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Archive for November 23rd, 2012

by Jon Warner

Mel Brooks became known as a spoof-artist (if spoofing can be considered art). But his first film is quite an original, and perhaps his funniest work because of it. Armed with an insane premise, a wacky set of characters and some great talent, Brooks made his best film, or at least very close to it. I must say that I had seen this film before about 10 years ago, but upon viewing it for the second time recently I found it even funnier. In fact, as far as belly laughs go, this film ranks right up there with the greatest comedies of them all. It’s a non-stop, heaping dose of insanity. It also contains the first real extended performance (not counting Bonnie and Clyde) from Gene Wilder who would become a comedic icon and one of the essential comedians of his era.

The Producers stars Zero Mostel as Max Bialystock, a conniving Broadway producer, who woos a small armada of little old ladies in order to drum up cash to fund his productions. When an accountant named Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder) shows up at Max’s office to check the books, he finds out that Max has been doing some “creative accounting”. In order to avoid legal trouble, Max decides to bribe Leo into a scheme which will make both of them rich. They will produce the worst play that they can possibly come up with (which they believe will close within the first few days of opening) and they will fund their play with money from the “little old ladies”. The play they choose is a tribute to Hitler and Nazi Germany called “Springtime for Hitler”, written by a former Nazi named Franz Liebkind (Kenneth Mars), who is whacked out of his gourd and living in NYC in a highrise apartment where he talks to his pigeons on the roof. They presume that the play will crash and that they will abscond with the money and fly to Rio. That is of course assuming that the play fails (Dun Dun Dun!!!). (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(UK 2011 236m) DVD2

The City of Dreadful Night

p  David M.Thompson, Steve Lightfoot, Greg Dummett, Ed Rubin  d  Marc Munden  w  Lucinda Coxon  novel  Michel Faber  ph  Lol Crawley  ed  Luke Dunkley  m  Cristobal Tapia de Veer  art  Grant Montgomery, Ussal Smithers  cos  Annie Symons  make up  Jacqueline Fowler

Romola Garai (Sugar), Chris O’Dowd (William Rackham), Shirley Henderson (Mrs Cox), Amanda Hale (Agnes Rackham), Mark Gatiss (Henry Rackham Jnr), Gillian Anderson (Mrs Castaway), Richard E.Grant (Dr Curlew), Tom Georgeson (Henry Rackham), Claire Louise Connelly (Janey), Blake Ritson (Bodley), Katie Lyons (Clara), Liz White (Caroline), Elizabeth Berrington (Lady Bridgelow), Isla Watt (Sophie),

Keep your wits about you.  This city is vast and intricate and you do not know your way around.  You imagine from other stories you’ve read that you know it well, but those stories flattered you.  You are an alien from another time and place altogether.  You don’t even know what hour it is, do you?”  It’s an opening narration to command attention, to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention like school children upon the arrival of teacher.  It accompanies a sequence that has been described by some as resembling a laudanum induced nightmare and yet notice the person, for is much of that sequence not shot in subjective camera.  The critics are right to point out the drug-induced, shallow-focused haze in which much of the action takes place, as if entirely shot in front of gaslights playing tricks with the eyes.  The camera, prowling like a restless disembodied spirit, leads you quite literally by the hand, like Cocteau’s mirror walk on opium, to a place where you really are like an alien.  It plays for the first three episodes like Jane Eyre if Jane was a prostitute and Lowood a brothel.  (more…)

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