Stalag 17

When Gil Stratton’s character “Cookie” announces in the voiceover that opens Stalag 17 that “it always make me sore when I see those war pictures — all about flying leather-necks and submarine patrols and frogmen and guerillas in the Philippines… what gets me is that there never was a movie about P.O.W.s” he wouldn’t have been accurate, even in 1944 when the film was set; Renoir’s The Grand Illusion was released in 1938, but it’s French. What’s really happening there is Billy Wilder is already winking at the audience to think about what POW films have been made, and I’m guessing he was betting that his audience hadn’t seen The Grand Illusion, or British productions like 1947s The Captive Heart or 1950s The Wooden Horse. Read more of this post


Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

In one issue of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, it’s revealed that there’s a library in the realm of The Dreaming that contains not just every book ever written, every film ever made, etc. but also every book, film, etc. ever conceived. You can just imagine that within that library exists the other 8 hours of Stroheim’s Greed and the lost hour of Welles’ The Magnificent Andersons. You can add David Lynch’s Twin Peaks to that collection, in which the third season and everything cut from the film remains locked away. It’s a tremendous shame too, as the show’s first season revolutionized American television, bringing an unheard of cinematic quality to the medium, as well as adding Lynch’s unique brand of surrealism, humor, and art-house tendencies. Read more of this post

Black Swan

Before Black Swan was released, but when the hype machine was already in overdrive, I stated on one film message board: “Aronofsky has earned my willingness to see any film he makes. Even his failures are interesting.” Indeed, Aronofsky may be the most interesting young American director working today, if only because with every film he genuinely seems to be shooting for the moon in an age where most directors are much more modest in their ambitions. But he also makes the kinds of films that are as fraught with faults as they are strengths. In many respects, I’ll take interesting failures over uninteresting successes any day, because it’s often just a matter of time before those faults are transformed into strengths upon reconsideration. Read more of this post


Is there a greater repository of lost classics in the entire canon of world cinema than classic Hollywood? Today, major studios have learned that the real money is in putting all their eggs into one-basket blockbusters that cost hundreds of millions to make and can gross into the billions, but, back in the day, Hollywood was all about mass production. The initial inclination is to condemn this as a homogenized, manufactured approach to filmmaking, but the truth is closer to the opposite. Because Hollywood, especially the major studios, produced so many films they had the freedom to take risks that modern studios don’t. Classic Hollywood also had a cadre of the greatest technicians, artisans, and, yes, artists that filmmaking has ever known. It’s always an adventure to scan the credits of a classic Hollywood film to see what talents work on it. Read more of this post

The Fighter

Micky: “Everyone said I could beat him.”

Charlene: “Who’s everyone?”

Micky: “My brother, my mother.”

Between the ultimate stand-up-and-cheer-for-the-underdog Rocky, and one of the most brutally visceral character studies ever in fiction in Raging Bull, one wonders if there’s anything left in the field of the boxing sub-genre to cull. All those since have added precious little to the formula, except Million Dollar Baby, which substituted a female boxer and became a film about the most unusual of friendships. Really, the best boxing films all have one thing in common, and that’s that they’re about character infinitely more than boxing. Even Rocky would be nothing without Stalone’s iconic performance, and who can imagine Raging Bull without DeNiro’s ferocious Jake LaMotta? At its core, The Fighter is another such character study. Read more of this post

The Guilty Pleasures Pile: Carnosaur

Science Fiction; U.S.; 1993; 83 minutes; written and directed by: Adam Simon; based on the novel by: Harry Adam Knight; produced by: Mike Elliot; Executive produced by: Roger Corman; New Horizon Home Video

Actual Quality

Guily Pleasure Quality

There are some movies that defy all thought and predictions. Films that go beyond the boundaries set for them by their contemporaries. Films that literally boldly go where no respectable person has gone before. (Mainly because respectable people know better.) These are films that are so bad they’re good. You laugh at they’re vain attempts to make you care, the silly ideas that are meant to scare you, and performances that no one, not even the actors and director, seemed to know what they were going for.These are the films that find themselves in our Guilty Pleasures Pile, and though many on this film blog have already thrown stuff into the pile, I’m going to make my first contribution in a while to the stash with a little mockbuster film Roger Corman executive produced en lure of Jurassic Park called Carnosaur. In fact, it’s fun to see how these two franchises kept butting into each other’s territory.

Corman was known in the olden days as the director who looked for one thing from his actors and one thing only: Stand on the tape mark, you turd. Actually, he was a wonderful guy to work with and lot of fun, but you had to hit your marks. He didn’t care what your line sounded like, he didn’t care how you did what you did… he just wanted you to stand on the tape mark and say your piece so he can say “cut”. Read more of this post


Science-Fiction, Action, Comedy; 96 minutes; 2010; U.S.; Directed by: Tom McGrath; Procuded by: Lara Breay Denise, Nolan Cascino; DreamWorks Animation, Pacific Data Images, Red Hour Productions

There are two things I’ve never enjoyed in Hollywood matter how hard marketing tries to make me enjoy them: Will Farrel movies and DreamWorks movies.

Well, that last one is a slight exaggeration. The first two Shrek films were enjoyable for me when they were funny. But the franchise was quickly exposed to be no more than a mindless and spiteful Disney mockery when their jokes failed to entertain those watching them, even if the viewers did tire of the Disney formula that DreamWorks was trying to demolish in their own jerky way. And as for Will Farrel, I’ve never enjoyed him in… anything. To me, he just comes off as a sick joke that’s trying too hard to be funny. Heck, I didn’t even like Elf, and that movie was trying to stay away from Farrel’s usual tacticks.

So why would I even watch a film that packaged these two annoyances together into one set for the Hollywood studio to throw at me? Well to be honest, I don’t quite know why myself. But I’m sure glad I watched the new DreamWorks film starring Will Farrel: Megamind.

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