I’m very pleased to announce that my first guest appearance on the podcast Film Don’t Lie is now available here. My friend and podcast host Audy Christianos invited me to come on the show to discuss one of the great Friday night double features currently playing on the Criterion Channel at FilmStruck, this one featuring Night Moves (1975) and My Night at Maud’s (1969). These films have more in common than the word “night,” so I hope you’ll join us to find out more.
So I’m a little nervous… I’ve been asked to be a guest on an upcoming podcast about movies. I’ve done podcasting before: for three years with The Comics Alternative (mostly on the Young Reader episodes) and have been a guest on other podcasts, but those shows were always about comics and graphic novels. Tomorrow I record my first podcast episode about movies, two in particular.
Children of Paradise (1945) had been on my “to watch” list for several years, waiting patiently for me to give it a chance. I knew it has been called both one of the greatest films of all time and the greatest French film ever, but I also knew it’s over three hours long. And in French.
I also know I am frequently an idiot.
But sometimes idiots take steps in the right direction. After watching the movie on FilmStruck recently, I posted on Twitter: “I just watched Children of Paradise (1945) on FilmStruck and my life will never be the same.”
The Last of Sheila (1973)
Directed and produced by Herbert Ross
Written by Anthony Perkins, Stephen Sondheim
Cinematography by Gerry Turpin
Viewed on FilmStruck
“Civilization is but a thin veneer stretched across the passions of the human heart.” – Bill Moyers
I have a good friend whose brother is a Hollywood screenwriter. I won’t tell you his name, but you’ve probably seen his work. My friend has related several horror stories about his brother’s experiences with the writing life in Hollywood. None of these stories have been very surprising; they simply confirm what I’ve suspected for years about the way things work and how people behave (or rather misbehave) in the industry. I have no doubt there are some very nice folks working in Hollywood, but I’m also sure the place is filled with rude, narcissistic, arrogant, petty, crass, and generally unlikable people, exactly like the characters in The Last of Sheila. Maybe we actually look forward to one (or more) of these self-centered jerks meeting their comeuppance?
“And when he (the Lamb of God) had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with the sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” Revelation 6:7-8 (KJV)
Although some may dismiss these verses as improperly applied words never directly referenced in the film, I have to believe Elem Klimov had them in mind when he directed Come and See (1985), one of the most devastating works of art I’ve ever experienced in any format. To watch it, you might want to take a day off from work and have your favorite comedy or comfort movie nearby for afterwards. I’m totally serious. Yet anyone undertaking the film will soon realize that all the Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, or works from any other comedy masters will never erase the power of this film. Unless you do not possess a heart, Come and See will leave you shattered.
Shockproof (1949) Douglas Sirk
Mention the name Douglas Sirk to classic movie fans and they’ll come up with certain words that evoke the director’s work, particularly the word “melodrama.” Do the same with Samuel Fuller and you might evoke the words “controversial,” “aggressive,” or “violent.” Sirk suggests high production values in his films; Fuller, low-budget. It seems almost unthinkable that the two would work together on a project, but it happened with Shockproof, written by Fuller and Helen Deutsch and directed by Sirk.
October is off to a good start with some classic horror titles, a rewatch of a 70s horror classic, a bit of film noir, and the movie everyone’s talking about. Read on…