Archive for category: Essays

Sex in Cinema: Surprises from the Archives

24 July, 2014 (17:46) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays | By: Sean Axmaker

How much sex can you handle? We were overwhelmed by just how much we found in our odyssey to create a Sex in Cinema infographic for Fandor. Who knew the rich history of sex in the cinema that went all the way back to the first short films shown to audiences? Okay, a little context […]

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Mad Rooms: Shot Composition in Two Films of Bernard Girard

21 July, 2014 (07:12) | by Robert C. Cumbow, Essays | By: Sean Axmaker

[Originally published in Movietone News 46, December 1975] MAD ROOMS Shot Composition in Two Films of Bernard Girard -Main Title- For nearly three decades, Bernard Girard has been one of the invisible men of the American cinema. Briefly lionized for his independent feature A Public Affair (1962) and hesitantly applauded for Dead Heat on a […]

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Fab film at 50: ‘A Hard Day’s Night’

7 July, 2014 (08:41) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays, Musicals | By: Sean Axmaker

The rock movie was never the same after A Hard Day’s Night opened 50 years ago, on July 6, 1964. The Beatles black-and-white comedy, which is being re-released in theaters for the anniversary, immediately became the cheekiest, wittiest, most inventive film in the then-fledgling rock and roll movie genre. Before A Hard Day’s Night, there […]

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Hal Hartley Explores New Voices in ‘My America’

6 July, 2014 (09:36) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

In 2012, Baltimore’s Center Stage, the State Theater of Maryland, celebrated its fiftieth anniversary by soliciting scores of American playwrights, both established veterans and emerging voices, to answer the question “What is my America?” with a short monologue. Fifty pieces were ultimately commissioned and director Hal Hartley filmed them all for Center Stage. Twenty-one of these […]

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Seattle International Film Festival at Forty

7 June, 2014 (17:30) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays, Film Festivals | By: Sean Axmaker

It’s #SIFForty! The 2014 Seattle International Film Festival is the 40th edition, at least by the numerical count (SIFF jumped from the “Twelfth Annual” in 1987 to the “Fourteenth Annual” in 1988, skipping Lucky Thirteen just like a high rise, but when you survive this long, who really sweats the details?). It holds the claim to the biggest […]

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Weird Tales, True Confession

7 June, 2014 (09:47) | by Kathleen Murphy, Essays, Film Reviews | By: Kathleen Murphy

Love, Death, and the Imagination in Dan Ireland’s The Whole Wide World This appreciation was written for Film Comment magazine in 1996. Reflecting fond memories of SIFF film-going, this review also expressed my delight in discovering The Whole Wide World, a terrific movie by Dan Ireland, one of the founders of SIFF and an old […]

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The Devil Went Down to Majagual: ‘The Wind Journeys’

30 May, 2014 (16:47) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays | By: Sean Axmaker

“Is that really the devil’s accordion?” Ignacio Carillo (Marciano Martinez) is a legendary juglar, a wandering troubadour, in his circuit of in the hills and plains and back-country villages of Northern Colombia. His accordion is just as notorious. Two black horns jut out of the instrument, like a bull under the command of a musical […]

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‘Lessons of Darkness’: Burning Questions

24 May, 2014 (07:02) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays, Werner Herzog | By: Sean Axmaker

I “A planet in our solar system. Wide mountains ranges, clouds, a land shrouded in mist.” The landscape of Lessons of Darkness at first glance looks like the desert counterpart to the Carpathian Mountains of Werner Herzog‘s Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht, a land shrouded in myth as much as in mist. But those initial ethereal […]

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The Haunted Palace: Alain Resnais’ ‘Last Year at Marienbad’

19 May, 2014 (18:59) | by Kathleen Murphy, Essays, Film Reviews | By: Kathleen Murphy

The couple face each other in an old-fashioned railway car set up in a 19th-century amusement park, the girl (Joan Fontaine) a sweet-faced blonde for whom he’s clearly the moon and the stars. The young man (Louis Jourdan) in elegant evening clothes is all charm, genuine enough for the moment, a roué enchanted by fresh […]

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Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round: David Lynch’s ‘Wild at Heart’

16 May, 2014 (17:33) | by Kathleen Murphy, Essays, Film Reviews | By: Kathleen Murphy

[Originally published in Film Comment, November-December 1990] Back in the days when James Dean was only half a decade dead and Elvis Presley as many years famous, my best friend and I twice played hookey from high school to see Sidney Lumet’s The Fugitive Kind. On screen in brooding black and white, Tennessee Williams’ surreal […]

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Godzilla: A Brief History of a Monster Phenomenon

15 May, 2014 (14:56) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Essays | By: Sean Axmaker

Godzilla—the lizard king of the post-nuclear age—turns sixty this year. To celebrate, Hollywood is launching a second attempt to revive the Japanese kaiju (giant monster) franchise as an American spectacle. Godzilla 2014 marks the thirtieth original Godzilla film but only the second American production (not counting the reworked American editions of the original Godzilla and Godzilla […]

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Orson Welles’s ‘Othello’

30 April, 2014 (07:30) | by Richard T. Jameson, Essays, Orson Welles | By: Richard T. Jameson

Northwest Film Forum is about to showcase a new 4K restoration of Orson Welles’s Othello, one of the director’s greatest—and rarest—films. In anticipation of that, Parallax View presents a detailed program note written when Othello appeared in an autumn 1971 film series devoted to Welles on the University of Washington campus. The original text remains essentially unaltered, […]

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‘Nosferatu’: A Tale of Two Versions

29 April, 2014 (09:23) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays, Horror, Werner Herzog | By: Sean Axmaker

As a German filmmaker, we had no real fathers to learn from, no points of reference. Our father’s generation sided with the Nazis or was forced into immigration so we were a generation of orphans. And you can’t work without having some sort of reference as to your own culture and the connection and continuity, so […]

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‘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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