East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


It’s all fun and games until… – The Last of Sheila

The Last of Sheila is a 1973 mystery movie that I first saw somewhere in the early ’80s, during a long summer, and indeed, what’s better than a good chiller on a hot summer night?
Or in a cold winter night – and so I re-watched the movie last night, to see if it was as good as I remembered.
Well, mostly it was.

The basic premise: Sheila was killed in a hit-and-run accident. One year later, her husband reunites a number of friends on his yacht to play a game. How the game is connected to Sheila’s death is part of the mystery.

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In the shadow of Arséne

And so finally the new Lupin TV series hit the screens, as a Netflix Original, and I spent a day watching it while my computer system was slowly grinding back to normal. Together with the fifth season of The Expanse, this was for me the highest expected show in the late2020/early 2021 season.
So, is it any good?

Short review: it is very good.

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New Year’s Movie: Shadow in the Cloud (2020)

Back when I was a kid, we used to go to the movies on New Year’s Day, or in the following Sunday – a film with all the family in the afternoon, and then a stop in a cafeteria or a tea room somewhere for some hot chocolate and a few cookies, and then home to heat up the leftovers from yesterday’s New Year’s Eve dinner or today’s New Year’s Day lunch.

Those days are gone forever, to quote the poet, but I still like to watch a new movie at the start of the new year, and as luck would have it, the masters of the streaming platforms have decided to start distributing on the first day of 2021 Roseanne Liang’s very pulp-ish action thriller Shadow in the Cloud.
And so I watched it, and it was a perfect way to start off the year.

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Through the eyes of others

So apparently a Russian TV station celebrated the end of 2020 by broadcasting a fake Italian TV show, full of trashy songs and ridiculous guests, including the actresses that starred on the (equally fake) movie “Le quattro putane” (basically “the four hos”).
What a fun, classy joke, uh?
Happy New Year, you filthy animals.

It is a well known fact that trashy 1980s Italian shows have been a premium export commodity in the last thirty years, gaining a disturbing popularity in parts east, but it’s not so funny when you find out you are the butt of a trans-national joke.

And possibly even more disquieting is the general reaction of the Italian public, that cheered at this ugly thing.
Sure, it’s important to be able to laugh at ourselves, but on the other hand, should we really be proud of being considered a nation of dorks, lechers and whores?
Asking for a friend…

The shows that the Russians “parodied” were not a high point in our national culture, but certainly left a scar on the psyche of the nation. So much so that many consider such trash an important part of their personal background.
I’m probably showing my age, but I do not find it particularly pleasant.

In the end, there is only one thing I can do at this point to balance things off…


The same name but a different scent: Black Narcissus (2020)

There are two titles, two TV series, I’ve been expecting with much anticipation in this End of the Year time: one is the forthcoming new French Arséne Lupin series, and the other is the BBC co-produced adaptation of Rumer Godden’s Black Narcissus.
Both titles are an important part of my past, both promise a different take on a classic, both are right up my alley, in both cases the bar is set very high.
And tonight, I spent three hours watching Black Narcissus.
So what follows is sort of an instant-blog.

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Looking for adventure, or Return of the Raiders of the Lost Franchise

One of the (moderate and amply tolerable) down sides of co-hosting a podcast about horror is that sometimes you get to watch some pretty bad movies. Doing Paura & Delirio with my accomplice Lucy, we usually stick to movies we like, or at least we find interesting and worth a re-watch, but sometimes this comes with some less-than-welcome attachments (like when a pretty good movie suffered through an unnecessary remake). And after all, “horror” is such a wide and old genre, that you really get a huge variety of films, from straight-up ghost stories (that I like), to disturbing science fiction flicks (that I also like), to slashers and gorefests (that I like a lot less).

So, I was coming out of the viewing of a pretty boring and blood-drenched horror, and in need of a good palate cleanser, and I decided to look for a good adventure movie, possibly with some pulp-ish vibe. Is there anything new (or old but I missed it) that could help me spend a nice after-dinner and make me forget the dog I’ve just watched?

And it turns out that the label “adventure” is being attached, on IMDB and on streaming service catalogs, to a wide variety of stuff that… hmm…

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