CFP: The Legacy of Radiohead's 'The Bends' 20 Years On [Deadlines: 4 Feb / 19 Feb]

 
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Thursday, Jan 29, 2015
Portrait of Jason and Ornette: Made in America, two outstanding Shirley Clarke documentaries, represent unique takes on the black experience in America.

In all-night session on December 3, 1966, Jason Holliday was “on”, baby. Getting drunk and stoned but handling it, he sashays from couch to chair and back again, riffing, singing, monologuing. He discusses being “a queen” and “a hustler”, touches on being black in his relation to various “ofay cats”, and discusses his frustrations, ambitions and sometimes destructive habits. Underlying all of this is fear, unless we project this interpretation, but his shrieking laughter over topics like how his father used to beat him skirts the edge of hysteria. The camera hovers closer and then backs away. The chapter breaks are fades out of focus, so that Jason resembles an X-ray of himself, and fades to black with his voice emanating from the ether.


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Tuesday, Jan 27, 2015
Although their DVD releases are bare-bones, Island in the Sky and Betrayed both benefit from their recent restorations from Fox and Warner archives.

Island in the Sky and Betrayed, both very good B pictures, each run at only 67 minutes. The films feature heroines navigating through tricky murder mysteries. They’re examples of the obscure little gems you find on demand from various studio catalogues, and both films look good in their bare-bones releases.


Gloria Stuart, most famous as the old lady in Titanic, is an excellently game and vivacious secretary to the District Attorney (Michael Whalen) in Island in the Sky. When he prosecutes a poor sap (Paul Kelly) for killing his rich dad, the man’s guilt looks as open and shut as if it were a Perry Mason case, and you know what that means. Our strong-minded gal Friday starts snooping with method and intelligence and finds all kinds of information, facing her own murder attempt along the way.


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Friday, Jan 23, 2015
In its examination of issues of multiculturalism, The Emerald Forest continues to acquaint complacent Americans to troubling geopolitical issues 30 years after its release.

John Boorman has stated that the myth of King Arthur informs his filmography, and that’s not hard to see in The Emerald Forest, scripted by the same Rospo Pallenberg who wrote Boorman’s Excalibur. As with Arthur, a special boy (director’s son Charley Boorman in a striking performance) has the magical power to lead his people. Instead of drawing a sword from a stone, he draws stones from a river and ends up going on a quest to a strange, forbidding land. That land is what most of us call “civilization”, and it’s a savage place, as represented by a modern city on the Amazon. The boy’s quest is the inversion of the quest by his father (Powers Boothe) through the jungle in search of his son, so the movie gives us two quests and two irreconcilable viewpoints for the price of one.


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Thursday, Jan 22, 2015
Robert Altman's '70s noir is a terrific, sad, and mischievous movie.

It’s 3 AM, and Marlowe’s sleeping with the lights on, fully dressed. He’s also forgotten to feed his cat, who jumps on him in remonstrance. We don’t know if he’s hung over or what, but Marlowe’s definitely going to seed. After trying and failing to feed the cat some cottage cheese with egg and salt, he finagles something morally questionable. He tries to fool the cat by substituting another brand in the old brand of cat food. Finding this a breach of contract, the cat dumps him, splits the scene, slips out the back. There are 50 ways to leave your owner.


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Wednesday, Jan 14, 2015
This entry in the '50s noir cycle is an exercise in paranoia from a woman's point of view.

Witness to Murder (1954) opens with a pre-credits sequence in which Cheryl Draper (noir icon Barbara Stanwyck) wakes up in the middle of the night and, looking across the street, witnesses neighbor Albert Richter (George Sanders) strangling a woman in his apartment. She calls the police, who say she must have dreamed it because they can find no evidence of a crime. However, the killer knows very well that she’s a witness, and he embarks on a diabolical plan to persecute and eliminate her. It proves remarkably easy to convince the police that she’s unstable and needs to be locked away in the women’s ward of a mental hospital.


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