Posted by davidkalat on October 15, 2011
I know what you’re all thinking. “Knock off the Buster Keaton stuff already, it’s October. Get in the Halloween spirit!” I hear you. For the next three weeks it’s all about the monsters.
And that’s the thing of it–for me, horror movies are monster movies. I’ve even had to adjust my speech to account for this–I can no longer tell people I have a love of horror movies because they assume I mean what the term horror movies now connotes–the graphic mutilation of teenagers. Here’s a handy way to chart just how extreme horror cinema has gotten: my eleven year old son Max loves John Carpenter’s The Thing, and watches it with his friends from school all the time. And I’m OK with that–but I certainly wouldn’t let him watch anything that was hard R!
No, for me, horror movies are monster movies.
Posted by davidkalat on October 8, 2011
One of the sad things about being a classic movie buff is the closed nature of so much of the experience. Fritz Lang ain’t gonna make any more movies, Alfred Hitchcock is all done and gone, Charlie Chaplin has left the building.
Now, every once in a while, some old once-lost fragment gets dug out of the archives and brought back to public consciousness. Fritz Lang may be dead but–almost ninety years after it was made–his METROPOLIS can be refurbished and given new dimensions. Alfred Hitchcock can’t make movies any more but the discovery of bits of THE WHITE SHADOW can be uncovered in New Zealand. Charlie Chaplin isn’t around to share it with us, but a previously unrecorded appearance by him in THE THIEF CATCHER can draw huge crowds of gawkers and journalists.
Still, there is no question that none of these experiences comes close to the thrill of the experiences that drew us in as fans in the first place. METROPOLIS isn’t new, it’s just longer. THE WHITE SHADOW will not slake a thirst created by REAR WINDOW. THE THIEF CATCHER is mildly amusing at best.
What if I were to tell you that there is a cache of movies that you have never seen before and most likely never even heard of, that can stand alongside the best of Buster Keaton’s work? A selection of short films and features that share none of that diminished expectations that dog his later work–we’re not talking PASSIONATE PLUMBER here, but entire treasure box full of movies to take their place with THE GENERAL and STEAMBOAT BILL JR.
I am not kidding.
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 davidkalat on August 27, 2011
My children returned to school this week. Which to my mind spells the end of summer. Who cares what the calendar says, summer = not-in-school, end of discussion. And the end of summer, also, means the end of summer movie season. Some cinephiles welcome this transition. Not me.
You see, I like comic books. And I’m not one of those stuck-up toffs who thinks comics need to be graphic novels, all arty and grown-up and off-putting. No, I like superhero comics, and I like movies based on superhero comics. I like popcorn movies, I like movies who only aim to please, I like special effects.
In short, I’m easy to please. That being said, why am I so heard to please?
Posted by davidkalat on August 13, 2011
I am a Claude Chabrol fan. What does this mean? Well, among other things, it means that when I heard that Twist had come out on DVD, I immediately rushed to the Internet to buy a copy, and the instant it arrived, I watched it. This, for a film that even Chabrol himself admitted (correctly) was his worst ever creation. So, this week, a tribute to M. Chabrol, by way of his worst film, in all it’s stinky, putrid glory.
Posted by davidkalat on May 28, 2011
I’ve been watching the coverage of Cannes with a lot of interest—and my mouth is positively watering for The Artist, the popular new silent film by Michel Hazanavicius. I haven’t seen it yet, and this blog isn’t even really about it—but rather about the curious double-standards that the film critical community has when it comes to French films.
Posted by davidkalat on May 14, 2011
Many months ago, fellow Morlock Suzi Doll raved about Sylvain Chomet’s THE ILLUSIONIST. Based on her recommendation, I sought it out eagerly—and found myself with a strange, conflicted reaction. Perhaps if I knew nothing of Jacques Tati, and merely came to THE ILLUSIONIST as a fan of THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE, I’d have been unreservedly entranced. THE ILLUSIONIST is certainly a proper follow-up to TRIPLETS—both highlight washed-up showbiz has-beens reluctantly confronting the changing entertainment landscape and pining for their glory days.
But the film doesn’t want me to forget Tati—not only was it written by Tati (a long time ago), the main character is named Tatischeff (Tati’s real name); in one scene he attends a screening of MY UNCLE and is perplexed to see “himself” depicted on screen. The cartoon Tatischeff is as close to reanimating Tati as you could imagine. He’s just ink and paint, but the drawing looks like Tati, and even more remarkably moves like him. Tati’s physical soul is manifested on screen, without restraint. It is truly magical—and for that alone, Chomet deserved an Oscar.
But that achievement is also the source of my discontent. The script Tati wrote is out of alignment with the films for which he became famous—perhaps that is one reason he never made it himself. The cartoon illusionist resurrects Tati, only to employ him in the service of a film that feels alien and unfamiliar.
This week, I vent myself, and explore what Tati means to me—and what hints of that man do peek through the panels of THE ILLUSIONIST.
Posted by R. Emmet Sweeney on June 8, 2010
The greatest cinephile deal going right now is for Arrow Films’ 8-Disc Box Set of Eric Rohmer films, which includes all six entries in his Comedies & Proverbs series, along with Love in the Afternoon and The Marquise of O. At Amazon UK (a region 2 disc, you’ll need an all-region player to spin it), it’s priced at 11.93 pounds, which is 17.27 USD. That’s the highest sublimity-per-dollar ratio you’ll find anywhere! Guaranteed.
So with summer approaching, ready to expunge sweat from heretofore unknown pores, I watched Rohmer’s The Green Ray (1986, titled Summer in the U.S.) in my un-air conditioned apartment on a 90 degree day. Delphine (Marie Rivière) is planning a vacation to the Greek isles when her friend backs out two weeks before departure. Scrambling to find an alternate getaway, she gloms on to another friend’s trip to Cherbourg.
This begins a frustrating, lonely journey as Delphine bounces from resort town to resort town, each densely populated sun-dappled spot making her feel more alone than the last. She refuses to mask her pain with play-acting or empty flirtations, holding firm to her ideal of romantic love. Her interest in superstitions and the supernatural is curiously stoked by the fortuitous appearance of green playing cards and a mention of Jules Verne’s novel The Green Ray. She senses a pattern in these shades (the kind of game playing one is used to seeing in Rivette), which leads her to embrace the spirit of the Rimbaud epigram that begins the film: “Let the moment come/When hearts will be one.” (“Song From the Tallest Tower”, translated by Wyatt Mason)
Posted by keelsetter on May 23, 2010
Repertory film is a hard sell on campus, but last night I watched an advance screener for a multi-layered, black-and-white, French-Italian co-production that’s being re-released by Oscilloscope Pictures next month – one that reminded me (in part) of my college days, and hopefully it will still connect with both students and general audiences today (It also airs on TCM on Sunday, Sept. 16 at 2:30 am ET) . The Law (La Loi, 1959), was directed by Jules Dassin just a few years after his celebrated Rififi, and stars Gina Lollobrigida and Marcello Mastroianni. Although the people involved are all adults, the story still pivots around something very common on any campus: lots of lusty emotions, drama, and booze. But it also goes further. READ MORE
Posted by Kimberly Lindbergs on April 15, 2010
In recent years the exciting world of Bollywood cinema has been slowly gaining the interest and admiration of western audiences. The popularity of Danny Boyle’s Oscar winning film SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (2008) along with the rising interest in Indian actors like the handsome Naveen Andrews (LOST, BRIDE & PREJUDICE, THE ENGLISH PATIENT, BOMBAY BOYS, etc.) seems to have gained Bollywood movies a larger American audience that is willing to put aside cultural differences and embrace the many pleasures of Bollywood cinema. And one of the most wonderful aspects of Bollywood cinema is the colorful movie posters created to advertise each film.
Many of the movie posters made for modern films in India are now produced with digital technology but for over 70 years Indian artists hand-painted their designs. These provocative works of art became an important part of the country’s urban landscape and transformed the city streets into art galleries that promised the possibility of romance and adventure to millions of people. The Indian people love movies with an almost manic intensity and India releases more films every year than any other country in the world. The beautiful and stylized posters that advertise Bollywood films are an expression of India’s culture and rich history.
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