Posted by keelsetter on September 11, 2011
In case you missed it, the Telluride Film Festival had its 38th bash last Labor Day Weekend, September 2-5. It included the latest films by Aki Kaurismäki, Werner Herzog, Martin Scorsese, Alexander Payne, Béla Tarr, David Cronenberg, and many more. But the reason I still love Telluride is not because it delivers the newest works from so many talented directors, but because they also focus on the past (showing silent films, archive prints, and various repertory titles), along with some unexpected programming courtesy of guest directors who are given Carte blanche to select anything they like, no matter how esoteric that might be. (This year the guest director was Brazilian composer, singer, guitarist, writer, and political activist Caetano Veloso, who has worked on soundtracks for Michelangelo Antonioni and Pedro Almodóvar). Telluride also eschews the competitive awards-system that drives so many other festivals and has managed to sidestep being mobbed by industry professionals, brand-obsessed sponsors, or party-obsessed socialites. In sum, Telluride has managed to still be that rare festival that bends over backwards to bring obscure 35mm movies while simultaneously providing viewers with cinematic experiences that challenge them to broaden their horizons rather than simply pandering to market whims or popular taste. And, yes, I say that despite the fact that this year its tribute star was George Clooney. READ MORE
Posted by keelsetter on August 28, 2011
“This film has cross-over appeal that connects with progressive hippies and Tea Party members alike. It’s about government raids on local and organic farmers.” I’d had a long working relationship with the distributor who was telling me this over the phone, but in the past Jessica had been a broker for classics of the silent era as well as representing some of the biggest names in both the realm of foreign and contemporary arthouse movies. This was a very different and far cry from Dersu Uzala. It was a debut low-budget documentary called Farmageddon: The Unseen War on American Family Farms. READ MORE
Posted by Susan Doll on July 18, 2011
Since its inception a couple of years ago, Facets Night School has morphed into more than a midnight movie series. It’s a place where cinephiles can watch and ruminate on a crazy mix of classic, exploitation, genre, and even silent films. The diversity comes from our unique spin on the midnight movie series: Each week a knowledgeable person introduces a film he/she has selected. Despite the late hour, audiences have been receptive to the pre-screening introduction and post-screening Q&A, because they get a context for appreciating the film and an opportunity to contribute their opinions and perspective. In addition, a weekly raffle and other shenanigans have created a relaxed atmosphere that suits the late hour.
Posted by keelsetter on March 27, 2011
In my last blog post I transcribed the first half of an informal interview I had with Repo Man director Alex Cox a couple weeks ago. In this second half of that interview we talk about movies he’d select for TCM if he were a guest programmer, what it’s like to work on the other side of the camera, some specific thoughts about Walker (his radical western starring Ed Harris), along with discussing other directors from Jim Jarmusch to John Carpenter. READ MORE
Posted by keelsetter on August 29, 2010
A friend recently brought my attention to a Craigslist posting for some 16mm films that were being sold by a private collector in Denver who was offering a 16mm Kodak Pageant 2505 projector, take-up reels, plus a collection of vintage 16mm shorts. Titles listed included: Grand Hotel, Matinee, The Plumber, and Krazy Kat. It seemed like a screaming deal, so I instructed my assistant to make the purchase for the Film Studies Program and then anxiously awaited their delivery to screen some of these shorts as part of my backyard cinema series. I did, and I’m lucky my neighbors didn’t call the police. The Krazy Kat short was actually titled Krazy Kat House, and while it did hearken back to the silent-era, the only thing animated about this was the sexual libidos of the lesbians engaging in various graphic and explicit acts. Grand Hotel? This was no excerpt of the John Barrymore classic but rather the sexcapades of four people in a hotel room. Although it was hard to tell, due to the angles and the way it was shot, I’m pretty sure it did not involve Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford. These women, however, were certainly ready for their close-ups, but mainly in the gynecological sense. READ MORE
Posted by keelsetter on January 10, 2010
Sleep Dealer. Did you see it? Probably not. But you should. Do you like Bladerunner? The Matrix? If so, you should check out Sleep Dealer. All three are inspired in their own way. Bladerunner and The Matrix are equal parts smart fun and existential queries. Sleep Dealer is both smart and political. It can’t help but be a bit existential too as, to some extent, that is unavoidable when covering a protagonist’s struggle in the near-future where the question is: how much of your life are you willing to sacrifice to make a better living? READ MORE
Posted by moirafinnie on October 28, 2009
Careening across the countryside in a gypsy wagon, a lovesick hunchback cries out piteously for release from his twisted form. A hardworking Jewish-American father tries to appease his young son on his birthday, seeking to interest him in a baseball bat rather than an expensive violin.
A tired general on the Western frontier finds a few moments of solace in soldiers’ singing. An Italian soldier, willing to do anything to get back to his wife and baby, is stranded in the war-torn desert. A stoic Indian chief joins a wild west show, finding a way to keep his dignity despite his reduced circumstances. A broken matador tells an up and comer some hard truths. A Mexican dictator regretfully but decisively goes to war. A Japanese editor tries to correct his American-educated son’s corrupt Western ways. And a half-monkey, half-man broods endlessly about his plight, especially since he’s stuck being an unpaid houseboy for his creator.
What do each of these diverse (and sometimes pretty outlandish) characters and at least 200 more have in common? Character actor and changeling J. Carrol Naish (1896-1973). I can’t possibly touch on the range of Naish‘s roles in this blog, but his remarkably productive career includes an enormous range of characters, far beyond the roles as heavily accented types he is often best remembered for today.
Posted by moirafinnie on August 26, 2009
If, like the rest of us peasants, you can’t get enough of ambitious movies set in Mesoamerican times, you might want to check out Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto (2006). I’ve tried to watch that recent movie about three times now, but somewhere around the time that the words “I am Jaguar Paw. This is my forest. And I am not afraid” are spoken, I tend to nod off, even when these lines are spoken in the Yucatec Mayan language. My excessive snoring is the only thing that kept waking me up as Mr. Gibson‘s earnest attempt to dramatize the decline of Mayan civilization unfolded into the expected gore-filled spectacle. But enough of those stabs at historical accuracy in the movies–give me an engrossing, epic-sized if ill-conceived distortion to get me through the dog days of summer.
Happily, I’m here to report that no attacks of narcolepsy occurred while discovering the utterly delightful, nearly unknown Yul Brynner movie, Kings of the Sun (1963) recently. That 108 minute movie, shot in richly textured hues of De Luxe Color, is one of those being aired today, August 26th at 1:30PM EDT on TCM as part of Yul‘s moment in the Summer Under the Stars annual August event. An audacious movie–befitting an American financed re-imagining of the rise of a hypothetical ancient Mayan culture—was crafted with enormous professionalism in every frame, from the gorgeous cinematography of Joseph MacDonald to the rousing score from Elmer Bernstein and a cast of Oscar honorees and an industrious troupe of artists and craftsmen. The only problem is the script, darn it!
Posted by keelsetter on March 29, 2009
Last night I revisited an old VCR tape that had on it a short compilation of 16mm educational films compiled by Alpha Blue Archives titled Pink Slip. These were films primarily targeted at young women during the 1960′s and ’70′s that required a signed “pink slip” from parents before they could be seen by the kids, due to their “sensitive” subject matter. Topics on this particular collection deal with menstruation, juvenile delinquency, adult predators, therapy, menstruation again (but this time aimed at children with Down syndrome), and teenage runaways. READ MORE
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