Film Review: ‘Alive Inside’

21 August, 2014 (05:35) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

‘Alive Inside’

Everything you always suspected about music is true. Scientists can point to the parts of the brain that music stimulates, where our deepest memories and feelings reside. The phenomenon even stretches back to before birth, when the sound of a heartbeat establishes our sensory proclivity toward music. This scientific material is offered in Alive Inside to buttress the rather remarkable anecdotal evidence we see for ourselves onscreen, as the power of music is used to revive the personalities of people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett tags along with Dan Cohen, a music-therapy proselytizer (and founder of the nonprofit Music & Memory), as Cohen travels to facilities for people living with dementia.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

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Film Review: ‘If I Stay’

21 August, 2014 (05:30) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

Chloë Grace Moretz and Jamie Blackley

Young couples in movies are customarily given obstacles to overcome, but If I Stay seems unnecessarily cruel in its dramatic contrivances. Most of the film unfolds in the flashbacks that follow a terrible car accident; all the members of a family have been seriously injured, and our narrator, Mia (Chloë Grace Moretz), is in a coma. She’s also walking around the hospital as a sort of astral projection, looking down at her unconscious self and listening to everybody else talking about her. Mia’s a promising cellist, with a shot at attending Juilliard after she graduates from her Portland high school. The only problem is that that would take her away from her boyfriend Adam (Jamie Blackley), the lead singer of a neo-punk band, who plans to keep gigging around Oregon. Because who would want to take a punk band to New York City?

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

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Videophiled: Jim Jarmusch’s vampire ‘Lovers’ and ‘A Brony Tale’

19 August, 2014 (12:46) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews, Horror | By: Sean Axmaker

OnlyLoversOnly Lovers Left Alive (Sony, Blu-ray, DVD, VOD) is the richest film that Jim Jarmusch has made in some time. Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston are the eternal lovers Eve and Adam, vampire soulmates who have become disenchanted with a world that the zombie inhabitants (their word for humans) are blithely poisoning. They are sophisticates, sensualists, artists, beings who find their greatest pleasure in one another, and Jarmusch suggests that they have evolved to a kind of elemental form, pure beings who revere art and beauty and just happen to need to feed on human blood to survive. The problem is that human blood is also being poisoned, which makes the pure “good stuff” a kind of rare wine that is saved and shared sparingly.

Swinton and Hiddleston bring both a grace and ennui to the screen, suggesting centuries of experience by their very presence, yet the joy they give one another enlivens the mournful tone of their nocturnal existence. In contrast to their languorous sensibilities is Eve’s sister, a wild child played by Mia Wasikowska with an insatiable appetite and an instinct for chaos, while John Hurt is the dying elder, poisoned by the world around him. Read the reviews here.

I did not receive a review copy but the discs should have a behind-the-scenes featurette and deleted and extended scenes.

BronyTaleA Brony Tale (Virgil, DVD, Digital VOD) offers a gentle entry into the very real “Brony” phenomenon: adult fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, a group that is overwhelmingly male, heterosexual and unashamed of their love of a cartoon about pastel-colored talking horses designed for little girls. Our guide through this world is Canadian voice actress and singer Ashleigh Ball, who provides the voices of two little ponies in the current incarnation of the series, Apple Jack and Rainbow Dash. “The pervert alarm, for sure, went off in my head,” she says when she first learned about the subculture, and she takes a tour to investigate the phenomenon on her way to Bronycon 2012 in Manhattan, where she’s been invited as a guest of honor.

If you are expecting some kind of freak show, you’ll be in for a surprise. Director Brent Hodge is a friend of Ball and frames the film through her perspective and experience, which works because she’s a sincere, serious, likable young woman who finds that the Brony phenomenon is far more positive and affirming than surface appearances might suggest. The spokesmen for the Bronies (mostly men, which in this case is representative of the culture at large, though a few women are represented as well) make a fine case for themselves and celebrate the values of the series in their own lives. When we get to the Iraq vet and former artist who was lifted out of his depression and inspired to draw again because of his engagement with the series, you don’t feel like making fun of any of these fans anymore. A Brony Tale isn’t deep or probing but neither is it sarcastic or dismissive.

The DVD features director commentary, the featurette “The Many Voices of Ashleigh Ball” (which basically expands a sequence from the film where Ball performs the voices of her various cartoon gigs), a brief photo-shoot and an acoustic performance by Ball, whose band Hey Ocean! provides the film’s soundtrack.

More new releases on disc and digital formats at Cinephiled

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‘We Are Mari Pepa’: New Life for the Coming-of-Age Genre

18 August, 2014 (11:00) | by Jay Kuehner, Essays | By: Jay Kuehner

‘We Are Mari Pepa’

Deceptively sumptuous given its scruffy punk milieu, We Are Mari Pepa (Somos Mari Pepa) breathes unexpected life into the naturally jaded (but hormone-riddled) body of youth/skate/band/buddy flicks. Samuel Kishi Leopo’s debut is utterly faithful in its depiction of the torpor and hope that doggedly accompanies teenagers everywhere, while limning a distinctly Mexican portrait of Jalisciense life over the course of a formative summer. Flush with teen spirit–that unassailable combination of insouciance and defiance—the film ultimately yields to the more wistful moods exacted by the reality of growing up. The symbolically slammed bedroom door separating youth from senescence, the modern from the traditional, the unrepentant two-chord blast from the venerable canción unspooling on vinyl, is gradually left ajar by Leopo’s rather keen sense of nostalgia.

Continue reading at Keyframe

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Film Review: ‘The Giver’

17 August, 2014 (17:34) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews, Science Fiction | By: Robert Horton

Katie Holmes and Alexander Skarsgard

“Thank you for your childhood,” says the Chief Elder to each graduating 16-year-old. In this society, that’s not as weird as it sounds; all children who reach 16 are given life assignments and launched into adulthood at a public ceremony.

Childhood’s end, indeed. The Giver tells the tale of one such teen, Jonas (played by Brenton Thwaites), chosen for a very special role on assignment day. He will be the new Receiver of Memories, a singular and mysterious job that sets him apart from everybody else in this isolated, placid world.

For reasons we don’t know, this slice of humanity has embraced “sameness” as its motto. The voluntarily tranquilized population is white, polite, and always truthful. If everyone is just the same, with limited emotional range and no ambitions, they will all get along together. That explains why we view this world in black-and-white. Odd thing is, Jonah keeps seeing flashes of color.

Continue reading at The Herald

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Videophiled Classic: ‘The Buddy Holly Story’ on Blu-ray

16 August, 2014 (15:25) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, Film Reviews, Musicals | By: Sean Axmaker

BuddyHollyBuddy Holly died young, long before he was finished making his creative contribution to the fledgling rock genre and before the movies had a chance to try him out as a screen performer. So instead of Buddy on the big screen, we have Gary Busey playing the musical hipster from the Bible-belt culture of Lubbock, Texas in The Buddy Holly Story (Twilight Time, Blu-ray). This 1978 biopic is almost square in its straightforward storytelling yet utterly engaging and oddly expressive of the creative spirit from an unlikely rebel. This is one of my favorite rock biopics of all time and decades later I still prefer it to the more flamboyant and self-conscious portraits of musical legends that have become the fashion. This is so square that it’s hip!

Busey’s gangly physicality, crooked, toothy smiles, and stage intensity brings Holly to life as both an unlikely rock ‘n’ roll rebel (he was first rock star to wear glasses onstage and in publicity shots) and an original voice in pop music. Off stage he’s the sweet, goofy, slightly odd boy next door with a gift for music, and onstage he turns every performance into an act of creation, as if each song is reborn when played for each new audience. Don Stroud and Charles Martin Smith provide solid back-up as bass man Jesse and drummer Ray Bob, fictionalized versions of the original Crickets (the origin of their name may be apocryphal but it is nonetheless a delightful scene) and Conrad Janis (of Mork and Mindy) is another fictional creation loosely inspired by Norman Petty, a record executive who chooses to back the instincts of this young man from Lubbock.

Director Steve Rash stumbled with his next film, the tone-deaf comedy Under the Rainbow, and never really recovered (lately he’s been relegated to direct-to-disc sequels) but on The Buddy Holly Story, which was his debut feature, his instincts and his execution are dead on. He eschews both reverence and show-biz melodrama for a low-key evocation of late-1950s culture and a no-nonsense peek into the workings of the music business and the practical approach that Holly took to creating the distinctive sound of his records. This isn’t genius springing fully formed from the artist like a wellspring but ideas developed and worked over by a professional devoted to his art. It may be the most unaffected biography of a musical great ever made, certainly one of the few that acknowledges the hard work and commitment necessary to creating music. It earned Busey his first and only Oscar nomination for Best Actor and reminds us that before he became a celebrity train wreck and reality TV joke, Busey was a fine actor who had at least one brilliant performance in his long career.

The musical recreation of Holly’s hits and sound is superb, from Busey’s Texas twang to the band thumping away behind a driving guitar creating both more sound and more melody than you thought possible from a single electric instrument. The musical adaptation earned the film its only Academy Award and is isolated on separate audio track on the Blu-ray debut, which is a trademark feature of Twilight Time releases put to a slightly different emphasis this time around. It also features commentary by director Steve Rash and star Gary Busey carried over from the old DVD release, the trailer, and an eight-page booklet with a new essay by Julie Kirgo. It is limited to 3000 copies and available exclusively from Screen Archives and TCM.

More rock and roll movies on Blu-ray at Cinephiled

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of August 15

15 August, 2014 (12:18) | by Bruce Reid, by Sean Axmaker, Links | By: Bruce Reid

On the set of ‘That Obscure Object of Desire’

At Mubi, a fine pair of appreciations, on a great master’s last film and a current master’s first. Sarah Salovaara shows how Buñuel’s bifurcation of the female lead in That Obscure Object of Desire makes its own kind of sense. (“The film presents a world in which a woman is capable of pathologically taunting a man who tries to buy her affection, if only because they cannot clearly communicate their honest desires to one another. Just how far removed from reality is this?”) And Cuyler Ballenger finds Carax’s Boy Meets Girl, with characters and images both engaged in soft, romantic self-absorption, the quintessential young man’s movie. (“What we are left with is transcendent self-involvement through time, space and person: otherwise known as being in your twenties.”)

“The smartest ones, they went underground. Into the new wilderness: your cities. Into the great slum areas, the graveyard of your fucking species.” Sean Nortz praises Wolfen as both “a transitional moment in the history of New York cinema” and “eerily prescient,” straddling the apocalyptic portraits of the city in ‘70s films (particularly its burnt-out Bronx locations) and the gleaming, yuppified ‘80s.

“It is part of the film’s design to refuse the straitjacket of roles, to insist that what we mean to one another is fluid, provisional, subject to reinvention. The woman in the opening scene, whom we first assume to be an ex or lover of Robert’s, is eventually introduced as “my secretary, my friend, my accountant.” Sarah, who at one point says she has no relatives, refers later to Robert as “my closest and my dearest friend.” In the film’s strangely enchanted, gently electrified atmosphere, almost any role is up for grabs.” Dennis Lim agrees Love Streams is Cassavetes’s final masterpiece; the last, giddy demonstration that “realist” was ever the wrong label for a filmmaker so mercurial and fabulist.

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Film Review: ‘The Dog’

14 August, 2014 (06:52) | by Robert Horton, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

John Wojtowicz

It would be easier to enjoy the madcap, stranger-than-fiction revelations of The Dog if it weren’t for the queasy awareness that its central subject is getting such a great kick out of all this. He is John Wojtowicz, the real-life guy whose botched 1972 bank robbery later became the basis for the Al Pacino film Dog Day Afternoon. The unlikely events of that movie really were based on fact, and The Dog is here to introduce us to the truth—if you want to believe Wojtowicz.

Early in the film, Wojtowicz—interviewed by directors Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren over a period of years—comes across as blunt and outrageous, with a voice like Joe Mantegna in aggressive wiseguy mode. He declares himself a “pervert,” and the evidence follows.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

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Film Review: ‘The Kill Team’

14 August, 2014 (06:48) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

Specialist Adam Winfield

Is the story of The Kill Team singular? That’s the unspoken question that hangs over this award-winning documentary, another artifact from the “war on terror.” In 2010 a group of soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord was arrested and charged with murdering Afghan civilians for fun while stationed in Kandahar Province. The accused had taken photographs of themselves with the corpses of their victims and in some cases collected body parts as trophies. The film lays out the chronology of the crimes, with a particular emphasis on the torment of Specialist Adam Winfield. Twenty years old at the time of the killings, Winfield is in the hapless position of being both whistle-blower and perpetrator.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

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Larry Fessenden: Taking Genre Seriously

13 August, 2014 (10:05) | by Sean Axmaker, Horror, Interviews | By: Sean Axmaker

There’s no shortage of independent horror filmmakers but Larry Fessenden is the filmmaker who puts the emphasis on the “indie” part of the equation. As a writer/director, he’s take the classic horror genres and turned them inside out. No Telling was his take on Frankenstein as an environmental drama, Habit, a vampire story set in the drug addict culture of New York City, Wendigo, a monster movie of myth and imagination and The Last Winter, an eco-twist on the ghost story in the culture of big oil. Plus, in addition to his own directorial efforts, Fessenden has produced or co-produced dozens of films, including Kelly Reichardt’s Wendy and Lucy and Night Moves, Ti West’s The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers, and Jim Mickle’s Stake Land, through Glass Eye Pix, his own production shingle.

‘Beneath’

Beneath, Fessenden’s latest, is a fish story: six teens stranded in a rowboat in the middle of the lake without a paddle while a giant man-eating catfish prowls the water waiting to eat his way through the buffet. What begins as a classic horror film, complete with teenagers who do all the dumb, reckless, aggressive things seemingly designed just to get them stuck in the water, transforms into an insidious character piece that strips away all pretense of humanity and lays bare the envy, resentment, spite and animosity they’ve been burying all this time under snarky remarks and dirty looks. Though it was made as a horror film for a cable channel, it plays more like an American indie drama: Mamet in a boat with a teenage cast and a seriously savage portrait of survivalism at all costs. On the occasion of the release of Beneath on Blu-ray and DVD a few months back, I spoke with Fessenden about the film, his career as a director and a producer, his support of independent filmmaking of all genres and why he’s still so committed to making his brand of horror cinema.

Keyframe: Beneath is the first feature you’ve directed that is not from your own script. Why this project and why the cable channel Chiller?

Larry Fessenden: As you know, I am also a producer and I went there to pitch some of my directors and just to get in with the channel. It seemed liked a fun proposition to produce a film through Chiller. They had money and they were ready to make some original features, and I went through some of the projects that I thought were interesting that we had lined up and they said, ‘Well, those sound good but we also have this,’ and they pulled out this script and I read it and I said, ‘Well I want to do this one, because I love the fish genre, I love how contained the story is, and if you guys are willing, I’d like to try my hand at it.’ I’ve never been a snob about how the work is done. I did another TV show written by some dudes. That was called Skin and Bones [for the series Fear Itself] and it’s one of my better pieces. It’s always exciting to take something and adapt it and put your spin on it and see how you come out. Like doing a cover song.

Continue reading at Keyframe

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Save Scarecrow Video! The next evolution of Seattle’s home video legend

12 August, 2014 (09:46) | by Sean Axmaker, Industry | By: Sean Axmaker

Seattle’s Scarecrow Video, arguably the greatest video story in the known universe, has been holding out against the changing habits of film viewing due to the onslaught of streaming video and digital distribution.

Today, Scarecrow announced The Scarecrow Project, which will transition the business to a non-profit organization. It’s the next step in preserving the amazing collection of movies on Blu-ray, DVD, laserdisc, and VHS: the largest single collection of physical home video in the United States, including thousands of movies and other programs no longer available in any format.

The project was initiated by the employees themselves, led by Joel Fisher and Kate Barr, who are going forward with the help of local and national advisers, including Tim League, the founder and CEO of the Alamo Drafthouse.

I myself worked at Scarecrow back in its glory days of the 1990s, where I was a manager on the inventory team during the launch of DVD and the bankruptcy of the store under its original owner, George Latsiois. Scarecrow has weathered a lot of changes and come through them all thanks to the commitment of its employees and its owners, who have always seen the film as more than simply a business. The current owners, Carl Tostevin and Mickey McDonough, have kept the store running despite falling rentals and sales. They now hand the reigns over to the next generation.

Viva Scarecrow!

Go to The Scarecrow Project on Kickstarter for more information and to support the project.

The complete press release is printed below.

See also Moira Macdonald’s story for The Seattle Times and my feature on the future of the independent video store for Indiewire.

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Videophiled: ‘Locke’ – The measure of a man

12 August, 2014 (08:08) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

LockeLocke (Lionsgate, Blu-ray, DVD, VOD), on its surface, sounds like one of the those high-concept / stunt thrillers and horror films that sprouted up like weeds a few years ago: one actor in a car, driving alone in a stretch of freeway at night, talking to the people in his life through phone calls (hands free, of course; the man is nothing if not responsible).

Except that Locke is not a crime drama or a horror film; there are no villains on his trail or masterminds toying with him by phone. Locke is about a man who, in the space of a 90-minute night drive from a construction site in Birmingham to a London hospital, makes a decision that defines his character and changes the course of his life forever. There’s no twist to the narrative, no shocking revelation, but the meaning of his journey is best discovered along the way as Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy)—husband, father, construction manager—explains it to his family and colleagues.

Tom Hardy is in the driver’s seat, literally and figuratively, for the entirety of the film, and there’s nothing showy in his measured, introspective journey. While those on the end of his phone calls–a wife on the verge of hysteria, nervous sons aware that something is wrong, a construction foreman suddenly promoted to take charge of the biggest concrete pour ever attempted in the UK—unravel at the news, Locke remains calming and deliberate while in conversation and struggles to hold himself together in between calls as he confronts the consequences of his decision.

British filmmaker Steven Knight wrote the tough, lean, uncompromising scripts for Dirty Pretty Things and Eastern Promises. Locke is just as uncompromising, but what’s at stake here is the measure of a man faced with a difficult decision. Knight finds ways to keep the journey from getting dull or claustrophobic with the camera finding new set-ups within the confined space of the car, watching Locke in reflection or lit up by passing cars and overhead lights; imagery that reminds us of the transience of his situation, a man alone in a river of anonymous travelers. But it’s the personal journey that makes Locke, a terribly human story about one man who refuses to shirk his responsibility no matter what it costs to his career, such and emotionally powerful drama.

Blu-ray and DVD with commentary by director / writer Steven Knight and the featurette “Ordinary Unraveling: Making Locke.” Also on Cable VOD.

More new releases on Blu-ray, DVD, Digital and VOD at Cinephiled

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Review: ‘92 in the Shade’

11 August, 2014 (18:09) | by Richard T. Jameson, Film Reviews | By: Richard T. Jameson

[Originally published in Movietone News 45, November 1975]

Anyone seeking evidence that more writers should turn director ought to consider Tom McGuane in quarantine. 92 in the Shade has about as much structure and consistency, not to say appeal, as an ice cream sandwich that has lain in the sun since last weekend. There is scarcely any evidence that someone directed it, although a manneristic and absolutely pointless derivation from some better movie—e.g., a drifting Long Goodbye–like coverage of a jailhouse interview between Peter Fonda and Warren Oates—suggests occasionally that someone thought he was directing. Perhaps the shade of Robert Altman also hangs over the non-readings one strains to make sense of (though I stopped straining before very long); McGuane must have assumed that mumbled, slurred speech—preferably delivered through a mouth full of food and/or drink—has some near-mystical value in the contemporary cinema, else why would he sabotage so much of his own dialogue? But even on that level, the screenplay sounds like someone else’s idea of McGuane dialogue more often than it approaches the real thing (as, delightfully, in Rancho Deluxe).

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Videophiled Classic: Kino Lorber Studio Classics

9 August, 2014 (11:13) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

WitnessProsecutionThe new Kino Lorber Studio Classics line follows the model that Olive initiated with its releases from the Paramount catalog. Kino’s licensing deal with MGM (the current MGM entity, which is largely made up of United Artists productions; the grand old MGM studio library belongs to Warner) gives them access to the new high-definition masters from a portion of the catalog as well as access to elements to create new HD masters, plus access to select supplements from previous disc releases. Kino has been expanding in the home video market in the last few years, striking releasing deals with Britain’s Redemption and producer Alfred Leone and distribution deals with Raro Video, Palisades Tartan, and Scorpion. This new deal, no surprise, was announced after Frank Tarzi left Olive, where he was the label’s head of acquisitions, and joined Kino. More than 40 releases have been announced through the end of 2014 via their dedicated Facebook page, with eight films rolling out in the first wave. I held my request to five discs and was (for the most part) well pleased with the quality I saw in these.

“Classics” is of course a fungible term, meaning everything from acknowledged masterpiece to practically anything more than 25 or 30 years old. The eight film of the first wave are largely plucked from the fifties and sixties, with a mix of acknowledged classics, award winners, and genre pictures. But for me, the highlights of the debut wave are two by Billy Wilder: Witness for the Prosecution (1957) and The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970).

Based on the stage play by Agatha Christie, Witness for the Prosecution (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray, DVD) isn’t opened up for the screen so much as it is perked up with witty dialogue and wily characterizations, two strengths of Wilder and writing and producing partner I.A.L. Diamond. Charles Laughton plays the legendary barrister who defies doctor’s order and a heart condition to defend amiable but shiftless American Tyrone Power from a murder charge and Marlene Dietrich plays his German wife, a cool, suspicious character whose testimony seems to doom Power’s chances of acquittal. Of course, it’s a Christie plot so nothing is that simple, especially when incriminating letters are discovered, but the plot and the succession of twists is less interesting than the characters.

Continue reading at Cinephiled

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The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for the week of August 8

8 August, 2014 (10:27) | by Bruce Reid, by Sean Axmaker, Links | By: Bruce Reid

‘Score’

“Those who dismiss Metzger’s films as stylish but low-brow are at best uninformed and at worst snobs. For the bulk of a 25-year career, he staked a claim on a shifting territory and worked it with intelligence and a certain Continental flair that was equal parts inclination and practicality (the dollar went further in Europe than it did at home).” The latest beneficiary of a Lincoln Center revival is softcore maestro Radley Metzger, whose career gets an appreciative overview from Maitland McDonagh. The director himself sits down with Steve MacFarlane for an interview that makes clear how ambitious a filmmaker he was—and how pragmatically adaptable. (“A well-known critic died recently, and someone sent me some of his early reviews of my pictures, and they were astounding in the fact that they never reviewed the film; they reviewed the climate of the times, the amount of nudity, whatever, but the essential structure of the film, or the acting—none of that was referred to. Except trying to make it kind of a silly show. It came with the territory.”)

Or maybe you prefer your erotica less Continental and more Far East? David Hudson passes on news that the anthology The Pink Book: The Japanese Eroducation and Its Contexts—with essays from contributors including Kimata Kimihiko, Andrew Grossman, and Donald Richie—is available as a free download. (Click through for .pdf or ePub).

Rick Paulas—who deserves praise both for kicking off with nicely terse hard-boiled prose and for dropping the conceit before it gets old—relates the gambles, bureaucratic hurdles, and dead ends involved in the restoration game, telling how Noir City’s Eddie Muller went about securing a print of Too Late for Tears. Via Vadim Rizov.

‘Out 1′

In a video and written essay, Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin lay out the avant-garde theatrical influences at play (crucial word) in Rivette’s Out 1.

As Ben Sachs explains, Richard Linklater has never been one to wear his cinephilia on his sleeve, preferring to treat his references “more like personal talismans, tucked into the work for his own satisfaction.” So a backwards tracking shot of a couple walking in Boyhood maybe doesn’t immediately bring Fassbinder to mind, but Sachs is convinced, and convincing, that the allusion is there.

David Mermelstein reminds us that movies set in the past have much more to say about their present, tracing the varied purposes of the World War I film as the events themselves receded into history. Via Criterion.

It may seem contrary to the Altman ethic to single out one performance from the teeming drift of his ensembles; but a great exception has always been Lily Tomlin in Nashville, as Michael Koresky notes, “an emotional anchor in a film full of wayward souls and pompous pills.”

You have to root for it through some strained jocularity (as was ever the case with Reynolds), but there’s a certain wintry nobility in Gaspar González’s story of Burt Reynolds teaching acting in Lake Park, Florida, the erstwhile biggest star in the world, having outlived not only his career but most of his friends, returning in twilight to the scene of his first triumphs. Via Matt Singer.

The back of 125 Christopher St.

“Let’s go down to the garden and find out what’s buried there.” “Why not? I always wanted to meet Mrs. Thorwald.” Lou Lumenick visits 125 Christopher St., inspiration for L. B. Jefferies’s apartment and courtyard in Rear Window, and later, in homage, shooting location for Serpico and Manhattan Murder Mystery.

“I think my actors or my crew do not respect me because I have been athletic before in my life. It’s something much, much deeper. It’s experience in life, it’s how you see the world, and it’s how you can transform everyone on the set into what is the very best in him or her. And I can do that. That’s what I get paid for. Insight. Things that I see. And others do not see.” For someone who has always emphasized the importance, even the necessity, of the visual, Werner Herzog remains the most deliciously quotable of directors, whether talking (with Steve Marsh) about the virtues of traveling on foot, the blessing of being fatherless in post-war Germany, his hatred of drugs or his love of Mel Brooks. He even gets off a great one-liner about how quotable he is.

“But I just don’t think it’s realistic now to think that the kind of film culture that really gave us Scorsese, Coppola, Malick or any of the great foreign directors… Wertmuller, Bergman… is going to be there in years to come, because it’s already gone. It’s already in the rear-view mirror. But I think there are good things about where we are now too, and one thing I’ve been focused on lately is documentaries.” Fifteen years after his prescient essay “Death of Film/Decay of Cinema” Godfrey Cheshire talks to Matt Zoller Seitz about how much he got right, the few things he got wrong, and how TV and social media changed the landscape in ways no one could have predicted.

Main title card for Tarsem’s ‘Immortals’

“After viewing a cut of the film, I thought the titles should be as secretive as the story and the characters. I suggested the thinnest weight of Helvetica in caps and lowercase to represent the anonymous nature of the characters. They had to be very quiet as they entered, small and elegant and almost unnoticed.” Art of the Title has a pair of interesting interviews about credit typographies that couldn’t be farther apart. Dan Perri, quoted above, talks with Ian Albinson about his deliberately almost subliminal credits for All the President’s Men. And Stefan Bucher tells Alexander Ulloa and Lola Landekic about designing titles for the movies of Tarsem that play as beautiful and elegant as the director’s images themselves. (Just so we’re clear, his words not mine.) Related: title designer Karin Fong describes what makes a great credit sequence, and how sometimes even the perfect idea has to go when it introduces too much too early. Via It’s Nice That.

Fiction: “0:37 – 0:39. A schoolroom. An elderly woman speaks to survivors. Hers is the voice of the V/O. She says, ‘Life adapts.’ 0:40 – 0:44 V/O: ‘So does death.’ Zombie alone on the flat roof of a tower. Looks down at humans on the street. Grabs its own solar plexus with both hands and tenses.” China Miéville’s short story “Trailer—“The Crawl”,” which transcribes the events of a trailer advertising a film about a zombie civil war, provides both a knowing skewering of movie hype and a vision so out there it’s equal isn’t likely any time soon even with our current flood of walking dead stories. Via Longform.

Metzger was always fond of roundelay structure, so let’s end where we began, with Adrian Curry’s collection of posters from Audubon Films releases demonstrating the man knows how to sell films nearly as well as make them.

Marilyn Burns

Obituary

Marilyn Burns, the original “final girl” of horror cinema, survived Tobe Hooper’s iconic original Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). She also appeared in Hooper’s Eaten Alive (1977) and the TV miniseries Helter Skelter (1976). She passed away this week at the age of 65. More from The Hollywood Reporter.

Seattle Screens

The longest-running film noir series in America is back for it’s 37th year at the Seattle Art Museum this fall, opening on Thursday, September 25 with John Huston’s The Maltese Falcon, and plays on successive Thursday through December. All film are showing on 35mm, just as they showed to darkened theaters back in the day.

Series tickets are now on sale at Seattle Art Museum and Scarecrow Video.

The schedule:

Sept 25: The Maltese Falcon (John Huston, 1941). Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, Elisha Cook, Jr. From the Library of Congress. 100 min.

Oct 2: Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947). Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas, Rhonda Fleming. From the Library of Congress. 96 min.

Oct 16: He Walked By Night (Alfred Werker, 1949). Richard Basehart, Scott Brady, Roy Roberts, Whit Bissell, Jack Webb. Cinematography was done by that master of film noir lighting, John Alton. 79 min.

Oct 23: Abandoned (Joseph M. Newman, 1949). Dennis O’Keefe, Gale Storm, Jeff Chandler, Raymond Burr. 80 min.

Oct 30: Shakedown (Joe Pevney, 1950). Howard Duff, Brian Donlevy, Peggy Dow, Lawrence Tierney.     80 min.

Nov 6: 711 Ocean Drive (Joseph M. Newman, 1950). Edmond O’Brien, Joanne Dru, Don Porter, Sammy White. 102 min.

Nov 20: The Big Combo (Joseph H. Lewis, 1955). Cornel Wilde, Richard Conte, Brian Donlevy, Jean Wallace, Lee Van Cleef, Earl Holliman. Cinematography by John Alton, music by David Raksin (Laura). Restored by the UCLA Film Archive. 89 min.

Dec 11: Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (Arnold Laven, 1957). Richard Egan, Jan Sterling, Dan Duryea, Walter Matthau. 103 min.

Dec 18: House of Games (David Mamet, 1987). Lindsay Crouse, Joe Mantegna, Mike Nussbaum, Ricky Jay, Lilia Skala, J.T. Walsh, William H. Macy. Written by David Mamet and filmed in Seattle, often near where we’ll be watching the film. 101 min.

The weekly links page is compiled and curated by Bruce Reid, with obituaries curated by Sean Axmaker, and other contributions from friends of Parallax View.

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