And films I’ve already seen in the theaters and quite enjoyed:
And films I’ve already seen in the theaters and quite enjoyed:
Episode 7 feels like a swerve, very much like a start over, so if you rush into it, not recognizing that peak at the end of 6, that culmination, it’s going to feel stretched out. One of the possible dangers of binge TV… you have to pace yourself.
Take a break after episode 6, let that sink in. It is very much, in comic book terms, the end of the first trade paperback or story arc. Episode 7 begins the 2nd story arc, so you have to go into it not rushing to a conclusion, but gearing up for the start, because start it does. As everything from the first arc gets turned on its head, and new major players break on the scene. It’s a jarring ride, but once it hits episode 9 its has picked up steam and by 10 is on a full sprint to the finish. Episodes 11, 12 and 13 are Brilliant.
Also, my problem with a character like Luke Cage, is the same one I have with a character like Wolverine, just because you can stand there and take being shot by a hail of bullets, doesn’t mean you want to or have to.
Luke Cage’s character (minor spoiler ahead) is revealed as a former police officer, former Recon soldier, former Prison MMA Fighting champ, former Boxer, all this to say… HE CAN FIGHT. So speed the dude up! Rather than standing there and waiting for someone to unload a clip on you, he should be disarming them and wrapping the gun around their necks before they can get off a shot. Especially since ricochets can kill just as well as any other bullet. I understand visually it’s an exciting thing to depict, but it should be the exception for talented filmmakers, not the rule. When he is shielding people from gunfire, sure… let the bullets fly. But in combat mode he should be disarming these guys before they get a shot off. Particularly later in the season that attitude would have made for exciting sequences.
However I have minor quibbles with it, like I didn’t like the loss of Ben Urich, I found the character of Karen page annoying through most of it, the character of Matt Murdock was a bit unlikable, and the last episode it failed to stick the landing with an unimpressive looking costume, and just a bit of a dour ending. So those nitpicks, are the reason LUKE CAGE edges it out, and gets a big A+ grade from me. It possesses a story and characters that I want to revisit… often.
If you are not a fan or are made uncomfortable or nervous or have unexamined issues with women of color, you probably will have an issue with the later episodes.
“He was a personable looking man. First your eye said he’s not young anymore, he’s not a boy anymore. Then your eye said : he’s not old. There was something of youth hovering over and about him, and yet refusing to land in any one particular place… In short the impression was agelessness. Not young, not old, not callous, not mature – but ageless. Thirty Six looking fifty six, or fifty six looking thirty six, but which it was you could not say.”
FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE by Cornell Woolrich
MARTHA based on a Cornell Woolrich story “FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE” was my first introduction to the world of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and what an introduction. I’ve been a huge devotee and fan of all things Cornell Woolrich since discovering his pulp fiction a few years ago. I own and have read a ton of Woolrich stories and novels. When I heard about this movie based (illegally it seems) on one of his stories, I had to try it.
And MARTHA finally seen, I was blown away by the strange, nearly alien craft and audacity of that film, and that led me by fits and starts to today’s review of Fassbinder’s WORLD ON A WIRE.
I’ve watched movies all my life, I consider myself well informed when it comes to cinema. I’ve seen all the great genres, and most of the great directors. I can speak to you about German Expressionism, Film Noir, French New Wave, Italian Neo-realism, the Pan-African and Post-Colonialism movements. I can talk to you about blockbusters and straight to VOD masterpieces. And when you have seen as many films as I have, to get me through a movie these days… you have to either a/tell the familiar in a captivating way, or b/create something vibrant and unfamiliar.
Most movies and all Blockbusters are the former, they are variations on types of movies and a thematic structure that we have seen time and time again, since the dawn of cinema; what makes them successful is the ability to do the ‘rescuing the girl from the train track’ in a fresh and innovative way.
Much rarer is the latter, films and filmmakers that fundamentally challenge and expand are definitions of the scope and pathways of cinema.
I’ve seen two of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s films all the way through, and both of them have struck me that way. Now admittedly they are from phase 1 of the three loosely defined phases of his career. Phase 2 being his Melodramatic phase, Phase 3 being that melodrama morphed into his identity films, dealing with themes of national, sexual, and familial identities in collusion and in conflict. (for more on this and for an overview on the films of Fassbinder please see the excellent Film.com article by Daniel Walber here!)
Phase 1 is arguably his most experimental and innovative films, here you’ll find the genre infused stuff, tinged with film-noir, horror and scifi trappings, the genres that I enjoy. Pro-active genres. I find myself generally not the audience for his phase 2 or 3 films, I’m not a fan of melodrama or just statement films. But with most of these later films not yet tried, I’m open to being pleasantly surprised.
But Phase 1, his cinema of statues and stylization, static but wonderfully composed frames, filled with actors who are at times more statues than men, and when they are animated it is often in very jerky, stilted ways. His women, leading ladies, are variations on a theme, big eyed, statuesque but often emaciated to the point of boniness, strawberry blonds, odd beauty bordering on the antithesis of beauty, mannequins and masks, and a wonderful use of angles and reflections.
In pieces the movies should not work, stilted, unnatural performances, what is generally considered signs of amateurish or bad acting. However in WORLD ON A WIRE (WELT AM DRAHT, 1973), that ugliness and unease, the uncomfortable pauses, the shots held too long, the awkward pacing, inappropriate and at times overbearing use of music, things we typically identify with bad films and bad filmmakers, in these two films of Fassbinder all these flaws are stylistic choices and become instead function, negating themselves and becoming calling cards of a fundamentally different definition of cinema.
WORLD ON A WIRE, which virtually nobody talks about, is this outrageous and ambitious and way long mini-series of a movie, equal parts science fiction, mystery, and avant-garde film, that has this incredibly intriguing and prophetic premise about a world in which they create not just an artificial intelligence, but an artificial world peopled with artificial intelligences.
The intelligences are programed to be perfect representations of people, and have a based in time and motion relation to each other, and capable of sex and love and procreation. So an AI universe that is self propagating, and more predictive, as the world is designed to be on a 20 year curve, so the shopping habits and economic changes and housing changes and conflicts that occur in the artificial world today, will be predictive of what happens in our world in 20 years.
It’s a brilliant, mind blowing concept, that you’ll find in better science fiction stories, but not in movies; particularly not in movies of the period, the early 1970s. On top of which the AI universe is viewable and interact-able by means of downloading someone into one of the AI inhabitants of the AI world. What??? That is mind blowingly brilliant and audacious premise for a film, even today in 2016 in an age of avatars, much less for a film made nearly 50 years ago.
And all of that, is not even what the movie is mostly about: it’s a film-noir movie. With a scientist trying to get to the bottom of his coworker’s disappearance. And then there is all the Fassbinder weirdness going on this movie, that just adds yet another level to the movie.
The doll like women who never seem to blink, random moments of strangeness, [a party scene, where people seem not to move, and the few who do, do the same movements over and over again. A scientist called into his bosses office for serious conversation which they have while not looking at each other and spinning in circles in their chair. a night club with mostly nude attractive Black Men and women dancing while the clothed patrons walk past feeling them up… it is just craziness that comes out of nowhere, but all of it leaves you gobsmaked and off-kilter and not knowing what is coming next.} And it’s not comedy, Fassbinder isn’t just taking the piss or going for laughs here, he is telling a straight story, but he is using a crooked path, fueled by dream logic, he wants the delivery not to be what you are expecting and in WORLD ON A WIRE he succeeds.
Fassbinder, very much the spiritual predecessor to later avant garde filmmakers such as David Lynch and Lars Von Trier, was a young maverick director who died way before his time at the age of 37, however in less than a score of years (before his untimely departure) he would make 44 films, 39 of those being feature films. It is a staggering body of work to have produced by the age of 37. How many of us will ever make one film, much less 44 of them. And to make such across the board unique films, love them or hate them, is a great testament to someone who obviously ate, drank and slept cinema.
Grade: B+. It is definitely not for everybody, but if you like directors who are creative with cinematography (not just 360 degree shots but 540 degree shots), adventuresome in storytelling, and loyal to their actors (Fassbinder works with the same actors repeatedly, including actors of color, such as El Hedi ben Salem, rarely done for the period, and still too little done today) then this is a film for you. Recommended.
Undeniably low budget, with a weak reverse Cinderella B-storyline that arguably detracts from the stronger main story, but what elevates this gangster film above its missteps is the Multi-lingual, multi-generational, multi-ethnic scope.
It is a film of and for the 21st Century, with fantastic faces, of hard men from hard places. A wonderfully shot and lyrically scripted layered storyline diatribe on the fall and rise of nations, and walkers in dark places. Part mythic western, part poetic treatise on violence.
Other highlights… I love the first shot and last shot of this film, making haunting and foreboding something ordinary. Add to that compelling cinematography, bone crunching martial arts fight choreography, and an addictive score and you have a $100,000 film that is more entertaining than films with a thousand times that budget,
And it is worth noting that R.L. Scott wears half the hats on this production; being not only the Director and Writer, but also the fight choreographer, stunt man, producer, and cinematographer. Wow, simply no end to this guy’s talents. This is a film and a filmmaker to watch.
Currently see it for free on Netflix, but then it is one to own on DVD/Blu-Ray. It’s a film deserving of a great directors commentary, and special features. Highly Recommended.
I’m reaching out to the filmmakers to see when we can expect a Blu-Ray with special features and commentary, and will update when ready, but till that is available the DVD can be had at the link below:
Okay the name needs work, but stick with me here.
This is the golden age of choice, with more books, more music, more movies, more television, more video games, more product, more diversions at your fingertips than ever before in the history of mass-media. But the downside of all that choice, all that content, is determining what is worth your time, wading through the mire to find the marvels.
Theodore Sturgeon’s oft cited quote, ‘90% of everything is crud’ is one of the understood barometers of the digital and Internet age, and while I don’t think Sturgeon himself believed that pessimistic number (90%, that’s a bit pessimistic, I think more like 75% :)), it is true enough. There is at any given moment a lot of dreck to sift through, and limited time.
That’s where this article comes in.
Every installment we are going to examine a Streaming Roku VOD channel we think is deserving of your time, and cite specific examples you should check out from that channel.
So without further ado, this installment’s STREAMING VOD Channel of the Day (SVODCOTD for short :)) is (drumroll please)….
Okay, yeah it is not a name that rolls off the tongue, but let’s ignore that for the moment, the oddly named channel has some solid content and ok quality. Their content can be viewed at TUBITV.COM and the channel added to your Roku by going here.
And currently it has the below list of interesting content available. Many of the below are not available even on pay sites such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. However the negatives are:
1/ the quality needs to be better. TUBI TV needs to kick in for more bandwidth as quality can severely fluctuate during a film.
2/ the interruptions while relatively short are WAY too many! There is easily ten of them in a typical 90 minute movie. Interruptions need to be kept to less than four per 90 minute movie,
3/ Where commercials do interrupt the movie, they do so at the worst possible moment. A smarter placement of interruptions has to be devised
So a channel not without issues to overcome. But it looks like a channel that is trying to improve. So here’s the list of content you can checkout today on TUBI TV:
THE MILL AND THE CROSS
LANDSCAPE NO. 2
BE WITH ME
THE UNJUST – Harrowing 2010 Korean crime film
OPEN CITY -2008 Korean film pitting an international pickpocket ring against Korea’s version of the FBI. Sounds very interesting.
BLOOD RAIN – Violent, Supernatural mystery from Korea
BLEAK NIGHT – Well regarded Korean Drama not on Amazon Prime or Netflix
ARAHAN – Well regarded 2004 Martial Arts comedy not on Amazon Prime or NetFlix
GOOD MAN TOWN
OCEAN OF PEARLS
LIVING IN SEDUCED CIRCUMSTANCES-seemingly all the festival reviews state that this bit of venomous and divisive horror is overlong at 75 minutes, so someone listened as it has been cut down to 61 minutes for streaming
DR. BRONNER’S MAGIC SOAP BOX
AFTER PORN ENDS
THE STRIKING TRUTH
HE’S ON MY MIND
COLOUR FROM THE DARK
THE OTHER SIDE
FUGUE – I knew nothing about this film, but I’m glad I saw it. Director Barbara Stepansky creates a captivating drama/mystery/thriller with a supernatural tinge.
WALK OF THE DEAD/VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES
THE HOUSE WHERE HELL FROZE OVER
MEET THE FEEBLES
KNIFE OF ICE
RETURN OF THE STREET FIGHTER
SISTER STREET FIGHTER
All this plus some intriguing content such as Fitness Classes. Find out more at TUBI TV.
Where I review books that aren't new.
“Never forget that once upon a time, in an unguarded moment, you recognized yourself as a friend.” - E. Gilbert
A film fan who loves to write, talk and promote filmmakers
Cult, classic and crazy movies you must see, might see and maybe miss