GREATEST SHORT FILMS OF ALL TIME : THE LAST TEN (2011) by Director David Higgs

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THE LAST TEN- I love short films for the same reason I love short stories, at their best they can deliver a pure moment, unhampered by filler or setup or dressing or fluff, and therefore a memorable moment to the core of us, in a way which only the most masterful feature films can equal.

Dickens was by far the more lauded author of his day, but it is the short fiction of his contemporaries Doyle and the American Poe which remains the mainstay of our cultural obsession to this day. And it is because of their short fiction’s power to completely live in us and be remembered by us, in their entirety; and the very nature of this construction is one of icon-ism rather than specif-ism.

Therefore the characters are ever very personal and close and fleshed out by us; are as part of their brevity ever ruminations on us. Indeed, even Dickens, who while the writer of many long form works, made his livelihood in the serialized market, and arguably his most beloved work, is his short form A CHRISTMAS CAROL, more novelette than novel.

When done well, a short film in a minute or two minutes or five minutes, or in this case under 14 minutes, can present a beginning, middle, and ending that almost all live completely on this razor edge of climax, and satisfy you before your attention wanes.

David Higgs’ THE LAST TEN is short film done as well as it can be done. A premise Hitchcock would have adored, a locked off camera, a single location, and creeping dread. I went into the film knowing nothing about it, as i suggest to you, and was blown away. Writer/Director/Producer David Higgs along with Cinematographer Nicole Heiniger in under 14 minutes creates one of my favorite short films with a haunting final shot.

You can view it courtesy of the Roku channel VIMEO. We all know short fiction is oft seen as a stepping stone to feature film, but the truth is they are two distinct animals. Clive Barker’s short fiction is miles ahead of his long form fiction. If THE LAST TEN is anything to go by, David Higgs is a fantastic short film maker, and I for one would love to see more films by him. At least enough that he could put out a DVD or Blu-Ray complete with special features and monetize some of his excellent work.

Last word on THE LAST TEN? HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION. A+.

 

Pick up the following books if you enjoyed this post and are a fan of what it covers:

Edgar Allan Poe Annotated and Illustrated Entire Stories and Poems
– There are tons of Edgar Allen Poe collections, but only a few sport illustrations by the great Gustave Dore and only one is this affordable. Get the hardcover version while you can.

Major Works of Charles Dickens (Great Expectations / Hard Times / Oliver Twist / A Christmas Carol / Bleak House / A Tale of Two Cities)
-six of his works in this exclusive and sumptuous boxed set of lavish, clothbound editions, designed by Penguin’s own award-winning Coralie Bickford-Smith. Part of Penguin’s beautiful hardback Clothbound Classics series, designed by the award-winning Coralie Bickford-Smith, these delectable and collectible editions are bound in high-quality colourful, tactile cloth with foil stamped into the design.

 

 

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NOW SHOWING On Netflix On-Demand Streaming : GRAND PIANO

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Eugenio Mira’s GRAND PIANO is a tight, compact and visually stunning thriller, starring Elijah Wood in a stellar role as a concert pianist and his most memorable night. Laced with rousing score and sound design throughout, it’s a film that would have made Hitchcock proud. Ignore the naysayers, a highly enjoyable 90 minutes!

See where you can view it… here:

http://www.canistream.it/search/movie/grand%20piano

and when you’ve determined it is worth owning purchase the DVD (complete with special features) here:Grand Piano DVD

RATING THE SEASONS : The Best Television of All Time – Alfred Hitchcock’s THE GLASS EYE

“The loneliness… the desolation of her life, were beyond belief. For she herself was unaware of how lonely and desolate it really was.”

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And with that line, we are introduced to one of two great ventriloquist themed episodes from the original 1950s run of ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS, namely 1957’s THE GLASS EYE.

Starring the great Jessica Tandy and narrated by an extremely young, pre-Star Trek William Shatner, it is a shining example of that currently extinct format, the 30 minute dramatic anthology. These are tales that have been much retold in the 6 decades since their inception, but arguably never better than in these original shows.

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The endings naturally are hard-pressed to surprise a jaded 21st century audience that grew up on 4th and 5th generation tawdry knockoffs, but knowing where the story is going does not change the masterful solemnity in which these tales are told (written by the prolific and justifiably acclaimed Stirling Silliphant).

This episode in particular, poetically directed by the stellar Robert Stevens, almost 6 decades after its making; remains an excellent way to pass 25 minutes. Grade: Imminently Re-watchable.

Get this Emmy Winning episode and the rest of season 3 here:
Alfred Hitchcock Presents – Season Three

2013: Day 12- Remembering Director Lucio Fulci

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UNDER CONSTRUCTION

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Lucio Fulci is remembered today, when remembered at all, by a nuance lacking population for his lowest common denominator gore films such as THE BEYOND and ZOMBI.

But before Fulci, by his own estimation became a maker of z-grade garbage to pay the bills, he aspired to more. He aspired to be a filmmaker.

And I am here to say he was one. And I would go further to say he was a great director. An extremely versatile director, leaving his mark on everything from Comedies to Westerns. However, it was in the new Italian form of thriller, the Giallo that his skills would reach their zenith, and his star shine the brightest.

In his heyday creative period, when the muses of inspiration were upon him (approx from 1966 to 1977), he made seven influential, stylish, challenging and even ground breaking films.

Tempi di Massacro/Massacre Time (Would predate and arguably inspire the dove laden, blood ballets of John Woo)

Una Sull’altra/Perversion Story/One On Top Another (even hampered by a poor title, and an awkward, even clumsy soft-core opening, this reworking of Hitchcock’s Vertigo builds to something great. Beautifully filmed it is Fulci’s best looking film, and is a clinic in style. It is a film I consider even better than its inspiration, and that is saying a lot.)

Beatrice Cenci
A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin
Don’t Torture a Duckling
Four of the Apocalypse
Sette Notte in Nero/Psychic

Fulci Frenzy
Browse and/or buy Lucio Fulci DVDs Here!!!

None of the above films were adequately appreciated upon release. However with the advent of DVD you have the chance to reevaluate Fulci’s largely pre-gore work (before he gave completely into his excesses and the lowest common denominator) and see these films for what they were and are, visually stunning landmarks of a time and a place.

— to be continued

2013: Day 11- 15 Best Movie Remakes! Remakes that are better than the original!

Okay, here is a list of Remakes for people who think they don’t like Remakes

or

FIFTEEN movie remakes that are superior to the original.

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John Carpenter’s THE THING
Daniel Craig in CASINO ROYALE
Francis Ford Coppola’s DRACULA
Tony Scott’s MAN ON FIRE

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David Cronenberg’s THE FLY
Zack Snyder’s THE DAWN OF THE DEAD
Al Pacino in Brian DePalma’s SCARFACE
Sturges’ MAGNIFICENT SEVEN
Scorsese’s THE DEPARTED

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Branagh’s HENRY V
Eddie Murphy’s THE NUTTY PROFESSOR

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Bogart’s MALTESE FALCON (The third film attempt, finally got it right!)
I AM LEGEND, while I have a lot of respect for the Vincent Price and Charlton Heston versions, Will Smith’s I AM LEGEND moves it into big scale territory with out losing the intimate horror inherent
Cameron’s TITANIC
THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH Hictchcock Improves on himself in this Stewart and Day remake of his earlier film

Most Anticipated films for the remainder of 2012 Film 1 of 10: Robert Zemeckis’ FLIGHT

2012 is off to a gangbusters start, and is poised to be the best movie year in terms of both quality and commerce for Hollywood since 2008. And like that year, it’s a very Superhero and Sequel Heavy Blockbuster summer.

This installment will be coverage of my most anticipated films for the remainder of 2012. But in true Heroic Times fashion, you’ll see some entries covered in each installment that you won’t find mentioned anywhere else. Enjoy 🙂

So part of the purpose of this reoccurring installment is to give love to films that might otherwise fly under the radar.

So what is on the list already?!!

Okay, Okay! Sheesh, you’re a pushy bunch… here goes:

The first film that get’s the nod is FLIGHT.

I find Robert Zemeckis an interesting Director. He tends toward light, family friendly films, which I have to be honest is not really what I gravitate to. However Zemeckis does family friendly, very well.

His films are a diverse, and always imaginative and technologically ground breaking bunch, from the BACK TO THE FUTURE trilogy, to FOREST GUMP, to WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT to WHAT LIES BENEATH (I think it’s the film of his, an ode to Hitchcock, that holds up the best). WHAT LIES BENEATH showed me that Zemeckis could handle more mature and suspenseful films… and that brings me to FLIGHT.

So news that a new film of Zemeckis is in post-production, called FLIGHT and starring an all star cast (that includes:

Denzel Washington [opposite the drop-dead gorgeous Sanaa Lathan], Don Cheadle [with the majestic Megalyn Echikunwoke], Bruce Greenwood [raucus with the lovely Leslie Hope] , Tamara Tunie , Garcelle Beauvais, Rhoda Griffis, John Goodman, Michael Beasley, and Nadine Velazquez ) makes me happy.

First and foremost because that’s a cast filled with REAL actors, rather than just CW faces of the moment. And films that have an ethnically diverse and deep cast (so more than just 2 characters of color) gets me to spend my money and go to the theater.

Huge fan of RED TAILS, so suck it! 🙂

I’m just a dumb ass southern boy, who misses my cartoons on Saturday, and my Hong Kong Chop Suey Soul Cinema Creature Feature films on the weekends. Current Hollywood films are just too bland and similar for me in terms of both content and casting. So any time I get a film that grates against the imposed tokenism of conventional Hollywood films… well saddle up the General Lee boys… cause I’m there! 🙂

Now that said Zemeckis does have some issues as director.

He helms big budget films, that have a hard time making their return on investment. His last two films, BEOWULF and CHRISTMAS CAROL carried budgets of 150million and 200 million respectively, and they didn’t make that money back theatrically, not even utilizing the IMAX and 3D price gouging.

This has less to do with the director and more to do with studios budgeting 150 million for a film, that would be more sensibly priced at a 50 million budget.

Just like with the upcoming BATTLESHIP, if that film was budgeted at 50 million rather than 200 million it could without question make a profit. As it stands I think BATTLESHIP is going to do commercially the same that JOHN CARTER did; which is to say not well.

The mindset of the studios pricing everything so high, including the cameras and marketing, I think has more to do with keeping the little guy, the independent studio out of the process of getting films in theaters, rather than the content of the specific film. I think it’s really about for the most part ensuring the people who can get movies into the theaters are one of the big studios.

Now of course in this day and age of found footage films you can definitely make films cheaply, but those films, THE PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, etc have to be picked up and sanctified by the gate keeper, the big studios, otherwise like most films made, such as BLACK DYNAMITE, they get seen at film festivals and that’s it.

Without the blessing of a gatekeeper, Sony, Fox, the big boys, You have no chance to make your money back in theatrical distribution. If you’re lucky you get some limited streaming or DVD deal, but for all intents and purposes you’re dead in the water.

So yeah that’s the only rationale I can find for studios not just having astronomical budgets on films, but in the wake of the films struggling to break even… keeping the budgets astronomical.

The studios increasingly using the films as loss leaders, tax breaks/write offs, and as a means of market control/theatrical control. And further they are using their bad decisions, their shell game of profit and loss, to cry broke and enforce changes on the theatrical market. Such as the move away from real film cameras and projectors (35mm and the rarer 70mm) and instead move to all digital cameras and theatrical installations. (Which is bad for numerous reasons not least of which digital cameras/projectors cannot match the range of 35mm film, and is left in the dust by 70mm film; as anyone who has seen LAWRENCE OF ARABIA in 70mm can attest).

So all that thinking weighs in when discussing Zemeckis’ recent mega-budget films, and their under-performance. Zemeckis’ films are so expensive they tend not to break even theatrically. It is a paradigm, an unsupportable one I think, that bears watching and curtailing in the future.

But for the present if the studios are good with their movies not breaking even, it works for me.

So yeah count me among the ones anticipating Zemeckis’ thriller tinged drama… FLIGHT.