Hailing from that time before the Southern Gothic tale somehow transformed into hicksploitation, Suddenly, Last Summer extends from the creative talents of both Tennessee Williams and Gore Vidal and co-stars Montgomery Clift. That right there should indicate to most out-ward viewers there will be a certain subject matter hidden in the story's proverbial closet. In the hands of The Barefoot Contessa writer/director Joseph L. Mankiewicz, however, the subdued element of homosexuality is about as subtle as, well, Liberace. And yet, somehow, they got away with it in 1959, mainly thanks to an element many exploitation filmmakers of the time would
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Odd, compelling, and strangely satisfying, this unique and controversial film returns to shock contemporary audiences for entirely different reasons.
One of Dalton Trumbo's last pseudonymous screenplays before the blacklist was broken, this is a stylish Western noir.
Watching older movies, it's fun to remember sometimes how much all media is created as much by the times as it is by its creators. A lot of times, this is basically what reviewers mean when they call something 'dated' - it looks like the time it's from. Timelessness is overrated, to my mind, and highly subjective, anyway. Terror in a Texas Town, a Western that plays a little like a film noir, shows signs of being a movie that was made very much with television in the back of its mind. The opening sequence of the movie shows Sterling
An oddball mix of crime drama and horror (with heavy doses of slapsstick thrown in) make for an interesting mix.
As I have been watching and reviewing more and more Italian films, I have come to realize that I tend to lump a couple of genres in together. Certainly, I use "giallo" and "Italian horror" interchangeably even though they aren’t always the same thing. "Giallo" literally means “yellow” in Italian and comes from a type of cheap mystery novel published in Italy that came in a yellow cover. Many of those stories were made into cheap Italian films, which started as fairly straight forward crime thrillers but over time became more lurid and graphically violent with increasing horror elements. It's
The ensemble generates laughs, but the movie feels like watching improv actors early in the workshop phase rather than a polished product.
From the writers of Neighbors (2014), The House (2017) is a silly comedy about two parents trying to raise money for their daughter's college tuition through an illegal home casino. The script is slight, coming off like an outline about the characters and scenes because there's not much substance to either. It's amusing but not very memorable. When the town pulls its scholarship fund to build a massive pool complex, Scott and Kate Johansen (Will Ferell and Amy Poehler) aren't sure how they are going to be able to afford to send their daughter to Bucknell. Their pal Frank (Jason
Don’t let the period costumes scare you away; this film is a spellbinding thriller that transcends its setting.
Sofia Coppola’s latest project is a remake of an old Clint Eastwood film based on a novel, and at first glance seems like an odd choice for her due to its Civil War setting and dramatic thriller genre. She proves to have made an astute decision with this mesmerizing film, leading to her best director win at Cannes this year. While the film seems to have been largely ignored at the U.S. box office, this new Blu-ray release will hopefully help it find its well-deserved audience. When an injured Union soldier finds refuge at an isolated girls’ boarding school in
Film Movement has quite a pair to offer, just as all of Joe Sarno's actresses do in this two-fer of classic sensual cinema.
If you've ever found yourself sitting in a darkened room with only the light of a saucy softcore selection flickering away before you, you have Joe Sarno to thank for it. A true pioneer of sexploitation cinema, the late New York City native was one of the first filmmakers to chip away at the barriers which had previously separated us from such taboo elements as birthday suits. And two of his many contributions to what would eventually go on to be known as "softcore" are on full parade here in this titillating double feature from Film Movement, both of which
Synapse Films releases Il Maestro's bizarre cult classic in three different forms, including the rare U.S. "Creepers" cut.
One of Dario Argento's most eclectic contributions to the European horror movie boom of the 1980s, Phenomena is something like an Italian cinematic variation of paella with just a dash of LSD to enhance the flavor. Equal parts giallo, horror, and a lot of other interesting juicy bits of meat, the very strange story finds young Jennifer Connelly as Jennifer Corvino, daughter of an (unseen) American movie star. Sent to a prestigious Swiss boarding school whilst daddy dearest is off shooting a flick in the Philippines (presumably with Bruno Mattei), Jennifer soon discovers she has picked a rather cumbersome time
A Fish Called Wanda Special Edition Blu-ray Review: Filled with Amazing Performances and Genuinely Funny Premises
Catching this new release would be a great investment for both super fan and those who are going fishing for the first time.
Just short of the film's 30th anniversary, Arrow Video sends a Special Edition of the classic comedy A Fish Called Wanda to store shelves and there is plenty here to be excited about. Originally released in theatres in 1988, it was a sleeper hit amongst competition such as Rain Man, Big, Die Hard, Twins, and…well, Cocktail. With tremendous word of mouth, and Roger Ebert proclaiming Wanda, “The funniest movie I have seen in a long time,” John Cleese had a huge hit on his hands. Cleese, who wrote and stars in the film, manages to take some Monty Pythonesque ideas,
A quiet, but powerful mediation on the Western crossroads and the women who inhabit them.
When it comes to filmmaking, from the past to the present, it is always men at the forefront. However, and rightly so, women have been very important and essential to cinematic storytelling. And then there is the matter of American independent cinema, which has been quite the match for female filmmakers, and director Kelly Reichardt is one of the most astute and easily influential of the "Female New Wave." With her 2016 miracle of a movie, Certain Women, she continues to make it crystal clear that her unique approach to craft and substance sublimely haunts film. Adapted from three short
Almost nothing happens at a languid pace, but Rutger Hauer's performance is captivating.
An elderly, well-dressed, well-kept man (Anthony Quayle) walks down some steps to the banks of the Seine. There, he meets Andreas (Rutger Hauer), a younger, well-dressed but decidedly less-kept man who has clearly seen better days. The older man tells the younger about how he is wealthy but that upon reading about Saint Thérèse, he has decided to live a life of poverty and charity. He can see that Andreas has fallen on hard times and offers him 200 francs. At first, Andreas refuses, but then is persuaded. He is a man of honor and only takes the money as
A must own for any fans of David Lynch.
I remember my first encounter with a David Lynch film was in 2004 during my Introduction to Film class at Butte Community College in Oroville, CA. As part of the curriculum, we were required to watch Lynch’s debut film, Eraserhead, of which I wasn’t aware until then. I remember being disturbed by the movie, and a lot of my classmates walked out shortly after the film had started. I stayed, and I ended up falling for this odd film, even though I had trouble eating chicken afterward because of one particular scene. I swore I wouldn’t watch the film again,
Gore meister makes a film with an actual plot and social commentary, results are mixed.
If Mario Bava is the grandfather of Italian horror and Dario Argento artsy-fartsy daddy figure who brought giallo to the mainstream, then Lucio Fulci is the creepy uncle doing strange things in the basement and making all the ladies feel uncomfortable at the dinner table. I’ve only seen a couple of his films but they, and his reputation, declare that as a director he was more interested in bloodletting than story, he loved gore more than any pretense of depth. That might have changed in 1972 with his film Don’t Torture a Duckling. In it, he smooths the edges off
An idiosyncratic semi-slasher that barely got a theatrical release is finally on home video, uncut and restored.
Achieving notoriety in the early '80s (at least across the pond) for being one of the Video Nasties, films legally challenged and sometimes prohibited from exhibition in the U.K., the American-made The Slayer is a slasher movie that does not quite want to be one. For certain, it has the overall structure of one: four people (two couples) go out to an isolated vacation spot, have personal tension, and then one by one are slaughtered in graphic ways. The murderer is a mystery, the deaths are gruesome and elaborate, with special make-up effects by an industry veteran. There's a final
Director Kinji Fukasaku and star Junta Sugawara team up again for more impressive results.
That "New" in the title is your tip that these films are a continuation of a previous project. In this case, the "original" was a series of five interconnected yakuza films from the same director and star. The original films proved to be so popular upon their release in the early 1970s that Toei Studio begged the talent to come back for more, leading to this mid-'70s follow-up trilogy. Unlike their predecessors, each of the films in this trilogy are unrelated to each other, with the primary constants being the director, star, genre, and theme music. The titular first film
This grim, post-apocalyptic thriller follows a familiar beat and then completely collapses in the third act.
The best thing to say about Stephen Fingleton’s feature film debut, The Survivalist, is that it completely strips away a lot of what many expect from your average movie. Here, we’re given a film with very little dialogue, almost no score, and characters that are mostly nameless. We witness as one man continues his life in a world where food is scarce, and the remaining humans will fight for the necessities to live another day. In the first 18 minutes of its 104-minute runtime, we see as the lead character, known only as Survivalist (Martin McCann) tends to his garden,
While being a fan of the music certainly adds to the enjoyment of Hype!, it's not required to learn the cautionary tale it tells.
New to the Shout Select line, Hype! offers viewers an inside look at the Seattle music scene of late '80 / early '90s, the seismic shift it caused in pop culture, and how the media exploited it. While the first two elements tell a unique story, the third seems unfortunately all too common. The late '80s were an interesting time in music. Country was turning pop and rap/hip hop was slowly on the rise. Rock music was dominated by hair metal bands, but that would change by the end of the decade. "Alternative music" was a catch-all descriptor for a
David Lowery's latest is one of the year's very best films.
Despite its October Blu-ray release, David Lowery’s A Ghost Story is not a horror movie. It’s actually the furthest thing from the genre. Yes, there is a ghost, but it doesn’t sneak up on people and try to frighten them. The ghost in this film is one that watches as time passes by on the things he held close to his heart while he was alive. It’s heartbreaking for him, and for us, to see as there are so many changes taking place, and the only thing he can do is stand there and watch. Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara
Twilight Time brings us the only film in history to feature Elvis Presley and Charles Bronson, which automatically makes it awesome by default.
Despite having appeared in several dozen movies, there are relatively few things you can actually see Elvis do on-screen. One of them is actually get a chance to act. The other is something even more amazing: Elvis Presley training under Charles Bronson. And that right there is good enough reason for me to recommend Twilight Time's new Blu-ray offering of Kid Galahad. A musical remake (uh-oh) of the 1937 original starring Edward G. Robinson, Bette Davis, and Humphrey Bogart, this 1962 color dramedy finds The King himself as a young lad fresh who journeys to the remote countryside community he
Home for the Holidays Blu-ray Review: An Unfairly Neglected, but Wickedly Funny Take on Family Dynamics
It's essential to those who want their own escape from conflicts by laughing and relating to those of other families.
All of us have them: that dysfunctional family that you don't want to deal most of the time, can barely tolerate, and find yourself at odds with. But deep down, you find yourself needing them, and wanting them around because they're your family, for better or worse. There have been many great films that depict the complications and brutal honesty between family, such as The Family Stone, The Royal Tenenbaums, Ordinary People, and even The Godfather trilogy. However, if there is one such movie that is always overlooked, it is iconic actress/director Jodie Foster's 1995 gem, Home For The Holidays.
Sergio Martino's wild giallo/poliziotteschi/comedy hybrid is just as jaw-droppingly amazing as it sounds.
An ordinary man of an artistic nature witnesses a brutal murder, only to meet a cast of kooky characters as he sets out to find the killer since the local police captain can't or won't do anything. Even if you've only ever seen one Italian giallo in your life, the aforementioned synopsis would go on to become one of the most conventional themes in an the otherwise unconventional subgenre. The motif is especially prominent in the early (and even later) works of Dario Argento, who changed both the face and style of filmmaking forever throughout the first half of the
The viewer is invested because the good guys are compelling, thanks to the writing, and charming, thanks to the cast.
In the on-going competition between Marvel Comics and DC Comics, the latter has struggled keeping pace with their movies this century, but this summer they scored a victory with Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman, their first consensus success of the DC Extended Universe and the first from either company to feature a female hero as the lead. Although it sticks to the genre's formula of concluding with a climatic battle between hero and villain and its obvious outcome, the viewer is invested because the good guys are compelling, thanks to the writing, and charming, thanks to the cast. Opening in modern-day
'80s cult horror film based on a Stephen King short story gets seriously loaded Blu-ray release.
Cult movies aren't the same as good movies. Good movies generally have decent production values, interesting stories and scripts, nuanced performances, and resonant themes. Cult movies can have any or all of the above, but can often dispense with most or even all of the markers of quality to create their cult moments. That weird scene, that creepy image, that one thing you couldn't believe you were seeing. Children of the Corn misses a lot of marks as a good movie, but it sure has more than its share of cult-making moments. The premise helps a lot - in the
Based on a Clifford Odets stageplay, this story of 50s Hollywood corruption is melodramatic candy for classic cinema fans.
The Big Knife (1955) is several things at once. It's a Hollywood movie about how awful Hollywood is. It's a noir crime story where the studio boss is the gangster and the caper never quite gets off the ground. It's a lurid melodrama with a larger than life central character who acts in larger than life overreactions right up to the end. And it's quite obviously adapted from a stage play with not a whole lot in the way of (apparent) adapting going on. It's also, for fans of classic Hollywood glitz and classic Hollywood sleaze, a lot of fun.
Keith Carradine, Linda Fiorentino, and a dolled-up Wallace Shawn highlight this fascinating piece set in Roaring Twenties Paris.
At one point in time, filmmaker Alan Rudolph described his 1988 film The Moderns ‒ a project which took him a full 12 years to nurture ‒ as "the most rejected screenplay in Hollywood." That in itself is the sort of thing which should fuel more artistically-inclined minds to take note of this underrated cult drama, particularly once you stop to take a good long look at the very sort of cinematic ilk the industry has descended into cranking out on a perpetual weekly basis ever since then. Set in 1926 Paris (and doubled by Montreal), Rudolph's fascinatingly oddball character
We need films like this, especially now more than ever.
When it comes to the romantic-comedy genre, the cliches are always there, front and center. You always get the same story: boy and girl meet, fall in love, separate for a while, and reunite because they realize that they are right for each other. This is one of the many reasons why this particular genre has really faltered. Fortunately, this year's The Big Sick, written by Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, produced by Judd Apatow, and directed by Michael Showalter, throws all of those usual tripes out of the water, while also bringing real heart and soul to a
Takeshi Kitano’s first international success is unique, enigmatic and frequently beautiful.
Off-beat and enigmatic, with a timeline that eschews strict linearity, Hana-bi (originally released in 1997 in the states as Fireworks) is a “cop movie” only insofar as the main characters are police officers, and there is violence between them and gangsters. The film’s main focus (without ever getting weepy or talky) is the response to grief and trauma - a response that includes robbing banks and shoving chopsticks into people’s eyes. Written, directed and edited by as well as starring Takeshi Kitano, Hana-bi follows detective Nishi, a man on the edge. His wife is sick, and his daughter has recently
Joe Pesci's waning career gets ahead of itself in this delightfully dumb film now available in HD from Twilight Time.
Though it may not be something I'm particularly proud of, movies from the late '90s are a source of bittersweet wisdom for me, having spent the entire duration of said era as a very devoted video store manager. It was there I discovered it was one of the few professions where you could actually benefit from being your own best customer, but I didn't necessarily watch everything that went out on the shelves. Not that we received everything released (not unless there was some sort of bulk discount involved), but I did watch an awful lot of the moving pictures
The world's first film to be made entirely with oil painting is a visually stunning work of art.
At the end of each Laika Studios feature film (Coraline, Kubo & the Two Strings, etc.), we get a time-lapsed, behind-the-scenes look into how the preceding movie was made, and we’re shown how much detail and hard work was put into crafting one particular scene. I kind of wish there was something like that at the end of Loving Vincent, a new biopic about the late Vincent van Gogh that was made entirely with oil paintings on canvas. Granted, you can find clips online, but having it readily available for viewing during the credits, especially after something as experimental and
Samuel Fuller's powerful (and still topical) look at racism gets a beautiful HD release from Sony Pictures and Twilight Time.
As someone whose entire adolescence coincided with the late '80s and early '90s, I was able to witness firsthand a remarkable movement in Hollywood during that time. It was a period on the calendar when the term "political correctness" first started to become an actual thing. Sure, it would eventually culminate in some really ridiculous casting as the years rolled by (to say nothing of what it did for a serial womanizer such as the character of James Bond), but, all in all, there was one really fascination thread in particular to emerge out of the period. For you see,
See it again on the big screen, bring your family.
In the encyclopedia of 1980s movies, Steven Spielberg gets his own volume. No other filmmaker so fully exhibits what cinema was doing in that decade than Spielberg. He directed some of the most entertaining and popular films of the decade including E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and the Indiana Jones movies. As a producer he was, perhaps, more influential, putting his distinctive aesthetic on such films as Gremlins, Goonies, Poltergeist, Back to the Future and more. Films he had his hands on are quite simply the movies of the 1980s. He helped create and shape blockbuster cinema. HIs films would influence countless