Roger Corman is one of the most important figures in the history of American cinema. His business minded approach to creating popular films combined with his personal philosophies to create unique works of art that would be largely marginalized or completely dismissed as trash. It is when you take in to consideration the social climate during his most prolific periods that you can begin to formulate a larger picture of the importance of Corman’s work. Exploitation and trash films are largely ignored and disregarded in cineaste culture, but those kinds of films offer a unique look in to the social conditions of the time of their creation. If exploitation cinema exists to give the viewer what they truly want to see in the darkest recesses of their subconscious, then the ability to put a finger on that pulse to create populist art that taps in to those secret desires and unspoken taboos requires unrestrained cultural acumen and the skill to put that acumen to work. Corman had the ability to capture what it was that we actually wanted to see, not what we fooled ourselves in to believing we wanted to see. We might not have the capacity for introspective honesty, but Corman had the ability to look at the cultural climate and distill all of it in to what would be classified as lowbrow art. If one of the primary functions of art is to reflect the nature of humanity, then the entirety of our nature must be captured, whether it be “high art” or “lowbrow”.
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Romantics Anonymous is another in a long line of contemporary French romance fairytales, and occupies a wonderful universe where Chocolatiers are regarded as celebrities and hopeless romantics attend support groups. The film manages to walk a fine line between mildly charming and overly precious and manages to keep itself somewhat grounded by the painful emotions of reality. It is a difficult balancing act, but the film manages to keep its head in the clouds with its feet on the ground without being overly cloying. It is in the personality idiosyncrasies of its two lovers that the film brings the classic romantic fairytale structure in to modern society, whether through Jean-Ren’s antisocial personality defects that drive his crippling shyness, or through Angelique’s low sense of self worth; they are both broken byproducts of modern society, but are able to find common ground and universal beauty through their shared love of immaculate chocolate.
There’s a storm coming and we have no idea how powerful it is going to be when it gets here. The indications are all around us, with the shaking of the leaves on every tree and with the weight of every black raindrop. We can’t place the origins of this omnipresent dread, and we don’t remember life being this terrifying, but this is what happens when you have children. Your darkest fears will manifest themselves in your thoughts, and there will be no avoiding their weight because this is no longer about us, this is about our children. Children are the unlucky recipients of our neurotic quirks and illogical fears as we are hit with an overwhelming sense of powerlessness as soon as they enter our lives. Some of us are better able to process these emotions, but for some these emotions can trigger long dormant mental idiosyncrasies that loom just below our contrived exterior.
Once upon a time in cinema, there was a bad film about an irritatingly over-zealous priest and a low-rent Kiefer Sutherland that took a male bonding trip down a river. The priest went out of his way to be annoying for nearly an hour, when finally a pair of strange Japanese girls and their black companion come along and blow up the head of the only non-irritating character in the film. The film made ham-fisted attempts at self-reflexivity in order to provide context for its lack of meaning through the retelling of urban fables that give no conventional storybook endings or greater meaning. It gives excuses for its lack of a traditional structure with its brief and jarring time-outs from the narrative to have one of its characters recount some idiotic urban fable. This sets up the pretense that the film is all about the journey, and one shouldn’t dig too deeply for metaphorical fool’s gold. The film found itself to be far more amusing and confrontational than I did, and it seemed quite pleased with itself in how far “out there” it was. The film knew it wasn’t really going anywhere, but it treated that fact as a virtue under the misguided notion that this sort of self-reflexivity was clever or original.
This is what happens when youthful idealism grows old and starts to notice the wrinkles on its face that force one to accept their own mortality. Age also allows one to realize that sins cannot be repaid in blood, and the atrocious acts that were committed by Doctor Birkenau can never be undone. Those acts have left a permanent mark on the very faces and souls of these ex-Mossad agents, but even the death of the Doctor will never completely heal the permanent imprints of his atrocities. By this time he would surely be a withered shell of a man, haunted by his own demons and contending with his own mental deterioration caused by the ravages of old age. While it was once in everyone’s best interest (including Doctor Birkenau’s) to maintain the lie and take it with them to the grave, it would appear that his mind has slipped and he has apparently revealed his identity to a news reporter, bringing back to light an unpaid debt that had spanned thirty years and defined every aspect of the three would-be assassins’ lives.
Is there anything worse than being a teenager?
It’s so awkward. Try to remember being a teenager. The way you felt. The way you acted. The way you moved. The way you could feel everyone judging you, even though they were probably worried you were judging them. How you had that carnal knowledge, but didn’t have a clue of what to do with it as your mind and body go bonkers.
There’s a twisted logic in casting a bunch of amateur teenagers in a dance as surreal and preoccupied by gender identity as “Kontakthof,” by choreographer Pina Bausch. That’s exactly what happened during the filming of 2010 German documentary Dancing Dreams, directed by Rainer Hoffmann and Anne Linsel.
Apparently there was a whole room of people that thought Beneath the Darkness was a good idea. Good enough to spend over $7 million on the budget alone. With today’s technology and creativity, you know what kind of amazing low-budget wonder flick we could have had with that kind of money? Unfortunately that money was placed onto the laps of the Austin-based writing and directing team, Bruce Wilkinson and Martin Guigui. What we get instead is a superfluous idea, and another lame entry to the thriller genre.
No two people have ever experienced the same high school exposure. For that matter, not every teenager has had the exact reaction to a given situation growing up, especially during the height of peer pressure. Maybe that’s why The Myth of the American Sleepover is titled as such. There are times when the movie keenly resembles the teen characters it features: bold and unguarded. We’re taken to the suburbs of Detroit, to the weekend just before all the youngsters begin their next step in their academic lives. All the central characters want to accomplish something special before it all begins: Maggie (Claire Sloma) wants to experience romance; Claudia (Amanda Bauer) is looking to expand her friend base; Scott (Brett Jacobsen) wants to see where it goes with a set of twins he once knew; and Rob (Marlon Morton) is looking for, well, a blonde cutie he met in the supermarket.
While it may not be as groundbreaking, as dark as it could have been, nor as faithful to its source material as other comic book animated films, Justice League: Doom is an enjoyable and fitting adaption of the “JLA: Tower of Babel” story and is a good film for the esteemed Dwayne McDuffie to have ended off on before his untimely death.
The Sons of Tennessee Williams is a documentary film about the tradition of Mardi Gras and its significance in the struggle for gay rights over the last half century. It focuses on the age-old tradition of elaborate Mardi Gras costumes and pageantry during the Carnival season, but hones in specifically on the significance of the festival in the gay rights movement. New Orleans would serve as a catalyst for many important advances in gay rights, most significantly the right for people to choose who they wish to be in public freely, without fear of legal persecution. The Carnival festivities created a loophole that allowed men to wear women’s clothing in public. There were instances of men doing this on Mardi Gras least as far back as the 1930’s, and this was their one day to express themselves publically.