The Friday 4/29/2022

Clive Owen: Children of Men

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

Alfonso Cuaron interview.

I’ve got a new episode of my radio show, “The Music and the Movies,” this week: music from the films of Audrey Hepburn. Listen in for pleasing sounds from Sabrina, Charade, Two for the Road, and a certain Henry Mancini-Johnny Mercer song written for Hepburn’s modest range as a singer, which became a huckleberry classic. (If you’re looking at this page in the future, that link will be gone because of music rights, but check the M&M page to see what’s current.)

We’ve got another session of Scarecrow Academy, the free online conversation presented by the nonprofit Scarecrow Video in Seattle. Our semester of “The Art in Sci-Fi: Science Fiction at the Director” continues with a discussion of Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men on Saturday, April 30, at 2 pm Pacific Time. Check the Academy page for sign-up info. My intro is below (sorry about the popping audio; we’re trying to diagnose why that happens).

Movie Diary 4/27/2022

Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron, 2006). Here’s our subject for Scarecrow Academy on Saturday April 30: a dystopian parable transformed by the fluid style of Cuaron and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. Join us for this conversation about “Science Fiction and the Director” via Zoom at 2 pm Pacific Time.

This Day and Age (Cecil B. DeMille, 1933). Certifiably crazy film about the Youth of Today that also rebukes romantic portraits of gangsters. Charles Bickford plays a local mobster (he works for a faceless Capone-like figure known as “The Little Fellow”), guilty of murdering a Jewish tailor. The local high-school kids, led by Richard Cromwell, organize to gather evidence to nail Bickford after “the system” fails to convict him, a plot that ends up in a wild kangaroo court staged on an amazingly energetic scale. There’s a henchman (Bradley Page) whose creepy intense stare is focused on one of the teen girls (Judith Allen); as he says when he gets her alone, “I like my olives green.” DeMille, or somebody, had seen some Eisenstein and Lang; one of the slow overlap-dissolves has a row of tap-dancing feet lingering on top of the image of a boy dying in an ally, another has a rat’s face being slowly replaced by a close-up of Bickford.

Movie Diary 4/26/2022

Spent a few days at the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival. Saw and did a bunch of things, and will post more about it, but wanted to begin with a notable documentary about movies.

Oleg (Nadia Tass, 2021). A profile of Oleg Vidov, actor who came on like a Russian Alain Delon in the 60s and was quickly chewed up by the Soviet system, escaping to the West in 1985. The film is very much an approved bio – Vidov’s widow is a producer – but the fascinating story and the wealth of personal material make it a compelling slice of film history. Would like to have seen longer clips, to get a sense of what kind of actor this very photogenic individual was. The air of “what might have been” is powerful.

The Friday 4/22/2022

Roddy Piper: They Live

No Scarecrow post this week. But:

I have a new episode of “The Music and the Movies” this week, devoted to film music from 1962. Listen here, at least for the next week or so.

We’ll be convening Scarecrow Academy tomorrow, Saturday April 23, at 2 pm Pacific Time, for a conversation about John Carpenter’s THEY LIVE. It’s online and free, part of Scarecrow’s “The Art in Sci-Fi: Science Fiction and the Director.” I introduce the film below.

Movie Diary 4/18/2022

They Live (John Carpenter, 1988). We have another session of Scarecrow Academy coming up on Saturday (4/23), and our topic is Carpenter’s “Morning in America” gem, a sci-fi satire made up like a B-movie. The movie’s subject is how to see clearly, which suits a director whose style is all about seeing, even in these pulpy circumstances.

Movie Diary 4/17/2022

The Wasp Woman (Roger Corman, 1959). A solid, sometimes sneakily funny one from Corman, influenced by The Fly, which came out the year before. Susan Cabot, who had a strange and sad life, plays a cosmetics magnate who tests a new youth serum, derived from wasps, on herself. There are side effects. Her transformation into a wasp is achieved not through a gradual series of dissolves or anything like that, but with the sudden arrival of a fully made-up creature, which is frankly pretty frickin’ awesome. The women in the film (they include Barboura Morris and Lynn Cartwright as office workers) are much livelier and more interesting than the men, for what that’s worth. The film is hilariously padded out with a couple of montage sequences added to make the running time longer when sold for TV.

The Friday 4/15/2022

Lee Hye-young, Cho Yun-hee: In Front of Your Face (Cinema Guild)

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

Picks for the Seattle International Film Festival.

Tomorrow, Saturday April 16 at 2 pm Pacific Time, we continue our free online discussion series, “The Art in Sci-Fi: Science Fiction and the Director,” with a conversation about David Cronenberg’s 1986 film The Fly. Look at the Scarecrow Academy page to sign up, and see my intro below.

No new radio episode of “The Music and the Movies” this week, but you can check the homepage and see what’s archived there at the moment; today we’ve got shows on Beach Party movies and 1980s neo-noir.

Three vintage reviews published this week at What a Feeling!, my blog of 1980s pieces: Milos Forman’s Valmont, the ill-timed adaptation of Dangerous Liaisons, which came out after that movie stole all the thunder (but this one has good work from Annette Bening and Colin Firth); Richard Wenk’s Vamp, a vampire comedy with Grace Jones being all otherworldly; and Hal Hartley’s The Unbelievable Truth, the first film from that director, starring Adrienne Shelly and Robert Burke.

Movie Diary 4/12/2022

Scarecrow Academy continues; see you on Saturday (4/16) at 2 pm Pacific Time for a conversation about David Cronenberg’s The Fly. I explain below.

Movie Diary 4/11/2022

Touching the Skin of Eeriness (Ryusuke Hamaguchi, 2013) and Heaven Is Still Far Away (Hamaguchi, 2016). Two shorter-than-feature-length films playing Thursday night at the Northwest Film Forum, from the director of Drive My Car. Wrote about these for the Scarecrow blog; glad to have the chance to see this work.

The Fly (David Cronenberg, 1986). A re-visit for the sake of our next Scarecrow Academy discussion session, on 4/16. An operatic film with over-the-top gore, which is, in this case, the right way to do it.

Movie Diary 4/10/2022

The Olive Trees of Justice (James Blue, 1962). I’m looking at a few films booked for this year’s Seattle International Film Festival, and this one occupies an “Archival” slot. Will write more on Friday, but in the meantime: This is a French-produced neorealist/New Wave film shot in Algeria by an American filmmaker, and it is a must-see.