The rise of video-on-demand services like Netflix and dedicated cable-TV channels has created a new industry in low-budget B-movies
; meet Asylum Films
, an outfit in California following in the footsteps of historical B-movie auteurs like Roger Corman, Menahem Golan and Uwe Boll, with films with titles like Sharknado
, Sex Pot
and Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies
. Asylum's new B-movies are made quickly and cheaply to ride the coattails of the big studios' fads, filling gaps in the market for more films about, say, adorable puppies, alien battleships or apocalypses. The films are made to a strict formula, are played entirely seriously, with no hint of irony or knowingness, and are designed primarily to pad out rental lists and appeal to recommendation engines, though the producers point out that often mainstream Hollywood fare is often no less hackneyed and formulaic. (Previously...
posted by acb
on Jul 12, 2013 -
Music review site Pitchfork
has branched out. Today marks the debut of The Dissolve
, which will be dedicated to film. With talent
acquired from Slate, NPR and the AV Club, the website is starting with a high pedigree.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI
on Jul 10, 2013 -
There are many subjects that will get people mad on the internet, but in cinephile circles, the reddest flag is aspect ratio
. Ever since the bad old practice of pan and scan
was abandoned, DVD and Blu-Ray releases have tried to echo the widescreen aspect ratio that a film was released in, but that's often very hard
to get right
. Most recently, the Blu-Ray reissue of Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon resulted in prolonged arguing
and triumphant research
. How did things get so confused? Filmmaker John Hess is here to explain, with an extensive and excellent history of aspect ratios
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard
on Jul 5, 2013 -
"If I had to conduct an experiment that would give an insight into neorealism, I'd build a time machine and travel to Italy, circa 1952. I'd ask Vittorio De Sica to make a film using Hollywood actors like Montgomery Clift and Jennifer Jones. I'd then team De Sica up with a Hollywood producer, the kind that liked to impose his will and sensibility onto a film—someone like David O Selznick. In bringing these two worlds of cinema together, I'd hope for a clash of sensibilities so great that it would result in two cuts of the same film, one by De Sica and the other by Selznick. I would run these two films side by side and examine each cut, and in the difference I would find something to say about the essence of neorealism."
Sight & Sound magazine's excellent video essay 'What is neorealism?' compares Terminal Station to Indiscretion of an American Wife.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED
on Jun 25, 2013 -
) hilariously carries on the tradition of MST3k. And though the premise is much the same as before, the Rifftrax folks have added something new: MP3 Commentaries. Instead of confining themselves to public domain and titles whose rights are easy to procure, they do commentaries on hollywood blockbusters in audio form only. People then can sync them up to their own DVDs of these films and sit back to experience riffing on the likes of Nicholas Cage instead of John Agar. This is great for home viewing, but what about their live shows? Then someone came up with an idea. [more inside]
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI
on Jun 24, 2013 -
When it comes to unappealing couples that have been featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, Arch Hall Jr. and Marilyn Manning are near the top of the heap. Their appearance in Eegah
provided rich fodder for Joel and the bots. And yet, only one year after the release of Eegah
, Hall and Manning would find themselves together again in radically different roles. [more inside]
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI
on Jun 17, 2013 -
The Vampires, a secret federation of thieves and killers, rule the Paris underworld through intimidation, murder, and a certain diabolic je ne sais quoi. After the headless body of the police inspector in charge of the Vampire investigation turns up in a swamp, dauntless reporter Philipe Guérande steps up his efforts to bring the gang to justice. But is he equal to the schemes of the protean Grand Vampire and his lieutenant, the cat burglar, assassin, and sometime torch singer called Irma Vep? And can anyone hope to prevail against the rogue criminal Moréno and the unearthly power of his gaze?Les Vampires
(1915-1916), Louis Feuillade's
six and a half hour film serial, still communicates the nerve, pace, and delirium that inspired Lang, Hitchcock, Assayas and Maddin. Here are all ten episodes
of this "supreme delight of cinema."
Three more of Feuillade's best serials wait below the cut. [more inside]
posted by Iridic
on May 31, 2013 -
Do you turn off Old Yeller before the end so you can pretend that he lived a long and happy life? Did a cute pet on a movie poster make you think it would be a fun comedy but it turned out to be a pet-with-a-terminal-illness tearjerker instead? Are you unable to enjoy the human body count in a horror movie because you're wondering whether the dog's going to kick the bucket? Have you ever Googled "Does the [dog/cat/horse/Klingon targ] die in [movie title]?"
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then welcome - DoestheDogDie.com
is here for you! [more inside]
posted by jedicus
on May 29, 2013 -
, American author, journalist, critic and expert on Japan, dies at 88.
Smilingly excluded here in Japan, politely stigmatised, I can from my angle attempt only objectivity, since my subjective self will not fit the space I am allotted . . . how fortunate I am to occupy this niche with its lateral view. In America I would be denied this place. I would live on the flat surface of a plain. In Japan, from where I am sitting, the light falls just right – I can see the peaks and valleys, the crags and crevasses.
-- from The Japan Journals, 1947-2004 [more inside]
posted by Ice Cream Socialist
on Feb 19, 2013 -
The Q&A With Jeff Goldsmith
is an irregularly released podcast where Mr. Goldsmith interviews, at length (each episode runs an hour or more), working Hollywood and foreign screenwriters. The most recent episode is a panel conversation with the year's Oscar-nominated screenwriters. You can listen to the podcasts on his site or subscribe in iTunes or on Android.
Goldsmith is also the publisher of the terrific screenwriting magazine Backstory
--currently only available for the iPad but coming (eventually) to the web and Android. You can download the first issue (which is wonderful, and contains full length scripts along with the interviews and stories) for free.
posted by dobbs
on Feb 7, 2013 -
At a time when the Lord of the Rings didn't exist as a film or
a book trilogy, Fritz Lang created the 5-hour-long film Die Nibelungen
(The Nibelungs, 1924), based on the 13th-century poem Die Nibelungenlied (The Song of the Nibelungs). A short clip of
Siegfried slaying the dragon
was used as a trailer for the restored edition of the film. [more inside]
posted by ersatz
on Feb 3, 2013 -
"There are reasons why this film is obscure. It is, in the most charitable possible evaluation, a mess: Bowie has described it as "my 32 Elvis films rolled into one." And yet life on that ever-dwindling island of not-on-region-one DVD films is a harsh fate for any film and particularly for this one, which is at least as interesting as its cast suggests and a good deal more. You don't need to dig out the VHS player to watch Mick Jagger run an agency of gigolos in The Man From Elysian Fields—you shouldn't have to do so to watch Bowie play one. " David Bowie's Lost 70s-era Weimar Berlin Movie: Just a Gigalo.
posted by The Whelk
on Feb 2, 2013 -
"Japanese cinema’s preeminent taboo buster, Nagisa Oshima
directed, between 1959 and 1999, more than twenty groundbreaking features. For Oshima, film was a form of activism, a way of shaking up the status quo. Uninterested in the traditional Japanese cinema of such popular filmmakers as Kurosawa, Ozu, and Naruse, Oshima focused not on classical themes of good and evil or domesticity but on outcasts, gangsters, murderers, rapists, sexual deviants, and the politically marginalized." The great Japanese director Nagisa Oshima
passed away at the age of 80 last week. Appreciations from the Guardian
, NY Times
, AV Club
, and a few in-depth articles over at Senses of Cinema
and Film Comment
posted by HumanComplex
on Jan 25, 2013 -
Between Peter Jackson’s penchant for cartoonish unserious gore and Bob McCarron’s off-screen makeup effects manipulations,
Braindead achieves something that approaches inspired genius in the heretofore unknown artform of human carnage. The film is filled with moments of joyous slapstick tableaux... And then there is that moment where
Braindead finally breaks through to achieve a transcendentally surreal glory of excess where Tim Balme wades into battle against the zombies armed with a lawnmower, drenching an entire room in showers of blood. (
Braindead holds the record for the greatest amount of artificial blood ever used in a film). The film is a work of perverse genius.
- Richard Scheib
posted by Egg Shen
on Dec 8, 2012 -