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domenica 26 dicembre 2010

Remember the night – We’ll do Mitch, we certainly will...




I was just writing in the previous post: this movie should be in any Christmas list of stuff to watch. I decided that it was better to dig a little deeper in this one than continue to list other titles. First of all because it was never available in the digital format before, and thanks to those good guys at TMC it is now, part of the Universal Vault Collection sold exclusively at the TMC shop.
There is a whole bunch of good news here, first the movie looks terrific and has been completely restored and remastered; second the disc features some nice extras and last but not least: it’s a proper pressed dvd and not a burned in house dvd-r like other vault collections on demand (MGM, Warner and Columbia).
Written by Preston Sturges, his last job as a screenwriter before to move on directing his own plays, it features the typical Sturges’ characters, the very ones that made his scripts so unique, alive and truly believable. Even here, the crook (as in The Lady Eve later) is not only evil and the good guy is unconsciously promoting his own agenda with a second thought.
Barbara Stanwyck is a thief, a New York street burglar who fools the salesman of a jewellery with her charm to steal  a valuable bracelet. When she goes to pawn the jewel few blocks down the road she is arrested and brought to trial.
It’s Christmas’ eve and Prosecutor Fred MacMurray is about to leave to visit his mother and his aunt in hometown Indiana. After a successful hearing, he succeeds in  letting Stanwyck arrested; but he’s suddenly moved by this sad thought: she’s gonna spend the holidays in jail. So he manages to bail her out.
Problem is Stanwyck has nowhere to go and the bailer brings her to MacMurray’s house and leaves her there. After a kind of reconciliation meeting, MacMurray offers Stanwyck a lift to go to visit her mother that lives in a place on the road to Indiana…
Directed by Mitchell Leisen, the movie falls short from true greatness, it’s not a masterpiece but a close one. Leisen has not the cinematic rhythm of Sturges’ later films, but he’s able to compensate with strong visuals, and a good looking composition of the takes, all of it due to his previous job as an art director for which he was nominated for an Oscar (Dynamite,1929).
MacMurray and Stanwyck are marvellous, a strong chemistry between the two, that will reunite later for Wilder’s masterpiece Double Indemnity and for Sirk’s wonderful melodrama There’s always tomorrow.
At the end of the road, she’ll understand that crime doesn’t actually pay  and there aren't shortcuts for an easy living. He’ll learn that life is not made only by blacks and whites, there are even some nice, and funny at times, spots for grey.
While remembering in his memoirs the difficulties of penning the script, Sturges told how he was aware of the high risk to deliver a stinker; casualty that he brilliantly avoids with the depth and complexity of the characters and with the ending of the picture. A typical Hollywood end would have killed the whole story and while leaving room for hope, the factual one is no crowd pleaser.
This is a great entertainment for everybody, one that makes you think about what’s important in life and what’s not. A movie that mov(i)es you deeply, smartly touching  the right strings in your heart. And even with bitterness leaves you hoping for a chance for these beloved characters; a chance that should be waiting for all of us, somewhere, somehow. Sturges surely got his, meeting Stanwyck during the shooting, a chance that later on would become one of the best comedies ever made The Lady Eve, with Barbara in the leading role.
I really do hope that new generations of film lovers will embrace this tender picture; it’s a good chance to start to discover Mitchell Leisen’s body of work, that it’s clearly overlooked. I strongly recommend Death takes a holiday  as well, that is now available for the first time in the Universal Vault Series sold exclusively at Amazon.

film mass is ended you may go in peace
The Vikar

venerdì 24 dicembre 2010

It's Christmas eve for Christ's sake...let's watch some movies!!!

Christmas films to be watched. There’s no merit order here, the first is no better than the others and so on, juts a list; I decided to mix the proper Christmas films with the X-mas ones. Your choice what to watch.

- It’s a wonderful life
Capra’s masterpiece is the quintessential Christmas’ flick, and you can't help to fall in love for James Stewart’s character, this movie reach the peak of perfection. (available in a beautiful restored edition on BD)

- White Christmas 
Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, would you ask more for Christmas musical? Yes Irving Berlin as a composer, and here you get it. Michael Curtiz directs this joyous entertainment in splendid Technicolor. My God this man was able to direct musicals, dramas (Casablanca) Swashbuckler adventures (Robin Hood, Captain Blood), noir he did everything with class and quality, can we clone him? (available in a beautiful restored edition on BD)


- Christmas in July
Ok I know, has nothing to do with Christmas, it’s just an excuse to write about Preston Sturges the best comedy, dramedy would be a better definition, writer director that can be matched only by Lubitsch and Wilder. In a 4 years string (40-44) this man directed some of the best films ever made: Sullivan’s travels, The lady Eve, The great McGinty. (He wrote also Remember the night directed by Mitchell Leisen that should be in this list as well, it takes place on Christmas)

- Miracle on 34th street
This a cheerful one, maybe not a masterpiece but it’s Christmas entertainment plain and simple. Everything is just right here, I’m writing about the original of course. George Seaton directs, Edmund Gwenn and Maureen O’Hara give some of  their finest performances.

- Gremlins
Wouldn’t you like to receive as a Christmas present Gizmo? I would, and I bet my daughter as well.
This is the perfect example of classy 50 SF entertainment mixed with new high tech spfx (for the 80’s I mean, but stands up pretty well even now) and Joe Dante’s wonderful sense of black humour. It’s a shame Dante has difficulties to find a proper vehicle for him nowadays, he’s clearly one of the most talented and underrated directors that came out from the late Corman’s factory. 
Instead of Santa here you get nasty creatures, funny and evil at the same time, completely dedicated to spoil your Christmas’ spirit, and to bring you their own concept of  “presents”. If you never saw it, hurry up to the local videostore (if you download it, your pc is gonna be damned forever and burned in hell; what about this Christmas spirit uhm?)

- ‘R Xmas
Abel Ferrara directs this dark tale of loss and no redemption in the jungle streets of New York, following the life of two small scale drug dealers, husband and wife, during Christmas time. While figuring out who’s ratting on ‘em, the husband is kidnapped and the wife has to come up with the money for the ransom.
Ferrara at its best on his own territory, NY underground. I believe few filmmakers have the ability to film and let audience feel NY the way Ferrara does. From his debut: the down and dirty Driller Killer, to the nastiness and angriness of Mrs. 45 (one of my favourites) and the hallucinatory trip of King of NY, Ferrara’s movies are a unique experience of the mind and the body. Movies that leave you a little more dirty deep down in your soul. 


film mass is ended for the moment you may go in peace
The Vikar

mercoledì 22 dicembre 2010

Korean situation getting worse, DMZ a great discovery from KOFA

I was just watching the news and the situation in Korea is gettin' worse. South just announced prolonged military manoeuvres, upsetting North regime even more.
I couldn't help to think about one of the best discovery I made this year: DMZ. Directed by Park Sang Ho
The movie was made in 1965 and thought to be lost for a long time. The running time was 65 minutes,  then expanded to feature lenght to meet requirements of theatrical exhibition. The expanded parts were shot with professional actors while the original 65 mins were kind of cinema veritè using non professional actors. The story follows the adventures of two kids in the DMZ the infamous de militarized zone, a 3 km strip of land that actually divide the north from the south. The movie is exceptionally beautiful, even with few rethoric statements of anti communist propaganda, it tries to stay objective: it's about the devastating impact on the minds of a people now split in two. I think that it was'nt propagandistic enough and failed to find a huge audience at the time of its release. The dvd that you can buy clicking on the director name above (yesasia) features the original shorter version. When the producer was abducted from North Koreans and vanished, the negative stored in his Hong Kong vaults was lost with the shutting down of the company offices. The transfer was made from the only survived 35mm print with english subs burned over. It was a print made for festival circulation. Unfortunately KOFA didn't go through a proper, even if difficult,  restoration and most of all they didn't do a new transfer of the film: the dvd has been encoded from an old analog Betacam sp (Why?) The B/W cinematography holds on well by the way and the 2.35:1 scope framing vividly captures the lanscapes of the DMZ limbo. It's incredible to know that Ho shot the movie entirely on the real location, moving his light crew between the two holding fires.What an ordeal must have been. The dvd is English friendly (like all the KOFA's releases) so it's the booklet included, from which i got all these infos.
This movie is a unique experience and a painful one, but clearly one that deserves your attention, clearly one not to be missed.

film mass is ended you may go in peace
The Vikar

Kinoglazorama auctions on ebay.

just to let you know that we have for sale a lot of rare stuff on ebay.

we do sell rare dvd editions, import, soundtracks etc.
books and posters and everything regarding movies.


just visit:http://myworld.ebay.com/kinoglazorama

film mass is ended you may go in peace
The Vikar

Alien 2 on earth - Alien 2 sulla terra on Blu Disc

This is a spectacular edition of a minor Italian SF exploitation; not even available in its own native country on dvd; so kudos to the guys who were able to rescue it from the obscure vault in which it was kept 'till now. 
Just throw away bootlegs or unlicit european imports and make room for this one.
I remember I saw it in a packed third grade movie house back in the day. It was a sunny sunday at the first show and everybody was laughing and screaming hard, specially gypsies (the movie house was close to a nearby camp). Everybody fell for the Alien sequel, I knew it was a fake made here in Italy and I went just for the fun of the show. They don't do silly like these anymore, now they pretend to be art. I just caught a glimpse of the BD in my 2K movie theater and it looked very good. I don't remember the movie looking this good even at the mentioned show. It was indeed released in third grade theaters, but the flick did ok at the BO. Those were the times in which Italians  were pretty good at ripping off overseas hits, two locations and  the support of the local butcher were more than enough to deliver a marketable horror product. It's still amazing  nowadays, how they managed to get the title Alien 2 and avoid being sued by Fox.
Great job from Midnight Legacy hope they're gonna do more.
film mass is ended you may go in peace
The Vikar