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by Michael Barrett

26 Apr 2016


William Cameron Menzies (1896-1957), was one of the great influential production designers in cinema; indeed, the term “production design” was coined for his work on Gone with the Wind (1939). Yet, he was less prepossessing as a director because of failings common to art directors turned directors: he tended to use actors as design elements rather than encourage performances from them, and he tended to pay more attention to “the look” than the story and pace. Even so, he directed two remarkable if imperfect examples of ‘50s Cold War paranoia: Invaders from Mars (1953) and the earlier The Whip Hand (1951), which is now on demand from Warner Archive.

A blandly pretty, young Elliott Reid plays Matt Corbin, a reporter who goes fishing near a small town and smacks his head against a boulder. Late in the movie, he’ll smack the other side of his head against a branch and start bleeding all over again from a fresh wound. What a clumsy fellow! When he goes for help, he finds himself a prisoner of taciturn, falsely friendly, or just openly hostile locals who have taken over the town since all the lake fish died from a mysterious virus. What’s going on? It has something to do with the lodge across the lake, and Matt smilingly blusters his way into trouble while romancing a nervous local sweetheart (Carla Balenda).

by Boen Wang

25 Apr 2016


There are ghosts in The Winter, but it’s not a ghost story. There’s a love interest, but it’s not a love story. There are unexplained figures, nightmarish visions, and descents into madness, but it’s not a horror story either. In fact, I’m not sure The Winter is much of a story at all.

The film centers on a Greek young man named Niko (Theo Albanis) who attempts to make a living in London as a writer. Niko has accumulated thousands of Euros in debt, and in a clever touch, the film’s opening credits are written on the piles of bills that are strewn across his apartment floor. He decides to return to his hometown of Siatista in rural Greece and hide out in his father’s abandoned house.

by Michael Barrett

13 Apr 2016


You know you’re in for something odd when the opening credits of Samuel Fuller’s detective story, produced for German TV in 1974, depict the actors and most of the crew posing in gaudy carnival costumes and mugging for the camera—and there’s the white-haired Fuller himself, dressed as a clown while iconically smoking a cigar.

For years, Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street has only been available, and rarely, in the 102-minute version given a brief theatrical run in the US. Now on Blu-ray is the UCLA Film & TV Archive’s digital restoration of a complete 123-minute director’s cut, with added whimsical self-consciousness and digressions to emphasize Fuller’s idea that the film is a genre parody and a game.

by Victor Stiff

31 Mar 2016


Daredevil

The Origin Story

Once considered cinematic junk food, comic book movies are no longer just bite-sized, easily digestible bits of entertainment. Not long ago, comic book movie franchises’ primary objectives were profitable box office runs, generating as many sequels as possible (Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, Batman & Robin), and selling ungodly amounts of licensed merchandise. In today’s blockbuster movie landscape, a film can meet box office expectations, spawn a sequel, and still qualify as a failure.

In 2016, studio mandates require that comic book movies hit multiple benchmarks in order to qualify as successful, and wrapping up a satisfying story in roughly 120-minutes is only one of them. Comic book movies must also act as advertisements for upcoming films, and establish deep mythologies that branch off into other movie franchises, video games, comic books, and TV series. Nowadays, producing comic book related entertainment is a complicated process, akin to juggling several knives while walking backward on a tightrope.

by Valeriy Kolyadych

29 Mar 2016


How does myth shape our understanding of the world? Such is the question hiding in the heart of Larry Fessenden’s Wendigo, a film that screened in gorgeously grainy 35mm on Thursday as part of the Boston Underground Film Festival. An artful examination of mythical storytelling, Wendigo succeeded both as a horror film and a character-driven indie drama about a young boy dealing with trauma.

A vacationing family consisting of father George (Jake Weber), mother Kim (Patricia Clarkson), and son Miles (Erik Per Sullivan) leave New York City for a weekend in the countryside. Before they even get to their rental, however, a car accident involving a deer and a group of abrasive hunters shakes up the family, especially young Miles. On arrival, bullet holes in the windows and the recurring presence of the exceptionally creepy Otis, one of the hunters, betray the fact that this idyllic escape may not be very idyllic after all.

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You Should Dance Like Gene Kelly Today

// Global Graffiti

"In the glut of new "holidates", April and May offer two holidays celebrating the millions who preserve and promote the art of dance

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