In the ’50s, Robert Aldrich was a favorite of the French Cahiers du Cinema critics. In the ’60s, though, Aldrich got sloppier as his budgets got bigger. Most of his later movies are at least a half hour too long, and formulaic action films like The Dirty Dozen and Too Late the Hero tarnished his once bright reputation. But movies like World for Ransom, Kiss Me Deadly, and Attack! still hold up as harsh portraits of violence, paranoia, and a new kind of universal dread that began with the A-bomb and ended with the JFK assassination. All of Aldrich’s early work is intriguing, but Autumn Leaves is his secret gem. It’s been passed over as camp because of its star, Joan Crawford, but Aldrich brings all his hard edges to this woman’s picture. The collision of his tough style with the soapy material makes for a film that never loses its queasy tension. Continue reading
At breakfast, Jane announces that she and Ralph are getting married the next week. All Jane and Ralph want is a small wedding with the immediate family and no reception. This is because Janes parents are poor and Jane and Ralph can borrow a car for their honeymoon. However, at dinner that night all Ralph’s parents talk about are the big weddings they gave their daughters and everything escalates. All of a sudden, it is a big wedding breakfast with hundreds of guests. The problem is that for 12 years, Tom has been saving money to buy his own cab and license, but now that he can, all of his money is going towards a wedding neither he, or Jane or Ralph really want. Continue reading
The whimsical combination of Christmas phantasmagoria and an eccentric fairy tale makes this film an unforgettable spectacle. The action takes place both in a village of Dikanka in the Ukraine and at the palace of a Russian Empress. Blacksmith Vacula has enraged the devil himself: in a church he painted the devil’s figure in such a way that even the hell’s inhabitants could not help laughing. Solokha, Vacula’s mother, is known to be a witch, not averse to flying on a besom. Vacula’s sweetheart, Oksana, demands for a Christmas present a pair of tcherevichki (shoes) that the Empress wears. Only then she will agree to marry Vacula. And the devil promises to help the blacksmith get the Empress’ shoes, on condition that Vacula sells him his soul. Meanwhile, Christmas is almost here. Based on Gogol’s story. Continue reading
In Gerd Oswald’s A Kiss Before Dying (1956) Bud Corliss (Robert Wagner) is a psychopath with one singular desire: He wants to become rich by marrying the daughter of a man who owns a copper mine. Bud’s actions reveal how when a man loves money more than people, people become objects to be used and manipulated.
The Hare Psychopathy Checklist lists 20 common traits of psychopaths. Bud possesses nearly all of these traits including “superficial charm”, “pathological lying”, “cunning and manipulativeness”, “lack of remorse or guilt”, “criminal versatility”, and a “parasitic lifestyle.”1 Although psychopaths commit actions that are unthinkable to normal people, they are not insane: “a mental illness of such a severe nature that a person cannot distinguish fantasy from reality, or is subject to uncontrollable impulsive behavior.” A 2012 study of 269 psychopaths concluded that “psychopaths are not mentally ill and should be held entirely responsible for their violent and manipulative actions.” Psychopaths are not restrained by a typical person’s sense of right and wrong. Lacking the conviction of guilt for what they do, they harm innocent people without remorse. Continue reading
The story concerns the romance between Carmela and Antonio. Faced with the hostility of their parents, they symbolically shed themselves of all responsibilities to others in a climactic act of stark-naked bravado. Continue reading
Four vignettes in Batista’s Cuba dramatize the need for revolution; long, mobile shots tell almost wordless stories. In Havana, Maria faces shame when a man who fancies her discovers how she earns her living. Pedro, an aging peasant, is summarily told that the land he farms has been sold to United Fruit. A university student faces down a crowd of swaggering U.S. sailors and then watches friends shot by police when they try to distribute a pro-Castro leaflet. The war arrives on the doorstep of peasants Mariano, Amelia, and their four children when Batista’s forces bomb the hills. Mariano wants peace, so he seeks out the guerrillas to join the fight. Continue reading
A woman who’s husband leaves her is sexually frustrated by the absence of a lover in her life. Avoiding the lecherous advances of the men she meets, she that finds her son’s interest in her exceeds the limits of their relationship. And to her shock, she finds herself excited by the prospect. Meanwhile, she does find a suitable man for herself, but things start heating up between mother and son… Continue reading