Produced by: William Dozier
Written by: Lorenzo Semple, Jr.
Edited by: Harry Gerstad
Cinematography by: Howard Schwarts
Music by: Nelson Riddle, Neal Hefti (theme)
Starring: Adam West, Burt Ward, Lee Meriwether, Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, Frank Gorshin, Alan Napier, Neil Hamilton, Stafford Repp, Madge Blake, Reginald Denny, Milton Frome, Gil Perkins, Dick Crockett, George Sawaya, Van Williams
Based on the DC Comics character created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger and the TV series created by William Dozier
Confession time: Though it is one of my earliest memories of being at a theatrical showing, Batman Returns was not my first exposure to Batman. There was already a lot of love for Batman instilled in me by that point. Part of that was likely due to Tim Burton’s first film, but, honestly, it was far more likely that I was introduced to the Dark Knight in the form of the campy Caped Crusader portrayed in in the 1960s TV series starring Adam West. As a little kid, I didn’t quite understand that the series was essentially a satire of the comics and serials rather than a serious attempt to adapt the character to television. When I was finally exposed to the darker, grittier stuff, I pretty much thought it was silly because it was old, and older stuff was always sillier! Why else would they release all those ridiculous musicals back then that my mom enjoyed so much, right? With age, of course, I did catch on, and after getting over an initial feeling of betrayal that came with the understanding that the show was poking fun at my favorite superhero (and, by association, me), I also came to embrace the series for what it was. Read more…
Produced by: Chris Coen, Tatiana Kelly, Mikal P. Lazarev, Adam Sherman
Screenplay by: Goran Dukić
Story by: Etgar Keret
Edited by: Jonathan Alberts
Cinematography by: Vanja Cernjul
Music by: Bobby Johnston, Gogol Bordello
Starring: Patrick Fugit, Shannyn Sossamon, Shea Whigham, Leslie Bibb, Mikal P. Lazarev, Mark Boone, Jr., Abraham Benrubi, Mary Pat Gleason, Anthony Azizi, Azura Skye, Nick Offerman, Sarah Roemer, John Hawkes, Tom Waits, Anatol Rezmeritza, Cameron Bowen, Jake Busey
Based on the short story Kneller’s Happy Campers by Etgar Keret
This review contains some mild spoilers.
Lying in bed, placing a needle on a record, and then, to the tune of Tom Waits’ “Dead and Lovely,” we watch Zia, the lead character, at various stages of tidying up his mess of an apartment. Zia picks up every bit of trash and misplaced piece of dirty clothing, then wipes down every surface and piece of furniture from the dust and filth that has built up. He waters his plants, as well, then looks around to ensure he’s finished. He then looks at himself directly into the camera, fixes his hair, takes a peak outside his window mindlessly, and then around his room again to ensure he’s done everything possible. He then walks into the bathroom, but this time camera doesn’t show him until several moments later, when it begins to peek in on Zia, looking into a mirror as he works at something just off screen. His expression barely changes as he collapses to the tile floor. He leaves behind a pool of bloody water in the sink and a razor beside it. In his last few moments, he notices a single, large dust bunny in the corner of the room, barely moved by his last few breaths… Read more…
There was another version of this article that actually went on quite a bit of a rant, but I had to scrap it. I scrapped it not just for you, my reader, but also for myself, as I was writing more out of impassioned irritation than I was to make a coherent article about my relationship with film, as I had originally set out to do. I think this is a bit more focused, and a bit more biographical than that lecture, which I am honestly glad I had second thoughts about – and I do mean lecture as in “scold,” not “educational speech.” Part of what I almost lost sight of was an expression of my love for the medium of film, which, let’s face it, is the main topic of this blog is, after all!
I do love film, though. I even admittedly sometimes love watching bad films, when the mood strikes, despite the fact that I usually end up griping about how awful they are by the time the credits begin – oftentimes earlier. I guess I’m a part time hate-watcher. That being said, however, I am admittedly an amateur when it comes to film appreciation. I’m rarely driven by more than gut instinct when it comes to analyzing the individual parts of a film, so I’m often left feeling quite inadequate to judge things like the composition of shots, the quality of the score, and the inventiveness of certain other techniques unless they really stand out to me. And, honestly, so long as those elements are either so well done that they either don’t call attention to themselves or are so transcendently novel that I can’t help but notice, I’m largely okay with that. For me, film has always been more than just the sum of its parts and more about what it’s actually saying on behalf of the artists involved and the subject it’s covering. (And, sometimes, films are mostly just entertaining, and that’s honestly okay, too!) Read more…
Just a small update for now. I’m not certain how many of you out there reading read regularly, but I’m still doing this just ’cause, for myself.
I’m currently working on something a bit more challenging than just a mere review, as I’ve been wanting to do that for a while, but for some reason have been held back by a number of things, most of them personal. I really want to write this, however, and it’s somewhat of a personal writing that will shed some light on why I love the film medium so much. Basically, it’s going to be sort of a mission statement, but in the form of a personal, semi-biographical perspective.
I am also planning on tackling more diverse films, not just to grow myself, but hopefully to help anyone out there who is reading to grow, as well, which was my original intention with this blog, beyond just keeping up a writing hobby. I’ll have more details of what kind of idea I have in that article, but, for now, I just wanted to get this little teaser out of the way, as well as just motivate myself to get it done by making this announcement. I’m excited to share it, and I’m excited for some changes I’m going to hopefully have the willpower to enact on this blog — even if only for myself.
Produced by: William LeBaron
Screenplay by: H.S. Kraft
Story by: Jerry Horwin, Seymore B. Robinson
Edited by: James B. Clark
Cinematography by: Leon Shamroy
Music by: Harold Arlen
Starring: Lena Horne, Bill Robinson, Cab Calloway, Katherine Dunham, Fats Waller, Fayard Nicholas, Harold Nicholas, Ada Brown, Dooley Wilson
I’d largely forgotten this film’s existence until I saw that Screen Archives had done a limited release of the film on Blu-Ray (Thanks, Blu-Ray.com!). The name immediately stuck out, and so I alerted my mom, an avid fan of old musicals, to the film, knowing about its historical significance as one of the earliest major studio films to feature an all-black cast, but having admittedly very little knowledge of what it was actually about – apart from the fact that it was a musical, and I had seen Lena Horne’s performance of the title song somewhere, probably in one of those musical documentaries that always aired on TCM or AMC. After purchasing it (and accidentally shipping it to myself instead of my mom), I did watch it, though, and realized something fairly interesting about the film, divorced from the racial significance: It’s actually kind of boring if you’re not that invested in the characters or their story, and I wasn’t. Read more…