Sunday, February 28, 2010

Strings (2004)


Strings has been one of those films that has stayed with me since I saw it. I've seen it a couple of times now and it just amazes the hell out of me. Its a film told entirely with puppets, marionettes actually, that uses the strings, the characters are very aware they have strings, as a plot device.

Trust me on this, what they do and how they do it is truly amazing and entirely not what you expect.

This is also not so much a film for kids. Yes I know its marionettes but this is a story that the adults are really going to like more.

In thrashing about writing a new piece on the film I revisited my piece on IMDB that I wrote in the wake of seeing the film for the first time. I think it is probably as good as I'm going to do in explaining the film. For that reason I'm going to present it here (with a couple of tweaks):

In a world of marionettes- the king of a great kingdom writes to his son, giving him the throne, asking him to find peace with their mortal enemies and warning against the evil of the king's brother. The king then commits suicide by cutting his head string. Unfortunately the king's act was discovered by his evil brother and the suicide is rearranged as a murder, the perpetrator members of the very enemy the king had wanted to find peace with. The Brother then sets in motion a vile plan to kill his nephew and seize the throne for himself.

So begins one of the most unique films I've ever seen. Sure there have been puppet films before, but none that I've seen that have ever embraced their limitations so well that they turn them into an asset. Yes, you see the strings, actually the strings are even more noticeable then they would be in a real live puppet show (and yes the characters are very aware that they have strings). The reasoning is two fold, first it creates a wonderful visual motif at times with shots using the strings to create beautiful images such as emphasizing a rain storm or the bars of a prison. The strings also are used symbolically to allude to how we are all connected, how we are often on a leash and how there may be forces (god/puppeteers) above us. Its amazing.

The best thing is that it's a great story. This is grand fantasy or grand adventure of the highest order. What happens is very human as we are forced to confront what we are told is the truth which often turns out not to be the case. It's a story of greed and hope, how your worst enemy can be your best friend, and how the sins of the fathers need not be visited on the sons. There is real pain and real danger. If this were a novel it would be a classic of the genre (and since the film is from Denmark there is more than a passing reference to a certain prince of Shakespeare).

Trust me, you will really love this. I sat on the floor of my living room doing some sorting, totally and completely enraptured by what was going on because even when I wasn't looking up I was listening to a well acted (Derek Jacobi as the villain in the English version) and fantastically written story. It's the type of tale you'd curl up with on a cold winter's night before going to bed.

Yea, I liked the film.

If you want to see a great adventure, a great story, see this movie. Please do not let the fact that its marionettes keep you from seeing it. This is not for kids, or rather too small ones, since there is death and darkness, and a plot that maybe hard for them to follow. It's a kick in the head and there's a chance, at the end that maybe it will even cause a tear to run down your cheek (its happened every time I've seen it).

See it if you get the chance.

This is readily available through your regular video sources Amazon, Netflix, ect.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

C-Man (1949)


This is another one of the films that came out of my recent talks with an office buddy about good film noir. Actually the talk was more along the lines of good film noir that not everyone has seen. That's the problem, there are the major studio releases, say Out of the Past and then there are the B's like Detour. What, my friend wondered are other good lesser known noirs? The idea was he wanted to impress his girl friend who loves moody crime dramas.

This is one of those great lost noirs, of it not great good enough to make you wonder why its not well known.

Dean Jagger plays a US customs agent who hunts the murderer of a childhood friend, and fellow customs agent, who was killed while on the trail of a stolen necklace. Jagger is a no nonsense guy, and even though the bosses don't think he should be on the case, he's way too close, they let him go because they know he'll be hip deep in it anyway.

Where did this movie hide for so long? Set and shot primarily in New York City this is a gritty crime drama that predates many other better known films that were told in a similar fashion, say Naked City or any of the other almost documentary like you are there films. Its raw and in your face with the edge of real streets and real places. It's plainly obvious that there aren't any sets as such. The style reminded me of the films of Orson Welles, especially a film like Mr Arkadin. It also feels like the Lemmy Caution films of Eddie Constantine and other low budget European films. There is an pointedness to the film making, a do what it takes attitude that produces some surprising and some violent scenes. This is not the type of film you'd expect from an American studio, certainly not in 1949.

Yes this is one of those movies that seems a bit hokey at first, but give it time and I think by the time ten minutes have passed you're hooked and will be willing to follow the story where ever it goes just because its a good story being told in an interesting manner.

I don't know why this movie isn't better known. Certainly its not a great movie, its has some flaws from its budget and some uneven writing but when the day is done its still a damn good flick. It reminded me of the sort of movie you'd catch at 2am on the Late Late Show when you're half awake, trying to fall asleep only to fall in its clutches and stay up all night... I think I would have thought this was even better if I saw this at 2am.

This is one to see and search out. Actually one doesn't have to go that far. This is readily available on home video. Alpha Video has a low budget version that should set you back about five dollars and I think VCI or another distributor has copies out if you want to pay a little more. (Then again there is always Netflix)



Friday, February 26, 2010

NICFF- Opening Night 2010

Went to the opening night of the NYICFF.

Its late and I have another screening early tomorrow so I have to get to bed, but I just want to say, before I write up a review, that should Summer Wars plays near you, Go. First off its a marvelous film, but its a stunning use of the BIG screen. Its one of the few films of any sort in the last few years that truly uses the big screen. I'll go into it in a later post, but it's visually amazing... and it will problably do what it did to me and the young lady next to me, make you tear up.

Blast of Silence (1961)


I'm going back and forth with a guy at work about film noir films and I brought this up. Its a super little film that has a great New York feel, which is something I really like and look for in old movies. I love films that were filmed in New York and show it off the way it was.

The plot is simple : A loner hit-man comes to New York City for a job at Christmas and things begin to happen. What happens is the movie.

This is one of the last films made during the heyday of film noir The tale is told in stark black and white images with such a stunning sense of place-it was filmed all over the city-that you actually feel you're pounding the streets and back alleys of Manhattan. The sense of place is gets the film many points in my book.

Adding greatly to the film is the odd second person narration. It shouldn't work. I have no idea why anyone would have thought it would work but it adds so much to the film. It adds a mood that no other film has and fills in details that the visuals lack. Its a perfect marriage of word and image. Its like listening to really good Chandler and Hammett story.

The film was made on the cheap and as such the film itself is not perfect, there are some technical issues with the sound making it seem dubbed at times, the cast is uneven with some characters coming off as stiff as a result, and one or two twists seem more contrived then natural. But for the most part it all works wonderfully. I think this is a great little film.

Trust me you'll like this film since I've recommended it to several people and not one has been disappointed.

The film is currently available from Criterion in a great little package. There is a nifty documentary on the making of the film which adds greatly to later viewings of the film, and there is a short little now and then piece which shows the many locations when they were used in 1960 when the film was shot and in 2008.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Confessions of a Police Captain (1971)


In the interest of recommending films that are easy to find I'm going to talk about one that can be found for about a buck in the bargain bins pretty much everywhere. This is a solid little Italian crime drama that is a really good introduction to the genre. This was also the sort of film that was forever playing in the grindhouse circuit mostly because its a dubbed Italian crime drama.

This is the story of a police captain/commissioner who is trying to fight mafia infiltration into government and the police force using unorthodox methods (he springs one mafia leaders enemy from an insane asylum in the hope he'll try to kill his foe). he ends up getting hooked up with a prosecutor trying to do the same thing. The plot is much more complicated than that but that should be enough to get you started.

This is an excellent little thriller that unjustly has been made to seem as if its pure trash film instead of the griping crime drama it is. I know the fact that its in the bargain bins and on the discount dump racks makes the film instantly suspect in the eyes of many people. To be honest many of the films you find there are trash but there are some, like this film, that are better than you might think. I'm guessing their dump bin status is the result of just having a poor distributor who took the money and ran leaving the film to flounder.

I really like this film a great deal and its the sort of thing where I've made an effort to see it again simply because I find it the perfect sort of film to sit down relax and chill out with, especially when I'm in a Euro-crime mood.

If you like crime dramas this is definitely worth a shot. More so since I'm going to guess that you're going to find this film for about a buck.

New York International Children's Film Festival A Loving Puff Piece


If you want to see films that are not readily available or films that may be the big thing tomorrow one of the best places to go is a film festival. We’ve all heard of the various big name film festivals, The New York, Cannes, Toronto, Montréal, and of course Sundance. These are the places that many films use as launching pads for many of the big films of tomorrow. They are also a great place to see films that you won’t see anywhere else. They are in general a treasure trove of hidden treasures.

In the interest of giving you a taste of what film festivals are like I’m going to begin a series of articles on the various film festivals that I and others have attended. Of the film festivals I’ve listed above the only one I’ve attended is the New York Film Festival; however there are many many other festivals out there. If you look at the sidebar to this blog you’ll see a few festivals listed and over the next bunch of weeks I’m going to write up those and perhaps some other film festivals (or at least hope to find people who can write up some other festivals.)

I’m going to start with a festival that starts here in New York , The New York International Children’s Film Festival. This is, in humble opinion, the best programmed festival that I’ve run across. The festival quite simply has a knack for not programming bad films. I’ve been attending the festival for several years and I have to say that I haven’t attended a bad film, and while I have run across films that they programmed after the fact that didn’t thrill me, I don’t think I’ve run across a film that really made me truly wonder what they were thinking. (I think the ones I haven’t liked were more a matter of taste. For example two films from this year Fantastic Planet and The King and The Mockingbird are two well loved films that I find visually wonderful, but dramatically dull.)

Generally the festival has run on weekends late February and through March, which makes it a nice way to ease into the spring like weather. There was one year where the festival ran for a whole year on select weekends at the IFC Center in Manhattan and this was a nice segue into what they do now, which is run several films a month at a variety of locations (the IFC Center and Symphony Space) all through the year.

The people behind the festival have moved on from showing films to releasing them as well. They has a hand in the release of Azur and Asmar: The Princes' Quest in the US; they arranged numerous screenings of Nina Paley’s Sita Sings the Blues and right now they are the US distributor of the Oscar nominated Secret of the Kells. They also will arrange screenings of various films for schools and organizations.

I won’t go into a full list of films they have screened since I think a list of films can be found at their website, however I do want to say that I will be posting reviews of some of the gems that I’ve seen at prior festivals over the course of the next few weeks ( Nocturna, The Girl Who Lept Through Time, Help I’m A Fish, Porco Rosso, Yobi the Nine Tailed Fox, Summer Days with Coo, Tree of Palme, among others.) What I do want to talk about is the neat things they do and find.

One of the thing that I love is that the festival is trying to do more than just show films. They run workshops for kids to get them involved with film. Its hands on film production showing the kids that they can do films of their own. One workshop is running in conjunction with this years festival. They are also running a seminar on ventriloquism that will have Tony award winner Jay Johnston appearing to teach and talk with the kids. I hate that I’m too old for their workshops because they look great, and since they tend to fill up really fast I’m guessing many parents feel the same way.

The festival has also managed over the course of its life to bring films to the US that might have been locked away forever in their home country. This year for example they are running what they say is the only English subtitled print of Gwen and the Book of Sand. This is a very beautiful, breathtakingly animated story of a girl in a world after the fall of mankind. Gwen and her people are living in a desert trying to survive. I’ve seen some of the film on an unsubtitled French DVD and it really impressed me. I’m going to see the film when it screens later in the festival because I want to know what its all about.

The festival has managed to form solid bonds with many of the worlds best filmmakers. They regularly show many of the films of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. Frequently manage to show films that most people have never seen. A few years ago they scored a huge coup when they brought to the US several Miyazaki short films that were only to be screened at the Ghibili museum. I was lucky enough to attend the screenings and I honestly think that these short films are some of the most magical ones that the master animator ever made.

And speaking of short films….

One of the places the festival shines is in their short programs. They usually have at least for six programs of just short films and they are a fantastic selection. Not only do they do at least two general shorts programs, they also do one geared for “tots”, one for young women, and one of scary films. This year they’ve added one for teens and they are also show casing one animated shorts from France . It’s an amazing selection of films and the collection is so good one wishes that they would put the selections out as DVDs because there is nary a bad one in the lot. The really tough thing about them is they seem to have such a good reputation that that they are usually the ones that seem to sell out the fastest. If you want to see what I mean look at the schedule and you’ll see that this year they seem to have added a couple extra screening of the general short and tot collections (In years past it always seemed to be two or three showings). If you want to see good films you won’t see anywhere else you need to see these collections. (I’m kind of bummed that I can’t make any of the screenings because of scheduling conflicts)

The single draw back to the festival this year is that it’s become so big that its now spread out all over New York . It’s in five different locations and they are all over Manhattan Even the three closest are a good distance from each other and they aren’t conducive to getting from one place to another in a short amount of time. This is really going to drive people crazy if they are going to or from Symphony Space which is 90 blocks (on a different subway line) from the next closest place The Cantor Film Center on 8th street . (If you’re going you have to think about what you’re seeing and where the screenings are)

I know people are going to say that I’m being a suck up, but I’m not really, this is the best programmed of the films that I’ve attended. I’ve been thinking about the various Festivals I’ve attended and I find that the collection of the films they put together simply have more winners then losers. It’s a great little festival that has rapidly become a place for film lovers of all ages, not just for kids.

If you can try and go. The Festival starts this Friday and then runs Saturdays and Sundays through March 21st. Details can be found at the link in the side bar or above. Be warned several of the screenings have sold out so if there is something you want to see get tickets now.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Discovery of Heaven (2001)


This is a film that tends to split the audience. I don't know why some people hate the film, though I can make some guesses. I do understand why some people love the film, since I'm one of those people.

This philosophical comedy/drama is based upon a novel by Harry Mulisch. It was directed by Jeroen Krabbe, best know as an actor in a variety of films including General Koskov in the James Bond film, The Living Daylights. I've read that the film was close to his heart and I can completely understand it since he did probably as good a job at bringing this story to the screen as we are likely to get. To be certain he had to remove a large chunk of the philosophical discussions that made the novel so well loved in some circles, and while I regret their loss I completely understand that for the story to work as a film they had to go.(Full Disclosure: I've read about a quarter of the novel and loved it but it was requiring more time then I had when I started to read it, so I put it down. I could have torn through it but to do so would have not done the book the justice it deserves. Its a good read)

The plot of the film has God fed up with mankind. He has reached the point where he wants nothing to do with us, but long ago he made a covenant with Moses and before he can wipe us out he has to get it back. In order to do this he needs someone capable of actually getting it back. In order to actually retrieve what he needs he needs a very special person. To this end he has some of his host of angels selectively breed a child who, when he grows up will be able of getting the covenant back for him. As the story opens the plan is close to completion and all that is required is for the young woman to mate with the two men who will be the child's fathers. (Hey its okay its the swinging 60's). What follows is the course of the child's life and how the choices made by men and angels affects the future of mankind.

I should stress that this is not a straight forward philosophical film. Its a film about people, Quentin, the child created by the Angels, his fathers Max and Onno (played wonderfully by Stephen Fry in one of his best roles) and his mother; and everyone that they deal with in the course of their lives. This is a film about life and people and what matters, and at the same time there's some business about god and the angels mixed in to keep things interesting. I should stress the angelic bits are the reason things are set in motion but not the reason the meat of the story, that is the people.

I love this film. It is in a way one of my favorite films of all time. I don't watch it often but I find myself frequently thinking about sequences and situations. It is a film that I carry around with me at all times. I don't need to see it because its right there with me just out of view. It spurs me on in many ways. I find myself engaging in internal battles about the meaning of it all and the nature of God and the universe. Honestly if you want to ponder why if there is a god and why he doesn't answer, this may provide some answers- we've pissed him off.

It is for me a near perfect film. I think everything in the film comes together to create the perfect combination of philosophy and entertainment. Its a film for the head and the heart. I love all of these people. I love the characters and the actors. I love Stephen Fry's Onno. He is a wonderful, sometimes difficult, man who loves his son but has a love hate relationship with life. I love Max the other father, an astronomer looking for and finding...something. And then there is Ada, the perfect woman any man could love. Actually I pretty much love everyone.

If there is a flaw in the film its the acting of one character, Quentin, the child created by angelic interference. The problem is not with the character himself, the problem is that he's played by several people of the course of the film and their acting, while never bad, never comes together to create a single character. Each person plays it slightly different and the result is not as strong as it should have been (its several characters, not one).

I love the film.

It would be wrong not to warn you that some people don't. Many have read the novel and hate the changes to the book. They hate the loss of the poetry and discussion. Others have kittens at the thought of God hating man and loosing faith in us. One enraged person who hates the film didn't think it was right to even suggest that god would ever consider wiping us out because he loves us so. I have no opinion and think that people are over thinking. Its a work of fiction and the notion of an angry deityis merely  a plot device. Still others just don't like it for any of a number of reasons.

Personally I love a film that splits the audience. I love a film that makes you think and feel and react. This is one of those films. I can't say whether you'll love the film or if you'll hate it but I'm pretty certain that you will have a reaction to it. You will not just sit there and have it wash over you before you move on to the next thing.

See this movie. Feel something for some good characters. Have your gray cells tickled and maybe think of something new.

I'm sure you're either going to thank me or hate me, because I know you're not going to just shrug and walk off.

The availabilty of this film in the US seems to be only as an import DVD. Some Amazon e-sellers have it. I've read, but I don't know how accurate it is, that this film has never gotten an American distributor partly because some distributors didn't like it and partly because some people didn't know if they could market it.

L'abri: Lovers Refuge (200?)

Many if not most of the Asian films I stumble up I pick up at random from some of the stores in New York's Chinatown. I will see a DVD with a cover that looks interesting and depending upon the type of movie it is I'll just pick it up and give it ago. Some times that works and some times I crash and burn. Mostly I am pleasantly surprised. (I will watch films without subtitles even when I don't speak the language, however if it looks like dialog dramas I tend to pass when they don't have a translation)

This is one of those films that I picked up blind. I had no idea what the film was but it looked pretty good so I gave it a shot.

What follows if from a LiveJournal post on the film. I don't think the film has an IMDB listing nor have I found anyone having written about the film, in English anyway.

The LJ follows:

Korean "love" story begins with a teacher at what appears to be a high school or cram school. We watch as he teaches the kids literature and they try to take it in and eventually wander off. He goes through life, not talking to his friends making excuses for not going out with the other teachers, one of which really fancies him. Occasionally he visits a prostitute where he has deep and meaningful conversations that he doesn't have with anyone else. The film resets and starts over at the point where he meets a beautiful new student. The film then follows as we watch the new student come to the school. We also watch as she has dates with older men who give her things. One night when she tries to break it off with one guy she is followed by a man into the subway where she meets the teacher as we had seen previously. Once the film has played things out from the point of view of the two characters the film then sets off again this time following both characters at once. What transpires is a slowly developing bond of friendship between two very broken souls. There are long silences that are often broken by dark revelations. Over time the pair become close.

Very good romance of a sort that has a ring of truth to it. I know I could relate to the relationship and was occasionally uncomfortable for that reason. This is not a typical film and its nothing that we'd ever really see in a film from Hollywood or Western cinema. The characters are not always easy to take. They have odd ticks and don't say much which I know will drive people up a tree. Also likely to make people crazy is that things are not explained. Things happen, but its not always clear where they are coming from or going to. Its kind of like life. Is it a great film? Probably not; but it is a very good one. It is a film that is the best sort of film, one that hangs with you and doesn't really leave your consciousness.

I have no idea if this film will play by you or show up on DVD, but if it does it's something to keep an eye out for since it's good and the sort of thing that you will not have seen before.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Secret of the Black Trunk (1962)

Here's another great little thriller you probably haven't seen. This is also available from in the US from Amazon and from Sinister Cinema (Amazon is selling Sinister's edition)

This is one of the long running series of films based on the works of Edgar and Bryan Wallace thrillers that were made in Germany from the late 1950's until the early 1970's. The series as a whole was very up and down quality wise. I prefer the black and white films to the the color films from the late 60's and early 70's which were not very good since they tried to be too hip and too knowing. The black and white ones are full of moody shots of fog bound London (well, somewhere in Germany standing in for London). They have this gritty mysterious feel that is lost in the color films.

This is one of the best black and white films in the series. It concerns a series of murders where the victim is killed by a knife thrown from a great distance. The victim always has his bags packed by the killer just before the murder occurs.

I would love to attempt to do a further recounting of the events but there are too many characters and too much going on for it to make any real sense to do so. This is a film that is better to see then read about. Simply put his is one of those movies, like many of the Wallace stories, where the plot really doesn't hold up that well if you think about it. On the other hand it really doesn't matter a whole heck of a lot since the film is too busy moving you on to the next thing. Trust me this film is really worth making an effort to catch since it just grabs you and pulls you along.

Probably the best thing in this film is the dialog which is quite witty; with my favorite exchange being "I've been in London for less than an hour and I've already stumbled upon my first murder" to which a passer by replies "Yes, well London is like that". Its knowing, yes, and its silly but it still is a gripping mystery.

If there is any real problem with the film its that the comic relief, here taking the form of one of the detectives sound hound cousin, who's antics seem at times to belong in a comedy. Annoyance with the sound hound aside, this is a really good thriller and worth time on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and a soda. Its the best sort of movie, a rainy day lounging film.

Tokyo File 212 (1951)

I know you're getting fed up with films that are difficult to get your hands on. Well I'm going to start to remedy that right now. This is a film that is available from Alpha Video and can be had for about five bucks in places like Amazon. I'm guessing that you should be able to get this through Netflix.

This is an atypical little thriller that was one of my "finds" of 2009.

This is a Tokyo set and filmed tale taking place during the Korean War about a certyain "Mr Carter" posing as a reporter (he's really an American agent) in order to investigate a group of commies operating in the "last bastion of freedom in the Far East". He goes to great length to run down some enemy agents who pose a threat to freedom loving people everywhere (okay never mind that their plans don't amount to much, they're commies which is enough.)

A mix of western and eastern sensibilities collide in a film that looks very much like Japanese films from the time. It is unlike any Hollywood movie I've ever seen. It clear that the producers set about really making an American film in Japan since nothing here looks like it was shot in America or in an American studio. All of the locations are not anywhere in the United States. This is a wonderful travelogue of life in post war Japan and for me this film scores several points just for not being from these parts. It scores several more for a plot that is convoluted enough to make you want to keep watching. The film is great little thriller. It's filled with wit and has enough intriguing characters that this is an animal unto itself. (Part film noir, part spy film, part travelogue).

I have to admit that its far from perfect, the climax is almost silly and involves a cheat of sorts. Still considering how much they got right and how much unlike any other American movie this is I'm sure you'll be like me and forgive the bumps at the end.

This is highly recommended for anyone who wants a good film from years past that isn't the same old same old.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Barber of Siberia (1998)


Here’s a grand romance on a huge scale (that was made even bigger by a directors cut). It’s the sort of tragic romance of lost true love that women swoon over. It’s a grand pot boiler of a film that I like so much that I’ve picked up three different copies. It’s something that should have been huge but because it bombed when it was first shown it was sent to near oblivion.

The story I heard goes that back in 1998 this Russian lensed, multi-national co-production was brought into Cannes with high hopes, great word of mouth and the expectations that this was going to be a huge international blockbuster. The thinking was how could it not be when it had one of the hottest actresses in the world at the time in Julia Ormond, and it was mostly in English for easier international sales. When the film ended its first screening it was all over but the shouting with the film’s high hopes dashed and the film consigned to a dust bin of sorts. The director, Nikita Mikhalkov, didn’t direct another film until last years Oscar nominee 12, a very good re-imagining the story of 12 Angry Men as a story set in one of the breakaway Russian republics.

I don’t know why since it’s a really good little epic. Actually it was passed off to me as one of the best films you’ve never seen.

Set at the turn of the 20th century before the Russian Revolution, the plot of the film has Julia Ormond going to Russia with Richard Harris in the hopes of making their fortune. Harris is an inventor who has come up with an automated means of chopping down trees, making him essentially the Barber of Siberia. Ormond in the meantime travels around charming everyone she meets. Eventually she takes up with a young military cadet and what happens after that is the story.

I really like this film. It’s a grand romance of the highest order. To be certain it’s a bit soapy and it does have a touch of pot boiler in it, but this is a sumptuous film with a story that Hollywood and the rest of the world really doesn’t try to tell any more. I carries you away to a time and a place and it touches and tugs on your heart strings.

Think of it as Dr Zhivago meets Gone with the Wind meets (pick a grand romance.) This was filmed all over Russia with a sense of detail that is only dreamed of by most producers. Rarely has any film ever so neatly put you in a time and a place as this one does. I’ve put this film on just so I can watch the scenery go by.

The central story of Julia Ormond and her young lover is magical. You genuine like the characters and care about them. Ormond’s brash heroine doing what she wants; flaunting convention is a wonderful modern woman who doesn’t see what’s coming. Oleg Menshikov as her paramour is note perfect as the charming young man whose passion for the girl will be his downfall. Its an exhilarating ride that will leave you heartbroken in the end.

I really like this film a great deal. Its so good that I’ve been on the look out for the longer directors cut which is said to run 100 minutes longer than the 3 hour theatrical cut. I love the idea of spending more time with these people.

Currently unavailable as a US release the film is available from Amazon e-sellers as an import of the UK . I believe the film is also still available from Russia on the Ruscico label (the subtitles on this one are a bit strange in that the choice is to have them on all the time or not at all- an annoying prospect for a film that’s 90% or so in English. Worse, if you want to switch back and forth you have to go to out of the movie). I own both versions and prefer the UK import.

Felidae (1994)


Keep this one away from the kids. This is a decidedly adult animated film that moves the hard boiled detective genre into the realm of cats. If you want a good reason that animation doesn’t have to be for children this is it.

Based on a novel by Akif Princci this is the story of the new cat in town. Moving into a new home with his human our cat quickly finds that all is not well with the neighborhood he lives in. Someone is killing the cats. Worse there appears to be several hyper-sexed female cats wandering around. Add in mad science and religious cults and you have a grand old style murder mystery with a new bend.

I’ve only seen this as an English dub generation or two down the line from the source, so I don’t know how it plays in its original German, but as an English language film I think this film is great. It’s a good solid mystery that really surprises in the directions it takes. It’s very much a throw back to the old Republic B movie mysteries of the 1940’s with an up dating of 1990’s sex and violence. It’s a classic tale of a man, or cat, finding himself in the middle of a situation that is beyond his control, with the only way out of it being to press forward and figure out what is really going on. If you like old style hard boiled mysteries then you’re going to eat this up.

Best of all is the fact that the makers of the film understood that in order to tell this film properly they were going to have to do something other than a straight forward live action film. We never would have bought cats walking around as in recent films like Cats and Dogs or G-Force. This had to be classically animated if this was ever going to work. Of course this would create sales problems in some areas, especially the US where animation until very recently was only viewed as something for kids. In fairness the animation isn’t up to the classic Disney style, but it is serviceable. (certainly its better than most limited animation we see on TV).

This is one that’s worth seeing. Just keep it away from your kids. The violence is bloody, the sex while not graphic isn’t PG rated, and the language is course. This is one for the adults or at least the older kids. As far as I can tell the film is not readily available in the US through regular channels. I picked up my copy from Video Search of Miami and I’ve seen it from other similar sources. I know the film is available in other parts of the world from official sources (Amazon UK has it from e-sellers)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Kiyoshi Kurosawa's "The Revenge" films (1997) or The Programers at Lincoln Center don't always know what they are writing up (Updated)

As part of the annual Film Comment Selects series at Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater they ran two pretty much unseen films from Kiyoshi Kurosawa who made Tokyo Sonata and Sweet Home (which I wrote about below). The films are pretty much the only part of Kurosawa's film work that aren't on DVD. I've tried to run down copies but I can't find them on either DVD or VCD. Having seen the films I can completely understand why they aren't available, they aren't good.

THE REVENGE: A VISIT FROM FATE The film concerns Anjo, a cop with a great deal of angst. It comes from he was a kid when two Yakuza killed his entire family. One had discovered him hiding in a closet and let him live on the condition he never told anyone. Anjo's whole career is essentially a quest to find the killers of his family. When a case of a crazed speed freak takes a deadly turn, the perp kills himself rather than allowing himself to be arrested, events are set in motion that allows Anjo to discover the people who killed his family so he can take revenge.

Actually what this sets in motion is a series of nonsensical sequences as Anjo tracks the killers, leans on a mob boss to give them up, and the killers take revenge on the cop by going after his wife. Gun fights happen, sometimes on screen, sometimes off screen. People either are shot and fall over dead or go through a long painful demise depending on whether information is needed to drive the story. Similarly people die and come back depending on whether Anjo needs to get information or some one to shoot at.

I won't go into my opinion of Lincoln Center for scheduling this, I'll save that for later, for now I'll just say that there were ripples of laughter all through the audience through much of the film. Frankly this is the sort of film that you can't be certain is serious or not. I mean they have to be joking right?

This is a throw back to the sort of nonsense that some Chinese filmmakers were making in Hong Kong ten years prior to when this film was made. I've seen dozens of tossed off HK action films from the late 80's and many of them seemed to be like this, made up as they went along. (The film also has avisual style similar to the hip Yakuza films from the 1960's)

What were they thinking? A hit man who doesn't like to kill and makes weird noises and bangs his head with his hand, another is smart or stupid at random moments, their sister who is crippled and a cold blooded killer with a machine gun. You have shoot outs where the two people stand at each other and just fire away not hitting anything. There are weird twists of character as Anjo turns from reasonably good cop who won't carry a gun to a cold blooded maniac who just won't die.

None of this makes a whole hell of a lot of sense. Its just WTF moment after WTF moment.

During the break between films several people left. Many of us try to decide what we just saw. Mostly we really wondered how they were going to have a sequel when all of the loose ends were tied up and shot through the head repeatedly.

I wondered whether to stay or go? I mean it couldn't get any worse could it?

THE REVENGE: A SCAR THAT NEVER FADES
Filmed at the same time as the first film but completely without a script (that's my sentiment), this is set five years on. Anjo is working outside of the law trying to track down all of those responsible for the death of his wife (Yes I know he killed everyone who had anything to do with that at the end of the last film) which was connected to the movement of "dark money". What any of this has to do with the events of the first film is beyond me, but the filmmakers say it does so it must be so. What actually happens in this film is nothing. Anjo hangs out with a Yakuza he saved and thinks his name is Yamamoto. He looks through old newspapers for information on the people responsible for his wives death (don't ask). Meanwhile a detective wants to know what Anjo knows for reason no one can fathom, and a neighbor makes Anjo a suit. People sit around, drive around, talk about nothing and then at the end some guns are fired.

This second film doesn't show up on IMDB and I know why, it doesn't really exist. Its a Zen mediation on the nature of nothingness. There is no real plot. its just people sitting and driving and talking. As an example of "life" its okay. as an entertainment its an endurance test.

Whats the point? I don't know. I'm guessing the filmmakers had contracted for two films and then realized they didn't have a sequel so they just filmed themselves hanging out.

When the film ended everyone looked stunned. That's it? Apparently. When I walked out the guy at the door was laughing. He couldn't believe that more people hadn't walked out. He couldn't believe that that we stayed. Neither could I. Frankly Lincoln Center is getting a really rude letter from me.

Okay, why am I going to send Lincoln Center a letter, because they clearly didn't watch either of these films. In the promotional material for the films the first film is called a homage to Dirty Harry. Maybe if you squint like Clint Eastwood, but Anjo isn't Harry Callahan by a long shot. More amazingly, and the dead give away that they didn't see the films, is the description the "...damaged cop goes after a Yakuza boss by infiltrating his gang. But moving up the underworld ranks takes time and leads to an identity crisis..." None of that is in the film. None of it. Yes, he hangs with the Yakuza but he's not after them. Hell, he likes the guys.

The problem here is that the Film Society of Lincoln Center occasionally doesn't know what they are showing. Almost every year that I've been following the New York Film Festival they tend to screen one or two films that are written up in such away that it clear that they never saw the film (The write up for Ghost Town from this past years festival seemed not to tell the whole tale as far as the people around me were concerned). Whomever wrote these up and scheduled them never saw them; because if they had they wouldn't have. What I think they did was they saw who the director was and they jumped at screening an unseen pair of films. They frequently do this, it's by whomever so it must be good, unaware that his or her film isn't good.

Its crazy.

When the films started the editor of Film Comment came out and thanked us for coming and said these were some early films of Kurosawa's and were unseen and then walked off. Perhaps he'd been warned, these are films should have remained unseen.

UPDATE
I did write a letter ro Lincoln Center and Film Comment in particular.

What I got back was a really nice letter from Gavin Smith, editor and chief of Film Comment. And I want to say that I made a mistake or two, and so did they.

He explained that Film Comment and Lincoln Center have been following Koyoshi Kurosawa's career for at least 10 years. He said that he programmed the films and that he did see them a while back in San Franisco, though he did add he thought they were better then. He said that he had spoken with Kurosawa about the films and he explained what he was trying to do with the films, some of which ended up in the films descriptions.

Mr Smith did admit that the description of the films was in error and explained why that sometimes happened. I completely understand why it happens (though I wish they could be a little closer to the reality of the films)

(I for my part, rightly or wrongly still argued against the films in a follow up letter becuase honestly, I really didn't like the films- or rather the second one which is where the breaking point came for me.)

As I've said elsewhere and to Mr Smith, He's one of the few people at Lincoln Center who's opinion I truly respect even if I don't always agree. How can you not like a guy who puts George Romero movies on his Best of the Decade List in Film Comment and then adds a secondary list of films he liked that no one else did. I have to admire that since it shows greater depth and understanding of film beyond the "art house " stuff most people at the Film Society seem to favor.

Forgive me if it sounds like I'm up to something, I'm not I just really appreciate his opinions.

Bodyguards and Assassins (2009)


This is a film that is out in Asian theaters and has just been released to DVD and Blu-Ray in China and elsewhere. I would be incredibly shocked if this film doesn't make its way to the United States and elsewhere. I'm mentioning the film now because this is one that you will want to pounce on when it shows up in theaters or the video rack near you.

Set in 1906 in Hong Kong the film follows a group of Chinese men and women who want to throw off the corrupt rule of the Mainland Chinese Royalty. They are waiting for the arrival of Mr Sun, Sun Yet Sen, the father of the Chinese Nationalist movement. Mr Sun is coming to Hong Kong to meet with the leaders of the various revolutionary groups in order to bring them together into one fighting force. The men and women in Hong Kong are untrusted with putting a force together to protect Mr Sun as he moves from his ship to the meeting since the Royal Government knows he's coming and they have flooded the city with assassins in the hope of killing Mr Sun and crushing the rebellion.

The first half of the film is all exposition. Its the introduction of a wide range of characters who all play a part in keeping Mr Sun alive. The talk is full of politics and of why they are getting involved, everyone wants a better place for themselves and for their children. Everyone in the huge cast really sells their characters to the point that you actually don't want any of them to get hurt. This is the rare action film where you become invested in every character and you don't want any of the characters to meet with a bad end. It helps that the cast is huge and well known, it has 15 of China's top stars from Donnie Yen to Simon Yam to Edward Tsang, and their familiarity helps to add to the proceedings.

After a seventy minute set up the film's action begins. Once Mr Sun sets foot on Hong Kong soil the film goes into over drive as an hour long set piece starts as the heroes, the bodyguards of the title, begin an hour long moving battle through the streets against the bad guys, the assassins, as they try to get Sun to the meeting and then misdirect the enemy into thinking he's still traveling through the city and not in the center of the battle. Its an amazing piece of action that was filmed in one of the largest sets ever built, a recreation of the streets of early 20th century Hong Kong.

This is one of the best action films out there. Not only is the action fantastic, it comes with an emotional price. The long set up period during which there is only really one short action sequence, makes you feel for everyone on screen. You feel as each gets hurt, as some inevitably die and it amps up the feeling of fear for those who continue on. Watching this at home with my dad we were literally inching forward in our seats, yelling at the screen, deflating with any defeat and cheering with a win. This is one of those films that puts the huge Hollywood blockbusters to shame because its not pre-programmed and we really care about the characters.

I know some people don't like the first hour because its all talk. I can kind of see their point but at the same time without the set up the pay off wouldn't work. We need to become invested with what happens. Some people are upset that the film is very political. The reasons for everyone doing what they are doing is a political one, everyone wants freedom. Some people writing about the film elsewhere on the Internet don't like the politics of the film because its coming from China, which they feel means it's pro communist. I wish I could see their point since all the film talks about is throwing off a corrupt government with the hope of freedom. Actually I find the film very in line with right wing American politics since it talks about having to remain vigilant and fighting to remain free so we have a better world for our children (that is why we are fighting the various wars we're in is it not?)

Politics or not,talk or no, what you're going to remember is the action. Its light years ahead of what is in most action films out there. Actually this film is light years ahead of most films out there right now. I saw this film a couple of weeks ago and it's hung with me ever since. I completely understand why this film has been a huge box office hit in Asia.

When you get the chance see this film. Right now the film can be had from places like Yes Asia and video stores in your local Chinatowns. It can also be had from Amazon.com e-sellers.

Addendum- aince posting this review the film has was chosen to screen as part of the NYAFF 2010

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ghost Town (2008)


These are my thoughts on Ghost Town which I mentioned in the introductory post. This was lifted from a review I posted elsewhere after I saw this at a screening at the 2009 New York Film Festival:

This is a three hour documentary about a small mountain top village near the Myanmar border. The town was abandoned in 1985 by the Chinese government and the surrounding farmers moved in. The film follows the harsh lives of several of the villager over the course of approximately a year. (The details of the preceding were gleaned from a post film discussion with the director , Zhao Dayong, and are not mentioned in the film) The characters include a preacher and his father (the focus of the first third of the film) who keep their Christian faith alive; a truck driver, a divorced farmer who's wife has moved away, a young girl who was swindled into marriage and now has a child, and a drunk in the town (The second part of the film) and a 12 year old boy living alone (focus of the final third). Its a rambling slice of life where the director points his camera and lets things happen, or not happen as the people of the village talk about their lives and nothing important.

At times this is a hypnotic film. One can very easily fall into it. Despite the film feeling about four times its three hour length (I'll get to that in a moment) I was happy to just let the film roll on before my eyes. There is a kind of wisdom and philosophy at times to it all. How do we get by? There is some stunningly beautiful images. This is a town high in the mountains and the views are amazing. You'll want to go just to see this place. There is magic in the small moments, the drunk with his mother, the 12 year old being a boy, the odd image of a giant chicken, the result of mixed perspective; the truck driver dealing with a cop who doesn't want him to have passengers, the father and son debating if one can sing and play the guitar. There is some wonderful things here.

The problem is this is a long 3 hours for no good reason. Shots go on way too long. There seem to be endless shots of the dogs and cats in the town. We watch the boy cook a cake in what seems like real time. Nothing happens frequently. You want real life, here it is, but it makes for a very long film. The screening at the New York Film Festival had a large number of walk outs I'm guessing from people who just didn't have the patience (and don't know what some Chinese films can be like).This can be like watching paint dry. I was kind of prepared for what I saw and went with it. Honestly as it stands now this is one of the longest feeling films I've seen. Its seems much longer than its three hours because the pacing is so leisurely.

I'm not crazy in love with the film but I am a fan of the core film. I really hope that the director will go back to the editing suite and make two changes. First the film needs some sort of explanation at the start. Where are we and what are we seeing. I've read numerous reviews that mentioned details that aren't in the film and which I only learned when the film was over and the director spoke. Give us some sort of introduction of where we are and what this place is, and maybe fill in some of the details of who these people are. The other thing this film need is trimming. Trim the animals. Trim the scenes where nothing happens. I understand this is the pace of life, but people will walk out if it stays like this. (Oh and something should also be done to the sound mix because the high end sound the clanging pots and shrill noises, at least as heard in Alice Tully Hall was often piercing.)

This is a really good movie. Its not the great film that the Village Voice and Time Out New York have suggested it is, but it is very good, though it does need work. I recommend it with reservations. If there is a later cut I'm hoping not to have any.

Availability:
This film is not currently being distributed. Its producer dGenerate Films has links about the film, including a link to an article on this film being one of the top undistributed films of the year. Link

Sweet Home (1989)

Kiyoshi Kurosawa became the darling of the art film set with his Tokyo Sonata about a family in turmoil. Everyone of the reviews mentioned how he started his career as director of horror films and thrillers, but it was very clear that with very few exceptions none of the critics who had fallen in love this this new property had seen any of his previous films before his discovery.

I've been a fan of Kurosawa's since I first saw some of his films in the mid 1990's. There is something profoundly disturbing about his films in away that hangs with you. Take for example his film Kairo (Pulse) from 2001 which is about the end of the world due to an intrusion of another dimension into this one. There is nothing really graphic about the film but there is something disturbing about its images and story that fill you with dread. Its not your typical horror film and the fact its not typical works against your feeling normal during it.

Actually the really strange thing about Kurosawa's career is that he started out making straight on genre films. One of the first horror films he made was the haunted house tale Sweet Home. The story is as straight forward a haunted house tale as you can get .

The plot of the film is simple. A film crew heads off to the wilds of Japan to film part of a documentary about a well know n artist. they are hoping to film at the long abandoned house where he lived because the walls are said to be filled with paintings the artist did that no one has ever seen. Stopping to pick up supplies and directions they head off before the locals can mention that the place they are going is haunted.

Once the crew gets to the house things are fine for awhile, but then night falls and the shadows begin moving and growing, objects come to life and a vicious spirit begins to dwindle their numbers.

I love this film a great deal. Its everything you'd want in an old school haunted house tale. Hidden rooms, scary ghosts, dark secrets and just a touch of humor. Its a creepy little film, that has a few scares and more than it's fair share of tension. Its damn near perfect. Honestly the film haunts me at times with the any shadows I see coming from a dark room making me wonder if they are going to claim me.

The effects are completely old school. Make-up legend Dick Smith went to Japan and over saw the creation of ghoulies and ghosties and they are very much not computer generated. The monsters are there in the room with the actors and it helps to create a real sense of tension.

Actually the fact that Smith was involved with the film has always confused people looking for this film. Why would a film with special effects by one of the masters of the art not be seen in the United States when the film was extensively covered in the genre magazines? I have no idea. That question has always confused me. I mean Dick Smith's work was the reason that I searched for the film for many years before I finally got a copy from Video Search of Miami.

One of the reasons that I love this film is the ending. It satisfies me. Its an ending that makes sense. It doesn't go on too long, it doesn't give you an unnecessary gotcha, its perfect. The story goes to its conclusion and then ends. Certainly the film kind of continues through the end credits but what you see there is purely just an exclamation point on what you've just seen.

I know some people have seen it and not liked it. They see the end and then ask "and that's it?" and I tell them "that's it", which annoys them. It annoys them because they wanted something bigger, something with a gotcha, something that the mindless Hollywood horror films of the last twenty five years have programed them into expecting, no ending.

I think the film is a masterpiece.

Director Kiyoshi Kurosawa doesn't think so. Kurosawa, from what I've read, almost disassociates himself from the film since for him it was just a work for hire. He is of the opinion that he'd have done it all differently had he been allowed to do it his way. I'm sure he would have, but I don't care, I think he's wrong. I think the film is near the top of its type.

Availability:
As far as I can tell this film really isn't officially available anywhere in the world right now. When I picked up a copy a few years ago it was from Video Search of Miami, who still have it. I'm guessing that this is going to be a film you track down from the gray market or a collector, but its worth the effort.

Nocturna (2007) and The NewYork International Children's Film Festival


This is the story of Tim. He's a little boy who lives in an orphanage but doesn't get along with the other kids there. He is very afaraid of the dark and has to pull his bed by the window each night so that he can be watched over by "his star". One night while looking out over the city he notices that the stars, including his star, are going out and he rushes up to the roof of the orphanage to see what is happening. There he meets the Cat Shepherd. The Cat Shepherd is in charge of the cats that go out at night and put all of the children to sleep. When Tim refuses to go to sleep' he wants to try and find out what is darkening the stars, the Cat Shepherd is forced to take Tim to the head of Nocturna, the night world, in the hope that he can help find out what is behind the darkness.

This is simply put one of the most magical films I've ever seen. It perfectly explains what is going on in the world when we are all asleep. If you wanted to know why you're hair is messed up, or who makes the weird noises in the dark, or why you're socks go missing, its all explained here. There are several wonderful set pieces with extrememly clever dialog and verbal puns that play on differing levels. The film is also a grand adventure as Tim is forced to travel across the city in order to stop the Darkness from wiping out everything. In typical, but not preachy, fashion Tim also grows up. Its so nice not to have the moral beaten into out heads.

In many ways the film will remind you of things like Monsters Inc, Moon Girl, Spirited Away and a few others. But the connections to other films will be fleeting as this film creates its own marvelous world of its own. I've seen the film upwards of ten times now and each time I do any notion of the film being a copy of any other film becomes less and less. Nocturna is a film and a place that is uniquely its own (one need only look at the design to see that). As I've said elsewhere the odd flashes of recognition actually work to make the film better because in a weird way it makes it all more real.

One of the joys of the film is that it plays to both kids and adults. I've shared this film with some people where I work so they could show it to their kids. In every case where I did so this turned out to one of those films that both the parents and the kids could watch and enjoy repeatedly.

The repeat viewings is one of the reason that I love this film so much. Adria Garcia and Victor Maldonado who wrote and directed the film did something wonderful with this film, they made a film that gets better with each viewing. Here is a film that grows as you see it each time. What you learn at the end effects the beginning on the next viewing. Characters that you barely notice in the background at the start of the film, are seen in the fore front later on so that when you watch the film over and over again you notice how neatly the film is all tired together. Its all throw away stuff but it adds weight to the proceedings.

I love this film a great deal. It is easily in the top something or other of my favorite films of all time. Certainly its one of the few recent films of any stripe that I have happily sat down to watch more than once. (And no I don't think it's perfect, the denouncement of that the Darkness is is weak, but I don't care because the rest of this film is so wonderful)

If you love great adventure or animation or just great movies you have to try and find this film. It is an absolute shape that this film does not, to the best of knowledge, have a US distributor.(This is the one Unseen Film that I am constantly asked by parents if there is going to come out on DVD so they can pick up copies for friends)

I was supposed to see this at the New York Children's Film Festival (NYICFF) in 2008 but I missed the screening. Because I loved the trailer I decided to try and find the film on DVD and I ended up getting the Region 2 Spanish DVD from an Amazon e-seller. If your DVD player can play Region 2 discs I recommend that you try and pick up a copy. The disc not only has the film in its original Spanish language with English subtitles but it also has a fantastic English vocal track that I like even more.

The mention of the NYICFF above allows me to plug the film festival and say something extremely important about it.

The NYICFF is a great film festival. The one for 2010 starts next week and a link can befound in the link section of this blog. It's a showcase for films from all over the world and while they call themselves a Children's Film Festival the films are simply great for everyone. The parent organization, Gkids, runs films all year long at various theaters in New York and the surrounding areas and they have moved on to film distribution with this years Oscar nominee, Secret of the Kells (a review will follow) and other films like Sita Sings the Blues.

The most important thing about the film festival is that the films don't "suck". Yes, I know thats a tad base but at the same time it states clearly that the films they choose tend to good across the board. To be certain the films will vary with your own interest, but for the most part I've never really seen a bad film at the festival. Having been to any number of different film festivals over the year the fact that I haven't run into any truly bad films is unheard of.

A Bare Starting Place: By Way of an Introduction and Mission Statement

If you've found this then you've stumbled upon the first post and place holder (until I fix the place up) for a new film blog.

Yea, I know we don't need another film blog but then again someone has to point out all of the great, or at least good, films that are getting lost and pushed by the way side. Lets face it there are simply too many movies out there and unless its a major release most films are doomed to be lost and forgotten, in other words unseen. Here in the US, the situation is even worse for any film from another part of the world since the number of people watching foreign films is small, and the number of people who are watching anything out of the mainstream is even smaller (dare I say it's probably almost nonexistent?).

What I'm going to try and do here is review films that are worth searching out. Some will be readily available, from say Amazon or another on line retailer, some will have to be tracked down via other means, say Yes Asia or a trip to your local Chinatown or a nostalgia show. Many are going to be films that are so off the beaten track, that even IMDB doesn't record as existing. Two examples are Tree in the Desert and Ghost Town. Tree in the Desert is a really good Chinese film about people planting trees in the desert in the hopes of reclaiming the land. I found it on VCD but can find no other reference to it anywhere. The other is a film called Ghost Town which played the New York Film Festival last year and concerns the inhabitants of an abandoned village in China. The last time I looked neither film appeared to be on IMDB.

Trust me, these are going to be films you can find if you look, or in some cases they are going to be films that just haven't hit yet because they haven't gotten a proper release (say they are playing at a film festival or haven't gotten a US release yet). I will point out how you can see the films.

I know you're probably asking yourself "who are you and what makes you think that you can do this?"

Fair enough question.

I'm a huge movie lover who has probably seen more films than most people would ever rationally think to see in their life time. Not that it means anything but I've posted over 3100 reviews at IMDB (and I will be the first to admit not all of those reviews are good). In another time and another life I was writing reviews of animated DVD's for a now long gone animation website. My writing style tends to shift from very precise and on target to rambling and a tad unfocused.

My tastes are such that I will pretty much try anything (much to the annoyance of friends and family who have to suffer through some strange choices). I tend toward Asian films, documentaries, American and British B films and animation simply because the subject matter and styles tend to be very different than the typical Hollywood product. While there is nothing wrong with the Hollywood product, it tends to be very homogenized and politically correct to the point of blandness.

I'm hoping that if you read this blog with any regularity you're going to find that I've both turned you on to more than one film that you will become a favorite and at the same time made you see something that will make you think I've gone insane. Hopefully no matter how you feel I hope I will never bore you. Feel free to tell me what you think of any of the films I review.

For now I think that's enough. I still have to knock the look of this page together. I'll be posting some pieces over the next couple of days to get things really up to speed. Next weekend I'll start in with reviews of films that are at the New York International Children's Film Festival... which give me a great idea for the first film I'll talk about the animated Nocturna.