The Friday (9/18/2020)

Ellis Haizlip: Mr. Soul! (Shoes in the Bed Productions)

My review for the Scarecrow blog this week, and etc.

Mr. Soul! “Style itself is one of the film’s subjects, not just because of the gloriously out-there early-70s flair (and flare), but because of the defiant Black-is-beautiful aesthetic being championed, fashion as political act.”

Join us tomorrow, Saturday September 19, at 2 p.m. Pacific Time, for another session of our Scarecrow Academy semester, “The Art in Horror: Horror and the Director.” Register for the free Zoom meeting here, and check my video Overlook below.

Parallax View continues its run through movie reviews of the year 2000. My contributions this week include a look at Ann Hu’s Shadow Magic, a look at early cinema through a Chinese lens, with Jared Harris; and my interview with John Frankenheimer, visiting Seattle for Reindeer Games (reviewed at PV by Richard T. Jameson).

For What a Feeling!, my vintage 80s lookbacks for the week are: Evelyn Purcell’s Nobody’s Fool – the one with Rosanna Arquette and Eric Roberts, that is, not the Paul Newman gem; Malcolm Mowbray’s Out Cold, a comedy of meat and murder with John Lithgow, Teri Garr, and the mighty Bruce McGill; Harry Hook’s The Kitchen Toto, a drama of colonial Africa; Blake Edwards’ The Man Who Loved Women, a remake of the Truffaut movie, with Burt Reynolds and Julie Andrews; and Jim Kouf’s Miracles, a grating screwball comedy with Tom Conti and Teri Garr.

Movie Diary 9/15/2020

The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980). Here is our topic of discussion for the next Zoom meeting of Scarecrow Academy, “The Art in Horror: Horror and the Director”; register here to attend. That’s Saturday, September 19, at 2 p.m., Pacific Time. My video introduction is YouTubed here, if you want to give it an Overlook. (Unless I’ve successfully embedded it below.)

Movie Diary 9/15/2020

Moonrise (Frank Borzage, 1948). Odd, highly-charged quasi-noir, with the miscast Dane Clark as an unpleasant young man whom the movie nevertheless insists on redeeming. There’s something very Catholic about it and also kind of French. Easy to see that Borzage was a silent-movie director.

Mr. Soul! (Melissa Haizlip, 2020). Documentary about Ellis Haizlip, the producer-host of the public-TV show Soul!, which brought African-American culture into homes from the late 60s through the early 70s. Music, poetry, dance, and every combination thereof appears here, to frankly fabulous effect.

Movie Diary 9/13/2020

Fury (Fritz Lang, 1936). The mob, electrifyingly portrayed as a mass of stupid destruction; the desire for vengeance against the mob is portrayed as equally corrosive. The first half of the film is a gradual build-up of tension that uncannily tracks the way a society breaks down, a process that hasn’t changed a bit, although the online world lets it happen in a more disembodied way. Lang’s command of how that happens with bodies crowded into tight spaces – everyday places like taverns and barbershops – is chilling and relentless. Laced with eerie moments, like the politician who casually notes that his support of a lynching drew 90 % approval from his constituents.

The Friday (9/11/2020)

Sarm Heng, Buoyancy (KinoLorber)

My review for the Scarecrow blog this week, and etc.

Buoyancy. “Whatever its motivations as a docu-drama, Buoyancy also bears the unmistakable outline of a Jack London story; it’s an adventure film, if a grim one.”

This week at Scarecrow Academy (online, of course), we continue our “The Art in Horror: Horror and the Director” semester with a discussion of George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968). You can check out the link here to register, and also watch me introduce the movie in a short video, if you dare.

At Parallax View, the 2000 Eyes project continues to look at the movies of the year 2000. My contributions this week are reviews of John Singleton’s Shaft, starring Samuel L. Jackson and a spectacular Jeffrey Wright; and Antony Hoffman’s Red Planet.

At my 1980s website, What a Feeling!, I’ve got more vintage pieces from that special decade. This week I looked back at: Roger Holzberg’s Midnight Crossing, a dud with Daniel J. Travanti and Faye Dunaway; a twofer piece on the late Jiri Menzel’s My Sweet Little Village and Andrei Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice; sitcom mogul Gary David Goldberg’s Dad, with Jack Lemmon; Bruce Beresford’s Crimes of the Heart, headlined by the power trio of Jessica Lange, Diane Keaton, and Sissy Spacek; and Tom Schiller’s cult SNL-flavored item Nothing Lasts Forever, which (contrary to reputation) did open for a regular run in 1984.

Movie Diary 9/9/2020

Night of the Living Dead (George Romero, 1968). Prepping for our Scarecrow Academy meeting on Saturday, September 12, at 2 p.m. Pacific Time. Click on the Register Here button at the Scarecrow website to sign up for the Zoom session, and consider watching a video introduction from yours truly: Come for the pandemic hair, stay for the Romero stories. See you there?

Movie Diary 8/7/2020

The Perfect Candidate (Haifaa Al-Mansour, 2019). The director of the very fine Wadjda (and the not so fine Mary Shelley) guides this likable story of a Saudi woman (Mila Al Zahrani) who runs for local office. It’s an almost accidental decision – she just wants to pave the road to the hospital where she is a doctor – but turns into a small crusade. There are few surprises here, but the candidate and her two sisters are immensely appealing.

The Friday (8/4/2020)

Yifei Liu, Mulan (Jasin Boland, Disney Enterprises Inc.)

My review for the Scarecrow blog this week, and etc.

Mulan. “The best I can think of for an explanation about the overall slogginess here is that the concept of Mulan really, really needs songs and talking animals.”

Join us tomorrow, Saturday Sep. 5, at 2 p.m., for a session in “The Art in Horror: Horror and the Director,” our ongoing semester in Scarecrow Academy. We’ll be discussing Rosemary’s Baby, directed by Roman Polanski. The meeting is free, via Zoom, and you can register here (and also watch me intro the film, if that’s your idea of fun).

Consider reading my novel Hateful Deeds, a political black, black comedy published on Kindle.

Parallax View rolls out more reviews from the year 2000; my contribution this week is something on Robert Altman’s Dr. T and the Women, a curious ensemble piece led by Richard Gere.

And here’s a handful of 1980s reviews at my other website, What a Feeling!: Jerry Schatzberg’s Misunderstood, a tepid drama with Gene Hackman and Henry Thomas; Armyan Bernstein’s Cross My Heart, a romcom pairing Martin Short and Annette O’Toole; Sandy Wilson’s My American Cousin, a Canadian coming-of-age picture that made a nice impression on the indie scene; a twofer review of Barnett Kellman’s Key Exchange, a pleasant Woody Allen knockoff with Brooke Adams, and Karoly Makk’s Lily in Love, with Christopher Plummer and Maggie Smith; and James L. Brooks’s Broadcast News, a classic.

Movie Diary 9/1/2020

Mulan (Niki Caro, 2020). So it’s come to this: Disney making one of its blockbusters available for press to screen online. We are truly in uncharted territory. Anyway, it’s big, flashy, surprisingly martial, and does not have any songs (except during the end credits, obviously). One point that won’t be debated much: Yifei Liu, as the title character, is a find. (full review 9/4)

Movie Diary 8/31/2020

Rosemary’s Baby (Roman Polanski, 1968). I go on about the film here. This Saturday, Sep. 5, at 2 p.m. Pacific Time, we’ll have a Zoom session for Scarecrow Academy’s “The Art in Horror: Horror and the Director,” during which we’ll talk about this movie. Our first Zoom session (on The Birds) went very well. You can register for the upcoming session and watch my video intro here.