Every once in a while a low-budget independent film with a no-name cast will come along and captivate critics and audiences alike with its audaciousness, honesty and ability to transcend easy categorization. In the film industry, they sometimes call this a “sleeper” and, while this kind of movie rarely becomes a box office hit, it can acquire a cult status or insider buzz that saves it from falling off the radar and vanishing into obscurity. Such is the case with A Cold Wind in August (1961), a steamy little adult drama that was targeted for grindhouses and the drive-in trade with the tagline: “If you care about love, you’ll talk about a teenage boy and a woman who is all allure, all tenderness…all tragedy.” The poster depicted two lovers in a torrid horizontal embrace while the figure of an exotic stripper, dressed in an open cape and eye mask, towers over them, revealing her shapely, half-naked body. Continue reading →
Next to William Shakespeare, Sophocles is probably the most enduring and internationally renowned dramatist in terms of his work still being adapted for the stage, television and cinema and I doubt you will find a more bizarre or outre version of his Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex than Funeral Parade of Roses. Directed by Japanese avant-garde filmmaker Toshio Matsumoto, this revelatory 1969 movie – it was his first feature film after several experimental shorts – is just as fresh and startling today as it was when it first appeared over fifty years ago. Continue reading →
Timothy Carey (on throne) plays a self-proclaimed messiah who starts his own political party in the underground satire, The World’s Greatest Sinner (1962).
You might not know the name but you know the face. One of the most eccentric character actors in American cinema, he has had the rare distinction of working with everyone from James Dean and Elia Kazan (East of Eden) to Marlon Brando (The Wild One; One-Eyed Jacks) to Stanley Kubrick (The Killing; Paths of Glory) to John Cassavetes (Minnie and Moskowitz; The Killing of a Chinese Bookie) to The Monkees (their feature debut Head) to Mr. T, Bill Maher and Gary Busey in D.C. Cab. Let me add a few more to that already impressive filmography which includes appearing with Clark Gable (Across the Wide Missouri), Francis the Talking Mule (Francis in the Navy) and Shelley Winters and Debbie Reynolds (What’s the Matter With Helen?) and god knows who else. We’re talking about Timothy Carey and probably his greatest role is the one you’ve never seen – The World’s Greatest Sinner (1962). Continue reading →
If you go back and look at the very first film that Stanley Kubrick made – a twelve-minute short subject entitled Day of the Fight (1951) – it is obvious that the former photographer for Look magazine already had a striking visual aesthetic and strong sense of narrative technique. Together with his friend and collaborator Alexander Singer, an employee at Time Inc., where The March of Time newsreels were produced, Kubrick decided to create a short film in the style of the popular newsreel based on his photo essay for Look, “Prizefighter,” which profiled middleweight boxer Walter Cartier in the January 18th issue of 1949. Kubrick had learned that a typical eight to nine minute segment for The March of Time cost approximately $40,000 to produce and vowed he could do it more effectively for only $1,500 and make an enormous profit on the film sale. Continue reading →
Following the same format and stylized approach they used in The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema, director Sophie Fiennes (sister of Ralph and Joseph Fiennes) and theorist/cultural critic Slovoj Zizek are back with another unorthodox but thoroughly entertaining film critique entitled The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology. This time, using a wealth of superbly chosen film clips (The Fall of Berlin,The Searchers, Cabaret, etc.), Zizek demonstrates how the film medium influences the way we think and feel through imagery that reinforces social behavior and conditioning. Continue reading →