FEMINA RIDENS

While watching a bunch of Italian Giallo-themed trailers there was one that stuck out as particularly promising. It had interesting compositions and impressive set designs, including a deliriously macabre and surrealistic scene of a skeleton collapsing between the teeth of a large and theatrically constructed vagina dentata that leaves the skull bouncing out between the thighs. That, I thought to myself, is a film I must see. [...MORE]

Learning Lattuada: The Overcoat (1952) and Come Have Coffee With Us (1970)

On December 6th, RaroVideo released two films from director Alberto Lattuada on DVD. Relatively unknown in the U.S., he was an eclectic talent who came up under the sway of neorealism, and who later made an uncategorizable series of literary adaptations and bitterly satirical farces. I have asked a Ph.D candidate in Italian Studies at NYU, Alberto Zambenedetti, to help me discuss his work. Mr. Zambenedetti will write about The Overcoat (1952), widely considered his masterpiece, and I will look at Come Have Coffee With Us (1970), one of his late sex comedies.

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The Importance of Being Godzilla (Part 3)

For those of you who missed last week’s post, a quick recap:  I recorded audio commentaries to both the Japanese and American cuts of Ishiro Honda’s GODZILLA for Criterion, but some of the material was cut from the tracks as the discs were sent to the factory.  I am using this forum as a venue by which to publish some of the deleted material.

The most controversial sections addressed the European distribution of the original Godzilla.  Last week we saw what happened in Germany–this week we explore the nuttiness of COZZILLA!

Cozzilla! [...MORE]

Keaton International

In this week’s post we will meet Buster Keaton the gangster, Buster Keaton the communist, and Buster Keaton the Nazi.  I’ve got a treasure trove of rare clips you won’t see anywhere else—all you have to do is click that “more” button to expand this.  C’mon, you know you want to.  It’ll make your day…

Buster Keaton

 

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Woody Strode’s Italian Connection

In the late ’60s many aging American actors were finding it hard to get good roles in Hollywood. The old studio system was collapsing and younger audiences wanted to see films featuring new faces and fresh blood. During this transitional period the Italian film industry was thriving and European directors expressed interest in working with Hollywood performers that they had admired from afar. This led actors like Woody Strode to start accepting roles in Italian genre films such as spaghetti westerns as well as giallo (thrillers) and poliziottesco (crime) movies where they often received top billing and were treated like stars. As an African American actor Woody Strode had other strikes against him in Hollywood where race relations were still extremely complicated and by 1968 he had grown increasingly frustrated by the racism he was experiencing in the US. At the time Europe was much more progressive in the way that it was handling race relations and many black performers found that very liberating.

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These movies brought to you by the number 11.

Books

Ever wonder if the universe might be sending you a secret message? I’m not one to read tea-leaves or Tarot cards, but sometimes think numerology can be fun. So today I woke up wondering if there could be any significance to it being the first day of the eleventh month of the year. Taking a cue from the popular internet meme that asks people to turn to a specific page in the book nearest them to share an excerpt, I decided to see what films the cosmos might be suggesting I add to my Netflix account by pulling down from my bookshelf all the film books I had that I figured would have plenty of poster art. Then I counted the stack. I’m not making this up: there were exactly eleven books! I was off to a good start. How to proceed? Since it’s the first day of the eleventh month of the year I went to page 11, and from there let my finger fall on the very first film image that followed. With that in mind, I now dedicate the following eleven films to the month of November: [...MORE]

Fellini’s Amarcord

Amarcord poster

Janus Films recently struck new 35mm prints of Federico Fellini’s Amarcord (1973) and these are currently making the rounds nation-wide. Here in Colorado we had our screening last week and I’m still basking in its memory, which is an apt tribute to a film whose title (if not entirely invented) supposedly means “I remember” in Romagnese dialect. (Or, put another way, in the dialect of Rimini – the small coastal town in Italy on the Adriatic Sea where Fellini was born on January 20th, 1920.) Amarcord is a semi-biographical (or completely fantastical) look back at Fellini’s youth through the prism of his imagination. It takes on an epic quality because in tackling a specific place, time, and people, it tells us the story of a tribe. And because it’s Fellini’s tribe, their story is peppered with moments of visual splendor that can still make an audience gasp with wonder.  [...MORE]

Tales from the Projection Booth

I program an art-house calendar film series in Boulder. The auditorium we screen films in has 400 seats and our projection booth is outfitted with two Century SA projectors from 1983. Aside for the occasional specialty event that requires digital projection, all our shows are reel-to-reel 35mm gigs operated by a Union Projectionist (John Templeton, the head projectionist, has over 35 years in the business). While we have many success stories, we also have our fair share of experiences that still make me cringe to think about. Here are just a few: [...MORE]

Comedy, Dino Risi-style

Italian director Dino Risi died on June 7, but he did not receive the blitz of attention that other prominent filmmakers did upon their passing. There were many obituaries from newspapers and magazines available on  the Internet, but none of those appreciation-style articles that circulated when Sydney Pollack, Anthony Minghella, or even Carlo Ponti died (“Remembering Sydney Pollack”; “Honoring Anthony Minghella”; “The Man Sophia Loved.”). I would guess that his name was not recognizable enough to warrant that level of attention, and his films are not widely available on DVD or even VHS, making access to his work difficult.

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