by J.D. Lafrance

In the 1980s, Martha Coolidge’s films were a welcome antidote to the dominance of John Hughes’ output. On the surface, her films appear to be quite similar, but whereas Hughes’ films ultimately play it safe and are conservative in nature (i.e. the status quo is preserved), Coolidge’s films champion the outsider in society – for example, Nicolas Cage’s punk rocker hooks up with Deborah Foreman’s Valley girl despite societal pressure in Valley Girl (1983). Real Genius (1985) appears to be just another mindless college comedy like Revenge of the Nerds (1984), but whereas that film had its outsiders ultimately become part of accepted mainstream society, the nerds in Real Genius rebel against it and are proud to be different.

Continue Reading »

by Sam Juliano

Life as we knew it has forever been altered.  Here in the northern New Jersey/New York City Metropolitan area we are hunkered down in the epicenter of the pandemic.  Fear and uncertainty are always heightened when any one of us has to leave for groceries.  A few days a week I head up to the deserted school which hypothetically is just as safe as our own home, since people have ceased entering this building for weeks now.  Shockingly enough my home county of Bergen (NJ) now has more cases (somewhere around 15,000) than 38 of the states.  A small consolation so far is that my home town of Fairview has so far reported 16 cases, but as we all know confirmed cases is contingent upon testing and also on people who show symptoms.  It is reasonable to assume that some have it but never know it and of these a proportion are likely to pass it on if they aren’t diligent with social distancing.  But of course we are hardly unique in this present hot spot, as some of our friends in the Chicago area and just over the Canadian border are now under siege, in addition to our West Coast friends.  As our economy continues to get hammered and the death figures increase (though they are a tiny percentage of those infected) we are all wondering what our prospects are for recovery and if we and our families will be spared a bout with this invisible enemy.  We wish all our readers continued safely and smart decision-making.  It is likely that the stay-at-home situation will be in place for months ahead.  Movies, music and reading are ways to pass time for sure. though as the weather improves cabin fever will be a more than daunting proposition.  But for our lives we must stay the course. Continue Reading »

by Marco Tremble

Australia; Directed by George Miller; Starring: – Mel Gibson, Joanne Samuel, Steve Bisley, Roger Ward, Hugh Keys-Byrne, Vincent Gill and Geoff Parry.

Mad Max is the underrated phenomenon that started a genre, the first mainstream dystopian fall of society. Set in an Australia with its society on the brink of collapse, terrorized by scores of nomadic biker gangs who have little or no regard human life and policed by young men who have little or no hope of turning the tide yet still they try.

Its here we find Max (an early role for troubled megastar Mel Gibson), involved in the pursuit of a cop-killer called The Nightrider (Vincent Gill). Miller doesn’t actually start the action with our protagonist but rather his colleagues Roop and Charlie.

Roop, indulging his voyeuristic habits through the scope of sniper rifle is called to a hot pursuit of the cop killer whose “wasted a young probie” and stolen one of the Main Force Patrol’s or MFP’s prized cars a pursuit special.  This is where the chase begins, the boys in their super hot, souped up pursuit and interceptor vehicles chase down the Nightrider as he psychotically pontificates over the radio at “The Bronze” as he calls them.

The driving and the action is frenetic and violent and eventually entwines Max’s best friend, the motorcycle cop Jim Goose (Steve Bisley), who after several more accidents low-sides his bike and break’s his leg… Enter Max, we have seen him in brief cut scenes working on his interceptor, but now he enters his own, called by “The Goose” into the pursuit Max plays a high octane, high horsepower game of chicken. This as all games of chicken do ends badly, for The Nightrider that is and so begins our story.

Essentially we have two tales of revenge in this movie; first we have the maniacal Toecutter (Hugh Keys-Byrne) and his gang seeking revenge on Max and his friends and family. It’s this sadistic and prolonged revenge when punctuated by the murder of Goose and Max’s wife and son that sends Max mad. Continue Reading »

by Marco Tremble

with Min-Sik Choi, Byung-Hun Lee; directed by Jee-Woon Kim’ running time 144 min.

I Saw the Devil is what can be only described as one of the most extreme revenge thrillers I’ve seen.  It all starts on a dark snow night with a lone young woman stuck in a car on the phone to her fiancé…

Normal enough you might think? But a school bus that drives past has what can only be one of the most demented villains I’ve come across. He really does make Hannibal Lecter look like a day care assistant! Still no shocks yet, the conversation between the happy couple continues as the driver of the bus surveys the car and eventually asks if she wants help with her flat tire.

It still seems all innocent just now as the girl declines his offer of help and finishes her call with her finance that is I forgot to say an agent with South Korea’s Military Intelligence Agency.  This begins to set up everything for the rest of the movie as once the call is finished the man in the bus attacks the car and the girl in the most brutal fashion with a very heavy hammer…

The scene cuts to what can only be described as a torture chamber where the killer begins his murderous act that eventually kicks the movie off. I’m not going to go in to the “gory” details only to say there is the usual pleading for life which is ignored and the revelation that his victim is pregnant all to no avail as the girl is dispatched and disposed of.

Then segue to a scene of a child walking through a field by a stream beneath a motorway overpass, the child beating the grass with a stick and eventually finding a black plastic bag. This kicks off the discovery of the victims many body parts and starts what can only be described as the most sadistic hunt for revenge. Continue Reading »

 © 2020 by James Clark

      The films of Ingmar Bergman always present difficulties—difficulties of narrative (as with nearly all films); and difficulties of theme (as almost unique). Unlike virtually all other film artists, his communications presuppose that each of his works vitally contribute to the one being viewed. Unlike normal conundrums which may be absolutely resolved, the interest Bergman has attended to will never disappear. His embrace of his theme is complex to a degree almost unimaginable.  But in the case of those who have devoted time and energy to hopefully grasping the heart of those haunting depths, it remains a shock and a dismay that the range of these films have not been recognized. (The situation here, is likened to Reichardt’s Wendy mired in narrative, while Lucy makes a hidden difference.)

Though our helmsman leaves movie buffs bemused, he is, in fact, far from the only practitioner of his ilk. In ancient Greece, there were thinkers who drove their sensibilities along lines familiar to Bergman. They encountered the advantage-zeal-simplism emanating from Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, and their Judeo-Christian offshoots with their punitive style. The so-called Dark Ages were not only about Neanderthals, but also furnaces of inquisitional pedantry. By the time of the 18th century, and the overrated Age of Enlightenment, a form of surreptitious opposition to throttling of what the pre-Socratics had discovered, had become a shadowy form of rebellion, known as Freemasonry [free building]. One of the artistic giants of the era, composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, was, in fact, a Freemason; along with a close associate, Emanuel Schikaneder, who became the librettist for the Mozart opera, The Magic Flute (1791).

Bergman was, as you know, an inspired builder of filmic innovation. But, with his version of The Magic Flute (1975), his muse abandoned the totally new, in delight with a sort of sidekick, namely, Mozart. The film we see today does put out a vigorous recommendation on behalf of classical rational power, in accordance with a clientele besotted with Age-of-Enlightenment righteousness. But Mozart, while giving due to the status quo in the opera, evinces, with Mozartian elegance, a subversive counterattack. Aptly, then, Bergman, always subversive, will alight upon features of the modern world in his scenario, having made no significant progress beyond the days of Mozart. But he must also acknowledge the rare, if quixotic, daring, spilling out from one, remarkable modest source, being food for thought in a world convinced that only a mob can get things done. Continue Reading »

A long line of cars waits to enter a drive-through COVID-19 coronavirus testing center in Paramus, N.J., Friday, March 20, 2020. The facility opened Friday in Bergen County which has been the state’s hardest-hit area.

by Sam Juliano

We are all in this together.  And we have the ball in our court to stringently follow all directives that will diminish the odds that we will be infected and adversely impacted by COVID-19.  Most of us will readily affirm this is the most frightening time we have ever lived through and here at the epicenter of this pandemic in and around New York City drastic measures are being enacted and testing centers have been established.  Some of us, Yours Truly included have been following the coverage almost 24-7 and there is a downside to that unique strain of masochism even while we all need the most recent developments.  I implore all our friends to stay safe and militantly employ social distancing.  It has been confirmed that age is no longer a given as young people are contracting the illness, with some even dying.  We are hearing reports of some celebrities and political figures who have contracted the virus and on social media others have come forth to announce they too have joined the ranks of those afflicted.  The “hope” quotient of my MMD title is palpable if we all employ the harshest measures on ourselves and never take anything for granted.  Our vigilance will dictate the duration of this fearful pestilence and to that end I extend to all our prayers and best wishes.  The sun will shine again God willing, but we do have the power to seal the deal.  Needless to say, our economy has been decimated and unemployment figures are staggering.  We are at war against an invisible enemy and must never lose our focus.

Continue Reading »

by Sam Juliano

Public school systems have been shuttered with home schooling via online options being employed by teachers on call.  Across the nation public events have been cancelled or postponed.  Here in Bergen County, New Jersey movie theaters have been ordered closed and a restaurant ban for patrons eating inside is being considered as of this writing.  I’ve been told by reliable sources this may not come to pass but the fact it is even being entertained says a lot.  Friends in Italy have related horrific stories of stress and the death of people in their buildings which are difficult to even fathom.  Opera houses, music venues, professional sports, and even in two states -Louisiana and Georgia- scheduled primary elections have been postponed.  In view of mounting numbers the fear is palpable, the threat all too real, the containment and quarantine seemingly not wrought by overreaction on any level and at any region.  I am 65 years old and cannot remember anything like this in my lifetime.  If Allan were here to impart his noted witticisms he’d surely buffoon the stories of madness in supermarkets and malls by people now trampling others as if they were in the throws of the apocalypse.  Some feel the precautions are way over the top while others will always prefer to stand by the adage “It is better to be safe than sorry.”  I was prepared to talk about the election, tonight’s planned debate without an audience and the Tuesday elections still on in four states, but interest and all that and other matters seem little more than a diversion, though we need that badly right now. Continue Reading »