STAR SPANGLED TO DEATH is an epic film shot for hundreds of dollars! combining found-films with my own more-or-less staged filming, it pictures a stolen and dangerously sold-out America, allowing examples of popular culture to self-indict. Racial and religious insanity, monopolization of wealth and the purposeful dumbing down of citizens and addiction to war oppose a Beat playfulness.
A handful of artists costumed and performing unconvincingly appeal to audience imagination and understanding to complete the picture. Jack Smith’s pre-FLAMING CREATURES performance as The Spirit Not Of Life But Of Living (the movie has raggedly cosmic pretensions), celebrating Suffering (rattled impoverished artist Jerry Sims) at the crux of sentient existence, is a visitation of the divine. Continue reading
“In the film-festival catalogues of Rotterdam and Hong Kong, it says that Wang Bing was filming on a plateau in the Gobi Desert, but in reality he had to move to a different mountainous region about 500 kilometers away, a journey on unmade snow-covered roads. The terrain that now plays the leading role in the film is in the province of Qinghai, a similar landscape to that of the neighboring province of Tibet (which of course is not regarded by everyone as a province). A high, empty, rough, windy, and desolate landscape. Yes, making films can still be adventurous. The filmmaker found that out at first hand. He started to have altitude sickness at the high oil installation. Continue reading
Douglas Sirk once said: “This is the dialectic—there is a very short distance between high art and trash, and trash that contains an element of craziness is by this very quality nearer to art.” When All That Heaven Allows was released by Universal Pictures in 1955, it was just another critically unnoticed Hollywood genre product, designed to appeal to the trashy “women’s weepie” audience. Now, in retrospect, it is considered to be closer to the art side of Sirk’s dialectic, and one of his key films. But this is part of a wider process of critical reevaluation in which his entire body of work has been rediscovered and reappraised by successive generations of filmmakers and historians. Continue reading
Two siblings and an illegitimate love. A father who’s a doctor and several accusations. A family in which no one ever drew a line between what’s moral and what’s legal. Not even when it comes to abortion.
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A rebellious Korean artist tests the limits of his sadistic patron, an omnipotent feudal Japanese lord. Yoshihide demands a commission to paint screens of the Hell which he sees the egotistical lord’s peasants suffer. Such a public display will challenge the uncaring upper class’ obsession with their own personal beauty. With Chinese and Buddhist influences at a peak in 11th century Japan, the daimyo Horikawa wanted a mural of Buddhist paradise. As Yoshihide’s ghastly artworks appear to come to life, the painter and his patron’s mutual racism also take their toll. Continue reading
This is a solid remake of the 1935 film of the same name about big-city political corruption, and it starred Edward Arnold as the corrupt political boss and George Raft as his loyal lieutenant. Stuart Heisler directs this film noir in a workmanlike manner (though, the changed hard-edged ending from the novel is a copout). It is similar themed but less effective than The Maltese Falcon, which was also based on a Dashiell Hammet novel. The Glass Key was supposedly the inspiration for Kurosawa’s Yojimbo. The title refers to the political boss backing a candidate based on the expectation of being rewarded with the key to the governor’s house if all goes according to plan, but is breakable if there’s a betrayal. For Paramount this was a big box-office film because of the star team of Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd, who sparkled as lovers with opposite personalities. Continue reading
An introverted teenager tells his parents he is going on a ski trip, but instead spends his time alone in a basement. Continue reading