12 items from 2017
Tom Jolliffe on the 1970s and why it is the best era in cinema history…
There will always be a great deal of debate about the best era for cinema. For my two cents I’ll say with a great deal of assurance that the best period in cinema history was the 1970’s. There was most certainly a transition through that decade which saw the gritty cinema of the late 60’s onward, into the birth of the blockbuster as we know it today.
You could almost split the 70’s into two categories, although I will make some mention of sub-categories like the Blaxploitation period too. On one hand directors were beginning to really move as far from the traditional classic Hollywood production code as they could. Boundaries were being pushed and optimism was being replaced with deeply pessimistic work. It wasn’t all happy endings. Things were getting dark, reflecting »
- Tom Jolliffe
On August 20, 2017, Jerry Lewis took a pratfall off this mortal coil, presumably knocking an unwitting dowager on her keister and sending a surprised cop into an open manhole on his way out. The durable enfant terrible was all of 91 years when he finally left the building though he had been making spirited public appearances as recently as January of this year.
For the inquisitive Jerry fan, Shawn Levy’s 1997 King of Comedy: The Life and Art of Jerry Lewis, remains the first and last stop for the straight scoop on America’s premiere nudnik. Levy, who endured the full fury of the comedian’s legendary wrath to get his story, is as admiring of his subject’s accomplishments as he was repelled by his whiplash mood swings. The hard knock apprenticeship in the Catskills, the Freudian-fueled soap opera of his partnership with Dean Martin, the boastful sex-capades, they’re all there and then some. »
- Charlie Largent
As the film that bridges the two decades of Mario Bava’s output as a director, 1970’s Hatchet for the Honeymoon feels strangely trapped between two worlds. It contains the traces of gothic horror with which Bava made his name, as well as elements of the supernatural and the psychosexual leanings of the giallo genre he more or less helped create. At the same time, it’s steeped in dazzling colors and psychedelia—it feels seedier than his usual output even though it’s far less graphic than some of his other works.
Stephen Forsyth plays John Harrington, working at a bridal dress factory managed by his older wife, Mildred (Laura Betti), with whom he shares very little love. He has a proclivity for watching young women wear bridal gowns and then murdering them; one day, however, he meets and gradually falls in love with Helen (Dagmar Lassandar), one of »
- Patrick Bromley
Though he worked across a number of genres, be it fantasy with Hercules in the Haunted World, science fiction with Planet of the Vampires or the crime thriller with Rabid Dogs, the great Mario Bava will forever be most closely associated with horror. His work in the genre is both groundbreaking and legendary, its influence felt across a wide swath of filmmakers and films. Traces of his gothic horror movies can be seen as recently as 2015’s Crimson Peak, while his 1971 effort A Bay of Blood inspired countless slashers, none more than Friday the 13th. It is his 1963 thriller Evil Eye, however, that would help create a genre both known and beloved by fans of Italian horror: the giallo film.
The “giallo,” as it is commonly known, refers to a style of paperback mysteries sold in Italy beginning in the late 1920s; the title “giallo” refers to the yellow covers adorning these cheap, »
- Patrick Bromley
What a great sales hook — a feature film with a Bernard Herrmann music score that we hadn’t heard of. And one of the writers was Martin Scorsese, before Boxcar Bertha and Mean Streets! But wait, it isn’t as simple as that. The new release is more than a little confusing. Its own ad copy first calls this Dutch production ‘obscure,’ and not four sentences later describes it as a ‘classic exploitation film.’
Blu-ray + DVD
1969 / Color / 1:37 flat full frame (should be widescreen) / 91 min. / Bezeten – Het gat in de muur / Street Date May 9, 2017 / 34.95
Starring: Alexandra Stewart, Dieter Geissler, Tom van Beek, Donald Jones, Elisabeth Versluys, Marijke Boonstra, Vibeke, Michael Krebs, Hasmig Terveen, Fons Rademakers, Victoria Naelin, Adrian Brine, Sara Heyblom.
Film Editor: Henri Rust
Original Music: Bernard Herrmann
Produced by Pim de la Parra, »
- Glenn Erickson
When it comes to discussing ’60s British horror, most conversations usually begin and end with Hammer’s gothics and their sleazy derivatives. Mind you, it’s not hard to see why—the studio practically revived the genre in the UK during the late ’50s, and competitors would have to be fools to not want to ride their coattails, creating their own bloody (and occasionally brilliant) gothics chock-full of sex and violence. But the ’60s also saw the rise of a different, darker sub-genre—the modern psychological thriller, birthed from Alfred Hitchcock’s visual vocabulary and directors focused less on the supernatural and more on the depths of human cruelty and depravity. These thrillers are violent, sexual, and no stranger to controversy, and on today’s entry of the Crypt of Curiosities, we’ll be looking at three of the best and most noteworthy films.
The first big British thriller of »
- Perry Ruhland
Martin Scorsese famously considered becoming a priest before taking another path, and he clearly never lost the evangelical impulse. In the 38 years since Scorsese used his influence and finances to restore and rerelease Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom, he has done more to spread the gospel of cinema than any other director in film history, devoting countless hours to film preservation and education while simultaneously amassing a body of work that in its breadth, depth, and quality rivals that of any of the masters his scholarly efforts aspire to honor. In 2007 Scorsese embarked on one of his most important […] »
- Jim Hemphill
An experimental film by an Irish playwright, shot in New York with a silent comedian at the twilight of his career? Samuel Beckett’s inquiry into the nature of movies (and existence?) befuddled viewers not versed in film theory; Ross Lipman’s retrospective documentary about its making asks all the questions and gets some good answers.
First there’s the film itself, called just Film from 1965. By that year our high school textbooks had already enshrined Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot as a key item for introducing kids to modern theater, existentialism, etc. … the California school system was pretty progressive in those days. But Beckett had a yen to say something in the film medium, and his publisher Barney Rosset helped him put a movie together. The Milestone Cinematheque presents the UCLA Film & Television Archive’s restoration of Film on its own disc, accompanied by a videotaped TV production »
- Glenn Erickson
As this year’s awards season comes to an end this weekend, if history has proven anything, it’s that one must not judge a film’s legacy by the amount of trophies or box-office it receives. In fact, it’s often quite the contrary: as the years go on, under-appreciated (or even initially mis-understood) films start to find an audience and are prime for a re-evaluation. A new video essay explores this process, primarily through three paramount examples, and how time is perhaps the only thing that matters.
Coming from Andrew Saladino’s The Royal Ocean Film Society, the five-minute video essay The Story of the Re-Evaluated is a brief overview of this, showing the initial reception of Michael Cimino‘s ambitious flop Heaven’s Gate, Michael Powell‘s dark character study Peeping Tom, and Eric von Stroheim‘s studio-mangled Greed, and how these films have been re-embraced.
In the end, »
- Jordan Raup
Early in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1975 film Fox and His Friends, the naive protagonist Franz Biberkopf (played by Fassbinder himself) shows he’s not quite as naive or, at least, not quite as innocent as we may be led to believe through the remainder of the film. Biberkopf, who goes by the nickname Fox, plays the lottery as if it’s some religious ritual, filled with hope and faith that his fortunes will change quickly when change sees it’s fit to come his way. Fretful because he doesn’t have the money to purchase his ticket, Fox carries out a swindle so naturally that he’s surely done it before. Or perhaps Fassbinder is saying this is natural because this is just how humans behave. In either case, Fox enters a flower shop, flirts lightly with the gay florist in order to gain trust and instill desire, and then »
- Trevor Berrett
After 2015‘s The Visit, writer-director-producer M Night Shyamalan again teams with indie studio Blumhouse to make another lean genre piece, albeit rather less sinewy than that twisty, blackly comic found-footage flick. In Split, James McAvoy wears a variety outfits as Kevin a sufferer of dissociative personality disorder whose 23 other personalities all vie for their time “in the light”, to borrow a phrase from his psychiatrist, Dr Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley).
See related Power Rangers, boob armour, and impractical costumes
We don’t get to see every one of the fractured people tucked away in Kevin’s mind, but the ones we do meet include overbearing mother figure, Patricia; Hedwig, a nine-year-old kid who likes hip-hop; and Dennis, a chap who leers through huge spectacles like his namesake, Dennis Nilsen. »
Ryan Lambie Jan 17, 2017
Writer-director M Night Shyamalan talks about his new film, Split, its making, themes and lots more...
Following the expensive Will Smith sci-fi vehicle After Earth in 2013, M Night Shyamalan returned two years later with lean, found-footage horror thriller, The Visit. Made for a tiny fraction of After Earth's investment, it marked something of a turning point for the writer-director: tense, quirky and at times blackly amusing, it was Shyamalan's lowest-budget film since the 90s, and also his most warmly received piece since 2002's Signs.
The partnership between Shyamalan and prolific indie producer Jason Blum - who's also taken such filmmakers as Barry Levinson, James DeMonaco and Damien Chazelle under his creative wing - is clearly an effective one, since the two have reunited for another movie, Split.
Starring James McAvoy as an unpredictable kidnapper suffering from dissociative identity disorder, »
12 items from 2017
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