08 June, 2015

Ciudad Baja (Downtown Heat) ( Jess Franco,1994)

An upmarket Jess Franco film, complete with crane shots, direct sound (!), exploding cars and numerous extras, Downtown Heat reunites Jess Franco with his Jack the Ripper star Josephine Chaplin for one last stab at mainstream filmmaking.
Reasonable budget aside, Downtown Heat is very Franco, with odd, jagged editing rhythm (courtesy of Lina Romay), lingering shots of the sea and Daniel White's ever-present music. Craig Hill is excellent as the villain, showing class and intelligence in a part that would have befitted Howard Vernon. Busy behind the camera as production manager, Antonio Mayans appears in what amounts to a cameo. Lina Romay is memorable as the leader of a street gang while cult actor Victor Israel pops up early on as an alcoholic tramp.
Franco had a gift for shooting simple things in a confusing way - some of the dialogues are framed in disorienting, tight close-ups while potentially elaborate scenes, such as shoot-outs, are treated as throwaway or filmed in the most basic manner imaginable.
Following Downtown Heat, Jess would make the entertaining but poorly received Killer Barbys, before embracing the digital medium and unleashing a bevy of abstract art oddities often shot in his living room.

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