Thursday, May 13, 2021

Punk the Capital - The Story Of Punk in Washington DC 1976-1983 (2021) in theaters both real and virtual starting today

There is always a danger when you make a documentary that has been covered by other films that you are not going to be fresh.  Will you have something new to say or will you just rehash what is already out there. When I saw PUNK THE CAPITAL was being released I was left wondering how it would play in connection to other films on the same subject.

I shouldn't have wondered, PUNK THE CAPITAL is wonderfully it's own thing Covering the rise of punk in America's capital the film charts it's own course. Yes it tells the history you may have heard before but it does it in it's own way.

While I don't like to compare films on a subject unless there is a very good reason, I will say that one of the things I really like about PUNK THE CAPITAL is that it makes an effort to put things into a larger context. We get a sense of why and how it  all happened and how it played in regard to the larger scene. This may not sound like much but I have seen a couple of other films that just drop you in and let you flounder. PUNK invites you and and then takes you along.

I love the choice of interviews and the stories told. We haven't heard all of this before because the film doesn't line up all of the same people nor does it ask everyone the same old questions. It all seems fresh. 

If you want to know how good the film is half way in I knew I was going to have to watch it again, not just because its entertaining but because I was hearing stories I hadn't heard before. I wanted to go back in so I could make mental notes.

PUNK THE CAPITAL ultimately is great fun. I loved reliving the old days when punk was something that few people understood. 

Highly recommended.

 5/13 - OPENING NIGHT - Cinelounge Drive-In Hollywood - Los Angeles, CA
Pete Stahl (Scream) Q&A co-presented with curator/publisher Roger Gastman
Short film about Scream and their connection with the 1960's garage band The Hangmen created by Punk the Capital will play ahead of the screening

5/14 - Cinelounge Hollywood - Los Angeles, CA
Hudley Flipside (of Flipside fanzine fame) presentation and Q&A

5/14 - New Plaza Screening Series (former Lincoln Plaza Cinema) - New York, NY

5/14 - Acme Theater - Lambertville, PA

5/14 - Texas Theater - Dallas, TX

5/14 - Brattle Theater – Cambridge, MA

5/14 - International Film Series – Boulder, CO

5/14 - Hollywood Theater – Portland, OR

5/14 - The Guild Cinema – Albuquerque, NM

5/14 - Countryfest Community Cinema – Dauphin, MB

5/14 - Screenland Armour Theater - Kansas City, MO

5/14 - 6/25 - Rosendale Theater – Rosendale, NY

5/14 - 6/25 - The Colonial Performing Arts Center – Keene, NH

5/14 - Amherst Cinema – Amherst, MA

5/14 - Metro Cinema – Edmonton, AB

5/23 - The Roxie Cinema - San Francisco, CA
Q&A with Chris Stover (Void), Nicky Thomas (Fire Party), Lydia Ely (early DC scene)

5/14 - Screenland Armour Theater - Kansas City, MO

5/14 - Gateway – Columbus, OH

5/14 - The Music Box – Chicago, IL

5/14 - Suns Cinema – Washington, DC

5/14 - Tahoe Art Haus & Cinema - Tahoe City, CA

5/14 - Scarecrow Video Virtual Screenings – Seattle, WA

5/14 - Time & Space Museum – Hudson, NY

5/14 - Sunray Cinema – Jacksonville, FL

5/14 - Zeitgeist Theater - New Orleans, LA

5/14 - The Miracle Theatre – Washington, DC

5/21 - Parkway Theater – Pittsburgh, PA

5/14 - 6/3 - Olympia Film Society at The Capitol Theater – Olympia, WA

5/14 - Cinemapolis – Ithaca, NY

5/14 - The Nightlight Cinema – Akron, OH

TBD - Bel Aire Drive-In - Brooklyn, NY

TBD - Winnipeg Cinematheque – Winnipeg, MB 


Wednesday, May 12, 2021



In person screenings at Scandinavia House Theater, May 26-29 58 Park Avenue, New York, NY.

Online screenings available to stream nationally, May 29-June 6

Wednesday, May 26 Opening Night Screening + Reception with NEVER GONNA SNOW AGAIN directors Małgorzata Szumowska and Michał Englert in person 

New York, NY (May 12, 2021)- The New York Polish Film Festival presents its 16th annual showcase of Poland’s most riveting cinema including lauded festival highlights and several New York premieres.

On May 26th, the NYPFF will present Poland’s 2021 Academy Award submission NEVER GONNA SNOW AGAIN as an opening night selection with directors Małgorzata Szumowska and Michał Englert in person. Additional festival highlights include a special screening of Agnieszka Holland’s CHARLATAN with a new introduction by the celebrated filmmaker, Viennale FIPRESCI award-winner Mariusz Wilczyński’s hand-drawn fourteen years in the making animated wonder KILL IT AND LEAVE THIS TOWN featuring the voice of famed director Andrzei Wajda and the New York premieres of Cannes selection SWEAT by filmmaker Magnus von Horn and Jacek Bromski’s SOLID GOLD with actress Katarzyna Śmiechowicz in person.

“We are delighted to return to experiencing the magic of the big screen's shared emotions and discussing our discoveries together,” says festival director Hanna Hartowicz.

The 2021 edition of the NY Polish Film Festival is dedicated to master director, Krzysztof Kieślowski for his lasting influence on Polish and world cinema. This spring coincides with the 25th anniversary of his passing and marks the 80th anniversary of his birth. CONVERSATIONS WITH KIESLOWSKI will be presented in conjunction with the New York Polish Film Festival.

Selections for the 2021 NY Polish Film Festival:

New York Theatrical Premiere
ALL FOR MY MOTHER (Wszystko dla mojej matki)
Directed by Małgorzata Imielska, 2019, 103 min.   
Polish Film Festival Winner, Best Actress
Warsaw Film Festival Audience Winner

17 year old orphan Olka (Zofia Domalik), does not care for the other girls in the reformatory, nor the promise of new clothes, phones, and money from the corrupt guards. Olka only wants to find her mother, and she will escape from every institution until they meet. Małgorzata Imielska’s “All For My Mother” is a searing portrait of modern day Poland, and a stunning debut.

Directed by Jan Komasa, 2019, 116 min.
Academy Award Nominee Best International Feature Film
Polish Film Festival, Best Director Winner

Bartosz Bielenia smolders in a wild performance pitting forgiveness against vengeance amongst the faithful. When a newly paroled convict (Bielenia), arrives for work at a saw mill, he is mistaken for a priest and decides to take over a country church.

New York Theatrical Premiere
New recorded introduction by Agnieszka Holland.
CHARLATAN (Szarlatan)
Directed by Agnieszka Holland, 2020, 118 min.
Czech Republic’s official submission for the Best International Feature Film category at the 2021 Academy Awards. 

In Soviet-era Czechoslovakia, herbalist Jan Mikolášek (Ivan Trojan) treats the sick by the thousands against strict government orders to stop. Oscar nominated director Agnieszka Holland’s fascinating biopic, explores a complicated man, more at war with himself than the authorities attempting to imprison him.

KILL IT AND LEAVE THIS TOWN (Zabij to i wyjedź z tego miasta)
Directed by Mariusz Wilczyński, 2020, 88 min.
Polish Film Festival 2020, Golden Lions Winner Best Film
Winner of the Grand Prize for Feature Animation, Ottawa International Animation Festival Viennale FIPRESCI Award winner

Fleeing from despair after losing those dearest to him, the film's hero hides in a safe land of memories where time stands still and those dear to him are still alive. Fourteen years in the making, director Wilczyński’s deeply personal, hand-drawn Łódź set animated film is voiced by an ensemble cast that includes famed director Andrzei Wajda and scored with blues songs by the late Tadeusz Nalepa.

MR JONES (Obywatel Jones)
Directed by Agnieszka Holland, 2019, 119 min.         
Polish Film Festival, Gdynia- Golden Lions Winner for Best Film

Agnieszka Holland’s thriller, set on the eve of world WWII, sees Hitler’s rise to power and Stalin’s Soviet propaganda machine pushing their “utopia” to the Western world.

Jones goes on a life-or-death journey to uncover the truth behind the façade that would later inspire George Orwell’s seminal book Animal Farm.

Directors Małgorzata Szumowska and Michał Englert in person
NEVER GONNA SNOW AGAIN (Śniegu już nigdy nie będzie)
Directed by Małgorzata Szumowska and Michał Englert, 2020, 113 min.
Poland’s official submission for Best International Film, 2021 Academy Awards
Venice Film Festival Golden Lion Nominee

The latest from writer/director Malgorzata Szumowska (ELLES, IN THE NAME OF) and her longtime collaborator Michal Englert is an unclassifiable meditation on class, immigration, and global warming with touches of magical realism and moments of sober beauty and subtle humor.

New York Premiere
Directed by Jacek Bromski, 2019, 135 min.                                                     
Actress Katarzyna Śmiechowicz in person

Top crime detective Nowicki (Janusz Gajos) enlists outsider Kaja (Marta Nieradkiewicz) to go undercover and expose businessman Kawecki (Andrzej Seweryn) for the mafia boss he is. As Nowicki and Kaja move through the elite world of politics and power like knives, Kawaicki decides he must pull them even closer to survive in this explosive thriller.

Directed by Bartosz Kruhlik, 2019, 78 min.  
Polish Film Festival award winner for debut or second film

Told in a realistic style, this is a universal story about a few hours in the life of a village community. SUPERNOVA is an observation of a person placed in a critical situation, and it poses a question about the fundamental nature of coincidence and destiny. A vibrant story that moves between drama, thriller and a disaster film.

New York Premiere
Directed by Magnus von Horn, 2020, 106 min.
Cannes 2020 Official Selection  

Fitness model Sylwia Zając’s presence on social media has made her a celebrity, but not everyone following has good intentions in this finely taut thriller about the dangers and pleasures of social media.


NYPFF opening night and NY premiere screening tickets are $20, individual tickets are $15, pass for all in person screenings is $100; virtual screening tickets are $9.

For advance tickets: 

NYPFF’s jury will award this year’s Krzysztof Kieslowski Beyond Borders Award embodying the deeply humanistic commitment so characteristic of Kieslowski’s work, the Elzbieta Czyzewska Award and the The Special Jury Award. 2021 jury members include: jury president- Stacy Keach, Veronica K. Hartowicz, Martyna Majok, Kama Royz, Cezary Skubiszewski and Ewa Zadrzynska-Głowacka.

NYPFF 2021’s poster is designed by Andrzej Pągowski (born 1953 in Warsaw) is a Polish artist who specializes in graphic design and poster art. Pągowski graduated from The State University of Fine Arts in Poznan in 1978 and began to design posters, which has since become his main interest. In addition to posters, he designs theatrical settings, prints and catalogues. One of the younger of the Third Generation of artists of Polish School of Posters, he easily made the transition from socialism to capitalism; in 1990, he created his own graphic studio, STUDIO P, which developed into an advertising agency in 1993 and continues in operation today. His art can be found in many European museums as well as the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He has also had one-man shows in Stockholm, Paris, London, and Warsaw.

NYPFF 2021 is presented with the co-financing support of the Association of Polish Filmmakers and the Polish Film Institute. Sponsors include Sigmund A. Rolat, Consulate of Poland in NY, Polish Cultural Institute NY, Zywiec, The Kosciuszko Foundation and the Polish and the Slavic Federal Credit Union. Supporters include the Polish Theater Institute.   

Rockfield:The Studio on the Farm (2020) hits virtual theaters Friday

This is the story of two brothers who wanted to make music,  and in the rush to get better built a studio on their farm where musicians such as Robert Plant, Black Sabbath, Queen, Oasis and others went to make music history.

Watching the opening minutes of ROCKFIELD I thought this was going to be an over long DVD extra. It was good but nothing special. Then studio funders Kingsley and Charles Ward tell the story of trying to go to EMI to play them their music and ending up talking to George Martin, that things began to get interesting. I mean they got really interesting as their stories (including one of wandering into the recording of Bohemian Rhapsody) collide with the stories of the musicians (Ozzy talks about going to the farm for the first time) and magic happens. This transforms into the tale of how one family shaped music history.

I had a blast.

I'm going to be honest and say I was not planning on seeing ROCKFIELD but a slot in my schedule opened up and I said yes. I am s glad I did because one it gets going this film is so much fun. The truth of the matter is I had so much fun that the only thing I can say is wrong with the film is that they didn't get more people t tell their stories. I mean the stories of hat happened would probably fill a shelf of books.

What a fun film.

ROCKFIELD hits Watch Now @ Home Friday and is on the Coda Collection on the 29th.

Long Way Back (2020)


Max (Denny Dale Bess) is a small time con who is released from prison. In prison for drug related offenses he faces an uncertain future. However he has a good friend in Ziggy who runs the building he is staying. Additionally he has met Sara, a young woman in the next apartment. Perhaps he can put his life back together, or perhaps the dealer he stole 20 grand from will get his revenge.

This small gem of a film hits all the right notes. To be certain the film doesn't break any new ground, the tale of a con coming back to the world has been over done over the years, but at the same time writer/director E B Hughes fills his film with great characters, a genuine sense of New York and a pace that keeps us hooked. That last point I think is key since the way the film is constructed there is never a moment when we have time to think. This film just goes.

The real story here is Denny Dale Bess as Max. World weary and uncertain, he creates a character we like and we can relate to. He's a guy we know and we probably hang out with with the result we are invested in his plight. It's a beautifully modulated performance that is always real and has signs of life behind the eyes. Bess is so good that it kind of feels like we are watching him live out his life.

Currently on VOD LONG WAY BACK is worth not only your time but your money.


Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Killing of Two Lovers (2020) hits theaters May 14

 David is separated from his wife. Things have gone south between them and they are trying to work it out by stepping away for a while. The trouble is she's taken up with a new guy and it is killing him inside.

This heavy drama  begins with David standing over the sleeping form of his wife and her lover.  He doesn't kill them but flees into to the early morning. Its a move that grabs your attention  and makes you want to see where this is going to go. It goes into a character study of one man dealing with his world coming apart. 

Writer/director and editor Robert Machoian has made a low key and very visceral film. We are with David for the entire time and as such we feel what he does. We only knows what he does and as a result we have trouble sorting out what is really going on. In some ways it's on odd cinematic experience since we have been trained over time to expect to see more than just the POV of one character. It's a bold move that mostly pays off.

As good and as visceral as much of the film I'm still not certain to what degree I like the film. There is a moment at the end where the film kind of slipped away from me. There is a moment where the camera steps away from David and takes a wider view and I'm not certain it works. A shot before it would probably have been a better final image. Ultimately its a quibble, but it is also the moment where the film slipped and I couldn't be certain where to put it.

Quibbles aside there is some great storytelling here and I recommend THE KILLING OF TWO LOVERS 

Curtain Up (2020) is on the World Channel tonight


Portrait of the PS 124 theater club and their work to produce a kids version of FROZEN.

This is an absolutely delightful look at a group of kids in New York's Chinatown who love the theater and who just want to perform. The film examines not only the kids and the production but also their Chinese heritage, something that makes some of the parents wary of letting the kids perform. This last statement was kind of demolished by one of the kids who pointed out as much as some adults don't want the kids to be actors, they themselves spend hours watching actors perform.

I laughed with joy through most of the film, pausing only briefly to get misty when we see the performance of the mega hit Let It Go. There was something so magical and touching in seeing the kids perform it just got to me,

Playing tonight on the World Channel CURTAIN UP is a must see. It will make you feel wonderful

Ariela Rubin on SPECIALish (2021) which hits VOD today

SPECIALish is an hour and a half documentary about stand up comedian, Jessica Watskins who walked across America over the course of 8 months. While walking, she makes stops along the way to do stand up, hoping to end with a big comedy show.

Jessica Watkins was struggling in New York City, waiting tables and wanted to do something big with her life, and so she set out to walk across America.  She left her partner and dog behind, and set off on her own with just a stroller full of gear. She mostly camps, but does occasionally stay at strangers homes. 

The film follows her challenges(such as winding up with a knee injury pretty early on), people she meets, clips of her stand up in various places and her thoughts throughout.

As this is something I can never imagine myself doing, it was quite impressive! She also did all the filming herself and didn't have a camera crew, which makes you respect her even more.

This documentary had humor, but also shared the dark moments, which I think is equally important. It also made me aware of Jessica Watkins, who I had previously never heard of.  Since I live in NYC and am a fan of stand up, I'll keep my eye out and try to catch her perform one day!

The film will be available on-demand and on all digital platforms on May 11, 2021.

TW: this film does discuss rape/sexual assault.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Mala Mala (2014) Hits the Criterion Channel today

With the excellent MALA MALA hitting the Criterion Channel today, here is my review from 2014.

A confession

This film has flummoxed me. I honestly don’t know what to say about the film. I’ve written up four different reviews for the film and each one was so weak that I tried to write another… and another… and so on. After the Tribeca press screening one of the PR people asked me what I thought and I kind of stammered and rambled on about my thoughts of the film, feeling stupid and condescending when I was done and wanting to do better when I wrote it up…

After a great deal of thought and attempts to write the film up, the best thing I can do is say go see Mala Mala. Anything I can say beyond that isn’t something I can do justice to.

The film is a look at the transgendered community in Puerto Rico. Centering on several very articulate women the film explains the problems they face every day. Because of prejudice and a system that doesn’t protect them many can’t work and are forced to turn to prostitution in order to survive. Some go into entertainment. Some drift. Over the course of the film we watch as the girls go through life and fight for equal protection under the law.

It will move you, not just emotionally but intellectually. As I said to the woman after the film, this is this film that I can show to people who have any issue with transgendered and homosexual community since it very clearly explains things on a human, non-abstract level  that they are people just like everyone else.

Actually the film’s strength and power is that the need for acceptance goes beyond the transgendered community to any marginalized group. We are all people. Its this transcending of the subject that makes this not only one of the best films at Tribeca but also one of the most important.

See this film.

Los Hermanos / The Brothers (2020) opens Friday


This wonderful film is about brothers Ilmar and Aldo López-Gavilán. Born in 1970's Cuba thy both took differing musical paths. Ilmar was sent to Moscow to study violin when his teachers realized he was a greater talent then they could handle. He never lived in Cuba again, ending up in the United States. Aldo remained in Cuba becoming a classical and jazz pianist. While the brother always managed to stay in touch and see each other, they never had the chance to perform together....

I had been getting emails about LOS HERMANOS for a couple of weeks before it was announced at DOC NYC. It was going to be playing a couple of festivals and I kind of pushed it aside. Even when I had access to it at Globe Docs I passed over it for other films. That was a mistake on my part because this is great little documentary about music and family and how music can keep a family connected. THat last part resonated with me since in the last few weeks since the passing of my dad the music that has passed between my brothers and myself have kept us connected.

There is so much to say about the film, from how it is a portrait of two guys you'll want to hang out with, to the great music, to the sense that you are really hanging out with them as they tell their story. However I want to just mention that while all of that is good what you'll remember is the small moments. For me the one moment that I will always carry with me is the one where Ilmar talks about getting audio cassettes from his brother playing music. While he loved the music, the thing that made them special to him was the background sounds, people talking, of walking by, of the sounds of home that he missed. I love how he mentions how that kept him connected to "home".

I was moved and delighted and you will be too.

Highly recommended. 

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Nightcap 5/9/21 Watchmen revisited

Outside the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville PA

This is an abbreviated and abortive piece I began five or so years ago (I think) about how much better the fuller versions of Zack Snyder's WATCHMEN are.  Somewhere along the way I lost what I wanted to really say. However not being one to waste anything I give you this little piece.

I somehow ended up with all three versions of WATCHMEN on DVD. I say this because when the film came out I had reservations about the film.

I picked up the theatrical edition because I wanted the extras. I also picked up the animated Tales of the Black Freighter (which I didn’t like) and the motion comic (which is good but would have been better if it wasn’t one person reading the whole comic)

I picked up the Director’s Cut because it was cheap. I never saw it until I caught it on cable and realized that the extra stuff vastly improved the film. Actually it made an okay film a great one. In this version it was clear Zac Snyder actually did the source justice and made it resonate for modern audiences.

Recently I picked up a copy of THE COMPLETE WATCHMAN which is the Directors Cut with Tales of the Black Freighter placed back into the story. Why did I do it? Because it was ten bucks and I liked the Directors Cut.

Sitting down one snowy night in January I put on the COMPLETE WATCHMEN and hunkered down to see how the really full version played. About a half an hour in I realized that several years on WATCHMEN needed to be re-evaluated by everyone. Quite simply taken on it’s own terms, taken away from the hype and stripped of comparison from the comic the film is brilliant.

The first thing that needs to be said as part of this discussion is that the theatrical version should not part of this discussion. While having the majority of the material in both of the other versions it is only a pale shadow of the other two.

The truth is the the Director's Cut brings us closer to what the comic is. It fleshes out plot points and more importantly it fleshes out the characters  and makes us connect to them and really understand them. Its a much more satisfying viewing experience. The additional 20 minutes actually make a difference.

The COMPLETE  version runs 53 minutes longer than the theatrical cut. 26 minutes of it is the addition of  the animated The Tales Of The Black Freighter. That's the comic book a kid is reading in the original comic It acts as a commentary of the main action. However what works in the comic doesn't really work in the film.  I understand why Snyder included it in the super edition but at the same time being faithful to your source in actuality sometimes means that you either make a film that is less than the source or worse not faithful to the sprit of the material.

To me the Director's Cut is a nigh perfect adaption of WATCHMEN
Once again and without hyperbole the future of Unseen Films may be in question, or at least as a site that posts every day. 

As I write this the site is programmed with older films pretty much until our 12th anniversary, however right now I am wrestling with how much I can handle going forward. 

A longer discussion of hows and whys will follow once I figure out what the hell I'm doing.

Goodbye Honey (2020) hits VOD May 11

Young woman escapes from her abductor and flees into the night. She comes upon  and exhausted truck driver and insists she let her hide out  in the back of her truck.  However circumstance soon has the pair struggling to stay alive.

Good little thriller moves along so nicely that you can't help but go along for the ride. What I like about this film is that the film uses it's limited location to really crank up the tension. Who would have thought a film set outside could be as claustrophobic as this film is. Okay yes the much of the film is in the back of the truck, however at the same time no one is locked in it.

While I normally hate these sort of films, I was hooked. I wanted to see who lived, who died and how it all came out.

One HUGE word of warning, as good as the film is it requires two contrived plot pints to make it work. The first is a dropped set of keys and the other is a broken phone. Where I could have had no trouble with one, two was a bit much. While it wasn't fatal, it did make an excellent thriller just a good one. Hell I would have bought the phone being locked in the truck without question, but the broken thing was just too much.

Quibble aside GOODBYE HONEY is an entertaining popcorn thriller and worth a look.


This is an hour long collection home movies with people talking about them via Zoom. It’s very good for what it is but your reaction is going to depend upon your interest in seeing the home movies. For me it was interesting  for a short bit.

This is  an 11 minute examination look at the work and films of Chantel Ackerman. While it is a beautiful primer on the subject that is playing with Ackerman’s LE CHAMBRE and NEWS FROM HOME- the film is going to frustrate most fans who are going to want a longer examination of the master director. Being a long time admirer of Ackerman’s films I know there is no way to do justice to her body of work in such a short amount of time, however the piece is a game try. Its worth a look, just be prepared to want more.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

TCM Classic Film Festival 2021 Remembering Powell and Pressburger

This short film is a masterpiece. Short sweet and to the point this almost half an hour look at the work of Powell and Pressburger is one of the best films on film I’ve ever seen.

The film is basically Thelma Schoonmaker talking about the work of her husband Michael Powell and his creative partner Emeric Pressburger. Over her words we see clips and photos and over the course of the films brief running time we come to understand the men, their films and their influence on modern cinema. Its direct and to the point and as good as documentary filmmaking gets.

Yes you could quibble that it doesn’t cover everything or that it isn’t detailed, but it wasn’t designed to do that. The film is simply and appreciation and primer by someone who knows the subject intimately. It does what it does and gets off. More to the point it provides an almost constant series of  “ah ha” moments. You may think you know the pair but I’m guessing you don’t know everything. What I love is how Schoonmaker- links things up or highlights something in a passing phrase that makes you suddenly see something you’ve never noticed before.

I can’t recommend this film enough.

Playing with I KNOW WHERE I AM GOING, it is highly recommended for anyone who loves film.

All Light Everywhere (2021) NDNF 2021

This is a repost of my Sundance review.

An examination and pondering of the nature of observation and how we effect what we observe.

Overly pretentious film is very intent on making its points by using text in place of narration and hammering home its ideas by having some sequences go on way too long. Watching the film trying so hard to prove its point prevented me from ever really connecting.

While I admire what it was tying to do, and while I could intellectually see what it was proving, I never connected to it emotionally with the result I just wanted to say That's nice dear and pat it on the head and send it on its way.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Bill Morrison at TCM Fest 2021


Let Me Come in is the latest from Bill Morrison.  Using decaying footage from the film Pawns of Passion with words and music from David Lang  he had fashioned a dreamy love story of aching desire.

While I like the images that Morrison has given us to look at  as well as the idea of dreamy love, the libretto doesn’t work for me.  There is something about the lyrics that doesn’t sit well for my ear.  While it doesn’t kill the film for me, it does make this one of the few Morrison films I am uncertain to return to.

Quibbles a side fans of Morrison should see it when it screens  this weekend at TCM Fest if for nothing else it shows us what it might look like if Morrison could have put a full on opera together.

Morrison's film is running with a half hour look at his films

I am a huge fan of Bill Morrison's films. I fell in love DECASIA and I have been along for the ride ever since. I will go to great lengths to see anything he produces so this look behind the curtain was magical.

While not geared to telling us everything the film explains how Morrison began working with decaying film, how he picks the people he uses to score his films as well as tidbits concerning  some of the films (DECASIA, THE BELLS, THE GREAT FLOOD and DAWSON CITY: FROZEN TIME).  I love how he never knows what he's going to get when he gets a call about some decaying film, as well as his mention that some people think that what he does is done with computers.

If you have ever been amazed by Morrison's work this is a must see.

Bastards Road (2020) Hits VOD and DVD May 11

BASTARDS' ROAD follows Jon Hancock as he walks across America seeking to reconnect with the men he served with in 2/4 Marines in the hope of healing both himself and his friends of the trauma that they have suffered by the things that they experienced in the Middle East.

Before seeing BASTARDS' ROAD I was certain that the last thing we needed was another film about a vet walking across America to heal himself and others, but then I started the film and by the two minute mark as Hancock was talking while lighting a fire I was hooked. Not long after I realized that not only do we need this film, but that this is maybe one of the best films of 2020.

I am not going to do a great deal of talking about what happens in this film, not because I don’t have a great deal to say, but rather you need to meet Hancock and the 2/4 Marines for yourself. That the film works as well as it does is entirely due to Hancock and what he has to say and how he interacts with his fellow vets. He is not only a born storyteller but also a wonderful philosopher. He perfectly explains what he is feeling and why. He explains to us what happened and how it affected him and more importantly he draws out the people he encounters. Anyone spending time with him seems to open up and begins to heal. It’s a stunning achievement.

I am in true awe of this film. In all seriousness I started the film and I got about five minutes in and I had to stop the film and restart it because I thought the film had jumped to the middle. The film felt like I had been with Hancock for longer than just a couple of minutes. I was certain I couldn’t feel like I had known someone for a long time minutes after meeting him. I was wrong, I had instantly connected and the film was just getting going.

Whether you have an interest in Hancock and his journey or not you need to see this film. It is a film that will get under your skin and become part of you. More importantly it will alter the way you think.

Highly recommended.


I am not a fan of PLAN 9 FOM OUTER SPACE. It's nowhere near the worst film ever made, its actually pretty okay and I despise how cinema hipsters who have no clue fell all over it until the completely unwatchable THE ROOM took it's place as the worst film. 

Because I dislike the film I had no intention of watching the table read for TCM Fest this year, but things happened and it fell in my lap and decided to take a look because I wasn't committed to it. The result was I was roaring with laughter from start to finish.

Done via Zoom, with Lorraine Newman reading the scenes descriptions, this is a whole bunch of people having fun. One part homage and one part send up it is a screamingly funny little exercise that is infinitely better than the original. If I was watching this at the fest I probably would either bail early into the original or not watch it when it plays after this gem ends.

I can't recommend this enough.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

TCM Classic Film Fest 2021: The Streets of New York

As part of this years virtual TCM Fest the festival is running numerous New York City centric films and to help make things more enjoyable they are also running several several films relating to the making of the films

Excellent look at the making f the Harold Lloyd comedy SPEEDY. The film was legendarily shot on location in New York for a good portion of the shoot. However a terrible accident forced the company to reconsider continued shooting. The film examines the shoot both in NYC and on a backlot where portions of the city were reconstructed because the area in Greenwich Village they wanted to shoot in had been changed. This is an excellent film

Short look at the making of THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1,2,3 and how it is one of the most accurate portraits f the NYC subway on film (it points out that one of the two errors in the film is the result of the city refusing to help make the film if they showed graffiti in the subway car.) This is a great piece that is much too short.

An excellent look at the shooting of NAKED CITY and how it was the first big film in a long time to actually shoot on location on the city. This is another masterpiece that gives us an excellent idea of what it took to make the film as well as letting us know what has changes since the film was shot.


This look at the making of CHAIN LIGHTNING is playing as the introduction to the film on HBO Max as part of the TCM Classic Film Fest. 

Focusing primarily on the visual effects for the film the film charts the making of the film and it's rush to be the first film about jet planes in theaters. Its a breezy look at the film that touches on a variety of subjects such as Bogart being too old for the role, Michael Curtiz (who did not direct the film), the wrong design of the plane (it isn't really a jet), marketing and how in the face of TV the studios were trying to make films as cheaply as possible. Its a great little primer on CHAIN LIGHTNING itself, and when it was done I wanted to wade into the film proper.

This is an amusing little film that I'm guessing is going to end up on TCM as the intro for the film from here on out.

CHAIN LIGHTNING can be seen on HBO Max as part of the TCM Classic Film Festival


Six minute look at  the three horror films made by director Michael Curtiz: DR X, MYSTERY F THE WAX MUSEUM, and WALKING DEAD. The short film explores the three films which were influential in their way, especially with Curtiz's work with early Technicolor revealing to many what could be done with the film.

Its a super little film that I suspect is going to have a long life well beyond the festival