Nicholas Ray: Part I

Just uploaded is a review of We Can’t Go Home Again [M] (1976), Nicholas Ray’s almost mythic experimental film which finally gets wide commercial distribution (read: no more bootlegs) via Oscilloscope Pictures after its premiere in 1973.

Never finished and a work-in-progress until his death in 1979, bits of the film were glimpsed in a rare making-of doc shot in 1975 – I’m a Stranger Here Myself – and Wim Wenders’ odd collaboration with Ray in 1979, Lightning Over Water (1980).

The big question, not unlike the opportunity to see one of Orson Welles’ legendary unfinished films, is whether WCGHA is the experimental masterpiece some critics are expecting. It’s affect on audiences will be subjectively broad.

Happy Mittel-Halloween

She may not be frothing, but I still wouldn't advise approaching...

It’s the middle of the Halloween weekend, and with Monday being the official day of Free Candy, horror films are naturally saturating the airwaves, theatre screens, and general consciousness of the populace, unless you happen to attend two Calgary schools where kids will attend “caring assemblies” the morn of the 31st because the school bigwigs believe the overall nature of Hallow’s Eve has gotten out of hand.

Yes, an under-10 year old dressed as a knife-wielding zombie out for blood is kind of startling, but how were you absorbing horror as a child? In my grammar school, the kids who lived too far to go home for lunch would trek with two ‘grade mothers’ to the local library, where we had tables & chairs and free milk to eat the lunches packed by our parents, after which there was time to read books and mags in the library before a return to grade school drudgery.

A "Lucartive" Offer

I am Bronzonious! Master of Time-bending! I glide through space with the speed of polyester!

This morning I found an email from some pinhead in Malaysia presenting a “lucartive” offer “to the tune of Forty-Eight Million” Euros.

The header actually began with a “RE” which presumed I responded to a prior request for more info regarding this lucartive deal, but sadly, I had not, because I’m wholly unfamiliar with the concept of being enticed by a lucariously fabulous offer to do nothing in exchange of a 60% cut of 48 Billion Euros, which I’ve frankly no idea what to do with.

Stagecoach 2.0

Editor's advice: when in doubt about copy art, always run with a hot babe, such as Ann-Margrock, as captured by Norman Rockwell for Stagecoach's stunning 1966 campaign.

Twilight Time’s latest DVD release is the 1966 remake of the classic 1939 John Ford western Stagecoach, of which I may have seen decades ago, but only recall the famous horse-jumping stunt where a man jumps from one team of horses to another while the stagecoach is barreling ahead at top speed.

Knowing Fox’ ’66 film was a remake, the question that often goes through a reviewer’s head is ‘Should I see the original?’ and my answer here was fast and flat: NO!

I felt in this case the lack of prior knowledge was a positive simply because I could watch the film with fresh eyes, no context of its illustrious predecessor, and assess the film based on its merits as a mid-sixties studio western with all the inherent clich├ęs typical of the era when a studio was trying to wrangle audiences into cinemas with a familiar property, starring a multi-generational cast picked from classic & current films, and TV.

Urban Decay 1.0: The Regal Constellation Hotel

I love stories of peculiar structures that once were in vogue, housed and catered to regular human traffic, and since their virtual abandonment, lay dormant or in a state of steady decay until the wrecker’s ball finally swung one too many times and flattened the last of its superstructure, making it easier for the ground to crew to shovel, pile up, and truck away the rubbish.

Torontoist just posted a piece on the demolition of the Regal Constellation Hotel that formerly resided close to the airport, and functioned as a conference centre and 'in-place' during the 60s & 70s.

Built in 1962, it indeed has a weird Vegas quality that’s atypical for T.O., if not because its design doesn’t fit with the current banal structures in and around the GTA.

A Nightmare on Elm Street, Part III

Credited (for better or worse) for adding a heavier dose of humour to Freddy Krueger’s arsenal of teen tormenting tricks, A Nightmare on Elm Street Part III: Dream Warriors [M] (1987) reinvigorated the franchise after Part II [M] kind of went astray, having Freddy running amuck during a pool party, and a lead character tormented by the Burned One / a strong attraction towards the school’s egotistical jock.

Family-friendly Thai campaign revealing Freddy's unique application of Yoga to realign Patricia's spine.

Part III remains a really satisfying sequel because the whole thing unfolds like a dream, and director Chuck (‘please call me Charles’) Russell did a nice job maximizing the production’s small resources to create some memorably gross & disgusting imagery, from the phallic Freddy Serpent that tries to devour little Patricia Arquette in her film debut (see above), to the marionette sequence in which fresh tendons are yanked out of a teen to lure the boy to the bell tower's edge.

Soundtrack Reviews & Sundry

See? Even Japan cares!

This week will be mighty busy, as I’ll have a review of several films playing at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, including Julian Roffman’s The Mask (1961), often cited by critics & historians as Canada’s first true horror film + 3D film + the first Canuckle film to be distributed by a major U.S. studio.

It may sounds insignificant, but it’s a major stepping stone among the few independent productions that managed to enjoy broad distribution instead of the brief theatrical runs due to foreign control of the theatrical distribution system.

Henri-Georges Clouzot, Part II

With the plethora (yes, plethora) of films available on DVD and Blu-ray, film fans may wonder why bother catching a classic film in a theatre when it’s easily obtainable on home video?

I’ve actually made a point of ‘testing’ certain favourite films I’ve grown up wit on the big screen at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, and even with a large home theatre setting, there are films that ought to be experienced Big, Loud, and with an audience – of which Jaws (1975) is the best example of a film that’s doubly fun outside of home.

I’ve just uploaded a film review of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Wages of Fear [M] (1953), which I saw decades ago on TVO in a grainy 16mm print with burnt-in subtitles that flickered and often disappeared when the contrast level was blown out by the video’s inability to handle high white levels.

Henri-Georges Clouzot

Beginning last Thursday, the TIFF Bell Lightbox began their  retrospective on French director Henri-Georges Clouzot, best–known for his classic double-crossing mystery Diabolique (1955) and the men transporting a deadly cargo across terrible terrain in Wages of Fear (1953).

Long regarded as one of France’s master filmmakers, there’s a whole canon of work that’s on DVD, and other titles yet to appear on home video, but even those on DVD and Blu-ray still can’t hold up to the experience of seeing a major work on the big screen.

What people choose to see is sometimes based on personal quirks, and within my own preferences, my taste focused on The Mystery of Picasso (1956). Once unavailable anywhere, it was brought back into distribution during the 1980s, and eventually made its way to Pay TV and home video.

The Return of The Exterminator

Just uploaded are reviews for James Glickenhaus’ vigilante Exterminator diptych, although really, it’s best to forget the second film because it barely lives up to the ferocity of the first.

The Exterminator was Glickenhaus’ breakthrough film in many ways: costing a not-too-cheap $2 million, the film earned a healthy profit and established the director as another new independent force, which he slowly parlayed in subsequent action films, and the partnership shingle Shapiro-Glickenhaus Entertainment before retiring from moviemaking in 1994.

A Nightmare on Elm Street, Part II

Zut! Freddie est retourner!

Okay, I'm back from a long stretch finishing up on a 7000 word essay on Rituals (1977), the classic CanCon flick that brought in the forest slasher genre. The essay's been submitted to the editor, so hopefully you'll be able to read it sometime in 2013, when the anthology streets. More details on the book as it emerges.

Now then.

Backlot galore of reviews & stuff, so I'm starting off with Warner Home Video's new Nightmare on Elm Street double-bill on Blu. First up is A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge [M] (1985), aka Freddy is Making Me Like Boys, and I Don't Know What to Do ! which looks great in HD, larded with some of the extras from prior boxed sets.

Cliff Martinez

There was a two-year period where in my car I had a tape containing Cliff Martinez’s scores for Traffic, Solaris [M], and Wicker Park (and weirdly, the suite of themes from Shane Carruth’s Primer, because the cues stylistically fit the mix).

During that chunk of time it wasn’t unusual to have the tape sitting in the deck, playing again, and again, and again.

A friend (fellow vowel brother MRI) once remarked how he too would listen to Martinez’s music, but both of us were pretty fixed on Solaris as being the most haunting, addictive, soothing, and hypnotic.

It’s the best thing Martinez, Steven Soderbergh’s main composer since Sex, Lies, and Videotape, has written, and you just wish someone would let him write more sci-fi / dramatically wrenching music, because his combination of electronic, glass, metal, and orchestral instruments is second to none.

That’s why I jumped at the chance to interview Martinez regarding his latest releases which, alongside Lincoln Lawyer [M], form part of a rare cosmic occurrence: 3 Martinez scores in one year.
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