DAM Spring Film Series

The Maltese Falcon. 1941. Written for the screen and directed by John Huston. Based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett. Starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre & Gladys George.

35mm screening ONE NIGHT ONLY this Friday, April 4th @ 7PM at the Sharp Auditorium in the Hamilton Building of the new Denver Art Museum.


richard widmark


abby mann


friday classic movie blogging

Barry Lyndon. (1975.) Dir. Stanley Kubrick. Written by Stanley Kubrick, based on the novel "The Memoirs of Barry Lyndon, Esq.," by William Makepeace Thackeray. Starring Ryan O'Neal, Marisa Berenson, Patrick Magee.


Ten recent views

To Be Or Not To Be -Delightful. Funny and serious but mostly funny, as one would not necessarily expect of a film ridiculing Hitler in 1940. But that's before the full scope of the Nazi horrors had been revealed to the world, so it makes sense. Anyway, Lubitsch does a great job finding a narrow line with this film about a Jewish Theater group operating in Nazi-occupied Poland that lets it be thriller, love story and above all, comedy all at the same time. Brilliant writing, acting, direction.

The Leopard Man -Another Val Lewton/Jacques Tourneur quickie heavy on shadows and sound effects and effective atmosphere. Characters are drawn quickly and sharply and fleshed out well by the cast and for a cheap little B-movie, it's damn fine, like all the other Lewton/Tourneur vehicles. I'm also fond of the New Mexico setting; just wish they'd put a Mexican actor in more than a tiny supporting role here.

Greetings -Another DePalma from back when he was way out along the left's counter-culture. Plot is minimal - three friends avoiding the draft in 1968 - and it gives DePalma excuse to wander around the young hipsters and comment on what they're doing. Like they say, no one over 30 is to be trusted and that's the starting (and ending) point of the film, but like Frank Zappa with We're Only In It For the Money he's quick to point out the bullshit in the scene and the way the kids Romanticize their struggles. I didn't like it as much as the follow-up Hi, Mom!, but it's pretty interesting regardless.

The Crimson Rivers -Decent cop thriller with two cops tracking what seems to be a serial killer. Naturally there's more to the case than meets the eye, and naturally there's some gruesome violence (though not on-screen) and though I tend to think of the genre as a very American, it's French, with Jean Reno and Vincent Cassel as the cops, the setting a provincial French mountain town - enough to differentiate things visually, if not in terms of how it's actually played out. Kinda fun, but nothing that knocked me out.

I Could Never Be Your Woman -Amy Heckerling wrote and directed this enjoyable little film about a TV sitcom writer (Michelle Pfieffer) who's forty(-something) and starts to fall in love with the new actor on her show (Paul Rudd) who's a twenty-something playing a teen-something. It went straight to video for whatever reason, but it's charming and funny and has lots of good lines. So what happened? I don't know, but I can just imagine that the funding had to have fallen out on it - there's nothing in the content that I can imagine causing a problem. As it stands, there are problems with the final product -nothing crippling, but some distractions like subplots that aren't fleshed out and a sound mix that made me double the volume for dialogue scenes and then rush to turn them down when music kicked in. This is about one rewrite and a final sound mix from being really good.

'G' Men -Cagney as government agent closing in on the gangsters he grew up with. It's probably less exciting by a notch than Cagney as gangster, but it's not bad even though it makes a point of moralizing more than I typically like. Strangely though, it doesn't fall into the trap of having bad guys a hundred times more interesting than its heroes are - something I attribute mainly to Cagney and one of the main reasons it endures and is worth watching even now.

Footlight Parade -Busby Berkeley, oh man. That shit is craz-ee! The story leading up to the dazzling finale is pretty generic - not bad, but not quite as sharp in the dialogue and wit as the 30's films I like best. But oh, man, that finale. Berkeley could've been a genius or could've been nuts (maybe both), but the spectacles he created for this film are absolutely fantastic, especially the water scene. Really great stuff and highly recommended.

The Wild Child -I've been skeptical of the later Truffaut I've seen - until this one. The early New Wave stuff is classical, but the films of the later 60's and 70's that have come my way haven't knocked me out - once you help break the accepted language of cinema, there's nowhere to go but back toward more conventional means and it's how I've felt with Day for Night and Small Change and Fahrenheit 451 - all enjoyable enough, none as incredible as his first three films. But now this film comes across my radar with its stylized photography, terrific supporting role by Truffaut himself and more importantly, the amazing central performance by "the wild child" (Jean-Pierre Cargol) that's truly a wonder of screen acting and perhaps equally a tribute to Truffaut's skill with actors, especially younger ones. I'll be watching it again, for sure.

Les Enfants Terribles -I was assigned by a friend to review this film, chosen from three options because i've liked almost all the Melville I've seen and almost none of the Cocteau I've seen. I have to say that no matter who dominated the set, it's Cocteau's presence that I feel throughout it, and not just because of his narration. I'm not a fan of films that romanticize youth or destructive impulses and this does both. I'm gonna have to give it some more thought to see how Melville fits in with things, but as it stands, it's feels like yet another "poetic" excursion of Cocteau's that's left me cold.

Queen Christina -Greta Garbo stars as a woman who ascends to the throne of Sweden, succeeding her father who was the country's most beloved leader of his time. At no point is her authority questioned or disputed as a woman and I like that in the film, regardless of whether it's true to history or not. It's certainly true to this era of woman's roles in American film, where we started to see tons of female leads in powerful roles about women's self-fulfillment and not buckling to societal pressures of what a woman is supposed to be/do in the wake of the women's suffrage movement. They often ended in tragedy in the films, but the movement itself was strong and a film about a woman's intellectual awakening and right to self-fulfillment - however disguised as historical drama it may have been - is always gonna be right up my alley. The ending does not seem sad to me, it seems like her fucking destiny.


friday classic movie blogging (early bird edition)

Mean Streets. (1973.) Dir. Martin Scorsese. Screenplay by Scorsese, Mardik Martin. Starring Robert DeNiro, Harvey Keitel, David Proval, Amy Robinson.


an adventure all his own

Keep your thumb on page 23, just in case you get killed - then you're allowed to go back!

Our own Chad is taking a short hiatus from hating on Wes Anderson to shoot a film of his own. We here at teh Booth wish him all the best and hope for his speedy return; in the meantime, you can read about Chad choosing his own indie film adventure at his own blog, which is right here.

arthur c. clarke



friday classic movie blogging

Point Blank. (1967.) Dir. John Boorman. Written by Donald Westlake (from his novel), Alexander Jacobs, David Newhouse, Rafe Newhouse. Starring Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, Keenan Wynn, Carroll O' Connor, John Vernon.


movie blogging to go

No toy?

Diary of the Dead. (2008.) There isn't a whole lot more I can say about Romero's newest zombie flick that Patrick hasn't already said better, but for whatever my two cents are worth: in spite of a shaky first five or ten minutes, Romero manages to not only dispatch once and for all the flock of witless no-no-but-in-this-one-they-run "of the Dead" remakes horror fans have been subjected to since 28 Days Later hit it big back a couple of years ago, but America's Best Horror Filmmaker also reinvents the NOTLD legacy for a whole new generation's neurosis, complete with an all new take-your-breath-away ending - they're dead, they're all messed up. If Land of the Dead was Georgie-Boy getting all relativistic and channelling Al Jazeera, Diary of the Dead is him doing 'The Daily Show': a brash, hilarious, and heartbreaking processing of the End of Days.

Drawing Restraint 9. (2005.) From everything I'd seen and heard, filmmaker Matthew Barney is a serious asshole, and I was expecting a right piece of ostentatious crap when I crawled out to the Esquire's Midnight Movie showing of the ninth offering in his continuing series of avant-chic movies. I was, however, pleasantly surprised: in #9, as he as done to some degree with most or all of the things in the Drawing Restraint series, Barney examines the tension in some very basic - primal? - imagery and feelings: things, living and otherwise, which organize into relationships, then decay, then pull apart, then organize anew. His aesthetic sense lends itself readily to medium of film, and even with a Japanese tea ceremony thrown into the middle of a movie I was watching at 1 A.M., I was intrigued and engaged the whole way through.

Goya's Ghosts. (2006.) I'm not sure what happened in this movie, really. Javier Bardem's an Inquisiton-era priest who likes art, and Francisco Goya in particular - who, just like everyone who has ever been in a Milos Forman movie, is hopelessly misunderstood by everybody - and then Natalie Portman is in it, and then she's not, and then Bardem gets chased away for being a heretic, and then Napoleon invades Spain, and Javier is back again, but he's all bummed out, 'cause he screwed Natalie Portman (who's insane now). And Stellan Skarsgard paints and goes deaf. Yeah, you know what? Don't see this. Rent The People vs. Larry Flynt instead.


friday classic film blogging

Torn Curtain. (1966). Dir. Alfred Hitchcock. Written by Brian Moore, Willis Hall (uncredited), Keith Waterhouse (uncredited). Starring Paul Newman, Julie Andrews, Lila Kedrova, Hansjorg Felmy, Ludwig Donath, Gunter Strack.


a million miles from van gogh's ear

Above: will make up avant-garde film movement for food.

LOL. (2006). Dir. Joe Swanberg. Written by Swanberg, Kevin Bewersdorf, C. Mason Wells. Starring Swanberg, Bewersdorf, Wells, Brigid Reagan, Tipper Netwon.

My initial reaction to LOL was so strong and so negative that the only response I felt I could grasp at were insults: insults, along the line of, “only an acrobatic group-lesbian-strap-on sex scene featuring seven or eight of the Suicide Girls or the on-screen resurrection of a fully ambulatory Christopher Reeve could possibly redeem this film.” This bothered me, though. Not that I’d prefer to be watching a half dozen of the Suicide Girls screw each other with fake dicks, but that parody was the only thing I could muster when confronted with something so painfully insipid. As they say in action movies, this would make me no better than the monsters who committed this awful deed. I came to realize instead that I needed to Rise Above. Yes - meet horror and outrage with dignity, or at least something resembling it.

So: LOL is a glimpse into the lives of a group of peripherally-related, early-twentysomethings in Someplace, Chicago, a circle of friends drifting in and out of orbit around one dewey-eyed uber-indie musician. They have conversations with people we don’t see on their cels, they meet other moppet-haired twentysomethings in drawn-out, obviously unscripted scenes, they watch extremely attractive young actresses take their clothes off in staged amateur online porn, and they have more conversations with people we don’t see on their cels. Indeed, a considerable chunk of every scene begins with someone deeply absorbed by a computer, or a cell phone, or something you plug in. I have no doubt that’s supposed to mean something, but it’s a something that’s only kinda-sorta glanced at, not even a point that gets made or exploited or anything else you do with points in a movie, really.

I have an impression that LOL (and maybe in a larger sense the rest of the “mumblecore” movement this film locates itself in) has aspirations towards something like Dogme 95. But purveyors of the latter attempted to blow up conventions of filmmaking they believed had become crusted over with corny, technological tricks and still tell a story, and LOL doesn’t much care for story or plot or characters or entertainment, but to only make vague gestures in the direction of nihilism and youth culture. I’ve seen references to Seinfeld and Cassavetes and Cronenberg and the flourishing of new fresh viewpoints on the net, and I really do wish I could make space in my own evaluation of this movie for all of that – I mean, I don’t want to miss the Van Gogh Boat either - but man, I just ain’t seeing it (and this is coming from someone who beats off a whole helluva lot and is bored a fair share of his waking life). Write-ups in the New York Times and Village Voice are totally awesome and whatever, but last I checked story and acting and a modicum of skill with a camera counts for something, too.

This rush to anoint these kids, and this movie, a movement made me angry. No, more than just angry - LOL made me wish there was a military draft right now and that the young filmmakers who were flogging these cheesily improvised scenes of post-adolescent sexual discomfort and guileless boredom with gadget-laden lives weren’t instead swept up to some sandblown hellpit in the Middle East so that they could return many years later with some real issues and things to work out; or wonder that, per the ancient Chinese curse, we live in probably one of the most interesting times one can hope/dread to experience, and these kids still believe that as artists they lack for content or themes beyond masturbation and one-sided cell phone convos but are still bold enough to declare their stuff part of a movement; or that I had finally gazed into the abyss of white privilege I’ve been hearing about all this time since going back to college, and it left me feeling cold, and empty, and guilty, and made me yearn for the deliberate and careful wisdom of Louis Farrakhan or Alan Keyes. But I owe you more than to actually post all that...