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. Continue reading The Strawberry Statement (1970)
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 work as a young pre-teen in the late 1970s after … Continue reading KEN RUSSELL: IN HIS OWN WORDS
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 in 2008. I think it’s a great film so I … Continue reading Jacqueline Susann’s Love Machine (1971)
I first saw Servando González’s 1965 film The Fool Killer (aka El asesino de tontos) almost twenty years ago and it’s haunted me ever since. The film features Anthony Perkins in one of his best roles and I got the urge to watch it again last year while I was obsessing over Perkins’ music career. For some unknown reason The Fool Killer isn’t available on … Continue reading The Fool Killer (1965)
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 and everyone. When did comic books become so acceptable? I suppose it was the onslaught of popular comic book films in recent years that has made the general public and every working film critic take notice. As someone who worked in a comic book shop throughout most of the 1990s for minimum wage, I find this sudden interest in the events at Comic-Con extremely amusing. It’s also great for the business, which has struggled to gain legitimacy for years. Comic books are now making a lot of people a lot of money. And money makes critics and cultural pundits take notice.
One of my favorite comic-to-film adaptations in the last 10 years is David Cronenberg’s 2005 film A History of Violence, which was based on a little known comic collection or “graphic novel” published by DC Comics under their Paradox Press banner. The comic book was written by John Wagner and illustrated by one of my favorite working comic book artists, Vince Locke (Deadworld, American Freak: A Tale of the Un-Men, etc). Although Cronenberg’s film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, few people seem aware of the fact that this critically acclaimed film was based on a comic book. And although Wagner’s original story is rather simplistic and only skims the surface of the rich murky depths that Cronenberg was able to mine, I think it makes an interesting companion piece to the film.
Since I’m still running on limited free time I decided to share a few choice quotes from one of my favorite reviews of A History of Violence that was written by one of my favorite authors, the late great J. G. Ballard. Ballard is a brilliant writer and he worked with David Cronenberg on the film adaptation of his own novel Crash (1996). In Ballard’s excellent review of the film he sums up exactly why A History of Violence is such a great film and one of my favorite movies of the last decade. What follows are a few choice excerpts from Ballard’s review.
My favorite Diana Ross film is coming to DVD on May 1st and I’m really looking forward to it! Mahogany (1975) is classic seventies-style camp that features some of the decade’s most awe inspiring fashions and great over-the-top performances. If you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing Mahogany for yourself, you’re in for a real treat and for its long time fans, all I can … Continue reading Mahogany On DVD!