Saturday Double Feature: Homefront (2013) and…

Saturday on the blog means Saturday Double Feature, right? Remember, the basic idea here is to take a movie that is out in theaters now, and pair it up with another movie from the 1980s or before. Sometimes the connection will be obvious, and sometimes it’ll be a little less so, but that’s part of the fun.

Passing up some of the bigger openings this week, when I looked at the trailer and plot description for this week’s Homefront I was immediately reminded of a movie straight from 1976. First, though, let’s take a look at that Homefront plot:

“Hoping to escape from his troubled past, former DEA agent Phil Broker (Jason Statham) moves to a seemingly quiet backwater town in the bayou with his daughter. However, he finds anything but quiet there, for the town is riddled with drugs and violence. When Gator Bodine (James Franco), a sociopathic druglord, puts the newcomer and his young daughter in harm’s way, Broker is forced back into action to save her and their home.”

and here’s the trailer:

So, what was that movie that popped into my head? Well, given that there’s a character called Gator, an ex-DEA agent, and the bayou setting, well I just had to pair it with this:

Oh, and just for the record, and for those who enjoy that kind of thing, Gator is actually a sequel to an earlier Burt Reynolds vehicle, the perhaps better-known White Lightning:

So, do you have any other ideas for pairing films with Homefront? if so, let me know below. And also let me know of any other upcoming movies you’d like to see “double featured”. Consider it, if you will, your chance to challenge me to come up with an interesting pair.

Until next time, Happy Viewing!

Old Time Radio Thursdays – #020: Jack Benny Celebrates Thanksgiving

The short intro: For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, Old Time Radio is the phrase generally used to refer to the time when radio was (mostly) live, and was full of a variety of different shows, as opposed to simply being a means for record labels to use robots to promote the top records of the day. Old Time Radio Thursdays is my chance to explore some of those old radio shows, their connections (both old and new) to movies, and hopefully to encourage some of the rest of you to take a look at a probably unfamiliar source of entertainment that I truly love. If you want more info on OTR, and some examples of the variety of shows that were made, be sure to check out this introductory post.

Last week we started our Thanksgiving celebration with a sampler from various shows as they celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday, and we’ll pick that back up next week, but I thought this week we’d actually take a look at how one long-running comedy show featured the holiday throughout the years.

The Jack Benny Program has long been one of my favorite Old Time Radio comedy shows, and obviously, considering how long the show ran, I am not alone in that feeling. Since the setup of the show was that it basically chronicled the stars lives as they went through them, it was only natural that each year there would be a show featuring how the gang celebrated the holidays. So, here’s a look at how they did that over time.

Next week? Even more Old Time Radio shows to be thankful for.

Until next time, Happy Listening!

See Blade Runner (1982) In A Stunningly Beautiful New Light – The Aquarelle Edition (2013)

There have been various different cuts and editions of the 1982 Ridley Scott film Blade Runner, but never before has it looked quite like this. According to Swedish artist Anders Ramsell, this animation consists of 12,597 handmade aquarelle paintings. Each painting is approximately 1,5*3cm in size.

The result is an absolutely gorgeous adaptation of the film which runs approximately 35 minutes.

For more information on the artist, the project, and the paintings, you can visit Anders Ramsell’s website, located here.

See The Other Side Of That Gravity Conversation – Aningaaq (2013)

Here’s an interesting curiosity that was meant for release on the DVD/Blu-Ray of this year’s Gravity. Fair warning, if you haven’t seen that film (and you should), you may not want to read any further or watch this short.

So the setup of Jonas Cuaron’s Aningaaq is this: at one point in the movie, Sandra Bullock’s character Ryan Stone makes radio contact with someone on Earth. At first she hopes that it is NASA or someone else who can send her aid, but it turns out to be simply a random contact, and one who doesn’t even speak English at that. Nonetheless, she is at the point where any human contact is welcome, and she tries to talk to them as long as possible. This short reveals the other side of that conversation.

Going With The Wind – Here’s The New U.S. Trailer For Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises (2014)

Master Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki has stated that The Wind Rises will be his last film. If this is true, it will definitely be a huge loss not only for animation fans, film lovers, and, of course, Studio Ghibli, but for lovers of all things beautiful.

Here’s the trailer:

Top 250 Tuesday: #141 – The Apartment (1960)

Continuing to wend my way through the Sight and Sound Top 250 Greatest Movies of All Time. This week, it’s #141 on the list, Billy Wilder‘s The Apartment. For a longer introduction to this series and a look at the full list, just click here. And if you want a heads-up on what I’ll be watching for next week in case you want to watch along, just head on over to the Facebook page or follow me on Twitter (both of those links are in the sidebar) where I’ll generally be posting that info later in the day.

Poster - Apartment, The_01One of the reasons for starting this project was to make myself finally sit down and watch some of those films that have always been on my list of “Yeah, I need to watch that sometime” movies. Billy Wilder’s The Apartment has been on that list for awhile now, and I’m happy to say that I’m very glad to have finally gotten around to it, as the movie is definitely one of the all-time best, and only serves to show why Wilder’s is a name that deserves to be much better known by the wider movie-going audience and not just amongst those of us who consider ourselves to be film buffs.

Wilder, of course, is perhaps best known for another film which also stars Jack Lemmon, Some Like It Hot, which derives much of its reputation and public awareness from the presence of Marilyn Monroe, but it’s a shame that that film has eclipsed so much of his other work, including this film, which may arguably be his best.

The Apartment is the story of C. C. Baxter, a man who, rather than trying to “sleep his way” to the top, actually finds himself losing a lot of sleep in order to make the same kind of meteoric rise in the insurance company for which he works. He is doing this by providing his apartment as a place for four managers (played by Ray Walston, David Lewis, Willard Waterman, and David White) to go for liasons with their mistresses. He also handles a calendar which makes it possible for these men to schedule their various liasons in a way which will keep them from finding out who the other people involved in the scheme are, and also keep them from inadvertently running into or overlapping with each other.

large_the_apartment_blu-ray_2xThis plan seems to be working well, until each of these managers write glowing reports on Baxter in order to help him get promoted to manager level, a move which catches the eye of Personnel Director Jeff Sheldrake (played by Fred MacMurray who is taking obvious glee in this generally out of character smarmy role). At first fearful that Sheldrake will fire him once he learns of the scheme, Baxter is at first relieved when he finds out that the director actually wants in on the plan and is willing to even further advance Baxter’s career if he will allow him to also schedule time in the apartment.

Of course, while this at first seems a blessing in disguise for Baxter, it really only serves to make his own already overly-complicated and wearying life even more so, and things are further thrown askew once he earns just whom Sheldrake is having his liasons with.

The_apartment_trailer_1Needless to say, this film is an utter delight, and the entire cast shines throughout. Especially of note is Shirley MacLaine who is surprisingly delightful in her role as an elevator operator who catches everyone’s eye, especially that of Lemmon’s Baxter. (MacLaine won a Best Actress Golden Globe Award for this role, and was also nominated for an Academy Award in the same category.) For those, like myself, who are really only familiar with Ms MacLaine because of her later roles, it may come as an eye-opener as far as just how charming and simply downright cute she is in this role.

Along with the Awards mentioned above for Shirley MacLaine, the film also won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Black and White Set Decoration, and Lemmon was also nominated for Best Actor, while Jack Kruschen was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

In the end, it’s easy to see why the film was nominated and won so many awards, and the only real question that remains in my mind is why this gem is simply not better known to the public. But, at least I personally, thanks to this project, can not only cross another movie off my personal “to watch” list, and add it to my list of all-time favorites.

Now “shut up and deal.”

So what are your thoughts on The Apartment? Is it a movie that you’ve seen or would like to? If you have seen it, is it one that would make your own Top 10 list? Or would it not even crack your Top 250? Let me know below.

From Popmatters: 12 No-Brainer Additions to the Criterion Collection

Diabolique CriterionWhile becoming a part of the Criterion Collection may not be the be-all end-all that film lovers (myself included) tend at times to make it seem, there is a certain cache that inclusion in the collection can lend to a movie. Also, it certainly can’t be denied that they generally do an incredible job of including supplements and features to the films they release that not only can lead one to a better understanding of a film, but can help to put it into context of the film world around it. Just as an example, last night I watched Diabolique for the first time, and on the disk there was an interview with Kim Newman that really helped to shape my understanding of just where this Hitchcock-influenced and highly influential film fit into the overall film world of the time and in later years. There’s also a commentary on the disk to accompany the film that I’m actually hoping to get through today. And yes, you will probably see a lot of that material reflected in my own comments when I eventually do my own write-up/reflection on the film.

Anyway, that brings us to an interesting list posted last week by the good folks over at in which they outline what they call “12 No-Brainer Additions to the Criterion Collection“. Now I’ll admit there are a number of films on this list that I don’t know at all or know only by reputation, so I con’t really comment on them myself, but the authors, Soheil Rezayazdi and Hubert Vigilla, do make good arguments for why these films would make good additions to the collection. And, if nothing else, the list offers some intriguing titles that look to be worth checking out, whether they eventually get official Criterion recognition or not.

So, go give the article a read, and then come back here and let me know, via the comments, what you think, either about their list, any other films you think should be included, or perhaps just your thoughts/feelings on Criterion in general. I’m interested to hear what you have to say about it.

It Takes Two – Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943)

298px-Frankenstein_Meets_the_Wolf_Man_movie_posterOkay, let’s go ahead and get a couple of things straight right off the bat. First of all, despite the fact that Frankie gets top billing, this is much more a Wolf Man movie than one revolving around the pieced together icon. Secondly, yes, I know that technically the titular star should be referred to as Frankenstein‘s monster, not simply by his creator’s name, but that’s what Universal decided to go with, so..

Picking up pretty directly from both of its predecessors – The Ghost of Frankenstein in Frankie’s case, and the original The Wolf Man in Larry Talbot’s, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man therefore holds a notable place in the Universal monster canon, as it at once becomes the fifth Frankenstein movie, the second Wolf Man movie, and the first of the monster mash-ups to come.

So having said that, where do we find our titular antagonists? Well, since the movie begins (in what may be one of the most atmospheric openings of any of monster film, and certainly any of the Universals) with Talbot’s story, we’ll pick up there first. Having seemingly finally found eternal peace at the hands of his cane-wielding father at the end of The Wolf Man, Larry Talbot’s body lies in repose in the family crypt, his body surrounded by wolfbane. Two graverobbers, in search of any  valuables that might have been buried with him, break into the tomb, remove the  wolfsbane, and his body is then suffused with the light of the full moon entering the crypt. Talbot, revived and at the same time transformed into his hairy alter ego attacks and kills the duo, then escapes the tomb to prowl the land again.

fmwmIt’s funny: In a lot of ways, Lon Chaney Jr.‘s interpretation off the Wolf Man is certainly the whiniest of the classic monsters, but perhaps this is also what makes him the most human. Or at least the most tragic. Of all of the so-called “monsters”, it is Larry Talbot who must live not only with the realization that he is both a monster and a killer, but the only one to, presumably, have found a sense of peace and relief in his “death” only to have had that ripped away from him. It seems then perhaps no wonder that in this film and in all of Chaney’s subsequent portrayals of the character, he is constantly seeking a way to finally achieve a more permanent return to that peace.

Annex - Chaney Jr., Lon (Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man)_03Meanwhile, what of Frankenstein’s monster? Well, it appears that rather than diyng in the fire that encompassed the Frankenstein chateau at the end of Ghost, he fell through a hole into the frozen catacombs below and became encased and preserved in ice. Found by the werewolf while he is on one of his rampages, (Talbot having come to seek out Frankenstein’s descendents to see if the late doctor’s notebooks, which hold the secrets of life might also give him a clue how to permanently end his own) the weakened monster is eventually brought back to the surface, and is not only revived, but strengthened.

Of course, this happens to occur just on the night of a full moon, leading to the confrontation we have all been waiting for. The Wolf Man versus Frankenstein. The savage fury of the beast versus the unstoppable, undying giant. Who will come out on top? And what will happen afterwards? Will the inhabitants of the countryside still have to fear the night as the survivor rampages on?

Hey, you don’t really think I’m gonna give you the answers, do you?

fmwmart1So, how does this movie stack up in the overall Universal monster canon? In my own opinion I suppose I’d have to peg it as my third favorite, just behind Bride of Frankenstein and the original Wolf Man, and just ahead of either The Mummy or The Invisible Man. Yeah, I know, I may sound  bit heretical when it comes to ranking them like that, since there are obviously the notable absences of the original Frankenstein and Dracula, and obviously those are the films that started the entire cycle and without which the later ones wouldn’t exist, but I’m talking favorites, not importance, and lets be honest, both of those are much more flawed movies than the ones that followed.

And honestly, I’m leaving Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein off this particular list, because honestly, it’s inclusion just skews the whole shebang all to hell.

Unfortunately, this was also really the movie that also can be blamed for the downfall in quality for the rest of the classic monster cycle, because from this point on, the obvious feeling at Universal became one of quantity instead of quality. You can just see someone sitting behind a desk and saying “Hey, if the kids loved two monsters, next time let’s just throw more of them into the mix”, and pretty soon we were getting the “monster rally” films like House of Frankenstein which, while fun, really don’t live up to their predecessors.

Still, despite what was to come, at least we do still have the classics, such as this one, and that’s something that all Universal monster fans can be grateful for.

This post is my’ entry in the Chaney Blogathon hosted by Movies Silently and The Last Drive In. Be sure to check out all the great posts on the work of Lon Chaney and Lon Chaney Jr.


Saturday Double Feature: Blue Is The Warmest Color (2013) and…

Saturday on the blog means Saturday Double Feature, right? Remember, the basic idea here is to take a movie that is out in theaters now, and pair it up with another movie from the 1980s or before. Sometimes the connection will be obvious, and sometimes it’ll be a little less so, but that’s part of the fun.

I’m going perhaps slightly off the radar this week, sincce there are no big movies opening, and looking at one of the smaller films that, unless you happen to live relatively close to an arthouse-type theater you may not get to see, since most major multiplexes won’t carry movies rated NC-17. Blue Is the Warmest Color has had a lot of controversy surrounding its release, most of it because it deals with the sexual awakening of its main character, and the fact that it supposedly contains some fairly extensive and explicit young lesbian love scenes. Unfortunately I’m not going to get to see the film until tonight, so I can’t really comment on how well these scenes are integrated into the film or how they work within the context of its plot, but that doesn’t mean we can’t go ahead and program am interesting double feature, does it? Here’s the trailer:

So, given all of that, what are we going to pair it up with? Well, how about another movie with “blue” in the title that also dealt largely with the sexual awakening of its protagonists and was also considered rather controversial upon its release? That’s right, I’m talking about The Blue Lagoon, which came out in 1980 and stars Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins

In the case of this movie, a large part of the controversy swirled around the nudity of the then-14-year-old Shields, although most of that was done via body double, and during the parts that weren’t, her long hair was reportedly actually taped to her breasts so that nothing really explicit was shown. Nonetheless, there was enough implied that it certainly raised many hackles at the time.

So, do you have any other ideas for pairing films with Blue Is the Warmest Color? if so, let me know below. And also let me know of any other upcoming movies you’d like to see “double featured”. Consider it, if you will, your chance to challenge me to come up with an interesting pair.

Until next time, Happy Viewing!

Hamlet Isn’t Dead: The Taming Of The Shrew – A Personal Kickstarter Appeal

396104_118740124967462_1551535702_nOk, you guys know that I usually try to keep the personal side of my life out of the blogging side, except for where it relates to movies and TV shows, but I hope you’ll forgive me taking just a moment here to promote something near and dear to my heart. Earlier this year, my son David and some of his friends who are actors in New York teamed up to create a new theater company called Hamlet Isn’t Dead.Their goal is not only to present the complete works of Shakespeare in chronological (as written) order, but also to provide educational resources, etc. on the playwright’s works. They also will be doing other shows along the way to help support their main goal. Along with being one of the co-founders of the company, David is also the Artistic and Educational Director of the troupe.

They’ve already staged their first show, Two Gentlemen of Verona, but it was unfortunately under less than optimal circumstances, and now they are hard at work on preparing their second, The Taming of the Shrew. And this is where you come in. In order to make this project come off, they’ve begun a Kickstarter campaign to raise the necessary funds. As I write this, they so far have raised $3,842 towards their $6,000 goal and have 40 backers. They’re on their way. But at the same time, I know that there are those of you out there in the New York area who understand just what taking on a project like this in The City can be like, and even if you’re not in the area, if you’re a theatre lover, a Shakespeare fan, or just someone who wants to help some deserving guys reach their dreams and goals, well, here’s your chance.

Plus, if I’ve entertained or informed you with some of my posts, or if you just want to support me by helping out my son, well, that would be appreciated, too.

Anyway, all I’m really asking you to do is to go, check out their Kickstarter page which can be found here, watch the video, and contribute if you can – even if it’s only a few dollars, every little bit helps. And even if you can’t (and hey, I understand, times are tight and all of that) then if you can just help by spreading the word -. on Facebook, by tweeting, however you can – then please do that, too. Because the more the word gets around, the more likely it is that the guys will be able to hit their goal.

Oh, and just to give you a taste of what the guys are like, here’s a promotional video that they put together for Two Gents:

Again, please excuse the personal/promotional nature of this post, but if you’d do what you can, I’d really appreciate it.