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Archive for June, 2012

by Allan Fish

(UK 1977 160m) DVD1/2

Come freely, go safely

p  Maurice Barry  d  Philip Saville  w  Gerald Savory  novel  Bram Stoker  ph  Peter Hall  ed  Richard Bedford  m  Kenyon Emrys-Roberts  art  Michael Young

Louis Jourdan (Dracula), Frank Finlay (Van Helsing), Susan Penhaligon (Lucy Westenra), Judi Bowker (Mina Westenra), Jack Shepherd (Renfield), Mark Burns (Dr Seward), Bosco Hogan (Jonathan Harker), Richard Barnes (Holmwood), George Malpas (Swales), Ann Queensberry (Mrs Westenra),

For a quarter of a century this BBC version of Bram Stoker’s legendary tale had laid dormant, a cult building up about it, enveloping the popular consciousness like a mist over the Borgo Pass.  One almost had visions of the original tapes being buried in a chest filled with genuine Transylvanian earth in the Blue Peter garden at the back of Television Centre and there was a time when you thought it would ne’er emerge again from the depths of Shepherds Bush.  Yet finally, there it was, restored, released and revisited again and again by a delirious fan base.  It would be entitled to disappoint, but it didn’t, and that’s remarkable when one considers the numerous mediocre Counts we have had before and since on the small screen.  Those with long memories may recall the 1968 black and white version with Denholm Elliott a horribly miscast Count and a terribly young, on the cusp of stardom Susan George as Lucy.  Others may remember a hammy Jack Palance in 1973, and most recently, a truly atrocious revisit with Marc Warren as the Count and David Suchet devouring scenery as Van Helsing (why, oh why, did someone not think of getting David Tennant to play Renfield, a part he was born to play).  (more…)

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Once Upon a Time in the West

Charles Bronson and Henry Fonda in Sergio Leone masterpiece “Once Upon A Time in the West”

The Big Gundown at Film Forum

Lee Van Cleef in Sergio Sollima’s ‘The Big Gundown”

by Sam Juliano

The June heat and humidity have descended upon the environs of many northern hemisphere locations, but few are offering protestations, as vacation time fast approaches.  Those of us in the teaching profession are putting a lid on the 2011-12 school year and at least some are now gearing up for the six week summer program that concludes on or around August 1st.  Baseball fans are enjoying the height of the season, as the All-Star game draws closer.

Richard R.D. Finch’s William Wyler blogothon” is a scant one-week away, and what with the high levels of enthusiasm and large number of participants, it is gleefully anticipated the project will be a resounding success.  The blogothon will be officially launching on Sunday,  June 24, and a full itinerary in in place at The Movie Projector.  We hope to see many contributing their two cents at the respective homes of those posting reviews.  R.D.’s own excitement is palpable, and if anyone out there deserves a big success, it’s this passionate, ever-supportive and talented blogger.

Dee Dee has launched her own worthy project with her friends Lori Moore and Barbara LaMotta, one that is aimed at fostering overdue attention on the iconic actor John Garfield through hoped-for releases of his work on blu-ray.  Sidebar links will escort readers to the vital posts and the petition that is presently gaining signatures by the hour.

My own week on the cultural front has been almost exclusively spent in the Film Forum, taking in what has surprisingly turned into quite a marvelous festival.  The survey of the most celebrated spaghetti westerns ha showcased some of the most impressive works in the genre, and with directors like Sergio Leone, Sergio Corbucci and Sergio Sollima being featured, it’s been quite the entertaining and artful treat for film fans.  I only wish my friend Samuel Wilson could be here with us, as he’s the definitive spaghetti western fan of the group! (more…)

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by Allan Fish

Straight to it again…

Best Picture The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, UK (10 votes – winner by 1)

Best Director Carl Th.Dreyer, Day of Wrath (14 votes)

Best Short Meshes of the Afternoon, US, Maya Deren (6 votes)

Best Actor Roger Livesey, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (18 votes)

Best Actress Lisbeth Movin, Day of Wrath (11 votes)

Best Supp Actor Ant0n Walbrook, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (11 votes)

Best Supp Actress Anne Svierkier, Day of Wrath (7 votes, another by 1)

Best Score Bernard Herrmann, Jane Eyre (8 votes)

and my choices…

(more…)

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by Jaime Grijalba.

(USA/Japan, 90 min)

There are a certain group of films that have the pleasure, or maybe the displeasure to most, to be called ‘adapted from videogames’, and they are different in their types and what you really want to call an adaptation of a videogame, because you have all the Pokémon films, which are continuations on the Tv series that is based on the series of videogames that keep on expanding year after year, but nope, I don’t think that they can really be called videogame movies. Then you have a bunch of Hollywood produced videogame based films, that are most of the part, dreadful, but for which I have a soft spot, and I can watch any dreadful piece of crap that comes out with the name of a videogame I’ve played and I can still take something out of it like ‘it wasn’t at all like the game’, which is turning to be a stock answer and a really boring one, because everyone else thinks the same. Well, in this area is where you have stuff like ‘Super Mario Bros’ (1993) which is awful and is as far from the videogame it can be, ‘Street Fighter’ (1994) a ridiculous piece of junk with Jean-Claude Van Damme doing zero interesting stunts, ‘Mortal Kombat’ (1995) which many like but I don’t, ‘Lara Croft: Tomb Raider’ and its sequel that I can enjoy most of the time thanks to Angelina Jolie’s body and not because of the sloppy direction that it takes every five minutes trying to be exciting and nothing like the game, and then you have the ‘Resident Evil’ series of films produced/directed by the bad Paul Anderson (W.S.) those are mixed in my opinion, because sometimes I can really get into them and sometimes I can’t, and most of the time my opinion is completely opposite from the rest of the world (I think that the first is really really bad and not scary at all, I think the second one is the best of the bunch, with great entertainment, great classic characters from the games, great visuals and kick-ass action scenes; the third one is ok, and it tries to do something different, while the fourth was mediocre, with some good scenes and some other that are really bad, supposedly there’s a fifth one coming out which I won’t see in theaters, as I’ve been doing with the last two of them, I only saw the second one on theaters and I guess that enhanced the experience?). (more…)

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95. Cracker 1993-1996

by Allan Fish

(UK 1993-1996 1,350m) DVD1/2

Scunthorpe!!!

p  Paul Abbott, Hilary Bevan Jones  d  Tim Fywell, Simon Cellan Jones, Michael Winterbottom, Julian Jarrold, Jean Stewart, Charles MacDougall, Richard Standeven, Roy Battersby  w  Jimmy McGovern, Paul Abbott, Ted Whitehead  created by  Jimmy McGovern

Robbie Coltrane (Dr Eddie ‘Fitz’ Fitzgerald), Geraldine Somerville (DS Jane Penhaligon), Christopher Eccleston (DCI David Bilborough), Ricky Tomlinson (DCI Wise), Lorcan Cranitch (DS Jimmy Beck), Barbara Flynn (Judith Fitzgerald), Kieran O’Brien (Mark Fitzgerald), Tess Thomson (Katie Fitzgerald), Edward Peel, Clive Russell, Paul Copley, Adrian Dunbar, Kika Markham, Beryl Reid, Andrew Tiernan, Susan Lynch, Christopher Fulford, Jim Carter, Samantha Morton, James Fleet, Robert Carlyle, John Simm, Liam Cunningham, Benedict Wong, Beth Goddard, Tim Healy, Don Henderson, Nicholas Woodeson, Brid Brennan, Ruth Sheen, David Calder, Emma Cunniffe, Emily Joyce,

When reviewing Cracker over a decade on, the first thoughts that race through one’s mind are whether it will stand up after the intervening years.  The one off 2006 reprisal didn’t help, while it’s been done to death ever since in everything from Waking the Dead to Silent Witness, none of them are fit to lick the ash off the end of Fitz’s ever-present cigarette.  To this add the fact that other cult milestones of nineties TV don’t stand up as well as once they did – This Life, for example – and that McGovern’s recent output has been pitiful in comparison would lead to trepidation.  (more…)

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by Jaime Grijalba.

Well, here we are again. I’ve seen a lot of asian films from 2012, and I guess you are eager to know what I think of them. Well, you’re going to find out, but first I must say something about the exercise I got myself into when I said I was going to review every asian film that I got into my hands during the year 2012 and that was released the same year. Now I already got myself in an internal discussion into films from which countries will I see, and I already have deleted two countries that many consider asian, but I don’t think they will help into my view of what I try to accomplish here: India and Phillippines. I’ve also delayed the watching of some movies because the subtitles aren’t entirely correct or are just completely faulty. I’ve already passed early on with reviewing asian television, since at the rate they are having it’s impossible to review all of it, specially when at the same time I’m watching film classics, chilean films and having my education, so hell, I also have a girlfriend, I want my life! Anyway, now I have made a serious amendment to what I’ll consider the reviews here. There are some movies that inspire me, others… not so much, it’s not that they’re not good, but they just don’t make much for a full lenght review as the earlier I’ve featured here are. This is a decission I’ve made after fiddling for weeks with a review for the first film you’ll see here, so that’s that, I’m giving you capsule reviews of four asian films that don’t inspire me as much as the other films that will be featured during the next weeks. All the capsules have a paragraph or two of review and then a rating for your discussion. Enjoy!

(more…)

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by Allan Fish

(Japan 1954 122m) DVD2 (Japan only, no English subs)

Aka. Osaka no yado

To laugh at our unhappiness

p  Katsuzou Shino, Ryousuke Okamoto  d  Heinosuke Gosho  w  Heinosuke Gosho, Toshio Yasumi  novel  Takitato Minakami  ph  Joji Ohara  ed  Nobu Nagata  m  Yasushi Akutagawa  art  Takashi Matsuyama

Shuji Sano (Kyoichi Mita), Nobuko Otowa (Uwabami), Mitsuko Mito (Orika), Hiroko Kawasaki (Otsugi), Sachiko Hidari (Oyone), Eiko Miyoshi (landlady), Haruo Tanaka (boss), Toshio Hasakawa (Tawara), Michiko Megumi (Kimiko Imoto), Hyo Kitazawa (Mr Imoto), Kyoko Anzai (Omitsu), Toranosuke Ogawa (Mr Noro), Jun Tatara (Ossan),

Despite the due reverence to his masterful Where Chimneys are Seen, it’s time to jump off that fence and make a bold statement; An Inn at Osaka, released the following year, is an even greater achievement by Heinosuke Gosho.  Even in that most star-studded of years for Japanese cinema, it ranks highly in the cosmos.  It’s so exquisite that one is left in a sense of reverence just by being lucky enough to see it.

Kyoichi Mita is an honest insurance man who has been demoted from Tokyo to Osaka after a disagreement with his superior.  Seeking lodgings he’s told by the drunken Ossan to go to the Suigetsu Inn in Tokabori district, where he lets room five from the widowed landlady (who happens to be Ossan’s sister).  Also there are three maids who work for the landlady.  The eldest, Otsugi, is trying to save money to pay for her son’s upkeep and to visit him occasionally at his school.  Orika is hounded by an unemployed husband for money.  Oyone is young and is only interested in men and has worked at similar establishments as a prostitute.

(more…)

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Screen cap from Tony Villeri’s exceptional spaghetti western “The Price of Power”

Klaus Kinski in Sergio Corbucci’s masterwork, spaghetti western ‘The Great Silence’ set mostly in the snow

by Sam Juliano

June is bustin out all over…

-Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II (Carousel)

As we approach mid-June many are gearing up for their planned respites at the seashore and at mountain resorts.  Others not as fortunate will be working summer jobs and playing catch up with work still not completed.  For many it’s the time for cultural events and the watching of movies at home under the air conditioning, for others outdoor concerts are on the itinerary.  The baseball season is in full fling, July 4th barbeques are being penciled in, and the last remnants of spring weather can now be felt.

Here at Wonders in the Dark plans are presently being executed for the summer ‘Comedy Countdown’ a long-anticipated venture that presently is in the ballot stage.  Full Top 60 listings have been cast to this point by Marilyn Ferdinand, Ed Howard, Pat Perry, Brandie Ashe, Dennis Polifroni, Bob Clark, Allan Fish, Maurizio Roca, Frank Gallo, Dean Treadway, Pedro Silva and Sam Juliano, but a number of others are imminent before the July 1st cut off date.

Richard R.D. Finch is nearly blast off at The Movie Projector for his long-anticipated William Wyler blogothon, set to run from the 24th to the 29th.  This exciting venture is sure to attract many classic movie lovers and rightfully so.

Lucille and I had the busiest week on the outdoor movie front that we’d had in quite a while, spurred on in lage measure by the Film Forum’s ‘Spaghetti Western’ Festival’ scheduled to run through June 21.  I took in a total of nine films, with Lucille on board for five, Sammy for six, Danny for four and the others for three. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

Well, here we go again…

Best Picture  Casablanca, US (11 votes)

Best Director  Orson Welles, The Magnificent Ambersons (8 votes)

Best Short  Der Fuehrer’s Face, US, Jack Kinney (5 votes)

Best Actor  James Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy (9 votes)

Best Actress  Claudette Colbert, The Palm Beach Story (6 votes)

Best Supp Actor  Claude Rains, Casablanca (12 votes)

Best Supp Actress  Agnes Moorehead, The Magnificent Ambersons (15 votes)

Best Score  Max Steiner, Casablanca (9 votes)

and my own picks…

(more…)

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By Bob Clark

When pioneering sci-fi author Ray Bradbury passed away this week, there were plenty of places for the mind to turn to, reeling in the news of a great mind departing from the Earth. There were of course the numerous literary works he’d penned over the course of his decades long career as one of the most popular and thoughtful genre authors of the 20th century, and one whose influences can still be traced crystal clear through all manner of short-stories and novels. Additionally, one could think to the number of adaptations his work received over the years, from television miniseries like The Martian Chronicles or the fever-pitch crossroads of French New Wave and Hitchcockian dystopia in Francois Truffaut’s film of Fahrenheit 451, no doubt the author’s signature piece (influential enough for it to turn into a mere punchline of a title in Michael Moore’s 9/11 documentary). Beyond that, there were the years of interviews and commentary he provided on the nature of science-fiction, particularly when it came to the ways in which he resisted franchising some of his most popular works. One of the earliest items of interest I’d read about him, as a child, was that while he very often enjoyed original science-fiction films, he often despaired when the filmmakers turned to the same premise for a sequel, even when the resulting product turned out to be something as universally respected (within the genre community, at least) as The Empire Strikes Back. And as much as I’ve enjoyed the series of films represented by that sequel– one of the rare efforts to join the “better than the original” club of classics in many critics’ eyes– I have to admit that I’ve always rather agreed with him.

After all, just as THX 1138 led to the original Star Wars in George Lucas’ career, wouldn’t it have been something to have seen what might’ve followed in the path from that blockbuster-of-blockbusters, rather than just the next episode in the series? I’ve certainly held myself to little or no restraint when it comes to admiring that series, of course, and especially the much-criticized Prequel Trilogy, but at the same time I can’t deny that in dedicating his creative efforts and resources to franchising his saga, that Lucas may have very well cut short an even greater span and range of cinematic works. It’s something I wonder about when looking at Ridley Scott’s second and third features, especially considering that both of Lucas’ sci-fi features up to then had motivated the British director to consider the genre in the first place. Both staunchly works of hard-core (if not expressly “hard”) science-fiction, yet each of them miles apart from one another in theme and tone (farther apart, in some respects, than THX 1138 and Star Wars), the films Alien and Blade Runner have long since become two of the most beloved and respected contributions to the genre, as well as cinematic classics of any stripe. Once word of a sequel to the initial film went underway, it would’ve been very easy indeed for Scott to have joined that bandwagon and allow both himself and the series to repeat themselves for another exercise in bio-horror stalking in the dark (had he stayed on, it’s unlikely we would’ve gotten anything remotely resembling James Cameron’s appropriation of Heinlein-isms for Aliens, another arguable member of the “better than the first” club), but he had moved on to things both bigger and bolder (the teasing promise of the abortive Dune adaptation, and the eventual greatness of his tackling Phillip K. Dick) and smaller and weaker (basically everything up until Gladiator, with Thelma & Louise thrown in if you want to be charitable). In that sense, perhaps it’s smarter to stick with a franchise, or at the very least a genre, when you’ve got something good going, but at least he attempted something different, for better and worse alike. Or at least that’s what he’s attempted all this long until this week’s addition to his filmography, Prometheus.

(more…)

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