Authority Is the Child of Obedience

Are human beings inherently cruel or do we learn cruelty by example? Does our genetic makeup dictate our personalities at birth or are we shaped by numerous circumstances including our environments and upbringing? To borrow the title of a current popular song, are we “born this way” or are we more complex creatures than our … Continue reading Authority Is the Child of Obedience

Fighting Prejudice with Sidney Poitier

2013 has quietly developed into a groundbreaking year for black actors and directors. Steve McQueen’s 12 YEARS A SLAVE starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ryan Coogler’s FRUITVALE STATION starring Michael B. Jordan and Lee Daniels’ THE BUTLER starring Forest Whitaker are all possible Oscar contenders for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor while Idris Elba’s performance in MANDELA: A … Continue reading Fighting Prejudice with Sidney Poitier

THE BRUTAL TRUTH: Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (2013)

On Sunday many will be glued to their television sets watching the annual Oscar ceremony unfold. At this time of year I tend to contemplate all the new releases I’ve seen in the past 12 months and linger over the films that have captured my imagination, awed me, inspired me, or just made me think … Continue reading THE BRUTAL TRUTH: Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (2013)

MY MELANCHOLY VALENTINE: DANS PARIS (2006)

Love is complicated. Some see it as a priceless gift or blessing while others describe it as an unshakeable disease. It can be comforting, enriching, elevating, thrilling and divine. It can also be messy, unruly, feral, ferocious and cruel, particularly if you are suffering from acute depression. In Dans Paris aka In Paris (2006), French filmmaker Christophe Honoré (Ma … Continue reading MY MELANCHOLY VALENTINE: DANS PARIS (2006)

Discussing THE DEVILS (1971) with Kevin Flanagan

Kevin M. Flanagan received his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in 2015 in English/Film studies (his dissertation: The British War Film, 1939-1980: Culture, History, and, Genre). A book based on this project is under contract with Palgrave (part of the Britain and the World series). Flanagan is also the editor of 2009’s Ken Russell: Re-Viewing England’s Last … Continue reading Discussing THE DEVILS (1971) with Kevin Flanagan

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 … Continue reading STRANGER THAN FICTION: THE BARON OF ARIZONA (1949)

Donald Ogden Stewart: Katharine Hepburn’s Secret Weapon in KEEPER OF THE FLAME (1943)

You may not recognize Donald Ogden Stewart’s name but if you are a classic film fan you’re probably familiar with his work. Stewart’s ability to write snappy dialogue and adapt popular plays for the screen made him one of the highest paid screenwriters in Hollywood during the 1930s and 1940s. And throughout his career, Stewart … Continue reading Donald Ogden Stewart: Katharine Hepburn’s Secret Weapon in KEEPER OF THE FLAME (1943)

Survival Instincts: THE INSECT WOMAN (1963)

THE INSECT WOMAN (’63) is not easy viewing. Shôhei Imamura’s film recounts the hard-fought life of Tome (Sachiko Hidari), a fatherless peasant woman born into abject poverty in rural Japan. Beginning with her birth in 1918 and concluding sometime after WWII, the film takes place over three turbulent decades in which Tome faces sexual abuse … Continue reading Survival Instincts: THE INSECT WOMAN (1963)

December at the Movie Morlocks

Links to my December 2014 posts at the TCM's Movie Morlocks: Holiday Greetings from The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come! Excerpt: "Dickens’ novella was first conceived as a political pamphlet designed to arouse the public’s compassion for the plight of the poor but to his credit, the writer realized his strength was in storytelling … Continue reading December at the Movie Morlocks

The Strawberry Statement (1970)

Stuart Hagmann’s THE STRAWBERRY STATEMENT (1970) is often dismissed today as a dated relic of the early ‘70s. During its initial release it was singled out for being exploitive and failing to be a straightforward adaptation of the book it was based on. Many critics claimed that Stuart Hagmann’s direction was erratic and too creative for its own good, which supposedly diminished the film’s political message. When I recently set aside some time to watch THE STRAWBERRY STATEMENT I prepared myself for the worst. I expected to see a confusing, opportunistic, dated and laughable Hollywood film made to cash in on the political zeitgeist of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. But I came away from the movie with an entirely different opinion and immediately understood why it had been nominated for a Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1970 and walked away with a Jury Prize.

KEN RUSSELL: IN HIS OWN WORDS

Controversial film director Ken Russell passed away suddenly this week at the age of 84. Russell has long been considered the bad boy of British cinema or the original ‘enfant terrible’ of the empire, but for almost as long as I can remember he’s been one of my favorite filmmakers. I was introduced to his … Continue reading KEN RUSSELL: IN HIS OWN WORDS

Jacqueline Susann’s Love Machine (1971)

I recently got the chance to review the Warner Archive DVD release of THE LOVE MACHINE (1971) based on Jacqueline "Valley of the Dolls" Susann's book and naturally I jumped at the opportunity. I've mentioned the film at Cinebeats before during my farewell post to John Phillip Law, which was written after he passed away … Continue reading Jacqueline Susann’s Love Machine (1971)

Modern Mondays: A History of Violence (2005)

It seems like everywhere I turn someone is talking or writing about the recent Comic Book Convention that is held in San Diego every year. It used to be an event only attended by comic book fans and various industry insiders, but it has exploded into some kind of massive media event attended by anyone … Continue reading Modern Mondays: A History of Violence (2005)