Movie Diary 9/6/2021

Watching documentaries for a committee. Are some of these embargoed? Don’t know. I shall try to be discreet.

Val (Ting Poo, Leo Scott, 2021). Portrait of Val Kilmer, made up of his own ridiculously extensive home movies, plus footage of him living his current cancer-affected life. To say that Kilmer is rather childlike is to understate it, which makes it all the more intriguing to wonder where his best performances came from. Now, can we see the feature-length doc made entirely of footage from The Island of Dr. Moreau, please?

The One and Only Dick Gregory (Andre Gaines, 2021). Good profile of the remarkable comedian-turned activist. The early-60s stuff is especially fine in reminding us of how Gregory had developed a public presence – smooth, confident, droll – that in itself spoke as loudly as his jokes.

My Name Is Pauli Murray (Julie Cohen, Betsy West, 2021). The life of a notable civil-rights figure, historically significant as “the first Black woman” to achieve a variety of notable accomplishments (even if, in her later years, she stubbornly clung to “Negro” as the hard-won descriptor of respect), newly of interest as someone whose gender identification would likely find fuller expression today. A very good person to know about.

Gustav Stickley: American Craftsman (Herb Stratford, 2021). Yet another bio, of the designer. It was that kind of weekend.

The Friday 9/3/2021

Mariana Di Girolamo: Ema (Music Box Films)

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

Ema. “It was refreshing to spend time with a movie that feels like it came from another era, one in which puzzling the audience was an acceptable gambit for moviemaking. “

I’ve got a new episode of my radio show “The Music and the Movies,” this one trotting along to Western movie theme songs. We run the gamut from High Noon to Blazing Saddles, and hear vocal stylings from Frankie Laine, Peggy Lee, Glen Campbell, and – Bob Mitchum?

The previous episodes, on 21st Century film composers who are not men, is still up, too. If these have vanished when you’re reading this in the future, check out the M&M page to see what’s current. Produced by Voice of Vashon.

Tuesday, September 14, at 8 p.m., I’ll be presenting a Zoom talk called “This Is the End: How Movie Prepared Us for the Apocalypse,” through the Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau program. The host is Scarecrow Video, and you can find more information here.

Two vintage 1980s reviews revived for my other website, What a Feeling!, this week, both directed by Bertrand Blier, both made up of beautifully-cast romantic triangles: My Best Friend’s Girl, a three-way with Isabelle Huppert, Thierry Lhermitte, and Coluche; and Too Beautiful for You, with Josiane Balasko, Carole Bouquet, and Gerard Depardieu.

Movie Diary 9/1/2021

The Blood on Satan’s Claw (Piers Haggard, 1971). Culty folk horror with its share of effective scenes, and an overall approach of disconnected sensations. IMDb says that the project was originally conceived as separate stories, but were blended together at some point, and that’s what it feels like, all right – storylines are dropped, and the creepy kid coven doesn’t seem to come into the movie until well after it should be established. Evocatively photographed by Dick Bush, who would do Tommy and Sorcerer later in the decade. The opening bit, about a young man who brings his bride-to-be to his country manor, where she experiences Something Awful in the night, is like a good little M.R. James story unto itself.

Ema (Pablo Larrain). New one from a director who is piling up the credits this last dozen years: Tony Manero, No, Jackie, and the upcoming Spencer (the one with Kristen Stewart as Lady Di). Will review this one Friday.