Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Mouth

Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Dir. Frank Oz

The Three Stooges (2012) 
Dir. Bobby and Peter Farrelley

this delightfully gross one is courtesy of Farbtoner.

The Train Ride

The Iron Horse (1924)
dir. John Ford

Days of Heaven (1978)
dir. Terrence Malick

from Catriona Potts. More John Ford! More Terrence Malick!

Monday, July 30, 2012

The V

The Naked Venus (1959)
dir. Edgar G. Ulmer

A Clockwork Orange (1971)
dir. Stanley Kubrick

The Fall

Memories of Murder (2003)
dir. Bong Joon-ho

The Host (2006)
dir. Bong Joon-ho

from Electronico6.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Accident

The Godfather (1972)
dir. Francis Ford Coppola

Closer (2003)
dir. Mike Nichols

The Riders in the Snow

Stand Up and Fight (1939)
dir. W.S. Van Dyke

The Searchers (1956)
dir. John Ford

The Land of Missing Men

The Land of Missing Men (1930)
dir. John P. McCarthy

The 1930 Bob Steele oater The Land of Missing Men is not a particularly good movie, but it has a shockingly frank outlook on the horror of dying. Just look at those death poses! It's like a western Weegee. I've said before - the anatomical vividness of film violence in the 2000s makes the restraint of some of these early films really haunting in relief.

Thinkin' on a photoessay series studying film death. This site might get morbid for a spell.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Dictionary

"I can't believe what a bunch of nerds we are. We're looking up 'money laundering' in a dictionary. "

Office Space (1998)
written by Mike Judge

Breaking Bad "Half Measures" (2010)
dir. Adam Bernstein

Stanley Kubrick's Favorite Commercial

The Night Belongs to Michelob (1986)
DDB Needham Agency

TV commercials have figured that out. Leave content out of it, and some of the most spectacular examples of film art are in the best TV commercials.  [For example:] the Michelob commercials. I'm a pro football fan, and I have videotapes of the games sent over to me, commercials and all. Last year Michelob did a series, just impressions of people having a good time --  The big city at night --  And the editing, the photography, was some of the most brilliant work I've ever seen. Forget what they're doing -- selling beer -- and it's visual poetry. Incredible eight-frame cuts. And you realize that in thirty seconds they've created an impression of something rather complex. If you could ever tell a story, something with some content, using that kind of visual poetry, you could handle vastly more complex and subtle material.  
Stanley Kubrick, 1987
A land liberated from works of art. I despise those who can acknowledge beauty only when it's already transcribed, interpreted. One thing admirable about the Arabs: they live their art, they sing and scatter it from day to day; they don't cling to it, they don't embalm it in works. Which is the cause and the effect of the absence of great artists. I have always believed the great artists are those who dare entitle to beauty things so natural that when they're seen afterward people say: Why did I never realize before that this too was beautiful?...

food for thought from André Gide's The Immoralist.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Upside-Down Kiss

Blade Runner (1982)
dir. Ridley Scott

Spider-Man (2002)
dir. Sam Raimi

The Two on the Ground

The Cable Guy (1996)
dir. Ben Stiller

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
dir. Michel Gondry

from Kull the Conqueror. What a good catch!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Cowboy Who Does Not Kiss

The Pilgrim (1916)
dir. Frank Borzage

My Darling Clementine (1946) (pre-release cut)
dir. John Ford

The Foreshadowing (13)

Boy and Bicycle (1965)
dir. Ridley Scott

"When I'm 80, I'll look back at this day, this very minute, and remember I said I would. And it'll all be like yesterday."

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Pharaoh

Distant Relatives "Patience" (2010)
dir. Nabil Elderkin for Nas & Damien Marley

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy "Power" (2010)
dir. Marco Brambilla for Kanye West

The Price List

5 Card Stud (1968)
dir. Henry Hathaway

King of the Hill "Harlottown" (2005)
dir. Tricia Garcia

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Vine

The New Adventures of Tarzan (1935)
dir. Edward Kull & Wilbur F. McGaugh

Predator (1987)
dir. John McTiernan

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Bubbles

Putney Swope (1969)
dir. Robert Downey, Sr.

Boogie Nights (1997)
dir. Paul Thomas Anderson

from TrixRabbi, who says: "Same general concept, and PTA is a big fan of Downey so it's almost for sure an homage."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Look at Poverty Row part 7, The Blood of Jesus

Part 1       Part 4
Part 2       Part 5
Part 3       Part 6

The Blood of Jesus (1941, Sack Amusement Enterprises)

Here we follow the travels of a woman accidentally shot to death by her husband. She's done well and is on her way to heaven, if she can reject the devil first.

The coolest thing about The Blood of Jesus is the physical presence of the divine. It's a quality in a lot of Baptist religious films from the era - like 1936's The Green Pastures, in which Rex Ingram plays a god as hands-on as those of the Ancient Greek pantheon.

Physical contact with Godliness.

Miracles occur with regularity, humans co-mingling with God and Angels in a way you just don't see in film often. Perhaps it's a side effect of film being such an immediate medium. Filmmakers as a rule shy away from literal depictions of religious symbols unless they're couched in fantasy like the audacious Immortals or in history like The Passion of the Christ. But Spencer Williams's willingness to present unambiguous divinity alongside everyday life gives his film a classical power. Combine that with the classic Gospel soundtrack washing over nearly every minute of the film, and you have something irreplaceable and lovely - the kind of film they just plain don't make anymore, and hardly ever did.

The b/w is essential - it feels at times like an etching.

Director/writer/star Spencer Williams is probably best known as Andy in the 1951-1953 TV show Amos 'n' Andy. That's the last version of that long-running program, heavily controversial and protested by the NAACP since day one. He served under Pershing in World War 1, died in 1969, and in between managed to direct and write a handful of race films.

The Heavenly Choir, suppliers of the lovely Gospel score.

The Blood of Jesus, made for 5 grand, is generally considered his best. It's the first of a religious trilogy Spencer Williams directed - I wish I could remember who pointed out that Williams and Orson Welles were the only directors of the era with total creative control. It was a big success, followed by the now-lost Brother Martin: Servant of Jesus and the underwhelming Go Down, Death!. It's seldom seen nowadays, but among those who are aware of it, The Blood of Jesus is still held in high regard - it turns up on Time Magazine's surprisingly good list of The 25 Most Important Movies on Race, for one, and it's part of the National Film Registry.

Simple and direct religious choices abound in the film - unlike the neurotic Christian films to come, you can be a good person.

The entire rest of the cast is a mystery. They all appeared only in this one film. It's a shame; Cathryn Caviness is a lovely presence. Producer Alfred Sack specialized in Black Cinema - he produced 15 touchstones of the genre (including Edgar Ulmer's touching Moon Over Harlem) between 1930 and 1947. There's not much else I can tell you about the man.

Mysterious crew, mysterious cast. Complex and controversial figurehead. It's all fascinating but it's all secondary to the eerie, sparse, majestic power of The Blood of Jesus.