Though much of the music listened to by the so-called mods and rockers in mid-1960s England gets played on the same oldies stations today, there was a real cultural divide back then. The mods favored sharp, colorful suits, the music of The Kinks and The Who, riding scooters and popping pills. Clad in black leather, the rockers rode motorcycles and preferred the likes of Gene Vincent and Elvis Presley. In reality, they were two sides of the same coin - young people searching for identity with like-minded youths. Pete Townshend brilliantly told their tale in The Who’s 1973 masterpiece, Quadrophenia,
August 2012 Archives
Mods and rockers converge on mid-1960s England in this coming-of-age story.
A chronicle of the vibrant '80s punk scene in Spokane, WA.
Spokane, WA is about as unlikely a place I can think of to have developed a thriving punk scene in the ‘80s. The city is about 300 miles east of Seattle, right on the Idaho border. Yet as the newly released DVD SpokAnarchy! shows, there was a very vibrant punk community in town during those years. But it was self-contained. In fact, even I though lived in Seattle, and knew a lot of local musicians, nobody was talking about Spokane. It was just off our radar I guess. The folks at Carnage and Rogue Films have produced an excellent documentary
This new release is incomplete.
Ali: The Man, The Moves, The Mouth is full of the same content we have seen in every other documentary on Ali. Nothing new here. There is no question that Muhammad Ali was the greatest fighter of the 20th century and his personality endeared him to a generation, but did we need another documentary on his career? Having Bert Sugar involved certainly makes this project more attractive, but relegating this legendary writer, sportscaster, and boxing historian to narrator rather than allowing him to regale the audience with insightful stories was a simple waste of resources. This latest release which became
The love story of an unlikely pair who find common ground through honesty, listening, and learning
Weekend is a quiet, but candid, glimpse of how a seemingly fleeting attraction between two people with distinct identities can develop into a life-changing emotional bond if sincerity and openness are the instruments used to connect. Our pair in question, Russell and Glen, played by actors Tom Cullen and Chris New, share a fondness for hipster facial hair and a sense of fearlessness with regard to recreational drugs, but the manner in which they carry themselves, live their lives, and love their neighbors couldn’t be more different. Russell is discreet, cautious, and somewhat conservative in relationships, whereas the antagonistic Glen,
If ever there were a band suited to the format of music videos, Queen were it.
If ever there were a band suited to the format of music videos, Queen were it. Even though there were not many outlets for these “promo clips” during their '70s heyday, the band made a number of them anyway. Fans can only be thankful for their foresight, as they left behind a priceless video legacy, probably unmatched by anyone else of the era. The new Eagle Vision two-DVD set Queen: Greatest Video Hits contains a total of 33 videos from the group, nearly half of which were produced prior to the 1981 launch of MTV. The idea of using filmed
The most repulsive film I have ever seen.
Salò is the most repulsive film I have ever seen. So much so that I completely understand the censorship it continues to run into. After watching the extras, I understand that may well have been director Pier Paolo Pasolini's purpose as he used this adaptation of the Marquis de Sade's The 120 Days of Sodom to comment on society, such as denouncing fascism and consumerism, but surely he could have found some other way, a better way, to get his point of view across because his execution is so vile it's extremely hard to see anything beyond the surface of
Celebrating the work of Paul Fejos.
Paul Fejos (1897-1963) directed something of a “lost” classic with Lonesome (1928). The Criterion Collection have just released a digitally remastered edition of Lonesome, along with two more Fejos films in an exclusive two-DVD set. Lonesome put Fejos among the select few of director's directors. Although the film was not hugely successful upon release, it has developed a reputation as one of the most creative and influential films of all time. The basic story was adapted from a story about loneliness in large American cities. It is sort of a timeless subject. Set in the then-current New York City, the
The necessary step to move the franchise forward.
In the last 50 years, most people have seen at least one James Bond film. Mine happened in 1973 at the tender age of six. It wasn't just my introduction to the world of James Bond, it was my welcome to the world of movies made for adults. While I would only dabble in this world the next few years - Jaws, Star Wars, and Smokey and the Bandit among them - these few films had a profound affect on my adult movie preferences. It's why I like Shark Week, Comic Con, and movies the star guys with moustaches.
Sparkling new restoration delivers an engaging audiovisual feast.
Even if you’ve seen this film before, you’ve never seen it like this. Boasting a complete restoration including a new 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack mixed by The Who’s longtime sound engineer directly from the original elements, the new Criterion edition dazzles on Blu-ray and almost certainly looks better than its original theatrical release. The original 2.0 stereo sound mix is also included for the purists. Of course all that technical wizardry would amount to naught if the movie was subpar, but that’s not the case here. The film brilliantly examines one young man’s angst against the larger backdrop of
Television might mostly be a wasteland of reality shows, but Homeland proves its also got some real art as well.
A few weeks back my family and I took a vacation in Florida. We surfed, we swam, we walked, we talked, we ate, and we watched TV. Lots and lots of TV. All that activity wore us out by sun's end and there wasn't much else to do of an evening but watch television. I cut the cable cord several years ago so it was pretty excited to see all those channels. For about five minutes anyways. Then I realized there was nothing on. When did TV get so crappy? It seems like everybody has their own reality show now.
The band delivers a night to remember.
Of all the great British rock acts of the "60s, I have always felt that The Zombies never really got their due. Their first hit “She’s Not There” remains a classic rock staple, as does “Time of the Season,” but there was a great deal more to this band than just those two songs. “Time of the Season” was pulled from their 1968 Odessey & Oracle album, recorded right next door to where The Beatles were laying down Sgt. Pepper's, at Abbey Road. The misspelling of Odessey was unintentional by the way. It seems that the cover artist made the
The story told is bigger than that of the Apollo missions.
Using the 16mm footage recorded during the nine manned Moon flights between December 1968 and November 1972, director Alan Reinert tells a story beyond that of the Apollo missions in his compelling 1989 documentary For All Mankind. From the NASA archives, Reinert splices together sequences of different missions. On the soundtrack he adds audio from interviews conducted with 13 of the astronauts. Making the intriguing decision not to identify anything or anyone in post production, the director appears to make a statement that a trip to the moon is not solely the success of these brave and heroic men. Rather,
Fascinating to both relive or to witness for the first time.
In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of man’s landing on the Moon, Acorn Media released Apollo 11 - A Night to Remember, a 2006 BBC4 two-hour documentary created from archival footage. Hosted by astronomer Sir Patrick Moore, the special presents the Apollo 11 mission, which took astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin to the Moon and back. After President Kennedy’s speech in 1961 to a joint session of Congress where he stated “that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely
Season one finally comes to a conclusion and doesn't disappoint.
What started off as a mere trickle of episodes for Season One, three releases with only four episodes, has finally turned into a stream as the remaining 14 episodes have been released on DVD. It’s unclear why the release format has changed, but for most viewers it’s a welcome change as the miniscule amount of released material on DVD was the biggest fan complaint. The first episode “Alpha Male” starts off just moments after the end of “Homefront” where Red Tornado and his previously unknown siblings turned on the young heroes nearly killing them all. Wanting to seek revenge on
Movie Recon and Friday Night Videos team up to bring you this article.
Before this past summer, writer/director Joss Whedon developed a cult following of fans from television series, such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly. Then he worked on a small film that came out earlier in the year you may have heard of called The Avengers, which was so successful at box offices around the world, only James Cameron has made a film (two actually) that have grossed more (not counting adjustments for inflation). Naturally, the release of The Avengers on home video has many of its fans salivating to get their hands on it, so the studio has released
A wonderful example of why less is more.
In Life Begins at Eight-Thirty, which references the time the curtain goes up on Broadway, Ida Lupino plays Kathy, a young woman who lives in a small apartment with her formerly celebrated actor/now down-on-his-luck alcoholic father (Monty Woolley). Though hardly noticeable through much of the film, Kathy was injured at a young age and has a brace on her leg. Kathy strives to help her father get back on her feet, at the expense of her own life. When Kathy meets Robert (Cornel Wilde), a composer who lives in the same building, and her father is offered a lead role
This is highly recommended.
The new BBC Video release Planet Dinosaur DVD contains all six half-hour episodes of the series, which originally aired in the U.K. in 2011. The program is narrated by John Hurt, and contains some of the best CGI-created dinosaurs ever produced for television. As the introduction to each show explains, “We are living through the golden age of dinosaur discoveries. From all over the world, a whole new generation of dinosaurs is being revealed. From the biggest giants and the deadliest killers, to the weird and wonderful. From the Arctic to Africa, from South America to Asia, using the latest
Familiarity breeds contempt in this series that rehashes rather than innovates.
I’ve just returned from a dream world of magic populated by classic fairy tale characters experiencing modern angst. No, it’s not the movie Enchanted, and it’s not the long-running DC comic book series Fables, but this TV series borrows so liberally from those and other properties we’ve seen before that it should be titled Thrice Upon a Time. Throw in an ongoing flashback format generally focusing on one character each week that recalls the earlier LOST writing work of series “creators” Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, and you can virtually hear the hackneyed plot pitch they made that somehow got
Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry Jr. goes where many have gone before.
In attempt to find out more about the father he lost at 17 and the science-fiction empire he built, Rod Roddenberry, son of legendary Gene Roddenberry creator of Star Trek, visits people and places associated with Star Trek in this 88-minute documentary. From the launch of this exploration, it is clear that this is an emotional journey for young Rod, and he is certainly open with the emotions and feeling he had as a teenager and has now. His transparency yields multiple reactions from the audience, some of which are not good. He often comes off as aloof, as if
Cristián Jiménez's second feature film is wisely nurtured and pared, much like the titular shrub.
Directed by Cristián Jiménez and based on a novel by Chilean writer Alejandro Zambra, Bonsái is an affectionate film about the passage of time. The movie uses relationships as pivots, but centres on a young writer (Diego Noguera) as time moves over and through him. His existence - and evolution - draws from two points and is defined by the love he shares with two very different women. Jiménez has crafted a very special picture. It is romantic and comic, but unlike conventional genre pictures it treats its characters with respect. The people of Bonsái are layered without being convoluted,
I could’ve watched an entire movie about Thor Aackerlund and been perfectly happy.
Originally designed and programmed by Alexey Pajitnov, Tetris is one of the most popular video games ever created. Since its initial release in 1984, some variation of the game has been released on pretty much every video-game console, operating system, graphing calculator, PDA and mobile phone in existence. So it stands to reason that you’ve probably wasted more than a few hours on the game and maybe you’ve even referred to yourself as a “master” at some point. It’s easy to throw the term around, but have you ever really wondered who the real Tetris Masters are? Who are the
Sean Connery's return to the role of James Bond is less than thrilling.
"So James Bond just walked up to a woman, whipped off her bikini top, wrapped it around her neck, and choked her with it while interrogating her." No less than two minutes into watching Diamonds Are Forever (1971) for the first time, I had to pause the movie to send this text to a friend of mine. And in a way, the disbelief that prompted this message sums up my reaction to the entire film. Admittedly, my experience with the James Bond canon is limited to a handful of Sean Connery starrers, a single Roger Moore title, the Pierce
It's Bond like you've never seen him before: that awkward transitional boyfriend.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service is the sixth Bond film in the franchise and the first to star someone other than Sean Connery - namely, George Lazenby, who makes his feature film debut here. I'm hard-pressed to think of another situation where a freshman thespian was asked to assume the lead in a franchise as important as this one, even after only five films. It's said that producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman had originally sought Cary Grant for the role of Bond in the first film, Dr. No. They didn't get him (of course), but they certainly tried
The Dardennes' 1996 tale of a boy's moral struggle with his father's illegal-immigration ring is captivating.
The Film The cinematic worlds of Belgian filmmakers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne are raw and unadorned, filled with broken people making morally dubious (or worse) decisions. Life tends to be hard. And yet, the Dardennes are not cynics, no matter how ugly the situations they plunge their characters into. Beneath the grime and decay, the ambivalence and ennui, is a genuine compassion and empathy that make the Dardennes some of the great humanist filmmakers. These qualities arrive fully formed in La Promesse, the brothers’ breakout 1996 feature that followed a documentary career and several fiction films. Like much of the
Bachman and Turner Live at the Roseland Ballroom NYC DVD Review: Taking Care of Business for Longtime Fans
The music veterans show they still know how to rock after 40 years.
Proving that there are second acts in rock and roll, singer/guitarist Randy Bachman left one successful rock band, only to form another, even more successful band. With his first group, the Guess Who, he cowrote some of the their biggest hits such as “These Eyes,” “No Time,” “Undun,” and “American Woman.” The latter peaked at number one on the U.S. charts, a first for a Canadian band. However, due to health problems and other issues, Bachman left the Guess Who at the height of their popularity. Defying critics, Bachman almost immediately formed a second group, Brave Belt, with another ex-Guess
Nektar, Brainticket, and Huw Lloyd-Langton: Space Rock Invasion DVD Review: The Next Best Thing to Being There
The double-DVD set contains a lot of great musical moments.
For those so inclined, the Space Rock Invasion Tour of 2011 was a once in a lifetime event. The lineup was Huw Lloyd-Langton (of Hawkwind), Brainticket, and Nektar. Unfortunately for me, the tour never made it anywhere near my hometown, so I missed seeing it in person. The final show at the Key Club in Hollywood was filmed however, and has just been released as a two-DVD set from Cleopatra. As the old saying goes, it’s the next best thing to being there. I am a big fan of prog, krautrock, space rock, or whatever you wish to call it.
In a slow week, something I've never heard of gets picked.
There are times when I feel really clued in. On those days I'm caught up with and can talk intelligently about current events: politics, news of the day, pop culture, and even sports (well okay, I can never talk intelligently about sports but sometimes I actually know what season it is and who is in the playoffs.)Other times I'm completely oblivious. With the ability to download TV shows and movies or stream them on Netflix and Hulu I cut the cord. Which means I don't have cable. Which means I only get a few channels. Which means I don't watch
Boring and uninspired buddy movie deals with impending death by mostly ignoring it.
"I'm 29 today. Won't see 30." With that opening line, Third Star clearly defines its theme and outcome, tracing the final days in the life of a terminally ill man. James (Benedict Cumberbatch) has declined so much that he’s confined to a wheelchair, but with his imminent demise looming he convinces his three closest friends to take him camping to his favorite place on Earth, a secluded bay near his home. What follows is a very loosely scripted trip that finds the mates hanging out, living and laughing together as they inch closer to their destination. The bay isn’t accessible
Hercules, Samson and Ulysses [Ercole sfida Sansone] DVD Review: Sea Monsters! Lion Strangling! Hamstrings!
The last major peplum flick from the director of the original Hercules.
Though filmed in 1963, Pietro Francisci's final contribution to the peplum (sword and sandal) genre — a little ditty called Hercules, Samson and Ulysses (aka Ercole sfida Sansone) — didn't make it to screens in the U.S. until 1965, by which time the macho muscleman movie craze had all but ended all over the globe. I suppose it's not such a bad thing, though, since this offering probably seemed just as routine to audiences then as it does to me today. Of course, that's not a bad thing, as we only watch these movies for one reason alone: prime Italian
If you were to wake up floating in the ocean with two bullet wounds in your back, who would you like to be?
The Bourne Identity (2002) directed by Doug Liman stars Matt Damon (Jason Bourne), Franka Potente (Marie), Chris Cooper (Conklin), Brian Cox (Ward Abbot), Clive Owen (the Professor), Julia Stiles (Nicolette), and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Wombosi). A man is fished out of the ocean off the coast of France with two bullet wounds in his back, a clever laser doohickey in his hip, and retrograde amnesia. The only clue to his identity is the information that leads him to a safe deposit box in Zurich, which is where he finds enough disturbing Intel about himself to name himself Jason Bourne. It doesn’t
Five years. Three films. One ass-kicking elderly star.
It took eight years for someone to make a sequel to the original film adaptation of Brian Garfield's novel, Death Wish. To this day, many speculate whether or not the film should have even bore a sequel — let alone the entire five-film franchise that came to pass over an impressive twenty-year span. Whereas the classic 1974 Charles Bronson revenge flick could have very well remained a stalwart and standout film to moviegoers and scholars alike, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus — the boys behind the notorious production company of Cannon Films — had other ideas: mainly, to make a
One of many adaptations of the Robert Louis Stevenson novel, this version of Kidnapped is a sturdy adventure tale.
One of a plethora of film adaptations of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel of the same name, 1938’s Kidnapped is a sturdy albeit heavily condensed tale of betrayal and loyalty in 18th Century Scotland. Truthfully, the behind-the-scenes goings-on are probably of more interest than the film itself, which is little more than matinee adventure ephemera — the film was initially directed by the great Otto Preminger, but his independent streak didn’t sit well with studio head Darryl F. Zanuck, who fired Preminger partway through and replaced him with Alfred Werker. Preminger’s connection with the film probably isn’t enough to warrant a
The introduction of the Third Doctor, in living color.
The first Doctor Who serial to be filmed in color was Spearhead From Space (Story #51), and originally aired January 3-24, 1970. It introduced the world to the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, who portrayed the character from 1970-1974. In 1969, it looked as if Doctor Who would be cancelled, as the ratings were terrible. Not only that, but due to an insane schedule of 44 episodes per year, the second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) was leaving. To say that the entire franchise was riding on the success of Spearhead From Space would be pretty accurate. Derek Martinus directed a great script
No, it's not another documentary on Ron Jeremy. Thank God.
When it comes to stories concerning the most esoteric and eccentric of life's inhabitants, our brothers and sisters in France almost always take the cake. Rarely do filmmakers from other countries depict someone wandering about in a self-absorbed haze, questioning what the very purpose of their existence is for, and spouting the most pretentious of soliloquies like the French do. And Mona Achache's The Hedgehog — a 2009 motion picture adaptation of Muriel Barbary's novel, The Elegance of the Hedgehog — is certainly no exception: only this time, our filmic philosophical tutor is a depressed, suicidal eleven-year-old girl. Determined to
After weathering a fierce storm, five outcast teenagers serving community service discover they have the gift, and curse, of superpowers.
Oh, Misfits, so much to answer for. And “Buffy-esque snark,” as New York Magazine calls it, is a monumentally misleading description of a show that makes the U.K. version of Skins seem fit for American network television. Focus instead on the tagline at the bottom of the DVD case, which reads “Sex, drugs, and superpowers,” because that is precisely what Misfits serves. And we musn’t forget loads of choice profanity, violence, and some gore. It’s the kind of show parents would be horrified if their mostly good teens viewed with great enthusiasm (and they do), and at the same time
It falls well short of the great heights the program has achieved.
Doctor Who is a long-running British science fiction television series featuring The Doctor, a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey whose adventures see him travel through time and space. Over the years, different actors have starred in the role, and to compensate for the realities of the television business Time Lords were given the ingenious ability to regenerate their bodies when they die. The Greatest Show in the Galaxy is the 155th story of the Doctor, first broadcast in four parts on December 14, 1988 through January 4. 1989, on BBC 1. "Part One" finds the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy)
The Beatles: Their Golden Age DVD Review: A Short, but Information-packed Documentary on the Fab Four
Les Krantz narrates this hour-long documentary on the most successful band of all time.
It’s not possible to thoroughly cover the Beatles’ unparalleled career in an hour, but The Beatles: Their Golden Age attempts to do just that. Narrated by Les Krantz - a publisher, author, and filmmaker - Their Golden Age combines still photos with newsreel footage and scenes from the Beatles’ movies. No Beatles music is included, though instrumental sound-alike tracks make up the film’s score. The documentary starts in the 1950s. Skiffle was all the rage in England and proved a major influence on budding songwriters John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The pair were introduced in 1957 and McCartney joined Lennon’s
A delightful (albeit admittedly minor) comedy.
“He seemed like such a nice man—real pleasant! Then it turns out he’s a writer.” The character of Lynn Belvedere is perhaps best known to modern audiences as the know-it-all English butler (played by Christopher Hewitt) who becomes a confidant and counselor for an uncouth Pittsburgh family in the 1980s sitcom Mr. Belvedere. But before he ever appeared on the Owens family doorstep, Mr. Belvedere debuted on the big screen in the 1948 film Sitting Pretty, in which the character, a super-intelligent man-of-the-world, takes a job as a babysitter for suburban couple Robert Young and Maureen O’Hara, so as to
I'm glad to have my 1990s love back in my life.
For almost all of the 1990s, I was glued to a quirky show shunned by many and beloved by a few called Mystery Science Theater 3000. When creator Joel Hodgson left in 1993 and headwriter Mike Nelson took over, I was a little skeptical of the future of the program. By the time the next season had started, I was on board with Mike and found the chemistry between him, Tom Servo (Kevin Murphy), and Crow T. Robot (Trace Beaulieu and later Bill Corbett) to be more comfortable fit. When the show left the air in 1999, I thought it
Documentary recounts the full life of a wolf raised by humans.
Wolves have traditionally been vilified as vicious, bloodthirsty predators not worthy of any human compassion. This documentary aims to influence that perception by recounting the complete life story of a wolf raised by humans and used as a goodwill ambassador in classrooms across the country. There’s no denying that the animals are dangerous, but at least in the case of the wolf named Koani, they’re worth a much closer look. As a pup, Koani was adopted by a married couple named Bruce and Pat, outdoorsy Montana folks who originally accepted her on a temporary basis while participating in a research
Though flawed on a number of fronts, the film still entertains.
You Only Live Twice is the fifth film in the James Bond series. Released in 1967, it was intended to be Sean Connery's last time playing the character; George Lazenby was the next actor selected but after On Her Majesty's Secret Service he backed out of the contract. This provided the opportunity for Connery to return to the role in 1971 for Diamonds Are Forever. He also appeared in the Thunderball remake Never Say Never Again, which is not considered an unofficial James Bond film since it was made without the involvement of Eon Productions. Sean Connery set a
You may not learn much about Franz Liszt from Russell's defiantly excessive film, but it's a must-see anyway.
One of the least conventional biopics ever made, Ken Russell’s delirious, hilarious, utterly batshit insane Lisztomania revels in excess like no other Russell work I’ve seen. Those put off by the historical inaccuracies and extensive creative license in Russell’s Tchaikovsky biopic The Music Lovers from five years earlier will likely have their heads exploded by Lisztomania, which doesn’t even bother with the pretense of historicity. Starring The Who frontman Roger Daltrey (also the lead in Russell’s adaptation of Tommy, released the same year) as composer Franz Liszt, Lisztomania is a messy, completely episodic film that vaults from one gleefully vulgar
The fourth film in the franchise finds Bond trekking to the Bahamas to save the world from nuclear destruction.
Beautiful women, exotic locations, and criminal masterminds threatening nuclear holocaust? These are business as usual for M16 agent 007, James Bond . The fourth entry in the franchise, Thunderball is based on the book of the same name, the ninth in Ian Fleming's successful series, which itself was based on an original screenplay Fleming collaborated on with screenwriters Kevin McClory and Jack Whittingham. It was one of the most successful Bond films and, adjusted for inflation, is the highest-grossing Bond film of all time. Thunderball begins with Bond (Sean Connery) attending the funeral of SPECTRE operative Colonel Jacques Bouvar,
Better motion comic effects but a lesser story make for a fun if unastonishing hour of entertainment.
Continuing the Astonishing X-Men motion comics saga initiated in previous DVDs Gifted and Dangerous, this latest disc covers issues 13-18 of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s legendary comic book run. As before, the art from each original comic book issue has been converted into roughly 10 minutes of animation with a full vocal cast and sound effects. I wasn’t particularly fond of the animation in Dangerous, especially in the early stages, but the production team seems to have a better handle on the technical details here and delivers a compelling and entertaining final product. This time around, most of the
Three full performances of Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes chatting on stage in the UK.
Now that the London Olympics are over, it’s time to turn our attention to these other notable American heroes staking their claim in the UK. Capturing not one, not two, but three full live performances, this two-disc set follows the old men from London to Manchester to Edinburgh as they bring their inimitable brand of merriment across the pond. So what do you get at a Jay and Silent Bob show? Not much of substance, just two blokes riffing on stage for a little over an hour each night. They’re not in character, they’re just Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes.
This quirky meta comedy makes me laugh.
It took me awhile to catch onto Dan Harmon's smart, quirky, meta-comedy Community, but now that I have, I have done so in a big, big way. He's taken a very generic situation comedy plot-line (a group of students from a wide variety of backgrounds, and ages/sexes/races start a study group to help get them through college) and made something genuinely unique. The show is not afraid to do something completely different, reaching for new heights in what can be done in a half-hour comedy even if that means they sometimes fail. There have been episodes done completely in claymation,
Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss Criterion Collection DVD Review: Two Signature Films from Samuel Fuller
Very different projects connected by their filmmaker's storytelling sensibilities.
As The Criterion Collection upgrades their titles to Blu-ray, DVD buyers benefit from the new, restored high-definition digital transfers that become available in standard definition. Two such titles to have experienced this are early entries in the collection as evidenced by their catalog numbers, Shock Corridor (#19) and The Naked Kiss (#18). Both also have in common writer/director Sam Fuller, a former crime reporter and pulp novel writer, whose grittiness became a trademark. Shock Corridor tells the story of newspaper reporter Johnny Barrett (Peter Breck) going undercover in an insane asylum to solve the murder of a man named Sloan.
An odd war film from the director of Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss demands rediscovery.
“A mad generation!” the movie poster exclaims. “Spawned in lust…consumed by hate…where everything decent is Verboten!” As with all good exploitation films, the hyperbole on the one-sheet for Samuel Fuller’s Verboten! (1959) has little to do with the actual content of the movie. But then again, how do you market a romance set in World War II that features both a sappy title ballad sung by Paul Anka and an eight-minute mini-documentary on the Nuremberg Trials? Thankfully, the folks at the Warner Archive Collection don’t have to worry about this with their manufacture-on-demand DVD of a film Fuller acknowledged was
One character starts with a mental handicap; the other two strive to prove theirs.
When the credits rolled on Scalene, groans could be heard throughout my living room. Why? Because it took us on a journey of extreme measures, but along the way forgot to justify any of them and trips over its own shoelaces of pretentiously telling the story in an inconsistently convoluted manner. Be warned, spoilers are incoming. The movie was billed as a "perceptual thriller that revolves around a mother's revenge after her mentally-challenged son is accused of sexual assault by his student caretaker." So I go in thinking Vantage Point but where the pivotal event is a rape instead of
A highly entertaining release from the Warner Archive Collection.
The film genre was called “Swords and Sandals,” and it was quite popular, for a while at least. I guess modern versions would include Gladiator (2000) or maybe 300 (2007). But the golden age of these movies was in the late '50s and early '60s. Damon and Pythias (1962) may not be an epic on the scale of Ben-Hur (1959) or Spartacus (1960), but it is certainly a highly entertaining new release from the Warner Archive Collection. The film begins with a card informing us that the story starts 400 years before the birth of Christ. It is during the
Superpowered teens fully earn misfits label in this raunchy, occasionally hilarious series.
The review excerpt used as a marketing tagline on this series proclaims “Heroes with Buffy-esque snark”, which is a fair but not entirely accurate assessment. See, the Heroes and Scoobies were inherently good for the most part, and dedicated to using their powers to benefit mankind. These kids? Not so much. As five delinquents sentenced to tons of community service, they’re more interested in getting laid, getting high, and getting out of manual labor than they are with the well-being of their community. This British counterculture spin to the sci-fi concept suggests a different descriptor to me: like Skins meets
Marilyn Monroe can serve me a malt anytime, but I don't think I could watch this film again.
Made available on June 20th 2012 as part of the Twentieth Century Fox Cinema Archives made-on-demand program, this 63-minute film is full of overly stoic, one-dimensional performances and heavy-handed storytelling, yet manages to be endearing due to its quaint depiction of a more simple time. Jeff Carter (Donald Curtis) is set on keeping the local teenagers on the right track by running a Boys Club in Middleton USA. Things seem to be going well until Danny Jones (Billy Halop) starts working at the local malt shop, The Gopher Hole. Danny starts teaching some of the guys how to play poker
Jim Jarmusch's third feature film is nothing short of extraordinary.
Jim Jarmusch. A name that should resonate with independent filmmakers and aficionados alike. Sadly, I had only heard the name whispered around film festivals and classrooms. This shiny, new, Criterion Collection Blu-ray of Down by Law was my first exposure to Jarmusch. Starring Tom Waits, John Lurie, and Roberto Benigni, Down by Law follows three characters as they escape from a New Orleans prison and make their way through the bayou - hopefully to freedom. The entire film is paced, scripted, and scored as if it were a stage drama. With every best-seller coming to theaters, successfully adapting a story
New lead Jeremy Renner delivers the goods, but his screenwriter/director doesn’t
A couple of things become clear early on in the new Bourne movie: Jeremy Renner is an excellent choice to carry on the legacy, but Tony Gilroy is not. Who is Tony Gilroy? Well, here he’s both writer and director, but in the original trilogy he was the screenwriter only. I imagine the discussions at Universal going down something like this: “We really want to continue the franchise, but Damon and Greengrass have both taken a pass. Now what do we do? Hey Tony, would you like to keep writing? What do you mean, only if you get to direct
From Roy Rogers to Jonah Hill, and from Willem Dafoe to Seann William Scott: who makes the grade?
Sometimes, you just never know what movie you want to pick out to watch. Artwork and taglines deceptively lure you in with promise of instant crowd-pleasing classics, only to deliver epic turds instead. Other times, those films that actually warrant a viewing are given such lurid presentations, that you pass 'em by completely -- assuming they're just more fodder for the never-ending direct-to-video hell we've brought upon ourselves. So, in a vain effort to spare you the extreme pain of some of the downright dreadful movies out there, and hopefully clue you in as to the existence of a few
Maverick director Aki Kaurismaki delivers a surreal, lighthearted take on a seemingly deadly serious immigration story
The setup for this film is straightforward: a poor aging French shoe-shiner helps a young African illegal immigrant evade capture by the police. However, what sounds like the basis for a political statement about immigration or a tear-jerker friendship between the unlikely pair is instead transformed into a surreal fable about the innate goodness of man as imagined by maverick Finnish writer/director Aki Kaurismaki. Recalling the fairy-tale trappings of fellow French-language films by director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, such as Amelie and The City of Lost Children, Kaurismaki’s latest film is more given to flights of fancy and scenes of visual wonder
The latest installment of the writer/director's Chronicles of Brooklyn series is a frustrating misfire.
It’s summer in Brooklyn and tensions flare between the old guard and the new, until one man shatters the silence with a swift, shocking act. And all the while, Mookie delivers his pizzas. Because he’s got to get paid. That could be a plot synopsis for both Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing (1989) and his new drama Red Hook Summer, which opens on Friday in New York. The former was an incendiary provocation that remains an iconic snapshot of ethnically disharmonious 1980s New York. The latter revisits many of the same core issues of race, gentrification, and tattered relationships,
The film is one entertaining, but slightly bumpy, ride.
The third James Bond movie, Goldfinger, swung the franchise into full gear after Dr. No and From Russia with Love. Sean Connery's suave performance and Guy Hamilton's direction steer the Bond films into the foolproof template that they've followed for every succeeding film. The convergence of elements that carried over to the rest of the Bond films - the explosive pre-title sequence, the smart feisty Bond girls, dry humor even in the face of unspeakable danger, outrageous gadgets, and exotic locales. By the time Goldfinger became a hit, James Bond, his girls, and his gadgets spawned trading cards, comic
Gurzi's debut looks the part but lacks a certain something.
Directed, written and produced by Jeremiah Gurzi, Heaven Strewn is a well-made motion picture with some interesting cinematic touches. It is a fairly average film overall, but Gurzi shows potential in rendering characters and capturing environments in a somewhat classic sense. His approach is somewhat old school and that benefits the soft, desert-kissed noir a fair bit. Gurzi, a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, received the 2010 Panavision first-time filmmaker grant package. Through this, he gathered support from the Eastman Kodak Company and showed Heaven Strewn completely in 16mm Eastman Kodak film stock using anamorphic prime
Toshirō Mifune is Musashi Miyamoto in this historical epic.
During the month of August, TCM celebrates actors with the month-long Summer of Stars where each day focuses on a particular actor or actress. That Toshirō Mifune is the only foreign-language actor to be spotlighted speaks to the consistent high caliber of his work. The programming day begins with a run of six films from Mifune wll-known collaboration with director Akira Kurosawa, such as Seven Samurai. During primetime TCM presents The Samurai Trilogy, which was just recently released on Blu-ray by The Criterion Collection. In it, Mifune plays a character from 16 to 28, which allows his talents as actor
When a man reveals his misdeed to his wife, she makes him pay in spades.
After George and Virginia Mason bid adieu to their deliciously cheeky friend Jane before boarding their flight, it looks as though it’ll be a typical day in the life of a well-to-do couple—but in some far off locale. As Virginia, played by Academy Award-winner Anne Baxter (The Razor’s Edge, All About Eve, The Ten Commandments) lights up her post-takeoff cigarette, she remarks, “I’ve never seen someone try so hard to be typical.” George (played by longtime Days of Our Lives actor Macdonald Carey) shrugs off the comment as though it’s one of the more benign barbs his spouse has directed
Looking for truth, love and a better exchange rate on the Won in a stretch limo.
When you go to a David Cronenberg film you never know which DC made it. Is it the Baron of Blood who brought us the half-man-half-insect of The Fly, bloodthirsty zombies in Rabid, and exploding heads in Scanners? Or, is it the Brooding Auteur who tortures his characters souls in Dead Ringers, Crash, or A History of Violence? In either case, upon entering the theater, you may imagine Jeff Goldblum whispering in your ear, “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” In his latest creation, Cosmopolis, Cronenberg does create a world full of fear, faithlessness, and doubt. And Cronenberg fans will be
For fans only. The rest of us tuned out long ago.
When Leverage first aired on TNT several years back, the modern-day spin on the classic espionage series Mission: Impossible seemed like a novel one. Sadly, by the time the second season rolled around, the show's writers had already found themselves becoming formulaic and repetitive — a routine that kept on going until, finally, the whole series felt like a needle stuck in a groove. So, when you roll around to the fourth season, where do you take your characters when you don't have all that much going on in terms of writing and delivery (not to mention plot) in the
Worth a watch, but hard to get involved with on a deeper level.
I think we have a lot to learn from other cultures, especially ancient cultures. That's why my interest was peaked by Nicholas Polizzi's documentary The Sacred Science. This film follows eight people from around the world suffering from varying illnesses. The patients in this story have diseases as severe as cancer and Parkinson's Disease to depression and alcoholism. They choose to leave western medicine and everything else behind for 30 days and live in the Amazon jungles of Peru to try the cures of the indigenous medicine men. The film follows them over the 30 days with both patient interviews
A new documentary on Bob Marley might just teach me it's about the music not the posturing.
In my mind there is a connection between Bob Marley and Che Guevera. I doubt the two ever met and I have no idea if the musician and the revolutionary contained any shared political views, but I can't shake the feeling that they are connected in some way. I supsect that, in reality, this comes from their tendency to have their likeness worn by college students everywhere who neither know Marley's music beyond Legend, his greatest-hits package, nor Guevera beyond the fighting-the-man posturing. Perhaps that's what they have in common - their fans tendency to annoy me. Which is likely
Welcome to the basement where the dead things live and where gothic horror subject matter makes a welcome return.
Deadgirl (2008) directed by Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel stars Shiloh Fernandez as Rickie, Noah Segan as JT, Candide Accola as Joann, and Jenny Spain as the Deadgirl. Back in the day, when Gothic horror was less about the sexual crisis of sparkly vampires and more about the sublime and seedier side of the human condition and the morals of the age, the troubling quality of a horror tale usually lay under the surface of the gore that invariably splattered itself around the tattered surface, to shock and titillate the bourgeoisie. Deadgirl is a little like that. Oh, there are
In terms of its importance to the franchise, it's significant in several ways.
From Russia with Love, (1963) directed by Terence Young (Dr. No, Thunderball, Wait Until Dark, and Inchon), has two beginnings, both of which, in classic Hollywood style, foreshadow future action. The second in the series of Bond films, it was the first to use the pre-title action sequence which became a hallmark of the franchise. Before the titles roll, we meet the assassin, Captain Nash (Robert Shaw). Even though I was a fan of Shaw for his work in the TV adventure, The Buccaneers (1956-7), I didn't recognize him in From Russia with Love (the first time I saw
Thankfully, it doesn't take itself too seriously.
Lonely women on New Year's Eve become easy prey for a misogynistic maniac whose resolution is to kill. Seriously, that is the only description you'll find on the back of the box. Honestly though, you just bought a movie titled New Year's Evil; did you expect anything more? When you pop your copy of New Year's Evil into your fancy-shmancy DVD player, the first thing you'll see is a prompt asking you to choose between the film, and its trailer. The trailer is the only extra on the disc, but it is worth it. It's not quite as good as
Over 42 hours of classic British costume drama.
Besides music, one of the greatest British exports in the field of entertainment is the “costume drama.” Programs such as Upstairs, Downstairs, Lost Empires and Brideshead Revisited are just a few examples of this genre, and nobody does it better than the Brits. With this in mind, Acorn has just released an extraordinary 15-DVD box set, The Costume Drama Classic Collection. It is an embarrassment of riches, beginning with a two-disc documentary, The Story of the Costume Drama. The Story of the Costume Drama (2008) is a five-episode documentary which aired on ITV in England and on PBS in the
Here's the one that started it all.
Welcome to the first assignment of Operation: BOND as Cinema Sentries celebrates the 50th anniversary of the James Bond franchise with a review of each film up to the release of Skyfall, and other surprises. So without further ado, let's get started. Although the sixth novel in the series by Ian Fleming, Dr. No is James Bond's debut on the silver screen and turned Sean Connery into an international star. It serves as a template as so many of the signature elements found within are repeated throughout the series, from the Maurice Binder's opening gun-barrel sequence to Monty Norman's
Documentary ace Morgan Spurlock misses the mark with this uninspired take on male grooming.
Morgan Spurlock continues his prolific output of documentary feature films with this look at modern male grooming. While the topic is ripe for both ridicule and in-depth study, he mostly squanders the opportunity this time around with this occasionally amusing but far from enlightening film. Spurlock surely knows by now that he’s the biggest draw for his films, and yet he mostly stays in the background here, aside from a shocking grooming episode that finds him driving his own son to tears when he shaves off his signature porn ‘stache. Executive producers Jason Bateman and Will Arnett actually get the
An enjoyable, exploitative throwback to Mel Gibson's cinematic past.
Of all the fallen Mels out there eager to make a comeback (Mel B., Mel C., Mel Sharples) with the whole world, perhaps none struggles as much as Mel Gibson. More than half a decade after his initial fall from the limelight, everything he has ever said and done since then has been highly publicized and scrutinized alike — everything except the movies he has made, that is. Get the Gringo finds Mel returning to the tough, imperfect type of character we all used to love him so much for. Sadly, the film received next to no theatrical distribution in
The band impresses on their second world tour.
When James Brown died in 2006, the title of "hardest working man in show business" was vacated. Jack White might have a shot earning the designation at the pace he keeps himself occupied as musician and producer, putting out a steady stream of tunes over the years, including a James Bond theme, and sharing some of the spotlight to shine it on legends like Loretta Lynn and Wanda Jackson. In the latter half of the previous decade, during breaks from The White Stripes, he formed a quartet with guitarist Brendan Benson, bassist Jack Lawrence, and drummer Patrick Keeler as
Just because you’re not doing wrong doesn’t mean you’re doing right.
Stone (2010) directed by John Curran stars Robert De Niro as Jack Mabry, Edward Norton as Gerald ”Stone” Creeson, Milla Jovovich as Lucetta Creeson, Frances Conroy as Madylyn Maybry, and Peter Lewis as the Warden. It starts with a bee. It's not a huge big thing, the buzzing of that bee, the noise of it banging against a window looking for a way in. The Mabrys’ house is located out in the country side, fields all around. Jack (Enver Gjokaj) is sitting in front of the TV in his recliner and his young wife (Pepper Brinkley) is taking their daughter
Turner Classic Movies' 10th annual August showcase features 27 films never before seen on the channel.
For normal people, August is all about beaches, barbeques and basking in the sun. But for classic-film fans like me, in front of the TV is the place to be this month, as Turner Classic Movies presents Summer Under the Stars, a four-week block party of star-specific movie marathons. With 31 days dedicated to 31 different performers, SUTS is the perfect staycation for movie maniacs. Full days (each beginning at 6:00 AM EDT) are dedicated to old reliables like Marilyn Monroe (this Saturday, August 4), James Cagney (August 14), and Gary Cooper (August 26), as well as lesser-known personalities, like early 1930s Warner Bros. leading lady Kay
The Gonds used to serve their Kroton masters until the Doctor came to lead them to freedom.
When this reviewer last visited with the Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, it was the beginning of Season 5 in September of 1967 for the 37th story - The Tomb of the Cybermen. The Doctor was just coming into his own with the character. After a couple run-ins with the Daleks previously, he faced the other of the supervillians of the Doctor Who Universe in the Cybermen. He was accompanied by his companions Jamie (who had been with him almost from the beginning) and a recently acquired, Victoria. I claim that this storyline was a huge boost to the franchise and
An inspirational, though not completely objective, look at one man's dedication to mixed martial arts.
Occupation: Fighter chronicles eight months in the life of Chad “Savage” George, a veteran in the world of mixed martial arts, as he embarks on a journey filled with both mental and physical hardships while training in preparation for an upcoming fight. Featuring interviews with friends, family, and fellow combatants, the film seeks to shed light on the domain of full-contact sports by dismantling stereotypes and emphasizing the sacrifice and dedication required to survive and thrive as a fighter. When Chad George moved to California, it was in the hopes of becoming a successful artist. After a few sessions with
The lost forerunner to the more-delightful Frankie Avalon days of AIP.
Released only five months before he was to become a cult icon in the epic Beach Party films, singer/actor Frankie Avalon found himself in one of his first co-starring roles in this American-International Picture release. True to AIP form, the advertising campaign was about as misleading as could be — depicting the film as more of a romantic comedy than anything. But, with a hot young recording star cast just below the already established Tab Hunter, and a supporting cast consisting of Scott Brady, Jim Backus, Michael Dante, and Eva Six, it would have been pretty hard for Operation Bikini
Jacques Tourneur's beautiful 1952 Technicolor western is granted a problematic transfer from Fox Cinema Archives.
Studio made-on-demand programs like the Warner Archive and MGM’s Limited Edition Collection have been something of a mixed bag for cinephiles — one on hand, it’s allowed a significant number of obscure and/or uncommercial films to get a release they likely wouldn’t have otherwise; on the other hand, it’s offered a dumping ground for studios to shunt a lot of deserving titles into unceremoniously, with hefty price tags and underwhelming transfers as a bonus. Following Warner, MGM, and Sony is Twentieth Century Fox, who’s jumped into the MOD game with their own line, Fox Cinema Archives. Included in the first
Not a Western classic, but a very good genre film.
The story of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and the gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona has been told in film so many times I have lost count. One of the early entries was Frontier Marshal (1939), and it has just been released to DVD as part of the 20th Century Fox Cinema Archives series. Randolph Scott stars as Wyatt Earp, with a young Cesar Romero as Doc Halliday. That is not a misprint, for some reason director Allan Dwan chose to change Doc’s name from Holliday to Halliday. Name change aside though, the character of Doc remains true
Lame script and near absence of Loretta Young make this purely a Power vehicle.
Tyrone Power and his frequent co-star Loretta Young team up once again in this tale that aims to inject some history and exotic locales into its matinee trappings. Power plays a dashing French diplomat named Ferdinand de Lesseps who gets dispatched to Egypt to take over his father’s role as consul general. Young plays his sweetie back home in France, a royal with the ungainly moniker Countess Eugenie de Montijo. Left unexplained is any screenwriting justification for the completely fictional romance between these two real characters. They get just a few brief moments together at the beginning of the film,