January 21, 2013
Twilight's last gleaming
A Colonel in the United States Air Force, and three other convicts, escapes from a military prison. The four men take cover at a nuclear base and proceed to hold America hostage.
The description above is probably not the best for this film. This film is based on the idea of the military industrial complex that Eisenhower warned about in his farewell address of 1961. There are some great topics within this film that are as pertinent today as they were in 1977. This film has an all-star cast with Charles Durning as the President. ~Mike
Askwith Media Library 58979-D 146 minutes 1977
December 06, 2012
Beasts of the southern wild
Hushpuppy is a six-year-old living in an isolated bayou community. When her father Wink becomes ill, she sets off for the outside world in an attempt to help him. The journey to save her father is delayed by a 'busted' universe that reverses weather patterns and brings about long-extinct animals. Can Hushpuppy save the day? Bonus features include the making of Beasts of the Southern Wild and the theatrical trailer.
Beasts of the Southern Wild is a very well done film. It is one of those films that had to be shot outside of the clutches of the Hollywood Money Complex. "Hushpuppy" takes on a journey of growth and understanding. Most of the characters you don't want to sympathize with, however, you find yourself caring deeply for all of them, a sign of a well-developed script. This film is a flawless gem.
The actors are outstanding: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry, Levy Easterly, Lowell Landes, Pamela Harper.
Askwith Media Library 58575-D 2011 (58573-B blu-ray)
October 30, 2012
A private detective finds himself in over his head when he takes on a case involving the richest and most powerful people in Chinatown. Bonus features include commentary, featurettes, a trailer, and more.
Special features: Commentary by screenwriter Robert Towne with David Fincher; Other, Water and power HD, Chinatown, an appreciation, The begining and the end, Filming, The legacy; Theatrical trailer HD.
One of my favorite films: It's just so uncomfortable all the way to the end, where it could possibly change your life. Everything about this film reaches the finest levels of the film craft.
I am reviewing the blu-ray due to the outstanding special features, not only the long, out in the field interview with Robert Towne but also the unbelievable documentary of the historical building of the aqueducts. Water and power HD is an important urban planning documentary and should stand on its own. ~Mike
Askwith Media Library 58241-B 113 minutes 1974
The documentary is very recent and I did not get the date of production.
October 23, 2012
The black book (Reign of terror)
In the aftermath of Revolutionary leader Robespierre's ruthless and brutal rise to dictator of France, true patriot Charles D'Aubigny assumes the disguise of his country's most feared torturer, 'The Butcher of Strasbourg', in the hopes of infiltrating Robespierre's circle. Political moderates have tasked D'Aubigny with locating a black book, a personal diary of the Terror, containing information that can inspire the overthrow of Robespierre.
When the film opens you cannot help but notice the outstanding lighting and camera technique. The camera placement pulls the viewer into the drama. It is one of the most compelling and technically perfect films I have seen. The story's not bad either. ~Mike
Askwith Media Library 58339-D 89 minutes 1949
October 16, 2012
Mace Sowell, an ex-intelligence operative, has kept a dark secret that could destroy the life of a certain up-and-coming presidential candidate. It's a secret that has already killed many, and Mace's name is next on the list.
Beyond the mystery, this film deals with aging and how the elderly are treated. ~Mike
Outstanding performances by Patrick Stewart, Kimberly Williams, Joy Kilpatrick, Craig Shoemaker, James Harlow, Hector Elizondo.
Askwith Media Library 58124-D 115 minutes 1997
September 21, 2012
"Arriving in a sleepy Southern town on the eve of integration, slick charismatic Adam Cramer (WILLIAM SHATNER) ia an ominous influence, inciting its white citizens into a racial fervor, and plunging the once quiet community into a state of chaos."
This film was produced during a very racially charged time in America. The Intruder is an intense demonstration of one man who brings the townsfolk to the brink of murder. This is one of the best Corman films. ~Mike
Aswith Media Library 33132-D 1961 83 minutes
July 30, 2012
Power of the Press
During World War II Hollywood produced many cautionary tales: Films to inspire the public to participate in the war effort, films to recognize anti American attitudes, films to expose the possibilities of spies and the list goes on. The Power of the Press is a non-stop sledgehammer relentlessly exposing the corruption of the press and the cost of its aggression on the innocent. That is the film goes to great lengths to show the horrors of a corrupt press. The story was too obvious for the viewers in the 1940s and the film was ridiculed.
However, today the corrupt characters of the film seem like they are acting out a Mission Statement for many modern forms of "The Press". Todays press is proud of its corruption and its malicious attacks. Todays press knows it can only "sell the soap" if it makes the story. Okay I'll stop.
If you want to see what the hope for a modern press was, this is the film. It may be heavy handed in its delivery but it is an important view that was to be the American Dream. ~Mike
Askwith Media Library 49888-D 64 minutes 1943
Written by Sam Fuller. Directed by Lew Landers.
April 05, 2012
A documentary/fiction hybrid that combines archival footage with cryptic allusions to an imaginary murder plot involving Alfred Hitchcock and his double to create a portrait of American media run amok during the Cold War.
This film uses a large amount of "popular" images from the Cold War, 1950 through 1990. With new footage and voice over the film pulls the viewing into a compressed view of this period. More recent footage about the war with Iraq is added near the end. Double Take is entertaining and is a good example of the use of image and audio to convey a feeling or an idea. ~Mike
One of the special features is a nice audio interview with longtime film actress Karen Black. She talks about her experiences working with Hitchcock.
Askwith Media Library 56647-D 79 minutes 2010
February 06, 2012
Pandora and the Flying Dutchman
Restored under the auspices of Martin Scorsese. All men seem hopelessly obsessed with a nightclub singer on vacation in Spain, but she has eyes only for Hendrick, who has been cursed to sail the seven seas for all eternity in search of a woman who will sacrifice her life for him.
Special features: comparision of original vs. restored Technicolor footage, alternate opening title sequence, three theatrical trailers, two galleries of documents, stills, and behind-the-scenes photos, El Torero de Cordoba (18 minute documentary about the legendary Spanish bullfighter).
The look of the film is truly outstanding. Cinematographer Jack Cardiff was a master craftsman when it comes to shooting and processing for Technicolor. Beautiful colors and better detail than many modern films. The restoration was worth every effort and every penny. Along with the support cast; Ava Gardner and James Mason deliver solid performances. This film is truly a gem. ~Mike
Askwith Media Library 52567-D 123 minutes 1951
February 01, 2012
This is England
School is out for the summer and twelve-year-old Shaun is about to find a dangerous new group of friends. Having lost his father in the Fakland War, life has been lonely in this grim coastal town in northern England. But when Shaun meets the local skinheads, their companionship, and even their violence, appeal to Shaun's hurt and rage. Combo is an older volatile skinhead whom Shaun finds to be like a big brother and under his leadership, the gang and young Shawn will arrive at an irreversible act of violence.
At first glance you may thing this is just another film providing gratuitous violence around the urban decay in England. It does have some of these elements however it says much more about manipulation and shattered dreams. It is an insightful lesson into a part of society where hope no longer exists and the only thing to do is to get drunk and high. The innocence of the group is corrupted by the return of a older neighborhood boy who was in prison. He brings a new violent and political dimension to the situation. There is a strong lesson to be learned in this story. ~Mike
Askwith Media Library 46615-D 98 minutes 2007
Thank you to the student who recommended this title.
January 11, 2012
Covers the lifetime of Nina, a woman mad with grief after the death of her fiancé in World War I. She marries listless Sam Evans, unaware that his bloodline holds a terrible secret. After her mother-in-law reveals it, Nina consents to protect Sam, who knows nothing, by bearing another man's child as his. Her choice is his doctor and best friend, who falls in love with her.
Yes it is as dramatic as it sounds. Only it gets better. The film is based on a Eugene O'Neill play where the character's thoughts are spoken as a voice over. We can hear them but the other characters cannot. It is quite provocative. The subject matter of insanity and adultery are compounded by the inner dialog we hear. The actors perform their roles with unmatched professionalism. While they know the dialog has to be played while acting for the camera the pacing of the film stays strong but the drama may get a little too thick. ~Mike
Norma Shearer, Clark Gable, Alexander Kirkland, Ralph Morgan, Robert Young, May Robson, Maureen O'Sullivan.
Askwith Media Library 56788-D 110 minutes 1932
December 12, 2011
In 1880s New York, a dedicated journalist starts a new newspaper despite opposition from larger organizations, a drama film.
Not quite autobiographical, since Fuller's part would have been that of the kid. However this film espouses the dream of the American Press with honesty and integrity. Once upon a time all reporters had similar goals of getting the truth out and being very independent of thought. ~Mike
Askwith Media Library 56426-D 83 minutes 1952
A journalist fakes mental illness to get himself committed to a mental hospital for a story. Soon, he starts to lose his mind.
Special Features: interview with star Constance Towers by film historian and filmmaker, Charles Dennis; "The typewriter, the rifle and the movie camera, Adam Simon's 1996 documentary on director Samuel Fuller.
This film pulls you into the world of one mental hospital and the reporter who thinks he can withstand the environment. As the character slowly goes insane you might feel you are joining him. Fuller had a way of bringing the viewing into the middle of the action.
In the special features, both Quentin Tarantino and Tim Robbins reflect on the impact and the person of Sam Fuller. ~Mike
Askwith Media Library 55717-D 101 miutes 1962
November 28, 2011
I Know Where I'm Going!
A headstrong young woman travels to the Scottish Hebrides to marry a rich industrialist. On the way, she meets a young naval officer and realizes that some things are more important than money.
A great film. Directed as only Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger can. ~Mike
Askwith Media Library 32232-D 91 minutes 1945
November 23, 2011
Human resources manager/ Tell your Children
"The Human Resources Manager of Jerusalem's largest bakery is in trouble. He is separated from his wife, distanced from his daughter, and stuck in a job he hates. When one of his employees, a foreign worker, is killed in a suicide bombing, the bakery is accused of indifference, and the HR Manager is sent to the victim's hometown in Romania to make amends. Far from home, on a mission to honor a woman he didn't even know but has somehow grown to admire, the HR Manager fights to regain his company's reputation and possibly his own humanity".
This is a very fine film, a journey of growth and understanding. ~Mike
Tell your children (Meséld el) "A little girl manages to escape the horrors of the Holocaust. Decades later she is confronted by a group of Neo Nazis. History repeats itself. Based on a true story ".
Excellent short film saying so much visually in a short amount of time. One of the best I have seen. ~Mike
Askwith Media Library 55727-D 110 minutes and 5 minutes 2010
October 21, 2011
The Third Day
"When a car rams through a guardrail and plunges into the river below, all elements of a tantalizing movie thriller bubble to the surface: a drowned cocktail waitress, a disoriented driver with no memory of the accident--and a ferocious D.A. who'll stop at nothing to prove him guilty."
The tension continues as jilted husband played by Arte Johnson seeks revenge. The selling of the family factory is Roddy McDowall’s' goal. However George Peppard considers diversifying the business to keep the factory open and the towns folk employed. ~Mike
Askwith Media Library 54233-D 119 minutes 1965
October 19, 2011
Gifted Hands The Ben Carson Story
Follows the life of Dr. Benjamin S. Carson, who overcame problems in school and obstacles in life to become a world-renowned neurosurgeon. His lifelong journey led him to become director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children's Center, a bestselling author, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Includes behind-the-scenes, and featurettes.
Anything can be accomplished with hard work. An outstanding film of hope and perseverance. ~Mike
Askwith Media Library 53856-D 90 minutes 2009
October 18, 2011
Captain Newman, M.D
A realistic look at life and love inside a stateside military hospital's psychiatric ward during World War II. The Oscar-nominated comedy-drama follows the affable Captain Newman as he uses both humor and compassion to reach patients whose wartime injuries plague their minds instead of their bodies.
Gregory Peck, Tony Curtis, Angie Dickinson, Eddie Albert, James Gregory, Bethel Leslie, Robert Duvall.
Well before PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) was diagnosed and accepted this film deals with it head on. Eddie Albert is outstanding and Robert Duvall as always delivers a realistic performance. All around an honest, compassionate portrayal by the wonderful cast. ~Mike
Askwith Media Library 55163-D 127 minutes 1963
The Razor's Edge
A rich young man spends his time between WWI & WWII searching for essential truth, eventually landing in India.
This film is so much more than the above description. It is a story of the search to understand oneself, after service in WWI and the sacrifice of a friend, against the backdrop of greed and arrogance. It is a moving film of hope. Also interesting in that the author wrote himself in as one of the characters, W. Somer Maugham. ~Mike
Askwith Media Library 50250-D 146 minutes 1946
The List of Adrian Messenger
The potential heirs to a family fortune are being killed off, and George C. Scott must find the killer in time to save the young grandson.
George C. Scott, Dana Wynter, Clive Brook, Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Burt Lancaster, Robert Mitchum, Frank Sinatra.
Directed by John Huston, this film has an outstanding cast of characters and an intriguing plot. ~Mike
Askwith Media Library 54736-D 99 minutes 1963
August 09, 2011
Bigger than life
When a friendly, successful suburban teacher and father is prescribed cortisone for a painful, possibly fatal affliction, he grows dangerously addicted to the experimental drug, resulting in his transformation into a psychotic and ultimately violent household despot.
Bonus features:"Profile of Nicholas Ray" a half-hour interview with the director; Interview with Jonathan Lethem featurette; Interview with Susan Ray featurette; Theatrical trailer.
A touching story of early psycho-tropic drug use and during a time when America was medicating and drinking itself out of reality. Outstanding performances. ~Mike
Released in 1956
Askwith Media Library 51951-D
A married couple who have managed to remain blissfully happy into their autumn years are surrounded over the course of the four seasons of one average year by friends, colleagues, and family who all seem to suffer some degree of unhappiness.
Modern American medicine would have these people on antidepressants and in therapy. However Mike Leigh and the cast explore modern dissatisfaction, loneliness and emotional isolation while the hope of love is still there and possible in the future. An excellent film. ~Mike
Released in 2011
Askwith Media Library 54618-D
Secrets & lies
After her adoptive parents die, a young black woman seeks out her natural birth mother only to discover her mother is white. Equally shocked to learn the daughter she gave up for adoption is black, Cynthia insists it's a mistake. But she soon realizes it's true and when she springs her newfound daughter on the rest of the family, the reuslting chaos leads to a series of secrets and lies being revealed at last.
A fantastic production. You might think the cast actually had lived this life. Wonderful and touching. ~Mike
Released in 1996
Askwith Media Library 39743-D
June 02, 2011
"Zenith is a retro-futuristic steam-punk thriller, about two men in two time periods, whose search for the same grand conspiracy leads them to question their own humanity. Starting from a fictional recreation of Stanley Milgram's Obedience to authority experiment, Zenith explores multifaceted dimensions of the human experience. The film follows tow parallel stories - of father and son - now, and 40 years into the future. Searching for the same elusive conspiracy, both father and son find no answers; instead, their journeys unravel their lives and force them to look deep and hard at themselves and their surroundings. In the end, they are both confronted with the same Faustian bargain - but each one chooses a very different path"
In this world your pain is the only thing you own. ~Mike
Askwith Media Library 54027-d
April 19, 2011
One Way Passage
The seas are calm and the ship is sturdy, but the shipboard romance is doomed. Dan does not know that Joan is dying of an incurable disease. Joan does not know Dan is a convicted murderer en route to San Quentin. Still, they have four weeks to find happiness in each other's arms. Or will Dan forsake the love of a lifetime for his own life, using the vessel's Honolulu layover as a chance to escape the law?
Classic dramatic tale. Both Joan and Dan are doomed but they find love and happiness for a very short time. ~Mike
Released in 1032
Askwith Media Library 53442-D
April 18, 2011
Keeper of the Flame
A war correspondent stumbles on a little-known fact that an honored American war patriot had in fact worked for the Fascists. His wife urges the writer to expose the facts for history.
Special features: Our gang short "Going to press; Classic cartoon "The Blitz wolf"; theatrical trailer.
The darkest Tracy/Hepburn film I have ever seen. Timely and socially important, this film looks closely at the manipulation of public opinion. Even though American history ignores its home grown fanatics, this film must have been a wakeup call for many in 1942. One man has his American Dream although his plan might be for the ultimate takeover of the country. ~Mike
Released in 1942
Askwith Media Library 54509-D
April 08, 2011
Background to Danger
A United States agent posing as an American machinery salesman in Turkey, finds himself enmeshed in a maze of plots and counter-plots to draw neutral Turkey into the war on the Nazi side.
I am thinking that this might be one of those actor transition films, that is George Raft usually plays the crime villain in America crime movies in this film he is the hero. However with Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre, Raft comes off as a weak Bogart-esque character. I could not help thinking of the Maltese Falcon.
The topic of allies during the war is never far away. Raft plays the American undercover agent while Lorre plays the Soviet agent. They work together to foil the Nazi plan. Showing the world that Americans and Soviets can get along to defeat a common enemy. ~Mike
Released in 1943
Askwith Media Library 53425-D 80 minutes
April 07, 2011
For Colored Girls
A vibrant world where friends and strangers dream, fear, cry, love, and laugh out loud in an attempt to find their true selves. Adapted by writer/director Tyler Perry from Ntozake Shange's acclaimed choreopoem, this gripping film paints an unforgettable portrait of what it means to be a woman of color in the modern world.
Tyler Perry is at his dramatic best. An all star cast provides powerful performances in this very touching and socially relevant film. Even though the title says For Colored Girls, (the title seems to have an "I understand and this is for you" quality) everyone should see it. ~Mike
Released in 2010
Askwith Media Library 53962-D 134 minutes
March 25, 2011
The story of a sexy lingerie model and a successful software salesman on a weekend getaway to a quaint Northern California town. But when the entire region is attacked by millions of homicidal birds, their picturesque paradise becomes a winged hell on Earth. Can mankind now survive the avian onslaught of Birdemic?
This film is a must see for every aspiring student of film. The editing, sound, lighting and script are excellent examples on what not to do on a film. ~Mike
Released in 2011
Askwith Media Library 54120-D 90 minutes
March 22, 2011
George is a blue-collar American with a special connection to the afterlife dating from his childhood. French journalist Marie has a near-death experience that shakes her reality. When London schoolboy Marcus loses the person closest to him, he desperately needs answers. Each seeking the truth, their lives will intersect, forever changed by what they believe might, or must, exist in the hereafter.
The visual aspect of the Tsunami is taken from our collective conscience. Clint Eastwood pulls you into a wonderful story of life, death and hope.
Released in 2011
Askwith Media Library 53501-D 129 minutes
March 21, 2011
Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison
Another in a unrelated series of Warner's penitentiary tours in three different decades. This one is California's notorious Folsom Prison prior to its 1944 reformation make-over. Filmed at the Folsom State Prison, Represa, California, USA.
Part of "Warner Bros. lineage of social-conscience films."
Released in 1951
Askwith Media Library 54851-D 87 minutes
August 03, 2010
Based on actual police reports, this film follows "Z," a rookie bicycle cop in Seattle, as he investigates a series of unsettling crimes. A new West African immigrant separated from his girlfriend, Z views all his cases through the eyes of a heartbroken outsider. The city's many outrageous and offbeat crimes become a surreal reflection of Z's disorientation and pain.
Another great, unknown gem in the Askwith Media Library. ~Mike
Askwith Media Library 45703-D