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by Michael Barrett

23 Sep 2016


Jeanne Moreau and Orson Welles in Chimes at Midnight (1965)

Criterion has done film buffs a favor (again) with this double shot of hard-to-find Orson Welles films of the ‘60s, both co-starring himself and Jeanne Moreau.

Chimes at Midnight (1965) manufactures a new Shakespeare play by combining scenes from five plays into the story of rollicking scoundrel John Falstaff (Welles) and his carousing friendship with the dissolute Prince Hal (Keith Baxter), the future Henry V. Moreau appears as Falstaff’s girlfriend, while Margaret Rutherford is Mistress Quickly. John Gielgud is the stern and disappointed Henry IV. It’s a rich, human story, anchored by Shakespeare’s language and buoyed by joyous performances. Welles’ portrayal of the massive ne’er-do-well climaxes in a great emotional moment that, according to the Welles biographers interviewed in the extras, resonates with his own feelings about his father.

by Michael Barrett

20 Sep 2016


Rudolf Klein-Rogge in Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler (1922)

Fans of silent cinema should be alerted to two new Blu-rays of mid-September. One title upgrades a previous DVD release, and the other unveils a once-lost title on video for the first time. Both are directed by masters of silent and sound cinema in close collaboration with women writers with whom they had professional and intimate relationships.

The upgrade is Fritz Lang’s Dr. Mabuse the Gambler, a two-part epic about a ruthless king of crime and master of disguise (played by Rudolf Klein-Rogge having a field day) who manipulates the stock market, blackmails and hypnotizes spineless scions, gambles with money and lives, and commits endless skullduggeries. Proclaiming itself “a picture of the time” and “a play of the men of our time”, this extravagant, big-budget criminal melodrama purports to capture the zeitgeist of Weimar Germany, coincidentally before a similarly self-proclaimed Übermensch, as mad and criminal as Mabuse, would publish Mein Kampf (1925) as part of his bid for political power. The script is credited to Norbert Jacques, the novelist who created Mabuse, and Thea von Harbou, Lang’s most important creative collaborator during the silent era and for several years his wife.

by Michael Barrett

16 Sep 2016


The Horrible Dr. Hichcock belongs to a strain of Italian horror in the late ‘50s and ‘60s that evoked Gothic Victorian melodrama, or more specifically the gaudy productions of Hammer Studios and Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe films. Despite its variant spelling, the title tells you that the film also owes debts to Alfred Hitchcock, particularly a plot that’s a kinky variant of Rebecca.

In that famous story, a young bride arrives at her husband’s mansion only to be disturbed by whispers about his dead first wife, not to mention the hostility of a loyal housekeeper. In the Italian update scripted by Ernesto Gastaldi (as “Julyan Perry” to sound British) and directed ripely and zoomily by Riccardo Freda (as “Robert Hampton”), the first reel shows us exactly what happened to the first wife.

by Michael Barrett

14 Sep 2016


How do you make a movie called Cat People? That was the question faced by producer Val Lewton when put in charge of his own RKO unit with a mission to make B horrors from titles provided by the studio. He had the freedom to crank out a movie attached to whatever cheesy moniker was handed to him, as long as he stayed under budget.

He rose to the challenge with a series of atmospheric wonders that saved his effects budget in favor of suggestions and shadows. The first of these, Cat People, became a surprise hit, cannily (or uncannily) exploiting the nation’s wartime jitters.

by Michael Barrett

13 Sep 2016


Remy Marko (Broderick Crawford) was a successful businessman: he sold bootleg hooch during the Prohibition. The legalization of alcohol was catastrophic to his affairs, but his wife (Claire Trevor) convinces Marko to go legit despite the fact that his beer is basically undrinkable and no longer sought after. Sliding into debt and repossession by the bank, Marko finds that good honest work is not for the faint of heart.

Winking and nodding somewhere in the background of Stop, You’re Killing Me is a satire of capitalism and the cut-throat world of debt and consumption. It all comes to a head one weekend at Marko’s Saratoga mansion when he throws a big party just as his barely reformed goombahs (Charles Cantor, Sheldon Leonard, Joe Vitale) discover the bodies of four murdered robbers in an upstairs bedroom.

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In Defense of the Infinite Universe in 'No Man's Sky'

// Moving Pixels

"The common cries of disappointment that surround No Man’s Sky stem from the exciting idea of an infinite universe clashing with the harsh reality of an infinite universe.

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