Divorce - Italian Style (Pietro Germi, 1961)

An interesting little Italian comedy film about a Sicilian aristocrat named Ferdinando Cefalu, who dreams of getting rid of his wife so that he can marry his attractive, high school age cousin.  Of course, since divorce was illegal at the time, it won't be easy; his plan: to lure his wife into a tryst so that he can kill her in a seeming honor killing and get off comparatively lightly in court (the movie states that such a killing would merit 3-7 years in the Italian penal code).  It's quite funny, playing around quite a bit with the voice-over and using the expressively deadpan face of Marcello Mastroianni to great comedic effect; he has this little recurring tic throughout the movie that works as a punchline or climax to a number of the absurd situations.  There's also a rather surreal scene where all the men in town, Cefalu included, goes to see the supposedly scandalous Fellini film La Dolce Vita, which also starred Mastroianni; they never show his character from that movie, but still, it was a rather neat allusion; it's not really heavy-handed since it played off of the real-life controversy of Fellini's film, and it works as a neat little easter egg for cinema aficionados.  Overall, the film is quite entertaining; it's nothing deep, but as a comedy and an exaggerated documentation of old Sicilian society, it's successful.  I'd recommend it.

Felicia tries to escape from Ryan - August 1992 pt1

A classic soap opera story: a serial killer at large.



Overlord Trailer (Stuart Cooper, 1975)

I streamed this last night as well (only 80 mins) and it is an interesting film--uses real stock footage, and there are some great shots of alienation and this soldier's plight. Overlord definitely offers a unique perspective because it is less about the battles and more about the preparation--both physically and mentally as well. The character often ruminates on his past and some philosophical points are brought up. Made in 1975, this film felt older (likely due to the stock footage).

Interesting pre-Full Metal Jacket and Malick's The Thin Red Line.

FROZEN - Trailer

This is another "thriller" I streamed last night. It was just ok--not really believable because there are too many scenarios that would not have occurred. While I'm not a skier myself, the lift operators do a better job of making sure everyone is off. Also, what resort closes for 5 days in a row? And only to be approached by hungry wolves at the bottom? That's just not plausible.

Anyway, I streamed this on my computer while doing other stuff and only after having watched a better Criterion film earlier. It's funny too, because while the dialogue among the charatcers is "realistic" it's still dull and you don't care about these dumb, bratty kids. Very different from Cassavetes' "realistic" dialogue though his characters would make interesting observations. The 1st 30 mins of Frozen is like listening to dull, suburban, upper-middle class white kids bitch about their boring lives. Yawn.

Henry V- Speech


“Dead Again” (1991) by Kenneth Branagh

Dead Again by Kenneth Branagh is not a bad film. It is not a great film. It is sort of a good film. The first two acts are very effective and unsettling, with likable and well-done performances by Branagh and his then-wife Emma Thompson. Branagh also shows that not all actors suck as film directors, by using some very interesting techniques, and effective camera placements. His use of the long take for conversations, in medium shot, brings to mind the best films of Woody Allen, strangely enough. Allen also had Branagh play in Celebrity as...Woody Allen.

That said, the characters are well-drawn, the premise is intriguing, and the performances are very good. It develops at a leisurely pace, letting things progress, but it does not bore. Good supporting performances are also given by Robin Williams- who gives the film its funniest bits, Derek Jacobi- who plays a shady and untrustworthy character quite well, and Andy Garcia- who serves as a very good red herring.

The portrayal of the relationship between Branagh and Thompson- both present and past versions, is also well-done and believable. The two, married at the time, have natural chemistry, and Branagh allows things to develop naturally, never rushing things.

The problems come with the ending. I will not spoil it except to say that it is ridiculously overblown and the film quickly descends into self-parody. I would say that it jumps the shark, except I think this ending renders that phrase moot, and deserves a new phrase- jumps into giant scissors. Yes, the villain actually dies by jumping into a pair of giant scissors. Talk about a silly ending.

Overall, I recommend it, but don't expect anything great. Also do NOT expect a full-length review. An amusing diversion, but ultimately nothing worth going out of your way to see, and nothing worth going out of your way to write a full-length review of.

Later on: The Fisher King.

Exam Trailer - Exam Movie Trailer

I streamed this off Netflix last night. Overall, a better than average thriller--as it's nice to see more dialogue driven attempts at "thrills" rather than action. Though I think the film should have stayed as such and there were things that didn't seem believable. Also, there were some holes in the plot that didn't make complete sense and some of the situations seemed a bit over the top.

This reminds me of the earlier and better film Cube. Exam is not a bad way to pass the time if you're just looking for something to watch. So my verdict is better than your average thriller, entertaining to watch, just not as great writing as it could have been.

“Stagecoach” (1939) by John Ford

Upfront, I will do something that should be incumbent upon every critic, but that few critics actually do. I will state and admit any biases.

Normally, I am not a fan of Westerns. Wayne, in particular, turns me off. His phony machismo, his stiff delivery, and the way he always struts on screen becomes very repugnant very, very quickly.

That said, John Ford’s Stagecoach is actually a terrific film. It is certainly better than the most acclaimed Ford/Wayne film, the bizarrely overrated The Searchers, is. It even comes close to greatness, and is very reminiscent of Hitchcock’s Lifeboat, itself a fine film. Both films put their characters into a life-and-death situation, whilst stuck together in a transport in the middle of nowhere. Unfortunately, both films just barely fall below the bar of greatness, for all of the characters are stereotypes- most of them, however, act in a believable manner, and it occasionallt falls prey to cliché- most notably towards the ending.

The thing it does well is make its stereotypes into actual believable characters, all of whom give good-to-great performances...yes even Wayne. Thomas Mitchell gives a terrific performance as the alcoholic doctor, and deserved his Oscar. Claire Trevor also gives a nuanced performance as the hooker with a heart of gold.

I’ll go further into detail on this one later. Just let it be said though, that this is a terrific and well-made film that comes damned close to greatness.


“Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006) by Guillermo del Toro

Finally saw this film last night. Might post a review for Dan in a little while. At any rate, it’s a very good film, although it is not the masterpiece some of its ardent supporters claim it is. Visually, it is outstanding, one of the best films I have seen, and it is much better than The Lord of the Rings film trilogy or the Harry Potter film series are. It displays some actual creativity, and I certainly want to see some of del Toro’s other films after seeing this.

The main problems are a rather one-dimensional and uninteresting villain and an overall lack of depth. Despite the fact that many people have questioned the film’s reality, the ending makes it quite obvious- I will not spoil it for those who haven’t seen the film.

It also gets a bit stereotypical and annoyingly preachy with its portrayal of the Spanish Republicans as pure, unfettered good, and the Fascists as pure, unfettered evil at times. Doubtlessly, the Republicans were in the right, and the Fascists in the wrong, but this film’s portrayal is a bit overly simplistic. It also hurts that the war scenes are seen from an apparently omniscient POV, rather than that of the girl. Had it been from her subjective viewpoint, it would have mitigated it.

Nonetheless, this film, while not a great film overall, does show some significant potential for del Toro, and already he’s shown that he’s a significantly better film director than Spielberg and Peter Jackson are. Let us just hope that he does not fall into the same trap that George Lucas and Christopher Nolan fell into, and squander his potential by producing generic and formulaic Hollywood garbage, despite showing early potential. Keep your fingers crossed.


Ballad of a soldier

I watched this great film last night off Netflix--available for streaming. It's only about 90 mins, but it is quite good. Told from the pov of a 19 year old soldier, the film has a very innocent feel to it, almost Frank Capra like in parts.

Basically, this solder gets leave and yet spends all his time helping others, that he has little time left for himself in return.

Directed by Grigori Chukhrai, this film is available through Criterion.



A trailer for a film that I recently reviewed. Apparently, many idiotic Harlan Ellison fans are up in arms over it.


The Cult - Gone (Dub)

A dub dance mix of a great song by an underrated metal band. I recall an erotic night in my youth with a young lady as songs from their 1987 album Electric blared.

Priscilla Renea - "Dollhouse" with Lyrics

Another good little song

Matthew Sweet - Girlfriend (480p)

A 20 year old song that i stumbled upon on TheCoolTV. Nice classic rock song from a time of grunge.


Official Into Great Silence US Trailer

Here's another I watched on Netflix. This is a very pretty film to look at, but it is SLOW. Let me stress, this is S-L-O-W. But it's also fascinating to see the interior lives of the strictest order of monks. Most of this film is done in silence, and there are the occasional chantings, which I find eerie.

Roger Ebert gave this 3 and a half stars, and my crit would be it is probably a bit too long. But if you're into a meditative and quiet film, this is worth the stream on Netflix. If you have to break it up into parts, that's also another way to watch it.

Visit their website at www.chartreux.org for more info. It's worth the look. They have a link there that allows you to see their daily schedule and they get go to bed at like 7 pm and then get up at 11:30 pm to chant and then go back to bed and then rise at 6:30 am and pray and go to mass, and pray and don't talk.

I would find that life very lonely, I would miss good convos, but I guess there are some who don't feel they need it.

Priscilla Renea - Hello My Apple (Official Video)

Stumbled upon this video yesterday and was struck my the simple loveliness of the lyrics and melody. Where have singer-songwriters like this gone too?

The last one to lodge in my memory was Vanessa Carlton, almost a decade ago.

Movie Legends - Olivia de Havilland


The Snake Pit

Netflix has allowed me to watch some rare and older films, one of them being The Snake Pit. The film won some Oscars, and is based on a book by Mary Jane Ward. Overall, it was a pretty good film. Very 1940s but still good. Better than One Flew Over the Cookoo's Nest.

What is interesting is that the book obviously was a best seller, for there was a movie made about it. Even following the film, I am sure the book sold more. Yet, when you do an Amazon search, it is nearly impossible to find a copy. You either have to find one with some very dated covers.

It just goes to show how quickly books go forgotten, if they're not of literary quality. Will anyone be reading Push by Sapphire (chuckle)? Don't think so.

If Plath had not been a great poet, The Bell Jar would have quickly gone out of print and labeled a "70s" book. (Yes it is set in the 50s but it wasn't pubbed in the US till the early 70s and then that terrible film was made about it.)

So if this interests you, it is available on Netflix for streaming.

Leviathan trailer

Looks like a terrible book, but a good book trailer.


Justin Isis, I Wonder What Human Flesh Tastes Like

Book trailers are an interesting phenomenon and an Internet way of advertising a book, and I have seen a number of good ones over the last few years, even if the books and writers they advertise are shit.

Unfortunately, this is a BAD example of a book trailer. While I don't think Justin's first book was good, he is a talented writer who has gone well beyond this first volume, but this trailer is an example of horrendous PR- almost as if the publisher is deliberately sabotaging Justin's career.

The piece is stock footage- I wonder if it is copyrighted?, and has absolutely ZERO to do with the book. The only connection to Justin is his name and title being splashed over the images.

There is no sense as to the content nor the writing style, pro or con. I have a manuscript of a memoir I wrote about my teen years working at a Mob front. This is akin to random images culled from Martin Scorsese and Jimmy Cagney films with my name and the book's title being splashed across.

Wait, that would actually be better as it would at least give a small hint as to the general content and subject matter.

Let's imagine a random few shots of human beings sitting around in a doctor's office, wheezing and farting, with my name and title splashed over it.

To think that Justin's publisher must have PAID someone for this garbage! To pay someone to assassinate a reputation before it's born.



Amadeus Trailer

"I am a vulgar man, but my music isn't." Hmm. I love it when artsy types who aren't anywhere in Mozart's league like to use this line as a means for excusing their poor behavior.