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by John Burns

16 Aug 2017


Zhuang Zhiqi and Dongjun Han (IMDB)

Cinema is not interested in perfect love stories. Cinema is interested in the wreckage, in the torment, in the heartbreak. Whether it’s delivered via illness, accident, infidelity or mere circumstance, cinema thrives in the tragic wreckage of a failed relationship.

From Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard in Brief Encounter (David Lean, 1945), through Ryan O’Neal and Ali Macgraw in Love Story (Arthur Hiller, 1970), right up to Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in La La Land (Damien Chazelle, 2016), time and time again audiences have been rapt by stories of imperfect romances, of loves and, ultimately, losses.

by Michael Barrett

15 Aug 2017


Van Heflin, Evelyn Keyes (IMDB)

Looking over our PopMatters articles of films directed by Joseph Losey, we seek to correct our unfortunate oversight of The Prowler, even if only in a hasty and perfunctory manner for the record. Restored by the Film Noir Foundation and UCLA Film & TV Archive to almost shockingly crisp state, this Los Angeles noir proved a major rediscovery when issued on DVD in 2011.

Van Heflin gives a great performance as a moral vacuum in a police uniform, griping about his “lousy breaks”. With sinister efficiency he spies upon, stalks, and manipulates lonely trophy wife (Evelyn Keyes) until he gets everything he wants. But what of the hell he carries inside? He carries the seeds of his own desperate, grasping, clammy doom as forthrightly as any of the narrators of Jim Thompson’s contemporaneous pulp novels, some of which also feature corrupt lawmen. The less you know before going into this gripping story, the better.

by Michael Barrett

9 Aug 2017


Stanislas Merhar and Clotilde Courau (IMDB)

In under 75 minutes, Philippe Garrel presents with clarity pretty much all that needs to be said about adultery, and he does so compassionately and without overdramatizing an emotionally complex and contradictory set of circumstances.

Pierre (Stanislas Merhar) is making a documentary about an old man who was a member of the French Resistance during WWII. While the man speaks, his wife fetches cookies. She has a different perspective on her husband and doesn’t seem to accord the moment the respect it should merit.

by Michael Barrett

25 Jul 2017


It’s possible that you’ve seen a film called Déjà Vu  before. Tony Scott directed an excellent thriller by that title starring Denzel Washington in 2006, and Henry Jaglom made a good romance of that name in 1997. The movie under discussion today, however, is a 1985 Cannon Production shot in London and Paris, and it’s a romantic reincarnation thriller whose plot twists and chronology perch it between J. Lee Thompson’s The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (1975) and Kenneth Branagh’s Dead Again (1991).

Fourth-billed Nigel Terry plays the central character, a writer named Gregory living happily with actress Maggie (Jaclyn Smith). She drags him to a classic black and white ballet film from the ‘30s (because there are so many!) starring one Brooke Ashley, and he becomes fascinated by Maggie’s uncanny resemblance to Brooke, although Maggie doesn’t seem to notice it. Maybe it’s because they both have such different hair.

by Michael Barrett

21 Jul 2017


Hedy Lamarr and George Nader (courtesy of Universal via IMDB)

Independent producer Albert Zugsmith specialized in what were regarded as trashy exploitation pictures during the ‘50s and ‘60s, yet he managed to pull off a handful of classics during his association with Universal: Jack Arnold’s The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), Douglas Sirk’s Written on the Wind (1956) and still widely underseen The Tarnished Angels (1958), and Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil (1958), controversially taken away from Welles and re-edited.

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TIFF 2017: 'The Shape of Water'

// Notes from the Road

"The Shape of Water comes off as uninformed political correctness, which is more detrimental to its cause than it is progressive.

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