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by Michael Barrett

9 Jul 2015


Now available on demand from Warner Archive is Kid Glove Killer, a well-made B-picture in the crime genre that had a good fresh hook for 1942. The trailer, included as a bonus, trumpets “something new” out of the mass of common mysteries. That new thing was what we call forensics, the scientific investigation of evidence while the police around him are standard conclusion-jumping hard-boiled flatfoots ready to sweat a confession out of innocent mugs.

The hero is advertised on the poster and the trailer as “Police Chemist Gordon McKay” (Van Heflin), as if introducing a new series character, though this is the only adventure that materialized. He comes across like a flip, semi-cantankerous Sherlock Holmes with microscopes and cameras and projectors, who’s ready to make like Mr. Wizard in explaining his procedural gizmos. He’s supposedly human by the way he baits his almost equally jaded assistant Jane Mitchell (Marsha Hunt), who embodies America’s wartime schizophrenia about women in the workplace. She must be smart and competent (and pretty), but she must also aver that she “hates chemistry”,and that it’s “no job for a woman” who’s only marking time to fulfill her destiny with a husband.

by Michael Barrett

8 Jul 2015


The central story of Spring begins when Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) meets Louise (Nadia Hilker), the kind of beautiful, temperamental, and possibly crazy foreign woman that American boys are always falling for in movies. First, however, the film takes its time getting to that point, with much set-up about the painful life Evan’s leaving behind in California: his mom’s death, drunken bar fights, a nowhere job, and general malaise, all shot in an intimate, handheld, yet heightened expressive style marked by color filters and delicate lighting effects.

By the time Evan gets to a small coastal town in Italy, where he decides to try farm work after traveling with two loud, drunken, stoned British yobs, Evan’s more than ready to reinvent himself by shedding the shell of his former life. Louise is doing basically the same, only much more literally.

by Michael Barrett

7 Jul 2015


What was blaxploitation? This topical ‘70s trend in trashy exploitation put a racial angle on revenge. Its method was to appeal to the viewers’ lowest instincts while delivering a fast, violent entertainment that pretended to be “empowering” while touching on real issues of crime, oppression, exploitation, and whatnot. In other words, black folks got to kick ass. Often written, produced, and directed by white guys (with a few notable exceptions), these films ran the gamut from the relatively serious to the distasteful to the fun. Sugar Hill (1974), not to be confused with a Wesley Snipes movie of the same name, tilts to the fun end of the spectrum.

by Bill Gibron

6 Jul 2015


They say the third time’s the charm, a chance to make up for the mistakes made during the first two attempts. In the case of the Terminator franchise, this is doubly untrue. After two amazing installments by James Cameron (who created the concept, via Harlan Ellison). The third was an indifferent cash grab that recycled familiar elements from those films. It was a hit, but not a home run. Instead of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, it was The Matrix Revolutions.

Now, jump ahead a decade and we have another third. This time out, Terminator Genisys wants to reset the entire series. After Rise of the Machines, and the awful McG waste of time Salvation, the new film’s narrative goes back to the beginning, back to the moment when Kyle Reese travels back in time to save Sarah Connor from the seemingly indestructible killing machine of the title. Of course, when the new version of our hero arrives, he comes across an equally new version of our heroine, and she’s got an aging robot companion as her bodyguard/bestie.

by Michael Barrett

29 Jun 2015


Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970, dir. Jaromil Jireš)

We know you’ll sympathize, dear reader, when we whine that Criterion is putting out too many damn fine Blu-rays to keep up with. Pity us, watching masterpiece after masterpiece and having to put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, or synaptic impulses into digital space, to explain our insights. It’s all too much.

Sometimes, we just have to give briefer takes on these releases, so here’s ten films to watch and why. Bottom line: All are worth your time.

//Mixed media
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Speak of the Blue Devil: The Moody Grooves of Andy Kayes

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"Andy Kayes' latest album of mercurial hip-hop finds the rapper putting the boom back in boom bap, one beat at a time.

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