GREAT FILMMAKER SERIES : The Essential Cinema of Carl Franklin

 

https://m.media-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMTc4MzM0NDkxNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDUwMzk0OA@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,672,1000_AL_.jpgMorgan Freeman and Ashley Judd in High Crimes (2002)Renée Zellweger, William Hurt, Meryl Streep, and Tom Everett Scott in One True Thing (1998)Devil in a Blue Dress (1995)Eye of the Eagle 2: Inside the Enemy (1989)

 

Carl Franklin is one of these filmmakers, much like Kasi Lemmons, or Johnnie To or Richard Stanley or Ben Ramsey or John Hyams, or the Hughes Brothers that I am always desperate to see a new film by. I think these are unique Directorial voices, visionary voices, that give us cinema that lingers and excites. These directors not cranking out a new film every two years, not able to create their auteur body of work, the loss belongs to us the film fans.  I hope to interview Mr. Franklin this year, who has kept busy with television work, and inquire when we can expect a feature film from him.

Artbook of the Day : REBUS by James Jean! – One of 15 Best Artbooks of All Time?!!!

If my house, god forbid, was being evacuated, and after family, pets and other essentials, they told me “here is a box you have room to bring 15 of your artbooks” ; REBUS by James Jean, would be one of those books.

Now to clarify, I have a lot of artbooks, and if I do say so myself I only own what I consider GREAT and ESSENTIAL artbooks, so to narrow that down to 15… is difficult.

But here for your list reading pleasure, is one of those 15!

REBUS by James Jean

I actually love the design and construction of this book, more than the actual content. Don’t get me wrong, the artwork is great, very beautiful, and I like it quite a bit, but I do not love it. It is not quite my style, but the stunning construction of the book, with the red gilded pages, makes it such an art object in and of itself. It is the only James Jean book I own, and it is because of the beatiful construction and design of the book itself.

 

You can get your copy of REBUS here!

Best Youtube Channel of the Day courtesy of Roku/Amazon Fire!

If you are not watching CEREAL AT MIDNIGHT you are missing out on one of the essential resources for movies on DVD and Bluray, especially of the classic B movie and cult status variety. CEREAL AT MIDNIGHT celebrates those works of yesteryear that are worth picking up, even in this age of streaming.

His latest episode, and he sold me on purchasing the UNIVERSAL HORROR COLLECTION VOL 1 on Bluray.

Mostly because I am a huge fan of THE BLACK CAT. What is the BLACK CAT you ask? Well beyond being the name of the famous Edgar Allen Poe Short Story, it was also the impetus for many films of that name.

This 1934 Edgar G. Ulmer directed BLACK CAT (which only uses Poe’s story as a aesthetic, to  go places even Poe dared not) is the best of the half dozen or so feature films to use that title.

Powered by a lurid, and haunting, and maniacal story by Edgar G. Ulmer and Peter Ruric, the film grabs and does not let go. Ruric would never write anything as memorable or deranged or sublime again. Which leads me to believe even though the script is credited to Ruric, that it was Ulmer’s hand you see in it. 

 

Ulmer, an unfortunately little remembered director, was one of the best directors of the strange and the avant-garde (experimental, forward looking), and the disturbed. This film fits perfectly in his mold. And with the best combination of big time studio, large budget, iconic stars, talented craftsmen, that he would ever get, he produced his best movie.

BLACK CAT beyond being Ulmer’s best movie, is without argument the best of the Karloff and Lugosi collaborations, and is arguably the best UNIVERSAL movie, right up there with masterpieces such as BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN and THE INVISIBLE MAN.

 

Ulmer’s BLACK CAT is so stylized, and so paired to the bone, that like the short story it derives its impetus for, it is entirely possessive of your attention and your awe. And even though I consider BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN a masterpiece, there is something even more heightened and hypnotic in Ulmer’s BLACK CAT.

The only real cinematic comparative to it, would be the feel you get from watching Erle C. Kenton’s ISLAND OF LOST SOULS, which predates BLACK CAT by two years. ISLAND OF LOST SOULS, like BLACK CAT, was both acclaimed and vilified for its horror and its sexuality.

 

Both are films I consider seminal films, masterpieces of mood, and must own films. And i have owned both films for years in DVD, as generally speaking I do not see the need to upgrade to Blu-ray with these earlier 4:3 Black and White films. However with this new Blu ray also sporting multiple new commentaries, it is worth the double dipping for me.

If you are still deciding check out the video below, and subscribe to the CEREAL AT MIDNIGHT youtube channel… and tell them HT sent ya!

 

 

ESSENTIAL CDs in the Age of ITunes #15-10 – Under Construction

In the age of ITunes, easy and user tailored content of individual songs at whim, is there a place for CDs?

For great ones, I would say yes.

MP3 is a great sampling medium, a very good compression medium, but it should not be considered an end onto itself, especially where music is concerned.

There is some value in the physical medium, when it comes to a great album. A great CD that stands up from first song to last, is worthy of the process.Of listening to that music in high-fidelity without the compression of MP3. Is worthy of the cover art and liner notes, and more is worthy of the tangible, tactile experience of engaging with that physical medium as a touchstone to the process and enjoyment of the physical medium.

From LPs to CDs, their is something as vital in the form of the medium as well as the function, something in the beauty of interacting with a great LP presentation or a great CD presentation in a physical space, that is not replicated in a digital download.

But it has to be a CD/Album worthy of putting on and listening and enjoying from first song to last. Something with sporadic good songs isn’t going to cut it. For that you might as well stick with the Itunes model of downloading random songs.

But for those CD and LP releases of music as functional and vital novel, as compelling art, the medium matters, has value.

Without further ado, here is a list of 5 essential CDs and/or LPs worth owning in the age of Itunes, where increasingly we own nothing:

incoldbloodIN COLD BLOOD – One of the seminal and ground-breaking movie soundtracks of all time. Quincy Jones’ finest work. Last I looked only available on LP.IN COLD BLOOD (ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK LP, 1968)

BACH THE GOLDBERG VARIATIONS:GLENN GOULD – This album began my love and appreciation for the piano and remains one of the great classical recordings.

JIMI HENDRIX:THE ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE- Lives up to its name. One of the pivotal and formative icons of modern Rock and Roll.

speakyourpeaceSPEAK YOUR PEACE:TERRY CALLIER- Overlooked during the heyday of Soul, Terry Callier was rediscovered by a British promoter in the early days of the 21st century, which lead to his old albums being reissued, and Terry Callier producing new albums. SPEAK YOUR PEACE is one of those albums, and more it is one of the great Albums of all time. Terry Callier being a devastatingly beautiful and poetic songwriter, easily on par with the best of Dylan, with a voice far superior to just about anyone’s.Speak Your Peace

SNAKES AND LADDERS- This Alan Moore and Tim Perkin’s helmed spoken word CD in many ways is a reworking of an earlier and no less mind-blowing Alan Moore CD, THE MOON AND SERPENT GRAND EGYPTIAN THEATRE OF MARVELS. However SNAKES AND LADDERS manages not only to be its own thing, but manages to be a great and compulsively listenable experience in its own right.Alan Moore and Tim Perkins – Snakes and Ladders

Well that’s this installment’s picks. Come back next time for five more. And if you are moved to buy the CDs and add them to your collection, please you the supplied links to do so. Thanks and go out there and hug somebody today. (but ask first :))

BEST PODCASTS OF 2011: Comic Geek Speak Best Episodes of 2011!

From episode 995 to episode 1169 (as of this writing), The gang of the popular comic book pod-cast Comic Geek Speak, managed to crank out a staggering 174 episodes in 2011. And they will likely sneak in a couple more before 2011 arrives.

That is just a staggering amount of work, and a staggering labor of love, particularly when you factor in they are providing all this great entertainment free to you the listener. But for them it is definitely costly in terms of time, energy, and expense.

I realize the massive expenditure of time and energy and effort, and yes expense, that a blog can take, so a multi-cast pod-cast is an even more staggering commitment of time and energy, that you have to try and juggle in between your pay the bills jobs, and responsibilities of hearth, home, and family.

So yeah, the crew at CGS deserve much appreciation, and respect for their work ethic, because it is a massive undertaking. Made all the more impressive because not only are they prolific, one of the most prolific pod-casts of any kind, but they do it while also putting out a consistently excellent and fun to listen to product. And here they are in 2011, years later, still going strong. And still gaining new listeners.

Now all that said, a 174 episodes could could make it daunting for people coming in to CGS in 2011 and trying to decide where to start. The obvious question to most newcomers trying to get a handle on a new show is… ‘What episodes are the keepers?’.

Well that’s going to change depending on everyone’s interests. Some people like to start from the first episode, some people from the latest episode.

But most everybody at some point wants a best of list.

Recently needing to free up some drive space, I had to delete some episodes, which gave me a good excuse to go through 2011 and determine, which episodes for me were keepers. Which episodes did I see myself listening to or referring to again?

So it was a good bit of house cleaning I’ve just completed (freeing up gigs of Data), and I’ve decided to share the results with you.

As far as which type of episodes factor most prominently in my too-keep list?

Well, for purchasing reasons I find the ‘Previews’ episodes good ones to revisit, as they help me when I’m looking for stuff to pick up in trade or collections, that I might have missed the first time around. So the bulk of the episodes I’ve saved from 2011 are ‘Previews’ episodes ( A preview episode is, as the name implies, an episode where they look at upcoming books to be released).

Also the ‘Drunk Cap’ and ‘Uncle Sal’ episodes figure high on my to keep list. So I’m going to give you a string of numbers, and your mission if you choose to accept it is to head over to the CGS site (link below) where they give you the description and download link to the episodes I recommend.

So without further ado my biased list of the essential Comic Geek Speak episodes of 2011:

995,996,998,999,1000-1003,1005,1011-1012,1016-1017,1019,1031-1032,1035-1036,1050,1057,1059,1065-1068, 1071-1072,1089,1095,1098-1100,1110-1111,1118,1126,1135,1143,1145,1150,1154,1155,1159,1164,1165

Go here to get details on the episodes mentioned!

MUMBO JUMBO by Ishmael Reed Book Review: A novel about Haiti and America and Ragtime 90 Years Ago

“It’s a way we had over here for living with ourselves. We cut ’em in half with a machine gun and give ’em a Band-Aid. It was a lie. And the more I saw them, the more I hated lies.”– Apocalypse Now


I just finished Ishmael Reed’s 1971 Novel MUMBO JUMBO, a biting, absurdist, fantastic satire, that also happens to be, like the best of satires, a cutting and revealing and true depiction of our ids and our angsts. It is for a work of fiction, far more true than are so-called “history”. It is such a rich and deep and sprawling and compelling and… brilliant novel.

I consider myself a pretty informed reader, and this 4 decade old novel had insights into not just our history but our humanity, that i had never even considered.

Example?

How it defined Museums as store-houses for Pirated/Stolen goods.

I’ve been in and out of museums all my life, and it never even occurred to me to consider them in the context of Robber-Baron’s basically raping and destroying civilizations and bringing home to the west their trophies. Their stolen goods.

And this was like a throw away line in the novel, and it blew my mind. That I who consider myself relatively afro-centric that it did not even occur to me to question the origin and rightness of Museums. And the whole novel is like this, one smashing revelation after another.

And yes it’s a work of sensational fiction, but what makes it even more sensational are the parts of it… that ring true, are true. And speak even today… of true things.

From the hidden Haitian War and Holocaust of the early 20th century, which oddly mirrors the conflicts in Haiti today, even to the search for a talking Android to lead the people astray, which without too much of a jump can be compared to today’s President Obama…. it is almost a prophetic work. Or perhaps it just illustrates how history not learned from, is repeated.

This is the type of book that school curriculums that teach children of color… should cover. Must cover. It’s the kind of book… written with brilliance, and that inspires, ignites a real fire… for more brilliance, and more questions and answers.

It’s the kind of book that inspires… real learning.

It is a challenging read, but stick with it as it does all come together. And I highly recommend hunting down the griot audio book version which is FANTASTIC! It is an essential read, and in light of recent issues in Haiti, I think a surprisingly timely and insightful one. A satire that hints at much that is true, about Haiti’s tumultuous and troubled relationship with Western Powers.

It is an essential purchase. B+/A-

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