wagner as the evil genius, whose philosophies were responsible for the rise of naziism.  In a climactic scene he manages to satirize both the perpetrators of the nazi horror and its victims, while trivializing the Holocaust, having a Hitler/Frankenstein's monster brought to life by a crazed Wagner mow down Jewish pawnbrokers with a guitar/machine gun.  Like I said, true to form.  Oh, and lots of naked women.

Mahler (1974) is a little more restrained, if you can call having a quiet, lakeside boathouse burst suddenly into flame for an opening shot restrained.  It follows Mahler and his wife, Alma on a train trip during which we get a retrospective of his life in a series of flashbacks.  It's more of a conventional effort, but don't worry, Russell takes every opportunity for extravagance.  And naked women.

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The Boy Friend is the one truly watchable Russell movie.  The weird thing about Tommy is that the best scene is the reprise of the key song over the credits, without any of Russell's florid additions.  Wh*re wasn't a horrible experience when I watched it decades ago, but does it offer anything Vivre sa Vie offered aside from Theresa Russell's breasts?  I barely remember The Rainbow, which seems unimaginative and conventional. 

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On 6/7/2021 at 4:33 PM, alleybj said:

See above. Completely agree [that CRIMES OF PASSION (1984) is worth watching] but it should be the director’s cut. The theatrical release was butchered and somewhat incomprehensible. 

Even if the ending to CRIMES OF PASSION wasn't such a steaming hot mess and there was a better third act and edit of the film, there is still the fact that the four primary actors in the film- KATHLEEN TURNER, ANTHONY PERKINS, ANNIE POTTS, AND THE MALE LEAD WHOSE NAME I DON'T RECALL EVEN THOUGH HE IS HOT- are giving four RADICALLY DIFFERENT PERFORMANCES in terms of tone, commitment and level of success [TURNER is marvelously theatrical and  POTTS is grounded in reality, but both are excellent, whereas PERKINS- bless his nitrous-snorting heart- makes his performance in MAHOGANY seem  subtle and understated by comparison and the aforementioned male lead is likeable (and again, hot), but not very good at all (he ruins a couple of major scenes.)

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10 hours ago, slaytonf said:

Got around to watching the movies.  Ken Russell holds true to form in them ...Mahler (1974) is a little more restrained, if you can call having a quiet, lakeside boathouse burst suddenly into flame for an opening shot restrained.

And now, BBC-4 is proud to present, Ken Russell's "How Not to be Seen":

See the source image

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23 hours ago, CinemaInternational said:

I saw on another website that someone at WB has a warped sense of humor. One of the vaguely noticible digitially added crowd members in Space Jam 2 is made up to resemble Vanessa Redgrave in The Devils.

Innnnnteresting. Apparently someone much higher up at WB categorically refuses to allow a release of the director's cut of The Devils. So of course I want to see that cut. Am I the only person of my generation who has read the book on which it's based?

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