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by Imran Khan

16 Jan 2017


Vana Rambota in Medusa (1998)

Audacious and knotty as it is viewer-friendly, Greek filmmaker George Lazopolous’ first and (seemingly) only film mines a territory at once strange and familiar. A wry tale which takes in Greek mythology, punk-rock rebellion and the influences of the American suspense-drama, Medousa is an effective and curious little thriller about myth and obsession. For such a low-budget effort, it shouldn’t be nearly as entertaining as it really is. Lazopolous, however, manages a fine balance with the many disparate elements he has at his disposal.

by Michael Barrett

6 Jan 2017


Leon Bary, Eugene Pallette, Douglas Fairbanks, George Siegmann

Douglas Fairbanks was one of the greatest stars of silent cinema and one of its most astute in taking control of his career and molding his own image with the co-founding of United Artists. He shared these qualities with his wife, Mary Pickford. In this way, he transformed from a magnetic actor in comedies into a genuine superstar who became Hollywood’s first real action hero in stunt-based epics. One of his early hits in this new mode is now available as a print-on-demand DVD from Undercrank Productions.

Based on the senior Alexandre Dumas’ oft-filmed novel, The Three Musketeers is the familiar tale of D’Artagnan (Douglas Fairbanks), a lad from the provinces who goes to Paris and instantly makes friends with the three best swordsmen: Athos (Leon Bary), Porthos (George Siegmann) and Aramis (Eugene Pallette). They work as a kind of securitiy force for Louis XIII (Adolphe Menjou) and are known as Musketeers, even though they don’t display any muskets.

by Michael Barrett

21 Dec 2016


John Howard in The Undying Monster (1942)

These Blu-rays upgrade and preserve the contents of two DVDs from a box called Fox Horror Classics, reviewed by PopMatters back in 2007. You needn’t exert yourself to the clicking of links, however; your tireless reviewer has no compunction about recapitulating his erstwhile insights here.

Both films are directed by John Brahm, an expressionistically gifted stylist who emigrated to Hollywood from Hitler’s Germany and whose career flowered in TV, where he directed episodes of a virtual encyclopedia of classic series. His visual talent might be why he was tapped for the B-picture The Undying Monster, one of 20th Century Fox’s few attempts to cash in on the horror genre that was making so much money for Universal and RKO in the ‘40s, especially with movies about people who transform into animals.

by Michael Barrett

15 Dec 2016


Ron Ely in Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze (1975)

Warner Archive has issued two new Blu-rays of ‘70s fantasies that occasion very different memories in your nostalgic reviewer.

By now, Dear Reader, you must have learned one of the rules: Avoid most movies you loved as a kid. What struck my squeaky post-toddler self as cinematic masterworks, like Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967) and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), look dull and pale today.

by Michael Barrett

14 Dec 2016


Clara Bow and Esther Ralston in Children of Divorce (1927)

In the opening scenes of Children of Divorce, two little girls make friends at boarding school. Tiny dark-haired Kitty (Joyce Coad) and tall blonde Jean (Yvonne Pelletier) bond because they’re both children of divorce. In the world of this film, that’s got nothing to do with shared custody or single parents. It means they’ve been abandoned by careless, cocktail-swilling, party-hopping, big-chapeau-wearing, Eurotrash-hobnobbing moms who belong to a parasitic social class that could afford divorce (like the people who made Hollywood movies in the ‘20s).

It’s virtually a Marxist statement despite itself, although an incoherent one. To pick one obvious nit, the other kids in the school have also been dumped by parents of the same class who simply didn’t bother getting divorced first. Later, the “young set” they run with will be depicted as equally useless, idle, and prone to avoiding productivity, even though few of them can utter the badge of declaration spouted by the adult Jean (Esther Ralston): “We’re children of divorce!” Maybe so, but she doesn’t look that miserable.

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