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by Michael Barrett

6 Dec 2016


Peter Sellers (and part of Constance Cummings) in The Battle of the Sexes (1960)

James Thurber’s 1942 story “The Catbird Seat” is one of the crueler classics in the American canon. It’s a revenge story in which a mild-mannered accountant, one of the army of faceless and unimaginative cogs organized into the corporate wheels, decides to kill an efficiency expert whose decisions are causing lay-offs and streamlined procedures that threaten his dull world. Since the expert is a woman, there’s an inevitable sense of the sexist fear of women in the previously male domain of the workplace. From the accountant’s point of view, she’s presented as an interloper of annoying mannerisms and phrases, like her use of “catbird seat”.

This story is filmed more or less faithfully while being transferred to Edinburgh: “A man’s world, a world in which the shortest skirts are worn by man” declares the narrator (Sam Wanamaker). In the clothing firm called MacPherson Tweeds, the cloth is hand-woven by families in the Hebrides and nothing has changed since the company was founded by the current owner’s grandfather. The latest MacPherson (Robert Morley) falls under the spell of outgoing American consultant Angela Barrows (Constance Cummings), who begins modernizing and updating the systems of filing, accounting and manufacture.

by Michael Barrett

28 Nov 2016


Jonathan Genet in Cosmos (2015)

Where to begin? Evidently at the ending, since this is the final film of the late Andrzej Zulawski, one of the most original, passionate, kinetic and crazy filmmakers in cinema.

To describe the story in rational terms, which is inappropriate, it’s about a romantically deranged young student named Witold (Jonathan Genet) who takes lodging with a demented family: a hyperactive red-haired landlady (Sabine Azéma) given to bouts of paralysis, her nonsense-spouting second husband (Jean-Francois Balmer), her sexy daughter (Victória Guerra) and son-in-law (Andy Gillet), the hairlipped maid (Clémentine Pons) who’s an unnoticed double of an unrelated character, and a polymorphously sexual fellow lodger (Johan Libéreau).

by Michael Barrett

18 Nov 2016


Kate Manx in Private Property (1960)

Shabby and unkempt, Duke (Corey Allen) and Boots (Warren Oates) drift over to a gas station and intimidate the owner into giving them free orange pop. Then they squat on their haunches and talk about sex. Boots says he’s “never made it” because he’s saving himself for marriage, and he bristles when Duke says he’s looking for a “sugar daddy”. To pacify him, Duke says he’ll fix it up for Boots with some “twitch”. When they spot a fine blonde woman, a nervous salesman (Jerome Cowan) tells them she’s out of their class, but they persuade him to give them a lift and follow her car, at one point threatening him with knives to continue.

So these boys are established from the start as all bully and tough talk, giving an air of menace that carries them through a slow-burning psychological study in which we wait to see if anything violent will really happen, or anything sexual, or both. From the empty house next door, they spy on the pretty woman, Ann (Kate Manx), who spends most of the day by her swimming pool. Her heated pool is as much a symbol for herself as the switchblades are for the uptight, sexually bantering drifters, and it’s hard to miss the symbolism.

by Michael Barrett

26 Oct 2016


Vamp (1986)

These ten Blu-rays refurbish classic and sometimes less than classic films calculated to give you goosebumps. Intellectually speaking, some are closer to a speedbump. Which are which in this season of the witch?

Perhaps all these films take seriously Picasso’s observation that good taste is the enemy of creativity, but that doesn’t mean the absence of the former is sufficient to the latter. That’s why you have intrepid reviewers to sit through this stuff for you, Dear Reader, and separate the Tricks from the Treats.

by Michael Barrett

24 Oct 2016


Astro Zombies (1968)

As Kino Lorber continues its Blu-ray avalanche of classic, semi-classic and non-classic horror titles, we confess to being a little overwhelmed. There are hardly enough hours in the day to keep up with these low-budget cult offerings while still sleeping and eating. If you feel like buckling down for a Halloween marathon, here’s a sampling of recent releases in chronological order by year.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Emerging from My Hiatus from Big Budget Games

// Moving Pixels

"I'd gotten burned out on scope and maybe on spectacle in video games, but I think it's time to return to bigger worlds to conquer.

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