Knife in the Water

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I love a good old black and white foreign film. There is just something about them that really makes me happy. They touch me in a way that a modern film just can’t. They seem more visceral, more able to capture that ideas of the time they were made than movies can these days. Knife in the Water is one of these great old black and white foreign films. It is also the first major film Roman Polanski ever made and the only one made completely in his home country.

Like most Polanski films, this film is deceptively simple. A couple pick up a hitchhiker on their way to their sailing trip. The hitchhiker is an angry and naive young man who chooses to take on the sailing trip with them. The husband is a burly athletic man eager to show his superiority to the young man. The wife is a detached and beautiful presence. Throughout the course of the day and night, the husband and the young man play a verbal tug of war that results in some dire situations. The woman seems to be in the middle and yet above it all. That is until the knife goes into the water and the final scuffle starts. Everything quickly comes to a head.

What is great about this film is the characters resistance to being pigeon hold. Take the wife for instance. She is silent for most of the first half of the film. She says things that she feels should reign in her husband’s stories and diatribes, but they always fail. But towards the end she does a 180. She becomes a person full of vitality and confronts her husband directly. In a way the action pushed her to become so direct, but in another way she seems to be bursting through her evading ways with a sigh of relief. The husband and the hitchhiker both end up the same way. Due to the situation in front of them, they are able to realize who they truly are. And because Polanski is a cynic person (delightfully so, sometimes) what they see is usually something they don’t like.

I would be kicking myself if I didn’t say something about the look of the film. Almost completely shot on a small yacht and with only three actors, the film could have easily become visually boring. But even from the beginning, Polanski was a master. During the fight that is the climax of the film, the husband uses his ability to move the sails rapidly to his advantage. The hitchhiker is about to strike him and he throws the sail so that it picks him up and swings him over the edge of the yacht. He dangles above the water. This results in the most iconic image of the film. These sails had been present in several shots before but were not seen in such a dangerous way. Now this sail could be as deadly as the over large knife the hitchhiker carries. That is just one example of how Polanski twists the images around him in order to create an intense atmosphere.

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Oslo, August 31st

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About five months ago, I wrote a post about a movie called Reprise. This film hit me like a ton of bricks. I loved it a lot because I could relate to it so much. The problems that I had with it and that other reviewers had with it were washed away as just quirks of the movie. These quirks included the smugness of the characters, the intentional need to reference obscure works of art, and paper thin portrayal of the woman in the main character’s life. These quirks were reigned in and didn’t hide the truth behind the plot. So when I saw that the same director decided to work with one of the main actors again, I thought that the film would be another hit with me. I need to stop assuming things, because it only ends up making an ass out of you and me. (I love that joke…)

Oslo, August 31st is about a man who gets leave for a day from a rehab center in order to interview for a job. He uses this time to visit old friends and wander around Oslo. But he is a moody drug addict who has seemed to strain every relationship he has ever had. Thus is the nature of severe drug addicts. But something sets this boy apart from the other drug addicts in the rehab center he attends. He comes from a privileged family and believes that he is smart. He has this air of smugness that was endearing in Reprise but now grates on my nerves in this film. For instance he has a long talk with one of his old friends in a park. This friend is a very big intellectual who loves to say how smart he is. He is trying to cheer our protagonist up by telling him how well he can blend into normal society once he leaves rehab. He says that this man is smart. That he is so far above any other person in the center he is at. The protagonist agrees with him in a way that it seems like a given fact. But despite his inherent intellectual prowess, he is still in the same situation as those dummies. I am usually not one to shit all over characters that have intellectual leanings. In fact I think that more characters should have that as some aspect of their personality. But when a character does not show how intellectual he is but merely has conversations about it, I want to reach into the screen and punch him in the face.

This film was the most unrealistic pretending to be realistic film I have seen in a while. Everything about the main character screams contrivance. From the all black clothing he wears to the friends he keeps to the things he does all show the hand of a poorly written screenplay. His friends are just there to make him feel bad. His interview was just an excuse for him to loose it. His late night tryst with a hot woman (who is totally not a studying to be a nutritionist) is just an excuse for him to realize he will never be happy. The man didn’t feel real from the start so he drags down everything around him.

I am sitting here writing this review and I realize that I didn’t hate everything about this film. There were moments I actually really liked. For instance at one point in the movie, the main character is sitting at some cafeteria type restaurant. He sits there and listens to other conversations going on around him. The people around him get into lively debates, reveal their hopes and dreams or just talk about what they did that day. But the conversations seemed so real and so much what you would hear in a public place that I wished the whole film was just him sitting at this restaurant. If only.

 

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

 

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I find it interesting how someone comes to remember an actress for a single performance. I was never really exposed to a lot of horror films when I was young, so I don’t remember Ellen Burstyn as the mother from the Exorcist. I also didn’t have a classic film background so I don’t remember her in The Last Picture Show either. What I remember her for and what I, unconsciously, expect from her is her performance in Requiem for a Dream. That performance scared the crap out of me when I was an impressionable teenager (and thought that it was that movie was the height artsy independent movies at the time… oh how naive I was.). She was grandiose. She was grotesque. She was amazing as a pill addicted mother of a heroin addict.  But the performance was so arresting that it was hard for me to see her as anything else which is very unfair. I want to try to separate this actress from the performance that brought her so much attention in the early 2000s. I think that watching Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is a good place to start her image transformation in my mind. 

Ellen Burstyn plays a housewife stuck in a sticky situation. She no longer seems to love her husband for the way he treats their son and insults her cooking, but she is so dependent on him that she can’t leave. This all changes when her evil caricature of a husband dies in a car crash. She sells her house, packs up her precocious son and makes a journey to realize her long dormant dreams of becoming a lounge singer. This dream journey has some unrealized bumps along the road. These include very small and grubby hotel rooms, a deceptively nice man who ends up beating her (played brilliantly by Harvey Keitel…), a shortage of cash and a shortage of jobs. This leads her to her final destination as a waitress in Mel’s Diner in Phoenix, Arizona. She is completely over her head in a job she has never done in her life. To top it off it is a place full of groping men, loud mouth co-workers and a fast paced environment. She finds solace in a beautiful stranger who happens to be an eligible farmer who loves kids. But even this falls apart eventually. Will she ever find a place in this world where she is comfortable? 

I felt like this film is more true to life than other movies I have seen about the same subject matter. In the real world, people have dreams but they also have real responsibilities. Dreams can easily get pushed to the side when you are starving. Alice never predicted when she was dreaming of leaving her husband in that cookie cutter house of hers that she would end up in a diner in Phoenix in a difficult relationship with a farmer. But that is where she is. Life isn’t just one big decision, but a lot of smaller decisions. She learned that when she decided to date the cowboy who turned out to be a very violent man. But she also learned that she has the strength to leave. These things that she learned she can only have learned them through living them. Beyond the events of the film, the characters seemed more real to me than I have typically seen. For instance her son while in the car with her for a very long time starts to tell this joke to her. He tells it over and over again, but it never makes sense. It only makes sense in his head. She gets angry at him for constantly talking in a riddle that is complete nonsense and yells at him. Both of these things are typical of a normal relationship between a twelve-year-old and his mother. I don’t know if you have younger siblings but I have had two. Trust me this age is when we are at our most annoying. 

The only thing that really bothered me was when she decides to get back together with the farmer and stay in Phoenix at the very end. She had left him, because the farmer and her child were developing a relationship that was like the one he had with his biological father. It echoed the relationship she only got out of after someone died. So why go back to him? Why decide to end your journey in a place that is so incredibly far from your dreams? I guess since this whole film had a foot in reality, they didn’t want to end it in an idealistic way. But I kind of wish they had. 

I wanted to end it with that last paragraph, but I forgot to mention Martin Scorsese. This was his fourth feature film, but the second one to really garner some attention. From here he would go on to make Taxi Driver and dozens of other pictures. Although there are tracking shots and interesting angles in some shots, this isn’t typical Scorsese. I think this is a good thing. I would actually like to see him come back to a film that has a woman protagonist and a little bit more realistic tones. However I think that he has strayed so far the other way that to get back to this gritty realistic shooting style would be a severe challenge to him. However seeing his latest films, I think he is in need of a real challenge. (And not some bullshit one like shooting in 3D) 

Goon

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A couple of weeks ago, my boyfriend had some colleagues visit us from Canada. Over the course of the week they were here, I learned a lot about a place I have never visited.  For one thing I learned that hockey was as big an institution there as football is here in the South. (Our town is overrun with college football fans every other Saturday until late December. It gets to the point that you only venture out into society for necessities.) Although they are not fans themselves, they told me that it seems like everyone else in Canada is. To say it is a way of life is an understatement. When they left, I felt a Canadian sized hole in my heart (haha) and decided to fill it by watching reruns of Trailer Park Boys and Goon.

Goon is about a simple Canadian man, Doug, who can fight. He can fight well but he is not an angry man. When his friend, Pat, taunts a hockey player into coming in the stands to punch him, Doug knocks the hockey player out cold. A hockey coach notices the altercation and invites him to join his team as a Goon or a man who fights on the ice rink. Although he can barely skate, he soon gains notoriety and is traded to a higher up team. While in this town, he falls in love with a girl, becomes friends with his roommate after several incidents and goes up against the most celebrated enforcer in the sport.

Doug gets into altercations during every game, but he is never angry. He just wants to support his team. He is also one of the simplest and sweetest people in the film. He is a shy man and fumbles through the relationships he has in the film but you can always tell that he is sincere in everything he does. At one point in the film, his family comes to watch a game is in. After the game, his father and mother express concern over his choice of profession. They feel he should become a teacher or a doctor like his brother. But Doug is aware of the truth of his life. He knows he isn’t extremely smart and he also knows that he is lucky to be a hockey player. His parents may never understand but that doesn’t matter. He knows who he is. I think that is a refreshing thing to say about modern male protagonists. There seems to be a trend in recent male comedies where the men seem to be fumbling through life, not knowing what they are doing, what they want to do or why they are stuck in the situation they are in. But Doug has a firm grasp of reality throughout the whole film. Although he doesn’t change much, he helps the people around him change and become better people. This is a sweet film that could even warm the heart of a non-Canadian like me.

By the way film is based on a true story and you see the real guy in the credits. It is fascinating stuff to watch. At one point he describes all of the injuries he had in one game. It was almost scary that someone allow himself to be put through all that.

Fantomas III: The Murderous Corpse

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At the end of the last installment, our protagonists were in a building that Fantomas had blown up. I was left wondering did Juve and Fandor (those would never be real names even in a crazy country like France) survive the blast? At the beginning of tis installment I get my answers… kind of. Fandor is only lightly injured (which is totally nonsensical because we saw they were still in the house right before Fantomas literally blew it up) and is in a hospital bed. A nurse gives him a newspaper and he learns that Juve is dead but they could not find his body. We then watch a scene in a black market shop where people come with fenced goods. There seems to be no connection to the plot or even to the previous scene. So why are they showing us this? I was finding myself coming back to this question again and again throughout the film.

Throughout the whole film, there was little clue as to why Fantomas was doing what he was doing. Why did he pick this man to drug in order to stage a killing and blame him for it? Why did he go to a fancy dress party and steal only jewelry from a princess when there was obviously so much more he could have taken? But motivation is irrelevant to Fantomas. The scary thing about him in this universe is the randomness that proceeds his actions. He can not only be anyone but he can also strike at any time. It doesn’t matter that he chose one man over another to frame. What does matter is why he does it. Which was to mess with the authorities and pull some heists in his name after he is “killed” in his cell. And it makes Fandor seem like a crazy person when he thinks that Fantomas might be behind these actions. Of course Fandor and later Juve (who isn’t dead just disguised) figure out that all of these individual events were a part of a bigger picture for Fantomas.

In this installment there was more plot and more mystery. But what was most interesting about this addition were the shots that were composed. Most of the shots were stagey in the previous installments as are some here. However Feuillade seems to want to experiment more with the camera this time around. The actors were pushed to one side or pushed back or pulled forward in order to draw your eye to that part of the screen. He also chose to do more location shots, so we get a sense on how incredibly slow those old French cars were. (You were able to jump onto a car while it was still moving from another car) In this day and age of cross fades, fish eye and a myriad of other camera tricks, it is easy to dismiss these things as boring or played out. But in the early days of filmmaking, seeing an image that was more than a medium shot of a room, was amazing. So much of early silents were influenced by the theater that a lot of times early films looked like filmed theater productions. Feuillade and several other directors like D.W. Griffiths  were coming to the conclusion that film was completely different from the theater and can be manipulated in a way that is more dynamic than just watching a filmed theater production. I hope that Feuillade will give us more interesting shots in the next installments.

My Life as a Dog

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Every major director has a film where they broke through and became famous. For Lasse Hallstrom, it was My Life as a Dog. This film made in his native language and country would pave the way for such Hollywood classics as What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Chocolat, and Cider House Rules.

My Life as a Dog involves a young boy named Ingemar who is a little bit wild. He is constantly getting into mischief and causing trouble for his sick mother. She is slowly dying from consumption and this affects her abilities to effectively care for Ingemar and his older brother. So they are sent away for the summer so that their mother can rest. He is shipped off to his uncle’s house. His uncle lives in this quirky town where every inhabitant is a neurotic. Everybody around him is obsessed with sex and yet they seem to have an infantile predilection for it despite all of them being grownups. In fact only Ingemar act chivalrous to the women in his life including a young girl trying to pass as a boy in order to keep playing soccer. The townspeople amuse themselves with silly distractions if they are working at the local glass works. Ingemar returns to his mother only to see that she has gotten worse. So he is shipped off once again to his uncle’s where he is stay for the rest of his life. He is told his mother died and along with the dog that was all his. He deals with this by breaking down in a half-finished summer-house, wondering aloud why his mother didn’t want him anymore. He pulls his life back together through the help of his friends and his new family.

I bring my own personal baggage to this film, I freely admit it. I grew up watching the three movies mentioned above along with several other coming of age in an idealistic world films. I recognize the tropes easily and am very weary of them. Unfortunately this film suffers from my past watching of mediocre movies. Although I can tell that the execution is above par here and Ingemar is mostly sympathetic, it just didn’t land for me. I think it was mostly due to the excess amount of quickness present in the film. For example one of the townspeople spends his time putting boobs on the glasses he makes in the factory. He then asks the most buxom woman in the film to be a model for a statue he is doing. She takes Ingemar along with her so that the sculptor wouldn’t try anything with her. But he is forced to stay in a spare room while she is in the other room naked and posing. Curiosity gets the best of him and Ingemar decides to have a peak at her boobs by climbing onto the roof and peering down through a glass window. Of course the window breaks and he falls on top of the naked woman. When Ingemar goes back the second time, the sculptor has finished the product and it is now not just the naked woman but Ingemar falling on top of him. I groaned when I saw that. That joke couldn’t have been more obvious to me. This film is full of these things.

Since I commented on the director of this film at the beginning of this post, I must comment on how he is doing nowadays. One glance at his IMDb profile would prove that he is not doing great. Ever since Chocolat, he has been on a massive down slide. His most recent films are based on Nicholas Sparks novels and he recently put out one of the worst films of this year, Safe Haven. Gone are the days of overweight women stuck in bed, small French towns and cable knit sweaters. Poor dude.

Wings of Desire

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Have you ever wanted to hear the thoughts of other people? I love to people watch at bars, on subway trains, walking down the street and in restaurants. I make up little stories in my mind of who they are, what they are thinking and why they are where they are. I am usually very wrong, but I enjoy doing it because it amuses me and passes the time. But imagine if you could actually hear the thoughts of other people. Hear when someone is contemplating suicide, worrying about their kid, living in their memories of times past or contemplating their fears. You can hear these things, but you are powerless to comfort them, make them laugh, make them cry or just be near them in a physical sense. In Wings of Desire, angels are real and are observing people’s actions and thoughts and yet they are powerless to interfere.

There is only a shadow of a plot, so this part will be quick. Bruno Ganz is an angel who desires to go down to Earth and explore it for himself. “Have someone to come home to after a hard day’s work” as he said in the film. He watches Peter Falk (as himself) while he is on the set of a historical drama. Peter Falk can sense that he is there and acknowledges him although no adults can see him ever. He tells him how great it is to smoke a cigarette, drink a cup of coffee, or slap your hands together when they are cold. From this one-sided conversation, the angel decides to “take the plunge” as he says in the film. He descends to Earth, sells his armor and goes to look for his love, a trapeze artist.

The plot doesn’t so much matter as the feelings elicited from the characters. Bruno is able to portray isolation, loneliness, and desire so well that you begin to feel like your own emotions are nothing compared to him. At one point in the film, Bruno and his angel companion discuss being there for the creation of Earth. They run through the events like they just happened yesterday. I understood from this conversation that they have seen it all and have heard it all. Nothing should phase them and yet it does. They both feel for the man who has seen atrocious things during the war, one of them cries when a man commits suicide and Bruno decides to descend to Earth after watching and listening to a lonely trapeze artist think about her fears and desires. But why have they made this transition? Why have both of them decided that now is the time? Wenders is not interested in giving you answers to these questions. And for that I respect him. He doesn’t care that the plot doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. What he cares about is the language, the images and the characters themselves. He is able to portray an idealistic universe in which human beings are just wanting to do good. By the time the film was over, I believed this world view and realized that my problems are nothing compared to other people’s worries. I think this film is amazing because it helped to calm my anxiety over my minute problems. Not a whole lot of films can do this.

Mahanagar

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The role of women in the workplace isn’t just a question that permeates the United States. It is a question and a debate that is prevalent around the world. But each society approaches the answers differently due to their religious or social beliefs. Some cultures have always had men working alongside women in everything from their source of income to the household duties. While other cultures still condemn women from venturing outside of the house to even go grocery shopping. But most cultures usually lie somewhere in the middle. In Mahanagar (or The Big City), Satyajit Ray explores this debate by showing the story of a housewife in India, deciding to take a job outside of the house because of financial concerns.

Arati manages a household full of extended family. She not only has her husband and son, but also his parents and his kid sister who is studying at school still. Her husband has a job at a bank and money is tight. She decides after discussing matters with her husband to get a job. From the start it is understood that it would be a temporary situation until he can get a raise. She becomes a salesperson and she goes from house to house selling a knitting machine. She takes to her work immediately and becomes quite good at it. She also makes a friend with an Anglo-Indian woman who is more independently minded. This Anglo-Indian stands up for herself and wears lipstick, something that Arati has never done except for maybe on her wedding day. She starts to earn more money than her husband when he loses his job. However the idea of her having the sole income in the family shames the more conservative minded grandparents. They freeze her out and turn her child against her. The loss of the job bruises her husband’s ego and he spirals into a depression. Everything culminates in an altercation with her boss after he fires her Anglo-Indian friend for seemingly nothing.

What I loved about this film is the strength shown in Arati’s character. No matter how low things get for her and her family, she is strong and she is there for them. She also isn’t blinded by the pursuit of money in order to see what is right and what is wrong. This is shown in contrast to the men in her life. Her father in law goes around begging his former students for free glasses and money by condemning his son. Her husband is in fact blinded by the need to earn money that he can’t see the warning signs that his bank is about to fail. Arati bares the freeze out, the condemning of her father in law’s students and her child becoming resentful of her not being there for him at all times with a strength one finds when they discover something they love doing. Although at the end of the film, she has lost her job and her husband hadn’t found one for himself yet, there is a sense of hope. They will get through this trying time and they will emerge better for it. At least I hope they do…

Trading Places

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I know, I know. The girl who recently posted several posts about obscure silents and snobby foreign films is now posting about a popular eighties comedy. Is she now trying to appeal to the masses? Is she trying to get some of those internet lurker that have more affection for old style Eddie Murphy than Ingmar Bergman? I stick my tongue out at you. I am writing about this film because I just watched it for the first time ( I did not grow up in the eighties and my mother was the movie watcher not my dad so I watched Pretty Woman over and over again instead of these silly buddy comedies) and I thought it was worth writing about so….ptttthhhhh.

If you don’t already know, Trading Places is basically the Prince and Pauper updated to modern times. Eddie Murphy is a black man begging and scheming his way through life. He is unfairly accused by Dan Aykroyd of stealing his brief case. Dan plays a snobby commodities broker. His bosses witness this altercation and realize that it would be great if they could test the nature vs. nurture theory. They take away all of Dan Aykroyd’s wealth and property and give it all to Eddie Murphy. Through out the course of the film Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy figure out what is going on and get revenge by turning their cheating ways against them.

What is great about the film, isn’t the by the numbers plot. It is how both Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd make these characters more than the stereotypes they are. There are scenes in this film that are pure comedy gold. For example when we first meet Eddie Murphy’s character, he is a blind man rolling around in a cart and begging for money. After he accost a woman saying that once you have had a man with no legs you never go back line, two policemen approach him. He then does the Stevie Wonder and fakes his way (badly) through his veteran story, only to have the two policemen pick him up off of his cart. He then fakes a miracle of having his legs back and not really being blind. Throughout the whole short scene, Eddie Murphy is combining physical humor with his signature dry wit. A good combination of both is what made Eddie Murphy one of the best comedians around in the eighties. Of course recently he has decided to rely on physical humor as a crutch that does not produce the comedy he was known for. But when he was in his heyday he produced such great lines that comedy geeks are still quoting even today.

Unfortunately Dan Aykroyd suffered the same fate and so did countless other comedians of the eighties. I think that maybe comedians only have a small window for when they are funny. Due to a number of different circumstances like studio involvement, type casting, getting older, drugs or alcohol or just not being able to evolve, many comedians burn out. There are very few comedians from the eighties that are still working today in projects that are respected or are still funny. In most cases these comedians have flirted with the dramatic side of acting which helps to revitalize their careers (Jim Carrey being one of the most famous examples). You can see the pattern throughout the ages of comedy. Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin both lost their comedic abilities due to a variety of circumstances. All the way up to now where Will Ferrell hasn’t produced anything really worth noting in about three years. But he was once the most funny man in America. What happens? Why do these men and women lose their ability to make comedies funny? I think it is because of the lack of variety. Will Ferrell has essentially been Will Ferrell in a string of movies recently and his schtick is getting old. He screams, he takes his shirt off and he reads his lines like he is improvising them (making them seem like a wink and nudge type line instead of playing it straight). But in order to argue against myself I can watch Anchorman all day long and still laugh at certain jokes in the movie. That movie is filled with his schtick and yet I don’t seem to care. To bring it back to Trading Places, this film is filled with Eddie Murphy’s and Dan Aykroyd’s famous schtick. Dan Aykroyd playing the lovable straight man. Eddie Murphy going over the top with his line readings and his physical prowess. But none of this grates on my nerves like it does in their lesser and ultimately, later, movies. Instead the movie produces amazing sequences full of comedy gold. The reasons as to why a comedian becomes famous and then descends down that chain is a mystery to me, mainly because it varies on a case to case basis. Buster Keaton couldn’t control his drinking nor could he control the transition from silent to sound. But could Eddie Murphy control his descent? Only Eddie Murphy can say I guess. I don’t know the complete answers to any of the questions I raised here, so I will stop here. But if you have any comments on the debate I am having with myself, please feel free to make them known below. I would love to have a discussion on this topic as it is very fascinating to me.

Fantomas II: Juve vs. Fantomas

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I ended the previous week’s installment with the discussion of the same basic detective plot being repeated in not only this serial but the serials of modern-day. The plots of these serials could have easily been extensions of the ongoing plots in the most popular detective series today. However the action clearly predates the elaborate action sequences seen in films today. The centerpiece of this film is a train chase. In this train chase, Fandor (Juve’s Watson. He is a journalist who helps out Juve while also writing about his exploits in the local newspaper) chases after a young woman thought to be connected to the villain. However Fandor doesn’t know that Fantomas (the villain) is also on the train and that they are planning to rob a rich and pervy old man. In order to destroy the evidence and also get rid of Fandor who he sees on his heels, Fantomas unceremoniously detaches the coach car from the rest of the train. Fandor jumps out just in time to see the car crash into an express train. The screen turns blood-red as the camera pans over the wreckage, hinting at the carnage that the camera is too delicate to show. Thinking that Fandor is dead and his booty destroyed by the wittiness of the bank, Fantomas tries to find Juve and get more loot for no real reason other than he wants to be rich. Juve is tipped off by a still alive Fandor as to his whereabouts and he goes to an abandoned beach full of barrels. He shoots at a barrel with a man behind it only to find out that it is Fandor, his friend. But the danger is not over. Once they are reunited, they are both shot at by Fantomas’ men. The barrels contain alcohol, the devil’s juice. So they are set on fire by Fantomas’ men hoping to capture Juve and Fandor in a flame filled death. But they are cunning and decide to hop in a barrel and roll it into the ocean where they get out of it and swim. The action set pieces go on and on until at the end, Fantomas has lured Juve and Fandor into a house where they thought he was living. Fantomas barricades the door and sets the house on fire. The last shot is a black hooded Fantomas spreading his arms out as if in triumph against the burning house. Do Juve and Fandor get out? Again the classic cliffhanger comes into play here. The suspense is suspect because you know there are several more installments of these films, but what is anticipatory is how Fantomas will get away again.

Like The Expendables, this film hinges on the action shots, so it becomes boring after seeing so many of them. Fantomas gets away again and again, and yet there seems to be no stakes to his escape or his being caught. It is more like a mere cat and mouse chase that always seems to go on for all eternity. There is barely any mention of the plot except to know that Fantomas is being chased by Fandor and Juve.  It was worth the watch for intellectual purposes and to also witness the last shot. I just hope the next installment brings some sort of other element besides Fantomas, Juve and Fandor into the picture.