DAM Spring Film Series


Detour. Directed by Edgar J. Ulmer. Written by Martin Goldsmith and Martin Mooney. Starring Tom Neal & Ann Savage. 1945.

Blood Simple. Written and directed by Joel & Ethan Coen. Starring John Getz, Frances McDormand, Dan Hedaya & M. Emmet Walsh. 1985.

Special 35mm screening of both films ONE NIGHT ONLY this Friday, May 2nd @ 7PM at the Sharp Auditorium in the Hamilton Building of the new Denver Art Museum.


strange magic

ELO lets us know all about Hollywood's strange magic.

Who says systematized torture isn't good comedy? Who says George W. Bush still can't be a hero?

'Harold and Kumar Get Waterboarded and Watch the Koran Get Ripped Up' or whatever it is is kinda fucking about with my totally awesome torture-and-revenge-flicks-are-vastly-more-important-cultural-touchstones-than-a-lot-of-commentators-and-critics-might-think thesis, btw.


friday classic film blogging

The Naked Kiss. (1964.) Dir Samuel Fuller. Written by Fuller. Starring Constance Towers, Anthony Eisley, Michael Dante, Virginia Grey, Patsy Kelly, Marie Devereux.


hammer glamour girl hazel court


open thread

If I hear, "Brought to you by the guys who gave you 'Knocked Up'!" on my teevee one more time, I'm grabbing a rifle and heading over to the water tower...


DAM Spring Film Series

Taxi Driver. Directed by Martin Scorsese. Written by Paul Schrader. Starring Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd, Harvey Keitel, Albert Brooks & Peter Boyle.

Special 35mm screening ONE NIGHT ONLY this Friday, April 25th @ 7PM at the Sharp Auditorium in the Hamilton Building of the new Denver Art Museum.


friday classic film blogging

Aguirre, the Wrath of God. (1972). Dir by Werner Herzog. Written by Herzog. Starring Klaus Kinski, Helena Rojo, Ruy Guerra, Del Negro.


DAM Spring Film Series

The Searchers. Directed by John Ford. Written for the screen by Frank S. Nugent. Based on the novel by Alan LeMay. Starring John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Miles & Natalie Wood.

Special 35mm screening ONE NIGHT ONLY this Friday, April 18th @ 7PM at the Sharp Auditorium in the Hamilton Building of the new Denver Art Museum.

up-the-queue (open thread)

This week, I've got Michael Clayton (living vicariously through Teh Clooney), Ghosts of Mars (in a John Carpenter-completish mood), and Interview (digging Steve Buscemi, digging Sienna Miller, but in a totally different way; and wondering what his thing for Theo Van Gogh is all about).

What's in yours?


"what have any of us accomplished? eating a bowl of fucking cereal?"

James Wolcott delves deep into one blog commentor's Cruise-related faith.

friday classic film blogging

The Public Enemy. (1931). Dir William Wellman. Written by Kubec Glasmon, John Bright, Harvey Thew. Starring James Cagney, Jean Harlow, Edward Woods, Joan Blondell, Donald Cook.


The Flowers of St. Francis

Roberto Rossellini 1950 Italy 87 minutes

Watching The Flowers of St. Francis in this day and age is a perplexing experience. It’s a fictional film depicting the legends and folklore (the ‘Fioretti,’ or ‘little flowers’) of Italy’s patron saint that strives for documentary realism. A film whose mythologized subject matter and strict, matter-of-fact style are at odds with one another, The Flowers of St. Francis still manages to succeed in creating its portrait of an uncomplicated, kind and benevolent world in servitude to God. Film historian Adriano Aprà puts it best:

“It’s as if the light of the Holy Spirit had settled over Earth once and for all, and Rossellini, almost as if making a documentary, filmed this enchanted, harmonious and serene reality, a reality that, when addressing the issues of his time, he could never find.”

This ‘reality’ still remains unfound. When viewed from today’s political climate, one cannot help but sometimes see the behavior of St. Francis, Brother Ginepro and their fellow brothers (all played by real Catholic monks with palpable altruism) as just plain dumb. They bumble around in a deserted landscape with childish faces full of wonder, having conversations with seasonal birds à la Snow White. They exist within a vacuum, cut off from any influence of war and famine of the Middle Ages; highly ideal conditions to develop and sustain such blind, unwavering faith in a transparent deity. However, this was a conscious decision on Rossellini’s part to isolate them from the real world. This serves much more of an aesthetic purpose than a narrative one, establishing an environment Peter Brunette sees “functioning, like medieval art, symbolically, as an emblematic community of the possible.”

What help makes this emblematic community seem possible is the film’s total lack of narrative structure. There is no arc here, no internal conflict and very little external conflict. Rossellini chooses to preserve the Fioretti as unadulterated vignettes, delicately accentuating moments in the fabled life of St. Francis and his Order of Friars Minor. The strong degree to which each fable construes St. Francis and his crew as divinely holistic is balanced by Rossellini’s inconspicuous, almost invisible photographic style. We see and hear things for what they are. There are no overt, artificial suggestions of a spiritual presence. What Rossellini wants us to take from the film is not a religious awakening but a renewed conviction in good deeds and humanity. Ultimately, St. Francis is transformed from a hollow, theological figure into a ‘poor’ man with the best intentions who walks the streets among other poor men.

Henri Agel describes Rossellini’s technique in The Flowers of St. Francis as an “aesthetic of insignificance,” a style that favors poetic moments over rising action and is characteristic of Rossellini’s neorealist beginnings. It is this humanization of a cherished holy figure and his unadorned, neorealist representation that makes the film refreshing and mildly radical. “It was important for me then to affirm everything that stood against slyness and cunning,” Rossellini once said about the film. “In other words, I believed then and still believe that simplicity is a very powerful weapon.” Unique for a shamelessly religious film, The Flowers of St. Francis comes across without a single air of pretension. It does not contrive to change its viewer’s beliefs, nor does it elevate its subject into supernatural supremacy. St. Francis, and more importantly his message of leading an earnest life, are given a gentle exaltation in a rather convincing documentary fashion. Simplicity will always do the trick.



"you forgot john quincy adams"

Slate previews a supposed draft of Oliver Stone's George W. Bush flick. Some Bush biographers respond.

(all links courtesy Cursor)


charlton heston

DAM Spring Film Series

Chinatown. 1974. Written by Robert Towne. Directed by Roman Polanski. Starring Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway & John Huston.

Special 35mm screening ONE NIGHT ONLY this Friday, April 11th @ 7PM at the Sharp Auditorium in the Hamilton Building of the new Denver Art Museum.


nothing's gonna blog you not while i'm a around

Try some blogger/goes well with a pint of lager! **

Sweeney Todd (2007) Though I’m a fan of Stephen Sondheim, I lack the kind of familiarity true blue musical theatre-types have with his stuff; even so, I think I can say that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp do a magnificient job of adapting Sondheim’s story of the impossibility of love and revenge co-existing for the screen. Indeed, maybe other than Martin Scorsese, I can think of few other directors more qualified to direct a musical than Burton, who seems quite comfortable calling on his unique skill for assembling striking-looking characters on even more striking-looking sets, and in this instance, having them sing. Both Depp – whose high, blown back hairdo evokes a man whose life blew up in his face - and beautiful Burton beau Helena Bonham Carter – blinking adoringly up at Depp through raccoon eyes and over her impressive bosom - do an admirable job of pulling off all that singing, leaning into the melody instead of straining against it (much like the caterwauling we got stuck with in that Nicole Kidman and Ewan MacGregor thing about Paris and burlesque shows), and the producers stick in talented singers Jamie Campbell Bower (Anthony Hope - ho ho) and Jayne Wisener (Johanna) to bracket any shortcomings Depp-as-Todd and Carter-as-Mrs. Lovett might show.

I think that one of the reasons this film is so successful is that it’s a mature work from boy-man Burton: for a while, it looked as though he might stop telling stories about outsiders and start wallowing, but Sweeney – much like his splendid Ed Wood, executive-produced Corpse Bride, and even the oversweet flash of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – represents a shift away from Burton moping alongside his protagonists and instead giving them and the audience an opportunity to see what happens when they try to make their own communities: Sweeney Todd is not about happy endings, of course – as noted, Sondheim is quite clear that there is no place for love and happiness with obsession and revenge in the way – and, just under Sondheim’s wonderful songs, Burton seems to be saying that sometimes, it’s possible to be too far outside.

Southland Tales (2006) A super slick, super super campy metrosexual mess of a music video, a Saturday Night Live cast flick, Skiddoo, and The Muppet Movie starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Boxer Santaros, a politically-connected actor with amnesia and a screenplay, and Sara Michelle Gellar as Krista Now, a pornstar with a pop-liberation agenda and a business plan. Someplace in all this is a story about identity, civil liberties, degenerate media, the 2008 presidential election, tide energy, and the end of the world, but Donnie Darko director Richard Kelly seems more concerned – well, it’s hard to tell what his concern his, as nothing in the flick really contributes to the everything-and-extra-cheese premise he’s ordered up. Making things all the more difficult is the fact that no one during the course of the movie acts a role so much as makes a cameo, the actors don’t make a scene as pose and share the frame, and though there’s a crapton of great one-liners, they never move any of those scenes along. The fun’s all in just being in Kelly’s pretty and pointless little movie and saying those great one-liners.

This is just the sort of movie that little geek girls with perfect features and cute hair and cool glasses and great fashion sense love, and they will drag their hapless, well-meaning boyfriends to suffer through midnight showings of this. So take that anyway you like (though any flick where you get to see and hear Sara Michelle Gellar say, “Okay, I like to get fucked. And, I like to get fucked hard” can’t be half bad. Well, one third bad).

Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006) Unlike Southland, Goran Dukic's lean, intelligent love story steers clear of attempting to shock and awe the audience with star power and weirdness, even with indie goddess Shannyn Sossaman and Duke of Coolsville Tom Waits in starring roles about death, dying, and angels (and what I’m pretty sure is a Gogol Bordello song in there, too). Based on Etgar Keret's novella "Kneller's Happy Campers", Wristcutters follows emo suicide Zia (Patrick Fugit) landing in purgatory – purgatory being a lot like here, except purgatory actually does suck. Zia hears through the purgatorial grapevine that his living girlfriend took the literal plunge, and so it’s road trip time with his goofy Russian buddy Euguene (Shea Wigam) to reunite with her. Along the way Zia and Eugene pick up the hitchhiking Mikal (Sossaman), who swears she’s there only by mistake, and nearly run over Waits, who may or may not be representing other interests in the beyond. Charming and funny; if this movie were a girl, I’d buy her a chocolate milkshake and an MIA cd.

** Lookitme! I'm Stephen Sondheim!


friday classic film blogging

8 1/2. (1963). Dir Frederico Fellini. Written by Frederico Fellini, Ennio Faliano, Tullio Pinelli, Brunello Rondi. Starring Marcello Mastrioanni, Claudia Cardinale, Anouk Aimmee.