Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Breaking radio silence (not that I'm inactive on Facebook or Twitter, both linked here, and where I'm humming along)--what's scaring us over at Popdose. I have issues with this list (no original Texas Chain Saw Massacre? Really? The Amityville Horror, huh?) but I did write up the justly honored Phantasm and Hellraiser. You can take those to the blood bank.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Four shows reviewed this time, the Broadway ones higher profile than the Classic Stage Company's take on Orlando--but how could I not spotlight this photo of David Greenspan all dolled up as Elizabeth I?
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Sunday, October 10, 2010
I'm fascinated by movies that fail to merit any external reviews on the Internet Movie Database. What did they do to earn such obscurity? Such a one was Jules Dassin's Uptight (1968). I drew from Roger Ebert's review of it, but it wasn't until I posted my own, in 2008, that his review was linked to the section, along with another. It's not the first time I'd done this; I'm a do-gooder, and I like to do good by these orphaned productions.
Today I came across something I'd never seen before: A movie that lacked not just external reviews, but user reviews. Someone, somewhere, posts something on every movie out there, no matter how obscure. It's as if Behind the Mask (1958) never existed, as I discovered as TCM broadcast a tatty old print of it early Saturday morning and I looked it up. "That's not right," I thought. "An injustice."
Time to set things straight and go...behind the mask. Who ya gonna call?
For the record, this is a British hospital drama, an undistinguished British hospital drama--but there are plenty of undistinguished British hospital dramas that have some adherents on the IMDb. And this one does have one point of distinction, not a small one, either. It was the first feature film appearance of a 21-year-old Vanessa Redgrave (besides some sort of fashion model short two years earlier) and I think her only film alongside her father, Michael Redgrave. (I'd clarify this but the new and not-so-improved IMDb has removed the old version's most useful feature, the ability to look up collaborations.) Playing the concerned daughter of Michael's chief of surgery--he's ailing from the stress and strain of dealing with a new and uncooperative administration, and is watchfully grooming her fiance for a top surgical slot--she's appealing even in the decayed color of the print viewed and completely unformed, a hatchling, with a twee and girlish voice. She wouldn't make another film for eight years; by Morgan! (1966), she was more herself. (Maggie Smith had a similar trajectory, dipping her toes into movies at the same time then leaving them behind for about as long, both going back to win Oscars.)
Behind the Mask was also the debut film of veteran character actress Margaret Tyzack. Redgrave pere is his usual self. There are subplots involving the death of a patient and a doctor hopped up on drugs, which grays his hair and leaves him wild-eyed. Brian Desmond Hurst, who helmed the definitive version of A Christmas Carol in 1951, directed, less memorably this time.
That should do it. Stand up and be counted, Behind the Mask.
UPDATE: Done! Vanessa Redgrave should seriously thank me for this.
FURTHER UPDATE: The director's great-great nephew wrote me on Facebook to thank me for my review. Since it was posted a user review has appeared, too. The Mask is uncloaked.
Monday, October 04, 2010
The Online Film Critics Society has released its list of 100 Best First Films. If Citizen Kane hadn't topped it I would have resigned in protest.
My 25 picks, some of which failed to place (i.e. my beloved Honeymoon Killers):
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
ON THE TOWN
THE MALTESE FALCON
KNIFE IN THE WATER
THE HONEYMOON KILLERS
CABIN IN THE SKY
KILLER OF SHEEP
SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT
THEY LIVE BY NIGHT
WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?
AGE D’OR, L’
MY LEFT FOOT
SEX, LIES, AND VIDEOTAPE
ROGER & ME
PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE
NIGHT OF THE HUNTER
Sunday, October 03, 2010
The magazine is collaborating with Brooklyn-based UnionDocs on a special series of documentary programs this fall. Kicking things off on Saturday, Oct. 16 at 7pm is a screening of Bastards of Utopia, followed by a filmmaker Q&A. Hang out with Cineaste in Williamsburg.
Friday, October 01, 2010
When Chloe Grace Moretz asks, you better listen, in this fine remake of the Swedish thriller Let the Right One In. Plus: Arthur-to-be Russell Brand doesn't want to be caught in Get Him to the Greek, now on DVD.