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by Michael Barrett

5 Jan 2016


Anamoprhosis (1991)

“Dark fairy tale-ish with an element of grotesquery and the pathological” is how one of the Quays, American twin brothers who live and work in London, describes their aesthetic in a commentary for This Unnameable Little Broom. We can’t be sure if it’s Stephen or Timothy talking, but it doesn’t matter in this case. That film is loosely inspired by an incident in the ancient epic of Gilgamesh, if you can imagine Gilgamesh as a Punch-like figure on a tricycle who wheels around a box-like room and cuts the wings off a weird flying creature.

It’s one of 16 titles in The Quay Brothers: Collected Short Films, a Blu-ray upgrade of the 2007 two-disc DVD Phantom Museums, with four new films added. Fans shouldn’t discard that DVD, however, for the contents of Disc 2 mostly aren’t included on the new Blu-ray.

by Michael Barrett

4 Jan 2016


Are you in the mood to be retro-hip? Do you get the urge to be mod and pop, ‘60s style? Sure you do.

A batch of recent Blu-rays (and a couple of more digitally challenged items) offers a cross-section of the cinematic era when you couldn’t swing a hepcat without hitting something groovy. Here’s a guide to programming your own marathon. Only a few of these titles are certifiable “classics”, but they all exude distinctive flavors and aromas of that stylish decade. You can spot them at 100 paces.

by Michael Barrett

30 Dec 2015


David Golder (1930)

Julien Duvivier in the Thirties is perfect for Criterion’s Eclipse series because Duvivier epitomizes a once-celebrated filmmaker whose reputation and availability have gone into eclipse. The four films in this set show an artist whose command of the medium was such that even his earliest talkies display a visual and aural confidence beyond most of his contemporaries. Further, because they all star a versatile, balding, stocky character actor named Harry Baur, we incidentally rediscover his once-admired versatility as well, so that this might also have been named Harry Baur in the Thirties.

by Chris Barsanti

28 Dec 2015


In the final reckoning, people are never that creative. That’s true even when they think they’re changing history. The explorer who goes to the ends of the earth is usually after fame, money, or both. The investor will ignore every warning sign about a too-good-to-be-true opportunity until it’s too late and he’s lost everything. The genius inventor announcing that he’s creating an epochal advancement in technology will turn out to have some fairly mundane reasons for doing so.

by Michael Barrett

24 Dec 2015


Against the backdrop of the Florida Everglades, two mighty opposing forces brawl in rude, knotted, clotted, quasi-homo-erotic bondage for the meaning of freedom. Whether such was the intent of Oscar-winning writer-producer Budd Schulberg, fresh from On the Waterfront, when he and his brother Stuart produced this lush dramatic quagmire on location, that’s what they ended up with by the time they fired director Nicholas Ray and strung together this compromised, lurid, fascinating mess.

Wind Across the Everglades is probably the first modern movie on the theme of the environment and the protection of ecosystems. Set at the turn of the 20th Century, a narrator bluntly announces that feathered fashions in ladies’ hats (the rapacious consumption of femininity!) has had a deleterious effect on wildfowl populations, with poachers hunting in defiance of new laws intended to preserve the Everglades.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Double Take: 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' (1969)

// Short Ends and Leader

"The two Steves at Double Take are often mistaken for Paul Newman and Robert Redford; so it's appropriate that they shoot it out over Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

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