Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Jerry Almighty

I find the apologist in the media of Reverend Jerry Falwell to be fascinating. He said incredibly vulgar things about Jews, women, and homosexuals? “Yes… but he was a man of God…”

Seeing Greatness in Shadows

Army of Shadows was disappointing. I still thought the film was really good, but it didn’t blow me away like a majority of Jean-Pierre Melville’s other films. Maybe I went into the film with too high of expectations. I want to see the greatness that other people see. I’m going to be jealous if any of my fiends love the hell out of it.

Every movie review I’ve read claims that Army of Shadows is Jean-Pierre Melville’s masterpiece. I think that honor still belongs to Le Samourai.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Kay Francis Has a Posse

Loved Ernst Lubitsch’s Trouble in Paradise. It’s the most elegant pre-code talkie I’ve seen. It helps that Trouble in Paradise stars Herbert Marshall, Miriam Hopkins, and the gorgeous Kay Francis.

Kay Francis has a perfect face for black and white film. Dark eyes, dark hair, pale face…

Up next in the Ernst Lubitsch marathon, Heaven Can Wait. I also anticipate getting Melville’s Army of Shadows and Imamura's Vengeance Is Mine in the mail tomorrow.

Cowboy Blues

The teacher was wrong to show an R-rated film to her class, but still…“traumatized”?

CHICAGO - A girl and her grandparents have sued the Chicago Board of Education, alleging that a substitute teacher showed the R-rated film "Brokeback Mountain" in class.

The lawsuit claims that Jessica Turner, 12, suffered psychological distress after viewing the movie in her 8th grade class at Ashburn Community Elementary School last year.

The film, which won three Oscars, depicts two cowboys who conceal their homosexual affair.

Turner and her grandparents, Kenneth and LaVerne Richardson, are seeking around $500,000 in damages.

"It is very important to me that my children not be exposed to this," said Kenneth Richardson, Turner's guardian. "The teacher knew she was not supposed to do this."

According to the lawsuit filed Friday in Cook County Circuit Court, the video was shown without permission from the students' parents and guardians.

The lawsuit also names Ashburn Principal Jewel Diaz and a substitute teacher, referred to as "Ms. Buford."

The substitute asked a student to shut the classroom door at the West Side school, saying: "What happens in Ms. Buford's class stays in Ms. Buford's class," according to the lawsuit.

Richardson said his granddaughter was traumatized by the movie and had to undergo psychological treatment and counseling.

In 2005, Richardson complained to school administrators about reading material that he said included curse words.

"This was the last straw," he said. "I feel the lawsuit was necessary because of the warning I had already given them on the literature they were giving out to children to read. I told them it was against our faith."

Messages left over the weekend with CPS officials were not immediately returned.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Giants in the Sky

Here is video of the brillaint number 'Giants in the Sky' from Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods.

I also tried to find video of 'No One is Alone' but failed.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

California Knows How to Party

To Live and Die in L.A. is a vastly underrated movie. I just watched it again with a friend of mine this afternoon. Too many people pass it off as an eighties artifact. While it doesn’t rise to the level of director William Friedkin’s other well known cop film, The French Connection, it does merit a viewing only if to see the outrageous car chase that arrives in the second half of the movie. It easily tops the car chase from The French Connection with sheer intensity.

Plus To Live and Die in L.A. has the added bonus of having William L. Petersen… and for most of the movie he’s drinking whiskey and fantasying about jumping off a bridge. You just know some serious shit is going to go down in the movie.

Lubitsch Touch

In the past two weeks Ernst Lubitsch has become one of my favorite directors. I must admit that up until recently the only film I had seen of his was Ninotchka, which I enjoyed immensely. Any film that features the tagline, “Garbo Laughs!” is ok with me.

The Ernst Lubitsch film that really knocked me out was To Be or Not to Be, which I would describe as a “nightmare comedy” in the vein of Dr. Strangelove and After Hours. Don’t be fooled by the light poster art. To Be or Not to Be is as dark as a cup of coffee at a poetry slam. I can’t believe such a motion picture could have been made and released in 1942.

The film is about a polish theatrical troupe who get mixed up in espionage with the occupying Nazis and must defeat them using Mission Impossible type maneuvers. To Be Or Not to Be stars Jack Benny and Carole Lombard, both in career best performances. Watching Jack Benny’s amoral character fuck with high ranking Nazi officials makes you ponder if he was perhaps a lost Marx Brother.

To Be Or Not to Be was Carole Lombard’s last movie. She died after this picture was made in a plane crash.

Also, I got a chance to take in Lubitsch’s excellent The Shop Around the Corner last night. The Shop Around the Corner was the basis for the pretty good You’ve Got Mail.

The Shop Around the Corner is a much lighter film than To Be or Not to Be… it’s a romance, but it still has darkness all around it’s edges. The film has plenty of loneliness and heartbreak to go around… but it has lots of romance too!

Trouble in Paradise is expected today in the mail from Netflix.

God, That's Good

Am I the only one who finds this incredibly amusing? It’s part of the YouTube phenomenon known as “The Blasphemy Challenge” where you make a video blog entry rejecting God and the Holy Spirit.

Also enjoy A Nonbeliever Reads the Bible while you're at it.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Chilling Effect

An hour or two ago on Fox News there was a panel discussing a recent radio bit that aired on the Opie & Anthony radio show on XM Satellite Radio. The bit consisted of the two shock jocks talking to a degenerate character over the phone about the possibility of raping Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The panel wasn’t discussing the merits of the bit, which most people would consider pretty poor, but about how they can stop the radio show. They talked a great deal about how we Americans take the idea of the 1st Amendment too far and that there should be limits to speech in the United States.


The MPAA has recently announced that they will give a motion picture an R rating if the filmmakers “glamorize” smoking unless the “glamorization” of the smoking takes place in a historical context.

What the fuck? The continuation of the MPAA acting as the morality police…

I feel very uncomfortable.

Hail Brando!

I finally got around to watching Joseph L. Mankiewicz's version of Julius Casear with Marlon Brando last night. I thought the film was pretty good overall. Production-wise, It reminded me a lot of Kurosawa's Throne of Blood. Minimalist scenes with a bit of spectacle thrown in.

Unless you're a Bard freak, the only reason to watch the motion picture is to see the awesome performance by Marlon Brando as the somewhat treacherous Mark Antony. I say "somewhat" because while not participating in the actual assassination of Julius Caesar, he did take advantage of the new opening as all mighty leader of Rome.

Brando is at the height of his early fame with this picture. The man even gets top billing over James Mason, and he was Captain Nemo!

Fifteen Film Noir

I've been watching a lot of film noir recently... so, I decided to post a list of some of my favorite films from the genre as recommendations.

I originally intended to post ten titles, but my first attempt at a reasonable list came out to forty three titles. After grudgingly whittling my list down for twenty minutes, I came to fifteen titles. Most of the titles are pretty famous and are essentials of film noir. Plus, they're all available on DVD.

All are American releases with the exception of The Third Man and Night and the City, which were U.K/American co-productions. I chose to keep it all American because while film noir has roots in early German and French cinema, It was the Hollywood filmmakers of the 1940's and 50's in the United States that really defined the style and rules of the genre.

If you haven't seen them yet, and are in the mood for dangerous dames, hired gunmen, and unnecessary shadows... then seek them out by all means necessary!

  • THE MALTESE FALCON (John Huston, 1941)
  • DOUBLE INDEMNITY (Billy Wilder, 1944)
  • THE THIRD MAN (Carol Reed, 1949)
  • THE BIG SLEEP (Howard Hawks, 1946)
  • CROSSFIRE (Edward Dmytryk, 1947)
  • NIGHT AND THE CITY (Jules Dassin, 1950)
  • PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET (Samuel Fuller, 1953)
  • THE KILLING (Stanley Kubrick, 1956)
  • SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS (Alexander Mackendrick, 1957)
  • TOUCH OF EVIL (Orson Welles, 1958)
  • THE LONG GOODBYE (Robert Altman, 1974)
  • FARGO (Joel & Ethan Coen, 1996)
  • L.A. CONFIDENTIAL (Curtis Hanson, 1997)
  • BLADE RUNNER (Ridley Scott, 1982)
  • SIN CITY (Robert Rodriquez & Frank Miller, 2005)