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Webliography:     Title/Subject/Author

NEW ESSAYS!

 

1118) The Harvey Girls/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  The age of Hollywood musicals at their height was dead smack in the middle of the 20th Century- the 1940s and 1950s. And no American actor, director, nor composer was more readily associated with that subgenre of film than Judy Garland. Often dubbed ĎThe Greatest Entertainer In The World,í there were few who could argue the claim. She was a great actress, a great dancer, and, most of all, a great singer. In fact, she was likely the greatest female recording artist of the 20th Century....

 

Ok.

 

1119) 5 Illusion Documentaries/Film Reviews/Dan Schneider  I recently watched five documentaries online, and all of them were predicated on some form of illusion that either the subjects or the filmmakers held. They were Requiem For The Big East; Ainít In It For My Health: A Film About Levon Helm; Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me; Beltracchi: The Art Of Forgery; and Dinosaur 13....

 

Eh....

 

1120) 5 Docs on Jesus and Sex/Film Reviews/Dan Schneider  I recently watched five documentaries online, and all of them were about extremes of American stupidity and narcissism, in the forms of religion and sex. They were American Jesus; Orgasm, Inc.; Hot Girls Wanted; The Final Member; and Do I Sound Gay?....

 

Not good.

 

1121) 5 Odd Folks Documentaries/Film reviews/Dan Schneider  I recently watched five documentaries online, and all of them were on people who were odd or who led odd lives, of one sort or another. They were A League of Ordinary Gentlemen, When Jews Were Funny, 180 Degrees South, Happy People: A Year in the Taiga, and Chariots Of The Gods. The first film was a documentary on the fall of pro bowling from the American landscape and the vain attempts to resurrect it. The film is A League of Ordinary Gentlemen. Directed by Christopher and Alex Browne....

 

Ugh.

 

1122) Dr. No/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  In a wistful mood, and coming across a super steal on Amazon for the 2 Disk Ultimate Editions of the first 20 James Bond films, from Eon Productions, I decided to plunge in, and write a film by film review and retrospective of the films and DVD features. Being born in 1965, the Bond that I really grew up with (and loved) was Roger Mooreís witty version....

 

Classic film fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1001) Mad Men/Season 5/Dan Schneider  Just a week or two before AMC’s hit 1960s era soap opera, Mad Men, started its 6th season, its 5th season was finally released to stream on Netflix. While still a good show, in comparison to most of the dreck that fills the several hundred channels of relentless ‘content’ driven cable television, the 5th season was a definite drop in quality from the first four seasons. And nowhere is this more obvious than in the season’s first four anomic episodes. Literally, in these episodes, the characters just stand around and act like the caricatures they verge on becoming....

 

Solid.

 

1002) Red Beard/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  One of the fascinating things about Japanese director Akira Kurosawa is that, more than any other director one can think of, he made great or near-great films in ways that were as different from each other as many of the films of other directors are from each other. From the incisive existentialism of High And Low to the innovations and stylistic influence of Rashomon to the historical action epopee of Seven Samurai to the novelistic depths of Kagemusha and Ran to the searing noirish political critique of The Bad Sleep Well to the comic extravaganza of The Hidden Fortress to the action virtuosity of Throne Of Blood to the mix of violence and comedy in Yojimbo and Sanjuro to the innovative format and humanistic depths of Ikiru, there is simply no other filmmaker I’ve ever seen that so defies pegging into a corner with a claim such as ‘that’s a typical Kurosawa film.’....

 

Great.

 

1003) William Shatner/Film Reviews/Dan Schneider  I recently watched 2 documentaries featuring actor William Shatner, and his long and varied career in acting and other arts. They were The Captains And William Shatner’s Gonzo Ballet. The Captains is a 2011 film directed by Shatner himself, wherein he serves as the interviewer of the five actors who succeeded him in roles as captains of the Star Trek universe positions. Aside from Shatner, who kicked off the craze as Captain James T. Kirk, in the original Star Trek....

 

Good.

 

1004) Everything For Sale/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  Most artworks that are made to honor someone tend to be mediocre, at best, and embarrassingly bad, at worst. The 1969 film, Everything For Sale (Wszystko Na Sprzedaz), by Andrzej Wajda, falls somewhere in the middle. It tries to do similar things as such self-conscious and self-reflexive films as Federico Fellini’s 8½, Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories, but does not succeed. Rather, it falls between lesser efforts like Francois Truffaut’s Day For Night and Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York. In short, it’s a film that tries to honor the memory of a dead actor, Zbigniew Cybulski....

 

So-so.

 

1005) Being There/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  Hal Ashby made a series of quirky films in the 1970s that were highly regarded, then succumbed to a drug addiction and died before the 1980s were through. The most famous of these were Harold And Maude, Shampoo, Coming Home, and Being There....

 

Good.

 

1006) The Ends Of The Earth/Film Review/Dan Schneider  American filmmaker John Grabowska has, in the last decade, become both the foremost nature documentarian of his country, and American public television’s natural yin to Ken and Ric Burn’s historical yang, in the field of documentary films. His list of excellence has been detailed in reviews of his prior works by my wife Jessica, and they include....

 

Great.

 

1007) Osaka Elegy/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  Osaka Elegy (Naniwa Erejii) is an early black and white film from the canon of Kenji Mizoguchi, one of the Big Three Film Masters from Japan, along with Yasujiro Ozu and Akira Kurosawa. Released in 1936, this 71 minute long early sound film has some good moments but is filled with unsure technique. Compared to later Mizoguchi masterpieces like Sansho The Bailiff and Ugetsu, this is like watching a sketch of greater things to come, a Protoceratops vs. a Triceratops. It was also the director’s first critical and commercial success....

 

Good.

 

1008) Two Family Documentaries/Film Reviews/Dan Schneider  Being able to flip through genres and subjects on Netflix is an interesting experience because it allows one to slake the mood one is in at a given moment. So it was when, one recent afternoon, I happened upon two documentaries with a similar theme: the dysfunctions of the documentarian’s immediate family. The two films were Brother Born Again and Bigger, Stronger, Faster: The Side Effects Of Being American, and the latter film was significantly better than the former....

 

Ok.

 

1009) Prostate Cancer & Heroes/Essay/Dan Schneider  “I woke up this morning and found myself dead.” Just one of the more clever ways I thought to start off this essay about my recent brush with prostate cancer. A close pun to a well known blues and rock song from some decades ago, but, then I thought, no, perhaps go the Woody Allen route: “A man sticks a finger up your ass and says, ‘I feel something.’ The temptation is great to respond with the exact same declaration.”....

 

Yes!

 

1010) 56 Up/Film Review/Dan Schneider  Watching Michael Apted’s latest installment in the great The Up Series- whose films he’s all directed, save the first, helmed by Paul Almond, 56 Up, sees a film that, at 144 minutes, is the longest yet in the documentary series, and is an exercise in expectation and disappointment. One expects the familiar, because the bunch of British people profiled for nearly half a century are everymen, despite their protests and pronouncements to the contrary, and disappointment for their supposed promise gone south is inevitable. They are average- at times, teeth-gnashingly and painfully average; to the point of not even really understanding how average they are. They protest, often, that the film distorts them, but, when allowed to opine on their depth, they offer none, and one doubts that Apted is deliberately making a mockery of them....

 

Still great!

 

1011)  Philip K. Dick/The Penultimate Truth/Dan Schneider  Watching Philip K. Dick: The Penultimate Truth, a 2007 Argentine documentary, directed by Emiliano Larre, is an exercise in watching a solid work about a mediocre subject. Philip K. Dick is one of those mechanistic sci fi writers who lacked any insight into the human condition because he spent his own life in solipsistic fantasies, detached from the real world, and in a state of borderline neurosis and psychosis. What he actually lacked was vision. Yes, he had ‘visions,’ in the sense that he would sometimes have inner fictions play out in his mind, but ALL artists have this, at some point....

 

Yawn?

 

1012) Dan Schneider Interview 9/Charlie LeDuff/Dan Schneider  People say, why do you do it?, and I say so my grandchildren know how we lived, who they are, or why they are like they are; so I guess to kind of leave a record, try to leave an honest one, and so to get beyond the self promotion of it all and give normal, regular people, and the things they say, a chance; give them a platform; and if it’s got to come through me then so be it....

 

Great.

 

1013) Exorcismo/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  Pretension kills. In the arts, it kills most of all. This is why  when I spotted a DVD of iconic horror film actor/writer Paul  ’Unpretentious’ Naschy’s 1975 horror film  Exorcismo I couldn’t resist buying it. When I was a youth, most theaters in New York City stayed open 24 hours to try and squeeze profits. Many older and smaller theaters would run kids’ films and cartoons in the morning, and then, from 11 a.m. to midnight the main features. Overnight would be for European exploitation and/or porno films....

 

Interesting.

 

1014) 4 Low Biz Docs/Film Reviews/Dan Schneider  I recently reviewed four documentary films dealing with the lower end of the entertainment business. They were Buskers: For Love Or Money; The Antics Roadshow; Strictly Background, and Card Subject To Change. The first of the four films under review was released in 2008, and follows the street art of busking. Busking is a catch all term for street performance, which can include mime, acrobatics, sleight of hand, and daredeviltry, among many other talents. Buskers: For Love Or Money is an hour long look at this phenomenon, and follows many performers. In a sense, it is a glossing over of a subject that could have used more of an in depth exploration....

 

Low?

 

1015) Teorema/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  How best to describe one of the worst films I’ve ever watched? And, by worst, I mean worse than Steven Spielberg’s big budget, low story crap, for, say what you will about that schlockmeister, but even his garbage is at least technically very competent. And, by worst, I don’t mean Ed Woodian levels of ‘so bad it’s actually good, in a funny sort of way’ bad. No, I mean bad in such a dismal way, wherein every aspect of the film is terrible- from the writing to the acting to the symbolism to the technical schlock work to the scoring to the very raison d’etre of the film. I mean in a why- WHY was such a film ever made?- kind of bad. Ok, I’ve got it. I will describe the film by simply describing it....

 

Bad.

 

1016) Sex & Marriage/Film Reviews/Dan Schneider  Watching documentaries on Netflix can be engaging yet frustrating. On a single afternoon I watched a 2009 Discovery Channel documentary, called The Science Of Sex Appeal, which offered insights into the whys and wherefores of its titular subject matter, then watched a 2008 theatrical documentary film, Phyllis And Harold, which was the epitome of the noxious brand of film I call the vanity documentary, wherein a filmmaker makes a film about themselves or someone they know, of little import to anyone outside of whom they know, and try to propound it is artistically or culturally significant....

 

Eh.

 

1017) A Wind From The South/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  While delving in to one of the most interesting DVD sets released in recent years, The Criterion Collection’s The Golden Age Of Television, a viewer not only gets chance to experience the black and white kinescopes of a lost art form and great and rare works of art, but also lost works with moments of greatness in them. Such is the case with the fourth entry in the Criterion package, the presentation of A Wind From The South, first shown on The U.S. Steel Hour, September 14th, 1955. The 51-minute long teleplay was directed by Daniel Petrie and showcased the talents of Julie Harris, then the nation’s brightest rising Broadway star....

 

Near-great.

 

1018) Intentions Of Murder/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  Of the three Shohei Imamura films included in the DVD set, Pigs, Pimps, And Prostitutes: Pigs And Battleships, The Insect Woman, and Intentions Of Murder, the last film, a black and white effort made in 1964, is clearly the least of the three, although it is still quite a goof film. Intentions Of Murder (???? or Akai Satsui or Unholy Desire) lacks the satiric edge and humor of Pigs And Battleships and is missing the realistic drama of The Insect Woman. In this manner the trilogy resembles that of fellow Japanese filmmaker Hiroshi Teshigahara’s Pitfall, Woman In The Dunes, and The Face Of Another; with an arguably great first film, a masterpiece second film, and a daring, but merely good finale, because the last film overreaches....

 

Good.

 

1019) The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  John Ford is one of those film directors with a far greater reputation than his actual filmic output deserves. That’s not to say that he did not direct good films (see Stagecoach and The Grapes Of Wrath) but he directed many mediocre films, too; and most of those mediocrities came in the early and later parts of his career (see The Searchers). A rare exception to this was Ford’s 1962 film, The Man Who Shot liberty Valance. No, it’s not a masterpiece, as some of its champions claim, and it’s nowhere near a great film. But it is a good one, and one that is so for the same reasons Stagecoach is: a good script, good dialogue, and good acting....

 

Solid.

 

1020) Yojimbo/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  Yojimbo (??? or The Bodyguard) may be the most well known Akira Kurosawa film in the West, and it is easily the funniest film of the master filmmaker’s that I’ve seen (even more so than The Hidden Fortress). But it’s not a great film, albeit very entertaining, and Kurosawa’s biggest money making film, to that point. That’s because it simply has no depth. It’s a fairly one note comic opera that plays variations on a theme: perverse samurai fucks with the minds of even more perverse villagers until he ends up destroying a town he hoped to save, merely for the hell of it (almost a precognitive sketch of what would later be done on the television show The Prisoner). Yes, there are wannabe critics who will preen on....

 

Kurosawa Lite.

 

1021) Sanjuro/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  In my review of Akira Kurosawa’s 1961 comedy, Yojimbo, I said the film was an example of Kurosawa Lite, but that Kurosawa Lite was still better than most ‘heavier’ films of other directors. Well, those sentiments can be echoed in spades for that film’s sequel (or prequel?) Sanjuro (????), made in 1962. It could be classified as Kurosawa Liter, but it’s still an enjoyable experience. Unlike Yojimbo, though, it’s not even a dark comedy, it’s virtually pure comedy, and, despite being better than most, the truth is that Chaplin, Keaton, and Groucho Marx have nothing to lose sleep over....

 

Kurosawa Liter.

 

1022) Oasis/Film Review/Dan Schneider  Watching Chang-Dong Lee’s third film, 2002’s Oasis (Oasisu or ????), was an interesting experience because a good portion of the film, notably its last third, is propelled by what is known as the Dumbest Possible Action trope that plagues most Hollywood fare. But, the first two thirds of the 132 minute film is, narratively, an interesting exercise in how to make a repulsive human being seem passably decent. That is because, while the main character certainly has psycho-emotional problems, he is not, as many critics have labeled him, a retard. A sociopath? Possibly, and one with diminished mental capacity....

 

Good.

 

1023) To The Wonder/Film Review/Dan Schneider  In engaging any given work of art it still amazes me how so many people, even critics, can miss the most neon-glowingly, blaring, absolutely worst aspects of a film, or even the best aspects. But, in dealing with writer and director Terrence Malick’s 2012 drama, To The Wonder, unfortunately, and shockingly, almost all the things missed are bad. Yes, the film is the most consistently poorly reviewed film of his career, a 42 year career that has seen only six films released- or one every 7 years, but most of the criticisms of the film are bad critics merely preening their own ignorance regarding Malick’s methods, for they have written the same negative views regarding films of his that were masterpieces....

 

Ok.

 

1024) Salinger & Sebald/Film Review/Dan Schneider  I recently watched a couple of documentaries-cum-hagiographies on two vastly overrated writers: American prosist J.D. Salinger and German avant gardist W.G. Sebald. The two films I watched were titled Salinger and Patience (After Sebald). I watch both films on Netflix one afternoon....

 

Ugh!

 

1025) Falstaff (Chimes At Midnight)/Film Review/Dan Schneider  As William Shakespeare was to lesser writers and works, so was Orson Welles to The Bard’s lesser works. In his 1965 film, Falstaff (Chimes At Midnight), made in Spain, via a Spanish and Swiss co-production, Welles showed that he was still a great filmmaker, despite severe budget restriction, subpar equipment, and assorted other problems with technical issues, and it was these issues, alone, which possibly and arguably take the film down from an unquestionably great work to a merely nearly great one. Welles shows how adept he was at adaptation in his screenplay by sewing together the historical accounts of Raphael Holinshed....

 

Great.

 

1026) In The Mood For Love/Film Review/Dan Schneider  Watching Wong Kar Wai's In the Mood for Love (or Huyàng Niánhuá, or The Time Of Blossoms), was an interesting experience: the 99 minute long film is clearly a superior work of art and cinema, but just as clearly not a great film, and this is apart from its rather muddled and poor ending....

 

Good.

 

1027) 12 Years A Slave/Film Review/Dan Schneider  If the 1977 ABC television miniseries, Roots, based upon Alex Haley’s book of the same title, was a sort of prosaic James Michener like take on the subject of the bondage of African descendants in America, then British director Steve McQueen’s 2013 film, 12 Years A Slave, based upon an 1853 as told to narrative of freeman turned slave turned freedman, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), is American slavery’s poetic take on the subject, what would have been wrought had Herman Melville taken on slavery with his crew of the Pequod....

 

Great.

 

1028) Sunset Boulevard/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  Billy Wilder, as a film director, was never a deep artistic director, in the vein of some of the world's great filmmakers, like Akira Kurosawa, Ingmar Bergman, nor Werner Herzog. His best films, like The Apartment or The Fortune Cookie, were well written and well acted comedies. In a sense, his most well known film, Sunset Boulevard, is an extension of that ‘brand,’ if you will....

 

Good film.

 

1029) Phantom/Film Review/Dan Schneider  One of the downsides of having a popular website is that one is inundated with offers to review this or that book or film. While this may seem a boon to your typical arts site, more interested in lowest common denominator fluff, for one devoted to higher pursuits, this can often mean being flooded with numerous and repeated requests to review things to the point where one need merely report such requests, however personalized, as spam. The most unfortunate thing is that most of the review offers are for palpable garbage....

 

Good.

 

1030) Prometheus/Film Review/Dan Schneider  Fuck you, Ridley Scott! Fuck you and the mudflaps you rode in on! I just watched your 2012 disasterpiece, Prometheus, on a DVD rip site, after being advised not to waste a cent on it by any number of other watchers- and I feel no guilt for seeing it for free, even if- at 118 minutes, it’s 6 minutes shorter than what must be the ‘official’ version. You clearly have no care for art not its enthusiasts, you bastard! And, yes, this is a prequel to Alien, although you clearly thought by jamming in references to almost every major sci fi film of the last 50 years....

 

Horrid.

 

1031) Dan Schneider Interview 10/Brad Steiger/Dan Schneider  I don’t have the gift to see myself as others see me.  Judging from my emails, my identification runs from hero to heretic, from trailblazer to trouble maker, from weirdo to wizard.  I have been asked for my general philosophy on life, science, and the cosmos so often that I have fashioned a kind of credo which I will share with you now: I believe humankind is part of a larger community of intelligences....

 

Terrific.

 

1032) The Iceman/Film Review/Dan Schneider  There are many films that have a single saving grace, and the 2012 film, The Iceman, is one of them. If one were to remove the excellent acting performance of Michael Shannon, in the 105 minute long film’s lead and titular character of Mafia hitman Richard Kuklinski, this film would be little different than the early 00s exploitation crime flicks that populated Blockbuster DVD markdown bins in the last decade. It’s a film that fails mainly because of a bad screenplay, but a screenplay that fails in an odd way- many of its individual scenes are well acted and wrought....

 

So-so.

 

1033) On The Death Of LeRoi Jones/Essay/Dan Schneider  A few days ago, poet Everett LeRoi Jones (aka LeRoi Jones and  Amiri Baraka) died, at the age of 79, of as yet undisclosed causes. His death has made major newspapers and publications worldwide, even though the man’s literary legacy is, at best, sub-mediocre. This stands in stark contrast to the death of an actual great poet named James Emanuel, a few months ago, whose own death and vital information can be accessed here....

 

Ugh.

 

1034) Requiem For A Heavyweight/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  I likely saw the film version of “Requiem For A Heavyweight” when I was quite young. My dad was a big Jackie Gleason fan, and, along with “The Hustler,” that film was among the man’s best film roles. But, in 1981, I watched the television rebroadcast of the television version of the film, which lacked Gleason in the role of a seedy boxing manager, and knew the shorter television version was superior. The TV version was part of PBS’s series called “The Golden Age Of Television,” wherein eight of the best broadcasts from the many live television anthologies, were broadcast, in kinescope versions, for the first time since their initial showing. The Criterion Collection has recently gathered that series, including the broadcast introductions, into a DVD set that is one of the best in that company’s canon....

 

Excellent.

 

1035) 8½/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  In his 1988 film Another Woman, director Woody Allen has one of his minor characters, named Paul (Harris Yulin), confront the film’s lead character, Marion, played by Gena Rowlands, with a comment that she made upon his attempts at writing. Years earlier, when Paul had shown Marion a manuscript of some of his writing, Marion declared to him, ‘This is overblown. It’s too emotional. It’s maudlin. Your dreams may be….meaningful to you, but to the objective observer….they’re, they’re.…it’s so embarrassing.’ I use this quote from Allen because his underrated 1980 masterpiece, Stardust Memories, arguably the best film he ever made (along with Another Woman and three or four others), is always unfairly negatively compared to Italian New Wave domo....

 

Overated.

 

1036) A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  If one has never directed a film before one should not, I repeat (with even greater emphasis), should NEVER direct an adaptation of one’s work. This is because one will have enough problems trying to learn the new medium that those problems born out of adaptation will only bog one down, especially if the work adapted, itself, has problems. That said, let me introduce you to Dito Montiel, director of the 98 minute long 2006 independent film, A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints....

 

Bad.

 

1037) The Comedian/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  The penultimate teleplay in The Criterion Collection’s DVD set called The Golden Age of Television is the 1957 Playhouse 90 broadcast of Rod Serling’s The Comedian, originally aired on February 14th, 1957. And it’s one of the best of the eight teleplays. It is also the third and final teleplay penned by Rod Serling (of later The Twilight Zone fame), adapted from a short story by Ernest Lehman. And it’s the equal of his original teleplays included in the set: Patterns and Requiem For A Heavyweight, which, likewise, won Emmy Awards for Serling’s writing....

 

Excellent.

 

1038) Aguirre: The Wrath Of God/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  Werner Herzog may just be the best film director of the last forty years. Period. And I mean worldwide. While some directors of film rely primarily on precision- think Alfred Hitchcock, intellect- think Ingmar Bergman and Stanley Kubrick, visual poesy-think Terrence Malick, or visceral reaction- think Akira Kurosawa, there is no other major filmmaker that I can think of who combines all of these things so skillfully, as well as having a mastery of music, outside of Herzog. From musical scoring to narrative pacing to visual imagery, he reigns supreme. Before watching his 1972 masterpiece, Aguirre: The Wrath Of God (Aguirre, Der Zorn Gottes), for the first time, all I had seen of Herzog were some of his documentary style films and Fitzcarraldo. This was enough to intrigue me to explore his corpus more fully, and I’m glad I did, for there’s a reason this film made him a ‘name’ on par with his contemporary German directors, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Wim Wenders....

 

Masterful.

 

1039) How I Accidentally Started The Sixties/Book Review/Dan Schneider  If one has ever read the poetry of Eugene O’Neill or Tennessee Williams, or the prose of Rainer Maria Rilke or Walt Whitman, then one is familiar with writers who are good in one form of writing, but mediocre, bad, or abysmal in another. Such was the manifest state of the prose in Howard Bloom’s self published e-book memoir, How I Accidentally Started The Sixties. The book is not terrible, but it’s, at its best, mediocre, and that mediocrity is actually garnered and sustained by the content of his raconteuring, and not its quality....

 

Disappointing.

 

1040) 5 Pop Music Documentaries/Film Reviews/Dan Schneider  I recently streamed and watched five films dealing with music, the art and industry. They were Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him?); Anvil! The Story Of Anvil; I Need That Record! The Death (Or Possible Survival) Of The Independent Record Store; When I Rise; and You’re Gonna Miss Me....

 

Ok.

 

1041) The French Connection/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  Director William Friedkin’s 1971 classic police thriller, The French Connection, which won the 1971 Academy Award for Best Picture (and four others) over A Clockwork Orange, Fiddler On The Roof, The Last Picture Show, and Nicholas And Alexandra, is not a great film, but it is a very good and taut prosaic thriller, and a significantly better film than his later, overrated non-scary horror film The Exorcist. The reason it is not a great film is rather simple- there is nothing of depth that the film imparts to its viewer....

 

Good, not great.

 

1042) 4 Political Documentaries/Film Reviews/Dan Schneider  I recently spent an afternoon engaged in streaming political documentaries that ranged from pure agitptop to anti-agitprop. The four films in question were Brothers In Arms; The Atomic Cafe; The Last Mountain, and Howard Zinn: You Can’t Be Neutral On A Moving Train....

 

Good stuff.

 

1043) Blind Chance/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  If you have ever held a pupa in your grip, you know that, if held up to a light, at a certain angle, the fully formed insect can be seen, even though it has yet to emerge. This was the sensation that I had while watching Polish director Krzystof Kieslowski’s 1981 film Blind Chance (Przypadek) after having seen his glorious Three Colors trilogy. It is a film that could have been great, had it been made a decade later in Kielsowski’s career, but made when it was it merely has tantalizing glimpses of his later greatness....

 

Solid.

 

1044) 3 Interesting Biographical Documentaries/Film Reviews/Dan Schneider  I recently watched three biographical documentaries on interesting figures. These films were Ladies And Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen; J. Pierpont Morgan: Emperor Of Wall Street; and A Film Biography Of Thomas Merton....

 

Ok.

 

1045) Bloom/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  Bloom is an Irish film of the James Joyce novel Ulysses by director Sean Walsh. Let me be up front- I think Ulysses is a vastly overrated book, with moments of superbness and many more moments of wretchedness. It was Joyce, Woolf, and their ilk that started a good deal of art down the road to narcissistic hermeticism. That all said, while the film Bloom is not a great film, in and of itself, it is a good film, with moments of brilliance, and does a far better job at explicating the events of the first Bloomsday, June 16th, 1904, than the book ever has, despite what pretentious critics say....

 

Solid.

 

1046) 5 Show Biz Documentaries/Film Reviews/Dan Schneider  I recently watched, over Netflix streaming, over a two day period, five documentary films dealing with film and show biz life. The films were These Amazing Shadows: The Movies That Make America; Great Directors; Two In The Wave, The Hollywood Complex; and Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project....

 

Mediocre fare.

 

1047) Broken Flowers/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  Bill Murray is the closest thing to a modern Charlie Chaplin, not in being a filmmaker, but in creating an onscreen persona. His ‘dour schlemiel’ is every bit as iconic as Chaplin’s tramp. He has played the same basic character in films from Groundhog Day to Lost In Translation to his incarnation in Jim Jarmusch’s film Broken Flowers. This 2005 film is one of those works of art that should be filed under ‘nice attempt’, but is ultimately a failure. And it fails for the simplest of reasons that all bad films fail: a bad screenplay, which was written by Jarmusch himself....

 

Mediocre.

 

1048) 3 Artist Bio Films/Film Reviews/Dan Schneider  I recently watched a trio of Netflix documentaries on artists, which varied in quality. They were Paul Goodman Changed My Life; Hey, Boo: Harper Lee And To Kill A Mockingbird; and Carmen & Geoffrey....

 

Mediocre.

 

1049) 4 Filmmaker Documentaries/Film Reviews/Dan Schneider  I recently got a chance to stream and watch four films dealing with well known people involved in the motion picture industry. They were The Last Mogul: The Life And Times Of Lew Wasserman; Light Keeps Me Company; Cameraman: The Life And Work Of Jack Cardiff; and John Waters: This Filthy World....

 

So-so.

 

1050) 4 Bad Documentaries On Race/Film Reviews/Dan Schneider  I recently watched four films regarding racial and ethnic issues, while streaming from Netflix, and those four films were Reel Injun, Dreams Of A Life, Steal A Pencil For Me, And Imaginary Witness: Hollywood And The Holocaust....

 

Fuck'em!

 

1051) Day Of Wrath/Film Review/Dan Schneider  Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1943 film Day Of Wrath (Vredens dag), adapted from Hans Wiers-Jenssens’ novel, Day Of Wrath, by Dreyer, is an earlier, better version of the issues tackled in Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, because, even though the film was made during the Nazi occupation of Denmark, and there are obvious parallels to be drawn between that and the film’s narrative, it is never as psychologically obvious nor melodramatic as Miller’s later allegory on McCarthyism....

 

Solid.

 

1052) The Damned/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  Watching Luchino Visconti’s 1969 film,The Damned “(“La Caduta Degli Dei,” literally “The Fall Of The Gods”), not long after I watched James Dean’s last film, “Giant,” was an interesting synchronicity, because both films center around the lives of the obscenely wealthy who are ethically corrupt. Both films are also examples of well made soap operas, with Visconti’s film being a sort of Nazi version of the old 1980s prime time soap opera “Dynasty.” However, while nowhere near a great film, Visconti’s film is clearly a superior film to “Giant,” from its more dynamic camera work to its soundtrack....

 

Good.

 

1053) 3 Political Failure Docs/Film Reviews/ Dan Schneider  I recently saw three streaming documentaries on Netflix that recorded failed political histories. They were New York In The Fifties; Ayn Rand & The Prophecy Of Atlas Shrugged; and Homo Sapiens 1900....

 

Ugh!

 

1054) 2 'Cool' Documentaries/Film Reviews/Dan Schneider  There are right ways to do arts documentaries and wrong ways to do them. The right way can best be illustrated by the documentary Composing The Beatles Songbook: Lennon And McCartney: 1966-1970, which I recently streamed on Netflix, and which was released in 2008, apparently with no credited director, while the wrong way to make an arts documentary is exemplified by Morgan Neville’s 2007 documentary, The Cool School....

 

Solid.

 

1055) Deliverance/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  Or, a review of John Boorman’s 1972 film Deliverance, which he produced and directed, based upon James Dickey’s 1970 novel of the same name. Dickey also wrote the screenplay, which explains a lot, especially if you are familiar with his ‘poetry.’ The actual look of the film, however, is sensational. The cinematography of nature, by Vilmos Zsigmond, is still stunning after forty years- especially those scenes shot in twilight, dusk, and night, and the first forty-five or so minutes sets the basis of a good tale....

 

Ugh!

 

1056) The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  Director John Huston’s 1948 classic black and white adventure film, The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre, has many positive qualities. Greatness is not one of them. It’s a very good film, and has good acting performances from Walter Huston, Tim Holt, and Bruce Bennett, a good screenplay, adapted by the younger Huston, from the same titled novel by B. Traven (a pen name for Berwick Traven Torsvan), but it has a number if flaws that make it nearly impossible to lift it beyond being a good, solid, enjoyable film....

 

Good.

 

1057) Invasion Of The Body Snatchers- 1978/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  In rewatching the 1978 version of “Invasion Of The Body Snatchers,” after many years (I originally saw it in a double feature with “Coma”), I was presented with one of the best examples of why a critic needs to be able to separate his emotions from his intellect when writing of the quality of a work of art. In watching the film I really could not find much to quibble with the film. It is a great piece of science fiction (expanding and going beyond the 1956 film of the same name), it is a great period piece (perfectly capturing the 1970s Me Generation zeitgeist- especially in the corny self-help shrink played by Leonard Nimoy, in his best non-”Star Trek” role), it has great writing, realistic dialogue and character development....

 

Great sci fi.

 

1058) Three Resurrected Drunkards/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  The final film in The Criterion Collection’s Eclipse Series 21: Oshima’s Outlaw Sixties is 1968’s 'Three Resurrected Drunkards' (Kaette Kita Yopparai or Sinner In Paradise), and it’s easily the least of the five DVD set. That’s not to say that it’s a bad film; compared to the tripe Hollywood foists it’s actually a sometimes fun and amusing comedy-absurdist drama, however slight....

 

Eh.

 

1059) De-Lovely/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  Let me state my bias up front. I loathe musicals. There are very few I like- especially from the so-called Golden Era of Hollywood. That’s because the whole convention of people breaking into song at a difficult moment always strikes me as forced and phony. There are exceptions, though. The Sound Of Music because of….well, I loved Julie Andrews as a child, Evita because there’s only one spoken line in the film- it totally divorces itself from the conventional musical format, and Moulin Rouge because while there is some speaking, it’s even more lush and lavish than Evita. The 2004 Irwin Winkler film De-Lovely, a biopic of Tinpan Alley composer Cole Porter....

 

Solid.

 

1060) Diary Of A Country Priest/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  Robert Bresson’s 1950 breakthrough film, Diary Of A Country Priest (Journal D’Un Cure De Campagne), is one of those films that is absolutely antithetical to everything a Hollywood film stands for. It is obsessive, detailed, slow, and opaque. This, however, does not mean it is a great film, as so many knee-jerk critics claim it is. It is not; but it is a very interesting film. Ostensibly, it may seem to be a film on religion and/or suffering, or, as film critic Fréderic Bonnard claims, in The Criterion Collection’s DVD essay on the film....

 

Good.

 

1061) 3 Political Documentaries/Film Reviews/Dan Schneider  I recently streamed three Netflix documentary films that dealt with political themes. These three films were Crips And Bloods: Made In America; 5 Broken Cameras; and The Camden 28. Crips And Bloods: Made In America is a 2008 documentary film, directed by Stacy Peralta (apparently a former world class skateboard champion) that attracts big names- such as narrator Forest Whitaker and talking head Jim Brown, ex-pro football superstar and actor, has some promise displayed....

 

Ugh!

 

1062) Goodfellas/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  Gangster films are a curious form. The first or second The Godfather films are usually considered the best ever made, but, in reality, they are a bit over the top, melodramatic (in a Shakespearean sort of way), as well as hagiographic in their depiction of lowlifes. For those who don’t buy the Coppla films as the apex of the genre, there is the fallback position of Martin Scorsese’s films on organized crime: Mean Streets, Raging Bull, Casino, The Departed, and his crown jewel: 1990’s Goodfellas, which clocks in at a much longer than experienced 146 minutes....

 

Great.

 

1063) The Roaring Twenties/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  Watching Raoul Walsh’s black and white gangster film,
The Roaring Twenties, from 1939, is watching the tail end of an era of genre films that had run its course, and was pretty hollowed out. Many film historians try to pump this film up as a great film, but it’s utterly absurd, and the claim founders upon the film’s story....

 

Solid.

 

1064) Midnight Express/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  British director Alan Parker’s 1978 film, “Midnight Express,” based upon a non-fiction book, by William Hayes and William Hoffer, was considered somewhat controversial upon its release, but looking back on it, over three decades later, one has to wonder what all the controversy was about? Oh my, it portrayed the fact that life in a Third World prison was brutal....

 

Solid.

 

1065) Dirty Pretty Things/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  You know a film is in trouble when, while listening to the DVD commentary track, the director admits he hasn’t got a clue what the title means. That’s exactly what director Stephen Frears admits on the commentary track of the DVD for Dirty Pretty Things, an oddly overpraised film from 2003. Why it was so overpraised I can only surmise as critics being tired of the same old Hollywood pap that passes for thrillers. I say this because DPT is ostensibly a thriller, except that it’s not. In short, it’s a muddle....

 

Ugh.

 

1066) Memories of Maggie/Maggie Estep Obituary/Dan Schneider  Before I married my wife, Jessica, there was Betta, Clarissa, Kristin, Tricia, Anna, Rosy, Lily, Danielle, Lisa, and others. These were all the ‘artsy babes’ of my past, and each and every one of them had ‘issues.’ But, before any of them came into and left my existence, there was Maggie- Maggie, a wannabe writer....

 

Bye-bye.

 

1067) Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  For those who think they know what the Enron scandal was about, they’ll have to admit they didn’t know a tenth of it after they’ve watched this documentary, Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room, directed by Alex Gibney, narrated by Peter Coyote, based upon the bestselling exposé by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind. That said, I disagree with some of the premises the film is based upon- that being McLean’s claim that the story is about people, not numbers....

 

Great.

 

1068) Dan Schneider Interview 9/Charlie LeDuff/Dan Schneider  I’d like the stories to speak for themselves.  I guess I could discuss them; I mean, I wrote them.  I’m just not that interested.  It may be different with more practical applications of craft: for instance, if I built a car, it would be a good idea to be able to explain why I did it they way I did, why using this carburetor is better than using that one.  But a story is all affect.  Coming back after the fact and talking about it is like talking about your sexual technique.  It doesn’t make the sex any better....

 

Solid.

 

1069) Eternity And A Day/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  The 1998 film by Greek director Theo Angelopoulos, Eternity And A Day (Mia Aioniotita Kai Mia Mera or ??a a?????t?ta ?a? µ?a µ??a), is not merely another film about a supposed poet wherein the art of poetry and the act of poesizing are never on display. Yes, it’s true that, technically, neither are onscreen, but it is a superior film about a supposed poet wherein the art of poetry and the act of poesizing are never on display, for the film does capture the dead cliché of ‘a soul of a poet’ as well as just about any I’ve ever seen. It does it with imagery....

 

Great.

 

1070) Faces/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  Faces, by John Cassavetes, is a 1968 film generally credited as being the first popular independent film in America to make an impact in the public consciousness. But, it is more than that. It is a film that totally subverted the dominant themes and forms of Hollywood cinema, at the time, showed that ‘adult’ films, truly adult, not a euphemism for pornography, could have mass appeal, and paved the way for the great auteur decade of American filmmaking that was the 1970s....

 

Great.

 

1071) Frenzy/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  Have you ever wondered about what a famous artist’s work would be like if they were living in the present age? Imagine Van Gogh living in Los Angeles, or Dante writing of the military debacle in Iraq. Well, imagine what Alfred Hitchcock- either of the early British thrillers or 1950s vintage era Hollywood classics, would be like if he were given a free hand in the 21st Century. Fortunately, cineastes need not strain their imaginations too much, for his penultimate film, 1972’s Frenzy- his first film made in England in over twenty years....

 

Good.

 

1072) Gertrud/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  Apologists for bad art almost always speak of ‘intent’, and, in a similar vein, bad critics always try to justify their ‘liking’ a bad film by praising it obliquely, often using words like ‘abstract’ in place of ‘dullness’, or calling a boring film an ‘etude’, even if it is trite. Such is what one will find if one reads the reviews for Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer’s final film Gertrud, made in 1964. Well, my advice to such critics is to look past the bullshit and deal with what is really onscreen. Gertrud is a bad film, and is one in a long line of bad ‘last films’ made by great filmmakers....

 

Overrated.

 

1073) Emancipate Emanuel/Public Domain/Dan Schneider  It has been almost a year since the great American poet James Emanuel died. He had fallen to obscurity, after leaving the country for France decades earlier, with many of his works having gone out of print. In 2001, there were, other than my inclusion of some of his poems on Cosmoetica, literally just three links about him: a mention in a paragraph of a Poetry Society Of America essay, the text of his brief poem The Negro at a poetry website, and a long defunct Russian based website registered in his name and domain....

 

Let freedom ring!

 

1074) Good Night, And Good Luck/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  George Clooney has to be, if not the most talented guy in Hollywood, certainly the luckiest. A former Sexiest Man Alive, according to People magazine, scion of a wealthy show business clan, a tv star, a movie star, and now a successful director. His first film, Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind, on wacky tv game show host Chuck Barris’s fantasies, was a sober look at a mentally disturbed man, much better than highly lauded screenwriter and director Paul Schrader’s similar Auto Focus....

 

Good.

 

1075) Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  Of the six films of Japanese director Nagisa Oshima that I have seen, his 1983 color film “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence” (“Senjō No Merī Kurisumasu or 戦場のメリークリスマス”) is easily his least impressive. It’s not a terrible film, but it’s not particularly good either. The acting is hit and miss, the screenplay is anomic (part “M*A*S*H,” without the humor, and part “The Bridge On The River Kwai,” without the drama, but loads of melodrama)- and includes utterly pointless flashback sequences, the cinematography is dull and listless, and the film’s musical score is simply one of the worst and most inartfully applied for any major film I can recall. In short, it’s atrocious....

 

Ugh.

 

1076) Ten Tiny Love Stories/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  Colombian filmmaker Rodrigo Garcia, son of novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, made an odd, but provocative little film (97 minutes in length) in 2001, called Ten Tiny Love Stories; which was his second film, made between his debut 2000 film, Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her, and his great 2005 film, Nine Lives....

 

Good.

 

1077) Hearts Of Darkness/Film Review/Dan Schneider  Sometimes a film can get a reputation way beyond its worth, yet still be a good film. In watching the DVD release of Hearts Of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse, Eleanor Coppola’s documentary on the making of the war epic Apocalypse Now, by her husband Francis Ford Coppola, this struck me as true. The title of this hour and a half long film, of course, comes from the source material for Apocalypse Now, Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart Of Darkness. While there is no doubt that Apocalypse Now is a great film, the documentary about it is not....

 

Ok.

 

1078) Ikiru/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  Ikiru (To Live), by Akira Kurosawa, is sort of a ‘lost’ film. No, it was never really lost, but it is unlike the archetypal Kurosawa film Western audiences think of him making, and thereby lost in his canon. It is not some historical epic filled with honor, samurais, and swordplay. It is more in line with the genre of retrospective life films in the vein of Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane or Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries, in that we drop in the on the life of an ordinary man- in this case lifelong low level Tokyo city bureaucrat office head Kanji Watanabe (Takashi Shimura), a few months before his death by stomach cancer, and witness how this ‘living mummy’, as his co-workers chide him (one of the nicer things they say about him), reclaims meaning in a life long since blanched of it. Unlike Charles Foster Kane, a business magnate, or Isak Borg, a renowned Academic, Watanabe is the sort of man most people would ignore....

 

Great.

 

1079) George Dickerson/DSVI 13/Dan Schneider  When I first realized I was a writer, someone who was destined to spend his life writing no matter what else he did, I was entering my senior year in college.  I was really at a loss.  I didn’t know what being a real writer meant, how it can shape your life, how it can sometimes overwhelm it, how it can destroy a marriage or get you laid, how it can possess you.  I wanted to win the Nobel Prize for literature.  Now I am just grateful for the gifts that enabled me to move some people and, at times, to have some dignity among the papers that litter my days....

 

Great one.

 

1080) La Notte/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  La Notte (The Night), the 1961 film by Michelangelo Antonioni, and the second of his Alienation Trilogy, after L’Avventura and before L’Eclisse, is a huge artistic leap up from its predecessor film. It’s not so much that L’Avventura was such a bad film- it’s not. It has its moments, and a good premise that swiftly decays into anomie and melodrama, whereas La Notte, even at an hour and fifty-five minutes in length, is a highly focused, layered, and concentrated, adult drama about the ennui that occurs in a marriage of dilettantes where all of one’s life has been plotted out beforehand, yet happiness still eludes its participants....

 

Great.

 

1081) The Apartment/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  It’s amazing, for a film that won the Oscar for Best Picture the year it was released, and was made by one of Hollywood’s Golden Age directors, how underrated Billy Wilder’s 1960 black and white drama-comedy “The Apartment” is. This is especially true in comparison to the wildly overrated comedy he made, a year earlier, “Some Like It Hot,” which, by comparison, is a silly ball of fluff. By contrast, “The Apartment” may be, along with “The Fortune Cookie,” Wilder’s best and most underrated films. And both (along with “Some Like It Hot”) starred Jack Lemmon in the lead role. Not only does “The Apartment” have drama, but it has real themes and issues of depth that it deals with....

 

Good.

 

1082) Twenty-Four Eyes/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  One of the more frustrating film experiences a person can have is watching a film that comes highly recommended (especially by someone whose opinion you generally trust), only to see that it is not nearly as good as claimed. Such is the experience I had while watching my first Keisuke Kinoshita film, the 1954 anti-war film Twenty-Four Eyes....

 

Ok.

 

1083) Danger Man, The Prisoner, And The Myth Of TV's Golden Age/Essay/Dan Schneider  There is a subtly pernicious myth that goes around these days that today’s television- especially cable television- shows are part of what is considered tv’s real Golden Age, as opposed to the claims of the 1950s, with its live teleplays and often seminal and emergent forms of television- many of which, like westerns and anthologies, have bitten the dust. We are supposed to overlook the utterly unoriginal sitcoms and faux reality shows and contest shows, the mind-numbing cop and medical serials that abandoned the stand alone episode format for bad serial storytelling that makes the usual dull daytime soap operas and telenovelas seem inventive, as well as ignore said dying soap operas, and other daytime fare, such as horrid talk shows and judge shows, the corporatization of PBS, the dilution and Lowest Common Denominator....

 

Great shows.

 

1084) The Homecoming: A Christmas Story/Film Review/Dan Schneider  A question hovers in me and over modern 21st Century American television: where has real drama gone? By that I mean films, television, stage plays all made for the small screen and which deal with what it means to be human. Not just doctor shows, cop dramas, spy thrillers, action nor superhero crap but real stories on real people doing real things and having real problems that sometimes bear no resolution....

 

Great.

 

1085) Yankee Doodle Dandy/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  No film in the James Cagney filmography best illustrates what can only be called “The Cagney Conundrum” than does the 1942 Michael Curtiz film, “Yankee Doodle Dandy”. What is “The Cagney Conundrum,” you ask? It is the fact that James Cagney, as a pure actor had such limited dramatic range yet became, arguably, the most versatile actor in Hollywood, if not world, film history.  Despite his obvious limitations in size, speech patterns, facial expression, vocal range, etc., Cagney succeeded in doing films that were musicals, dramas, thrillers, comedies, and more. Yet, in every film, he was James Cagney, not his fictive alter-ego....

 

Excellent.

 

1086) Pulp/Film Review/Dan Schneider  In 1971, director Mike Hodges and actor Michael Caine had a hit in the action thriller Get Carter. The following year they tried to do a comedic follow up to that film called Pulp, in which Caine played a mediocre pulp fiction crime novelist, Mickey King (who writes novels like My Gun Is Long, under the pseudonym Guy Strange), who, on holiday in Malta, gets involved with as former film star, Preston Gilbert (Mickey Rooney), who lures him into a web of murder and intrigue that lacks only one thing: intrigue....

 

Yawn.

 

1087) Ida/Film Review/Dan Schneider  Emotion is a bitch- especially when it clouds one’s otherwise sound judgment. This is especially important when acting as a critic, because no one does- and no one should- give a rat’s ass what I, or any other critic, merely likes or dislikes. The critic, in that stated capacity, MUST be able to distance himself from his petty emotions, because human beings have not evolved a sense in which to convey emotion to one another with the facility and felicity that words can construct and reconstruct one’s ideas in another’s mind satisfactorily....

 

Overdone.

 

1088) L'Avventura/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  Some films that are labeled classics, or great films, are not even good films. Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless immediately comes to mind. Others, like Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Avventura, whose title literally means The Adventure, as well as Italian slang for a one night stand, are not necessarily bad, but still only interesting failures, and not worthy of their reputation. L’Avventura was the first in a trilogy of black and white widescreen films....

 

Overrated.

 

1089) The Days Of Wine And Roses/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  The final entry in The Criterion Collection’s DVD set called The Golden Age Of Television, based upon a 1981 PBS series of rebroadcasts of kinescopes of live television dramas, is an October 2nd, 1958 Playhouse 90 episode called The Days Of Wine And Roses, scripted by J.P. Miller, and directed by John Frankenheimer....

 

Good.

 

1090) 5 Silly Films/Reviews/Dan Schneider  I recently watched five of the silliest documentaries I have ever see, streaming them on Netflix. They were The Sweetest Sound, The Workshop, London In The Raw, Journey To Planet X, and Evacuate Earth....

 

Not good.

 

1091) The Coldest Kiss/Film Review/Dan Schneider  One of the drawbacks to being a one man operation of the arts, myself, is that I simply lack the time and energy to not only do all that I would want to do artistically- in terms of my own writing, and also running my own website, is that I don’t get nearly enough time to help younger, smaller, independent artists and writers get material that has some quality a greater purview. The main reasons for this are my own need to work a 40+ hour a week day job to pay bills and skim by, as well as the fact that my own website’s popularity inevitably leads me to getting an insane overwhelm of requests- to review films or books or troll through bad poetry submissions by the bushel....

 

Ok.

 

1092) The Time It Never Rained/Book Review/Dan Schneider  In looking over literature related to Texas, one naturally has to deal with the genre of western novels. With roots in the nickel and dime cowboy novels of the late 19th Century, the form only crystallized into something resembling literature with the early 20th Century release of Owen Wister’s classic and great novel, The Virginian. This book held such a power over the medium that many of its tale’s characters and tropes became staples of the genre it birth, with many lesser writers and tales running much of it into clichés, even as the original book stood tall against the works of a Zane Grey, Max Brand, Louis L’Amour and on through more modern Western writers whose works broke the genre ghetto and came to be considered literature first- think Larry McMurtry or Cormac McCarthy (for good or ill)....

 

Near Great.

 

1093) 5 Odd Documentaries/Film Reviews/Dan Schneider  I recently watched five of the oddest documentaries I have ever see, streaming them on Netflix. They were The Next Space Race, Marilyn In Manhattan, Gore Vidal: The United States Of Amnesia, Mortified Nation, and Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie....

 

Ugh.

 

1094) The Agony And The Ecstasy/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  You know a film is not that good when the best contemporaneous review one can find of it was from the notoriously bad New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther. Who was Bosley Crowther, you ask? Well, he was the Roger Ebert of his day. That is, he was the most famous and influential film critic of the mid-Twentieth Century. He differed from Ebert, though, in that a) he could not write well, and b) he had a complete lack of understanding about the art of cinema. Having said that, he was smack on about the 1965 yawnfest, from journeyman director Carol Reed....

 

Yawn.

 

1095) 5 Demotic Documentaries/Film Reviews/Dan Schneider  I recently watched five documentaries that strove to be demotic, streaming them on Netflix. They were The People Vs. George Lucas, That Guy... Who Was In That Thing, Craigslist Joe, Kumaré, And American Mystic. The first of the documentaries was a 92 minute bitchfest from Star Wars fans about how much they hate that George Lucas, their God, deepened the original juvenile trilogy of films with his second trilogy, and how he then later added more special effects to the first trilogy of films, and, in the process, let the original prints of the film fall into a black hole....

Ok.

 

1096) Blue Jasmine/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  Since the end of his 1977-1992 Golden Age of filmmaking, Woody Allen’s corpus has been filled with some excellent films (Sweet And Lowdown, Match Point, Cassandra’s Dream) and bad films (Hollywood Ending, Anything Else) but no film in that run is as utterly schizophrenic as Blue Jasmine- his 2013 film which surprisingly won a Best Actress Academy award for its star, Cate Blanchett, as Jeanette ‘Jasmine’ French....

 

Mediocre.

 

1097) 5 Pointless Documentaries/Film reviews/Dan Schneider  I recently watched five pointless documentaries, streaming them on Netflix. They were Nantucket Film Festival’s 2nd Comedy Roundtable, Secrets Of The Freemasons, Decoding Deepak, Are All Men Pedophiles?, and (A)Sexual. The first of the five films I watched was a 2013, 51 minute long, film that had no listed director and seemed to be little more than a goof, taped at a festival for which it was named: Nantucket Film Festival’s 2nd Comedy Roundtable. Hosted by someone named Michael Ian Black (a name I will not even bother to Google because his presence and moderating abilities were so inconsequential I care not to waste anymore time on him once this parenthetical is complete), the film is an absolute dud....

 

Ugh.

 

1098) The Life Of Oharu/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  While watching the DVD of “The Life Of Oharu,” a 1952 film by Kenji Mizoguchi, I was put into mind of the Theo Angelopoulos film, “The Weeping Meadow,” the first part of a trilogy the film director did not complete before his death. Normally, one might think that the two other great Mizoguchi films I had seen- “Ugetsu” and “Sansho the Bailiff”- would have resonated more, but, no, it was the Greek filmmaker’s epic that stared at me from the weave of this black and white film. Yet, whereas “The Weeping Meadow” is as masterful a film on sorrow and loss as I have ever seen, there is virtually no humor in it. The same cannot be said as so for “The Life Of Oharu”- a film that charts the decline and fall of a minor noblewoman’s life....

 

Solid.

 

1099) Italian Fascism In Color/Film Review/Dan Schneider  When I first came upon the option to stream the 2007 documentary film titled Italian Fascism In Color, I was thinking that it might have been made by the same people who made the fantastic wartime documentary Japan's War In Colour...

 

Ok.

 

1100) 5 Dummy Documentaries/Film Reviews/Dan Schneider  I recently watched five documentaries online, and all of them were about characters that, in one fashion or the other, were dumb, or that featured aspects of stupidity at their essence. They were Brother’s Keeper, Somm, Aliens On The Moon: The Truth Exposed, I Am Divine, And Naked Ambition: An R-Rated Look At An X-Rated Industry....

 

Ugh!

 

1101) Metafora/Film Review/Dan Schneider  In the past when I have received invitations to review books or films of up and coming artists, I have had to make choices to ignore or reply, and usually the choice is easy, as almost all solicitations are for palpably bad books and films. The very emails, attached submissions, or film trailers, are so laughably bad I should not feel remorse, although I sometimes do, even though, because of these submissions, I have likely read more poetry and original poetry (however horrid) than any other five humans in history combined. On the film side, especially, I don’t even usually have to watch the trailer, as the very written film summary is that of a child’s fart....

 

Great start.

 

1102) Eternity And A Day/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  The 1998 film by Greek director Theo Angelopoulos, Eternity And A Day (Mia Aioniotita Kai Mia Mera or ??a a?????t?ta ?a? µ?a µ??a), is not merely another film about a supposed poet wherein the art of poetry and the act of poesizing are never on display. Yes, it’s true that, technically, neither are onscreen, but it is a superior film about a supposed poet wherein the art of poetry and the act of poesizing are never on display, for the film does capture the dead cliché of ‘a soul of a poet’ as well as just about any I’ve ever seen....

 

Great.

 

1103) Winter Sleep/Film Review/Dan Schneider  With each film added to his canon, Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan proves again and again why he is at the apex of world cinema, possibly joined at the point only by the United Kingdom’s Steve McQueen. Every film that Ceylan has done since embarking in the medium has built off the prior one. Even his 2008 film, Three Monkeys, while not a great film (a mere well wrought melodrama), saw the director expand his visual command of the screen. His last film, 2011’s Once Upon A Time In Anatolia was majestic, and the greatest film of his career, as well one of the best films of the 21st Century. His latest, 2014’s Winter Sleep (Kis Uykusu), is its rival in quality- better and more intimately rich in some ways, but also a bit longer and less focused in other ways. In short, it’s a lateral movement of sorts, but going from Mount Everest to K2 is hardly a disappointment, as Winter Sleep won that year’s Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival....

 

Great.

 

1104) Stealing Sunrise/Film Review/Dan Schneider  As this year opened, I was contacted by, watched, and reviewed the second film of independent filmmaker Michael Jason Allen, The Coldest Kiss, and while it had flaws (most of which are common amongst low and ultra-low budget productions), there were some exceptional bright spots in cinematography and scoring, plus enough solid to good portions of the screenplay and the cast’s performances that I could recommend the film overall. Especially parallaxed against the film’s microscopic budget....

 

Solid.

 

1105) 5 Loser Documentaries/Film Reviews/Dan Schneider  I recently watched five documentaries online, and all of them featured people that could, collectively, be termed ‘losers.’ They were Stories We tell, Who The F**k Is Arthur Fogel?, Legends Of the Knight, The Good Son, and Human Lampshade: A Holocaust Mystery....

 

Yawn.

 

1106) La Dolce Vita/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life), as ironic a title as has ever been used in motion picture history, Federico Fellini’s 1960 film commentary on modern hedonism and anomy, and filmed in 1959 in Rome, may just be the best film in his canon, for it combines the Neo-Realism of earlier classics like La Strada and Nights Of Cabiria, while admixing some of the surreal touches of his later classics. Plus, it is the best written and most ambitious of his films. In many ways....

 

Great.

 

1107) Breaking The Timer Barrier/Film Review/Dan Schneider  Every so often one finds a film that is so perfectly trite, poorly acted, and predictable, in every imaginable way, that its very boldness into badness is forgivable. Such was my thought whilst recently watching Edgar Ulmer’s 1960 schlocksterpiece film Beyond The Time Barrier, on Netflix. Clocking in at a robust 74 minutes in length, this odd little black and white film, which exhibited an odd strobing effect, due to poorly synched streaming, is not one of the better efforts from Ulmer, the auteur of Poverty Row Hollywood filmmaking....

 

Schlocky....

 

1108) Nostalghia/Film Review/Dan Schneider  Every so often I will encounter an artist, a book, a poem, or a film that is attacked by idiotic opinions, even when those opinions are mostly in defense of said artist or art work, and the reason for this is the noxious notion of critical cribbing, wherein a critic does not fully engage an art work, and decides to simply repeat what other critics have claimed without really checking out the claim (and often without really, or totally, engaging the art)....

 

Ok.

 

1109) Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir/Film Review/Dan Schneider  I recently was invited to watch a film on a private website, called Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir. The odd thing is the 90 minute long film’s been in release for two years. Nonetheless, watch it I did, and was mildly surprised that it was an enjoyable, if not penetrating, look into the career of one of the better filmmakers of the last half century: Roman Polanski. Even more odd than the film’s solid quality is the fact that it was directed by Laurent Bouzereau, a rather well known DVD documentary featurette hack....

 

Bad.

 

1110) Insignificance/Blu-Ray Review/Dan Schneider  Sometimes it is a tough thing to decide, how to lead off a review of a work of art that simply is not good. In the case of the latest Blu-Ray release from The Criterion Collection, British filmmaker Nicolas Roeg’s 1985 adaptation of Terry Johnson’s play, “Insignificance,” this becomes something acute. I could start off with the obvious pun that the title recapitulates the art's merit....

 

Eh.

 

1111) Bruno/Film Review/Dan Schneider  Watching Sacha Baron Cohen’s 2009 comedy, Bruno, released after his breakthrough 2006 hit, Borat, is a little bit anticlimactic. Bruno is funny, but, in almost every way, and despite featuring a different character, it is an inferior film. It’s good, it has some outrageously funny moments, but never does the viewer NOT know how a 5-6 minute long vignette will end after seeing 5-10 seconds of the opening setup....

 

Ok.

 

1112) 5 Oddball Documentaries/Film Reviews/Dan Schneider  I recently watched five documentaries online, and all of them were odd in some fashion- be it their point of view, their subject, or elsewise. They were Tiny: A Story About Living Small, Jack Kerouac: King Of The Beats, Genius On Hold, Our Nixon, and The Revisionaries....

 

Eh....

 

1113) 5 Musician Documentaries/Film Reviews/Dan Schneider  I recently watched five documentaries online, and all of them were about the lives of musicians who were popular in the 1960 and 1970s, as well the aftermath of fame and pop music on their lives and art. They were Paul Williams Still Alive; John Denver: Country Boy; Glen Campbell: Iíll Be Me; Blondieís New York; And Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Cominí....

 

Ok.

 

1114) 5 Selfish Documentaries/Film Reviews/Dan Schneider  I recently watched five documentaries online, and all of them were about people who were incredibly shallow, selfish, and narcissistic. They were Broke, No Mas, Pumping Iron, To Be Takei, and The Pervertís Guide To Ideology....

 

Mediocre.

 

1115) 5 Sports/Gore Documentaries/Film Review/Dan Schneider  I recently watched five documentaries online, and all of them were on athletics and or violence in American life. They were The Battered Bastards Of Baseball, Muhammad And Larry, When The Garden Was Eden, Whitey: United States Of America vs. James J. Bulger, and Carl Panzram: The Spirit Of Hatred And Vengeance....

 

Ugh.

 

1116) Concho/Book Review/Dan Schneider  A few weeks ago, my wife, Jessica, and I were attending a local weekend arts and crafts fair at one of the smaller towns in Western Texas. On any given weekend there are likely to be 5 or 6 such events going on, wherein vendors large and small hawk their clothes, arts, crafts, music, and other things. At one such booth I came upon an old man hawking a series of western novels he wrote and self-published. Having been taken with the words and works of San Angelo writing legend Elmer Kelton, some years back, I was hoping that perhaps I might discover a diamond in the rough, so to speak. After almost ten minutes of gabbing, I felt almost obliged to buy one of his books, which all sold for $15 each. This was especially so when I mentioned Keltonís name....

 

Not good.

 

1117) Starting Out In The Evening/DVD Review/Dan Schneider  Starting Out In The Evening is a 2007 film that is a perfect evocation of the reality that not even good acting can save a terrible screenplay from becoming a bad film. There is such a dichotomy between the actual written material, how the technical staff mishandles the rest of the film (banal, pretentious scoring by Adam Gorgoni, that far too often tries to heavyhandedly lead the emotions in a scene, and far too laconic cinematography by Harlan Bosmajian that does the opposite- gives no insight into the characters nor scenes), and what is done so well by the filmís acting ensemble to rescue this godawful mess to mere badness....

 

Ugh.

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