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by Michael Barrett

16 Apr 2015


“The producers of the picture you are about to see feel a moral obligation to warn you that it will shock you as no other film ever has. Because it could be very harmful to young and impressionable minds, it is restricted to only those over 14 years of age.”

This come-on, after we’ve already paid for the ticket, opens American International Picture’s U.S. print of Mario Bava’s classic Italian horror film. Kino Lorber has previouly released the uncut edition on Blu-ray, and now they’ve exhumed the American International version for those nostalgics who grew up with it. You’d have to be a nostalgic or completist to find appeal in the film, and you certainly shouldn’t prefer this version to the original (with its sharper image), but it’s still spooky, clammy, and stylish. Those are all thanks to the gliding camera, Gothic sets, Bava’s expressionism, and Barbara Steele’s evil grins and flashing eyes as the dead, grotesquely deformed witch who tries to resurrect by stealing the youth of her descendant-double.

by Bill Gibron

15 Apr 2015


It remains one of the well worn clichés in the film business: ask a writer or actor what they want to do, and if they don’t answer “be a rock star”, they invariably say “direct”. Yep, the seat behind the camera, the voice of implied reason during what is often the cinematic equivalent of herding cats, seems to be what every non-director in Hollywood (and elsewhere) wants.

In some ways, it makes sense. There’s no better way to get your vision of a script or a character across to the audience then handling the interpretation yourself. There’s also the concept of power for the often powerless. For many first timers, the rewards can be astonishing. Such familiar names as Ron Howard, Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson, and Robert Redford have turned their time behind the scenes into pure Oscar gold.

by Bill Gibron

14 Apr 2015


It’s becoming a bit of a joke. The man hasn’t made a legitimate mainstream movie since 2001 (2006 if you count the digital experiment INLAND EMPIRE) and yet he remains one of the most highly regarded and beloved auteurs in all of film. His past efforts include masterworks such as Mulholland Dr., Lost Highway, Wild at Heart, Blue Velvet, The Elephant Man, and Eraserhead, and even his lesser efforts (Dune, The Straight Story, to some extent) radiate an artistic immediacy that is hard to shake.

by Steve Leftridge and Steve Pick

13 Apr 2015


With so much comical choreography, camera hijinks, and gut-busting violence, it’s easy to see Raising Arizona as a live-action cartoon.

Steve Pick: We turn our attention now to Raising Arizona, the second film from the oddball ouevre of Joel and Ethan Coen. This one came out in 1987, a time when I wasn’t paying close attention to the movie world. I do know that by the beginning of the ‘90s, Raising Arizona was considered a comedy classic by a lot of the people I hung with, even though none of them had ever asked me to go see it with them. I caught bits here and there on TV over the years, but this was my first complete immersion into this tale of true love, the ways in which Huggies make changing diapers easier than changing one’s character, and the unbearable lightness of babies. It’s a black comedy, with almost as many homages to cartoons as would be seen in the partially animated Who Framed Roger Rabbit? only a year later. It continued the phenomenal rise to stardom of Nicholas Cage, back in the days when he was a lot skinnier, and a lot less imposing on screen. It introduced many people to Holly Hunter and gave John Goodman plenty of scenery to chew. Steve, what’s your history with this film and/or its directors and actors? How do you place it in the ranking of Coen Brothers movies?

by Michael Barrett

10 Apr 2015


This film version of Jack Gelber’s one-room, real-time play The Connection takes place in a Greenwich Village loft that, although grungy and low-down, now presents every speck of dirt and every cockroach with a clarity probably unseen since 1961, if then. As a time capsule alone, the film’s historical and stylistic perspective is fascinating.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

'Staircase' Is Gay in a Melancholy Way

// Short Ends and Leader

"Unfairly cast aside as tasteless during its time for its depiction of homosexuality, Staircase is a serious film in need of a second critical appraisal.

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