INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS — SHOCKTOBER!

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ColeSmithey.comBy far the best version in the franchise, Philip Kaufman’s venerable revamping of Don Siegel’s 1956 black-and-white sci-fi horror classic delved deeper into nitty-gritty details of a pod-induced mass transformation of humans into emotionless doppelgangers.

In so doing, Kaufman gave his movie the visual lift it needed to instill palpable dread and fear in an audience that didn’t know what hit them.   

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The filmmakers use a recurring image system of spider-web similes, which act as a unifying filter of discord. San Francisco has been turned upside-down over night. Everything is different. Garbage collectors are busy on every street collecting the grey fuzzy waste from swapped-out bodies.

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Donald Sutherland plays San Francisco health inspector Matthew Bennell with a cozy sense of paternal confidence that makes him seem immune to anything that could possibly usurp his empathetic soul. Civilization’s sudden loss of compassion to a population of cold conspiratorial aliens, incapable of something as simple as laughter, proves a terrifying idea when played out to its logical extreme.

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Casting Donald Sutherland in the lead role proved to be a coup for Kaufman. Strains of Sutherland’s iconic performance in Nicholas Roeg’s deeply disturbing psychological thriller “Don’t Look Now” (1973) carried over into "Body Snatchers."

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Thematically, the film’s allegory regarding viral-groupthink has plenty of wiggle-room for interpretation because it is so profoundly vague yet universal. It’s easy to imagine authority figures such as police and politicians inhabited by aliens, because they so frequently express an utter disregard for the value of human life in favor of corporate profits for the one-percent.

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A significant genre-imposed rule of the movie is that its characters can’t fall sleep lest they succumb to possession. Doing so enables one of the recently arrived pods-from-space to produce an exact physical replica that will come to life after sucking the subject’s body dry of its meat, bones, and brains.

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Matthew Bennell’s health department co-worker Elizabeth Driscoll (Brooke Adams) notices a change in her husband. She alerts Matthew to her concerns just as it seems society has begun to flip. A man in a business suit inexplicably sprints through traffic.

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Kaufman sets his audience’s teeth on edge with an inventive soundscape, involving things like heartbeats. Sounds move between the film’s Dolby Stereo format, making the audience feel as if the action is taking place around them.

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Kaufman’s remake gets cameo endorsements from Don Siegel, and from Kevin McCarthy, the lead actor from the original "Body Snatchers" movie. Siegel plays a pod-changed cab driver taking Matthew and Elizabeth for a little ride. Kevin McCarthy’s character is the same as in Segel’s movie except that he seems even more desperate now.

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Philip Kaufman's “Body Snatchers” is famous for a couple of offbeat scenes that you hardly believe when you’re seeing them.

Not Rated. 80 mins. 5 Stars ColeSmithey.comCozy Cole

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June 16, 2024

WORKING GIRLS — THE CRITERION COLLECTION

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ColeSmithey.comLizzie Borden's third film, behind "Regrouping" (1979) and "Born In Flames" (1983), is a perfect chamber-piece of neo-realist social satire.

The film's feminist trappings of an '80s era Manhattan brothel provides the frame for a piercing commentary on the effects of American capitalism on women.

"Working Girls" could easily be adapted to be a modernday Broadway play.

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It would be a sensation for its timeless qualities of social, sexual, and economic truth.

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Molly (Louise Smith), a professional photographer, lives with her lesbian girlfriend when she isn't working as a sex worker in a Manhattan brothel run by a domineering madam.

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"Have you ever heard of surplus value?"

That theme line shoots like a sharp political dart when a character speaks it.

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“All workers create more value at work than they receive in wages. The extra surplus value goes into the boss’s pocket as profit.”

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Surplus value is "the surplus produced over and above what is required to survive, which is translated into profit in capitalism. Since the capitalist pays a laborer for his/her labor, the capitalist claims to own the means of production, the worker's labor-power, and even the product that is thus produced."

Female hands hold cups of coffee, count money, and remove cum-filled condoms.

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Everyone chisels; there is no place to hide.

Not Rated. 93 mins.

5 Stars

Cozy Cole

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June 09, 2024

ROCK 'N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel. Punk heart still beating.

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ColeSmithey.com"Rock, rock, rock, rock, Rock 'n' Roll High School!"

Those immortal words, written by The Ramones, kick off a super-charged coming-of-age comedy as chaperoned by, well yes ladies and gentlemen, The Ramones.

'70s era cultural signifiers abound in this Roger Corman-produced bonanza of low budget delights.

"Fun, fun, rock 'n' roll high school.

Fun, fun, oh baby.

Fun, fun, fun, fun.

Rock, rock, rock, rock, rock 'n' roll high school."

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That the Punk band from NYC were soaking up California rays while making the movie, only adds to its fun vibe. The Ramones are at the height of their powers, tearing up the screen with determined musical attitudes shaped by Girl Groups of the '60s. Think, The Shangri-Las.

Who knew Punk was so sincerely romantic?

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The proof in the Punk pudding nods toward be the beautifully innocent romantic intent in The Ramones' fantastic songs.

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The teen dreams of the '70s are in roaring display, squeezed into every frame like a super yummy PB&J.

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P.J. Soles is awesome as Riff Randall, The Ramones' biggest fan, or groupie if you will or if you won't. Romantic sparks fly in an out-of-this-world musical fantasy sequence with Joey singing "I Want You Around" to Riff in her bedroom.

Hot.

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A girl's Punk dream comes to life, with Johnny playing acoustic guitar accompaniment to Joey's intimate love ballad.

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I had the good fortune to be at Richmond Va's radio station-awarded "Rock 'n' roll high school, Richmond Open High School. Aimee Mann was in the equivalent of my home room. As such, the radio station gave us a free screening of "Rock 'n' Roll High School" at the Biograph Cinema in my VCU college neighborhood, the Fan District.

They gave us these great hot pink lettering on black t-shirts.

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Oh, the memories of things teenaged Cole did in that t-shirt in 1979, my sophomore year at Open High. And yes, we did claim to get high openly.

Chills baby, straight up chills.

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Mary Warnov gives a next level performance as Miss Togar, the high school's evil school principal. It's notable that Mary Warnov and her co-star Paul Bartel went on to make the romping BDSM sex comedy "Eating Raoul" together three years later.

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It's clear that everyone involved with this miraculous Punk Rock document, is having a great time really going for it with everything they've got.

That the "Rock 'n' Roll High School" soundtrack is a truly perfect record, goes with the territory.

Rock out kids, "school's out for summer, school's out forever."

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"I hate the teachers and the principalDon't wanna be taught to be no foolRock, rock, rock, rock, rock 'n' roll high school."

Rated PG. 93 mins.

5 Stars

Cozy Cole

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5 Stars

March 22, 2024

ANATOMY OF A FALL — CANNES 2023

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel. Punk heart still beating.

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ColeSmithey.com"Pueblo chico, infierno grande" translates to small town, big hell.

Such is the remote French community of Grenoble that German outsider Sandra Voyter (Sandra Hüller) finds herself when her troubled husband Samuel Maleski seemingly commits suicide.

The townspeople refuse to accept that their hometown boy could have offed himself. The interloper wife must have murdered Samuel (played by Samuel Theis).

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This is one brilliantly written and directed courtroom drama.

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Sandra is a successful author, Samuel is a university lecturer; jealousy rattles the relationship.

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Sharp dialogue and tricky plot twists keep you on the hook.

"Anatomy of a Fall" won the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 2023, so you know you're in for a treat.

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Sandra Hüller gives a riveting performance in this slow-burn drama.

Ice is the only thing in the world that is what it's cracked up to be, until blood melts it, that is.

Rated R. 151 mins.

5 Stars

Cozy Cole

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