Daimajin - Vol. 3: Return of Daimajin Reviews

Page 1 of 1
½ October 24, 2005
[b]LE MEPRIS (CONTEMPT) [Godard, 1963][/b]
Godard's most adult film to date was [i]Contempt[/i], subtitled "A Story of a Marriage." He uses the sex symbol Brigette Bardot as a woman tired of her husband, and he only inserted nude scenes with the studio demanded it. This could be considered Godard's [i]Day for Night[/i] or [i]8 1/2[/i] for its look at moviemaking, but it is almost tangential to the boredom and restlessness of the main couple. Michel Piccoli plays Bardot's husband, a screenwriter who is commissioned to rewrite Fritz Lang's version of the Odyssey by slimy producer Jack Palance. The famed German director of [i]M[/i] and [i]Metropolis[/i] plays himself, a wise mentor to Piccoli even as the young man usurps the script. The beginning third of the film sketches the relationships between all of the characters, and the final third provides a fitting denouement to the marital relationship, but it is the middle section that truly shines. Godard eschews all of the jump-cuts and wit of his previous films for true-to-life dialogue and career-best performances from the two leads. As they pace around thier apartment, picking fights and laying their relationship bare, the power of Godard's stark filmmaking reminds how much of a master he really is.

[b]FISTFUL OF DOLLARS [Leone, 1964][/b]
Sergio Leone's version of Kurosawa's [i]Yojimbo[/i] features a perfectly witty and steely-eyed performance by Clint Eastwood in one of his signature roles. A man with no name but an itchy trigger finger walks into a town run by two rival families, the Hispanic Rojos and the American Baxters. With guns and smarts, he tricks the two gangs into battling each other, but not without some cuts and bruises along the way. The pure existentialism of the film, which lifts whole scenes from [i]Yojimbo[/i], is still immensely fun and provided a good warm-up for the genre-defining [i]The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly[/i].

[b]DAIMAJIN [Yasuda, 1966][/b]
[b]DAIMAJIN IKARU (Return of Daimajin) [Misumi, 1966][/b]
These monster movies from Japan are more than that, featuring gorgeous period details and some of the best cinematography I've ever seen in a Japanese film. Daimajin is a giant god that resides in a statue overlooking a town, and he is summoned when warlords try to invade or attack. In the first film (of a trilogy the middle section of which I couldn't find), there is general intrigue and violence which is no surprise to anyone familiar with period cinema. But in the last twenty or so minutes, when a woman whose husband is about to die calls on the mountain god, all hell breaks loose. He is the size of King Kong but with the destructive capability of Godzilla. Daimajin lays waste to the entire city, killing all of the enemies in his path and sparing the poor farmers who pray to him. All in a day's work. The third chapter, [i]Return of Daimajin[/i], is bit of a Japanese [i]Stand by Me[/i], as four children go searching for help from Daimajin when their fathers are captured and tortured. The child performers are okay at best, but once again the brilliant camera work and vivid colors (thanks to remastered DVDs) comes through. Daimajin wreaks havoc once again when a boy willingly sacrifices himself, and the giant statue's powers resurrect him for his troubles.

[b]SISTERS [De Palma, 1973][/b]
Even though you can't mention Brian de Palma without mentioning his master, Alfred Hitchcock, de Palma finally synthesizes his influences into a cohesive whole. Shades of [i]Rope, Rear Window[/i], and especially [i]Psycho[/i] are in the story of twin sisters and the newspaper reporter who investigates a possible murder linked to them. The brilliant use of split-screen (a de Palma motif) and doubling of characters and scenes brings a solid structure to the story. Margot Kidder and Jennifer Salt are the central figures, Kidder as French Canadian twin Danielle and Dominique, who hide a dark secret. Hazy dream imagery permeates the conclusion of the film, and it is compelling if initially confusing. This is a must for psychological horror fans and anyone interested in great independent film of the 1970s.
Page 1 of 1