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Monday, Aug 11, 2014
On a regular basis, yours truly will discuss many of the movie "firsts" that have occurred in his life over the last half century. Let's start with Brian De Palma's Phantom of the Paradise.

I was 13, and a budding cinephile. The Marquette Mall Theater in Michigan City, Indiana had become a second home, a relatively short bike ride away from the Gibron “estate” and a holder of hundreds of motion picture mysteries. None of them were more potent than the weekend Midnight Movie.


Even as a introductory teenager, the notion of staying up that late was still a tad ‘foreign’. On those rare occasions when we were traveling out of, or into, town at said hour, I would always crane my neck to see the crowds lining up at the box office. I wanted to know who was still awake enough to watch a movie, what manner of human had it in them to, at that late hour, keep alert enough to enjoy any entertainment whatsoever.


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Friday, Aug 8, 2014
Not only is Into the Storm mindless and mediocre, it's disrespectful, as well.

There’s always something unsettling about a disaster film. It’s not the notion of nature (or man) creating chaos, and thus calamity, for all the members of our unsuspecting society. It’s not the death, though that’s a horrific given. It’s not even the idea that what we are seeing could be the extinction of the entire human race.


No, the really nasty bit is the concept of survival, the “what if?” after the planet freezes, the tidal wave hits, or the nuclear holocaust ends. As they often say, those who are killed will be the lucky ones. Those left behind face the nightmare of rebuilding and reconsideration, recognizing that, while they made it, many, many more did not.


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Friday, Aug 8, 2014
What happens when you substitute bombast for fun and bloat for finesse? This.

When you have an idea as inherently goofy as adolescent amphibians morphed into martial arts trained vigilantes, it doesn’t help to take said material too seriously. Gravitas adds nothing except questions, queries the innately oddball concepts can’t answer.


That’s one of the many problems with the laughable Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot. Instead of going cartoony, producer Michael Bay and director Jonathan Liebesman have decided to apply the Transformers technique to this material, substituting bombast for fun and bloat for finesse.


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Thursday, Aug 7, 2014
Warner Archive has offered up a version of the 1955 version of "Kismet", which contrasts nicely with its 1944 counterpart.

A bit of gaudy Technicolor escapism fashioned in the middle of WWII, William Dieterle‘s Kismet takes place in a never-never-Bagdad that crosses the Arabian Nights with Hollywood. The always excellent Ronald Colman plays the self-styled King of Beggars with as much magnetic swagger and light charm between turban and goatee as could have been mustered by Errol Flynn—and we might as well mention Douglas Fairbanks, since the film seems to be channeling bits of The Thief of Bagdad.


Marlene Dietrich doesn’t have that much to do, but she does it with enough high camp to become her own spectacle within the spectacle; in other words, she comes across like Marlene Dietrich. Her highpoint is a bit of interpretive dance that looks like a light exercise routine as she’s decked out in gold paint like the unfortunate damsel in Goldfinger. The viewer can only stare as she leans backward and lays her head upon the dais. Perhaps the laziest gal in town is about to take a nap, but her audience is at full attention.


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Wednesday, Aug 6, 2014
This week on our ongoing field guide to 1950s horror and sci-fi movies and the creatures that inhabit them: things get spicy south of the border in The Aztec Mummy, known to Telemundo viewers as La Momia Azteca

Alternative titles: Montezuma’s Other Revenge; Hey, Does This Look Infected?


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