Archive for category: Essays

‘The 10th Victim’: Give the People What They Want

17 March, 2014 (08:57) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays, Science Fiction | By: Sean Axmaker

Before The Hunger Games, before Battle Royale, before The Running Man, there was Elio Petri’s The 10th Victim. Based on Robert Sheckley‘s short story “The Seventh Victim” (Petri upped the body count), this 1965 feature is set in a near future of unlikely fashions and pop-art stylings, where comic books are the literature of the day […]

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Fernando Di Leo’s Anti-Mob Movies

16 March, 2014 (08:05) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays | By: Sean Axmaker

Fernando Di Leo, the godfather of the poliziotteschi (Italy’s brutal take on the crime thriller genre of the seventies), dismantled the anti-hero glorification of the mafia in the Milieu Trilogy—Caliber 9 (1972), The Italian Connection (1972), and The Boss (1973)—with an unflinching portrait of its corrupt values. There was no criminal code for these mercenary […]

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Fernando Di Leo, in the Shadow of ‘The Godfather’

15 March, 2014 (16:04) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays | By: Sean Axmaker

Fernando Di Leo was, in the estimation of genre-hound Quentin Tarantino, “the master” of the Italian crime movie, or the “poliziotteschi.” A violent action genre that picked up the escalating violence of American films like Dirty Harry and The French Connection, films where blood spattered and cops got their hands dirty, it was never as […]

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Handicapping the Oscars: Lots of sure bets

1 March, 2014 (09:31) | by Robert Horton, Essays | By: Robert Horton

Rarely has there been a year when the Oscar nominations felt so pre-ordained. Spoon-fed, you might say. Oh, the movies are mostly good. 2013 was a decent year in film and the nominees are actually an admirable lot. But with all the second-tier events like the Golden Globes and the Broadcast Film Critics and the […]

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Can DiCaprio beat McConaughey? Fearless Oscar predictions give awards an edge

1 March, 2014 (07:36) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays | By: Sean Axmaker

This year’s Academy Awards, which air Sunday, is a real contest in most categories. Sure, Frozen has a lock on best animated feature and best song (just ask all those parents of young kids who still can’t “Let it Go”), while Gravity is a shoo-in for the technical categories. The rest of the race is […]

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Liam Neeson and Kevin Costner Bring Experience to Action Cinema

25 February, 2014 (12:57) | Actors, by Sean Axmaker, Essays | By: Sean Axmaker

When did Liam Neeson, that Oscar-nominated rock of an Irish actor who starred in Schindler’s List and Michael Collins, become the toughest action hero of the day? When actors pass 50 they generally transition into, let’s say, less physically demanding roles. You know, fathers and mentors and sturdy authority figures offering sage advice to the […]

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The New Wave Wonders of Tinto Brass

22 February, 2014 (07:09) | by Sean Axmaker, Directors, Essays | By: Sean Axmaker

Bring up the name Tinto Brass and, if you recognize it at all, the first thing that comes to mind  is Caligula, the notorious and grotesque X-rated Roman epic produced by Penthouse magazine publisher Bob Guccione (who also added explicit footage into the already sleazy spectacle).  There’s also the Nazisploitation Salon Kitty (the film that […]

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‘Torremolinos ’73′: Applying a coat of beige to fertility, pornography and filmmaking in Franco’s Spain

11 February, 2014 (09:05) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays, Interviews | By: Sean Axmaker

Though he’s directed only two films in the ten years since his feature debut, Pablo Berger has proven himself one of the most inventive and accomplished filmmakers to come out of Spain in a couple of decades. His most recent film Blancanieves, an ingenious re-imagining of the “Snow White” story as a silent-movie melodrama in […]

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Sokurov’s Rich, One-Take ‘Russian Ark’

3 February, 2014 (09:53) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays | By: Sean Axmaker

Alexander Sokurov’s tribute to the State Hermitage Museum of Saint Petersburg, a tour through time and space created in a single, unbroken shot lasting over ninety minutes, is a cinematic experience like no other. Neither documentary nor traditional narrative, it is sui generis, marrying history and art in a tour-de-force act of filmmaking that is […]

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Mystery, Acumen, Divination: On a few of the epiphanies and lulls of the last year

29 January, 2014 (09:53) | by Jay Kuehner, Essays | By: Jay Kuehner

Measuring films in calendar years and hierarchical lists feels a bit like ranking friends or, worse, rating relationships (Noah Baumbach’s Zagat history of a former romance rather drolly makes the point)—even if the impulse to canonize serves us well historically. And Godard did it. Now receding from view, 2013 may not have been revelatory in the […]

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How Steven Soderbergh’s ‘sex, lies and videotape’ Still Influences Sundance After 25 Years

15 January, 2014 (11:48) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays | By: Sean Axmaker

“When I was coming up, making an independent film and trying to reach an audience was like, trying to hit a thrown baseball. This is like trying to hit a thrown baseball but with another thrown baseball.” – Steven Soderbergh at the San Francisco International Film Festival, 2013 Did the Sundance Film Festival make sex, […]

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The Wilderness Years: Buñuel in the Fifties

7 January, 2014 (15:54) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays | By: Sean Axmaker

Between his revolutionary debut with the triple threat of Un chien andalou (1929), L’âge d’or (1930), and Land Without Bread (1933) and leaping back into international attention with Viridiana (1961), which won the Palm d’Or and was denounced by the Vatican, Luis Buñuel spent over a decade making movies in the Mexican film industry. He […]

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New blood revived familiar genres in 2013

29 December, 2013 (13:59) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays | By: Sean Axmaker

I love genre films: horror, science fiction, heist films, con games, crime thrillers, all those modes that entice audiences with a promise of familiar tropes and unexpected twists. Back in my high school days it was pure fan adoration and during my college evolution I embraced the subversive subtexts and mythic explorations. Today I’m a […]

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10 Remakes Of Classics By Great Auteurs

27 November, 2013 (15:25) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays | By: Sean Axmaker

Spike Lee wants to make one thing clear: his Oldboy is not a remake of the notorious 2003 film by Park Chan-wook. This is his interpretation on the source material, a manga by Nobuaki Minegishi. I can see his point, but the fact is that most of us stateside have no connection with the original […]

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16 Notes on the “Like a Rolling Stone” Video

25 November, 2013 (12:31) | by Robert Horton, Essays | By: Robert Horton

1. You are free to debate whether “Like a Rolling Stone” is the best song of the last 50 years, but it is certainly the Catcher in the Rye of pop music. On the one hand it’s about a specific kiss-off from one person to another, on the other hand it’s about everything in the […]

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