Alan Parker – Birdy (1984)

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Birdy is a 1984 American drama film directed by Alan Parker and starring Matthew Modine and Nicolas Cage. It is based on the novel of the same name by William Wharton, although the film is set in the Vietnam era and not during the Second World War.

Synopsis:
Plot: Based on William Wharton’s transcendent novel of the same name, this film is about many things: friendship, war, and, of course, birds. The framing device is an effort by a horribly scarred combat soldier (Nicolas Cage) to break through to his best friend, Birdy (Matthew Modine), hospitalized after seemingly being driven mad by fighting in the Vietnam War. Cage then flashes back to their boyhood, where Birdy, a canary aficionado, was considered the school weirdo but managed to be a solid companion nonetheless. Directed by Alan Parker, it works best as a coming-of-age story, but misses the bizarre psychological transferences of the book, in which Birdy imagines himself within the world of canaries he creates in his bedroom at his parents’ house. Modine is brilliant as an out-of-it misfit enraptured by his own little universe. Continue reading

Alan Parker – Angel Heart (1987)

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Alan Parker paints a picture that is rich, dark and dank. While his flashy visual style may seem like sloppy editing, it poetically leaves a viewer with an odd, disorienting series of partial memories that blur in and out of one another. His script is equally as clever, if at times in need of tightening. Many small snippets of dialogue including the metaphorical rhetoric of Cyphre and the constant self-contradiction of Angel are easy to overlook in a single viewing. The dialogue gives lots of clues just like the ones Harry Angel has to work with: some subtle, some glaringly obvious. Continue reading

Alan Parker – Shoot the Moon (1982)

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All George Dunlap (Albert Finney) wants to do is to give his 13-year-old daughter a typewriter for her birthday. It is hardly the impossible dream; it isn’t even an unreasonable request. But George recently walked out on his wife Faith (Diane Keaton) and their four daughters, for all those vague but somehow imperative reasons for which people leave people these days, and Daughter Sherry (Dana Hill) is not buying any of them. Nor is she covering her confusion with forgiveness. Better just not to speak to the creep. When Faith tries to avoid a scene by keeping George out of their handsome old Marin County house, George breaks in and pounds up the stairs to confront his eldest. She fights off his blend of bewildered love and rage. He spanks her. She threatens him with a scissors. They end in a sodden tangle of bodies and emotions on her bed. Continue reading

Leo McCarey – Mama Behave (1926)

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Funny, Entertaining. Charley Chase is great!, 4 April 2005
Author: chris-glo from So.CA
I happened to catch this on TCM one day – what a scream! A very entertaining short. Charley Chase was very talented! My husband and I try to watch the “silents” whenever we can but have mostly watched dramas with the bigger stars such as Valentino, Garbo, Chaney, etc. It is really a shame that the younger people today do not take the time to watch and appreciate the ones really responsible for the success of the movie industry. Back then, without sound to convey feelings with the spoken word, it took, I think, a great more amount of talent as an actor or actress to get the point across in mime. Facial expression and body movements were the only way this could be achieved. Just for fun, watch a new movie with the sound off. I think you would be surprised to find that you cannot follow it very well. Anyway, if you get the chance, check out silent movies. They are better than you think. And Charley Chase? I will be looking for more of his movies. Continue reading

Kevin Jerome Everson – 13 Short Films (1994-2004)

With a sense of place and historical research, Kevin Jerome Everson films combine scripted and documentary moments with rich elements of formalism. The subject matter is the gestures or tasks caused by certain conditions in the lives of working class African Americans and other people of African descent. The conditions are usually physical, social-economic circumstances or weather. Instead of standard realism he favors a strategy that abstracts everyday actions and statements into theatrical gestures, in which archival footage is re-edited or re-staged, real people perform fictional scenarios based on their own lives and historical observations intermesh with contemporary narratives. The films suggest the relentlessness of everyday life—along with its beauty—but also present oblique metaphors for art-making. Continue reading

Dana Plays – Zero Hour (1992)

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“The transgression and confrontation is re-enacted in this brilliant fuguelike film by Dana Plays constructed of found footage, and concerning both American involvement in oversees conflict and the resultant unseen plight of the child refugee. Subverting state-sponsored informational films on such issues as war bonds and highway safety, Plays transforms these agit-prop rhetorics into a celluloid mirror of transgression as a larger cultural pathology. In Zero Hour, the results – the products of war return to the initial cite of production: an assumed audience of Americans, middle–class citizens of an ideal suburban dream who have somehow foregone the immediate experiences and repercussion of mass destruction and displacement. The gaze rests on us. We are the sugar-stated, hyper and unaware violator, an audience whose relationship to world events is nowhere more homogenous than in or communal incubation and guilt.” – William Tester
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Wallace Wolodarsky – Coldblooded (1995)

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Plot: A quiet young fellow becomes a reluctant, but effective hit man in this comedy. Cosmo, a robot-like bookie, is promoted to hit man by his crime boss, Gordon. Cosmo’s teacher is to be the philosophical and chatty Steve, a real pro. Cosmo is an excellent shot and quickly learns. His problem is that he likes to get to know his clients and empathize with them before he kills them. In time Cosmo feels conflict after he begins to fall in love with Jasmine, his yoga-instructor. He wants out of the profession. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide Continue reading