Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ten Statements About....THE GREAT SILENCE (1968)

Yes, that's a Mauser, and it will screw your crap up...
“Once, my husband told me of this man. He avenges our wrongs. And the bounty killers sure do tremble when he appears. They call him "Silence." Because wherever he goes, the silence of death follows."

1) This film has one of the single grimmest endings in the history of cinema, even by spaghetti western standards.  And that ending is simply not set up, resulting in one of those rare things--a genuinely shocking finale.

2) Even though director Sergio Cabucci had wanted his regular go-to hero Franco Nero to star in this film, I can’t imagine him doing a better job than Jean-Louis Trintignant.  Something about Trintignant’s eyes and his stone face that makes Silence into a real force of nature more than your standard run of the mill gunslinger.  And since Italian cinema routinely shot silent, the soundtrack added in post, Trintignant makes his non-verbal role an advantage.

3) One of the most intriguing elements of the cast is the use of Vonetta McGee as romantic lead Pauline.  Outside of a line of dialogue spoken by Klaus Kinski’s Loco, nothing is made of the fact that she is a black woman in an all-white town.  She’s simply accepted for who she is, and her romance with Silence is treated as just that--a romance between two people, without any mention of the interracial element.

4) One of the most striking elements of the film is it’s one of the few westerns that take place in the middle of a snowy area.  Carbucci takes full advantage of the great expanses of white to create compositions where characters are alone in the middle of what amounts to negative space, emphasizing the isolation of the film’s setting and the dangerous nature of being left alone in this bleak landscape.
"Wanted...the one person who doesn't think I'm a creepy
perv."

5) I know that Frank Wolff is supposed to be something of a comic relief character, but I rather like how he has an element of bad assedness to him that makes him a much more formidable character than otherwise intended.  And the way he seems to bond with Silence in a weird way rather than stand in his way (something that is exploited in the absolutely weird alternate ending Cabucci had to film for North Africa) gives him an extra dimension other than ‘crazy incompetent sheriff type.

6) I don’t know how many times I can say this....when Klaus Kinski is the head of anything--an insane asylum, a pack of bounty hunters, a restaurant, a dry cleaning franchise--nothing good will come of it.

7) One of the more interesting quirks of this quirky film is the fact that Silence not only carries a Mauser machine pistol (which, to my surprise, is historically accurate given that Carbucci places the story as taking place in 1898), but a stock for it that doubles as its holster.  The shot of Silence practicing his shooting with the stock stand out as almost steampunk in their anachronistic aesthetic.
The use of the film's snowy setting makes it unique
amongst sphaghetti westerns.

8) Given Carbucci’s love of smash cut, the one flashback is extremely jarring, especially given that it’s the only sequence that takes place in a sunny, grassy clime.

9)   I find it fascinating how there’s really little difference between Silence and Loco, even though it’s obvious that Loco is meant to be the bad guy.  They even accept the same price for killing their targets.

10) The fairness of Carbucci’s script (written in collaboration with three other writers) extends to the treatment of the Mormon 'outlaws’ and Marissa Merlini’s cathouse manager Regina.  These people are approached as just...people doing what they have to do to survive, which makes their ultimate fate all the more shocking.

Overall...some great acting, striking cinematography and a truly dark ending makes for one of the best spaghetti westerns ever.  And if you get the DVD release by Fantoma, be sure to check out the brief discussion of the film by director (and spaghetti western enthusiast) Alex Cox and that bizarre ‘happy’ ending.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Ten Statements About....CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014)

"Yeah, I've been thinking...this is a crap costume, Nick."
“I won’t fight you.  I’m your friend.”
“You’re my mission."

1) As with all successful Marvel movies, this film strives to give us a different feel from its peer.  In this case, it’s a Tom Clancy-style political thriller complete with a fetishism of hardware and lots of double blinds and backstabbing.

2) I don’t care what Joe Quesada says; we need Scarlet Johansson’s Black Widow to be featured in her own film.  Hell, we need Black Widow to show up in every Marvel movie from now on (yes, even Guardians of The Galaxy).  One has only to see Johansson in the first act, and her easy chemistry with Chris Evans, to know that This Is True.

3) I love how this film has a different feel from the first Cap film, yet it manages to tie into the first film very, very strongly.  Hell, the plot (beyond the obvious connection) is seeped in the plot of the first, actively evoking one of the villains of that original film in a version that made my comic reader heart beat a little faster.
Yep...I'd let her shoot me....

4) BATROC!  BATROC THE M’FIN’ LEAPER!  And not only does he give Cap a tough, exciting fight at the top of the first act, not only does he make it clear that savate is a martial art Not To Be Fucked With, he is wearing a version of the purple and orange outfit he wears in the comic.  As someone who isn’t ashamed to admit that Batroc is my favorite Cap baddie bar none, this made me geek out.

5) Boy, does Anthony Mackie make The Falcon come off as a bad ass.  In keeping with the Tom Clancy feel of this film, Mackie’s Sam Wilson has a much more militaristic origin and justification for his wings.  But Mackie breathes life into the character, selling the action and fighting sequence with gusto and energy.  And one of the best action sequences involves him and a slew of Helicarrier guns.

6) I find it clever that the film cast Robert Redford, who appeared in his share of political movies--Hell, he was the candidate in The Candidate--as Pierce.  This is an example of stunt casting that works, as the resonance of many of Redford’s previous roles gives more authority to him in this role.
Forget The Winter Soldier...Viva Batroc!

7) While I did like some of the incidental world building (the name drop of Dr. Strange was particularly surprising), I was somewhat disappointed by the use and ultimate fate of Maximiliano Hernandez’ Jasper Sitwell.  Part of that may be because I’ve always contended that Agent Coulson should have been Sitwell, but most of it is because of the character’s legacy in the comics and his build up throughout the movieverse makes his use here seem like a waste.  I wonder if it would have been better to establish another, original character over the course of a few movies or use someone like Victoria Hand, who at least has a rep for being a little more mutable in her alliances.

8) Even though she doesn’t look like Hayley Atwill (but then, maybe Marvel Studios wanted to distance themselves from the whole ‘dating your WWII girlfriend’s descendant thing that adds to the overall creepiness when it comes to Silver Age Marvel Relationship Politics), Emily Van Camp does make a decent Agent 13 on the surface...if they gave her more to do other than pretend to be a nurse and get all contrary with authority figures.  Van Camp gets so little that I wondered why they didn’t just take advantage of the Evans/Johansson chemistry and make Natasha into his romantic interest.
Why?  Because extra Scarjo makes things better...

On second thought, given the awkward way she handles her one action scene, maybe the smallness of her role is a good thing.

9)  While I liked how Evans’ portrayal of Cap is consistent with my view of Steve Rogers as ‘The Last Stand Up Guy’ (the scenes of him visiting an aged Peggy and interacting with The Winter Soldier once he learns who he is drives this home), I have some problems with the way he tacitly approves of the behavior of other people around him.  There’s one scene where he seems to gleefully approve of something very violent that Natasha does--an act he seems to have counted on her doing--that made me real uncomfortable.  I know some people will wave this off as Cap being a soldier, but I don’t think that his being a soldier should supercede what has been established about him up to this point.

10) Look, I know that on one level I went ‘duh,’ when I saw that final title card--but damn if it still doesn’t get me all psyched in the same way all those ‘James Bond Will Return In...’ title cards did when I was a youth.

Overall...an excellent follow-up to an excellent orginal, better in keeping the through line of the character vital than Thor: The Dark World.

I returned to The Regal Atlas Park, and managed to almost totally avoid the Regal First Look.  I was tha assailed with ten trailers if you count the half-assed ‘behind the scenes preview’ of A Haunted House 2.  Amongst the trailers, there was Godzilla (which looks like they’re going to get it right this time), Lucy (in which someone makes an argument for Scarlett Johansson being more than able to carry a Black Widow movie) and, of course, Guardians of The Galaxy (which actually looks pretty good, considering my lukewarm reaction to James Gunn’s previous films).

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Ten Statements--No, Wait, Eleven!About....VERONICA MARS (2014)

Welcome back, O Angel of Vengeance...I agree with Logan
when he says you should always wear this!
1) I know that making a film liberates you from certain things, but it’s still weird for me to hear the characters cursing from time to time.

2) I love how writer/director/series creator Rob Thomas finds a way to squeeze in as many of the show’s recurring characters as possible I was particularly happy to see Veronica bailed out by my favorite character of all, Daran orris' Cliff).  The second act set piece of the high school reunion does allow Thomas to drag in such obscure characters as Korny while also setting up the plot thread that will lead Veronica to the solution of the mystery.

3) There are a couple of really shocking cameos.  Besides Jamie Lee Curtis, whose presence in the film is spoiled by the trailer (and, to be fair, has her cameo extremely early in the film), there’s a surprising and extremely funny extended cameo in the second act that totally blindsided me, and also provides the basis for the post-credit sequence.

4) I am somewhat disappointed that Kristen Bell only dons what I like to call her ‘Angel of Vengeance’
It''s interesting how this shot echoes the first shot of the
pilot...
black gear once, a outfit that makes her look so good that I had to agree with Jason Dohring’s Logan when he says “You should dress like this all the time.”

5) The violence has been upped--there’s a moment involving a hit and run that is as graphic as it is shocking because of the victims involved--but it doesn’t seem out of place in Veronica’s world.  After all, Thomas consciously patterned the series after classic hardboiled detective fiction.

6) If there’s one frustrating thing, it’s the way the subplot about the corruption in the Neptune police department, headed by Jerry O’Connell’s Sheriff Dan Lamb never goes anywhere.  This is established very early on, and there are implications that this corruption has a hand in both the A and B plots, but it’s never resolved.  Even Lamb’s final comeuppance is unconnected to this subplot.

7) I am heartened that the film is very clear that the central relationship is not the one between Veronica and Logan, but between Veronica and Enrico Colantoni’s Keith Mars.  The chemistry between the two is still palatable and immediate, and watching them interact together is a joy to behold.

The Three Musketeers of Neptune High are on the case again!
8) As the series always did, the use of music is very effective.  The way Thomas sneaks in an acoustic version of the show’s theme in the first act to represent Veronica’s distance from her former life is great, and this is probably the only film that would think to use a Luther Vandross song in a suspenseful action sequence.

9)  It is amazing how some recurring members of the cast--Francis Capra’s Weevil, Amanda Noret’s Madison, Brandon Hillock’s Deputy Sachs--seemed to have not changed a bit.  On the other hand, it’s rather shocking to see how other cast members--in particular, Ken Marino’s Vinnie Van Lowe and Duane Daniels’ Principal Clemmons--have not aged well at all.

10) I sort of gathered where Veronica’s character arc was going to end up, but it still didn’t stop me from feeling a frisson of pleasure when she reached that final moment, kicked up her heels and finished her monologue about being an addict.

11) Perhaps the single coolest moment?  The title card at the end where Thomas thanks all of us Marsmellows for their undying devotion and the legions of us who kicked in to the Kickstarter to make this all happen.

Overall...I admit, I’m biased.  I love returning to Neptune and spending two hours with my beloved friends.  I just hope this film makes enough money that a second film will be warranted, because I missed seeing Kristen Bell as The Angel of Vengeance.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ten Statements About....3 DAYS TO KILL (2013)

This film is actually as much about this kind of scene...
1) If you’re thinking this is a script where Luc Besson scratched out ‘Liam Neeson’ and wrote in ‘Kevin Costner,’ you’re kinda right....but then, Besson has been known to work with other Hollywood stars whose light had faded (i.e. Travolta in the unbearable From Paris With Love), and I don’t know if Neeson would have worked as well as Costner does due to the nature of the role and his relationship with the family he’s trying to reunite wih.  Plus working with a group other than his stock players sometimes revitalizes him.

2) Boy, Amber Heard--who is obviously assaying the role Besson would have given his beloved Maggie Grace--is having a ball playing Vivi.  Never showing up in the same outfit or hair color or hairstyle twice, Heard ends up playing the spy master as one part Mae West, one part Veronica Lake and one part Sigourney Weaver.  She’s a delight to watch every time she walks into a shot.

3) I was originally dismayed to see McG had directed this picture....but I have to admit that the man’s style has matured.  Instead of the ADD style of his earliest pictures, McG shows a newfound capacity to handle longer, subtler scenes of genuine human interaction with style and grace.  More importantly, he’s discarded most of his jittercam action style and is able to choreograph his set pieces much more effectively.

4) You know, I can do without the subtitles for the guy who may have a real thick French accent, but is speaking in English.  I mean, yeah his words are garbled, but they’re understandable.
...as it is about this kind of scene.

5) Since this is a Luc Besson penned action movie, the actual villians are little more than video game stage bosses...hell, they even have stage boss names like ‘The Wolf’ and ‘The Albino’ and ‘The Accountant.’  But that’s part of the point when it comes to being a Besson Bad Guy--you’re there to make the bad ass hero look good.

6) Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this version of the Besson thriller is how Costner’s Ethan ends up going to some of his quarry for advice on how to raise his daughter.  This even creates a strange, sympathetic-yet-sadistic relationship between him and Marc Andreoni’s Mitat that has a very Lethal Weapon 2 Mel Gibson/Joe Pesci vibe.  And the narrative arc between these two is so satisfying that the ultimate payoff makes total sense.

7) Perhaps the big problem with the film structurally is that the film’s twist, when it comes--and you know it’s coming the moment The Wolf mentions his partner--isn’t set up at all.  We never see the partner until the final set piece, although we have seen one of his relatives.  It’s a strange and puzzling choice.

8) I find it fascinating how the closer Costner gets to reuniting with his family, the more he begins to look like our concept of a spy--turning in his pseudo-cowboy outfit for a series of more stylish suits as the film progresses until, in the final act, he’s the very model of a superspy.
Yes, Amber Heard...you are Pretty With A Pistol...

9)  Luc, dude...what is it about you having people’s daughters run off to do something naughty and then get, I don’t know, grabbed by slavers or, in this case, nearly raped in a bathroom by three guys?  You got issues you need to come to grips with.

10) You know, as good as the action is at times, some of the best moments involve Costner and his onscreen daughter, Hailee Steinfeld’s Zooey going through some of the rites of passage a father and daughter have, albeit a few years too late.  While I was in no way a fan of Steinfeld’s performance, finding it strident at times (this was a case where the film would have benefited from a much younger Maggie Grace), but there’s a genuine warmth between the two actors which makes their narrative arc thoroughly believable.

Overall...a typical Luc-Besson-European-Set-Action-Thriller like the ones he seems to pump out every year, but with a surprisingly warm emotional center and much more subtlely directed than I ever thought possible by McG.

I ventured into Manhattan to visit The AMC Kips Bay this time.  Trailers included typical action fare as Brick Mansions (Besson’s attempt to Americanize District B13 that might be more interesting because it’s the first posthumous Paul Walker role); Sabotage (Could somebody please tell Arnold to stop...just..stop?); and Edge of Tomorrow (It’s the Annual Tom Cruise sci-fi actioner, only with the ‘what is he doing here?’ presence of Doug Limon behind the camera), plus inexplicably one for a romcom (The Other Woman, which continues to chronicle Cameron Diaz’ ongoing ungraceful journey towards old age).

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Ten Statements About....HOT FUZZ (2007)

One of these people is committed to this satire...one...is still
stuck in Shaun Of The Dead...
“Well, I wouldn't argue that it wasn't a no-holds-barred, adrenaline-fueled thrill ride. But there is no way you can perpetrate that amount of carnage and mayhem and not incur a considerable amount of paperwork."

1) This is perhaps my least favorite of Edgar Wright’s ‘Cornetto’ films, and that’s because the ‘blend’between the comedy and the genre Wright is sending up doesn’t quite work.  This results in a schizophrenic film that does entertain, but never pushes itself into the same range as the films before and after it in Wright’s canon.

2) I think maybe one of the reasons the blend doesn’t work is because of Pegg’s performance as Nicholas Angel.   His performance is strong, but unlike his roles in either Shaun of The Dead or The World’s End, there’s no growth in the character.  Pegg is so exact in his creation of Angel as an action hero that there’s no sense of growth in him.  Sure, there is some lip service to Angel ‘not being able to turn it off,’ but we never see him conquer this outside of being able to bond with Nick Frost’s Danny.  We’re watching a static character, which becomes frustrating as we move forward.

3) While I know a lot of people look towards Timothy Dalton’s Skinner as the stand-out, I rather like Jim Broadbent’s turn as Inspector Butterman--not just because he plays the bumbling, oblivious character relatively straight, but because his straightness is so effective that the big twist in his character’s arc comes as a complete surprise even though it shouldn’t.
"Alright, here's our influences..learn them well, because
we'll be referencing them constantly."

4) Maybe one of the other reasons this film seems so imbalanced is because it seems to draw attention constantly to the films it’s using as reference points.  Instead of being satisfied by creating a sequence that mirrors the backyard chase in Point Break, Wright feels he has to show us Nick and Danny bonding over the movie and shows us clips that are then recreated in the film’s climax.  The reminders serve to force us out of the film’s reality on a regular basis.

5) This movie is really violent like the films it’s satirizing....but unlike the films it’s satirizing, that violence is very, very graphic.  It’s as if Wright is repudiating the casual attitude the classic 80‘s and 90‘s action films had towards death.  The problem is, I don’t know if it works, as each shocking sight of a burnt up corpse or a man’s head being atomized by a falling piece of masonry jars so much you focus on the carnage and not the narrative flow for a few moments.

6) Maybe it’s because the presence of Edward Woodward in the cast inspired Wright to obliquely pay tribute to The Wicker Man, but the whole cultist mufti seems...out of place.  It does give us a cool visual of these hooded figures wandering around the edges of the film, plus ends on a decent laugh moment, but it doesn’t contribute anything to the film.  You could excise the entire cult aspect and not lose a second of the narrative arc whatsoever.

7) One thing that does work is the nature of the main henchman, Rory McCann’s ‘Lurch’ Armstrong.  McCann’s performance is menacing, but has a big edge of sympathy.  McCann manages to convey the fact that Armstrong is not entirely aware of severity of what he’s doing and is, at his core, a very, very young boy.  I know that the final shot of him crying while his mug shot is being taken is supposed to be funny, but there’s something....sad about it.  In a good way.
There is a goose riding in the back seat of this patrol
car.  Your argument is no longer valid.

8) The more I think about it, the more I’m dissatisfied with Nick Frost’s Danny.  Unlike his or Pegg’s turn in The World’s End, or Pegg’s role here, Frost is basically his character from Shaun of The Dead issued a policeman’s uniform.  He brings no nuance to this character, and his role as the facilitator of Nick’s humanization doesn’t quite work.

9) Yes, I know that the sudden turn of the other officers in the Sanford Police Department might seem out of place--save that it makes sense in the context of the type of film Wright is satirizing.  If there is one thing Wright is good at (and I think he’s good at lots more), it’s capturing the feel of movies he’s emulating.  And the best moments are the ones where he’s referencing the tropes of the buddy cop movie (like the 'suiting up’ sequence that begins the third act) without slavishly imitating them.

10) Given the gothic trappings Wright gives this film--not just the cultists, but the crypt sequence towards the end of the second act, the weirdness of some of the peripheral characters, and the likesuch--I have to wonder what it would be like for him to direct a full-on horror film.  It’s not like he doesn’t present these horror trappings effectively.

Overall...while it does have some good moments, this is the least of Edgar Wright’s canon due to a dissonance between the comedy and the buddy cop elements and some dodgy performances.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Ten Statements About....DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (1971)

"The name is Bond, James...yaaaaawn...Bond."
“You killed my only other double, I'm afraid. After his death, volunteers were understandably... rather scarce."
“Such a pity. All that time and energy wasted, simply to provide you with one mock, heroic moment."

1) This is the first of three Bond films written by Robert Maibaum and Tom Mankeiwicz, a writing team perhaps best known for how...incredibly nonsensical the scripts are.  The plot to this film is totally incomprehensible, and the sooner we accept this, the better.

2) In this film, Sean Connery (who was lured back after George Lazenby abandoned the role and John Gavin had already been signed for a then-unprecedented million dollar fee--which he then promptly donated to a local school) looks thoroughly bored.  The only time he looks motivated is in the pre-credit sequence, where he goes through a cross section of criminal types looking for Blofeld (including strangling a girl with her own bikini top!).  He’s not having any fun, he’s not showing much in the ways of signs of life.  It’s almost as if he’s got one eye on the door and the other on the check in his breast pocket.

3) I think a large reason why this film seems so...tacky...to me is because the bulk of it is set in Las Vegas.  Vegas just doesn’t have the same kind of glamour as some of the cities of previous Bond films, and its more blue collar sensibilities seem to leech into the film as a whole, making it feel a whole lot less special than it should be.

4) Yes, Tiffany Case’s character becomes extremely two note (“I want my money/the diamonds” and “I don’t want to go to jail”), and she ends up becoming part of the weirdly smarmy, condescending sexism (even for a Bond film!)  that runs through the Maibaum/Mankeiwicz scripts.  But--and maybe this is primarily Jill St. John’s doing--she is one of the sexier Bond Girls of the 70‘s and fills out that weird bikini with the long sleeves really, really well.

5) In my younger days, I preferred Charles Grey to the other two Blofelds.  While my opinion has changed--I don’t think there has been a definitive Blofeld yet--he does acquit himself well...until that last act, where he dresses up as Princess Margaret and becomes a leering goof.  Maibaum and Mankeiwicz’s tendency to play everything for broad laughs (something that will result in...shudder...Sherif Pepper in the next two films) ruins the menace by making him ludicrous.
Yep...Bond on the 'moon.'  It's gonna be a loooong
decade.

6) Is there any reason--any reason--for the Moon Buggy chase?  Admittedly, it’s typical of the lackluster action throughout this film (the best fight scene happens relatively early), but the sheer what-the-fuckedness of that moment is indicative of how this film is just a string of Stuff That Happens.

7) Don’t get me wrong--I like all of the henchmen in this film, even the campy homosexual hitmen Wint and Kidd.  But they’re a little...sketchy, and maybe calling them sketchy is charitable.  Plus, Wint and Kidd really have no direct confrontation with Bond until the final scene (a trademark of Maibaum and Mankeiwicz that grows old when they do it the third time in Man With The Golden Gun).  Their whole narrative arc really is so disjointed from the main story that they could be cut out with little or no rewriting; it’s as if they’re in the movie solely because they were in the book.

8) It’s funny, but Connery seems to have more chemistry with Jimmy Dean’s Wilfred Whyte than with Norman Burton’s fatherly, ineffectual Felix Leiter.  Hell, Leiter comes off as a mild annoyance that Bond can push aside easily, while Whyte becomes a general ally, even a friend along the lines of Draco from the previous film to the point where Bond consults with him rather than his supposed bestie.
mmmmm...okay, so maybe the 70's wasn't
all bad.

9)  Let’s be honest here....the main stunt in this film--the car driving through the narrow alley on one side--is not only boring, it doesn’t work.  Director Guy Hamilton has to resort to some editing and an obvious inset of Connery and St. John ‘shifting’ from side to side in their car to convince us that the car moved from one side to the other.  It’s just a poor payoff to a very poor car chase that’s all the more dull because of the obviously artificial glimpses of the big crowds calmly standing on the sidelines watching the filming.

10) There’s a very real sense of the movie not, you know, having an actual plot until the very last act. The whole ‘we’re built this giant-ass laser thingie in orbit around the Earth that melts tanks and vaporizes people and we’re going to sell it to the highest bidder’ endgame sees to come out of nowhere.  It’s not that Maibaum and Mankeiwicz don’t set up elements leading us to the giant-ass laser thing; it’s that those elements are either injected seemingly randomly or make no logical sense.  Thus the impact of the film’s pay off doesn’t work.

Overall...the first Bond film of the 70‘s (and one of the first Bond films I saw in the theaters with my natural father) is a mess and a half, with the few bright spots far outweighed by the broad comedy, the illogical plotting and the dullness of the setting and stuntwork.  Not recommended.

And be prepared; this is going to be a long decade.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ten Statements About...CEMETERY MAN a.k.a. DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE (1994)

Love means never having to say 'you've got bits of
my cemetery stuck in you.'
“I'm the watchman of the Buffalora Cemetery. I don't know how the epidemic started. All I know is that some people, on the seventh night after their death, come back to life. I call them Returners, but frankly I can't understand why they're so anxious to return. The only way to get rid of them once and for all is to split their heads open. A spade'll do it, but a dum-dum bullet is best. Is this the beginning of an invasion? Does it happen in all cemeteries? Or is Buffalora just an exception? Who knows? And in the end, who cares? I'm just doing my job."

1) This film is built firmly on the back of Rupert Everett, who was born to play Francesco Dellamorte.  All the laughlines, the tone and the exposition is carried by Everett, and his presence is what moves the film forward even as it becomes--consciously or not--more disjointed narratively.  And speaking of the film’s disjointed narrative--

2) A strong argument (one I agree with) can be made that everything supernatural happens in Francesco’s head.  All the zombies, the strangeness, the angel of death, even the metafictional ending are not acknowledged by any of the other characters save Gnaghi, and given how no one understands Gnaghi save for Francesco, there’s a strong chance that he’s reading meaning into the man-child’s grunts.  This could very well be a film about a mentally ill man and not a weird cemetery where the dead rise after a week.

3) I love how Michele Soavi is unafraid to indulge in his humorous side--and not only in the obvious ways (like how the Mayor tries to fire Francesco even after dying).  My favorite bit is how the photo of The Widow’s statements and, ultimately, her lovemaking with Francesco.   It’s an indication from Soavi that this film should not be taken on its face value.
And the scary thing?  This is the closest thing we have to
a normal relationship in this movie.

4) I love Francois Hadji-Lazaro’s performance as Gnaghi.  A mime by profession, Hadji-Lazaro has to use his physicality to carry his performance, and he does so magnificently.  And while he is used primarily as comic relief, he is able to give Gnaghi a level of pathos and joy at time that is infectious.

5) Anna Falchi....hmmmm.  I appreciate that she is capable of giving us three different characters (she’s referred to simply as ‘she’ in the credits,’ but I refer to the three as The Widow, The Secretary and The Student), but more often than not she isn’t very good, and I keep being distracted by the strangely impossible shape of her body.  She’s at her best as The Widow in the first act, playing off Everett extremely well and managing to get off a few darkly funny lines...plus she has the greatest reaction to the weirdest pick-up line in the world.

6) What does it say about this film that the sweetest and healthiest relationship is between Gnaghi and the decapitated undead head of the mayor’s daughter?  Just saying.
He runs a cemetery, she's turned on by old bones...it's a
match made in...well, somewhere.

7) The thing that’s kinda weird about the Buffalora Cemetery that serves as this film’s backdrop is that it seems to go on forever.  It appears far bigger than Buffalora itself is, which seems to be little more than a town square and some side streets.  Granted, this discrepancy allows Soavi to create some beautiful shots, especially the brief tracking shot pulling away from Francesco’s home so we can see the parade of undead making their way to him as the flash from his frequent gunshots illuminate the night.

8) Having seen all of Soavi’s films, I’m willing to bet that the frequent parallels that he evokes throughout the film--the young girl evoking her lover, whose body is now fused with the motorcycle he loved mirrors The Widow emerging from her grave fused with bits of the grounds of the cemetery Francesco tends to; the ignus fatu that surround Francesco and The Widow when they first make love reflect the fate of The Student after Francesco realizes her true nature--are intentional and meant to be noticed, just as the way his composition of Francesco and The Widow’s first kiss evokes Magritte’s ‘The Lovers.’
All this and..BREASTS!

9) I really like Anton Alexander’s Franco, who truly does provide the only touchpoint Francesco has to the real world...although I continue to be puzzled by how he’s handled in the narrative itself.  He takes this strange turn in the third act that doesn’t quite jibe with his portrayal in the first two acts.  Even if we accept that the actions happen in Francesco’s head, there’s a definite disconnect in Fraco’s narrative arc.

10) I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that I would ever go to a doctor’s office like the one of Clive Riche’s Doctor Verseci.  Even if we take into account my ‘this happens in Francesco’s mind’ theory, that place is a dirty, grotesque horror show of a place.

Overall...a strange and peculiar film that is unlike any other zombie film, this is recommended viewing not only for Rupert Everett’s amazing performance but for the sheer oddness of the narrative and the beauty of the compositions.  One of my favorite, if not my favorite, zombie films.