Sunday, November 30, 2014

Top Ten DVDs from other specialty companies.

Again, in no specific order:
1. DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN--Susan Seidelman's time capsule of NYC mid-80s Hip--Kino Lorber
2. DARK CITY 1950 noir starring Charlton Heston later reworked into Henry Hathaway's 1968 Western 
3. TWILIGHT'S LAST GLEAMING--late-period Robert Aldrich thriller with Burt Lancaster--Olive Films
4. THE PROWLER--UCLA restoration of classic film noir directed by Joseph Losey with Van Heflin and Evelyn Keyes--VCI
5. BLUE COLLAR--out-of-print issue of Paul Schrader's working-men's heist film with Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel and Yaphet Kotto--Anchor Bay
6. THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT--Limited Blu-ray issue of heist film with character and humor from pre-epic-era Michael Cimino starring Clint Eastwood, Jeff Bridges and George Kennedy--Twilight Time
7. THE HIRED HAND--also out-of-print from Anchor Bay; Peter Fonda's 1971 Western (mismarketed as a conventional actioner by Universal) co-starring Verna Bloom, Warren Oates and Severn Darden.
8. MIKE'S MURDER--1983 modern L.A. noir directed by James Bridges with Debra Winger, Mark Keyloun, Darrell Larson and Paul Winfield--Warner Bros. Archive Collection (Print-on-Demand DVD)
9. DON'T LOOK BACK--the legendary D.A. Pennebaker concert film with Bob Dylan (DocuRama/NewVideo)
10. HIGHWAY PATROLMAN aka EL PATRULLERO--amorality play about decent Mexican cop surrounded by corruption ties with REPO MAN as maverick director Alex Cox's masterpiece (Microcinema)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

My Criterion Top 10.

In no specific order, here are the Top 10 films I've seen which were released by the boutique classic-and-contemporary film DVD/streaming-via-Hulu Plus imprint Criterion:

1. BAND OF OUTSIDERS (director: Jean-Luc Godard)
2. THE THIRD MAN (director: Carol Reed--out of print but worth finding)
3. PEEPING TOM (director: Michael Powell)
4. BLACK NARCISSUS (directors: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger)
5. A HARD DAY'S NIGHT (director: Richard Lester)
6. PLAYTIME (director: Jacques Tati; currently available as part of the Tati boxset)
7. TWO-LANE BLACKTOP (director: Monte Hellman)
8. DAYS OF HEAVEN (director: Terrence Malick)
9. BREATHLESS (director: Jean-Luc Godard)
10. THE LAST WAVE (director: Peter Weir)

Honorable Mention (UPDATED 7/3/16): RED DESERT (director: Michelangelo Antonioni), CONTEMPT (director Jean-Luc Godard), SOMETHING WILD (director: Jonathan Demme), BLOW OUT (director: Brian De Palma), DAZED AND CONFUSED (director: Richard Linklater), BADLANDS (director: Terrence Malick), VIDEODROME (director: David Cronenberg), THE SEVENTH SEAL (director: Ingmar Bergman), PERSONA (director: Ingmar Bergman), NAKED LUNCH (director: David Cronenberg), HEAVEN'S GATE (director: Michael Cimino), GIMME SHELTER (directors: The Maysles Brothers), DR. STRANGELOVE (director: Stanley Kubrick)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

London's GUARDIAN on Ferguson.

"The flames of Monday night’s unrest were manufactured, but not by media. They were stoked for hours, by McCulloch, who riled up the crowds needlessly until night fell; they were fueled for days, by Missouri governor Jay Nixon, who whipped up hysteria with his pre-emptive “state of emergency” and his calling-in of the National Guard. The flames were fanned for hundreds of years, by the white supremacy and structural racism that have wreaked economic, physical, psychological and spiritual violence upon black Americans for centuries."

Article in its entirety:http://www.

Monday, November 24, 2014


after the topsoil of alleged drugs,
alleged rape of unconscious victims,
and the awakenings and discoveries,
we now dig into the next level
of celebrity sediment:
talent and modeling agencies
supplying bodies to use-and-discard,
plus employees to run celebrity errands--
hold the great man's cigar
block the dressing room door
when "interviews" take place
find housing for mistresses
keep the great man's name
off the checks and money orders
excitement wears off
and the weariness of doing grubby chores
then the fear of being fired
by the no-longer-great man who once gave you
a personally signed photo
repeated by nervous interviewers
on separate occasions
as Bill scowls and thunders:
enjoyed the first BILL COSBY SHOW
with Bill as easygoing coach Chet Kincaid
as well as the first two or three years
before it grew smug and self-satisfied
liked to go to the Playboy Jazz Festival
when Cosby was the MC
and admired what he did for jazz
at the festival and on TV as well
fast-forward a few years
to when Ennis Cosby was murdered
and I gave money to the HELLO FRIEND charity
formed in his memory
cut to a few years later,
when Bill Cosby had his
maybe-or-maybe-not daughter
(by a woman who wasn't his wife Camille)
jailed for extortion
that was cold, I thought
even colder when Plutocrat Bill
started telling poor and middle-class people
way too frigid for me--
and for Hannibal Buress too
someday, I'll be tempted to watch Bill Cosby
in something he acted in three to four decades ago
or revisit an old stand-up routine on YouTube
and I'll try to compartmentalize
he could be a fine actor and funny storyteller
when he wasn't preoccupied
with grinding people's lives
into topsoil

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bill Cosby, public and private.

Excerpted from a late-90s interview with Jamie Foxx (conducted by Neil Gladstone) for PHILADELPHIA CITYPAPER:

Have you spoken with Bill Cosby since he criticized Booty Call?
Yeah, I did. He was like [does Cosby voice]: "I know what they're tryin' ta get ya ta do, 'cause they had me do some things that wasn't so cool." He had good things to say and I understood where he was coming from. But it did get under my skin a bit when he went toNewsweek before telling me. He didn't have to single out Booty Call; there were a million movies that came out [that were just as bad], but he decided to pick on that one because it was a little sucessful. My point to him was, "Hey, we're comedians, this is what we do." I saw Mother, Jugs & Speed. I saw Leonard Part 6 where they had him riding an ostrich. Cosby had good points: one should strive to do better things. At the same time you've got to take what you can get to get to where you want to go.
Daily Mail Online article referring to Bill Cosby's recent sort-of-authorized biography:

11/19/14: Cosby's Robert Townsend-directed NETFLIX BILL COSBY 77 is pulled and the NBC sitcom development deal canceled according to Bill Carter of THE NEW YORK TIMES:

CNN talks to Cosby's sort-of-authorized biographer as to why he wouldn't write about the rape allegations (excerpt below and full article at plus on-air interview with THE HUFINGTON POST:
As Mark Whitaker's recent Cosby biography makes clear, the man has his demons. He had affairs while on the road and there have been bumps in his long marriage to his wife, Camille.
But Whitaker, a former CNN managing editor, told CNN that he didn't feel comfortable airing the rape allegations.
"Basically, I knew that I was going to have to be very careful in what I said about his private life. I felt that way as a journalist and also for legal reasons," he said in an interview about the biography.
"In the case of these other allegations, basically because there were no definitive court findings, no independent witnesses, it didn't meet my standard for what I was going to put in the book."
"I also was very aware that if I just did a she said-he said, and I printed allegations and denials without my own independent reporting, first of all it's not really in the spirit in the book, but also every person who then reviewed or reported on the book would be free to repeat those unconfirmed allegations just because they were in my book. And I just didn't feel comfortable being responsible for that."
Still, the rape allegations are always just a mouse click away.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The morning after the 2014 Midterms.

Boldly stating what most progressives/liberals/sort-of-left-of-centers don't want to hear:
It made no difference whether or not the Democrats held onto the Senate.
The President is a mild, Wall Street loving, confrontation-averse centrist who capitulates to the Right instead of governing in the fashion of Great Society era LBJ (omitting Vietnam from this assessment).
As Bill Richardson mentioned last night, expect more Executive Orders in terms of policy implementation.
And, perhaps, the ultimate Obama capitulation is on the way: approving the Keystone XL pipeline.
And, also, more Endless War to be passed onto the next occupant of the Oval Office.
Finally, expect to hear the words "We don't have the votes" even more often.

P.S.: A special mention of those Democrats (Allison Lundergan Grimes in particular) who couldn't and wouldn't stand up for the positive policy changes that actually occurred during the previous six years (namely health care).

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A few words on NIGHTCRAWLER.

Adapted from post-viewing impressions I left on Twitter last night:
NIGHTCRAWLER **1/2 of ****. Sometimes effective, other times cartoonish story of garrulous sociopath/self-made TV news cameraman. NIGHTCRAWLER is what a collaboration between Paddy Chayefsky, Barry Levinson and Joel Schumacher might have looked like--NETWORK, JIMMY HOLLYWOOD and FALLING DOWN all mashed together. To be fair to writer/director Dan Gilroy, NIGHTCRAWLER can be spot on as a study in LA desperation and amorality, but also too comfy with easy cynicism--notably its finale.