A man’s silhouette walks unsteadily away from the camera, which follows slowly behind him as he approaches the signpost of an intersection at night. The shadowy man leans against the post because he’s hurt, bleeding from a head wound. He’s nearly struck by a cab, whose spunky little female driver jumps out to give him a tongue-lashing until she realizes he’s injured and doesn’t remember his name or anything else. “It’s am-something,” she says, and she’ll spend the rest of the night helping him retrace his steps to find out if he’s guilty of the murder that’s just occurred near that location.
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While most of the titles in Kino Lorber’s Studio Classics line of Blu-rays are reasonably well-known titles that have been on DVD before, the company here performs a service in exhuming a pre-Code spectacle lost for decades. It’s of special interest to fans of old-school physical effects and early science fiction talkies.
Deluge is an early example of what we now call the disaster film, though at the time it was advertised as a spectacle whose closest model was the same year’s King Kong. Based on a popular English novel by S. Fowler Wright, it posits an apocalypse convulsing the world with earthquakes and tsunamis, leaving survivors to rebuild.
Belying its ironic title, Harold Prince’s 1970 film, Something for Everyone, is hardly well-known, never mind a mainstream hit. It is, however, a cult specialty in that intersects several important careers more famous for Tony-winning Broadway work. With its VHS incarnations out of print for decades, it finally hits the digital era.
Riding a bicycle through Austria in his lederhosen, Konrad (Michael York) sets his sights on a castle currently owned by the poverty-stricken Countess von Ornstein (Angela Lansbury). It’s the same castle featured in his much-thumbed children’s picture book, and he will calmly go about inveigling himself into that fairy-tale ruin by any means necessary. This will involve romancing an heiress (Heidelinde Weis) and getting a job as a footman under the suspicious eye of a butler (Wolfried Lier), who represents the Nazi past.
Written, produced and directed by Ken Russell, The Boy Friend isn’t merely one of his most exuberant films, which is already saying plenty, but it’s his happiest and most joyful.
Russell began with a solid structure provided by Sandy Wilson’s hit stage musical of the ‘50s, itself a self-conscious pastiche of ‘20s musicals. The original West End production became one of England’s longest-running shows, while the Broadway version introduced Julie Andrews to America. The year before this film was made, a Broadway revival starred Judy Carne and Sandy Duncan. It was part of a schizophrenic wave of ‘20s nostalgia that was hitting the culture with such items as the 1967 film Thoroughly Modern Millie (with Andrews) and the 1971 Broadway revival of No No Nanette at the same time that taboo-breaking projects explored contemporary themes.
A neatly constructed, though somewhat ineffectual, drama of conflicting love lives, Somewhere in the Middle (2015) marks the second outing of filmmaker and screenwriter Lanre Olabisi. Purely a product of New York filmmaking, Olabisi’s effort feels like a contentious New York minute stretched out and emotionally dissected systematically over its 90-minute running time.
Somewhere in the Middle is a romantic narrative told in ellipses. One storyline circles over another and is played back again to reveal how each character’s story is intertwined with another’s.
// Notes from the Road
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