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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 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.

by Michael Barrett

24 Jun 2015

Kings of the Sun (1963)

Kings of the Sun shows that in 1963, they were still making ‘em like they used to, to the consternation of some and the indifference of others. With novelty, this historical epic takes place in Central America before anyone called it that, and before Columbus and other johnny-come-latelies. Long before Europeans showed up, as the script by novelist Elliott Arnold and James R. Webb (How the West Was Won ) points out, the land was a hotbed of colonial conquest and resistance, immigration, and diplomacy.

George Chakiris plays Balam, the young leader of the Mayans. They’re attacked by invaders equally bird-hatted, but with metal swords more effective than the Mayans’ wooden ones. Are these Toltecs? Aztecs? Wikipedia kindly informs us of tribal conflict led by Hunac Ceel against Chichen Itza around the 13th Century, but it’s still confusing. In short: Balam calls it a day and leads his people over the waters of the Gulf of Mexico to what might be Louisiana. Again, they didn’t know what to call it yet, but the place has swamps and a tribe led by Black Eagle (Yul Brynner).

by Dylan Fremont

23 Jun 2015

When you grow up watching movies, you might hope that one day, if you start making your own, you’ll get to remove all the unnecessary bits from your favourites and recombine what remains into a new whole, a movie with all the best scenes and most intense emotions.

//Mixed media

A Chat with José González at Newport Folk Festival

// Notes from the Road

"José González's sets during Newport Folk Festival weren't on his birthday (that is today) but each looked to be a special intimate performance.

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