ENTER THE DEN OF SIN: STEALING SUBSTANCE

First off, I want to apologize to anyone who was waiting for my Russ Meyer article. I might get back to it at some point, but let’s just sum it up by saying that most of the Peanut Gallery was more interested in identifying Rob Zombie samples than in anything Kitten Natividad had to say.

And so, after yet another extended absence, the Den has returned to torture our friends with our cinematic eccentricities. On the plate for this week, two Super-Mod movies based on popular comics, both involving super-thieves: the borderline incomprehensible “Modesty Blaise” and the borderline orgasm inducing “Danger: Diabolik”.

The night had really evolved from our (my husband and I) love of Mario Bava and our need to share him with all of our friends. Now that “Danger: Diabolik” has finally been released on DVD, it seemed like a good opportunity to spring him on them. Although seemingly a departure for Mr. Bava, who’s probably best know for his horror outings, “Diabolik” is considered one of his masterworks and one of the most faithful comic adaptations to this day (yes, that includes “Batman Begins”). But alas the age old question, what to program with it? “Barbarella” was suggested as it was from the same period, based on a comic book, and European in tone, but too many people had seen it already and far too much had been written about it. So, we turned to the slightly more obscure “Modesty Blaise”, also based on a comic, this time English, and directed with Mod furor by Joseph Losey (“The Servant”, “Boom”).

It was a respectable turnout for our first Den of Sin since our trip to L.A. with 9 people to start with. Pre-show banter was preoccupied with trying to discern what had happened at the end of “Alone in the Dark” which we had just watched that weekend during our retrospective on the films of my hero, Uwe Boll. Although I was a little apprehensive since I’d read that “Modesty Blaise” drags a bit, we decided to throw it on first and people really seemed into it. To start with anyways.

Graeme, Nick and my husband were won over early on by Modesty’s Asian man-servant, and her awesome stereo system—I mean state of the art communication computer. I was more interested in Monica Vitti (probably best know for her work with Antonioni) and the presence of a young and sexy Terrence Stamp. Owen liked the slide whistle and the cool model work explosions. About 5 minutes in, Mike showed up, crutches and all, so we decided to take the opportunity to pop some kettle corn (sweet & salty baby!) and look at pictures of Thomas Haden Church on the set of “Spiderman 3”.

The plot, from what we could gather, involves super-thief Modesty being recruited by the British government to do something when their man on the inside gets blown up. In exchange for them not double crossing her, Modesty agrees not to keep whatever it is she’s supposed to be stealing back for them. Oh, and I haven’t even gotten to Dirk Bogarde and his collection of insanely sized glassware.

At around the 20 minute mark Damon and Yael showed up, and Yael, in her first movie night appearance got immediate props for referring to Dirk as “The Night Porter”. The rest of us on the other hand, were getting very, very restless. I mean, I’m all for stylish movies, but my God the Mod-aesthetic was maddening. I think most of us were driven to drink etc. in the absence of proper psychotropics with which to better understand the “plot”. My husband on the other hand clung to his belief that he had to like the film because of his admiration for Richard Lester and “It’s a Hard Day’s Night”, but I had to point out that “The Knack and How to Get It” has not aged well.

Corinne started to lose it when Modesty started talking to herself. “What kind of super-thief talks to herself?” she wailed. Graeme and Nick helpfully pointed out that Hudson Hawk sang to himself, not even knowing how prophetic that statement would be. That’s right, about three quarters of the way into the movie it turns into a musical, with Terrence Stamp and Monica Vitti warbling duets along the lines of “It’s a Jolly ‘oliday With You Bert”. And it still refused to end. There was mime torture, rainbow smoke (a hallmark of the Mod-movie), Velcro gauntlets, lots of “brown face” and numerous uttering of “is this over yet?!?!!” And then it ended. For no reason. On a wacky zoom shot. Just like my husband had called it half an hour before it happened.

The evening continues in part two of ENTER THE DEN OF SIN: STEALING SUBSTANCE>>>




Posted on November 30, 2005 in Features by
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