Friday, October 31, 2008

What Will Be the Halloween Costumes for 2008?

Happy Halloween!

Another Halloween-- and on Friday, so it'll be crazy. What will be the "big" costumes this year (for us adults)? The two obvious ones are Sarah Palin and Heath Ledger's Joker. And of course Barak Obama and John McCain, et. al.

I'm hearing that Amy Winehouse is a popular choice for the ladies (again).

What about the summer blockbusters outside of The Dark Knight? I bet they'll be a few (thin haired) Indiana Jones's out there. I think, unless you buy it. Iron Man will be a bit too complicated. I can easily see the ladies dusting off their Sex and the City duds from their summer movie outing. I can see a few goofball WALL•Es and Kung Fu Pandas coming out too-- but not many.

TV isn't giving us much in the way of Halloween costumes these days. Possibly a Mad Men contingent might form, although you'd have to have a group to really pull it off.

October Movie Watching

October is a bit of an in-between month for movies, but a few gems sometimes emerge that get Oscar/critical/popular reaction.

I saw a whopping eight films theatrically this month, including some catch up. The pre-October released films I saw were: the French thriller Tell No One, the popcorner Eagle Eye, and the Ricky Gervais-starrer Ghost Town. Should have left them be (or at least waited for DVD)!

The five October releases I saw were all worthwhile. Religulous was criticized for being too "light," but I think it was smart to take that tone considering the subject matter, and I was glad that it kept that tone throughout and didn't suddenly get "serious." W. was a mixed bag. I think Oliver Stone should have just done what he clearly wanted to do and slam Bush, rather than trying to come up with a "balanced" character study-- it would have made for a better movie. Also: W. took on FAR too much in terms of its timeline and left itself open for criticism about what was left out (the actual 9/11 day, the 2000 election, his daughters, etc.) Happy-Go-Lucky had the most annoying trailer I've seen in a while and I was like "hell, no!" even though I always seem to like Mike Leigh's films. When it got 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, I knew I had to give it a try. It was imperfect, but I enjoyed it's originality. Rachel Getting Married was tough to watch at first, but ultimately I thought it was very well done, with many excellent performances (I especially liked seeing Debra Winger back on the silver screen). Changeling was solid but left me kind of "eh" in the end. SPOILER ALERT: Why did we need to see the execution? Plus: we needed to see Jolie's relationship with her child a bit more if we were to connect with her loss later. Plus, an historical gaffe: the 1934/35 Oscars were NOT broadcast. But, I kept thinking about the movie... and so I had a change of heart on it a few days later and in general would recommended it, if mildly.

On TCM, I caught quite a few films: Headin' Home (a mild silent starring Babe Ruth-- looking thin!), The Informer (a re-watch: it's been a very long time and I was worried I'd like it less, but I still think it's a great film [if a little "broad"]), Playtime (Tati's film was more Mon Oncle than M. Hulot's Holiday-- I liked a few gags [like the broken glass door bit], but ultimately found the film hard to stomach), The Night of the Iguana (pretty good; Burton interesting in it), and No Man of Her Own (Gable and Lombard's only film together has a terrific first 2/3 and the last 1/3 is just nothing-- a squandered opportunity).

Thursday, October 30, 2008

70th Anniversary of Radio's "The War of the Worlds"

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the radio broadcast of "The War of the Worlds" (aired: October 30, 1938)-- Orson Welles and company's Halloween Eve "fright."

It's so inconceivable in the age of Photoshop and YouTube hoaxes, to think that anyone believed this was a real news report, but there is a definite realism about it (the first half, anyway).

Orson Welles told Peter Bogdanovich (regarding his beforehand feeling of the kind of response the broadcast would get): "The kind of response, yes— that was merrily anticipated by us all. The size of it, of course, was flabbergasting. Six minutes after we'd gone on the air, the switchboards in radio stations right across the country were lighting up like Christmas trees. Houses were emptying, churches were filling up; from Nashville to Minneapolis there was wailing in the street and the rending of garments. Twenty minutes in, and we had a control room full of very bewildered cops. They didn't know who to arrest or for what, but they did lend a certain tone to the remainder of the broadcast. We began to realize, as we plowed on with the destruction of New Jersey, that the extent of our American lunatic fringe had been underestimated."

John Houseman in his memoir Run-Through: "The... hours [following the broadcast] were a nightmare. The building was suddenly full of people and dark-blue uniforms. Hustled out of the studio, we were locked into a small back office on another floor. Here we sat incommunicado while network employees were busily collecting, destroying, or locking up all scripts and records of the broadcast. Finally the Press was let loose upon us, ravening for horror. How many deaths had we heard of? (Implying they knew of thousands.) What did we know of the fatal stampede in a Jersey hall? (Implying it was one of many.) .... Hours later, instead of arresting us, they let us out a back way and we scurried down to the theatre like hunted animals to their hole...."

You can download the broadcast at the Internet Archive.

Link to Wikipedia page.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Onelinereview's Film Masterpieces Checklist: 1920s (Part II- 1927 to 1929)

Twenty-Four Film Masterpieces, 1920s:

1. Greed (1924/ US/ d. Erich von Stroheim) [photo, above] (****)

2. The Gold Rush (1925/ US/ d. Charles Chaplin) (****)

3. Napoleon (1927/ Fr./ d. Abel Gance) (****)

4. The Last Laugh (1924/ Ger. D. F. W. Murnau) (****)

5. Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ (1925/ US/ d. Fred Niblo) (****)

6. Battleship Potemkin (1925/ USSR/ d. Sergei Eisenstein) (****)

7. The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926/ Ger./ d. Lotte Reiniger) (****)

8. The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (1927/ US/ d. Ernst Lubitsch) (*** 1/2)

9. The Gaucho (1927/ US/ d. F. Richard Jones) (*** 1/2)

10. The General(1927/ US/ d. Buster Keaton, Clyde Bruckman) (*** 1/2)

11. Strike (1925/ USSR/ d. Sergei Eisenstein) (*** 1/2)

12. Safety Last (1923/ US/ Fred Newmeyer, Sam Taylor) (*** 1/2)

13. Die Nibelungen: Kriemhild’s Revenge (1924/ Ger./ d. Fritz Lang) (***)

14. The Wind (1928/ US/ d. Victor Sjostrom) (***)

15. Nanook of the North (1922/ US/ d. Robert Flaherty) (***)

16. Blackmail (1929/ UK/ d. Alfred Hitchcock) (***)

17. The Last Command (1928/ US/ d. Josef von Sternberg) (***)

18. Pandora’s Box (1928/ Ger./ d. G. W. Pabst) (***)

19. White Shadows in the South Seas (1929/ US/ d. W. S. Van Dyke, Robert J. Flaherty) (***)

20. Man With A Movie Camera (1929/ USSR/ d. Dziga Vertov) (***)

21. The Love Parade (1929/ US/ d. Ernest Lubitsch) (***)

22. Sunrise (1927/ US/ d. F. W. Murnau) (***)

23. October (1928/ USSR/ d. Sergei Eisenstein) (***)

24. Street Angel (1928/ US/ d. Frank Borzage) (***)

Film Masterpieces Checklist 1927-29:

Alibi (US/ d. Roland West) (***)
Applause (US/ d. Rouben Mamoulian) (***)
* Asphalt (Ger./ d. Joe May)
Blackmail (UK/ d. Alfred Hitchcock) (***)
The Broadway Melody (US/ d. Harry Beaumont)
* Bulldog Drummond (US/ d. F. Richard Jones)
* A Cottage on Dartmoor (UK, Swe./ d. Anthony Asquith)
Diary of a Lost Girl (Ger./ D. G. W. Pabst) (** 1/2)
Disraeli (US/ d. Alfred E. Green) (**)
The Divine Lady (US/ d. Frank Lloyd) (** 1/2)
* Four Feathers (US/ d. Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack, Lothar Mendes)
The General Line/ Old and the New (USSR/ d. Sergei Eisenstein, Grigori Aleksandrov) (** 1/2)
Hallelujah! (US/ d. King Vidor) (** 1/2)
* The Iron Mask (US/ d. Allan Dwan)
The Love Parade (US/ d. Ernest Lubitsch) (***)
Man With A Movie Camera (USSR/ d. Dziga Vertov) (***)
* The New Babylon (USSR/ d. Grigori Kozintsev, Leonid Trauberg)
Noah’s Ark (US/ d. Michael Curtiz) (* 1/2)
Pandora’s Box (Ger./ d. G. W. Pabst) (***)
Queen Kelly (US/ d. Erich von Stroheim) (** 1/2)
* Seven Footprints to Satan (US/ d. Benjamin Christensen)
* A Throw of Dice (UK, India, Germany/ d. Frank Osten)
The Virginian (US/ d. Victor Fleming)
The White Hell of Pitz Palu (Ger./ d. G. W. Pabst, Arnold Fanck) (**)

Arsenal (USSR, Ukraine/ d. Aleksandr Dovzhenko) (**)
* Beggars of Life (US/ d. William Wellman)
The Cameraman (US/ Edward Sedgwick) (** 1/2)
The Crowd (US/ d. King Vidor) (**)
The Docks of New York (US/ d. Josef von Sternberg)
The Fall of the House of Usher (Fr./ d. Jean Epstein) (**)
* Hangman’s House (US/ d. John Ford)
The Italian Straw Hat (Fr./ d. Rene Clair) (* 1/2)
The Last Command (US/ d. Josef von Sternberg) (***)
* Lonesome (US/ d. Pal Fejos)
The Man Who Laughs (US/ d. Paul Leni)
October (USSR/ d. Sergei Eisenstein) (***)
The Passion of Joan of Arc (Fr./ d. Carl Theodor Dreyer)
* The Patsy (US/ d. King Vidor)
Sadie Thompson (US/ d. Raoul Walsh)
* Scampolo (It./ d. Augusto Genina)
Show People (US/ d. King Vidor) (***)
Spies (Ger./ d. Fritz Lang) (**)
Steamboat Bill, Jr. (US/ d. Charles F. Riesner)
Storm Over Asia (USSR/ d. Vsevolod Pudovkin) (** 1/2)
Street Angel (US/ d. Frank Borzage) (***)
The Wedding March (US/ d. Erich von Stroheim) (***)
White Shadows in the South Seas (US/ d. W. S. Van Dyke, Robert J. Flaherty) (***)
The Wind (US/ d. Victor Sjostrom) (***)

* Bed and Sofa (USSR/ d. Abram Room)
Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (Ger./ d. Walter Ruttman)
The Cat and the Canary (US/ d. Paul Leni) (**)
* Casanova (Fr./ d. Alexandre Volkoff)
* Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness (US/ d. Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack)
* The End of St. Petersburg (USSR/ d. Vsevolod Pudovkin)
Flesh and the Devil (US/ d. Clarence Brown)
* For the Term of His Natural Life (Austral./ d. Norman Dawn)
The Gaucho (US/ d. F. Richard Jones) (*** 1/2)
The General (US/ d. Buster Keaton, Clyde Bruckman) (*** 1/2)
It (US/ d. Clarence Badger) (***)
The Jazz Singer (US/ d. Alan Crosland) (** 1/2)
The Kid Brother (US/ d. Ted Wilde)
The King of Kings (US/ d. Cecil B. DeMille) (***)
The Lodger (UK/ d. Alfred Hitchcock) (** 1/2)
Love of Jeanne Ney, The (Ger./ G. W. Pabst) (**)
Metropolis (Ger./ d. Fritz Lang) (** 1/2)
Napoleon (Fr./ d. Abel Gance)
7th Heaven (US/ d. Frank Borzage) (***)
The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (US/ d. Ernst Lubitsch) (*** 1/2)
Sunrise (US/ d. F. W. Murnau) (***)
Underworld (US/ d. Josef von Sternberg) (***)
The Unknown (US/ d. Tod Browning) (**)
Wings (US/ d. William Wellman)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Onelinereview's Film Masterpieces Checklist: 1920s (Part I- 1920 to 1926)

Film Masterpieces Checklist: 1920-26

The Adventures of Prince Achmed (Ger./ d. Lotte Reiniger) (****)
* A Crazy Page (Jap./ d. Teinosuke Kinugasa)
Faust (Ger./ d. F. W. Murnau) (** 1/2)
For Heaven’s Sake (US/ d. Sam Taylor)
* The Golden Clown (Den. /d. A W. Sandber)
The Great K & A Train Robbery (US/ d. Louis Seiler) (**)
La Boheme (US/ d. King Vidor) (** 1/2)
* Mare Nostrum (US/ d. Rex Ingram)
* Moana: A Story of the South Seas (US/ d. Robert J. Flaherty)
* Mother (USSR/ d. Vsevolod Pudovkin)
Sparrows (US/ d. William Beaudine) (**)
* The Winning of Barbara Worth (US/ d. Henry King)

Battleship Potemkin (USSR/ d. Sergei Eisenstein) (****)
Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ (US/ d. Fred Niblo) (****)
The Big Parade (US/ d. King Vidor) (*** 1/2)
* Faces of Children (Fr., Switz./ d. Jacques Feyder)
The Freshman (US/ d. Sam Taylor, Fred Newmeyer) (** 1/2)
The Gold Rush (US/ d. Charles Chaplin) (****)
Grass: A Nation’s Battle for Life (US/ d. Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack) (** 1/2)
The Joyless Street(Ger./ d. G. W. Pabst) (**)
The Phantom of the Opera (US/ d. Rupert Julian)
Seven Chances (US/ d. Buster Keaton) (***)
Strike (USSR/ d. Sergei Eisenstein) (*** 1/2)
Variety (Ger./ d. E. A. Dupont) (***)

Die Nibelungen: Kriemhild’s Revenge (Ger./ d. Fritz Lang) (***)
Die Nibelungen: Siegfried (Ger./ d. Fritz Lang) (** 1/2)
Girl Shy (US/ d. Fred Newmeyer, Sam Taylor) (***)
Greed (US/ d. Erich von Stroheim) (****)
He Who Gets Slapped (US/ d. Victor Sjostrom) (**)
The Last Laugh (Ger. D. F. W. Murnau) (****)
The Marriage Circle (US/ d. Ernst Lubitsch) (***)
The Navigator (US/ d. Buster Keaton, Donald Crisp) (***)
The Saga of Gosta Berling (Swe./ d. Mauritz Stiller) (** 1/2)
Sherlock, Jr. (US/ d. Buster Keaton) (***)
The Thief of Bagdad (US/ d. Raoul Walsh) (** 1/2)
Waxworks (Ger./ d. Leo Birinsky, Paul Leni) (** 1/2)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (US/ d. Wallace Worsley) (* 1/2)
* La Roue (Fr. / d. Abel Gance)
Our Hospitality (US/ d. Buster Keaton, John G. Blystone)
Safety Last (US/ Fred Newmeyer, Sam Taylor) (*** 1/2)
Why Worry? (US/ d. Fred C. Newmeyer, Sam Taylor) (***)

Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler (Ger./ d. Fritz Lang) (**)
Grandma’s Boy (US/ d. Fred Newmeyer) (** 1/2)
Haxan (Sweden/ d. Benjamin Christensen) (**)
Nanook of the North (US/ d. Robert Flaherty) (***)
Nosferatu (Ger./ d. F. W. Murnau) (** 1/2)

Destiny (Ger./ d. Fritz Lang) (**)
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (US/ d. Rex Ingram) (**)
The Kid (US/ d. Charles Chaplin) (** 1/2)
Orphans of the Storm (US/ d. D. W. Griffith) (**)
The Phantom Chariot (Swe./ d. Victor Sjostrom) (**)

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Ger./ d. Robert Wiene)
The Golem (Ger./ d. Henrik Galeen, Paul Wegener) (**)
The Last of the Mohicans (US/ d. Maurice Tourneur, Clarence Brown) (*** 1/2)
The Mark of Zorro (US/ d. Fred Niblo) (***)
Way Down East (US/ d. D. W. Griffith) (* 1/2)

NOTE: Films that I have not yet seen are indicated with a *. I've rated the ones I have seen (using Leonard Maltin's BOMB and * 1/2 to **** star rating). If a film is listed without a * and without a rating, it means I've seen the movie but wish to re-evaluate it before assigning it a rating.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Summer Box Office 2008 Top Ten Champs

Now that the dust has settled and the fall is upon us, and with the release of summer blockbusters Iron Man and Indiana Jones on DVD (The Dark Knight gets released on December 9), it's time to take a look at how things wrapped up.

Here are the Top Ten Moneymakers of Summer 2008:

1. The Dark Knight— $527.5 million (to date)
2. Iron Man— $318.3 million
3. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull— $317.0 million (to date)
4. Hancock— $228.0 million
5. WALL•E— $222.2 million (to date)
6. Kung Fu Panda— $215.4 million (to date)
7. Sex and the City— $152.6 million
8. Mamma Mia!— $143.5 million (to date)
9. Prince Caspian— $141.6 million
10. The Incredible Hulk— $134.5 million

Wanted (at $134.3 million [close but no cigar for top ten]) and Get Smart (at $130.3 [to date]) did very well for themselves with #11 and #12 place finishes.

The summer sleeper award goes to Sex and the City (with honorable mention to Mamma Mia!). My summer sleeper prediction: Star Wars: Clone Wars... zoinks!... a paltry $35 million haul.

And now the answers to my pre-summer burning questions:

1. Will Indiana Jones be the #1 movie of the summer? No!

2. Will The Dark Knight give Indy a run for the money? And how!

3. Will Iron Man crack $200 million? And beyond!

4. Will Speed Racer tank? Yes! (final gross: $43.9 million)

5. Will any summer movie earn as much as last year's biggest: Spider-Man 3 ($336.5)? Hugely, plus, Iron Man and Indy got pretty close as well.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Onelinereview's Film Masterpieces Checklist: 1910s

Six Film Masterpieces from the 1910s:

1. Male and Female (1919/US/d. Cecil B. De Mille/116 mins.) [photo, left]

2. The Oyster Princess (1919/Ger./d. Ernst Lubitsch/60 mins.)

3. Broken Blossoms (1919/US/d. D. W. Griffith/88 mins.)

4. A Tale of Two Cities (1917/US/d. Frank Lloyd/70 mins.)

5. Regeneration (1915/US/d. Raoul Walsh/72 mins.)

6. L'Inferno (1911/It./d. Giuseppe de Liguoro)

Film Masterpieces Checklist: 1910s

Broken Blossoms (US/d. D. W. Griffith)
J'Accuse (Fr./d. Abel Gance) (**)
Male and Female (US/d. Cecil B. DeMille)
The Oyster Princess (Ger./ d. Ernst Lubitsch)
* The Sentimental Bloke (Austral./d. Raymond Longford)

The Blue Bird (US/d. Maurice Tourneur) (** 1/2)
Hearts of the World (US/d. D. W. Griffith) (** 1/2)
The Outlaw and His Wife (Swe./d. Victor Sjostrom) (* 1/2)
Stella Maris (US/d. Marshall Neilan) (**)
* Thomas Graal's First Child (Swe./d. Mauritz Stiller)

* The Dying Swan (Rus./d. Evgeni Bauer)
* Furcht (Ger./d. Robert Wiene)
* A Man There Was (Swe./d. Victor Sjostrom)
A Tale of Two Cities (US/d. Frank Lloyd) (***)
* Thomas Graal's Best Film (Swe./d. Mauritz Stiller)

Civilization (US/d. Raymond B. West, Reginald Barker) (**)
Hell's Hinges (US/d. Charles Swickard, William S. Hart) (** 1/2)
Intolerance (US/d. D. W. Griffith) (* 1/2)
*Night of Revenge (Den./d. Benjamin Christensen)
Queen of Spades (1916/Rus. d. Yakov Protazanov) (BOMB)

*Assunta Spina (It./d. Francesca Bertini, Gustavo Serena)
The Birth of a Nation (US/d. D. W. Griffith) (***)
The Cheat (US/d. Cecil B. DeMille) (**)
A Fool There Was (US/d. Frank Powell)
Regeneration (US/d. Raoul Walsh) (***)

Cabiria (It./d. Giovanni Pastrone)
Judith of Bethulia (US/d. D. W. Griffith) (** 1/2)
* The Mysterious X (Den./d. Benjamin Christensen)
* The Squaw Man (US/d. Cecil B. DeMille, Oscar C. Apfel)
Tillie's Punctured Romance (US/d. Mack Sennett)

* Atlantis (Den./d. August Blom)
David Copperfield (UK/d. Thomas Bentley) (**)
The Last Days of Pompeii (It./d. Mario Caserini)
The Student of Prague (Ger./d. Stellan Rye)
Traffic in Souls (US/d. George Loane Tucker) (**)

Cleopatra (US/d. Charles L. Gaskill) (**)
From the Manger to the Cross (US/d. Sidney Olcott) (** 1/2)
Queen Elizabeth (Fr./d. Louis Mercanton, Henri Desfontaines) (**)
* Quo Vadis? (It./d. Enrico Guazzoni)
Richard III (US/d. Andre Calmettes, James Keane) (* 1/2)

* The Black Dream (Den./d. Urban Gad)
L'Inferno (It./d. Giuseppe de Liguoro)

NOTE: Films that I have not yet seen are indicated with a *. I've rated the ones I have seen (using Leonard Maltin's BOMB and * 1/2 to **** star rating). If a film is listed without a * and without a rating, it means I've seen the movie but wish to re-evaluate it before assigning it a rating.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Onelinereview's Film Masterpieces Checklists

Tomorrow I will begin posting a list of films, by year, considered to be the greatest ever made. There are many, many films that at one time or another have been called great. My list is intended to be a reasonable summary of the critical consensus.

The breakdown will be as follows,
1911: 2 films
1912-1923: 5 films for each year
1924-26: 12 films for each year
1927-Present: 24 films for each year

I've come up with these numbers from hours of going through the many books and websites that list great films. Of course, with the earlier years the films listed must be taken with a grain of salt, and with the later years you could easily come up with a hundred or more films considered great if you really wanted to.

The point of this list is to create a general starting point. I think that taking each list of 24, almost everyone will find at least 5 films that were on their own individual top ten lists for the year. Expanding beyond 24 would do little to capture the individuality of any one film lover's top ten. Again, this is a starting point for films which seem to resonate with the majority.

In addition, I will be noting the films on the list that I have not yet seen (they will be indicated with a *), plus I will rate the ones I have seen (using Leonard Maltin's BOMB and * 1/2 to **** star rating). If a film is listed without a * and without a rating it means I've seen the movie but wish to re-evaluate it before assigning it a rating.

Lastly, this is my attempt to create my own greatest films of all time list by noting 6 films for each year I consider to be bona fide masterpieces (there really aren't 10 a year), which will create a list of approximately 500 films (books that list 1,000 films seem far too generous to me). For the 1910s I will list 6 for the decade and for the 1920s I'll list 24. The roll out on these lists will be a bit slow, but I want to take the time necessary to make them good. Additionally, I consider these "living" lists and as time goes by a film here and there may be added or subtracted (however I expect this to be a very rare occurrence, especially with the older titles). Note: I am only including feature films (shorts, serials, and TV movies will not be included). I will list the films by their English-language titles (unless their foreign titles are the most well-known to English speakers).

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fall TV Season 2008: Thoughts on the New Shows

Here are some of my random thoughts on the new TV season:

• FAMILY GUY will remain on my TV-viewing line roster; the CLEVELAND show has been pushed to '09. I watched THE SIMPSONS out of loyalty to many years of laughs but the premiere episode was weak; SOUTH PARK, too seemed off with its Spielberg/Lucas busting: was anyone really that upset about the new Indy movie?

• THE AMAZING RACE may have run it's course (couldn't resist). I'm sure I'll finish out the season, but it's relegated to "do other things while it plays in the background" -TV.

• MY OWN WORST ENEMY offers a nonsensical premise and although Slater is good, it's mumbo jumbo that I don't want to relieve week after week.

• CHUCK was on my "one-season-only" list but is getting a bit of a reprieve because it came up with a way to freshen itself on a weekly basis: guest stars.... I think I'll tune it a bit after all.

• WOSRT WEEK aka MEET THE PARENTS was OK but nothing a special.

• BOSTON LEGAL, if it does go off this season, will probably never have "jumped the shark" (although the "True Love" episode was probably the worst I've seen).

• TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES was never great but I love anything Terminator and it's relatively well done. If next summer's feature film doesn't improve the show's ratings though, it will probably get the axe.

• 90210 is not my genre. Neither is GOSSIP GIRL. I tried watching both to no avail (although GOSSIP GIRL had a certain something about it).

• Although I watched a bit of DIRTY SEXY MONEY last season, couldn't get through the premiere this year... it's all soap opera now.

• FRINGE seemed idiotic to me. Ugh!

• STAR WARS: CLONE WARS I love-- my favorite of the new shows. Well done adventures and true to the movies. It's got a perfect time slot for me too-- after getting home on Friday nights, it's the perfect nightcap.

• THE MENTALIST's Simon Baker says "Did you kill your _______" and I think: that's no "Just one more thing..."

• GARY UNMARRIED doesn't deserve it's good notices... I guess if you blare that laugh track enough you can cover up a bit, but not enough for me (although I do like Ed Begley Jr. in it).

• DO NOT DISTURB was not just bad, it was old-fashioned too.

• KNIGHT RIDER was derided by the critics but actually is a decent action show albeit for the 13-year-old boy set. I think it can't sustain it's hour length though.

• LIFE ON MARS was interesting enough to warrant another look, but I'm not sure if it'll make my rotation of shows.

• SURVIVOR:GABON proves that the old formula still works (despite what your co-workers say).

• KATH AND KIM was somewhat laughless but somehow I liked it. I doubt I'll be a regular watcher, but I might catch an episode here and there... kind of like a female TWO AND A HALF MEN in quality.

• THE OFFICE is back on track after a shaky final few episodes last season. Can't wait for the 10/30 debut of 30 ROCK.

• THE EX-LIST has that cute lead but I was shocked to discover it was an hour-long show...!

• SNL's political stuff is A+, and the rest? Not so good.


Shows I watch:
MON: Boston Legal, Terminator: TSCC
TU: n/a
WED: n/a
THURS: Survivor, The Office, 30 Rock, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, (SNL: Wknd Update Thursday)
FRI: SW: The Clone Wars
SU: Family Guy, The Amazing Race

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cool Blog Highlights the "Art of Cinema" in Advertising

I ran across a great blog that posts vintage pics, under various subject headings. One of the headings is "Art of Cinema" and highlights stills, posters, and lobby cards. It's well worth a look. The poster at right is from a June posting.

Link to If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger...'s Art of Cinema postings.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" 400th Film At $100 Million

$100 million was the benchmark of old for what was a blockbuster. These days it's more like $200 million, but $100 million domestic still translates to a "hit." On September 6, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor became the 400th film to reach that milestone. I'm a little late in breaking this... there have been four more since (#401- You Don't Mess With the Zohan: 9/7, #402- Tropic Thunder: 9/12, #403- Step Brothers: 9/13, and #404- Journey to the Center of the Earth: 10/4) and it looks like Eagle Eye at $80 million+ is on its way.

Wonder if we'll make it to 500 by the close of the decade (next year)?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

18th Annual IFP Awards Nominations Announced

The Gotham Indie Award nominations were released yesterday. As always, when the IFP announces, it's really too early to start talking Awards Season, and even the Hollywood Reporter opined that their noms "unofficially" kicked off the awards season. Good to see what independents are in the Best Film category though, as they sometimes have bearing on later kudos.

The Best Film nominees are:
Frozen River
Synecdoche, New York
The Visitor
The Wrestler

Link to

Monday, October 20, 2008

Silent Film Benefit Calendar Funds Silent Film Restoration

Here's a good cause: the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra puts out a calendar that supports Silent Film Restoration. What's more, their website clearly shows that the money does go where it should-- a listing of what each year's proceeds went to, from 2003-08, is listed on their site (on the calendar page-- link below).

The cost is an economical $17.83 (less for multiple copies).

This year's calendar features stills from lost silent films, such as The Patriot (1928).

Link to Mont Alto site.

Link to Silent Film Calendar info.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

More Rossellini on DVD

Following up on my blog about Criterion's upcoming release— Roberto Rossellini's The Taking of Power By Louis XIV— there is more Rossellini on the way. Before Criterion's January '09 release, Lionsgate has The Director's Collection 2-disc DVD which contains Rossellini's mid-career films: Dov'e La Liberta...?/Where Is Freedom? (1953) and Era Notte A Roma/ Escape By Night (1960), on DVD for the first time in the U.S. next month. It's definitely a good time to start discovering his work.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Alfred Hitchcock on "What's My Line?" (1954, promoting "Rear Window")

Hitchcock gets guessed pretty quick-- but not before he gets in a few choice zingers! He proved to be a very funny guest.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Empire's Top 500 Films Issue (Nov. 2008) on the Stands

Empire magazine's poll is (finally!) on the stands in the U.S. I was tempted to just go to the website, but I held out. The list is really interesting... I was pretty surprised (there are at least a dozen films on it I've never even heard of!). I've been looking it over endlessly. I won't reveal #1 (it's not La Dolce Vita-- this is just 1 of the 100 covers issued by Empire [and the one I picked up]), but here are some thoughts (look at the magazine first, though or here's the link).

Empire's first poll was in 1996, and of the 100 films on that list, eleven didn't make the 500, 12 years later: Thelma and Louise (#29), Dead Poet's Society (#34), The Piano (#48), Witness (#54), A Few Good Men (#66), Dangerous Liaisons (#61), Jean de Florette (#72), Ghost (#75), A Room with a View (#88), Dr. Zhivago (#92), and Highlander (#100).

Of the films that made it, the most surprisingly highest ranked for me is Andrei Rublev (at #36, it's the highest ranked foreign language film). [I own Rublev on DVD, and its surely great, but still a surprise.] Was also shocked that, for a British publication, Lawrence of Arabia clocked in at #57 (maybe everyone thought the other guy would put it on their list).

FIlms I was surprised did not make the top 100 of the 500: Touch of Evil, The Silence of the Lambs, Pan's Labyrinth, The Wizard of Oz, It's a Wonderful Life, Forrest Gump, The Terminator, The Sixth Sense, The Seventh Seal, and All About Eve.

Films I was most surprised didn't make the top 500 at all: The General, Metropolis, Swing Time, Grand Illusion, Children of Paradise, The Lavender Hill Mob, High Noon, Shane, The African Queen, West Side Story, The Birds, Belle de Jour, Amarcord, Swingers, Y Tu Mama Tambien.

Oscar's Best Pictures did OK: nearly half of them made the list (and just about all from 1990s Dances With Wolves to present).

Directors score-card: Spielberg (11, way out in front), Scorsese (8), and Hitchcock and Kubrick (7). Considering their comparative outputs, Kubrick did best.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"Chicago Legal" '09

I was wondering if somehow Boston Legal would get a reprieve (it obviously deserves better than five seasons) but it seems that, in a mixed blessing, David E. Kelley has a new deal going. His spec script for Warner Bros. TV-- an hourlong legal drama-- was picked up in a bidding war by NBC. This surely means Boston Legal is done, but at least as a consolation we'll get another Kelley legal drama in '09. The show, according to is set in a Chicago law firm and focuses on an aging partner and his daughter. NBC might be considering it for the soon-to-be-vacated ER timeslot.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Criterion Spotlights Obscure Rossellini

Roberto Rossellini always seemed ripe for rediscovery. The main thing standing in the way has been the obscurity of his later films. Criterion is continuing to open that door with the release of The Taking of Power by Louis XIV-- a 1966 television feature that had a separate international theatrical run. They have previously released several of his films of the 1970s (link).

Additionally, Criterion is releasing DVDs of the acclaimed Magnificent Obsession and El Notre.. All are on my to-see... will have to see more of the famous Rossellini titles first (I've only seen Open City). Link to Criterion's "coming soon."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Countdown To "Quantum of Solace"-- T Minus One Month (in the U.S. Anyway)

I absolutely can't wait for the new Bond. The trailer looks amazing and I am pumped up... one month to go. Although, if you live in many, many nations outside the U.S. you'll be getting it sooner (imdB release dates link). Maybe I'll take a trip to India next month! The UK deservedly gets it first-- a Halloween treat for the Brits.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Alfred Hitchcock's Silent Features: "The Ring"

Continuing my irregularly scheduled capsule reviews of Alfred Hitchcock's eight extant silent features, I present The Ring. The Ring can be found on those cheapy DVD sets of Hitchcock's early films; it's considered one of Hitch's best silent films, but certainly wouldn't compete with his later masterworks.

Hitchcock's silents were his training ground; and his later films are that much more visual as a result of his having started in the silent era. His silents are unfortunately either unreleased on VHS/DVD or in unrestored state on poorly presented DVDs. For the best quality/most reliable seller out there, if you are looking for Hitchcock's unreleased DVD titles (such as Downhill, Waltzes From Vienna, among others) I recommend this seller.

The Ring (1927)
A carnival fighter named “one round” Jack Sander and a prizefighter who he comes to work with as a sparring partner and later competes against, vie for the same girl.

Silent melodrama is well made but standard fare, saved by a real feeling for the flapper era and a heavy dose of Hitchcockian humor. Some of the comedy bits include: a guy challenging “one round Jack,” slipping and falling on the way into the ring and counted down by the referee; the carnival barker putting on a smile while cursing the challenger that beat “one round Jack” under his breath; the priest at Jack’s wedding shocked at the sight of the circus freaks in attendance at the wedding. A few interesting visual ideas: a stationary billboard is seen through successive weeks with Jack’s name rising higher and higher; Jack envisioning his wife and the prizefighter in superimposition (getting larger and larger) as the manager tells him to “leave his wife behind”; during the big fight Jack sees Nelly in the crowd and as the camera tracks into her face he is knocked out with a flash and all goes dizzy and out-of-focus. Two uncomfortably racist moments appear in the movie: in the film’s opening, an African-American man is set up at the dunking tank at the circus and soon made the target of children who throw eggs in his face (as the crowd laughs); a title midway through the film reads, “If you win this fight with the nigger, you’ll be in the running for the championship.” The “ring” refers alternately to a boxing ring and a wedding ring. Good but never great.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

DVD Extras #1: "Dr. Strangelove: 40th Anniversary Special Edition"

Another first of recurring blog entries: a review of DVD extras on a given movie. As I recently watched Dr. Strangelove, I thought I'd take a look at the extras on the 40th Anniversary DVD: they were serviceable on the whole. Here are my thoughts:

1. Booklet with stills and essay by Roger Ebert. Worth a look. Ebert's essay spends some time on George C. Scott's terrific performance.

2. Documentary: "No Fighting in the War Room" (TRT: 30:00). A doc of the "duck and cover" era is not terribly insightful, and features several long-winded sound bites from gravely-voiced Robert McNamara on the political policies of the day. Also interviewed are Roger Ebert, Spike Lee, Bob Woodward, others. Don't bother (if anything watch the McNamara interview, see below).

3. Documentary: "Inside Dr. Strangelove" (TRT: 46:00). Overlong doc on the making of the film is pretty good. The makers definately tried to find people who worked on the movie: over a dozen appear. Start at 6:49 at the beginning of the Terry Southern section to make the running time more palatable. One MAJOR quibble: in this doc, and the entire set of extras there is NO interview footage of Kubrick. Now I know he didn't interview much, but c'mon, you can find him on You Tube.

4. "Best Sellers: Peter Sellers Remembered" (TRT: 18:25) With Michael Pallin, Shirley MacLaine, others. Nothing worthwhile (except footage of Sellers doing a great Groucho Marx).

5. "The Art of Stanley Kubrick" (TRT: 13:49) Straightforward survey of Kubrick films up through Strangelove, with a bit of insight from Kubrick producing partner James B. Harris. Worth seeing.

6. "An Interview with Robert McNamara" (TRT: 24:25). The full interview. Watch the last ten minutes where he talks about the Cuban Missile Crisis and current state of the world.

7. Sellers/ Scott interviews from set (TRT: 7:10). A curio, but not anything must-see (Sellers does however do accents of various regions of the UK).

8. Filmographies. As on all DVDs-- useless filler.

9. Theatrical Advertising Gallery: a virtual handful.

10. Previews: Dr. Strangelove (TRT: 3:43) (by Pablo Ferro) and six unrelated ones (The Bridge on the River Kwai, etc.)

To sum up: watch the Strangelove trailer; Sellers on the set; Docs: "The Art of Stanley Kubrick" and "Inside Dr. Strangelove,"; (read) the booklet with the Roger Ebert essay; and if you must, a bit of the McNamara interview.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

This Month on TCM: "Dr. Strangelove..." (1964)

On Saturday, October 18th, TCM is showing Dr. Strangelove Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Stanley Kubrick's greatest film and one of the single greatest movies of the twentieth century.

It's always a little more difficult to make the case for why a film is in your opinion one of the very greatest. I could much more easily play devil's advocate with Dr. Strangelove and list it's faults: it's ending is a bit clumsy; Sellers, as brilliant as he is, plays Strangelove and Mandrake a little too "sketch comedy"; the characters are given very little depth; there is almost nothing in the way of subplots; the special effects have dated.

But let me start over.

Dr. Strangelove takes on the biggest question of human fallibility, puts a human face to it, and makes us realize that for all our advances, we've mucked it up. The plot concerns a U. S. army general named Jack D. Ripper (played by Sterling Hayden), who, "goes a little funny in the head" and launches a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, using an emergency attack plan that bypasses the normal chain of command. The film wastes no time getting started, and there is not one bit of padding in its lean 93-minute running time.

The acting is superb and when you think you've identified the best performance among the principles, you replace it with another one, until you realize these are among the best performances on film, period: Sellers' three-character tour de force; George C. Scott's grimacing, overzealous four-star general; Sterling Hayden's steely-eyed nutjob, who fears a "loss of essence"; Slim Pickens' duty-bound air force major.

As satires or black comedies go, Dr. Strangelove has more actual laughs than most. Even when the one-liners fade with repeat viewings, the "character" comedy holds up. The centerpiece of the comedic bits is the President's initial conversation with the Russian Premier to break the news of the imminent attack ("Now then Dimitri..."). Partly adlibbed, and heard only from the President's end, this conversation underscores the humanity behind society's machinations: how, indeed do you inform someone that the world may be coming to an end. In fact, this is essentially what the movie is all about. Every time a character speaks, no matter what they say, it sounds idiotic in the face of World War III and nuclear annihilation-- Slim Pickens' Major Kong tells his crew that they will surely be up for promotions and personal citations; George C. Scott's General Turgidson worries that the Russian ambassador will see the "big board"; Keenan Wynn's officious Colonel Guano doesn't want to damage the Coke machine.

To take on my own list of "issues" with Strangelove, I'll begin with Sellers' approach to the characters he plays. His performance of the President is without fault, but his Group Captain Lionel Mandrake and scientist Dr. Strangelove have a foot in mimicry and caricature. Mandrake, though, is a blowhard ("Oh hell.") and Strangelove is psychotic. In fact, Sellers originally played the President for laughs, but Kubrick stepped in and had Sellers switch gears. In many ways, because Sellers plays all three characters, and because his President is the "voice of reason," the other two have this allowance to be broad. Mandrake and Strangelove play the opposite ends of over-achievers: they represent the error of our ways, a sapping of creativity [Mandrake is by-the-book and Strangelove is all animal-instincts]. The President represents the "whole" between them.

The dispensing with much in the way of character development and subplots hinges on the gravity of the subject matter and the urgency of the film's timeline. Had the film strayed to tell the further story of General Turgidson and his mistress, for example, nothing would be gained. The function of character development and subplots is to support the main thesis and not to distract. The point of the film is driven home differently in Dr. Strangelove: not by conventional "depth" but by the continued absurdities, which, had the film ended as it was written, would have concluded with a pie fight in the war room. Which brings up the somewhat clumsy finale. The pie fight sequence (removed for various reasons including that it didn't "work") would have been a "proper" end; without it we have just one outrageous exclamation by Strangelove in its place. Although this is not the perfect finale, the actual ending of the movie happens shortly before-- and as with all classic films, it is the inevitable one. What happens after that (i.e. after Slim Pickens' last moments) is of little consequence. Maybe, after all, shorter was better.

As for the special effects, they are acceptable, particularly in black-and-white: an artifice in itself. And the Pickens's denouement is actually quite effective effects-wise. Plus, Ken Adam's set design makes up considerable ground in the "crafts" department.

Perhaps what ultimately makes Dr. Strangelove great is that it takes on the futility of creating art in the face of extinction. As seen through the creative genius of filmmaker Kubrick, we get a film that is both minutely planned yet free form (in itself, as well, it shows that while neither approach works alone, together we get something). Taking botht the film's themes and its approach in account, it's like saying, create art but have a little fun because it'll all be over some day. Strangelove is frightening and funny; luckily, the humor is so sharp, you find the dire subject matter palatable.

Dr. Strangelove Of How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb (1964): Sharp black comedy manages, through the sharpest of direction and performance, to take on doomsday itself and illustrates through absurdity, the absurdity of our need to destroy each other.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Product Placement Movie Posters

Here's a site I ran across that has mock-ups of movie posters with the products they advertise listed on the copy of the poster. I'm not sure if I'm more surprised at the ones with the long lists or the ones with the short lists!

Link to site.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

More Halloween Fun: Have Your Movie-Related Costume Picked for You at Fandango

This was fun. You enter in some data and Fandango chooses your Halloween costume. I was very happy to get Borat, even if it's old! The second time I did it I got Joker, a bit more timely. Anyway, fun to see what comes up...

Link to Fandango Costume Chooser.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

"Sunny's" PatheticGrrl43 on You Tube

If you watch It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, you know that PatheticGrrl43 is Sweet Dee's secret diary, put on YouTube by Charlie. Well lo and behold, three entries are actually posted. The only thing off is... none of the entries has gotten anywhere near 80,000 hits!

Two others: link to YouTube.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Moviefone's 31 Scariest Movie Moments

Movie list "slideshows" are everywhere these days. But I did run across this one that I liked— Moviefone's day-by-day countdown to, not the scariest movies, but the scariest actual movie moments. They have "clues" for each day in October and reveal the answers one day at a time.

Link to Moviefone's 31 scariest movie moments.

Halloween's clue? "This ghostly tale was the director's first and only "horror" flick. The scariest scene will have you seeing double."

Monday, October 6, 2008

Top Ten 1970s Films On My Movie-Radar

The decade that introduced the Hollywood blockbuster; the rise of "new" Hollywood: Allen, Altman, Ashby, Coppola, Scorsese, etc.; the maturation of several European greats: Bergman, Fellini, Truffaut, to name a few; plus Blaxploitation, disaster flicks, and outer-space! Here's a list of ten classic 1970s films that have managed to elude me so far, but they're on my radar:

The Conformist - 1970

The Hospital - 1971

Sweet Sweetback’s Baad Assssss Song - 1971

What's Up Doc? - 1972

Lenny - 1974

Bite the Bullet - 1975

Smile - 1975

Assault on Precinct 13 - 1976

Harlan County, U.S.A. - 1977

The Tin Drum - 1979

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Biography Book Corner #1: Frank Capra's "The Name Above the Title"— Chapter 10: "Burn the First Two Reels"

This blog entry will be my first in a series of ongoing irregularly posted entries highlighting individual chapters of biographies and autobiographies of film personnel. It's meant to be a blog version of grabbing a book off the shelf that catches your eye— at a friend's house or the book store— and reading a chapter of it. The summarization of the chatper below may inspire the reader to take a look at the book for themselves, or at the very least, it will supply some info on a classic film.

The "Burn the First Two Reels" chapter of Capra's autobiography, The Name Above the Title deals with the 1937 classic Lost Horizon. Below, a summary.

• Capra was invited by Columbia studio head Harry Cohn (along with others) to see a Stanford-U.S.C. football game in Palo Alto, and browsing in Union Station's newstand he came upon James Hilton's book, bought it, read it, and dreamed about it that night.

• At breakfast the next morning Capra told Cohn he wanted him to option the book and that he wanted $2 million for the budget— five times the cost of Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. Cohn agreed on a six-month option on the book, but said he'd wait to see how Deeds did before greenlighting Lost Horizon. When Deeds was a success, Cohn decided to take the gamble.

• Famed explorer, writer, and photographer of Tibet, Harrison Forman served as technical advisor.

• The Tibetans were played by Pala Indians from the San Diego Mountains.

• Henry Eichman, a California collector of rare, authentic Tibetan trumpets and horns, loaned the production his antique instruments.

• Ronald Colman was Capra's only choice for the lead. He felt that the others on the plane should be "familiar faces" too because they represented the "known" world, and that the inhabitants of Shangri-La should be unknowns (including newcomers Jane Wyatt [with Colman, on right] and Margo).

• The casting of the High Lama was originally given to a 90-year-old stage performer who had never been in movies, but after a successful screen test, he died ("The long hoped-for Hollywood call had come. He smiled, and died.") [The next candidate, Henry B. Walthall, the Little Colonel of The Birth of a Nation, died before he could be tested.]

• Stage actor Sam Jaffe got the part of the High Lama— his whispery line readings were initially a problem since the microphones were left wide open to pick up his dialogue and the occasional stomach rumble from a crew member was heard.

• The snow sequences were filmed in a industrial cold storage warehouse, which caused such technical issues as fogged film and short-circuiting cables. ("With wind machines, snow machines, and back-projection machines we conjured up the Arctic rigors of the Himalayas.")

• Capra hired Dimitri Tiomkin (who he strongly believed in) for his first movie score; Capra, though, had Max Steiner conduct the orchestra, knowing that had Steiner disliked the score he would have stepped in himself. Capra was ecstatic with Tiomkin's score, however. [NOTE: Tiomkin has a few earlier screen credits.]

• At the first screening in the studio projection room, everyone was pleased including Cohn. At the Santa Barbara preview, the film was met with laughter and walk-outs. ("The preview was a shambles. Lost Horizon was an unshowable, unreleaseable motion picture.")

• Capra made a bold decision in deleting and burning the first two reels of Lost Horizon— amounting to twenty minutes screen time— and asked Cohn for a new preview screening. [NOTE: Capra's claim of cutting the first two reels is considered an oversimplification of what really happened. Film historians believe that Capra did indeed cut twenty minutes of the film but that it included more sophisticated cutting than simply deleting the opening. The early part of the film, was, however, cut. It was a prologue in which Ronald Colman begins to tell his story on a cruise ship. The footage, which Capra claims to have burned, has never been recovered.]

• The new preview, in San Pedro, was a success; "the audience was spellbound."

• Columbia's "class" VP, "bon vivant" Nate Spingold, marketed the film to the world's literati according to Capra and thusly "put [the] Poverty Row [studios] on the map."

• Capra concludes his chapter saying (without much in the way of modesty), that he pioneered the beginning of the "one man, one film" concept versus the "committee" method of Louis B. Mayer.

Here, Capra is on Cavett talking about the Santa Barbara preview:

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Alfred Hitchcock's Silent Features: "Easy Virtue"

Continuing my irregularly scheduled capsule reviews of Alfred Hitchcock's eight extant silent features, I present Easy Virtue. Easy Virtue can be found on those cheapy DVD sets of Hitchcock's early films; it's one of his more interesting early efforts (second only to The Lodger).

Hitchcock's silents were his training ground; and his later films are that much more visual as a result of his having started in the silent era. His silents are unfortunately either unreleased on VHS/DVD or in unrestored state on poorly presented DVDs. For the best quality/most reliable seller out there, if you are looking for Hitchcock's unreleased DVD titles (such as Downhill, Waltzes From Vienna, among others) I recommend this seller.

Easy Virtue (1927)
A woman, fleeing the tabloid gossip surrounding an artist’s suicide and her subsequent divorce, falls in love with a young suitor at a French Riviera resort and silently suffers as she keeps her real identity a secret from him and his family.

Dated melodrama (based on a Noel Coward play) is given momentum by Hitchcock’s deft direction. Some interesting visuals include: in the opening courtroom scene, the judge looks through his monocle and we see a closer shot of the lawyer through it, a stationary tennis racket starts in motion as its owner runs toward the ball and away from the camera, the expressions of a nosy switchboard operator reveal the various subjects of a conversation she’s listening in to. The use of a still camera as a motif is, however, heavy handed. The opening courtroom scene presents a well-constructed series of flashbacks; however, the bulk of the film from then on, is straight soap opera (consisting of such title cards as: “If only I could remember where I’ve seen her face before… I’m certain she wants to conceal something from us!”). Beautiful on-location scenery (interior as well as exterior) abounds during the second half of the movie. SPOILER!: Memorable final title card, as Larita is greeted by photographers: “Shoot! There’s nothing left to kill.” Worthy of a screening to see the hand of the (young) master at work.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Kino Puts Out Second Griffith Box Set

The modern eye may wince at the mere mention of D.W. Griffith, but he was such a significant figure in the push for film as an art form, that every single one of his films should be (a) restored (b) released on DVD. Kino Video is leading the way to getting the Griffith films out, including now, the obscure The Avenging Conscience (1914), plus a few of his more familiar titles, including his two sound features: Abraham Lincoln (1930) and The Struggle (1931). Griffith Masterworks 2 comes out on Nov. 18.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Woody Allen's Typeface— Windsor

Blogging about the "Art of the Titles" website a few days ago reminded me that I came across an an article online a while back, which gave the origin of the "Woody Allen" titles/movie poster font. Apparently, the font (WINDSOR) was suggested by Ed Benguiat, who used to have breakfast at the same diner as Woody Allen in the mid-70s. See link.

Although title design can offer an exciting open to a film, I've always enjoyed the plain Woody opens (white-on-black WINDSOR titles and jazz music)-- maybe it's like seeing/hearing the opening and theme song to a favorite television show-- gives you that feeling of comfort.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

"Quantum of Solace" Theme Song and Video Online

The Jack White/Alicia Keys theme song for the new Bond film, "Another Way to Die," has been online for a bit (link) and now the video is too (on youtube, below). I like the song and the video is very retro. I guess you couldn't expect them to do song called "Quatum of Solace"! I'm just dying to see Quantum, just a few short weeks away!