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Friday, October 22 2010

Prime-Time Nuclear Destruction: ‘Medic’, ‘A Flash of Darkness’

When it comes to prime-time half-hour visions of nuclear destruction, there's none better than Medic episode, 'A Flash of Darkness' from Valentine's Day 1955, a surprisingly bleak eruption of nuclear despair.


Tuesday, October 19 2010

Fantômas: The Case of the Dastardly Scalawag

King of the underworld! Master of disguise! Collector of exclamation points! From books to films, Fantomas was the giddy James Bond phenom of its day.


Thursday, October 7 2010

‘A Cambodian Odyssey’: Haing Ngor Was Among the Most Consequential Actors of His Time

It isn't often that a brutal personal account of mass murder, slavery, torture and the obliteration of a sovereign nation causes a reader to meditate on the art of acting, but then, Haing Ngor's was no ordinary life.


Wednesday, October 6 2010

‘The Grapes of Wrath’: The Specter of Tom Joad Emerges From America’s Dark Past, Once Again

With the current economic climate -- increasing rates of foreclosure, evictions, unemployment, poverty and misery -- this classic story dangerously impinges upon the present to reveal the specter of Tom Joad emerging from the darkness, once again.


Tuesday, October 5 2010

Hollywood’s Silent Sister Act: A Tearjerking Tragedienne, a Sparkling Comedienne

Mary Pickford was the biggest female star at the beginning of the '20s and Greta Garbo was the biggest at the finish, but in between there were none bigger than Norma and Constance Talmadge.


Friday, October 1 2010

Pacific Hell Amid Days of Heaven: Terrence Malick’s ‘The Thin Red Line’

PopMatters' Paul Maher speaks with cast and crew about what went into Terrence Malick's million-and-a-half feet of film (250 hours) that would become The Thin Red Line (re-released on DVD by Criterion, 28 September).


Wednesday, September 15 2010

You’ll Never Get Rich—Bwa! Ha! Ha!: Sgt. Bilko: The Phil Silvers Show

Is there always something subversive about comedy? Only when it's funny.


Tuesday, September 14 2010

This Is a (Wo)Man’s World—Prime Suspect: The Complete Collection

The best thing about Prime Suspect is the density of it all, how we get beneath Tennison's skin to experience her desperation, her despair, and her desires.


Thursday, September 2 2010

Masterpieces of Silent Film Are Rescued From Obscurity

Underworld, The Last Command, and The Docks of New York are masterpieces of visual storytelling -- human dramas expressed with cinematographic innovation, impeccably realized set design, and an unparalleled grasp of the “bigger picture” of the motion picture.


Wednesday, September 1 2010

‘Word Is Out’‘s Historical Importance Cannot Be Underestimated

Tales of secrecy, discrimination, discovery, bonding, and isolation and loneliness are common, not surprising considering the social and political climate for the LGBT community in the '70s.


Monday, August 30 2010

‘The Mothers-In-Law’: Just for Good Measure, We’ll Give Everyone the Intelligence of a Radish

The '60s were the most surreal decade on TV, and this show has scenes as bizarre as any sitcom, even without castaways or martians or robots or talking animals or reincarnated automobiles.


Thursday, August 19 2010

Rambo’s Hold Will Never Let (Us) Go

The essential point of this series of all the Rambo films, muddy as it has been made by the hateful final installment, is that Rambo represents the failure of the American people to come to terms with their misadventure in Vietnam.


Monday, August 9 2010

‘Leave It to Beaver’ Is Probably Closer to Real Life for People Today Than Many Would Admit

Leave It to Beaver's problem is not that it no longer fits modern social concerns, but that it does so too blatantly. God forbid a modern hipster should let loose a chuckle and thus irrefutably acknowledge dull suburban ambitions!


Wednesday, August 4 2010

Pride and Prejudice

Clinging to the dictum “The personal is political”, and shunning such pesky realities as promiscuity, illness and civil rights, the progenitors of this Cinema Pride DVD have opted to focus simply on storytelling and character development.


Sunday, August 1 2010

House of the Rising Sun Lamp: Jersey Shore UNCENSORED: Season One

The youth whom I was concerned for regarding this program are not the network’s audience, as I thought, but its stars. Most seem aware that there is a direct relationship between outrageous behavior and screen time.


Thursday, July 22 2010

The Archaeology of Comedy: Ancient Funnybones Found Intact

More valuable fossils have been unearthed from the strata of film history thanks to these Kino and Flicker Alley DVDs: a bunch of lost Keatons and one lost Roxie.


Sunday, July 11 2010

How Does One Beat the Heat? Try Descending Into Icy Madness

To cope with the heat wave, advisories suggest visiting 'cooling centers' or public pools. To achieve a truly chilled-out state of mind, however, why not open the door to your mind and let the iceman cometh inside?


Tuesday, July 6 2010

Plan 9 for Ironic Appreciation: On B-movies, Riffing and Value-Added Irony

The RiffTrax line of DVDs reignites the enduring debate: Can something really be so bad that it's good?


Monday, June 28 2010

Jazz Ain’t Dead, But Charlie Parker Is—So Let’s Move On, Shall We?

If Charlie Parker rose from the dead I have no doubt that he'd cheer on the hip hop orchestras and Bugge Wesseltoft's piano thumping electronica. He would definitely be a fan of Esperanza Spalding.


Thursday, June 24 2010

Peyton Place: When Discretion Was Partly a Genteel Quality, Partly a Requirement of the Censor

A world where nothing is right or reassuring, and little will ever be resolved happily, not in 30-minutes or 30 years – TV as depression, an endless picturesque grind. Rather like life.


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