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by Michael Barrett

18 May 2015


42nd Street can still surprise first-time viewers who tend to think of musicals as feather-light contraptions interrupted by elaborate numbers. Most of them are, including the run of Warner Brothers ‘30s musicals that this one high-kicked off. But 42nd Street acts as a serious or least straight-faced drama for its first 75 minutes, albeit with saucy little pre-Code one-liners here and there with sexual implications. It’s put across with director Lloyd Bacon‘s workhorse combo of smoothness and punch, saving the eye-popping production numbers for the last reel.

There’s the slave-driving director (Warner Baxter) who wants to pull of the greatest show of his career before a possible heart attack; his method consists entirely of screaming at people. There’s the surprisingly human diva (Bebe Daniels) who stars in the show, thanks to the deep pockets of her besotted backer (Guy Kibbee), while she’s secretly in love with an old vaudeville partner (George Brent), who chafes at hiding and being a kept man. He says there’s a word for it, and it isn’t a nice word.

by Chris Barsanti

18 May 2015


A demolition derby of a chase scene occasionally interrupted by scraps of crackpot wit and Aussie slang-strangled dialogue, Mad Max: Fury Road burns through ammunition and fuel with abandon. You would think that the characters were video-game avatars possessed of endlessly replenishable digital supplies, not the starving and sickly remnants of humanity barely surviving in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Unlike many action films, though, where such profligacy is determined by need for trailer-ready action beats, here it’s central to the film’s story and message.

“Message?” you say. Yes, we are talking about the fourth film in George Miller’s pedal-to-the-medal post-apocalyptic series that started back in 1979 with Mad Max. A swift and effective revenge flick about a cop who goes rogue after a biker gang kills his family and disappears into the Outback after taking revenge, it was also a subtle piece of dystopian fiction. Miller never identified exactly why society was collapsing, but made clear that it all went back to a gas shortage; a more savage version of the one from earlier in the 1970s that reportedly saw law and order break down in remote parts of Australia.

by Michael Barrett

13 May 2015


Massacre Gun is a widescreen, black and white, Japanese gangster movie from the era when Nikkatsu Studios was turning out dozens of such titles in the sleek “international” style they called “borderless action”.

The story is as formulaic as possible: Two brothers are members of a yakuza gang, while their youngest brother is an aspiring boxer sponsored by the boss. In the opening sequence, the oldest brother (the ubiquitous and distinctive Joe Shishido of the surgically-altered chipmunk cheeks) is ordered to kill his lover because she’s really the boss’ girlfriend. He does so, and this causes the youngest brother (Jirô Okazaki) to diss the boss (Takashi Kanda), who has the boy’s hands crushed. In other words, it’s an escalating series of vengeful ping-pong moves that can only end with lots of corpses. The “massacre gun” turns out to be a high-powered rifle used in the final shoot-out on a bridge under construction.

by Christopher Forsley

7 May 2015


When discovering movies like Blindman (1971), I am overcome with equal parts hope and despair. The fact that such an insane story found serious financing and that so many talented people were a part of it gives me hope in the possibilities of cinema, but it also makes me despair at the reality of cinema. Blindman is an exception to the rule. The rule is that movies with this level of creativity and fearlessness are forced to subsist on meager talent and limited budgets. Blindman is one of a kind; it is the peerless freak of spaghetti westerns. As such, I feel it is my responsibility to protect and promote it.

by Evan Sawdey

6 May 2015


“I hope Satan eats your asshole.”
“Catch my hands right now turn on your fucking location you neck beard bitch.”
“You ugly ass big bird looking bitch, stop ruining everything you touch.”

This is just a very small sampling of tweets that were directed at Joss Whedon over the past few days since the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, the year’s most anticipated Hollywood film next to Star Wars Episode VII. For a man who has created numerous TV shows centered around strong female characters, it was a bit of a shock when, on 5 May 2015, Whedon abruptly shut down his popular and humorous Twitter account following the heated backlash he received over the treatment of the Avengers’ main female protagonist, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson).

//Mixed media
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Country Fried Rock: Great Peacock Interview

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"Great Peacock's Southern indie anthems make the headliners for whom they open nervous. When the warm-up act has the crowd singing along, you know this emerging band will fly far.

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