Friday, August 31, 2018

First Men in the Moon

First Men in The Moon is kind of an underappreciated Ray Harryhausen film. While it most definitely has its fans, of which I am one, it is like the Three Worlds of Gulliver as being the least talked about of the films. Everyone talks about Jason or the Sinbad films. Even Clash of the Titans gets more love thanks to it not only being the last film but also because of the comparisons to the huge budgeted remakes.

I love the film and I think it’s one Harryhausen’s best films, probably second to Golden Voyage in my personal pantheon of Harryhausen wonders. It has cool monsters, great characters and a super script. Where many of the other films fudge bits of plot First Men plays it straight and as such is very satisfying.

Nominally based upon the HG Wells novel the film begins with man’s first trip to the moon…or so everyone thought. The reality is that thanks to the finding of a small British flag the astronauts realize some one was there before. Officials scramble to discover what happen and they interview Arnold Bedford who is living in a nursing home who claims to once upon a time traveled to the moon with Professor Caver and Kate Callender. Once there the trio found that the moon was not the dead world we thought but one buzzing with life.

One of the numerous Victorian/ Edwardian themed films that popped up in the 1960’s this was one of the best. Driven by a killer script which holds our attention from first frame to the last the film is a rip roaring adventure. It’s less science fiction than pure fantasy this is a film you climb aboard and travel to another time and other places. It’s a blast and then some.

The cast is perfect. I can’t say enough about Edward Judd, Lionel Jeffries and Martha Hyer other than they are all wonderful. Not just wonderful but note perfect. This is the film that I instantly think of when I see their names.

And of course there are the creatures. Ray Harryhausen is at the top of game with all the little beasties. His work makes the various real. We genuinely feel menaced by the moon men- and more importantly we kind of feel a twinge of sadness when their fate is revealed. It’s easy to feel fear with monsters but to get us to have our hearts break is something special and requires the work of a master.

As I said above I love this film a great deal. I highly recommend it for anyone wanting a grand adventure.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

REELABILITIES FILM FESTIVAL lands in Los Angeles; to run Oct. 11 through Oct. 14

The first ReelAbilities Los Angeles runs October 11-14 and celebrates people with different abilities
 Fest opens with Chloé Zhao’s THE RIDER and concludes with Len Collin’s SANCTUARY

LOS ANGELES, CA (August 30, 2018) – The inaugural ReelAbilities Film Festival: Los Angeles 2018 announced today its lineup of narrative and documentary features as well as short films.  The festival runs October 11-14, 2018 at locations throughout the city. Tickets and passes will be available to purchase in early September. 
For more information:
Coming to Los Angeles for the first time, ReelAbilities Film Festival is the largest festival in the United States dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories, and artistic expressions of people with different abilities.  Founded more than ten years ago in New York City and now held annually in multiple cities throughout North America, the festival presents international and award-winning films by and about people with disabilities in multiple locations throughout each hosting city. Post-screening discussions and other engaging programs bring together the community to explore, discuss, embrace, and celebrate the diversity of our shared human experience.
ReelAbilities Film Festival: Los Angeles 2018  will take place October 11-14, 2018 at locations throughout the city, including Laemmle’s NoHo 7 and The Pico Union Project.  The four-day festival will showcase new and classic films, conversations, and artistic programs, with 16 shorts and six features celebrating more than 13 different physical and intellectual disabilities and hailing from six different countries.
The festival is produced by the City of Los Angeles Department on Disability in partnership with the City of Los Angeles Commission on Disability and ReelAbilities North America. Sponsors include Laemmle Theatres, USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center, Los Angeles LGBT Center, Mindful Properties, the Writers Guild of America, and The Ruderman Family Foundation.  ReelAbilities North America sponsors include the JCC Manhattan and the Dobkin Family Foundation.
“At a time when inclusion has been moved to the forefront of the entertainment industry, issues of disability remain just out of focus,” said Stephen David Simon, Executive Director of the City of Los Angeles Department on Disability.  “Now is the ideal time to bring the ReelAbilities Film Festival to Los Angeles.  We look forward to celebrating these brilliant and remarkable stores with our fellow Angelenos.”     
ReelAbilities strives to include all people and presents films with open captions, ASL interpretation, audio description, and CART (live captioning). In addition, all venues are wheelchair accessible. 
Opening the festival on Thursday, October 11 with a blue carpet and gala is Chloé Zhao’s quiet masterpiece, THE RIDER.  After suffering a near fatal head injury, a young cowboy undertakes a search for a new identity and what it means to be a man in the heartland of America.  THE RIDER premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, picking up the top prize in the Directors’ Fortnight category, and went on to receive four Film Independent Spirit Awards nominations. 
The festival will close on Sunday, October 14 at Laemmle NoHo 7 (5240 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood) with the Los Angeles premiere of SANCTUARY, a ReelAbilities Chicago and New York festival favorite.  SANCTUARY is a heart-warming romantic comedy where Larry and Sophie, two people with intellectual disabilities, long to be together in a world that does everything to keep them apart.  Screening with the film is animated short MACROPOLIS, a charming story of two toys who are thrown away for being different and their adventure to be put on a store shelf.
The festival will also host a special screening of HOW SWEET THE SOUND: THE BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA on Friday, October 12 at The Pico Union Project (1153 Valencia Street, Los Angeles) complete with an arts fair, food trucks, and live music.  
The wildly original dark comedy KILLS ON WHEELS, a tale of two young men in a Budapest rehab center who become involved with a wheelchair-bound hitman, will screen on Saturday, October 13 at the Laemmle NoHo 7. The film has been hailed by critics and was Hungary’s 2016 Oscar submission for Best Foreign Film.
Tickets and Passes 
Tickets and Passes will go on sale early September. For more information please visit  or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @ReelAbilitiesLA.  
ReelAbilities Film Festival was initiated in New York at the JCC Manhattan in 2007, founded by Anita Altman and Isaac Zablocki. The festival was the first of its kind to present a series of award-winning films by, about and for people with disabilities. As the festival progressed, screenings continued to take place at multiple venues across the city and all films are followed by discussions that engage the community in promoting inclusion and celebrating diversity, while providing accessible conditions to match the different needs of our multi-layered society.


Let The Corpses Tan (2018)

From Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani the directors of The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears and Amer comes Let The Corpse Tan a retro mod euro crime thriller by way of gaillos, spaghetti westerns and the art house. Weirdness happens.

Actually the weirdness is in the telling. The film is based on a 1971 pulp novel about a gang of gold thieves who pull off a daring robbery. They think they have found the perfect hiding place on a remote island. The problem is an artist and her family are staying there and some cops have shown up as well. Mayhem results.

As for the telling its full of arty angles, over saturated colors, and flashy touches that all hearken back to the crazy daze of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s when Italian exploitation and westerns dominated the cinematic psyche. Every shot refers back to some earlier film, so much so I fully expect someone to annotate the film with every reference real and imagined. The look of the film is absolutely arresting….

…and completely distracting. While the film nerd in me loved the craft of the film, the emotional film lover checked out fifteen minutes in. My disconnect came not because the story wasn’t compelling rather that I was way too busy looking at the artifice. The artifice is great (it’s at times way cool) but I’m not sure there is any sort of beating heart inside it. It’s like looking at some really cool flashy pop art at a tourist trap shop in the city- the neon velvet paintings delight you in the minute you see it but nothing you’d either want to actually hang on your wall, especially when you realize you are going to have to carry it all day before you go home.

Don’t get me wrong its not a bad film, just nothing anyone needs to see unless they stumble on it or want to study cinema flash.

7th Voyage of Sinbad

First of the Ray Harryhausen Sinbad films The Seventh Voyage is a great deal of fun.

Blown off course, Sinbad and his crew end up on Colossa, an island full of monsters. They run into the magician Sokurah who is being chased by a cyclops. Fleeing back to their ship they leave Sokurah‘s magic lamp behind. Desperate to get it back he attempts to entice Sinbad to return. When that fails he ends up shrinking a princess thus forcing Sinbad to return him to the island so that she can be restored to full size. After a mutiny filled voyage they return to Colossa where they must fight for their lives.

A grand adventure of the sort they don’t make any more this is a monster lovers delight, Cyclops, snake monsters, dragons, rocs and a living skeleton all figure into the insanity. Its Harryhausen working near the top of his game and it’s a blast and a half.

Does it make pefect sense? Oh hell no, but it moves so fast you won’t care.

Pure unadulterated joy of the movie monster kind and highly recommended.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

A Paris Education (2018)

 A PARIS EDUCATION is a good, if over long, film about a young man who leaves his home to go and study film in Paris. Once there he smokes, discusses films, smokes, beds some women, smokes, talks about films, and then smokes some more before trying to sort out where his heart lies. The mention of smoking is not out of place since I’ve not seen this many people using cigarettes as a statement in any film, even a Marlboro industrial film about the joys of smoking. (And I am not kidding about the amount of smoking in the film- we all could probably sue for the damage of second hand smoke).

This is a well-acted coming of age tale about a young man trying to come of age within a group of likeminded people. The film nails the pretensions of the film school crowd, where everyone wants to create, and everyone wants to outdo each other by being able to rattle off films and their directors and their deeper meanings. Oh to be young, foolish and willing to buy into the academic pretentious bullshit. Of course it’s all a cover for the insecurities of growing up and romance and the film nails that as well as we watch as our hero Etienne leaves a girl at home and then runs head long into several women at school who make his head spin as he tries to sort out what he wants from the relationships and life.

A PARIS EDUCATION amused the hell out of me. I enjoyed all of the intelligent talk about films and filmmakers, even as I roared with laughter at the pretentiousness of the characters. These are people who I have been dealing with for decades. People who are so lost in the deeper meaning of movies that they lose sight of the fact that many of the films they are analyzing are just an industrial product. They are grad school fanboys who take it all way too seriously. How you react to them may not be the same way I do, but I found most of the characters silly and rather sad.

On its own terms the film is pretty good. However I think it is somewhat  hurt by its two and quarter hour run time. While it allows for director Jean Paul Civeyrac to show the world of the students by having long scenes where no much but talk happens , there really isn’t anything going on other than the talk is going on and it kind of lessens interest. On the other hand the film beautifully shows how going out into an adult world changes us for better and worse, a fact we see in the arc of Etienne.

I like A PARIS EDUCATION and think it’s worth a look for film fans.

Big Brother: Getting Schooled By Donnie Yen

Think of this crusading teacher movie as “To Sir, with Kung Fu.” Imagine what LuLu’s title tune could have been with lyrics like that. In fact, Henry Chen will even inspire a student with Cantopop dreams. The Hong Kong born-and-raised former U.S. Marine quickly wins over his class of under-achievers, but they will have to pass the HK university admittance exam for themselves in Kam Ka-wai’s Big Brother, which opens this Friday in New York.

Chen was a real trouble maker when he attended Tak Chi Secondary School, but he still distinguished himself as the class Tai Kwon Do champion. He continued to sharpen his marital arts skills while serving as a Marine, gaining self-discipline in the process. However, he needed a new direction after a particularly rough Middle East deployment, so here he is, teaching at his alma mater. At first, his five hardest cases think they can prank Chen, but that misconception lasts about ten seconds. Yet, Chen surprises everybody, by really digging into their troubled circumstances.

A few parent-teacher conferences later and Chen has his class in the best emotional state of their young lives. However, trouble is brewing from developers who covet Tak Chi’s real estate. Naturally, Chen will find himself under fire from the HK educational bureaucracy, like Jaime Escalante in Stand and Deliver, and in real life, but Henry Chen is not about to slink off after a few “Oh Captain, My Captains,” as if this were a HK Dead Poets Society. He’s played by Donnie Yen, after all.

Yen can light up the screen with his energy and charisma, but it is also really obvious when he is not feeling it. However, in this case we can see he is really digging the change of pace. There are two really dynamite extended fight scenes in Big Brother, but for the most part, this is a pretty straight teacher-who-makes-a-difference movie. Granted, Chan Tai-lee’s screenplay follows a well-established formula, but the sunny vibe and Yen’s charm make it all quite enjoyable. Of course, when Yen throws down, he throws the heck down.

Plus, the supporting ensemble is ridiculously attractive. Model-turned actress Gladys Li is obviously going to be a star judging from her scene-stealing work as tomboy Gladys Wang. Gordon Lau also supplies a strong rooting interest as second-generation Pakistani immigrant and aspiring Cantopop singer Gordon Xiang. On the grown-up side, Taiwanese actress Joe Chen develops some nice chemistry with Yen as his reserved (but interested) colleague, Ms. Liang.

Kam keeps everything moving along quite spritely. He also happens to be a rather encouraging case of a plugger who made good. After decades of A.D. work, including on the first two Ip Man films, Kam has now directed four big, commercial films in just three years, including the entertainingly old school Colour of the Game. In this case, he manages to balance the action and high school drama to satisfy Yen’s followers and those attracted by the youthful supporting players. Recommended with dopey affection for fans of Yen and HK cinema, Big Brother opens this Friday (8/31) in New York, at the AMC Empire.

Earth vs The Flying Saucers

Alien invasion movie ala Ray Harryhausen is incredibly straight forward as the aliens come and the earthlings fight back.

Clearly made in a different time with a different outlook the film moves along at a good clip, teasing the full on invasion that ends the film. This film gives us a world where Washington can be (partially) emptied orderly in a couple of days. It is only after everyone is out of the way that the saucers come.

As a kid I was always mixed on the film, I wanted aliens from start to finish, but that isn’t the way the film works. After initial contact we really have to wait for the final half hour before the battle between human and aliens takes place. Once that kicks in the film is gangbusters as men are vaporized and saucers crash.

If you want to see aliens lay waste to Washington in glorious black and white this is highly recommended.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Amélie van Elmbt’s Captures Hearts with ‘The Elephant and the Butterfly’

Amélie van Elmbt’s has struggled with the challenges faced by most single mothers. The struggle to provide everything, feeling conflicted over work that takes her away, and keeping her professional ambitions a priority. And the travel and long hours of being a writer-director aren’t easy when raising a young daughter. So to explain what she does, Amélie took her daughter Lina to work with her, casting her in her new film The Elephant and the Butterfly. In the film Thomas Blanchard plays Antoine, a chef who’s suddenly decided he wants to meet Elsa (Lina), the daughter of the girlfriend (Judith Chemla) he left before she was born. Finally meeting her, his ex refuses to introduce him as her father but finds herself forced to entrust her with him for the day in a moment of desperation. At once a single mother’s love letter to her daughter, as well as an empathetic look at fatherhood, The Butterfly and the Elephant is a delicate, heart warmer.

You co-wrote this film with Matthieu de Braconier. How did that partnership come about?

I wrote the first draft myself, and then after getting a producer I decided I wanted to work with someone else, to get some distance from the project. I wanted to get another point of view, specifically a male’s, because it’s about fatherhood.

What changes did you make when you started working together?

It was interesting because it seemed that everyone who read the script, owned one of the characters, depending on if they were male or female. The men I spoke with really put themselves into the shoes of our lead character. And once I brought him onboard we decided to really focus exclusively on the relationship between this man and his daughter, because when we went to deep into why the broke up, people started to take sides for or against him.

Did you want to make a movie with your daughter or was it more serendipitous?

I was a really young mother, just 24, and I raised her on my own. I was always really focused with being good at parenting, but I also wanted to work in films. So it was always such a complicated balance, and I decided I wanted to do something where I could combine cinema and parenting. So the script was made for her. She inspired me a lot, and I like the idea of sharing this with her. She’s always wondering “why does mommy go away?” and it let me show her my work and share my love of cinema.

A five year old, I’d assume, she can’t really read lines. How did you work with her on dialogue or did you plan for the film to be mostly improvised?

We decided we wouldn’t tell her the whole story, and we’d only tell her the point of view of her character. So she didn’t know until the end of the movie that Antoine is her father. And as we told her the story, we’d tell her what was going to happen in each scene. And then, she had a visual script with all these drawings about what her character would do or say. The story of the frog with the big mouth came from her. And I didn’t want her to meet the main actor until the first scene they were in. And I didn’t know if they would have a strong connection. And the producer and I said had to decide what to do if they didn’t match, and we decided that if that happened, we’d tell a story about a little girl who meets her father but it was too late to have a connection. But it turned out that they had a great connection and I didn’t have to rewrite the whole film. While filming though, I’d show her the pictures she’d drawn to reminded her what to do next in the scene.

That puts a lot of pressure on your leading man. He’s acting with a kid and knew that how he connects with her will dictate how the film comes together. How did you cast? Had you seen him in anything before?

I’d seen him in another film, a Belgium film where he was acting as a teenager with mental problems. He was great in that, and what I loved about him for this part is, he looks like an old Peter Pan. He looks very young and I thought it would be so unexpected to cast someone as a father who looks so young. And I knew he’s be an actor that likes to work and would enjoy the challenges of making this movie. He’d never cooked before so he learned to cook. He’d never driven a motorcycle so he took lessons. And he doesn’t have children and had never really played with one, but he was great with her. We really built the character with him, and we gave him a lot of the same freedom we gave Lina. We were just a really strong team.

Where did the premise for the film come from, to make a film that really explored fatherhood?

As a mother, I was curious to explore what that means myself. I felt the baby kicking and growing inside me, I felt motherhood. But how do fathers feel that, how do they feel themselves becoming fathers? And I read a lot about that, and it was said that it comes in stages. It starts when a woman tells him “I’m pregnant.” But once the child comes, there is a moment when a child recognizes you as their parent, and you recognize them as your child. But men also have to recognize themselves in their new role as fathers. And it’s not as automatic as I felt when I gave birth to my daughter. The film’s all about that. All the way up to the end the question is, does she think he’s her father? Does she know him? He wants to do something, to claim his fatherhood. But he doesn’t know how to do it. And at the end, he wants to keep that realization between them.

Camille is an interesting character because as he’s developing this very sweet relationship with his daughter, we’re only getting glimpses of her life as a single mother. How do you put across the challenges she’s faced as a single mother because of his absence in the years leading up to the film?

She sacrificed a lot for her child. She has this really important meeting that she’s going to miss, again, and his arrival is so clumsy. I love the way she laughed at him just showing up out of the blue. But realizing that at that moment she’s going to miss another meeting and she needs his help. She decides to do this one thing for herself. And then she just completely loses control. And now they’re obliged to do something for each other. She’s obligated to let him meet and spend time with her daughter, and he’s forced to be there and take care of her. And then when they come back together at the birthday party, she’s uncomfortable seeing him, thinking of what could have been. And he’s unsure where he can fit into this family.

I love that scene because you see all this tension but they’re trying to hide it from her and the rest of the family.

And you can just see her holding things in. But really everyone’s pretending a little bit and ignoring how complex this situation is. She’s feeling uncomfortable to be there. He’s nervous. His family’s unsure. But the reality is, this little girl is making the situation less complex, because they all want her to be happy. She’s so happy just eating cake. And then when they talk later on, and she says “it’s too much to take” you’re like, “of course it’s too much…it would be too much for anyone.” She spent five years wanting something like this, and now it looks like nothing even happened.

So much of the film is told from Lina’s perspective. How does that change the visual approach you took on this film?

I worked with the DP on the project, who said, “you know your child, you know how she’ll move.” So I held the camera, we both held cameras actually. So as we were setting the frame, Lina’s would ask, “what if I move like that” so we knew what she’d do and where she’d move.

Was she self-conscious in front of the camera?

She got comfortable as we went along. You might notice that she’s a little bashful at first but by the end she loved it.

But it works for her to be a little shy of the camera because it can interpreted as being shy around this new man. 

And that made me so happy. And she’d at first look to me and ask, what should I do? But then she got used to it and seemed to really enjoy it. And then she started to understand what it means to be an actress. She learned how to play an emotion. She really grew making the film?

What was her reaction to seeing the film?

It was amazing. It was a great screening and everyone applauded. And she turned to me and asked “are they applauding for me?” I asked her if she liked that and told her that they applauded because she did a good job and worked hard. And now she understands what mommy does and why I go
away. She used to say other mommy’s don’t have to go away or would ask why I’m home and I’d say “mommy’s working, she’s writing a screenplay.” I’d love her to act in something else, but right now I want her focused on school.

When did Martin Scorsese come aboard and attach his name to the project?

I came to New York with my first feature film and won first prize at the First Time Film Festival. He was the godfather of that festival and one of the prizes was to share a table with him and other winners. And we had a great conversation so I left him my DVD. And 3 months later I got a beautiful letter telling me how much he liked the movie, and wrote to contact him in the future. But that was years ago. And then getting funding for this film, we had a lack of money right before starting
production, we lost some funding. And I suggested we contact Martin Scorsese and ask him to contribute. So we wrote a little asking him for a little more money, and three days later he answered yes. And even though I suggest we do that, I still couldn’t believe it when he said yes. He’s such an icon, I grew up on his films.

The Elephant and the Butterfly hits VOD and home video today

Blood Fest (2018)

Hitting theaters and VOD Friday is BLOOD FEST. The story of a horror loving teenager who despite his father's wishes, goes to the Blood Fest, a horror festival that is suppose to put real horror back in the movies. Actually it's and evil plot to kill a lot of people and our hero and his friends are going to have to use their knowledge of horror films to survive.

How you react to the film is going to depend on what you want from the film. If you want a "satire" of the horror genre that is incredibly bloody, intentionally over the top, and reasonably well put together you are going to love the film.  If on the other hand you want something that doesn't hit all of the horror cliches and which you will literally have figured out before ten minutes are out  then look elsewhere.

Personally I was done ten minutes in. Yea the gore is some of the best in recent memory, but the plot is old hat, there are no scares and literally minutes in I pretty much knew everything that was going to happen. There were simply no surprises other than how people died.

I'm sorry I am weary of horror send ups and satires with self aware plot lines. Yea, its great when it works, but when it doesn't it comes off as really lazy and makes me wonder if the writer director didn't trust his material enough to play it straight.

Writer director Owen Egerton clearly knows his stuff. He gets all the details right, and truth be told he has made what should have been a really good film, but the humor takes the edge off it all.  As I said above there is no scares. If Egerton had played it straight and wasn't knowing (and if he had reigned the plot in to make it even remotely plausible even on its own terms) he could have had a film that was more than one of the best horror films on a technical level. This could have been a good film if it had tried to be more than just one crazy sequence after another.

In describing the film to my brother after I saw it I basically said how good it was in pieces but it never came together and I was left disappointed. Not because my expectations weren't met but more that what is good ultimately went to waste in a film that is going to be quickly forgotten.

Jason and the Argonauts (1963)

Patrick Trouton as Phenias
What was the cool factor of Jason and the Argonauts? Back when I was a kid growing up in the 1970’s the only film we wanted to remake ourselves was Jason. Yes we wanted to riff on other films, say Star Wars or Jaws or some other big film, But Jason was the only one where we wanted to recreate it as closely as a bunch of ten year olds with no budget could. We were so intent that we actually worked out how and where we going to do it…

…unfortunately we never went beyond the planning stage, but we gave it a game try. So game in fact that periodically I still run across notes from the attempt.

Retelling a version of Jason’s trip to steal the Golden Fleece the film is a rip roaring adventure of the highest order. There are heroics, monsters and romance. There is weight to what happens as heroes make mistakes (Hercules) and people die. The characters are well drawn and we care about what happens even after almost six decades, not because of the monsters but the people.

And of course the monsters are great, from the Telos to the skeletons it’s all good stuff that sparks the imagination and makes us dream.

I love this movie.

Interestingly, in the days before home video, when movies were run on regular TV stations with commercials sometimes things would get cut to fit a slot. For years I never knew about the sequence with the Harpies because some times during the 430 movie (where a 2 hour movie could take three or four days to be shown) they would remove the whole sequences with Phineas. (Kids today really don’t understand what seeing a cut film means)

If you have never seen this film you should. Why? Because it holds up in its own right- and more importantly it is a film that influenced everything after it. All of the effects guys love the film and once you watch the film you’ll be able to begi to spot all of the steals from it.

Highly recomended

Monday, August 27, 2018

THE GOLEM (2018) FrightFest 2018

THE GOLEM is a great little horror film. Directed by Doron and Yoav Paz and written by Ariel Cohen the film is a wonderful trip into the sort of horror we don't get any more, horror that is more than just about the blood and gore.

In 1673 Lithuania a village of Jews lives in an isolated community. In the village lives Hannah,the daughter of the rabbi, and her husband. They are a childless couple on the verge of splitting. Years earlier they lost there son thus breaking the couple up emotionally.  While both struggle to get by Hannah loses herself in the teaching of the Kabbalah in the hope that it will bring her an answer about the death of their child. When a neighboring town of Gentiles is struck by the plague they go to the Jewish community looking for revenge.When things turn ugly, Hannah, uses her knowledge to try and create a golem, an artificial being, that will protect the village. She succeeds but it has a terrible price since not only did she fashion it out of mud and earth but her fear and hatred as well.

This stunning historical horror is a truly scary film. Gloriously free of the sort of the over used things that most modern horror directors throw at us, mad killers or evil spirits on the loose, THE GOLEM instead spreads fear by building characters and situations and then putting them in motion. First we are frightened by the evil that men do to each other and later by the fact that we are watching fear and hatred run rampant as a mindless beast acts as a vessel for the worst part of our souls. We fear because we are watching real people and not just props for a horror script to move around. This is not really a film about the monster but the people and what fear, hatred and loss can do.

As much as several recent horror films have been praised about being more than just the horror or the gore THE GOLEM is ultimately not really about the monster either. Fashioned as a kind of historical drama the film is more concerned with contemplation the nature of loss, the place of women in society, relationships, the breaking of taboos, antisemitism and several other themes. You could almost remove the golem from the film and still have an interesting discussion of what it is on its mind. This film is so much about ideas that when all hell breaks loose at the end I was kind of disappointed that we were getting a blood bath, even if that is the probably the reason the film got financed.

 I love this film. I love that here was a horror film that engaged me on many levels. I loved that the film mad me work with it and not just wash over me. I had to pause and consider what as happening and what that meant. It is a kind of adult horror film about people that will probably disappoint anyone who simply wants just blood and gore and jump scares. Yes you'll get the golem ripping a beating heart from a chest but also considerably more.

THE GOLEM just premiered at Fright Fest in England and will  be playing in festivals through the rest of the year before getting a release i the US in February 2019. If you like more than just blood in your horror films I highly suggest you make an effort to see it.

Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1974)

The Golden Voyage of Sinbad ruined me. It is a nigh perfect film that some 44 years since first seeing it I’m still discovering things in.

The plot has Sinbad battling the evil Koura to discover the hidden mystery behind some golden amulets that fit together. Taveling to a far off land Sinbad and his crew have to face great dangers

The cast is great with Tom Baker perfect as the Koura. If Doctor Who hadn’t come along I would always think of him in this role. Its perfect evil- he is a man who is so sure of his win that he is willing to give bits of his soul away piece by piece.

John Philip Law has never been better. Disappearing into the role he takes one of the best written fantasy scripts and gives it depth. He is a hero who will do the right thing- who is out for adventure (he gets nothing in the end except the girl) and stand tall doing it. He never gives up. His character has become a guiding force in my life.

And surprisingly Kurt Christian as Haroun shines. Initally a drunk lazy sone of a merchant he is forcibly put on the ship and tries to escape but when danger comes he is always the first one to act, killing Kali or shooting the arrow that rescues them when buried. He claims being fearful but always steps up. It’s a wonderfully shaded character and Christian is unfairly left out of discussions.

And of course there are the monsters, from homunculus, to figure head, to Kali to the gods of the end the film is a visual delight.

This is just great filmmaking from top to bottom. I can’t recommend it enough.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Thoughts on Thank You Mr Moto (1937)

Second in the series and one of the grittier Mr Moto films THANK YOU MR MOTO was, I would think, one of Peter Lorre’s favorites of the series. Don’t quote me on that, but I think the fact that Lorre got to play the role under heavy make-up (he’s undercover) would have thrilled him since he was constantly trying to do more than just the same old role.

The plot of the film has Moto involved in a plot to find the tomb of Genghis Khan. Whoever can  can get the scrolls hidden there  will have the path to Khan's hidden treasure and thus power over much of the world. Murder and mayhem result.

This is probably the best Moto film to see if you want to know why the series was different from and just as good as the Charlie Chan films. Some people have compared it unfavorably to the Chan series and I believe they are mistaken. In this film we get Moto truly traveling the world, out among exotic locations fighting the bad guys. It’s a film full of action and intrigue in a way that the Chans never were. Chan was a detective, Moto was an Interpol operative he could go and do more than solve crime. Lorre’s characterization wasn’t inscrutable or quietly cunning, rather his Moto is a friendly talkative fellow who engaged the enemy the better to convince them that he wasn’t a threat. He was also a man of action who actually gets out there and does something- even while maintaining his dapper identity- watch him as he bolts into the hotel in full peasant drag and then has to cover his tracks as they hotel police go after him. He is a kind of James Bond character.

This is one of the best program/series mysteries because it’s not city bound murder, but huge epic adventure with stakes larger than just finding a murderer or saving a lost invention. Seeing this film you understand what the series could have been had it not been a victim of the Japanese becoming an enemy with the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

An absolute must see for anyone who loves good movies.

Saturday, August 25, 2018


This clunky film was made to cash in on the Charleton Heston epic but really as noting to do with it. The daughters of El Cid ave married two bad guys who are interested in consolidating power. This as to do, in part, with two swords. As the bad guys try to get their way they are opposed by a rightful heir. Some kind of okay action happens

Much too talky low rent semi-actioner wanders around the countryside looking for something exciting to happen. The film begins with what would seem to be an exciting set up but it deteriorates into lots of non-action and some just okay sword fights. They might have gotten away with the few battles if things had been more thrillingly done, but they aren't and its kind of bores.

While far from horrible, this is more the sort of thing to put on late at night when you need to go to sleep.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Camden International Film Festival Announces 2018 Festival Slate and Storyforms VR Lineup

Camden International Film Festival Announces 2018 Festival Slate and Storyforms VR Lineup

CIFF opens with Morgan Neville’s They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead and is pleased to announce gender parity across its programming. 
Showtime Documentary Films is the 2018 Headlining Sponsor 

CAMDEN, Maine, August 24, 2018 – The Camden International Film Festival (CIFF) has announced the slate of feature and short films for its 14th edition, which will take place September 13-16, 2018 throughout Camden, Rockport and Rockland, Maine.

A program of the Points North Institute, CIFF is one of the top documentary film festivals in the world. This year the festival will present 37 features, 43 short films, 1 episodic series and 20 virtual reality and immersive experiences from over 30 countries. Half or more of the selections are directed or co-directed by women, across every category of the 2018 CIFF lineup, including features, shorts, competitions, artist programs and immersive and VR installations. In keeping with CIFF’s mission as a festival that discovers and fosters rising talent, half of the films are made by first- or second-time filmmakers.

“Our organization has always embodied a spirit of inclusivity, and this spirit goes all the way back to our very first program in 2005, which featured a majority of remarkable women directors. This year, we’re honored to showcase over a hundred of the most inspiring and creative voices from across the globe working in nonfiction storytelling today,” says Ben Fowlie, Executive and Artistic Director of the Points North Institute, and Founder of the Camden International Film Festival. “Our 2018 slate underscores documentary as a creative, diverse, thriving and political art form, one that provides unique opportunities to engage with the world around us.”

“Programming at parity celebrates the contributions of the many formidable women in the field, while also emphasizing the fact that, in a century of documentary filmmaking, we’ve largely known one dominant perspective,” states Senior Programmer Samara Chadwick. She adds: “At CIFF we’re drawn to directorial approaches from outside the canon, and we value all the creative voices and cinematic languages that have been otherwise underrepresented.”

CIFF will open with Academy Award winning director Morgan Neville’s They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead. Fresh from its world premiere at Venice, the film is an intimate and captivating look at the last unfinished film of legendary director Orson Welles. The festival will close with the US premiere of the sailing epic Maiden, which makes its world premiere at TIFF the week prior.

The CIFF program will also present three world premieres by award-winning filmmakers, including Kahlil Hudson and Alex Jablonski’s Young Men And Fire, Lana Wilson’s series The Cure for Fear and Jane Gillooly’s Where the Pavement Ends. Seventeen features from the program will be making their North American or US Premieres including TIFF premieres, Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes, What Is Democracy, andThe Truth About Killer Robots,Locarno winner Fausto,and Karlovy Vary winners Walden and Putin’s Witnesses.In addition to Putin’s WitnessesCIFF will host Vitaly Mansky, the acclaimed and controversial Russian director now exiled to Latvia, and screen a curated retrospective of his work.

The festival will present a half dozen other documentary luminaries including new work from James Longley, Claire Simon, Astra Taylor, Nathaniel Kahn, and a dozen films that creatively interrogate current power structures and politics. Nearly all screenings will be attended by the filmmakers, with creators from Sierra Leone, Russia, Syria, Australia, the UK, Canada, Germany and Spain all converging on the coast of Maine.

CIFF will also feature four projects that have participated in the Points North Institute’s Artist Programs, including The Feeling of Being Watched,América, Dawnlandand the short Baby Brother.The incoming filmmakers selected for this year’s Points North Institute’s Artist Programs at CIFF will be announced in the coming week.

A complete list of the program’s selected feature films can be found below.

Storyforms: Remixing Reality is CIFF’s growing exhibition of immersive documentary experiences and art installations. This year the program will feature several room-scale VR and AR installations, 12 works of 360° cinema, a series of large-scale slow cinemaprojections, a monofilament light sculpture, and an audio-haptic installation that transforms trees into a medium for recorded sound.

“In addition to CIFF’s film slate, we’re honored to be presenting an exceptional selection of immersive artworks for the 3rd edition of Storyforms,” said Program Director Sean Flynn. “Each project will provoke a conversation about how emerging technologies are opening up new pathways for creative documentary storytelling in the 21st century.”

Highlighted works includeAsad Malik’s augmented reality documentary,Terminal 3, and a “Beta Test” work-in-progress of Fireflies: A Brownsville Story, a virtual reality documentary co-created by youth at the Brownsville Community Justice Center.

The Points North Institute announced that SHOWTIME®, under the Showtime Documentary Films banner, will serve as the Presenting Sponsor for the 2018 Points North Fellowship and a Headlining Sponsor for the 2018 Camden International Film Festival.

The Points North Forum’s lineup of masterclasses, roundtables, panels, and industry delegates will be announced in the coming week, with additional programs and Fellows being announced shortly thereafter. Festival passes and acomplete festival lineup can be found on the Points North Institute website

The 14th Camden International Film Festival is a program of the Points North Institute, an expanded media arts organization established in July 2016. Building on CIFF’s long-established role in the nonfiction film community, the Points North Institute filmmaker programs provide a launching pad for the next generation of nonfiction storytellers.
2018 Camden International Film Festival Features 
Angels Are Made Of Light
James Longley | USA, Denmark, Norway| 117 mins
Angels Are Made Of Light reveals the daily struggles and inner lives of students and teachers at a school in Kabul, Afghanistan during the closing years of America’s longest war.US Premiere
Filmmaker in Attendance

Chase Whiteside, Erick Stoll  | USA| 77 mins
América is a story of brothers confronting the chasm between adolescent yearning and adult realities when brought together to care for their ailing ninety-three year old grandmother.
Filmmakers in Attendance

A 12-Film Retrospective of Dario Argento, Supreme Horror Stylist, Begins September 21 (with Argento In-Person!) at the Metrograph

Opens September 21

Dario Argento
12 Film Retrospective of the Supreme Horror Stylist

Argento To Appear In-Person!
When it comes to Dario Argento, the stylist supreme of horror cinema, one might first think of an insidious mood, of piercingly intense colors, of a scrap of haunting music or a set piece in which the camera sets off on its own inexplicable course or an act of violence at once shocking, sensuous, and beautiful. Argento, who came to the director’s chair by way of work as a critic and screenwriter, understands cinema as, among other things, a decorative art, and the movies that he would make, either giallo or supernatural horror, are above all encompassing, voluptuary environments—viewers tend not to want to leave them, even as their persecuted characters struggle to find a way out of the lapidary labyrinths they’ve been trapped in. With his debut, hit thriller The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), Argento began one of the most offbeat, inspired runs of moviemaking in horror history, and almost fifty years later he carries on as a visionary force in genre cinema, an elder statesman of unparalleled influence who combines Hitchcock’s grand architectural ambitions, more than a dash of surrealism, and a hedonistic taste for beauty. Watching Argento movies en masse makes for a feast of rich, decadent filmmaking, that leaves one hungry for more.
Presented in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute in New York.
Once Upon a Time in the West  (Sergio Leone/1968/164 mins/DCP)
Along with dream team collaborators Leone and Bernardo Bertolucci, Argento is credited with the story for this epic oater, a sort of link between the established spaghetti western and the rising giallo, both genres defined by their elaborate and sometimes insanely involved set pieces. Honest Henry Fonda goes bad—very bad—as a railroad baron’s hired gun, facing off against Bronson’s lethal loner Harmonica, in the soaring, musically-composed movie that really earns the label of “horse opera.”
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970/98 mins/DCP) - New Restoration
Argento’s directorial debut, a thriller unlike anything that had come before it, stars Tony Musante as an American writer in Rome who witnesses a knife attack and, the first in a long line of amateur sleuths in Argento’s cinema, begins his own investigation into the identity of the black-gloved attacker. Shot in awesome widescreen Technicolor by the maestro Vittorio Storaro, with a sharp, singular, dramatically dissonant score by Ennio Morricone. New restoration by Arrow Video.
The Cat O' Nine Tails (1971/115 mins/DCP) - New Restoration
Karl Malden’s blind ex-journalist, now working as a crossword puzzle maker, catches a whiff of a mystery from an overheard conversation outside a lab for genetic experimentation, and after learning of a subsequent, possibly connected murder, teams with newspaperman James Franciscus to get to the bottom of things, risking life and limb to together chase nine separate leads that reveal a conspiracy involving government investment in a chemical cure for juvenile delinquency. Elegant, hugely eccentric, and a double-shot of pure 180-proof Argento. New restoration by Arrow Video.
Four Flies on Gray Velvet (1971/104 mins/16mm)
The capper of Argento’s “Animal Trilogy” begins with rock drummer Michael Brandon being photographed accidentally killing a stalker in a scuffle, then follows his search to unmask his blackmailer as a body count piles up around him, aided by a private investigator hired by his wife and hindered by the appearance of a troubling toy puppet. One of Argento’s most bizarre and beautiful works, featuring the most sumptuous, sensual car crash ever caught on film.
Deep Red (1975/126 mins/DCP) - New Restoration
Blow Up star David Hemmings yet again plays a marked witness, drawn into a deepening mystery after he sees a renowned psychic cut down by a hatchet killer, seeking out the shocking truth behind the murder with the help of Daria Nicolodi’s indefatigable investigative reporter. Featuring striking art direction heavily influenced by the melancholic canvases of Edward Hopper as well as a smorgasbord of gristly violence, this may very well be the creative pinnacle of the giallo. New restoration by Arrow Video.
Suspiria (1977/98 mins/35mm)
A fairy tale construction at once grim and florid, Argento’s best-known film finds Jessica Harper’s American ballet dancer arriving at an exclusive academy in Germany where she discovers a dark past and occult forces at work in the present. With some of Argento’s most perversely ingenious set pieces, a plum part for former Fritz Lang muse Joan Bennett, and a spine-tingling theme by Goblin that will haunt you to the grave. Suspiria screens in a recently discovered uncut Italian 35mm print.

Inferno (1980/107 mins/35mm)
The second entry in Argento’s “Three Mothers” trilogy, begun with Suspiria, brings the maestro to New York—and you’ll never look at Central Park the same way again. Music student Leigh McCloskey travels from Rome to NYC to investigate sister Irene Miracle’s fears of a paranormal plot and finds himself lured into a labyrinth of impossible underground architecture and nightmare visions. Moved along by a pulsing score courtesy Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, for years it was Argento’s proverbial underrated masterpiece, now finally getting its due.

Tenebre (1982/101 mins/35mm)
Argento’s return to his giallo roots after veering off into gonzo horror/fantasy, Tenebre features Anthony Franciosa as an American author of potboiler thrillers who, promoting a new book in Rome, finds that a murderer is re-enacting his most ghoulish flights of literary fancy. Argento uses the occasion to scale new, dizzying heights of his own, employing bravura crane shots, brazenly baroque lighting, and the iconic moment of a razor slashing through white cotton. Print courtesy of the Phil Blankenship Collection at the Academy Film Archive.
Phenomena (1985/82 mins/35mm)
At a girls’ school in Switzerland, boarder Jennifer Connelly discovers that she possesses the ability to telepathically communicate with insects, a skill that comes in handy when she joins forces with entomologist Donald Pleasance and his pet chimpanzee to unmask a murderer running amok. Boasting the most outlandish premise that Argento ever dared, as well as startling soundtrack cues from Iron Maiden and Motörhead. Metrograph will be screening a 35mm print of the American cut, released under the title Creepers.

Opera (1987/107 mins/DCP)
The staging of an opera of the famously cursed Macbeth becomes a springboard for some of Argento’s most big, brazen, aria-like set pieces, filmed with an unchained camera which at one point is seen to soar through a cavernous theater on the wings of a raven. With the interference of a lunatic on a backstage killing spree, understudy Cristina Marsillach’s immersion in the role of Lady Macbeth turns still more intense, in this ultra-rich, rococo nail-biter.

Trauma (1993/106 mins/35mm)
Argento’s first production made entirely in the U.S.—and somewhat under the influence of De Palma—teams him with daughter Asia, playing an anorexic girl who falls for a young man (Christopher Rydell) while briefy escaped from a psychiatric clinic. Her return coincides with the initiation of a bloody rampage by a killer nicknamed the Head Hunter who practices his art with a homemade garrote, and who the young lovers hope to track down before he can collect more gory trophies.

The Stendhal Syndrome (1996/113 mins/DCP)
Dad and daughter team together again in a deliciously warped psychological thriller that gets sleazy at the Uffizi, with Asia Argento as a police detective whose tracking of a serial murderer and rapist is complicated when she finds herself struck by a psychological affliction that renders her helpless in the presence of great art—a real Achilles’ heel when you’re on the job in Florence.

Some Are Better than Others: The Curious Case of the Anthology Film September 14 – 27 at the Quad

The Quad offers up a cinematic smorgasbord of over 180 short films—contained within 28 omnibus features—spanning everything from swordplay to sci-fi, swindling to streetwalking, love, and war

With segments from Agnès Varda, Abbas Kiarostami, Joe Dante, Claire Denis, Chang Cheh, Chantal Akerman, Robert Altman, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Vera Chytilová, Federico Fellini, David Lynch, Chris Marker, Spike Lee, Steven Spielberg, seven from Jean-Luc Godard and more

Plus a First Encounter screening of Love in the City with Amy Heckerling!

We’ve all felt it and we’ve all said it, whether to ourselves or to fellow moviegoers: “The best part was when…” While this is inevitable in processing any filmgoing experience, there is one genre that invites it as a running tally before the picture is even over: the omnibus, or multi-part, feature. The concept of the cinematic corollary to a short-story collection became viable with the advent of sound and before the invention of television, as filmmakers cleaved to the lofty ideal of contributing to a thematic whole—or to the anything-goes element of the equivalent of a pot-luck dinner. Producers liked the genre because it allowed for more stars to be packed onto the poster; actors enjoyed performing palate-cleansers between bigger projects. The format took off as more of an art and documentary form overseas, especially in France where it was known as a portmanteau and filmmakers took on assignments as a point of pride—both professional and national. For our far-reaching retrospective, we’ve selected only those anthology movies consisting of contributions by multiple directors; join us for three, three, three movies in one…or four, four, four…or more, more, more. All aboard the omnibus, for what might just be the ultimate short film festival, featuring over 180 titles.

À propos de Nice, la suite
Catherine Breillat/Costa-Gavras/Claire Denis/Raymond Depardon/Abbas Kiarostami & Parviz Kimiavi/Pavel Lungin/Raúl Ruiz, 1995, France, 99m, 35mm

Amazon Women on the Moon
Joe Dante/Carl Gottlieb/Peter Horton/John Landis/Robert K. Weiss, 1987, U.S., 85m, 35mm

Robert Altman/Bruce Beresford/Bill Bryden/Jean-Luc Godard/Derek Jarman/Franc Roddam/Nicolas Roeg/Ken Russell/Charles Sturridge/Julien Temple, 1987, UK, 90m, DCP

Boccaccio ’70
Vittorio De Sica/Federico Fellini/Mario Monicelli/Luchino Visconti, 1962, Italy/France, 204m, DCP

Dead of Night
Alberto Cavalcanti/Charles Crichton/Basil Dearden/Robert Hamer, 1945, UK, 103m, DCP

Far from Vietnam
Jean-Luc Godard/Joris Ivens/William Klein/Claude Lelouch/Chris Marker/Alain Resnais/Agnès Varda, 1967, France, 116m, DCP

Forever and a Day
René Clair/Edmund Goulding/Cedric Hardwicke/Frank Lloyd/Victor Saville/Robert Stevenson/Herbert Wilcox, 1943, U.S., 104m, DCP

Four Moods
King Hu/Hsing Lee/Han Hsiang Li/Ching-Jui Pai, 1970, Taiwan, 140m, DCP

Germany in Autumn
Alf Brustellin/Hans Peter Cloos/R. W. Fassbinder/Alexander Kluge/
Maximiliane Mainka/Edgar Reitz/Katja Rupé/Volker Schlöndorff/Peter Schubert/Bernhard Sinkel, 1978, West Germany, 123m, 35mm

If I Had a Million
James Cruze/H. Bruce Humberstone/Ernst Lubitsch/Norman Z. McLeod/Lothar Mendes/Steven Roberts/William A. Seiter/Norman Taurog, 1932, U.S., 83m, 35mm

Love and Anger
Marco Bellocchio & Elda Tattoli/Bernardo Bertolucci/Jean-Luc Godard/Carlo Lizzani/Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1969, Italy/France, 102m, 35mm

Love in the City
Michelangelo Antonioni/Federico Fellini/Alberto Lattuada/Carlo Lizzani/Francesco Maselli & Cesare Zavattini/Dino Risi, 1953, Italy, 115m, 35mm

Lumière and Company
Merzak Allouache/Théo Angelopoulos/Vicente Aranda/Gabriel Axel/John Boorman/Youssef Chahine/Alain Corneau/Costa-Gavras/Raymond Depardon/Francis Girod/Peter Greenaway/Lasse Hallström/Michael Haneke/Hugh Hudson/Gaston Kaboré/Abbas Kiarostami/Cédric Klapisch/Andrei Konchalovsky/Patrice Leconte/Spike Lee/Claude Lelouch/Bigas Luna/David Lynch/Ismail Merchant & James Ivory/Claude Miller/Sarah Moon/Idrissa Ouedraogo/Arthur Penn/Lucian Pintille/Jacques Rivette/Helma Sanders/Jerry Schatzberg/Nadine Trintignant/Fernando Trueba/Liv Ullman/Jaco Van Dormael/Régis Wargnier/Wim Wenders/Zhang Yimou/Kiju Yoshida, 1995, France/Denmark/Spain/Sweden, 88m, 35mm

New York Stories
Woody Allen/Francis Coppola/Martin Scorsese, 1989, U.S., 124m, 35mm

O. Henry’s Full House
Henry Hathaway/Howard Hawks/Henry King/Henry Koster/Jean Negulesco,
1952, U.S., 117m, 16mm

The Oldest Profession
Claude Autant-Lara/Mauro Bolognini/Philippe de Broca/Jean-Luc Godard/Franco Indovina/Michael Pfleghar, 1967, France/Italy/West Germany, 119m, 35mm

Pearls of the Deep
Vera Chytilová/Jaromil Jires/Jirí Menzel/Jan Nemec/Evald Schorm, 1965, Czechoslovakia, 105m, 35mm

Private Collections
Walerian Borowczyk/Just Jaeckin/Shūji Terayama, 1979, France/Japan, 103m, 35mm

Jean-Luc Godard/Ugo Gregoretti/Pier Paolo Pasolini/Roberto Rossellini,
1963, Italy/France, 122m, DCP

The Sandwich Man
Hou Hsiao-hsien/Jen Wan/Zhuang Xiang Zeng, 1983, Taiwan, 105m, DCP

Seven Women, Seven Sins
Chantal Akerman/Maxi Cohen/Valie Export/Laurence Gavron/Bette Gordon/Ulrike Ottinger/Helke Sander,1986, France/Austria/Belgium/U.S./West Germany, 109m, 16mm

Six in Paris (Paris vu par… )
Claude Chabrol/Jean Douchet/Jean-Luc Godard/Jean-Daniel Pollet/Éric Rohmer/Jean Rouch, 1965, France, 95m, 35mm

Spirits of the Dead
Federico Fellini/Louis Malle/Roger Vadim, 1968, France/Italy, 121m, 35mm

Trilogy of Swordsmanship
Chang Cheh/Yueh Feng/Cheng Kang, 1972, Hong Kong, 108m, DCP
Twilight Zone—The Movie
Joe Dante/John Landis/George Miller/Steven Spielberg, 1983, U.S., 101m, 35mm

La Vie est à nous
Jacques Becker/Jacques B. Brunius/Henri Cartier-Bresson/Jean-Paul Le Chanois/
Maurice Lime/Jean Renoir/Pierre Unik/André Zwoboda, 1936, France, 66m, 35mm

The Witches
Mauro Bolognini/Vittorio De Sica/Pier Paolo Pasolini/Franco Rossi/Luchino Visconti, 1967, Italy/France, 105m, 35mm

The World’s Most Beautiful Swindlers
Claude Chabrol/Jean-Luc Godard/Ugo Gregoretti/Hiromichi Horikawa,
1964, France/Italy/Japan/The Netherlands, 108m, DCP

Amy Heckerling's First Viewing of
Love in the City

Sat Sept 15, 4.50pm
Michelangelo Antonioni/Federico Fellini/Alberto Lattuada/Carlo Lizzani/Francesco Maselli & Cesare Zavattini/Dino Risi/,1953,Italy,15m,35mm
Six frequently melancholic stories of love drawn from news items lead off with Lizzani’s “Love for Pay,” a documentary-style look at streetwalkers; Antonioni interviews despondents’ in “Attempted Suicide;” Risi’s “Paradise for Three Hours” unites two loners; in Fellini’s segment, “Marriage Agency,” a muckraking reporter infiltrates said business; “Story of Caterina” headlines Caterina Rigoglioso (in her only film) in a downbeat neo-realist tale; and watching the girls go by is the subject of “Italians Turn Their Heads.” In Italian with English subtitles. Print courtesy of the Cineteca Nazionale, Rome.

With Amy Heckerling in person

Screening as part of our ongoing First Encounters series, where we invite filmmakers, artists, writers, and beyond to select a film they’ve always wanted to see, watch it with us for the first time, and share their immediate reactions afterwards.

LUCÍA 50th Anniversary of Humberto Solás's Electrifying Historical Epic in New Restoration at the Metrograph September 28-October 4

"A masterpiece." - The Independent (UK)
““One of the few films, Left or Right, to deal with women on the same plane and
in the same breath as major historical events." – Molly Haskell

Beginning Friday September 28, Metrograph will present the 50th anniversary of Lucía, in a new restoration. The electrifying debut from Cuban virtuoso Humberto Solás is a triptych of stories, each devoted to a woman named Lucía, and each set in a different period, showcasing a different stylistic approach in exploring the (slowly) changing role of women in society. “Lucía 1895” is a wrenching costume drama inspired by Visconti; “Lucía 1933,” starring Memories of Underdevelopment’s Eslinda Núñez, approximates the polish of Hollywood melodrama; while the New Wave-inflected “Lucía 196_” find Adela Legrá, full of the new revolutionary spirit, bucking back against her oppressive husband. A historical epic that forefronts the too-often-overlooked female experience, given a sensorial immediacy through Jorge Herrera’s lustrous black-and-white cinematography.

Restored by Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in association with Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográ cos (ICAIC). Restoration funded by Turner Classic Movies and The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project. Special thanks to Bundesarchiv.

It Means That To Me (1961)

Eddie Constantine  looking like Eddie Constantine or Lemmy Caution is a disgraced reporter set up the the government to act as a mule in order to deliver microfilm hidden in a cigarette. If he can do it they will pay him a a fortune and clear is name.

Lesser Constantine film is still better than any film with out him in a story that is ultimately sound and fury signifying nothing. Yea it's fun to watch a dubbed Eddie crack wise, but at the same time there isn't enough meat here to sustain a full 90 minutes. to be certain the film picks up in the final third but until then this spins its wheels for much of it's running time.

Worth a look for fans- all others depending on mood

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Makala (2017)

Kasongo is a 28-year-old man living in Congo with his wife and family. He is trying to make enough money to buy a house for his family by making charcoal from the hard wood trees nearby. We watch as he goes goes through the entire process from falling the tree to making the charcoal to selling it.

Gorgeous to look at observational documentary carries you along with just what a hard process making charcoal is. It is  long and drawn out and we are there for it all. We are also there as Kasongo travels into to the city and deals with people who are trying to get the best deal for themselves or take what Kasango has. Your heart will break at what he has to go through.

At this point a little bit disclosure my feelings toward MAKALA shifted after I read the press notes. While I liked the film when I watched it blind, my attitude changed once I read the notes on the film. As is my norm I don't look at the notes and only do so if I want to check on some bit of information. In reading the notes, particularly the interview with director Emmanuel Gras my attitude changed.

While I know and understand that all documentaries fudge things, most obviously the directors choose what we see as well as compress events. Gras said that while Kasongo did what he normally would do he  and his crew controled when and how certain things were done, altering how things played out for the camera because they had only a limited time to record events. While I know that there is often that sort of thing going on saying it kind of  makes me wonder what was fudged. I suspect nothing, but still the doubts creep in and it colors what I think of the film. Part of the problem comes from having seen Jon Kasbe's WHEN LAMBS BECOME LIONS earlier in the year. Kasbe's approach was to spend lots of time with his subjects and to simply film and let things happen and then worry about it all later.

After reading the notes all I could think about was how did this effect what we see and how does it alter our perception of reality. Those are two questions you really don't want pinging around in your head when you have to be objective about a film.

The question now becomes where does that leave this review?

It leaves me keeping it simple and just saying that this is a very good observational documentary that is gorgeous to look at it. If you like this type of documentary it is recommended when begins a run at the Museum of Modern Art in New York tomorrow.