• Legong, Dance of the Virgins From the mid 1920s well into the 1930s, American and European audiences had a well nigh insatiable appetite for films set in the South Seas whether they be features, documentaries, or travelogues. One of the most outstanding examples turns out to be a recent rediscovery, Legong: Dance of the Virgins, made by the French adventurer and international socialite, the Marquis Henry de la Falaise. The Marquis shot the film in Bali in 1933, when he was married to the movie star Constance Bennett, and when the island was a favorite vacation spot for the international party set to which the pair belonged.more
• Cure Despite the fact that it left audiences rapt and creeped out at the 1998 Toronto International Film Festival, and then again at Toronto in 1999, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Cure never hit with American audiences when it managed a small release in the United States a few years ago. That might be because the only Japanese movies that make it through the “free-trade” barriers that keep most foreign films out of the U.S. are either some of Beat Takeshi’s or the grotesquely violent and sadistic chop-‘em-ups that have developed a cult following.more
• I'm Going Home Nonagenarian Portuguese filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira has been enjoying one of the most extraordinary careers in cinema history. After a directing career that went through fits and starts, he settled down into his productive years in his 70s and has been producing a steady stream of provocations, curiosities, and masterpieces ever since. Oliveira made I’m Going Home in France in 2001 with the distinguished French actor Michel Piccoli, himself on the shady side of 70. He’s directed at least two films since then, a measure of productivity that would be impressive in a filmmaker of any age. Unfortunately for Americans, they’ve been unable to see most of Oliveira’s work thanks to the exclusionary oligopoly which controls U.S. distribution.more
Christ in Concrete Hollywood director Edward Dmytryk had already served a year in jail for long-severed ties to the Communist Party, USA when, in 1949, he moved to England where he made three movies. One of them was Christ in Concrete which was released back home under the titles Salt to the Devil and Give Us this Day, the latter being the rubric under which it has largely been known since.
Unfortunately, thanks to a slip-up in copyright, complete, good quality prints of the movie have been few and far between. Now David Kalat has released a restored DVD version of the film on his Allday Entertainment label, which is distributed by Image Entertainment.more
• The Cook A wonderful display of extraordinary comic juggling and acrobatics, The Cook should do something to finally revive the reputation of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle (1887-1933). Although most people have a vague image of a fat comedian involved in a sex or murder scandal, Arbuckle was one of the most gifted of the silent comedians. If his onscreen career hadn’t been cut short in 1921 not long after he had brought his talent to a refined pitch he may have elbowed his way into the holy trinity of Chaplin, Lloyd and Keaton.more
Under the Roofs of Paris For over half a century, film lovers have remembered René Clairs Under the Roofs of Paris (Sous les toits de Paris) for its marvelous opening sequence: Shots that begin with the rooftops of a working class Parisian neighborhood, then descend from that cheerful land of chimneypots down to a little square via some elegant crane work.more
Sullivan's Travels Is it art or entertainment? Do we respond the exaltations of the muses or the demands of the bankers? Hollywood has always been bedeviled by these questions and not just on the inside, where directors and writers face off against producers and executives. more
Bluebeard For years, Edgar G. Ulmer was largely a prized secret of French cineastes and a handful of American film societies. The general public knew him, if at all, as the director of The Black Cat (1934), a particularly stylish Universal thriller from the studios High Art period starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. more
Gunman in the Streets A strange confluence of talents and an odd moment in history are as responsible as anything else for the English-language Gunman in the Streets, (1950), a hardboiled, occasionally thrilling, and visually entrancing Franco-American crime thriller that for some unknown reason, was never distributed theatrically in the United States. more
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