NIPPON NOIR: I AM WAITING (1957)

In recent years I’ve seen a critical push to apply familiar terms like Film Noir to all manner of Japanese crime films made during the 1950s and 1960s. The term has even been applied to the culturally specific Sun Tribe films (please see my previous post that discusses Sun Tribe films) as well as Pink Films of an adult nature and the more experimental and … Continue reading NIPPON NOIR: I AM WAITING (1957)

Everyone’s Gone Crazy: VIOLENT COP (1989)

“Beat” Takeshi Kitano has been making headlines recently. Late last year the 70-year-old Japanese filmmaker, actor, author and entertainer was awarded France’s coveted Legion of Honor for his contribution to contemporary arts while film retrospectives in New York and Rio de Janeiro, along with a spate of fresh Blu-ray releases from Film Movement and Third Window Films, have spawned renewed interest in his work. Kitano … Continue reading Everyone’s Gone Crazy: VIOLENT COP (1989)

GUN AND SWORD: AN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF JAPANESE GANGSTER FILMS 1955-1980

I first became familiar with Chris D.’s (Dejardins) writing in the early 1990s thanks to his work for a small-press magazine (or zine) called Asian Trash Cinema. At the time I was utterly obsessed with Japanese pop culture and history and for a 10 year period roughly between 1991-2001 I spent many of my weekends in San Francisco’s Japantown where I’d rent movies and anime … Continue reading GUN AND SWORD: AN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF JAPANESE GANGSTER FILMS 1955-1980

Jewel Thieves & Giant Monsters: DOGORA (1964)

After reading and writing about Peter H. Brothers’ book Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men: The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda recently I was motivated to watch Dogora (1964), which is one of Honda’s lesser-known films and one that I hadn’t had the opportunity to see yet. I’m not sure how I managed to overlook this little gem involving a giant jellyfish from outer space with … Continue reading Jewel Thieves & Giant Monsters: DOGORA (1964)

Bad Movie Mothers We Love to Hate

TCM is celebrating Mother’s Day (Note: this was originally published in 2014) with a great program of classic films showcasing notable mothers. While looking over Sunday’s line-up I was surprised to spot NOW, VOYAGER (1942), which features Gladys Cooper as the incredibly cold and domineering mother of Bette Davis. Cooper won an Oscar nomination for her memorable performance and went on to play another overbearing mother … Continue reading Bad Movie Mothers We Love to Hate

Bigotry & Bloodshed: SAPPHIRE (1959)

A beautiful young woman named Sapphire (Yvonne Buckingham) has been murdered. Her bloodied corpse was found in London’s Hampstead Heath park. A seasoned detective (Nigel Patrick) and his young partner (Michael Craig) are called on to investigate the case but as they try to piece together the puzzle of this post-war whodunit the mystery only deepens. Behind her tweed skirts and pale complexion, Sapphire was … Continue reading Bigotry & Bloodshed: SAPPHIRE (1959)

GORDON PARKS: FILMMAKER, PHOTOGRAPHER & RENAISSANCE MAN

“Something mighty there is inside a man that takes him from being the youngest of 15 children raised in Kansas poverty, something that lets him clear the cruel hurdles implanted by a racist society, something that permits not merely survival but mastery of all that he embraced. A poet, and a pianist, a classical music composer, and one very at home with the blues, which … Continue reading GORDON PARKS: FILMMAKER, PHOTOGRAPHER & RENAISSANCE MAN

EQUAL SHARES FOR ALL: THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN (1960)

The League of Gentlemen (1960) contains one of my favorite moments from postwar British cinema; a group of ex-soldiers carrying submachine guns plow through London’s narrow streets with their faces concealed behind gas masks. Instead of dodging an attack they are preparing to rob a bank and their military uniforms have been replaced by civilian clothing. These masked figures are the stuff of nightmares and … Continue reading EQUAL SHARES FOR ALL: THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN (1960)

LOSEY LET LOOSE: THE CRIMINAL (1960)

While looking through the collection of Joseph Losey films currently available to stream on FilmStruck I was inspired to revisit The Criminal a.k.a. Concrete Jungle (1960), a low-budget British crime thriller about an underworld kingpin named Johnny Bannion (Stanley Baker) who organizes a high-stakes robbery that goes terribly wrong. When he finds himself behind bars a second time, Bannion has to rely on his brawn, … Continue reading LOSEY LET LOOSE: THE CRIMINAL (1960)

STRANGER THAN FICTION: THE BARON OF ARIZONA (1949)

“In the movie business, a good ending must sometimes hold sway over the truth.” – Samuel Fuller, A Third Face: My Tale of Writing, Fighting, and Filmmaking Before Samuel Fuller wrote and directed his own films he was a gutsy go-getting newspaperman. Fuller first worked at the New York Journal as a copyboy and eventually graduated to the role of crime reporter for the New York Evening Graphic, a … Continue reading STRANGER THAN FICTION: THE BARON OF ARIZONA (1949)