Currently Listening To – SICARIO and THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING by Johann Johannsson

I am currently listening to the score of the late, great, ‘left us way too soon’ Johann Johannsson.

I absolutely adore the compulsive and propulsive score to SICARIO, and currently listening to his completely different but completely as mesmerizing score for THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING.

What amazes about his score is it does not tread water, it does not overstay its welcome, or pad out the running time with filler. The score gets in, delivers its moments to you, and gets out.

Not a wasted chord, which is incredibly rare. These days a lot of scores feel like they are trying to make a minimum length, they feel padded. Not so with SICARIO or what I’m hearing on THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING. There does not feel to be an extraneous or tired chord,

His style in its surety, and experimentation and power, is reminiscent of the film scores of Quincy Jones at his best, most notably Quincy Jones phenomenal score for his ground breaking IN COLD THE BLOOD, which hands down is one of the greatest scores ever made. And why the EFF almost 60 years later that score is not available on CD, (akin to the way the best films of Ousmane Sembene, CAMP DE THIAROYE etc, are not availanle on DVD or Blu-Ray – I’m looking at you ARROW and CRITERION) is not an oversight, that is a crime.

 

In Cold BloodClick on the image to pick up the album, the only way to hear Quincy Jones seminal work. It is a MUST OWN. 

 

But getting back to the scores of Johann Johannsson, which thankfully are available on CD, if you don’t own his CDs, forget just streaming compressed MP3s, buy a quality $50 portable player, get some decent headphones, enjoy the music as close to the way the artist intended as possible.

Use the links below… and put aside witch hunts and social media bs posing as law, and politicians using fear to further grab power and disenfranchise the masses.

Put aside social media weaponized to remove and demonize those who actually stood up to oligarchs, and fought for you the people.

You, the people, who are so easily stampeded by hashtags and twitter and face-book into eating your own (you butcher the dogs that defend the flock…for being dogs, unaware that they were the only things that kept the wolves at bay)…

 

Let’s put all that on the back-burner for now, and embrace music, that may just help us…think better, in a world where so few of us think at all.

Enjoy these marvels,  from a marvel of a composer. Use Spotify or Amazon Music to try before you buy, then Click on the images to order it in still the best format… CD.

 

Sicario

 

The Theory of Everything (Original Soundtrack)

 

Come back for future installments where we cover the below albums, and much more. And till then subscribe, comment, email, like, and support the links.

It all helps to keep this blog going, and a voice that is perhaps a little different…. out there.

 

Thanks in advance for your support!

 

Today’s Deal of the Day – Please click and Support!!!

 

Today’s 2nd Deal of the Day – Please click and Support!!!

 

 

  • Black Panther 2018- I hate the fact they only offer the compressed MP3 version on CD, and not a full , wave, uncompressed CD of Goransson’s award winning music. The closest they offer is an LP, and I am not an LP fan, LP does not offer the dynamic range of CD and is a degradation prone medium. I’ll get it for now, but I want a full uncompressed CD! Just for longevity sake. More on this in an upcoming installment.

1994 artwork

  • The Crow

1994

1997 artwork

  • Love Jones

1997

1990 artwork

  • The Sheltering Sky

1990

1979 artwork

  • Apocalypse Now

1979

1968 artwork

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey

1968

1972 artwork

  • The Harder They Come

1972

1972 artwork

  • Super Fly

1972

Under The Skin
Directed by Jonathan Glazer
Score by Mica Levi

 

5 Films that need a Blu-Ray Release : Films at Home Cereal at Midnight Youtube Lists!

UNDER CONSTRUCTION!

 

 

I stumbled across this interesting Youtube Blu-Ray/DVD discussion collaboration between Youtube channels FILMS AT HOME and CEREAL AT MIDNIGHT.

 

The topic was simple enough, basically… ‘what 5 films need a Blu-Ray Release?’.

They had interesting choices. You can see links to their videos below, but it made me consider what films would I like to see get a quality Criterion or Arrow or Shout factory or indicator level Blu-Ray release.

 

Without further ado here they are:

  1. MISTER FROST

Everyone knows Jeff Goldblum is a great actor, and most would point to his work in David Cronenberg’s justly acclaimed THE FLY remake as one of his stellar films, as well as one of the better Blu-ray releases of last year. However one of Goldblum’s best films has never had a Blu-ray release, the absolutely ahead of its time, done back in the 80s, and wholly unsettling and effective… MR. FROST. Go in blind, knowing nothing, and the film will reward you. Would love a commentary and special features rich release for this film.

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2.Sembene Ousmane Colonial Quadrology Boxset

I have quite a few boxsets. Have recently picked up the Powerhouse Indicator HAMMER Boxsets. Definite gems. Managed to just snag the BFI’s PIONEERS OF AFRICAN AMERICAN CINEMA boxset before that went out of print.

Okay, so with that lead in, I am going to cheat with this second one and make it a boxset. One boxset I would love to see on Blu-ray (heck I would love to even see it on DVD) is the Sembene Ousmane Colonial Quadrology Boxset, consisting of a loose 4 part filmic parables on Colonialism and resistance. The first feature EMITAI, is 1 hour 43 minutes and was released in 1971, and takes place during World War II.

Emitaï (1971)

The 2nd feature film in this quadrology is 1977’s CEDDO (120mins) and takes place around the late 15th, early 16th century.

Ceddo (1977)

The 3rd film, the only one to receive a DVD release (now LONG out of print) is the longest of the four, at 2 hours and 37 minutes, and comes a whole ten years later in 1988’s CAMP DE THIAROYE, and this film returns to the theater of World War II to tell its tale. This film is absolutely riveting, with a haunting wailing score to accompany this tale of calamitous decisions and barriers of language, of nationality, of prejudice, of mores, and wars fought on too many fronts.

You just feel the tension ratcheting up from scene to scene, never knowing where it is going, and whether it is prelude to calm or chaos. But there are also moments of lightness here, and easy languid touch to the film-making. It is a long film, around the 80 minute mark, it is like the whole film takes a downtime with the soldiers, a languid time of reflection, but it works, and is needed that intermission of sorts, and 10 minutes later you begin to know why. Calm, before a storm.

A masterpiece by a filmmaker who pulled these films together in a time when every foot of film, cost a fortune. It’s not like today when every ‘want to be’ filmmaker can grab a digital camera and put something up on youtube. In the age of film, particularly in a continent beset by the still caustic and crippling effects of colonialism, apartheid, civil war and corporate and international malfeasance… CAMP DE THIAROYE is a film made in blood and sacrifice.

It is a compelling film about injustice and tragedy, and the search for identity, separate from the imposed identity of the colonizing forces. And it is a film about the thanks of an ungrateful nation. And staggering corrupt decsions on one side, breeding horrendous bad decisions on the other, snaking its way to an ending that seems both inevitable, and totally avoidable. This should be talked about in the same breath as the best and most incisive of world cinema, up there with films such as ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS and RASHOMON and THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS. The fact that this great film, 32 years later still has not received a wonderful feature packed CRITERION or ARROW release, is a small injustice and tragedy of its own.

p.s. If you do get the sold out DVD, the Danny Glover interview on it is simply essential viewing.

 

Camp de Thiaroye (1988)

And finally in 1992, a present day commentary on the long shadow of colonialism and religious factionism, GUELWAAR (1 hour 55 minutes) is Sembene Ousmane’s last film in this loose daring quadrology and comment on colonialism. Whereas his more innocuous films, that could not be perceived as overtly anti-colonial, are available, arguably his most provocative and compelling works have remained, throughout his life, and now even after his death, steadfastly and ‘un-officially’ banned.

Guelwaar (1992)

 

-UNDER CONSTRUCTION-

The Best of Boutique Blu-ray Labels in the age of Streaming! Oct 2019 to February 2020 ARROW Collection Update! Part 2 of 2!

Despite claims of the death of physical media, Blu-ray Boutique labels, HERE IN 2020, are putting out some of the best physical content… EVER!

Here then are MUST OWN Blu-rays in the age of streaming and digital, acquired between October 2019 and February 2020!

 

PT 2 of 2 of my Arrow Video Pickups for that period:

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THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN – Just in terms of art, this is not one of the better Arrow releases. The art, both versions of the reversible cover, are pretty awful.  Unworthy of such a great film. However because it is a great film, and the Arrow release is the only legitimate Bluray option out there, I can definitely overlook the art, in order to own this essential sci-fi tinged horror film. But I do hope we in the futuure get a superior version.

J.D’S REVENGE – I saw this film recently courtesy of Amazon Prime, my first time seeing this 40+ year old film… and I loved it. What a gem! Surprisingly gripping and exciting and Volatile. And this is one that ARROW VIDEO does a Fantastic job with the art, And i look forward to checking out the special features.

 

Get your copies at the following links:

INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN

JD’S REVENGE

 

ONE FINAL WORD, AS i wrap up this quick update on arrow video titles acquired recently.

One OF THE STANDOUT FEATURES OF ARROW IN ADDITION TO THE SPECIAL FEATURES THEY INCLUDE ON THEIR RELEASES AND THE METICULOUS WORK THEY TYPICALLY DO COMMISSIONING NEW ARTWORK, is their booklets that come with their releases. however, that is also one of the main frustrations of collecting arrow releases.

arrow does this policy, where they only release the book or booklet with the ‘first pressing’ of their movies. basically when their initial batch of blu-rays of a title sell out, when they release subsequent pressings, those subsequent batches will not come with the book or booklet.

NOW I DO UNDERSTAND THE BENEFITS OF DOING THIS FROM ARROW’S PERSPECTIVE, COST BEING A VERY MINOR ONE. BUT I THINK THE REAL REASON THEY DO IT, IS IT CREATES THIS AURA OF collectibility AND DEMAND AND URGENCY. it feeds into the ‘limited edition’ collectibles market, which is a valid part of their customer base.

here is the issue with that, that is only part of your customer base.

as a buyer and fan of arrow video releases, you do not know when you place your order, via a retailer, whether the new product you are getting will come with or without the booklet. and for most fans of arrow (or any boutique label, such as criterion), the booklet is part of why you collect physical media, as opposed to just streaming the movie, or getting the film from a different label. even today, four years after its initial release, i can order black narcissus (one of the most stunning films ever made) from criterion, and be assured of getting the beautiful booklet with it. that assurance of quality whenever you pick up a criterion product, well that says everything about why they remain synonymous with quality and confidence.

so while the limited nature of arrow’s books and booklet, ensures you create a quick sell out of your initial run, it hampers sales of subsequent runs. And gives the buyer pause before buying that release, and has them turn from you and your retailers to the secondary market for a used item, but one that guarantees they get the book or booklet.

this policy is actually training potential customers to be wary of getting the item new from arrow or its retailers, and to rather patronize the secondary market.

now i am a supporter of the secondary market typically, but in this case i think arrow may actually be losing sales on older titles this way. training your customer base to seek out used product as opposed to your in-stock product, courting the exclusivity fervor, is a tricky tight rope to walk, especially when it may be actually sacrificing some sales from a potentially larger customer base, to support this model.

at the very least if arrow, wants to not provide the book/booklet in all releases, and continue to court to some extent the limited edition part of their customer base, what they can still do is offer the books and booklets as an add on to customers. give customers the option to buy the book or booklet at a nominal fee, to include s&h. worldwide shipping of a booklet, even today is only few pounds. And to differentiate it from the first pressing, just simply mark it aS ‘2nd printing’.

this way your limited edition audience, still keep their ‘limited edition status- they have first prints’. and at the same time you generate revenue from people who missed out on the books or booklets. it strengthens peoples trust in arrow, since what you get is not totally left up to chance or the secondary market.

anyhow that is my two cents on the one issue, as someone only several months into arrow video patronage, that i see as room for improvement, with the otherwise excellent arrow label.

 

The Best of Boutique Blu-ray Labels in the age of Streaming! Oct 2019 to February 2020 ARROW Collection Update!

Despite claims of the death of physical media, Blu-ray Boutique labels, HERE IN 2020, are putting out some of the best physical content… EVER!

Here then are MUST OWN Blu-rays in the age of streaming and digital, acquired between October 2019 and February 2020!

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While the Criterion Collection is the most well known Boutique or Quality Curated Dvd/Blu-Ray label, coming back to physical media I was surprised to find there are new kids on the block, that arguably not just equal Criterion, but edge it out in terms of features and overall quality of packing, booklet, materials, etc.

One such Blu-Ray label is ARROW VIDEO. Following on the heels of SCREAM FACTORY getting me back into physical media in a major way in 2019, ARROW VIDEO was the next company I jumped in to with both feet. And is actually, SCREAM FACTORY aside, my favorite Blu-Ray label of 2019. And without doubt the label I purchased the most movies from in 2019.

Here Now are all the Arrow Video Blu-Ray movies picked up from Oct 2019 to now in February 2020.

 

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You can make a huge argument that Arrow’s feature rich AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON was THE BEST single Blu-ray release of 2019. For me it was a MUST OWN! You may still be able to pick up copies here.

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Great film! My first time seeing it, and is better than most films made today. Nice special features. Get it here!

Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia [Blu-ray]BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA – Sam Peckinpah made several masterpieces, this is one of his best, probably only edged out by PAT GARRET & BILLY THE KID. This was his final word, on the avenging spirit made flesh. Get your copy here!

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.Lucio Fulci’s masterpieces are not his Ghoul/Zombie Films, these were the work of a filmmaker who had succumbed to the questionable tastes of the market (that had rejected his most beloved film, his attempt at art) and to an extent his own perverseness.

You want to see Fulci as a great director, then seek out LIZARD IN A WOMAN’S SKIN, DON’T TORTURE THE DUCKLING, SILVER SADDLE, MASSACRE TIME, THE PSYCHIC, BEATRICE CENCI (his favorite film) and arguably his best film ONE ON TOP THE OTHER (a homage to Hitchcock, that I actually think out does Hitchcock).

But that said, even these oft querulous and lowest common denominator peddling zombie films of his later years, have something to recommend them; namely Fulci’s unequaled imagination and real knack for composition of effectively baroque and unsettling imagery. Fulci knew how to drop your jaw, but also to stage a scene.

I quite, acknowledging its issues, I quite like CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD. And the Arrow presentation, with great commentaries, is the way to see it.

Get yours here.

 

Pt 1 of 2. Come back next installment for the conclusion of my ARROW VIDEO coverage. And if you are enjoying this coverage of physical media spread the word, give a like, subscribe, and email or comment.

Be well out there!

 

Closing out Jan 2020 – Here is Steelbook/Blurays of the Day/Month!

Closing out Jan 2020 – Here is Steelbook/BlurayS of DEC 2019 to end of january 2020!

If you do not have these Blurays, and you care about great physical media, then you are going to want to pick up these disks. ideally before they sell out, and go for more on the secondary market.

You can click on the pictures or the names of the films to view their current prices/availability.

 

https://images.static-bluray.com/movies/covers/251625_large.jpg?t=1568652110The Fly Collection (Blu-ray)Ultraseven: The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Temporary cover artUltraseven: The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Temporary cover artPioneers of African-American Cinema (5 X Blu-ray Set)PIONEERS OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN CINEMA – I dislike the term African-American, it is a bit too much of a misnomer. Just say Black. But semantics aside, this is an ESSENTIAL purchase. This one is actually an older release, however it made the Youtube rounds last year and is very close to selling out everywhere, so as a public service announcement… if you have an interest in this title, you need to get it now!  🙂 .

Black Angel (Blu-ray)

That is it, thankfully December/January wasn’t too stacked as far as MUST OWN Blurays.

If you have found this list helpful, give a like, use the links, subscribe.

Till next installment… be well!

 

THE CINEMA OF STATUES : The Films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder


“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

woolrichspeaktome


Have you ever watched a film, and mere moments into it been so captured by its construction, its strangeness, and its audacity that it earns a spot in your pantheon, your metaphoric showcase of worthy things? I’m guessing the answer for some of us is yes. I say some, because the strange, by its very nature, will not be the cup of tea of everyone.

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.

martha

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.

fassbinder2

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.

worldonawire

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.

WeltAmDraht_Poster

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.

world_on_a_wire_2

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.

600full-rainer-werner-fassbinder Image courtesy of film.com

I can see people not liking or dismissing Fassbinder’s 3+ hour Sci-Fi epic as just flawed. And it is flawed, like I said previously, Fassbinder likes the mistakes, the mistakes of time, mistakes of gender, mistakes of intention, mistakes of moment, and out of all these mistakes with WORLD ON A WIRE he makes, at least for me, something composed of the old, that feels endlessly new.

Welt_am_Draht_05

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.

The Fassbinder Collection Two – MARTHA

World on a Wire (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

Speak to Me of Death: The Selected Short Fiction of Cornell Woolrich, Volume 1 (Collected Short Fiction of Cornell Woolrich)

Most Intriguing DVD Releases [Reissues, Foreign, Obscure, etc] First Quarter of 2012!

Just finished a post on the most intriguing DVD/Bluray releases for the First Quarter of 2012 for Mainstream US releases. Now here is the more exciting list, including DVD/Bluray reissues, foreign, and Obscure!

Lot’s of really intriguing entries to hunt down. Among them several Jean Rollin films released on Bluray, several never previously released Jim Brown Films are available on DVD, Alfred Hitchcock films on Blu-ray and much more.

Take a look!

Notorious [Blu-ray]
Rebecca [Blu-ray]
Spellbound [Blu-ray]
North by Northwest (50th Anniversary Edition in Blu-ray Book Packaging)
The Iron Rose [Blu-ray]
The Nude Vampire [Blu-ray]
Fascination [Blu-ray]
Lips of Blood [Blu-ray]
Tick…Tick…Tick…
The Split
100 Rifles
El Condor
Dark Of The Sun (Remastered)
Take a Hard Ride
Slaughter/Slaughter’s Big Ripoff
The Slams
Kenner
Aurora
Swastika
The Man From London
Sinners And Saints
Fernando Di Leo Crime Collection (Caliber 9 / The Italian Connection / The Boss / Rulers of the City) [Blu-ray]
My Joy

More specifics on certain titles later.

Movie Showdown: THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS vs GREAT EXPECTATIONS

Movie Showdown: THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS vs GREAT EXPECTATIONS

Rather than the differences of these two films what strikes me is the similarities. Both are 1946 films. Both big budget A pictures for the time, with high profile directors (Lewis Milestone while a forgotten director today, for his time helmed many a top-tier film). Both successes, the films share that theme of young people and the great expectations the adults in their lives have for them, and what becomes of these children because of those… great expectations.

In David Lean’s seminal GREAT EXPECTATIONS the story is told from the boy’s perspective, (Pip played by Anthony Wager and John Mills) who meets a girl (Estella played by Jean Simmons and Valerie Hobson)who is also subject to…great expectations. Greater expectations even than his.

[A nice aside about the two young actors who played Pip and Estrella comes from Sean Axmaker of TCM. He writes:

‘The most visually evocative scenes in the film, however, take place in Miss Havisham’s shadowy mansion. [Pip] Summoned by the mysterious matron to her shuttered manor, he enters a Gothic haunted house that time forgot and finds an eccentric, possibly mad dowager in a rotting wedding dress, holding court in a musty throne room dominated by a decomposing wedding cake, a reminder of the day she was jilted at the altar. Havisham has sent for Pip to become a playmate for her ward Estella (Jean Simmons), an impertinent young beauty with whom Pip immediately falls in love. Apparently, young Anthony Wager [the Actor] also fell in love with [17 year old] Simmons (how could a thirteen-year-old boy with stars in his eyes not?) and even played the hero in real life. According to Simmons, her dress caught on fire from a candle she was carrying through a scene up a flight of dark stairs. “Everybody stood aghast, but Anthony came and tore it off me and put it out. This boy was the one who saved me.”]

In Lewis Milestone’s STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS the story is told from the girl’s perspective, who (as in EXPECTATIONS) is molded by the expectations of a domineering matriarch who shapes her to marry for power and money.



“He wanted to make something of his son, and I was tied to them both from that time on… [He used my guilt to make me marry his son]. Sam you’re not going to go away again! I want you here, Sam! I’ve lived so much inside myself. So choked with wanting something else that lives and breathes, so desperate for air and room to breathe it in! Oh, please, oh please… stay here.”
—Barbara Stanwyck as Martha in THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS

And in both films the course of those lives are neither easy nor straight, but undulating tales of loves deferred, and tragedies… born.

And both films were the first appearance of two future stars. GREAT EXPECTATIONS being the first film appearance of Alec Guinness, and STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS being the first film appearance of Kirk Douglas.

[Guinness’ performance is little more than a bit part, but Kirk Douglas is revelatory in his first screen role. Imbuing a difficult role, with a suffering that makes him neither hero nor villain… but something more sad, and memorable than both. But everyone gives strong performances in STRANGE LOVE, Heflin an oft dismissed leading man gives, perhaps his best performance here. Barbara Stanwyck adds some rare vulnerability to her tough as nails persona. However, arguably it’s Lizabeth Scott’s performance as Antonia Marachek, the one caught in the crossfire, that lets everything work in this film. That and the script of Robert Rossen (of ROARING TWENTIES and HUSTLER fame) that has to rank as one of his best.]

And finally the ultimate comparison, both films… come highly recommended. 🙂 .

You can view THE STRANGE LOVES OF MARTHA IVERS online here.

And when ready to purchase there is a great Criterion DVD for David Lean’s film, loaded with special features. However, the various DVD versions of STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS are, on the whole, bare-bones affairs, sporting no special features. Check the links below.

Great Expectations (The Criterion Collection)

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers

Strange Love of Martha Ivers [Blu-ray]

Hope you enjoyed today’s selections, and come back tomorrow for the much awaited next installment of… WEDNESDAY’S WORDS! Till then… be good. 🙂

Ruminations on Micheaux’s BODY AND SOUL (1925) & Murnau’s FAUST (1926)

Ruminations on Micheaux’s BODY AND SOUL (1925) & Murnau’s FAUST (1926)

I find both of these films very odd, and both very daring and challenging for the times, but neither particularly satisfying.

Of the two Murnau’s FAUST is by far the better known, well… as well known as silent films get, with numerous re-masterings and expensive restorations done, and new scores routinely crafted for it, and volumes of critical analysis written, and the darling of film courses everywhere.

And while I’m a huge fan of F.W. Murnau’s SUNRISE (Sunrise along with Erich Von Stroheim’s GREED, and a handful of others, is considered, rightly I believe, one of the greatest silent films ever made); I’m not as enamored of his FAUST. The technical wizardry for the day was ground breaking, but FAUST, for me suffers a couple of flaws we’ll get into in a moment.

Because flaws aside FAUST has maintained a level of attention, accolades, and restoration to be envied, while Oscar Micheaux’s BODY AND SOUL, has pretty much become an invisible film. No restorations, no re-masterings, and fairly unseen and unknown.

Which is a shame because the two films make an interesting diptych on religion and carnality and the suffering of women; the almost crucifixion of women at the hands of a dismissive, patriarchal society. And they both offer intriguing performances by their respective female leads.

BODY AND SOUL, is one of the few surviving silent ‘RACE’ pictures (Pictures created by and for Black audiences and the thriving Black movie theater circuit that comprised 600 black owned theaters [as opposed to the half dozen in existence today], popular in the years from 1915 to 1928) and as such, is an intriguing and historically important part of both cinema and highlighting the cultural fabric and concerns of the day.


Well kids, read the entire article(14 pages approximately) in the excellent EPUB format (the beautiful defacto digital book standard, perfect for your E-reader, Ipad, Nook, Archos, or just about any other decent tablet or ereader device). or I can also provide it to you in PDF format (readable on your PC, Laptop and kindle).

Go here!!

I’m doing this for my more lengthy and popular articles, because one it’s a far better presentation, than a web-browser, I like the look and smooth browsing capabilities of the Epub format, and providing you with a higher quality reading experience helps me generate income for this blog, so I can keep producing some nifty content. Take a gander I think when you see what is being offered, and the ridiculous cheap pennies it’s being offered for, you’ll want to go ahead and get one for your Ipad or Kindle or Archos or other Ereader.

Thanks again for looking and thank you in advance for supporting. It really does make all the difference.

THE THIRD MAN : One Never Knows!

“ONE NEVER knows when the blow may fall.

When I saw Rollo Martins first, I made this note on him for my security police files: “In normal circumstances a cheerful fool. Drinks too much and may cause a little trouble. Whenever a woman passes raises his eyes and makes some comment, but I get the impression that really he’d rather not be bothered. Has never really grown up and perhaps that accounts for the way he worshiped Lime.”

I wrote there that phrase “in normal circumstances” because I met him first at Harry Lime’s funeral. It was February, and the grave-diggers had been forced to use electric drills to open the frozen ground in Vienna’s central cemetery. It was as if even nature were doing its best to reject Lime, but we got him in at last and laid the earth back on him like bricks.

He was vaulted in, and Rollo Martins walked quickly away as though his long gangly legs wanted to break into a run, and the tears of a boy ran down his thirty-five-year-old cheeks. Rollo Martins believed in friendship, and that was why what happened later was a worse shock to him than it would have been to you or me. If only he had come to tell me then, what a lot of trouble would have been saved.”

-Graham Greene, The Third Man

First published in 1949 in the wake of the popularity of Carol Reed and Orson Welles'(star and uncredited co-director) THE THIRD MAN, the eponymous novel/novella was never really intended to exist. The novella was the first draft of Greene’s screenplay for the film. The film is the preferred format, even by Graham Greene. However the film’s extreme popularity spurred interest in the publication of the novel, as well as birthing a very popular score/record,

and a wonderful radio show (starring Orson Welles called THE LIVES OF HARRY LIME, it is brilliant).

The Lives of Harry Lime, Volume 1

Listen to Lives of Harry Lime for free Here!

But the novel really doesn’t sing by itself. It’s only in the audio-book format, when it’s tightened up a bit, and read by the cultured yet world wearied voice of the great James Mason that it becomes something brilliant and essential, and as haunting as the film.

The Third Man – Criterion Collection (2-Disc Edition)

As someone who considers THE THIRD MAN one of the greatest movies ever made, perhaps my favorite movie of all time, The James Mason read audio book (avoid the Martin Jarvis audio book, it’s just nowhere as good) is without doubt my favorite audio book.

The Third Man

I listen to it in the car and in my home… often.

And there’s something between the words, and the inflection of Mason’s voice that never ceases.. to enthrall.


“Happiness isn’t about getting what we want, it’s about appreciating what we have.”
—SPOOKS