In 1964, with the Cuban Missile Crisis fresh in viewers’ minds, the Cold War at its frostiest, and the hydrogen bomb relatively new and frightening, Stanley Kubrick dared to make a film about what could happen if the wrong person pushed the wrong button — and played the situation for laughs.
Dr. Strangelove’s jet-black satire (from a script by director Stanley Kubrick, Peter George, and Terry Southern) and a host of superb comic performances (including three from Peter Sellers) have kept the film fresh and entertaining, even as its issues have become (slightly) less timely. Loaded with thermonuclear weapons, a U.S. bomber piloted by Maj. T.J. “King” Kong (Slim Pickens) is on a routine flight pattern near the Soviet Union when they receive orders to commence Wing Attack Plan R, best summarized by Maj. Kong as “Nuclear combat! Toe to toe with the Russkies!” On the ground at Burpleson Air Force Base, Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers) notices nothing on the news about America being at war. Continue reading
The modern heist movie was invented in Paris in 1954 by Jules Dassin, with “Rififi,” and Jean-Pierre Melville, with “Bob le Flambeur.” Dassin built his film around a 28-minute safe-cracking sequence that is the father of all later movies in which thieves carry out complicated robberies. Working across Paris at the same time, Melville’s film, which translates as “Bob the High Roller,” perfected the plot in which a veteran criminal gathers a group of specialists to make a big score. The Melville picture was remade twice as “Ocean’s Eleven,” and echoes of the Dassin can be found from Kubrick’s “The Killing” to Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs.” They both owe something to John Huston’s “The Asphalt Jungle” (1950), which has the general idea but not the attention to detail. Continue reading
This three-part documentary by Kevin Brownlow and David Gill explores D.W. Griffith’s career. Continue reading
Paul is preparing to leave Tajikistan, while thinking back on his adolescent years. His childhood, his mother’s madness, the parties, the trip to the USSR where he lost his virginity, the friend who betrayed him and the love of his life. Continue reading
Description: The story of a beautiful teenager girl whose life is turned around when her ex-porn star dad is made (by his producers) to cast her as the lead in his latest x-rated film. A devastating testimony of the rise and fall of Greek family values, an existentialist journey where habit and cruelty are only separated by life and death. Continue reading
Nobody went to see Easy Rider (1969) only once. It became one of the rallying-points of the late ’60s, a road picture and a buddy picture, celebrating sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, and the freedom of the open road. It did a lot of repeat business while the sweet smell of pot drifted through theaters. Seeing the movie years later is like opening a time capsule. It provides little shocks of recognition, as when you realize they aren’t playing “Don’t Bogart That Joint” for laughs.
Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper play Captain America and Billy, journeying cross-country on their motorcycles, using a drug deal in Los Angeles to finance a trip to Mardi Gras. The drug is cocaine (sold to a dealer played by rock producer Phil Spector), but their drug of choice is marijuana. Billy gets the giggles around the campfire at night. Captain America, who could handle it better, is cool, quiet, remote, a Christ figure who flies the American flag on his gas tank, his helmet and the back of his leather jacket.” Continue reading
In Japan in 1701, Asano, the daimyo of Ako, assaulted Kira (Rie Miyazawa), an official of the Shogunate, in Edo Castle, for which offense he was ordered to commit suicide. The following year, one of Asano’s former retainers, Kuranosuke Oishi (Ken Takakura), gathers a group of his lord’s other followers and with them plots to take vengeance on Kira, whom he holds responsible for Asano’s death. Continue reading