Currently Watching : Criterion Blu-Ray THE CRANES ARE FLYING (1957) by Mikhail Kalatozov

Letyat zhuravli (1957)

“I believe in poetic cinema. Poetic cinema is the cinema created in especially vivid form… by great masters like Eisenstein, Pudovkin, and Dovzhenko. In my own work I strive to affect a viewer’s consciousness and soul by means of poetic cinema.”
-Kalatozov in a 1961 interview. Available on the Criterion Blu-ray

Tatyana Samoylova in Letyat zhuravli (1957)

Tatyana Samoylova in Letyat zhuravli (1957)

THE CRANES ARE FLYING (1957)-Three things period Russian films do just about better than anyone else, is tragedy and beauty and grandeur, and Director Mikhail Kalatozov’s THE CRANES ARE FLYING is overflowing with all three. You get the deep focus cinematography immortalized by Orson Welles married to a balletic, spiraling, intimate ground breaking, “you are there” camera movement, that is uniquely Russian. what kalatozov himself would call— poetic cinema.Letyat zhuravli (1957)

Almost 7 decades later and without any need for CGI, and 20 years before the invention of the Stedicam – the cinematography in this film (by the equally acclaimed Sergei Urusevesky) remains— both unbelievable and sublime. It is a film that draws you in from frame one, and holds you and the characters like a lover— deeply, afraid to be parted.Aleksandr Shvorin in Letyat zhuravli (1957)

All in all, a transfixing and haunting viewing experience, greatest of which is the beauty of Tatyana Samoylova, whose beauty captured here for all time, is so great –- and her performance so affecting—- that at times looking at her – is like looking at the sun.

One of the great Russian beauties, she becomes the mythical Helen – whom all young men seek to impress with war; and ‘changed by the war’ young men; seek only to hold in peace. THE CRANES ARE FLYING is up there with I AM CUBA/SOY CUBA (another Kalatozov cinematic achievement, with this time a stunning Cuban beauty) as a milestone of Russian cinematography, and by extension a milestone of world cinematography; up there with Welles CITIZEN KANE and Lean’s GREAT EXPECTATIONS. There is no putting this movie on, and not being captivated by it.

THE CRANES ARE FLYING is another masterpiece lovingly provided by the Criterion Blu-ray label. I am on a hunt now to see the other available Kalatozov directed films, as well as Tatyana starring films. Kalatozov,while IMDB lists 20 directing credits for him, most of those appear to be documentaries or shorts or state sponsored work. It really appears he only has 6 or 7 feature films to his name, all coming toward the end of his career, especially once he found a kindred spirit in his cinematographer, Urusevesky.  So I look forward to adding THE FIRST ECHELON, LETTER NEVER SENT and RED TENT to the list of Kalatozov films to add to my collection. Grade: It is a simple enough story, but the visuals just make it, cinema undeniable— A+.Aleksey Batalov in Letyat zhuravli (1957)

Click the image below to get the best price on the feature rich Blu-ray, and you also earn a few very appreciated pennies for this blog! A win-win!

Letyat zhuravli (1957)

Currently Watching: CANDY SNATCHERS Blu-ray by Vinegar Syndrome

 

The Candy Snatchers (1973)

One of the hardest things I find a film to be, is almost immediately engaging, exciting, and surprising. THE CANDY SNATCHERS is the first film I picked up from Blu-Ray Boutique label VINEGAR SYNDROME, and I picked it up because 1/it was given good reviews on a couple online outlets 2/ it had a stunning slipcover and 3/it was on sale.

I personally did not have high hopes for the film, it is not my genre of film. I don’t like extreme cinema, it is not my cup of tea. The torture/porn variety of cinema, just not for me.

I have seen the extreme films of Directors such as Miike Takashi, and I have seen their subtle films, and particularly with Takashi, his subtle films I find vastly better and more entertaining and well told, such as THE BIRD PEOPLE IN CHINA and THE NEGOTIATOR.

But I do appreciate crime films. So it is a tricky tight rope for a film to walk, to ride that line between telling a tale of criminality and not going overboard into atrocity and gore for gore’s sake. That said, it is no walk in the park. If you do not like challenging films, and films about and showing a certain amount of violence and sex and abusive behaviour, you will want to avoid this film. At the end of the day, you have to be the barometer for where that line is for you.

I spent the first 10 minutes of THE CANDY SNATCHERS with my mouth agape, saying “WTF?!!!” and I spent my last 10 minutes of the film with my mouth agape saying “WTF?!!!”

And in between that ending and that beginning, i was completely riveted, and impressed by the quality of the performances, and the adept, stylish excellence of the Direction.

The performances are all excellent, all the actors are great, but particularly Tiffany Bolling as Jessie and Cristophe who plays Sean Newton are revelations for entirely different reasons. When they are on screen they are riveting; Tiffany Bolling for her beauty which is honestly mesmerizing, and her performance which is galvanizing, and Cristophe for his performance.

 

“1973 was the Mt. Everest of the ‘MADE for TV’ years. It was a pretty stunning period. So bear in mind, you could go to the theater and see this film [THE CANDY SNATCHERS] then you could turn around come home, and you could see something like DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK or COLD NIGHT’S DEATH.”

—from the pretty compelling Audio Commentary on the Blu-ray by film Historian Nathaniel Thompson

 

It is a film that veers wildly between suspenseful, horrific, disturbing, distasteful, riveting and just plain strange, and even rare bits of awkward levity. I was doubtful, very doubtful of this inane titled THE CANDY SNATCHERS being a good movie, however now having just fished it — I’m hard-pressed to find a reason not to call it a great movie.

I don’t want to oversell this little known crime oddity from 1973, but if my reviews have not steered you wrong in the past, they will not do so now. Pick up Guerdon Trueblood’s THE CANDY SNATCHERS, this was the director’s first and only feature film. Great Gaia, what a debut! It adds him to that list of great one time Directors (such as Charles Laughton, Saul Bass and Patrick McGoohan) that you wish had gotten the chance to direct more.

It is a must own. And get it with the stunning embossed Slipcover if you can.

The Candy Snatchers (1973)

There is a lot of Negative in the World — This surprisingly made me feel great

There is a lot of negative in the world.

Particularly now, when seemingly the proponents of hate and intolerance have wormed their way into places of trust and power. From the police force, to the president.

We have somehow, transitioned from a nation that fought Nazis, that gave the lives of Fathers, Brothers, Sons, Uncles, Wives, Daughters, toward this pursuit of Liberty, and the dream of America; to now where the grandchildren and great grand children of the greatest generation, have put on the yolks of ignorance, and stupidity, and bigotry and hatred — have become the Nazis that, at great spill of blood, we pushed into the sea.

That’s fine. Nazis fell before, they will fall again.

What is not fine– is that you can not resolve a problem; if you can not grasp, or define, the scope and depth of the problem.

So a racist media, selling only fear and outrage, but never really concerned with resolving the issues they bring up (to garner ratings); they are concerned with profiting from the criminal and the caustic and the egregious, but never punishment or closure.

A racist media, which in many ways is a membership campaign for more racism; makes the problem amorphous, and too big for us, makes it an unchangeable reality, rather than what it is, a problem— to be understood, and worked, and fought, and solved,

Organizations that start putting into perspective the problem, specific locations, specific organizations, specific patterns, that tangibility of the problem, that definition of it, makes it something you can work. Something you can fight.

Particularly when we begin highlighting the ties between movements of  stupidity and corporations. When we start tracing the money and the history, we can then start attacking the finances of these movements of hate, and that is when you start having results. There are a lot of companies no person of color should be giving money to, just for their historic, and in some cases present ties to movements of intolerance.

If you are a person of color, or just a person of conscience, patronizing companies like SHELL and KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN, you may want to do your homework and add them to your “sanctions/do not do business with” list. Otherwise the bullet that ends you, or the rope that lynches you– you may have paid for. Yes, I have no tact. 🙂

Now helping to clarify the problem, that is not an ending, it is not even a solution, but by helping to define the problem, that is the only way to begin to work a solution.

I went to SPLC’s website, and signed up to be a member immediately. I already donate to NAACP, and EFF, and Catholic Charities, but I really, after an incredibly stressful day at work, looking at the SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER’s webpage, looking at the work they put in, looking at their hate map, and don’t take this the wrong way, but I felt— empowered, I felt better.

I don’t love the name, HATE MAP, it is to the point, but I think it gives these organizations the ‘bad boy’, fear inducing glamour they are looking for, call it ANTI-AMERICAN MAP call it TERRORIST MAP, and now you are painting these enemies of liberty with the brush, they would paint others with. Now you truly are defining them.

I felt in an age of fake, racist news, and public servants murdering the public, that  finally these — repeated failings of our nation, someone is taking the time to map them, to define — however rudimentary—the scope of the problem.

And God Almighty, give me a foe I can see, and a problem that I can understand, and that understanding is both lever and weapon, give me a big enough lever and I will move the world, to borrow a quote; that is how it felt finding the SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER and becoming a member. 

I’m going to be reaching out to them, because I think a Think Tank approach, devoted to resolving the issues of intolerance and hate and malfeasance in our law enforcement and elected officials ( I would love to see a JUSTICE or LIBERTY map, showing off organizations doing good, as a counterpoint to their hate map), is a great idea and can use contributors.

Do your own homework before donating, but heck you can donate for as little as $25, and just the good feeling I received from their website existing, is worth that $25. Do your own homework, donate, get involved.

And for people who do not like using credit cards or paypal online (especially with one time or new purchases), I can not blame you, I do not either. Do what I did, print out their donation form, fill it out, get a money order from the post office, and mail it in.

View the site here!

And if you choose Donate Here!

WEDNESDAY’S WORDS was postponed to bring you this post. I think it is a worthy substitution.

Thanks and enjoy!

And when you sign up, tell them HT sent you!!!

 

And if you found this post useful, if it made you breathe a little easier, or stand a little straighter, or feel not alone in the night. then do me a favor. Like, subscribe, comment, and share this with others.

You do that and in little ways and in big ones, we win. We win the moment, if not the day. And win enough moments, well who can say.

I’m going to keep shouting out people and organizations that I think our winning the moment, Come shout with me.

The silence of good men and women, is all evil needs to triumph.

So reach out, and make a joyous noise. Join me here, as we speak in these— Heroic Times. 🙂

 

Thanks and enjoy!

 

5 favorite audio books NOT available via streaming, spotify or Audible! Book #5 WOLFEN!

There are about two dozen truly great audio actors, whose work on audio books, is a MUST OWN. Among them are Orson Welles, David Birney, Harlan Ellison, Roddy McDowall, James Mason, Michael Boatman to name a few.

Some of these guys work, for various reasons such as rights etc, are not available via streaming or in some cases even on CD. But these are preeminent works, of the greatest voice actors of their respective era, giving their greatest deliveries. And they can still be picked up via LP or cassette, at affordable prices, and deserve to be.

Once bought on LP or cassette go ahead and digitize it so you have these must own works in a preserved format. Here then without further ado, is the first of our 5 must own audio books!

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41-EAZMm3fL._SX295_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg Roddy McDowall reads WOLFEN- I am a huge fan of the 1981 WOLFEN film, I think it is a flawed, but unjustly overlooked masterpeice. However, I love this audio book version as much, perhaps even more, and that iis down to Roddy McDowall.

Roddy McDowall, a prolific actor with over 250 credits to his name, who is likely only remembered by a younger generation for his turn in FRIGHT NIGHT (1985),  gave some of the great, humanistic performances of cinema in his abundant career. From Academy Award winning turn in HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY (1941)  to his immortal role as Caesar in PLANET OF THE APES (1968) to THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE (1973) to the aforementioned FRIGHT NIGHT (1985), and everything in between, Roddy McDowall, despite the quality of the film or script, never gave a bad performance. The consummate actor, he always carried his role, you always believed him; and he brings that veracity to this audio book, and paints with his voice the hallowed and harrowing world of WOLFEN.

Click on the link below to acquire this essential bit of audio book history.

 

The Wolfen Audio Cassette – June 1, 1990

Material Type: Fiction, Audio book, etc.
Document Type: Sound Recording
All Authors / Contributors: Whitley Strieber; Roddy McDowall

ISBN: 1558002227 9781558002227
OCLC Number: 21983678
Notes: Abridged from the author’s book of the same title.
Performer(s): Reader, Roddy McDowall.
Description: 2 audiocassettes (approximately 180 min.) : digital, Dolby processed, 1/8 in. tape
Responsibility: author, Whitley Strieben.

STRANGER IN TOWN – Enjoyable Capraesque Litte Drama/Crime Caper – Movie of the Day!

 

Great little film from 1943. You would not think a film from 77 years ago would be so timely and entertaining, and even laugh out loud funny in places, and dire in others, and say something so clearly current about corruption and obligation. A great little film.

“The great liberties by which we live, have been bought with blood. The kind of  government we get, is the kind of government we want. A government of the people, by the people, for the people, can mean any kind of government. It is our duty to make it mean only one kind. Uncorrupted! Free! United!”

Currently available courtesy of Amazon Prime. But you never know when these movies will disappear off streaming, get the DVD here.

Stuck at Home? Currently Watching: HIGH MOON streaming on Roku via Amazon Prime Channel/App!

Stuck at home? Well here is a suggestion:

 

HIGH MOON aka HOWLERS(2019) – I like Westerns and I like Werewolf movies, so combine the two and I’m definitely the audience. Add to that this Josh Ridgeway directed flick is actually not the campy parody the title would suggest (HIGH NOON being one of my favorite Westerns).

Smartly written, also by Josh Ridgeway, with a nice mix of horror and wit, and excellently performed by a cast of solid actors, this movie is surprisingly good. Matthew Tomkins, who I have never seen give a bad performance, is his usual rock solid self, and the whole cast delivers. Chad Michael Collins is great as the primary protagonist, the time tossed Cowboy, Colt. Tom Zembrod, as his furry nemesis is the type of scenery chewing villain, that puts a smile on your face. Sean Patrick Flannery also keeps the film flying with his portrayal as a Mayor, quite a few steps beyond corrupt. And the ladies likewise, Chelsea Edmunson and April Hartman have roles of some complexity to dig into.

Add in good makeup effects, solid action, and characters you care about and you have a rip-roaring monster mashup. Man, did i have a lot of fun with this movie. A solid B+.

Howlers (2019)

Really glad I caught this courtesy of Amazon prime, and this one goes on my ‘to own’ list.

No Blu-ray at this time, but you can snag the DVD here!

Streaming VOD TV Guide for Today 4 Mar 2020 : Youtube Edition

 

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If you find this guide helpful, please subscribe, like and use the link below and give love to my sponsors. Come back next installment for more!

Ebay Item of the Day!

 

2019 Favorite YouTube Channels and Channels that did and did not make it to 2020! Edition A-B!

Favorite Youtube Channels of 2019:

 

 

The above were some of my favorite channels, and with a few exceptions, are all still on my subscription list here in 2020.

Other channels in letters ‘A to B’ that I am subscribed to in 2020 are:

AARON PYNN (we do not have the same taste in films, but I like being introduced to films I would otherwise not be aware of or give a try. And being a physical media guy he has been helpful in 2019 in keeping me abreast of Dvd/Bluray sales), ADAM CELADIN (knife thrower), ALTER (some of the best short horror films), ALTERNA COMICS (really a fan of the sub $2 model this comic book company is providing, and they and Image comics $1 reprint books, I think are a big reason the big two offered $1 reprint books of their own), AMATEUR FILIES (one of the best Dvd/BluRay coverage channels), ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST, AVANTGARDEVEGAN, AXANAR,  BADDAD320, BARBARIAN_KUNGFU, BARGAINHUNTERSTHRIFT, BATINTHESUN, BELLA’S TOY CHEST, BERNIE’S BOOTLEGS, BLADE HQ (helped get me into knife collecting in 2019), BLU RAY COLLECTOR, BLU-RAY BENN, BLURAY DAN, BRAVE WILDERNESS (one of our top 10 favorite channels), BUDGETBUGOUT.

 

Channels that have gone dark in 2020:

ANDY BORDERS

BATAVENGER

Favorite (or if you are British, Favourite) Steelbooks BluRay/DVD! 2019 HOLIDAY / GIFT Ideas! Part 1!

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ThE FIFTH ELEMENT and CASINO ROYALE Steel-Books are AWESOME!

 

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That FIRST BLOOD and TERMINATOR II Steelbooks are STUNNING!

 

That is just a killer STEELBOOK!

WoW! Stunning JUNGLE BOOK (2016) Steelbook!

 

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Movie Posters of the Day!

Joker Movie PosterI’m glad this film is getting good reviews, and hope it is good. However I personally have not loved the trailer. And Todd Phillips helming this film, with a history of only comedies behind him, is a question mark for me. Since I am not a fan or audience for his previous films. Still I hope this is great, but don’t have a big interest in it. The TAXI DRIVER and FALLING DOWN or MAN BITES DOG films, are not my cup of tea, and that seems to be the ground this is aiming for. But I’ll wait to see if the reviews pile up one way or another after opening day. But likely if they are not glowing I’ll wait till it hits streaming.

Midway Movie PosterNice poster. No interest in the movie.

 

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Motherless Brooklyn (#2 of 2)

Another nice poster. No interest in the movie.

 

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Gemini Man (#4 of 6)

The talk of the look of this film and the technology, getting the 120 frames per second thing working correctly, and early positive reviews, has me interested to see this in the theaters. Ang Lee is not a director whose films I typically gravitate to, but  I look forward to being pleasantly surprised by this one. And Will Smith is a star for a reason.

Whatever else the film offers, he always comes into it giving a 100%. He’s a star for a reason. And this film where he gets to act against himself, gets to clash the actor he was, against the actor he is… a riveting concept. And it is cool, how much young Will Smith, looks like his son, Jaden.