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It wasn’t until after I hobbled into the office I realized with certainty I would not be able to do my job that day. By the time the subway dragged me home, each jostle a torment, the flu had blossomed in full force. To avoid my stupidity, in this case ignoring obvious symptoms like aches and complete lack of appetite, always err on the side of caution. At worst you’ll have a day off. At best you’ll avoid a personal recreation of ‘Jacob’s Ladder’.  For further elucidation, do enjoy these helpful videos on how to avoid all sorts of germs.

Para Español…’What Is Disease – Unseen Enemy’

It seems bizarre ANYTHING Disney escaped into public domain, but this movie, created as part of a larger goodwill project between the American and various South American governments, most likely lost copyright when the government group responsible for creating it dissolved. I’m not quite sure how that susses out fully, and am too tired to do the research.

‘Joan Avoids A Cold’ (1947)

Don’t be like Joan’s brother Jim or his thoughtless friend George, or you’ll miss the Kermesse! This movie also serves as subtle Dutch propaganda – “The Dutch people keep CLEAN!” Not like those OTHER European groups.

Goodbye, Mr. Germ (Reel 1 of 2)

Goodbye, Mr. Germ (Reel 2 of 2)

This one features a Joycean mad scientist, Fleisher Bros.-style animation, and a TB germ sounding like Boris Ravenscroft. I was surprised to find the animation wasn’t Fleisher’s, but a smaller company out of Philadelphia called De Frenes. Interestingly, the company’s tied to the UFO community through a request for an animated short on the subject matter (and that is the sanest link I could find, though if you’re into animated UFO gifs, go nuts in GoogleSearch).

 

 

 

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When I say Film Forum is one of my favorite theaters in the city, I should probably be more specific. I love the programming, but could do without the cramped seats, lack of cupholders, and ridiculously cranky patrons. Yesterday marked the third time in as many viewings I nearly saw a septuagenarian fight break out over people pushing in the aisles.

The films are worth it- this time around it was a double-feature of ‘The Phantom Lady’, a noir so strange it borders on the absurd, and ‘Cat People’, the good one, not the 80′s one. The former was introduced by none other than James Ellroy, writer of ‘The Black Dahlia’, who praised the film and the genre with bawdy slang.

I wish I could find a transcript of the movie somewhere-there were so many strange exchanges and unintentionally hilarious conversations. The best may have been the police officer’s back and forth with the convicted man’s best friend, who, unbeknownst to him, is really the killer. As the officer goes on about how the killer’s clearly a ‘paranoiac’, the best friend/killer keeps staring at his murderous hands, talking in a near-monotone about how perhaps the killer’s really not such a bad guy after all; maybe he’s just a misunderstood genius. Again, this is a film where a silly hat is the key to getting a man off death row. Certain parts put symbolism above story and logic, such as the scene where a hot-to-trot drummer takes the heroine to a closet with a jazz band already playing, jumps on in, and proceeds to have a very Freudian drum solo.

‘Cat People’ is a more moody and somber film, but its dated gender politics cracked the audience up, prompting another cranky patron to yell “We’re trying to watch the movie!!!” So are we, guy. Calm down. Half the fun of watching older movies with a wider audience is enjoying the discrepancy between what was taken for granted then and what’s assumed now.

The opening of Harold Lloyd’s ‘Speedy’, seen earlier at Film Forum, drove the audience to distraction. While Lloyd and his girl laughed as they were thrown from spinning wooden platforms into metal walls, rode rollercoasters with no straps or harnesses, and….went down a hill riding metal horses(honestly I have no idea what that ride was about; it’s primary purpose looked like a cheery form of electrocution), the audience couldn’t focus on their charming romance and kept flipping out.

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Sweet mercy, Film Forum’s latest lineup is absolutely perfect. They’ve just announced their ‘NYC Noir’ lineup, starting next week, and right off the bat they’ve a double feature of my two favorite silent-era comedians. There’s classic dramas, two Val Lewton flicks, some seedy noirs, and a Superfly/Warriors double feature!!! Heck, I’ll just post some highlights; if you’d like to join me do let me know.

JULY 29 SUN: LAURA/THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW

JULY 30 MON: THE CAMERAMAN/SPEEDY

AUGUST 2 THU: A DOUBLE LIFE/THE SEVENTH VICTIM

AUGUST 8 WED: THE NAKED CITY/FORCE OF EVIL

AUGUST 15 WED: CAT PEOPLE/PHANTOM LADY

AUGUST 17/18 FRI/SAT: THE WARRIORS/SUPERFLY

AUGUST 19/20 SUN/MON: SCARLET STREET/SIDE STREET

AUGUST 22/23 WED/THU: KILLER’S KISS/SOMETHING WILD

AUGUST 30 THU: WAIT UNTIL DARK/CRY TERROR!

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Not one, but two. Two Pee-Wee movies looming on the horizon. Dare we breath lest this fragile dream swirl back into dust? In the interview found here, Paul Reubens talks about his time in The Playhouse and the two movies centered around it he has in the works. The interview itself is pretty adorable:

What were some of your favorite characters in the Playhouse?

I just felt panicked when you asked me that. I can’t name a favorite character because all of the rest will feel left out. I forgot for a minute that they weren’t real people.

He’s totally lying when he claims there’s no subtext to the show, though. Has anyone seen ‘A Pee-Wee Christmas Special’ lately? It’s ok to watch it off-season, in fact it makes summer even better. Even glossing over the appearances by Cher, Grace Jones, k.d. Lang, and somehow ignoring the very Village People sing-along themesong by the Men’s Choir dolled up in Navy gear, you cannot explain or comprehend the final scene in any other way: Pee-Wee shows his friends he’s using all their fruitcakes to have a new wing of the Playhouse built…by shirtless, oiled beefcakes flexing their muscles as they carefully laid each piece. With closeups. Yep.

Though I’m jazzed about anything Paul Reubens commits to screen (his genius appearance in 30 Rock, his delightful turn in the movie ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’), and I’d love to see a movie about The Playhouse, I preferred the setup of ‘Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure’, where he lived in a world sort of like ours. The Playhouse was a perfect place where all sorts of weird behavior and shenanigans happened, because that was what the space was for. To see that sort of weirdness in spaces that we could go (like the Alamo) made it seem like it might happen in our own lives.

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This Sunday Anthology Film Archives is showing a series of classic experimental shorts from the 1920′s, including ‘Ballet Mecanique’ and Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Entre’Acte’. The idea of ‘classic’ experimental shorts seems sort of paradoxical; then again anything once considered edgy becomes absorbed by mainstream culture in time. It is much like a shard stuck in the body; harmful effects are quickly neutralized by the larger organism’s quick response of cushioning and coating, and in many cases absorbing. For the squeamish I can assure you no pus is involved in these films. If anyone cares to join the screening’s at 5:30pm.

Also at Anthology, on Wed. June 13 is a screening of the Mick Travis trilogy. The most well-known of the three films is ‘…If’, starring a young Malcom McDowell in the role that landed him that of Alex in ‘A Clockwork Orange’. Plotwise, there’s not too much going on. A number of boys attend a boarding school where older students lord over the younger, archaic rituals are performed with little meaning, and those supposedly in charge are completely distanced from their actual situation. Basically, a regular school, with all the dullness and weirdness entailing. McDowell’s character Mick wants to break free of this, and it’s arguable whether he actually manges to do so by the film’s controversial end.

Finally, for all those who missed seeing The Valerie Project at Anthology, shame on you! It was a heady and lovely journey through a girl’s imagination as she comes of age. Fortunately you’ll have a chance to redeem yourselves come June 16th, when the project returns home to Philadelphia at The International House. Should you miss it again they’ve a MOMA show in the works, but by then all the arty-arts will have scooped the tickets and will yammer about various bits of symbolism throughout until you jam their blackberry (still on, of course) down their throats. So do yourselves a favor and scoot down to Philly for some cheesesteaks, water ice, and outstanding live musical performance and screening.

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