STREAMING GUIDE : Best Streaming YouTube Videos of Feb 2023!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Currently watching : THE STRANGER (1946) Movie of the Day!

I have recently purchased the Kino Lorber LIBRARY OF CONGRESS Release of this film, and if ever a movie deserved to be preserved it is this one. That said this release needs some remastering, has noticeable frame drops, and syncing issues, and occasional small picture degradation in places, but nothing that effects the enjoyability of this film, and this is an extremely enjoyable Orson Welles film.

I am on record as calling Orson Welles my favorite director of the sound era, and I have a lot of favorite Directors from David Lean to Carl Franklin to Gordon Parks to Raoul Walsh to Diop Mambety to Johnnie To to John Woo to the Russo Brothers to Alfred Hitchcock to Fritz Lang to Masaki Kobayashi to Haille Gerima , but if I had the unenviable task of only saving one Director’s body of work, for me it word be Orson Welles.

His work is foundational to what cinema is for me, not only the sublime look of his work (which is a huge part of it, those Wellsian perspectives, deep focus, and shadows), but the themes of existential angst, unfocused dread regarding the state of the world or the human condition, that is at the heart of his films. There is a romantic, dark poetry that suffuses his work, and how he crafts his work, that for me is deeply resonant, and is the Alpha from which much of sound based cinema must launch from, to craft their Omegas.

 

Even what is a generally under mentioned, and I think overlooked film, THE STRANGER. Released August of 1946, when this started production World War II had just ended several months ago, in summer of 1945. People were still counting their dead, the damaged living trying to integrate from war back into peace. The process of dealing with war criminals and hunting down war criminals, was not just topical, it was being formulated and ironed out as this movie was in production.

It was the first film to use concentration camp footage. This is just seen as a thriller today, but upon release this was a very sensitive , and explosive topic, especially considering there were elements in the United States that were denying Germany’s concentration camps and extermination programs. The same elements in the United States that were against the US entering the war.

So for Welles to make a film, still in the tumult of a time of war, that warned of the unfinished business of war, was and to some extent remains… ground breaking.

And Welles was critical of this movie, but outside of Citizen Kane he was critical of all his films due to various levels of Studio Interference. Much like the writer Alan Moore, the negative connotations he had with the producers of the work, would  sour his outlook on the work. Welles, was akin to a butcher too close to the slaughtering of the lambs, to enjoy the final meal.

Also while I love Welles as both Director and Actor, he liked to be the star in his films, and liked to work with actors that he was familiar with and could, if not overshadow, to some extent dictate to,  and the casting of Edward G. Robinson that was forced on him by the studios, flew in the face of this.

But in this small case the Studios were… right (I balk to say that because they were typically wrong in their choices to neuter Welles), Edward G. Robinson is brilliant in this role, and a worthy equal to hold his own, in scenes with Welles. THE STRANGER begins with Edward G. Robinson and ends with Edward G. Robinson, making this arguably more his film… than Welles may have been comfortable with.

Going along with that, I cannot see this film being improved, by having Welles’ choice… Agnes Moorehead as the Detective, with all due respect to Ms. Moorehead. It would have been a vastly different film, but arguably per the audio commentary by Bret Wood, that is what Welles was striving for.

Welles was deeply shaken by his exposure in 1945 to the newsreel footage of the liberation of German Concentration camps, footage that would not be disseminated in many American circles, American circles that still sought to downplay this talk of German atrocities as fake news.

This film, true to the wunderkind that Welles always was, was Welles turning outrage to action. While the mass of men did nothing or ignored the news, Welles turned around and in months from seeing that footage had gotten a film into production that touched upon the world of atrocities, that small-town America USA was being kept from, was oblivious to. But his film, based on the story beats that did not make it into the film, was going to be something more harsh and brutal, and far reaching than the film we got.

Possibly Welles, left to his devices and with Agnes Moorhead in the role of the Detective, would have given us something more akin to COME SEE or SHINDLER’S LIST. We will never know. And arguably it is the film he did not make, that is all Welles could see when he looked at THE STRANGER. However the film he did make was successful, did reach audiences, and was impactful. For the time it was made I think the film was as impactful as could have been made, and anything more impactful would not have made it to audiences… not in a 1946, trying to put the horrors of a just won war… behind them.

So it wasn’t his complete vision, but the film that is there I would argue, compromises and all, is like most of Welles’ films… transcendent and says something about who we were, who we are, and who we strive to be. I have watched THE STRANGER easily over a half dozen times now, and every-time it strikes me deeply, in the shots, and the speeches, and the language and the performances, and the direction, it strikes me as… the work of a master visionary and humanist. It strikes me as moving and worthy.

And Loretta Young rounds out the major players in this film, delivering one of the standout lines in a film replete with them, but also a standout line in cinema. When you hear it you’ll know it. It is for me her finest and most memorable role and performance by far.

Movies like CITIZEN KANE and MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS may get the accolades (and deservedly so) but for sheer cinema and rewatchability, for me THIRD MAN (credited to Carol Reed, the uncredited direction is by Orson Welles), LADY OF SHANGHAI and THE STRANGER go at the top of any list.

An overlooked classic. Love this film, and it does deserve a quality restoration. Highly Recommended!

 

Buy your copy here!

 

Movie of the Day : THE MAN FROM LARAMIE (1955) -The Last Mann and Stewart Film

“Hate’s unbecoming in a man like you… in some men it shows.” Charlie to Lockhart

THE MAN FROM LARAMIE- Marks the end of a five year partnership between Anthony Mann and star Jimmy Stewart, and it ends like it began, with a near biblical tale of frontier vengeance, only this time in rich technicolor as opposed to striking noirish black and white.

Stewart giving  a deeply felt performance, more nuanced and conflicted than the vengeance of the younger Stewart of their first collaboration, WINCHESTER 73.

In this film Stewart’s performance of vengeance is that of an older man, not the hot certain vengeance of youth,  but touched with fear and doubt, and makes it a different, and evocative and attractive performance. The film only slightly marred by a cartoony performance, by an actor seemingly miscast as the hothead son.

But that aside a fitting ending to their collaboration, and by any measure an essential western.

You can view it for free on streaming. And when suitably availed of its greatness, you can click the images to purchase your copy today. Masters of Cinema in 2016 released a Blu-ray 60 years in the making (almost sold out), improving on the 2014 Twilight Time release (which showed the film finally in its full widescreen glory) by adding a bevy of special features including an insightful audio commentary. I despair of a world where people are silly enough not to own these films in physical media 🙂 . If you are not one of these silly people, get yours by clicking the image below.

 

 

 

The Last Hurrah: Seminal Physical Media Box Sets – Indicator’s MARLENE DIETRICH 6 film Boxset!

Marlene Dietrich & Josef von Sternberg at Paramount, 1930-1935 (Limited Edition) [Blu-ray] [2019]

 

 

I’ve had this boxset for a year or so, but am just now finishing all the films and all the special features. I really had no interest in Marlene Dietrich or Joseph Von Sternberg, or this boxset.

Just as an art object, I thought it was one of the most beautiful looking boxsets I had seen, but I had a hard time spending money on 6 romance films, that I likely wasn’t going to like, based just on the boxart.

So I did not buy it when it first came out, or for the first few sales over the following year. What got me to finally decide to purchase was I picked up a movie from Joseph Von Sternberg, not starring Dietrich, called THE LAST COMMAND.

And I was BLOWN AWAY.
This was from frame one, a master Director, his composition of shots, use of camera movements, beauty of the frame. I felt watching that film, the way I felt discovering Welles’ CITIZEN KANE or David Lean’s GREAT EXPECTATIONS or The Hugh’s Brothers MENACE 2 SOCIETY, it made me LOVE cinema.
Each time. Each film.
They made me a lover of cinema, and a devotee of that director.
So following up on THE LAST COMMAND, Indicator’s MARLENE DIETRICH & JOSEPH VON STERNBERG Boxset became a must buy.
Now having lived with this Boxset for over a year, seen the films and the special features, and I can confidently say it is one of my favorite purchases of the last couple of years. And the films, are not what I thought. They are about romance yes, but they are about more… they are about drama, and war and intrigue and loss and hope and sacrifice.
Small Melodramas, of the pangs of love, told against the backdrop of events great and small. But more the film is a showcase of a passionate union between a star a director and a costume designer, and together they created glamour, in the original definition of the word, a sorcery– a construct of beauty, for an age that needed it.
Together they moved the needle, they defined iconic.
This Boxset from Indicator, likewise moves the needle now, and is iconic and a must own.
Click the images for more info, or to pick up a boxset of your own. Criterion has a region A boxset of its own, the content with the exception of some of the special features is largely the same. The difference is the quality of the box part of the boxset.

 

The Criterion release sports boring, uninspired stock photo with not especially interesting typography for the box art, and a really cheap, thin cardboard box, Whereas Indicator commissions lavish, stunning painted artwork for their boxset, and the quality of the box is a durable, thick solid, not easily dented or warped box.
One is a work of art made to endure and be worthy container for the films within, one is not.
But if you just want to watch the films, and are not concerned with quality of the box part or the boxet, or want the features that are not on the Indicator set, than by all means pick up the Criterion set as well.
However if you can only get one, Indicator is the one to get.

For another, and more comprehensive view on the boxset check out SOLITARY RONIN”S simply essential coverage at the link below. If you are not subscribed to SOLITARY RONIN you are missing out on what I genuinely consider, one of the most informed and most informing channels on film you can find not just on Youtube, but anywhere. He and a handful of other channels are a film-school in a box. So definitely do yourselves a favor, subscribe to him and check him out. 

Hope you found this post of interest, and if you did please like, subscribe and email/comment.
Till next time… be well.

 

“But I think it’s safe to say the six films they (Director Joseph Von Sternberg, Star Malene Dietrich and Paramount’s Lead Costume Designer Travis Banton) made together during this five year period produced some of the most remarkable images, most stunning costumes and iconic moments of cinema history.”–Nathalie Morris in the Sarah Appleton helmed and Samm Dunn and John Morrissey produced 2019 Indicator Special Feature, STYLING THE STARS (can be found on the Indicator DEVIL IS A WOMAN Blu-ray, part of the Marlene Boxset)

FOUR Button-Lock Must Own Knives of the Day!

Civivi has made me a Button-Lock fan, and at their price point their knives are all must own tools and collectibles. Really smooth and addictive deployment, beautifully designed, Gentleman’s carry (or Gentlewoman’s carry). All of these make great letter or package openers and are really just a nice office desk knife, tactile fidget, zone-in knife. They are the Rubix Cube of knives, the addictive deployment making them perfect for giving your hands something repetitive to do while your mind is working on a problem or processing.

Today’s pick for the best civivi knives are AS FOLLOWS.

Click the images below for more information or to pick up one for yourself or as a gift.

 

My first Button Lock knife, I absolutely LOVE this knife. Own multiple copies of this specific variation with its color, blade material and handle material. Essential.

This one is great for gals and guys.

A sub $100 Damascus folding knife? A no-brainer of a purchase.

And Another Damascus blade, but a whole different model and blade shape/design. Another must own.

So that’s it guys. My list of today’s 4 MUST OWN Civivi Button Lock knives! Click on the images to find out more. And purchase via the links and you get a great item, and earn this blog a few pennies to keep the proverbial lights on.

 

A win-win!

 

Till next time, be well.

New Time Radio/Podcast and OTR (Old Time Radio) Recommendations of the Day!

1948 an America just coming out of the war to end all wars, and this series played to a generation that had unleashed the atom. ESCAPE sported the best voice actors in the world, names like Paul Frees, William Conrad, Jack Webb and many more, to give life to some of the most thrilling stories.

This is one of the stories that kept captivated a world that needed… Escape.

How Love Came to Professor Guildea.

 

Movie of the Day : SLAYGROUND (1983)

“You come highly recommended.”

“I know I do.”

“Do you know what is required?”

“Vengeance, I believe.”

https://media-cache.cinematerial.com/p/500x/t78cwcdy/slayground-british-movie-poster.jpg?v=1456596914

With those lines, balefully delivered, you know everything you need to know about why you should run out and watch or buy the 1983 film SLAYGROUND, right now.
I picked up this film on a bit of a whim, during the recent Kino Lorber sale. Kino Lorber introducing me to this almost 40 year old film, that I had never heard of. The price was right, and the cover and blurb… caught my eye.
Boy am I glad I purchased this film.
From the opening scene, with that wonderful soundtrack, it grabs and does not let go. Peter Coyote has never been better, and it is masterfully directed by a director, that like the film, I was unfamiliar with, Terry Bedford.
This would be his first and only film. What a debut and what a denouement. The 1980s was very much the age of the iconic boogeymen, from halloween’s michael  myers to nightmare on elm streets freddy kreuger, to friday the 13th’s jason, to the end of the cycle with 1992’s candyman. slayground is a far more mature, complex and both sophisticated and convoluted, laconic film which explains why it flew under the radar and the tastes of the ‘get to the point, show me’ 80s.
however this film very much creates an iconic boogeyman for the ages, an implacable shadowman, played by philip sayer, once heard, once glimpsed… is every bit as terrifying and arguably more disturbing, than the more supernatural tinged monsters of the 80s.
there are good movies that are pushed over into great, by that exact perfect voice casting. james earl jones in star wars, his voice is pivotal in establishing the character of darth vader as iconic, and establishing that character is essential in establishing the film as iconic. the same with his voice in CONAN THE BARBARIAN. Other examples of great voices that helped carry/elevate movies are liam neesen in dark man, stephen mchattie in ponty pool, aDRIENNE BARBEAU IN THE FOG, And virtually anything orson welles has starred in.
to that list you can add philip sayer‘s voice acting in slayground. he creates an iconic villain, largely with his voice, and kudos to the filmmakers for their top notch direction and decision, to create their villain largely by suggestion.
and Praises to boutique Bluray Label KINO LORBER for rescuing this film from obscurity. I would have preferred more special features, but I am happy just to have this wonderful slice of period Americana available on Bluray.

 

The interview by Peter Coyote (done when he was 77, and we should all look as good as Mr. Coyote does at 77) is as essential as the film. It is a film class in one informative and engaging interview. A great special feature.

“Well I mean Terry’s {the Director] a really genial guy, you know I liked these guys… he was easy to get along with, … he made it fun, but there is such … the English have such class consciousness that the actor is one step above a peon, unless he is banking the film. And I certainly wasn’t banking the film. I was a Jew with an animal name, that they hired from somewhere…probably because I was cheap. So, you know, I was frustrated oftentimes being asked to do things that made no sense whatsoever… they just defied logic. And, you know, at a certain point it’s like you can fight everyday and get fired, or throw it in. I didn’t care, I tried my best, I gave it my 2 cents.”

Get your copy by clicking the image below:

 

https://media-cache.cinematerial.com/p/500x/t78cwcdy/slayground-british-movie-poster.jpg?v=1456596914

 

 

Best of the 2nd Quarter 2022 : Best Classic TV Show – ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR’s ‘RIDE THE NIGHTMARE’

ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR was a followup to the far more well known ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS, except true to this revival’s name it offered hour long tales of mystery and suspense.

Rarely seen, or referenced, this series tends to languish in obscurity in comparison to its far more popular and well remembered sibling, AHP. Which is unfortunate because, for the most part I am finding the hour long time-frame (that could easily feel padded) being effectively used by the host of talented writers, directors and stars involved. Not in all cases of course, some episodes do fail or feel overlong, but so far the majority of the ones I have seen, are satisfying and compelling additions to the output of the great Alfred Hitchcock.  

While few of these are directed by Alfred Hitchcock, the best of them live up to the high bar of cinematic mystery and suspense that Alfred Hitchcock helped set.

Case in point, RIDE THE NIGHTMARE.

Directed by Bernard Girard (an unknown to me Director, who seemingly spent the bulk of his career directing various Television shows, the movies that are credited to him at the end of his directing career, seem poorly received critic wise, but all sound intriguing to me, and worth a look, especially based on how impressed I am with the visuals in RIDE THE NIGHTMARE) and with a screenplay by the great Richard Matheson, that he adapted form his own novel, RIDE THE NIGHTMARE is a gripping, exciting, amazingly directed episode of television.

Beautifully lensed by cinematographer William Marguiles (a relatively prolific DP in late 50s thru the early 70s, primarily in television) , from the first shot I was asking myself, “who the heck directed this? It looks stunning!”

From evocative low angle shots, that make the ceilings loom above us like the hand of doom, to 270degree close-up pan around an embracing couple, to a series of doorways the character walk through as they quietly discuss their relationship’s immolation (the doorways at dutch angles to represent a world no longer reliable and steadfast, but rather menacing and predatory)… the episode enthralls.

And for an unknown tv episode from 1962, to invoke those impressions on someone watching it for the first time, 60 years later in 2022… I think says much about the visual language of the episode. It also says much about its star, Gena Rowlands.

Known for her later lauded pairings with her husband and paramour (their relationship had that type of oxymoronic duality, and iconoclastic fire, both on and off screen, that he could at once be her husband, and at once be the seducer who swept her away) John Cassavetes; Gena Rowlands, who at the time of this writing is still with us, in this episode (the first of three yearly episodes she would do for ALFRED HITHCHCOCK HOUR) commands the screen with her beauty and her presence. In RIDE THE NIGHTMARE she offers a beguiling performance, that well foreshadows, while giving us a less damaged version, of those later legendary pairings with Cassavetes.

Also with great performances by genre stalwarts Hugh O’Brian and John Anderson — this is a brutal little bit of unheralded television noir, that builds to a [mild spoiler, skip to next paragraph to avoid it] surprisingly near apocalyptic ending.[end spoiler]

The plot has in the 60 years from there to here, been reused countless times, even in 1962 was slightly formulaic, but what was not and is not formulaic… is the craft that it is told with. That had, and still has, the power to rivet.

These shows can be viewed via streaming. Either free if you can deal with the criminal # of commercials (I can not), or via purchase on (typically) an episode by episode basis. I chose neither of those routes and purchased the entire series on DVD to watch at my leisure.

To get your copies go here:

Thanks for looking, and click the image above to purchase. you get a great item, and this blog earns a few appreciated pennies to keep the proverbial lights on.

a win, win!

that’s it for this segment. Oh, and for those of you staying for my rant… read on. The rest of you come back next time, and be well!!

 

*********

“What did he say “DVD”? HaHa!! What a geezer!! Wake up Grand-pa! There’s this thing called streaming!! Ha! Ha!”

Yes, thank You.

Very enlightening. I happen to be a big fan of digital and streaming… In its place.

I like streaming for discovering things I want to revisit or own (if ownership by individuals is not a forbidden word in this new age of solely corporate ownership and corporate freedoms), however for revisiting these things, or owning these things, or enjoying these things, I want it in a format where I can enjoy it whether or not I have an internet collection, whether of not a corporate site is down, whether or not that corporate gatekeeper has decided to stop serving that particular show or episode or album or video game.

As the whole world races to embrace ever more gatekeepers on everything the individual touches, it increasingly becomes clear that you can not buy, or sell, or read, or watch, or listen to something whether in your house or your car, without a log of what you have consumed and when you consumed it being stored somewhere, approved somewhere. Something about that does not agree with me.

Something about not being able to buy or sell without having the mark, whether the mark digital or the mark proverbial, something biblically off-putting about that :).

I tend to like being off grid for my entertainment when I can, when I choose. It is the iconoclast in me. I resist the religion of hegemony and the glory of social media in all things.

 

Here Endeth the Recommendation and the Rant!

 

:).

 

Essential Films for Black History (or any) Month : Today’s Entry… EL BENNY!

 

EL BENNY

Based on the life of Benny Moré, the film concentrates on a period in the early 1950s when Moré leaves the orchestra of Duany and starts his own ‘Banda Gigante’. In flashback we learn of his success in Mexico. Moré is caught in the events connected to Batista’s coup in Cuba. Also, he tours Venezuela, where he suffers the machinations of a vengeful businessman.

Movie Diary : 2022 Day 1- 01012022- UNDERWORLD AWAKENING 3D and PINA 3D from Criterion!

 

 

 

So my first movie viewing of 2022 is one that came into my 3D collection in the last couple of weeks of 2021, and I am just now getting a chance to give it a spin on my 3D projection system.

I am speaking of UNDERWORLD:AWAKENING. The 3D Blu-ray reviews on it were mixed, so I thought I would find out for myself. Generally the 3D is very similar to the quality of the movie, okay but nothing great.

I am a fan of a good creature feature, and even CGI laden werewolf transformation scenes are always fun to watch. You kinda know what you are getting with this UNDERWORLD franchise and this one delivers what you would expect.

Regarding the 3D, a couple of things really work against stereo imaging, even for natively shot 3D. Dark or underlit/dreary/ low contrast scenes, particularly night scenes, being one of the nemesis of good stereoscopy and poor shot compositions that flatten out the depth rather than accentuating it, being the 2nd one. A film like the first DOCTOR STRANGE… people tend to confuse great visual effects with 3D, when in actuality DOCTOR STRANGE has (for the most part) deplorable 3D, sporting both dreary, underlit scenes and poor/flat compositions.

This film, UNDERWORLD AWAKENING, is not flawed to that degree; it actually has good shot composition– designed to make use of 3D, but is hampered by the fact that 90% of the film takes place at night or in low light situations, effectively undermining the very separation you are trying to get in a stereoscopic movie.

Still there is enough 3D to be noticeable and given the choice I would much rather watch this film in even muted 3D, then without. So worth a look. Grade: C- for the movie and C- for the 3D.

Now onto PINA.

 

I knew very little about the film PINA, before watching it today. I knew it was the only 3D release that seminal Boutique Blu-ray company Criterion has released. I knew it was in some way to deal with dance.

Now having seen it, I completely do not understand how this film is virtually never mentioned, even by die-hard Criterion experts and fans. This is clearly one of Criterion’s best and most essential releases.

PINA, by the great director Wim Wenders, is at once a love letter to a calling — a vocation, while also being as moving an eulogy as one person has ever had. It is a dance troupe’s love letter to their guiding star, choreographer Pina Bausch, and as great and effective and affecting a use of 3D as I am likely to see all year.

What LIFE OF PI was able to do for a fiction film, PINA does for documentaries/performance art, making the 3D more than a gimmick, but an indispensable part of the storytelling process.

The doorway sequence close to the end is one of numerous excellent uses of stereo imaging, but may be my favorite of the whole film, as they break rules in that shot, moving the camera, as the actors move, as all the layered doorways seem to move, it is a brief moment, but it helps your idea of reality tremble for a moment, and what more is magic but that.

As a fan of theatre, great theater is hard to translate to great film. While a fan of ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI the film, it pales to the power and immediacy of the theatrical presentation I saw. The same with nearly every version of RICHARD THE III I have seen, they pale to the experience of having attended a walking theatrical play of RICHARD III , conducted at night, in the rain, following the actors in an out of decaying edifices, with roofs gone, and nothing to stop the heavens to bearing witness. Great theater is hard to match.

Very rarely does that happen the other way, where the film can capture or surpass the theatrical presentation.

A few come quickly to mind, Branagh’s HENRY THE VTH (1989), Anthony Harvey’s THE LION IN WINTER (1968) and this film, Wim Wender’s PINA (2011) while not an adaption of any one performance, but rather the overview of a troupe’s body of work, offers an immediacy in how the camera is used, and the stereo imaging is used, that allow the artists to communicate with you in a way that transcends, perhaps by a little — perhaps by a lot, anything that you can experience sitting in the best seats of the best traditional theater.

PINA becomes therefore great film, and even rarer a great and essential 3D film. Grade: A. a film that must be experienced in 3D, and a must own film.

p.s. THE CRITERION RELEASE OFFERS A MAKING OF, THAT IS ALSO IN 3D (SOMETHING I HAVE NEVER SEEN BEFORE), as WELL AS A COMMENTARY. THIS FILM HAS A WEALTH OF CONTENT FOR NUMEROUS VIEWINGS and REVISITS. A RELEASE I LOOK FORWARD TO ENJOYING FOR YEARS.

 

“Dance. Dance! Or otherwise we are lost.”

–Pina Bausch

 

These reviews were conducted using 3D Blu-rays, a region free 3D compatible Blu-ray player, and a short throw, full HD, 3D compatible short throw projector (Essential for a flexible/portable system) offering at least 3000 lumens, and high contrast, and active DLP glasses (one of the most important parts of any system)..

 

 

 

If you would like to purchase your own pre-assembled system you can use this link as well as clicking the images in this post to acquire the items depicted.

If you found this post useful please like, subscribe, and patronize the attached links.