In film history John Huston is what’s known as a giant, enduring as one of the more recognizable names to have flourished behind the camera during Hollywood’s studio era. He was also one of the few classical directors to undergo a second creative wind throughout the wild New Hollywood ‘70s and even survived that period’s collapse to guide a few diverse productions into the age of the Spielbergian blockbuster.
Continue reading “The Bird is the Word: A Film By Film Survey of John Huston”
So a cowboy, an Indian and a horse share a house…sounds like the setup for a dirty joke, but it’s actually the basis for the unusual and fascinating 2009 Belgian production A Town Called Panic, a low-budget high-energy film employing toy figurines and an abundance of anarchic spirit to get at the root of something beautiful: the youthful imagination.
Continue reading “Not to be confused with a hamlet named hysterics: a review of Vincent Patar and Stéphane Aubier’s stop motion animated family flick A Town Called Panic”
George Barr McCutcheon’s comic novel of 1902 possesses next to nothing in the way of critical reputation, though in this case the lack of literary esteem gets easily usurped by the book’s stature as a pop culture warhorse; first adapted for Broadway in 1906 by Winchell Smith and Byron Ongley, in ‘51 McCutcheon’s story skipped over to Britain and became the stage musical Zip Goes a Million.
Continue reading “You’re so rich, Brewster! I can’t stand it! An overview of Brewster’s Millions, the 1945 version directed by Allan Dwan”
Director Robert Altman’s first feature was the 1957 shoestring indie The Delinquents, a drive-in moneymaker filmed in his hometown of Kansas City, and his last was the 2006 movie adaptation of a radio program, A Prairie Home Companion. In the early ‘80s he hit a rather severe creative rough stretch, though gradually his artistic touch was regained as he enjoyed a late-career renaissance spanning over a decade.
Continue reading “Elliott Gould (in a dashiki) visits the Athens of the South: a Review of Robert Altman’s NASHVILLE”
Henry Jerrod is a rare bird, a wax figure sculptor of aesthetic refinement and class, though maybe a wee bit eccentric. Desiring insurance money, his callous philistine business partner Matthew Burke burns down their museum with Jerrod trapped inside. Assumed dead, the sculptor survives but as a murderous wretch who repopulates his new museum with wax-coated corpses.
Continue reading “John Wilkes Booth, Joan of Arc and a mouthful of paddleballs; a review of House of Wax in glorious 3D”
One yardstick of a film’s greatness is how well it survives repeat viewings. Carol Reed’s The Third Man is championed as a movie not only withstanding familiarity but actually improving upon multiple sittings. After a fourth time this writer remains in the chorus of those cherishing their return visits to the gargantuan Ferris wheel and labyrinthine sewer system of post-WWII Vienna, though on this engagement the abundance of assembled talent is frankly less impressive than the thrilling courting of failure through ambition.
Continue reading “Clear the street of balloon sellers prior to stakeout: Just one important lesson learned from Carol Reed’s The Third Man”
Set in military occupied Vienna shortly after WWII, 1949’s The Third Man stars Joseph Cotten as Holly Martins, a writer of pulp Westerns, who travels to the Austrian capital to visit his friend Harry Lime, played by Orson Welles, about an offer of a job. Once there, Martins learns of Lime’s recent death by speeding truck. Against the advice of British Army Police, Martins decides to stay in Vienna and begins to investigate the circumstances behind Lime’s vehicular demise. Unsurprisingly, intrigue follows.
Continue reading “Prepare Thyself for a Good Dithering: The Scoop on Carol Reed’s The Third Man”
Under most circumstances devoting ten years to the making of a single film would indicate either perfectionism run amok, Hamlet-like indecisiveness, severely outsized ambition or some combination of the three. In the case of Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten; Cambodia’s Lost Rock & Roll, director John Pirozzi’s decade of work reflects the painstaking search for interview subjects, the arduous uncovering of material and admirable patience in bringing this historical narrative into complete focus.
Continue reading “The benefits of tenacity and clarity of vision: a review of John Pirozzi’s Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten”
Endeavoring to gather firm knowledge on the complexities of a foreign culture elevates familiarity of its popular art, be it good, bad or somewhere in between, to a simple necessity. This is merely part of what makes John Pirozzi’s Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock & Roll so welcome from the midst of a perpetually crowded music documentary field, though in fact the film’s subject matter hasn’t exactly emerged out of the aether.
Continue reading “Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: A music nut’s primer”
For all the subsequent hoo-ha over its supposed stuffiness, the 1981 two-hander My Dinner with André is an experimental film. It’s also frequently burdened with the descriptor “theatrical,” a categorization ringing true in the stage backgrounds of its actors Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory, and further emphasized by the pair essentially working out their parts prior to the involvement of director Louis Malle.
Continue reading “My Dinner with André – Cult or Anything But – A Review”