10/31/09

King Of New York



Camp classic or schlock film?

Christopher Walken brilliant or hammy?

Ingmar Bergman on Dick Cavett (Part 2)

Ingmar Bergman on Dick Cavett (Part 1)

Happy Halloween! In Search Of... Haunted Castles.

I stumbled upon this series this morning, which is from the mid-70s and hosted by Leonard Nimoy. The first one I watched was "In Search Of Amelia Earhart" and there is one guy who is a nut and thinks that she was captured by the Japanese and made into a spy. Ok, like, what is the more likely possibility? That, or crashing into the sea? Hmmm.

Anyway, since it is Halloween, this isn't really a film but there are some creepy episodes about haunted castles, and I think it is apropos. Here it is in 3 parts:







Enjoy being scared!

Kevin Hooks in J.T. (Part 5)

Kevin Hooks in J.T. (Part 4)

Kevin Hooks in J.T. (Part 3)

Kevin Hooks in J.T. (Part 2)

Kevin Hooks in J.T. (Part 1)

This was a television movie from 1968, starring one of my favorite actors from the 1970s, Kevin Hooks. Later in the 70s, Hooks would star in the tv show, The White Shadow, playing on e of Ken Howard's delibquents.

But, in this film came the inspiration for my great trilogy of poems base on a small black doppelganger for myself, named Kevin, in honor of the actor. Hooks is now a television director.

Here is part one:

10/30/09

Ernest Shackleton

Some years ago, this man's life was made into a television miniseries. Never saw it, but it's gotten great reviews.

Here is a clip on the life:


Here is a clip from the miniseries, with Kenneth Branagh in the lead role:

Nelly Bly



Never understood why Amelia Earhart got so much attention whilst Nelly Bly led a much more adventurous and successful life. This clip above is cute, but Google the names, compare lives, and I think you will see that Bly was a more worthy heroine for girls to emulate.

10/29/09

New Amelia Film.

Speaking of biopics, this is a new film about Amelia Earhart starring Hillary Swank as Amelia. Ok, already it has a strike against it. I remember reading a terrible novel titled "I am Amelia Earhart" that Dan has reviewed. It is quite funny because the author is also the same one who wrote this book about a tampon tea party.

Or as Dan says: " In closing, I think Howard Stern was right- Don Imus should be shot, and Jane Mendelsohn sexually assaulted (note the gentility) by Cossacks. Perhaps then she could feel the pain she gave me. Cue the bodice. Sing, Elmer, sing!"

Another Woman

This is one of Woody Allen's greatest films, and a devastating redo of the themes from Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries.

This scene shows the lead character, played by Gena Rowlands, getting hit with her own words by her own brother. The crux is that what she says is absolutely true, but the way she said it, and in what context, is what mattered:


Here the woman meets 'another woman' with similar problems and a similar life history:


The revelation within, and the acting by Rowlands, is superb. Anyone with the misfortune of knowing Academics, understands just how brilliantly Allen nails this scene.

Here's a link to the trailer.

This film offers alot to people going through life changes; especially women coping with the end of a marriage. It displays regrets and the human ability to deny responsibility for their own parts in their failures.

The film's end is realistic. There is no easy out, but the lead character has gotten to the point where she sees that the future is not all despair, and that by recognizing her truer self in the past she can then focus on the future. Ok, what I've typed sounds soap operatic, but Allen takes what could be melodrama and makes it into high art.

Along with Stardust Memories, this film is one of the 5 or 6 greatest in the Allen canon and I recommend it to all.

10/28/09

Kronos

This is a film, like The Monolith Monsters, that is actually a B film that is quite good on any level, especially the intelligence. It's not great cinema, but its 'monster' is really an embodiment of man's ravaging consumerism.

Here's the trailer:

The Mysterians

One of the few Japanese sci fi films sans giant monsters (but not giant robots)was The Mysterians (1959):

Horrors Of The Red Planet

AKA The Wizard Of Mars. A John Carradine low budget sci fi romp that, while not good, actually has, in its cheap effects, some scary moments. It's like that because real nightmares are not the slick CGI infested films of Hollywood, rather the tattered and torn things of life which unnerve, rather than scare, the self.

A taste:

10/27/09

Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Jessica Biel



Cheap sexist plug. Enjoy!

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Ok, the remake has the gorgeous Jessica Biel with a wet t-shirt. But, aside from that, this is the better film, in terms of kitsch. It also has John Larroquette's silly narration, which spawned the whole 'base don a real story' nonsense.

The trailer:


Tobe Hooper has done other films in the last 35 years, but none has had the impact on horror the way this film did.

Last House On The Left

Wes Craven's first film. Poorly acted and written.

Hence, so bad it's good. Bad Manson Family era crap:



The fellation scene where the lead killer's dick is bitten off is classic. Great garbage!

Halloween



An overrated film. Jamie Lee Curtis is cute and sexy, but this was a film that ripped off better, earlier films, and spawned crap like A Nightmare On Elm Street and Friday the 13th.

10/26/09

Tarkovsky's Stalker

This is great. This is a terrific film by Andrei Tarkovsky, and free online.

Here is my review of Stalker.

The film:

Vampyr

This free version of the great Carl Theodor Dreyer film is shorter than some cuts, but, hey, it's free, and a terrific film.



Here's my take on Vampyr.

10/25/09

Lars Von Trier: Antichrist (2009)

I just caught this movie on big screen (IFC theater). Trier succeeds to irritate the viewer (almost as strongly as his Breaking The Waves).
This is the prologue, I was surprised to find it unedited on YouTube (soon it will be removed I'm almost sure). I will not comment on the movie now... but I enjoyed this prologue, first the almost still B&W pho(cinema)tography, the annoyingly -malignant- peaceful mood (despite the disturbing content).
Notice the analogy of the face of the falling kid with the "falling" father towards the end, also the orgasmic satisfaction after the fall.... this is just the start of the movie.
Trier is even irritating in dedicating the movie to Tarkovski (a very christian movie maker).

Marcello Mastroianni

What would 1950s leading men be without the great Marcello Mastroianni? Federico Fellini did not give him his first break, but without his role in La Dolce Vita (1959), would Marcello have become the icon he is?

An homage:


Here is the moment in the film, La Dolce Vita, that became one of the great moments in film- for kitsch as well as dramatic value within the film. I even used an image from this scene as a Cinemension logo for a few years.

Gunnar Björnstrand

Gunnar Björnstrand was Ingmar Bergman's top leading man throughout his films of the 1950s, until time and age ceded that title to Max Von Sydow.

Here is a clip from Winter Light:


Watch Winter Light (1962, Ingmar Bergman) in Culture  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

I wrote:

'Winter Light is simply one of the greatest Socratic dialogues ever put to film, and as close to perfect a screenplay as a mortal is likely to produce. The acting, in every single role, is pitch perfect, yet Bergman regular Ingrid Thulin gives one of the great dominant female performances in film history, as Märta Lundberg, an atheistic substitute school teacher in a small town with a now unrequited love for a Lutheran Pastor named Tomas Ericsson (Gunnar Björnstrand), head of a church whose congregation has dwindled to a handful. The gorgeous Thulin is at her frumpiest and dowdiest looking in this film, and it seems that after an illness, she lost the affection of Tomas, with whom she had lived with for two years.'


It is also, if not Björnstrand's best performance, certainly his best in a very important film.

John Agar

King of the Leading Men of 1950s B Films: John Agar!

Click here for his website.

The classic trailer of The Brain From Planet Arous:


Here is the trailer for The Mole People:

Lloyd Bridges

His sons are more famous now, but back in the day Lloyd Bridges was sort of a poor man's version of Kirk Douglas.



here he is in High Noon- perhaps his best role:


Here he is with his boys at the 1989 Oscars:

Kirk Douglas on What's My Line?



From the classic game show from the 1950s.

Champion



One of Kirk Douglas's best early career outings was in 1949's Champion.

I wrote of it:
'At its core, though, Champion- like Raging Bull, is not a boxing movie, merely a film whose structure uses boxing to tell its tale. Midge, like Jake La Motta, is not a nice guy. He’s a user, a liar, and egoist, and a bit of a sadist. We learn, in early scenes with Emma, that he was abandoned as a child, by a father who left and a mother who could only take care of sickly Connie, and grew up in an orphanage. One merely needs to hear the word orphanage to understand the rage that lights Midge’s eyes from the first shots of the film, as well as the few moments he speaks of his hatred for poverty and the condescension it brings. Yet, despite his personal decay, Midge is a savvy guy, realizing that boxing is ‘like any other business, only here the blood shows.’ And it does in this film, as well. If only Ron Howard’s film had such sanguine hues I may have never rediscovered this gem of a film, and bravura performance by Douglas.'


Nailed it again!

Lust For Life



This is a better film than Vincent And Theo.

Vincent And Theo

Vincent And Theo, by Robert Altman, is a bad film, as I explained:

It’s been a number of years since I saw the 1956 film on Vincent Van Gogh, Lust For Life, based on the Irving Stone novel, directed by Vincente Minnelli, but I recall it was far superior to this tripe. There, Vincent was played by Kirk Douglas as a passionate artist, with problems, whose work was at the forefront. Altman has Roth play Vincent as a raging psychopath with a brush. Theo was seen, in the earlier film, as a sane man, while Altman casts his syphilitic Theo as almost as nuts as his older brother. The earlier film also had a very memorable soundtrack, scored by Miklos Rosza, whereas Gabriel Yared uses an odd industrial rock soundtrack which infects the film with dissonant sounds that seem to portray Vincent Van Gogh as a punk rocker, not a tormented artist, and this even during a scene where Vincent is being eulogized as he lays in his casket. Bizarre, awful, and wholly inappropriate.
Unfortunately, virtually every scene- save the first, where Altman wisely intercuts the opening scene of the two brothers in an argument over Vincent’s decision to ‘become an artist’ with a London auctioning of Van Gogh’s work for millions of dollars- in this dismally long film is like that cemetery scene. There is no sense to be made from this film, save that great artists suffer, syphilis rots the mind, and the arts world is filled with phonies and sycophants. This is what this film was needed for? Both Rhys and Roth play the brothers Van Gogh in one note (or two): weird and weirder. Yes, we see brief snippets of the women in their lives, such as Theo’s shrewish and selfish wife Jo Bonger (Johanna Ter Steege), and a few other hangers-on, but none with a significant enough role to leave an impact.


A clip:


This is possibly Robert Altman's worst film.

The Agony And The Ecstasy



While not a fan of Carol Reed's films, save The Third Man (see here for that), this film is doubtlessly better than the artsy biopics she mentioned.

10/24/09

Sylvia Trailer.

Here's another biopic, this time on Sylvia, the 2003 film with Gwyneth Paltrow as Plath. It's not a good film either--rather cliched, trite and the filming itself isn't interesting or good, and neither is the screenplay. The directors of these films just love to portray the lives of these artists as so pedestrian. When I saw this I thought Daniel Craig was cute (pre-Bond) and too good looking to portray Ted Hughes. Here's the trailer to this film, and you can watch the whole film on You Tube if you want. Part 1 is embedded.

So enjoy watching! It's a real whodunit!



Part 1:

Total Eclipse: Rimbaud and Stuff.

Here's another biopic, this time on Rimbaud. I've seen this one, and Leo Dicaprio plays Rimbaud and some other guy plays Verlaine. Ok, you know the story right? Melodrama, love affair, poetry, death, etc. One of Dan's friends loves this film but I think it's pretty much worthless.

It just gives all the cliches of the artist, one by one. And the film referred to Rimbaud as a "genius" and Verlaine as a "great poet." Well, Rimbaud had some moments here and there but was overall, an immature writer. But Verlaine sucked ass.

Beat Trailer.

Some were discussing Ginsberg on the e-list and so I was put in mind of this film. I've actually not seen it--Dan reviewed it, but I didn't bother watching it, as he wasn't too favorable of it and the Beats give me a headache anyway. Ron Livingston, the guy from Office Space, plays Ginsberg.

Kurosawa's Ran

Watched this classic last night. Don't think it's a great film, and is about on par with the other late epic he made, Kagemusha.

Both are too long, but Ran lacks the excellent characterizations and historical fidelity of Kagemusha.

The trailer:


Ran never plumbs within the human psyche the way Seven Samurai, Ikiru, or The Bad Sleep Well do.


- The funniest bloopers are right here

Carl Switzer



Better known as Alfalfa, from the Our Gang/Little Rascals comedies, Carl Switzer is the only actor, outside of Jimmy Stewart, better known for things outside of It's A Wonderful Life.

The colorized clip above is notable in that black child Buckwheat actually shares a bed with three other white boys AND a grown white man.



Here is a tribute to all the gang. I watched these all on tv in the early 70s. Nostalgia on my dad's part played a part, but the shorts were funny, human cartoons.

Stymie was my favorite of the three main black characters: Farina, Stymie, and Buckwheat; as the series ran almost two decades long, but, let's face it, Alfalfa and Spanky were the two core characters in the series at its most popular, in the early to mid 1930s. The heights (or depths) of the Great Depression were the time these kids mattered most to youngsters.

Alfalfa was always the ladies man, albeit wimpily.

The above tribute is quite sad: note the early deaths of many, and a few tragic ones- and a few murders.

The Donna Reed Show

Although now known almost exclusively for her role in It's A Wonderful Life, Donna Reed had a television show in the early 1960s, which was a mild hit.

Some clips:


10/23/09

It's a Wonderful Life.

With the nip in the air, I am already looking forward to watching one of my all time fave films this December. The film runs twice on NBC--On Christmas Eve and the weekend 2 weeks before. Even though we have the DVD I'll probably watch both times.

I was telling a friend who has yet to watch it how great it is, that it's not just some happy, annoying film that shoves its values down your throat, but rather, one that can help get you to appreciate what you have in life, helping you realize that a wonderful life is not necessarily one full of fortune and travel, but one that has impact.

Here is the trailer to this wonderful film, and I hope you'll consider watching it this year. It's the #1 essay on Cosmoetica with over 50 million reads thus far, which says something. Check out the trailer and read the review here.

Porky Pig Blooper



Yet another reason Warner Bros. made a bitch of Disney.

1940 Bloopers

1935 Bloopers

1936 Bloopers

Bogey Bloopers

Some funny outtakes.

Before tv, the studios would send these blooper reels out at year's end as shorts between films.

10/22/09

Lorre And Sydney Greenstreet

Cute clip featuring Patty Andrews of the Andrews Sisters- big musical stars in the 1940s.

10/21/09

Peter Lorre Montage



Interesting.

Peter Lorre, Again



Casablanca is a good solid little film, but it's not a masterpiece. As I wrote in my review of it:

'Casablanca is quite a modern film, in terms of pacing (and in some aspects of editing), for within the first ten or twelve minutes, you feel as if you know these archetypal characters (for good or ill), as if you’d already had a full movie’s worth of them under your belt, and this is part of the reason why the film sucks you in to its vortex, and gets better, subjectively, as it goes on, even if, objectively, it’s a fairly static film, in terms of plotting. Yet, the film has not dated well. The two most obvious aspects of this are the not so special effects (at the level of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1930s British films) and the handling of the black character, Sam. Yes, the film reflects its time fine enough, in that sense, but there still is a cringe-inducing quality to Dooley Wilson’s slightly above coonish attitude of deference to Rick. Despite many critics’ claims that the film portrays the two men as equals, this is clearly not so. Sam’s deference is typical of black depictions of the time, as if he had no personal nor interior life of his own, as if he exists merely as an extension of his white friend and employer. The worst scene in the film, though, in this aspect, is when Bergman’s Ilsa offhandedly refers to same as the ‘boy’ who plays piano, even though he’s clearly fortysomething years old, and a decade and a half or more older than Ilsa. The moment is teeth-grinding to a modern sensibility because, unlike the black characters in Gone With The Wind, with this film set in France’s colony (as well as Africa), there was no reason to not reflect the more modern and accepting French attitude toward blacks. Naturally, this aspect dates the film, cementing it to a bygone era (in the worst sense), as the lack of other contravening social or aesthetic pluses means this flaw is unmitigated. This, and many of the other flaws I’ve enumerated, certainly makes Casablanca far from the great or ‘perfect film’ its champions claim. The truth is, the more one cogitates on the film, the more flaws one finds with it, and the lower it sinks in estimation. Yet, this serves to point out the power and correctness of objectively critically evaluating art, because it does not allow personal biases to cloud judgment, pro or con; for, criticism is analysis, and analysis is always about evaluation, for analysis without evaluation is merely recapitulation and description, and what is the point of merely describing a work of art? The art should always be its own best description.'


But, there's also the acting. I wrote of the three main leads:

'....it is also the flaw of acting that ranges from mediocre to bad. First, let’s go with the performances of some of the leading characters, and let me start by stating that most of the characterizations of the acting abilities of the actors in this film, by critics, are often quite wrongheaded. Let us start with the three top billed actors, Humphrey Bogart as club owner Rick Blaine, Ingrid Bergman as his ex-lover Ilsa Lund, and Paul Henreid as Ilsa’s husband, the Czechoslovakian Nazi Resistance outlaw, Victor Laszlo. Virtually all critiques of this trio leave Henreid as the odd man out, mainly because the film focuses on the love angle between Rick and Ilsa. But, from a purely technical standpoint, Henreid gives, by far, the best acting performance of the trio (and, it’s not even close). Because it is the most restrained and understated, however, it usually gets dismissed as stiff acting, rather than good acting of an intentionally stiff character. Well, the character of Victor is certainly restrained, and a bit stiff, but the performance of Henreid is not. In many ways, his performance reminds me of the performance of Masayuki Mori, as the murdered samurai husband in Akira Kurosawa’s 1950 film, Rashomon. Like Mori, Henreid conveys emotional depth and complexity with his eyes alone, or even the slight lift of a brow. He is restrained, but this is because his character is über-disciplined. He (the character) is a concentration camp escapee, and a guerilla fighter, who has to not draw attention to himself, and must repress his emotions. He is not demonstrative in his overt feelings toward Ilsa, but one need only look at Henreid’s eyes, and the physical postures of his constant leaning in toward Ilsa, to see how Victor truly adores his wife. And, despite what some critics say, his two time overt declaration of love for Ilsa stands in stark positive contrast to the more cartoonish and caveman-like refusal to utter such words by Bogart’s Rick. Furthermore, Victor shows his love for Ilsa throughout the film, while Rick’s love is displayed only in the final scene, but even Rick’s final gesture is not something that emanates from within. Why? Because he ends up doing the very thing that Victor initially suggests to Rick that he is willing to do- allow Rick to leave Casablanca and take his wife with him, for her own safety! Why? Because we never get a moment that we doubt Victor’s love for Ilsa, whereas there is the sneaking suspicion that Rick merely had the hots for Ilsa, even if he blew it up into more than it was. That not a single critic, to my knowledge, in the nearly seven decades since the film’s release, has ever commented on Rick’s final ‘grand and altruistic gesture’ merely being the inverse of Victor’s earlier suggestion, and that this places Victor at the center of the film, heroically, maturely (in contrast to the more puerile Rick and Ilsa), romantically, and dramatically, is further proof that a) most critics simply are not good enough at their jobs to break down more complex aspects of a work of art, and b) they too often rely on critically cribbing others in their profession. This means that a few ‘talking points’ per film are disseminated by the most widely known and read critics, and all the ancillary ‘second and third tier critics’ merely regurge the same talking points, supplemented with their own biased and emotion-bases yeas or nays on the film. But, getting back to Henreid’s characterization, one need only look at the cheesy scene in the bar, where Victor hears the Nazis singing their song, Die Wacht Am Rhein, and dares to get the band to play La Marseillaise, then look in Victor’s eyes, to see that, far from what critics claim, Victor is a man of great passion and principles from the get go, and this break from his usual restraint gains in power precisely because it is a break, but one that seems wholly natural for a man who has been frustrated for the bulk of his scenes in the film, and then feels he is having his face rubbed in it. While the political implications of the scene have lost their resonance (as do most blatantly political gestures in art), Henreid’s volcanically restrained performance in that scene has not. '


But, look at Lorre's performance. It is small, canned, and off the rack, as was much of his work in Hollywood, after M skyrocketed him to acclaim. Hollywood did not invent typecasting in the last quarter century, but just compare the scenes and writing.

'Tis a shame, but Lorre never really hit his full potential as an actor, although he may have cashed in well.

Fritz Lang's M

Ok, back to more serious things.

Fritz Lang is likely best noted for two films, his silent Metropolis (1927), a film which wielded an enormous impact in the genres of science fiction and apocalyptic films. It also was a forerunner (moreso than The Golem) of the perils or robotics theme that has entwined many a film since then. In fact, forget robotics, it really is the precursor of the whole Artificial Intelligence idea in film.

It is a landmark film, and had it been the only great contribution to film, from Lang, it would have been enough. But, he also pioneered the serial genre of film with The Spiders (1919-1920), contributed films to the Mabuse mythos of German cinema, became influential in 1950s film noir, but, most of all, asides from Metropolis, created M, with Peter Lorre as a pedophilic serial killer.

Yes, the serial killer film genre was not created in the 1980s, but a half century earlier, in 1931. The film, which depicted the depravity loose in Weimar era Germany was, ironically, used by the Nazi Party as an agitprop film for their rise to power to 'clean up' German society of its filth and gangsterism.

In fact, once Hitler came to power, Joseph Goebbels offered Lang the post of top German war film propagandist. To his credit, Lang swiftly and discreetly left the country.

The trailer for M:


Yes, Peter Lorre's capture and trial by the German Underworld, who want to get him out of the way because his crimes are bringing down too much heat on their crimes, is a bit too much and unrealistic, but given what preceded this film, psychologically, it is one of the early sound era's masterpieces of character exposition.

And Lorre really does a good job at restraining himself. Again, to modern eyes, it's melodramatic, but seen as a progression toward the realism that swept films in the 1950s through 1970s, it shows Lang was ahead of his time. That dramas in the USA have regressed to 1930s level melodrama, even lacking the witty screenplays of a Frank Capra, is really damning.

Here is the whole film:


Oh, and note the technique established her, and used in all subsequent great horror films- Lorre is never really glimpsed fully until nearer the end. Lang lets the viewer imagine the child killer. Then, we get the recoil when it's the seemingly harmless and pathetic looking Lorre.

10/20/09

Disney Not Only Sucks; They’re Hypocrites!

Okay, so I already discussed how great art ripped into Disney, but here I’ll discuss how Disney simply ripped off great art. There’s a significant difference between the two.





OK, so now it should be obvious where the ripoff occurred. The difference is that South Park actually skewered and satirized Disney, while conveying something of actual depth re: p.c., political censorship, and intolerance of all stripes—even p.c. stripes. In other words, it completely turns Disney’s usage of it on its head and it’s not only satire and tweaking, but outright pastiche.

Disney, on the other hand, merely stole the techniques that Stanley Kubrick used so brilliantly in 2001: A Space Odyssey, for no particular reason, aside from the hippies of the late ’60s and early ’70s. In 2001, it conveys intergalactic, and possibly interdimensional travel; thus it serves a very basic narrative purpose, despite claims to the contrary by naysayers—Kubrick simply didn’t like condescending to his audiences and wrapping every aspect of a story up in a nice little bow. In Disney, it’s a gimmick.

Why Mighty Mouse Sucked!

Look at this poorly drawn and written garbage.

No self-awareness, no parody. Hell, it's sub-Hanna-Barbera crap!

This was made 50 years ago, but, other than the convention of an outer space alien, is there any comment on the cultural import of the original UFO craze of the 1950s?

No.

Imagine a Looney Tune on this subject, had the studio not canned all but the Roadrunner series by then.

This stuff? Disgraceful.

Mighty Mouse

Never a big fan of the original cartoon shorts from the 1940s, but this is interesting, that Ralph Bakshi (of Fritz the Cat infamy) did a remake of the concept for 1980s television. As that was at least a decade past my last Saturday morning cartoon watching, I never saw it.

But, given this credit sequence, did I miss much?

10/19/09

South Park Kicks Disney’s Ass

Dan and Jess mentioned a few South Park songs and rewatching them, I eerily realized they were parodies of some Disney songs from nearly 20 years ago. I looked it up online to match the songs, and here you can compare the parody to the original, and frankly, the riotous parodies trump the pabulum originals:









As I said, South Park is definitively better.

Reefer Madness

After celebrating the South Park movie's great use of profanity, I thought of other films whose material was once considered outrageous.

Of course, this brings up the schlock agitprop anti-marijuana film Reefer Madness, from the depths of the great Depression.

It's fre online, and here at Cinemension:

Uncle Fucker!

Here's the "film" that gets everyone to "Blame Canada."



I never thought farting could be so funny. At least it's self-aware and poking fun at vulgarity!

Rabbit Of Seville



Vis-a-vis Fantasia, see what I mean?

Fantasia

Given its vaunted reputation, one would think that Walt Disney's Fantasia would be, well, a good film.

It isn't. It's self-indulgent and a bit high-falutin'. The mix of Classical music with the cartoons has too much seriousness, and one need only compare any of the vignettes within with some of the classic Looney Tunes put out by Warner Bros. Especially those cartoons wherein Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck is involved in something artistic- such as cartoons where operas are spoofed, or where Bugs directs an orchestra.



To be fair, a segment like this can be seen as a precursor to music videos, which only came about decades later, but is it anything that stirs a desire to rewatch? I don't think so.

Example:


Ok, it's nice. I guess. But does it really entertain? Does it enlighten?

And this is the problem with all of the Walt Disney cartoons (even throough today's). They are well made, but forgettable. There is nothing approaching the ribaldry of Bugs and Daffy.

The Looney Tunes were the rock-n-roll of animation, whereas Disney was the parentally-approved pabulum kids were forced to watch.

But you're all grown up now, right?

10/18/09

It's Easy, M'Kay...

Here's another funny one from South Park. "You don't have to spend your life addicted to smack, homeless on the street giving handjobs for crack..."

Satan Sings

The homoerotic undertones to the South Park film, and this song, about the Devil's queerfest with Saddam Hussein, is precious:


In fact, it's questions about the nature of evil are actually quite deep.

What Would Brian Boitano Do?

This is another great song from the South Park movie, a film which proves that the word Fuck can not only be used well in art, but utterly brilliantly.

This song has a little profanity, but it's funny:

Blame Canada!

I was thinking of good movie songs and this one came to mind....

I've only seen the South Park T.V. show a couple of times because I don't have cable, and overall I think Family Guy is funnier, but this movie was kick ass funny.

Sometimes you have to blame somewhere for the world's problems, and I say Canada is as good as any to take the blame. "They're not even a real country anyway..."



This South Park movie I thought was going to be dumb but it was pretty clever and well written. And here's where all the Canadians speak aboot their frustrations. Then the American Ambassador says, "Fuck Canada."

The Rules Of The Game



Jean Renoir's The Rules Of the Game is one of film's most overrated 'classics.'

As I wrote:
'It is the admirers of the film’s claimed greatness who believe it so for the wrong reasons, whereas the film, unadorned and dehagiographized, is merely a good little screwball comedy of manners. In style and tone it has much in common with Ingmar Bergman’s later Smiles Of A Summer Night, save that there is a bit more substance in Renoir’s film, if less style and internal narrative and character coherence. I.e.- it is absurd that, after dodging Schumacher’s bullets, Marceau and he would buddy up to plot the murder of Octave and Christine- whom they believe is Lisette. First, why would Schumacher not want to strangle Marceu for his dalliances with Lisette and costing him his job? And secondly, why would the carefree Marceau want to kill Lisette? Schumacher’s rage is plausible, but Marceau’s? These are the sorts of flaws that Robert Altman’s later Gosford Park did not make.'


In short, the film has many flaws, but that does not mean it's not an enjoyable romp- but in a Top Ten list?

Pshaw.

Sergio Leone Montage



Compare this director to Ozu, and his pillow shots, then notice how excellence in an art form can take on many guises.

Yasujiro Ozu's Pillow Shots

A compendium of familiar Ozu film images:

Throne Of Blood

This is cool. One of Kurosawa's whole feature length films is free online. Throne Of Blood isn't great, but second rate Kurosawa is still cool.

Read my review before or after the film and compare thoughts.

Kurosawa Online Documentary

A brief online film:


Ignore the mispronunciation of Venice, as Veneese!

Akira Kurosawa's Short Film 'Crows'

From his anthology film Dreams:

10/17/09

Krzysztof Kieślowski Documentary (Part 3)

Krzysztof Kieślowski Documentary (Part 2)

Krzysztof Kieślowski Documentary (Part 1)

Interesting take on scenes from the great Three Colors Trilogy:

From Hell It Came

Ok, note the declension in film quality as I post today.

This is a bad film, but not one that is so bad that it is laughably Plan 9 From Outer Space bad.

I'll let director Joe Dante explain the trailer:

Hunchback Of The Morgue



Only in recent years did I get into foreign films. As a child, other than the British Hammer films and Japanese Toho monster films, foreign film, to me, meant Paul Naschy.

This film was schlock, but the trailer gives a good idea of just what the viewer is in store for.

Alain Delon on the Dick Cavett Show

Gotta love Youtube. The stuff you can find online is just terrific.

Here is an interview of French superstar actor Alain Delon by Dick Cavett, who, I think, was likely the best entertainment talk show host ever.

Here are links to the interview, which prevents embedding:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KW91OJ5OY0M&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xTevg8DN1I&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=At5qOYdiZug&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABpVMOt0WEE&feature=related

10/16/09

Le Samourai

Jean-Pierre Melville was perhaps the French equivalent of John Frankenheimer, making stylish thrillers that were light fluff, yet a bit more daring than Alfred Hitchcock's films.

Le Samourai starred Alain Delon, and is a solid film with a good premise, but one that shows the French never really were able to separate realism from Hollywood's version of it, at least in regards to gangsterism:

The Manchurian Candidate

Frank Sinatra gave almost as good a performance in this film as he did in The Man With The Golden Arm.

Much better than the latterday remake with Denzel washington.

This is another John Frankenheimer film:

Seven Days In May

John Frankenheimer directed this film, although it's was a rather straightforward thriller in a political vein.

It did include great performances by Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster.

Here's a taste:

10/15/09

Burt Lancaster

I've mentioned Charlton Heston and Kirk Douglas, but Burt Lancaster, who starred in From Here To Eternity, was as big a name.

Here is a tribute from filmmaker John Frankenheimer:


Note the scene between Douglas and Lancaster.

10/14/09

El Cid

El Cid was a film from the early 1960s, and one of the sword and sandal genres greatest achievements. Charlton Heston, long a rival of Kirk Douglas for box office supremacy in that genre, gives one of his better performances as the Spanish legend.

Sophia Loren is nice eye candy, but apparently she and Heston could not stand each other.

The film ends with El Cid leading a victorious army against Moslem conquerors, but unbeknownst to the many, he has been struck dead in battle and his armored figure strapped onto his horse.

While not a great work of art, it was great spectacle, as seen with the ending:


Here's an earlier scene:


Interestingly, the Moslem hordes were, in this film, used as Cold War stand-ins for Communists, yet, seen in today's climate, that little sleight of hand seems almost prescient.

And, finally, here's the trailer:


I have to say, film studios today have utterly forgotten how to make trailers that actually market the idea of cinema as spectacle. Most are PoMo hipster posing. This trailer, however, is equal to the film it declaims

The Vikings

This is another Kirk Douglas film, made in the late 1950s, that established his bona fides as a major action film star.

While not a great film, the screenplay does give a decent sense of what it must have seemed like to Medieval European folk, beset by Huns, then Vikings, and then Mongol conquerors, after the fall of the Roman Empire.

Here is a sample of the film:

Otto And Leon

Another film of Otto Preminger's that is underrated is his adaptation of Leon Uris's Exodus, on the founding of the modern state of Israel.

Starring Paul Newman, it's a solid film, although, in honesty, not on a par with the contemporaneous epics of David Lean- not in vision, scope, nor overall quality.

Here is its opening:


Here is the trailer:

Otto Preminger And Ol' Blue Eyes



Never was a fan of Frank Sinatra's singing, much less acting, but The Man With The Golden Arm, directed by Otto Preminger and written by Nelson Algren, is a forgotten film that deserves better than it's gotten over the years.

Most DVD versions are the cheapo sort, which, given the respective statures of Sinatra, Preminger, and Algren, is odd.

Does Sinatra chew some scenery? Yes, but, overall, a watchable film with some insights into drug abuse that have yet to be learnt a half a century on.

10/13/09

Jib Jab vid: Monster Mash with our Cats!

A little Halloween treat. I'm sure there are some films where this song plays!

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Killer's Kiss

Killer's Kiss was Stanley Kubrick's second film, and starts quite interestingly, as shown bolow. While not a great film, and while his next film, The Killing, with Sterling Hayden, would be significantly better, Kubrick pulls out many technical tricks from his bag, and would later hone them into something great.

A sample:

Paths Of Glory



This is the original trailer for the first great film Stanley Kubrick ever directed.

Often, it gets lost in the parade of other great films he made. Also, it was made before Kubrick really became an A List director, with Spartacus.

That film's star, Kirk Douglas, also starred in this film, made when Kubrick was an independent filmmaker. He gives a hell of a performance

Perhaps my favorite moment comes when one of the doomed soldiers is bemoaning the unfairness of life when he sees an insect that will be alive the next day when he won't be. Another prisoner swats the insect dead and tells him at least he's one up on the bug.

Yet, despite its neglect, this film may be Kubrick's best. It's certainly one of the five best war films made. Was Dr. Strangelove really better? Funnier, but, as Woody Allen says, drama is sitting at the grownups table. 2001, of course, is great, but it's so cosmic that it's almost antipodal to this gritty film. A Clockwork Orange is great, but, again, so different from this that a comparison is inapt. It's certainly better than The Shining, and Full Metal Jacket is half a great film, and half a very good one, while this is great from start to finish.

And, while I was amongst the first to argue for Eyes Wide Shut's greatness, a position that a decade later, can now be seen as prescient, after the initial mindshits of most critics, it is , again, so different a film that it is an inapt comparison.

This guy asks the same questions I just did.

Oh, and here's a famed scene from the film's end:

Even More 2001

This trailer seems more appropriate for 2001 than the one Dan posted:
The lack of the narrator allows it to better capture the essence of the film, and its relative brevity allows it to capture the film’s great enigma.

10/12/09

Recut Trailer for 2001



An interesting reimagining that, ironically, more readily captures the film than the official trailer.

2001's Trailer



This is actually an interesting trailer.

In a sense it's almost a precursor to mashup trailers, since the trailer really gives no sense of the film itself.

To look at this one would think it is a more conventional sci fi film from the 1980s.

Look at the mix of images from differing points in the film and the narrative overlaid it.

Last year a new 2 disk DVD version of the film was released, with a commentary. I'll have to get that and rewatch the film.

This film also gives a good example of fine acting in a truly minimalist style. Often the word minimalism is used to convey an acting job where one is playing a person with psychological problems, but when one realizes how deep a narrative is conveyed in scenes that are so light on real dialogue, it changes the conception of what 'drama' really is.

The same goes for screenplay and 'drama.' After all, most folk I know who've seen the film get choked up during the scene where Bowman scrambles HAL's circuitry. Yet, think about this. HAL is merely a voice and a camera lens. Yet, one is moved at its plaintivenes.

Those who say Kubrick did not connect well with the hum,an condition are wrong. He simply did not do it in a trite and Lowest Common Denominator fashion.

10/10/09

A Question: 2001 or Salo?

I watched one of my all time fave films: 2001: A Space Odyssey today, largely in part because I am in dire need of some intelligent stimulation, and I feel like the convos I've heard as of late have all been dull, touchy-feely shit, so I needed something that both expresses and transcends the human condition, or some other such jibber-jabber. As we neared the end, Dan sat and watched with me.

Here are some great scenes:





The end is so fucking great it is orgasmic. That's how I know Woody Allen got his idea in Sleeper for the Orgasmotron.

Here is Stanley talking about it:



Then, after the film was done, Dan posed the query: which is better? 2001 or Salo? Here is the brilliance of Salo, summed in one clip:



Just fucking brilliant. Can you guess what the brown is supposed to be? The old man tells the boy to "Eat his shit."

I'm drinking hot chocolate as I type this. Seriously. I am.