“Belfast” (2021) Starring Jamie Dornan, Jude Hill, Caitriona Balfe, Judi Dench, Ciarán Hinds. Written and directed by Kenneth Branagh. It is inescapable to view Kenneth Branagh’s “Belfast” without recognizing that this current King of Unnecessary Remakes is attempting his Irish version of John Boorman’s remarkable “Hope and Glory”, merely substituting The Troubles for The Blitz. The film stars Jude Hill as Buddy, the nine-year-old youngest son of an Ulster Protestant family and he has the kind of freckled toothy face that the camera adores and director Branagh never lets you forget that for a single moment. If Boorman cleverly used the protective fantasy of adventurism buoyed by childhood innocence as a clever allegory for the irrational but miraculous resilience of Londoners through years of Nazi bombings, Branagh is content to limit his characters to expulsions of treacle embracing the most sentimental movie-fed cliches, bizarrely mixed with a fascination for trashy popular culture.
To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/the-concession-stand-quick-snack-reviews/
While reading Arthur Hailey’s novel “Hotel” (a beach book version of “Grand Hotel”), one gets a similar sensation to that of working on a disappointing jigsaw puzzle: at certain moments in working through it it appears to have far more pieces than are useful, and the end results hardly seems worth the effort.
If many of the book’s flaws are smoothed over in Richard Quine’s film version, there remains a sufficiency of preposterous coincidence and cliche to both satisfy admirers of the book and irritate enthusiasts of good cinema. Relating a few fateful days in the possible closure of the fictitious but stately St. Gregory Hotel in New Orleans, the myriad of characters of the novel, many of whom were peripheral at best, have been sensibly reduced in number, but in the pruning process there are often connective elements shorn which eliminate any fluidity in the resulting jerky rhythms of the multiple intersections of plotting.
The novel’s primary narrative revolves about whether or not the hotel remains in the hands of its owner Warren Trent (Melvyn Douglas), a man who believes in the old-fashioned values of the hospitality trade, including segregation; a policy opportune for the film to stretch for the brass ring of social consciousness while simultaneously devaluing the issue by changing the circumstances of the book from one of honest racial offense to one of calculated fabrication; presumably devaluing the seriousness of the subject for those all-important segregated Southern theater markets. Trent’s competitor and chief prospect for taking over the St. Gregory is Curtis O’Keefe (Kevin McCarthy), a hotel franchise magnate whose vision is a world of entirely mechanized hospitality money machines.
To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/nights-at-the-state-theater/
“THE FORMULA” (1980)
Perhaps the most interesting point of discussion regarding John G. Avildsen’s film “The Formula” is the irony of its presumably unintentionally honest title. If there has been in recent memory a big studio release thriller so laden in an unimaginatively arrogant manner with the baggage of numbing predictability (and that’s saying a lot), its’s likely an example hidden away through the mercy of a process of selective memory witness protection.
George C. Scott plays Lt. Barney Caine, a Los Angeles police detective investigating the brutal killing of his friend and former colleague. Caine is the type of cop who speaks entirely with the the kind of snappy retorts that screenwriters count as impressively faux noir, though he doesn’t seem to have sufficient investigative instincts to notice that every time he questions a suspect they are shot dead within seconds. Could a multinational global conspiracy be afoot? You betcha, and with the full participation of those folks traditionally useful in such movie matters involving tipping the scales of global harmony (?) as we know it: former members of the lost Reich. However, in the agonizing seconds it must have taken writer Steve Shagan (adapting his own novel, which gives new meaning to the phrase “beating a dead horse”) to devise his entirely derivative plotting, little regard seemed to have been given toward incident. Rather the narrative unfolds as a series of interviews, most of which seem to point out the same facts: all involving a German wartime project called Genesis and a process of manufacturing synthetic fuel.
If a thriller surrounding the concept of crude oil price fixing doesn’t seem like the most opportune premise for cinema excitement, that calculation fails to take into account the lethargic method in which events transpire. Seldom can a murder mystery retain a semblance of engagement when the audience is unavoidably far ahead of the characters in the film. (Unless, perhaps, it’s intended as some sort of parody, which considering the laughably somber tone of the film, this most assuredly is not.)
To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/nights-at-the-sack-cinemas/
Posted in books, George C. Scott, Marlon Brando, Marthe Keller, movie reviews, Movies, Mystery, World War II, writing
Tagged Marlon Brando, Marthe Keller, Richard Lynch
“Fool’s Parade” (1971)
“Fool’s Parade” is one of those occasional excursions into what a jaded America film industry would regard (no doubt with pinched nostrils) as the “heartland”; a rural conception entirely alien to a self-indulgent cultural community bolstered by excesses of faux glamor and accompanying faux high moral and artistic purposes while transposing the human experience into a ceaseless assembly line of overheated (though sexually dishonest) melodrama and formulaic genre films which elevate mise-en-scene over substance. In that regard, at least Andrew V. McLaglen displays a steadier than usual assurance with dramatic rhythms and and an uncharacteristically sensitive attention to verisimilitude, until ultimately derailed by the slackness of scripting and one particularly glaring example of performance overindulgence.
Three convicts are released from a penitentiary in Glory, West Virginia: Mattie Appleyard (James Stewart), a murderer with a glass eye; bank robber Lee Cottrill (Strother Martin), and young offender Johnny Jesus (Kurt Russell). The three are accompanied to the local rail station by prison Captain and half-crazed Sunday school teacher Doc Council (George Kennedy, fitted with the most appalling dental applications since John Mills in “Ryan’s Daughter”), who proceeds to issue the group threats more ominous for their suggestion of a mentally unhinged bearer than any genuine prognosticative menace. However, an initially uneventful train passage soon reveals itself as a calculated snare in which the lives of the former offenders are in imminent jeopardy.
To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/nights-at-the-roth-theaters/
In the 1974 film “Chinatown”, a gleefully corrupt Noah Cross sagely observes: “Politicians, ugly buildings and whores all get respectable with age”. Add bad movies to that short list and he might have had something there.
Periodically, when the Muses of Cinema Past displease them, a great many followers of that perpetuator of the canonization of mainstream Hollywood studio mediocrity, Turner Classic Movies, arise in a wave of consternation over that most important and profound of philosophical questions; one that has baffled Mankind since the day on which people first exercised the concept of aimless thought: What defines a film as a classic?
To read the complete post, simply click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/notes-on-the-critical-establishment/
“Batman, The” (2022) Overlong, needlessly murky (both visually and narratively) and prone to a pretension that its concession to the most predictable standards of the genre fails to merit, “The Batman” is the umpteenth origin story of the Caped crusader; only one which dishonestly shrugs off such a tired distinction. Even the most cheaply rendered or campily redressed versions of Batman (i.e., the two 1940’s Columbia serials and the psychedelically pop-art television and its motion picture offshoot) sensibly dispensed with the arduous task of explaining and excusing the nature of the comics’ most acclaimed self-appointed vigilante (more famously mislabeled as “the world’s greatest detective”). However, with ” The Batman”, the issue of capable crime fighting has even less to do than usual with a call to civic duty than with justifying obsessive interference in police investigations due to daddy issues; the unraveling of which make less sense than ever, but are meant to be taken with far more gravitas due to the fact that entire enterprise is presented in unrelenting semi-darkness. (Seriously, can no one in Gotham City afford a light bulb?)
To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/chandlers-trailers-short-bits-for-emerging-cinephiles-and-a-better-america/
NOT AGAIN!: Margot Robbie continues to interrupt her impressively burgeoning career arc with another pointless exercise as the DCU’s favorite go-to girl for mayhem, just as the formidable presence of the splendidly talented Iris Elba elevates another unworthy vehicle while demeaning his own filmography. Will the next installment be titled “The Career Suicide Squad”?
“The Suicide Squad” (2021)
The first overt merging of deliberate trashy Troma aesthetics with big studio mega-budgeted inevitably trashy content. If there is a confusing similarity to a previous DC Comics-sourced vehicle from 2016, there is more than a deliberate method to a madness calling for the rebooting of yet another comic book sourced franchise when the original is barely old enough for the ink on the original’s opening weekend numbers to dry.
To dissuade from the inevitable sense of redundancy inherent in the material, the film rapidly introduces a wide roster of new characters, not to introduce a trace of narrative complication, but as an almost immediately revealed feint: a pointless slaughterfest which establishes both the triviality and irrelevance with which the entirety of what transpires is approached. The reliance upon irrelevance appears to be the necessary staple from which all superhero films are nurtured, given the absurdity of most superhero comic book conventions. However, this scarce example of deliberate self-deprecation, rather than the typically favored unmerited gravitas which borders on a genuine celebration of psychotic nihilism, is a refreshing antidote to the strained mythos of the genre which too often flounders in a oppressively dark, if misinformed, psychological weight.
To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/multiplex-movies/
“The Legend of the Lone Ranger ” (1981) Starring Klinton Spilsbury, Michael Horse, Juanin Clay, Jason Robards, Matt Clark, Christopher Lloyd. Directed by William A. Fraker. Written by Ivan Goff, Ben Roberts, Wiliam Roberts, Michael Kane & Jerry Derioshon. If one is prominently asserting the status of a legend it’s probably a good idea to attempt even a minimal stab at the mythic in your presentation. For a negative case in point there is William A. Fraker’s dreary “The Legend of the Lone Ranger”, a film that seems to have been assembled by people who have no familiarity with the western genre yet embrace every tired cliche with the bravura of an elementary school pageant. The villainous and despicable Butch Cavendish Gang (are there ever any gregarious gangs in westerns?) is out to snatch Texas away from the United States to make it a sovereign country by kidnapping President Ulysses S. Grant (a conspiracy which seems misplaced and more suitable for attention by James West and Artemus Gordon) , none of which has a great deal to do with John Reid and the story behind his adoption of the identity of the eponymous frontier masked man. After a severely overextended and awkwardly delineated portion of the film recording the circumstances in which the child Reid becomes fraternal childhood blood brothers with Tonto, the movie introduces the adult Reid in the person of a stiff-limbed toothy mannequin named Klinton Spilsbury, all while despairingly continuing in equal measure the production’s paralyzing quantity of stilted dialogue, awkward performances, sporadically fuzzy cinematography and a puerile feature-length ballad which rhymingly mocks the slightest attempt at gravitas.
To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/the-concession-stand-quick-snack-reviews/the-concession-stand-ii-the-return-of-quick-nibble-reviews/
Bats: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, July 2022 Edition, Vol. 9
Surrounded by an unceasing parade of bloodsuckers in human form (y’know, politicians. media -ahem- journalists, phony social activists and lawyers… a veritable Hellzapoppin’ of deceit, deception and shameless Mammon), the subject this month’s edition of America’s favorite mental irrelevancy, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz (brought to you, as always, by those wonderful folks who bring you SKITTLES, America’s most popular pain relief placebo available without a prescription), is proudly presented without the necessity of any visible preplanning or thought. (Much like most of the past twenty years of American cinema.) In this edition, what the title says is what you get, and so without further ado (as opposed to preceding ado, which is far more difficult to manage without the aid of an aloe-based conditioner) you are challenged with the arduous task of identifying all twenty films from which these depictions of you know what are in evidence. The first to correctly identify all twenty will receive that most honored of patriotic effigies, the CSR Culture Shock Award, the basis for all Supreme Court decisions for lunch orders for the past two decades. Good luck.
Posted in animation, books, Boston, crime, Drive-In Movies, horror, Movies, Mystery, photography, silent movies, vampires, women, writing
Christopher Nolan’s time circuitous action drama “Tenet” has been elevated in critical evaluation due in no small part to a reliance on the assertion that the film’s labyrinthine plotting is frustrating to any comprehensive enjoyment without the aid of successive viewings and if what pass for contemporary critics enjoy anything more than the pretense that they’re infinitely smarter than their audience, it has yet to be uncovered. Nolan’s particular brand of curiously favored obscurity seems based entirely on the notion that unessential histrionic narrative hocus-pocus is preferable to actually directing the creative juices toward revolutionizing narrative grammar in a meaningful (and honest) way. “Tenet” is comprised entirely of empty cinematic calories in that Nolan has found it easier to posture as a false visionary rather than an artistic original.
The film is presented as a groundbreaking reimagining of the action genre and by some egotistically nervy extension, storytelling itself. But just how are these ballyhooed ambitions defined? To both define the ambitions and acknowledge the pretensions of the film, it is useful to be reminded that the modern action film is a genre particularly subservient to the craven vapidity of satiating populist appetites for violent action sequences trivially linked by the most threadbare of narrative requirements. The success of explosive actions films (a genre inclusive of the current industry- not to mention brain cell -killing saturation of superhero rubbish) seems to have resulted in a plethora of films burdened with a predictability of construction not seen since the global wave of Bond imitations (both serious and satiric) in the mid 1960’s. Mired in a dispiriting rotation of antiquated genre tropes which when primarily realized by increasingly soulless CGI merely enhances the distancing of empty kinetic action from any synergistic relationship with the human experience. “Tenet” asserts what, by now, seems a signatory narrative arrogance on the part of Christopher Nolan in which an exercise in presentational obfuscation falsely asserts that deliberate incomprehension is a broad suggestion of an evolutionary leapfrogging in film which also (though unexplainably) elevates his kinetically trivial material to pioneering forms of dramaturgical artistry.
The film is burdened with a succession of lengthy expository reveals purporting to immerse the main character into a deeper recesses of the plot but instead merely transport him to another exotic filming location without additional. purpose. as if a wider scope of geographic backdrop will imbue the proceedings with automatic narrative imperatives; portending global crises by the quantity of it’s production team’s passport stamps. “Tenet” becomes so weighed down by this overextended and unenlightening expositional sleigh-of-hand that the ensuing action set pieces are elevated in the viewer’s mind simply by the sheer relief of release from the relentless expositional purgatory. Still, though several of the energetic action sequences (a car chase, a violent encounter at an airport) are relatively well-staged, Nolan’s supposed contextual elevation fails to disguise the fact when stripped of the film’s novelty time stream reversals, these incidents occur for no greater purpose save to provide a convenient visceral jolt, the same motivation when employed in any standard B-movie thriller. Tropes are trotted out with a trickster twisted time element (the film concludes with that most tired of movie thriller cliches, a last second disarming of a possibly apocalyptic device) added which neither advance character nor contribute to significant forward momentum in the plotting. Even a last minute revelation concerning the true identity of the nameless hero/Protagonist only serves to make the opening salvo of violent action meaningless and unnecessary. For a time obsessed film, the inertia of the story begets an example of the most curious sort of unintended irony.
Aside from some well underplayed humor provided by Robert Pattinson (who seems to be the only cast member on-hand who wisely doesn’t take the proceedings seriously), the performances are universally utilitarian and unmemorable. As the cryptic Protagonist, John David Washington displays all of the charism of a piece of driftwood, his full range of stolidity chosen on display seems to have been summoned from the Steve Seagal School of Emotional Paralysis. On the opposite extreme of offenses, there is the gifted Shakespearean Kenneth Branagh, who persists in decimating his filmic reputation with yet another portrayal of a rabid doomsday oligarch; a temper tantrum parody of his performance from “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit”.
Nolan’s preoccupation with time continuums blended with a generic mix of formulaic genre points reveals his willing abandonment of narrative logic as a consequential element of film making. The desperation to justify the illogic of his concepts is evident in each successive layer of untidy explanatory monologues which foolishly lay bare his disastrous narrative house of cards. Nolan’s film is a maze in which both entrance and exit have been unceremoniously sealed and the resultant emotional sterility is oppressive. The pretense carried by the film’s luxuriant play with time streams never truly grants complexity to the story, but merely attempts to masquerade how skimpy and simplistic the entire enterprise would be revealed as bereft of Nolan’s dishonest conceptual proclivities. He has become the next generation purveyor of empty Kubrickian aesthetics.
Barred: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, June 2022 Edition, Vol. 25 – Life
Let us commemorate that happy time of the year when the children of this nation (a.k.a. deadbeats) are about to be released from their grueling three weeks of regularly scheduled schooling (consistent with the new White House initiative to increase educational standards to those favored by your more popular millipede) and welcomed back to the loving arms of both community and parents who will immediately ship the little social detriments to the farthest summer detention camp. With this traditional form of parental anti-bonding in mind (though useful in preparing the little cretins for future and most probable incarceration), we present this month’s edition of America’s most feared perpetrator of cynicism and social disobedience by way of pointing out silly people, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by those pioneers of supply chain delays in fortifying the Free World with SKITTLES, America’s favorite antidepressant breakfast candy. In this edition we return to that location most popularly responsible for the conjuring happy fantasies of Washington politicos: the stately prison. Each of the following twenty-five images represent Hollywood’s endless fascination with jailing people and the sullen looks which ensue. Your task is to correctly identify all twenty-five films, without the use of Hong Kong honeymoon aids, and report your findings to the ever-vigilant CSR Parole Board. The first to correctly identify all twenty-five will receive the slightly purloined CSR Culture Shock Award, useful in digging tunnels, bribing guards and rendering a solid alibi for a period not exceeding before and not a minute after. Good luck.
Eye of the Needle: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, April 2022 Edition, Vol. 60
You are invited to a very special edition (not really) of this belated edition of the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz in which we celebrate a very special anniversary of the opening of the favorite eating establishment of the one and only Elvis (or, at least, one that we identify as such for the purposes of our coming up with a shamefully deceptive framing device for this puzzle). So, without further ado (not that there was much ado to begin with), we welcome you to this month’s edition of America’s favorite internet offense, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by those fine distributors of SKITTLES, America’s favorite non-binary breakfast candy and the source of tooth decay favored by dentists 2-to-1. In this edition we expect you to solve the mystery of identifying all twenty-five of the following film images. Just like always. Pretty straightforward. The first to do so will receive the truly spiffy CSR Culture Shock Award (so named as it’s a shock not only that anyone ever wins one, but that anyone wants one). Good luck.
Posted in biography, black cinema, books, Boston, Drive-In Movies, Elvis Presley, Movies, Musicals, Romance, theater, women, writing
Tagged Entertainment, Movies, women
“Comanche Territory” (1950)
This fictionalized story (even more than is usual for the historical fantasists of Hollywood) of a pre-Alamo frontier adventure featuring legendary Texan Jim Bowie (Macdonald Carey) concerns a territorial dispute by ruthless speculators simmering over silver mining rights located on sacred land guaranteed inviolate through a treaty with the U.S. government.
For reasons unexplained, Bowie is sent as a government emissary to ensure a smooth renewal of the treaty which would allow only the government to mine the precious silver ore from sacred Comanche land, though from the very first frames of the film there are indications that the film is willingly relaxing into the unchallenging comfort of the most elemental of genre formula. So after a brief escape from a Comanche war party, the rules of movie convenience dictate that Bowie immediately encounters and befriends former Congressman Dan’l Seeger (played in expectedly loquacious style by Will Geer) who just happens to have lost a copy of the renewed treaty to marauders of whom he can only identify by the a very unlikely perfume, the identity of the wearer being the most vaporous of mysteries since there is only one prominent female in the movie’s cast: a bullying tomboy named Katie Howard who happens to own the local saloon, bank and seemingly exerts an emasculating will of iron that would make Al Capone envious, but true to the Hollywood’s condescending reconception of the pioneer women, who will inexplicably jettison all of her hardened survival instincts for the lure of sappy romance under the influence of Bowie and the first available occasion to wear party dress.
To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/nights-at-the-st-george-theater/
When Your Fingers Did the Walking: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, March 2022 Edition, Vol. 411
In a world in desperate need of all of the humor one can muster, it never fails to entertain to seek out a coffee shop clique of young seekers (formerly known as “suckers” in carnival parlance) of advanced academics and place a dial telephone in the center of their table, asking for a demonstration as to its use. (The ensuing perplexity is as predictably assured as that of death, taxes and Joe Biden coughing phlegm into his hands.) With that in mind, we now announce the unnecessary yet equally predictable presentation of yet another edition of America’s favorite monthly source of brain seizures, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by those diligent folks behind the duty-free distribution of SKITTLES, America’s favorite combination breakfast candy and antacid. In this edition we take a nostalgic look at the telephone used for purposes other than taking self-portraits or filing every detail of your personal financial information for the purpose of feigning alarm when it is appropriated by a New Jersey basement dwelling prepubescent hacker with a sweet tooth for online subscriptions to German fetish sites. The following twenty- five images represent a fraction of the cinema’s depictions of the classical use of Alexander Graham Bell’s gizmo for moderately priced chitchat without the need for two tin cans and a long string. Your task is to identify the films from which all twenty-five images are sourced and tell us of your suspicions. The first to correctly identify all of the images will receive the treasured CSR Culture Shock Award, the first recorded honorarium useful as both a source of bragging rights and a topical dandruff medication. Good luck.
Posted in Cold War, comedy, crime, Drive-In Movies, History, Movies, Musicals, Mystery, photography, Romance, women, writing
Slippery Slopes: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Feb. 2022 Edition, Vol. -10
As the world blithely careens down the precipice of vaudevillian burlesque, led by that old tried and true tacky combination of a cranky baggy pants straight man and his oafish tittering sidekick, we proudly present another tenuously related thematic stretch with this month’s unveiling of America’s favorite irritant of the Catholic League of Decency, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by the purveyors of SKITTLES, America’s favorite Covid-19 therapeutic placebo. In this edition we present a far less oppressive mode of sliding downhill without the intrusion of a waxworks gallery of grotesque Congressional Constitutional interventionists: the ancient art of skiing. The following twenty five images represent a mere fraction of the act of skiing as depicted in the movies. Your task is to correctly identify all twenty five films from which the pictures are sourced and to report the results to the local chapter of CSR. Really, unless you work for the Executive Branch, it isn’t very complicated. The first to correctly identify all twenty five images will receive their very own CSR Culture Shock Award, an item so coveted a certain New York Congresswoman assumes it wants to sleep with her. Good luck.
Posted in biography, books, crime, Drive-In Movies, Movies, Musicals, photography, Romance, war movies, women, writing
Whiskers: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Jan. 2022 Edition, Vol. 9
Celebrating a new year with style and grace (and not a little bit of sartorial elegance), we proudly announce a new year and, thus, a new age of CSR; one entirely unmolested by the churlish tides of antagonistic political barbs or ideological sniper shots or… oh, who the Hell are we kidding? We just happened to have a surplus supply of photos of kitties. And with that painful confessional we present this month’s edition of America’s most illustrious example of Restoration thinking in an age of postmodern nihilism, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you by those purveyors of SKITTLES, America’s most addictive breakfast candy. As previously hinted, this edition features cinematic acknowledgement of those furry balls (a.k.a. the second favorite house pet of those who chew gum) characterized by their unpredictable, antagonistic personalities and disturbing willingness to consume their owners within minutes of expiring: the feline. The following twenty-five images represent just a fraction of the big screen appearances of the noble but psychotically irritable cat. Your task is to correctly identify all twenty-five films and report your findings to the home office, assuming that your vaccination papers are in order or a reasonable facsimile of a letter of exoneration from the HUAC. The first to correctly identify every film will receive the one and only original CSR Culture Shock Award, suitable for use as a foldable rain poncho for all Pittsburgh Penguin home games, Good luck.
Have I Got A Girl For You: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Dec. 2021 Edition, Vol. 35mm
‘Tis the season for gift giving and avaricious wishful thinking and while the members of the militant pseudo-feminist movement (“Declare your independence, then look for the nearest convenient sugardaddy- the Gloria Steinem way!”) may frown upon any attention given to the fairer sex (Yours truly being one of those who subscribe to now derisively regarded traditions of rampantly sexist attitudes which recognize the obvious and significant difference in gender identification between an NFL fullback and a delicate mademoiselle.) absent of a clarion call to extinguish the last shred of natural masculinity with the handiest pair of pruning shears, we present this month’s edition of America’s last remaining vestige of cultural consequence, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by those wonderful folks dedicated to the making of SKITTLES, America’s favorite non-prescription erectile disfunction supplement. In this edition we feature that most coveted of Christmas stocking stuffers: the eternal seductress, Mother Earth and connoisseur of De Beers diamond baubles in all her glorious aspects- the cinema woman. The following twenty five images feature women both celebrated and indelible in the cinema firmament. Your task is to identify all twenty five film from which these images are sourced. (Correctly if you please. We do not countenance mental freeloaders in the exalted offices of CSR.) The first to correctly identify all twenty five images will receive the coveted (and oddly feared by Russian oligarchs) CSR culture shock Award, guaranteed to act as a non-topical preventative against rickets and intrusive holiday visits from in-laws. Good luck.
Posted in art house cinema, black cinema, books, History, horror, Movies, Mystery, Romance, women
Tagged Movies, sex, women
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Nov. 2021 Edition, Vol. 3000
At a time when it seems that every authoritarian agency, whether governmental or private (with the line between the two often obscure or nonexistent), of substantive public reach is overseen by a firgurehead (whether real or imagined) whose maturity would preclude any advisement to play with matches, lighters or any sentence including the phrase “fiscal responsibility”, we present this month’s chapter of America’s favorite continuing mind-bending soap opera, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by those fine capitalists who nourish the world with SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this edition, unlike those elected by public edict to drop their drawers and mark their territory in what Pierre L’Enfant surely intended as a mental institution for the morally muddled and criminally corrupt, Hollywood’s playful usage of the flammable is entirely decorative and, more often than not, intended to insert excitement into a narrative so lazily conceived that it screams for cheap visceral excitement. To celebrate this happy Hollywood tradition, we present the following twenty five images which graphically depict the danger of allowing a film director within spitting distance of a can of turpentine. Your task is to correctly identify all twenty five films and report the results of your shining exercise in acumen to our diligent staffers who will immediately rush to lunch and leave the computation of reader results to an unconscionably extended period guaranteeing the gnashing of teeth and development of peptic ulcers in all participants, The first to eventually identify all twenty five films correctly will receive the environmentally destructive (we spare no expense in accelerating the inevitable return of the Kingdom of the Cockroaches) CSR Culture Shock Award, the ownership of which will bring immediate expulsion from the attendance of any of the seven hundred and thirty two Hollywood award ceremonies scheduled for fiscal year 2022. (You can thank us later.) Good luck.
Posted in animation, art house cinema, biography, books, Boston, crime, Drive-In Movies, Movies, Mystery, women, writing
PEDALERS: CLASSIC FILM IMAGES PHOTO QUIZ, OCT. 2021 EDITION, VOL. 400.6
In deference to the assertions of those who derive from great glee from splashing rain puddles onto the sidewalk strolling CSR editorial staff as they zoom by in their monster SUVs (decorated with a vast assortment of environmental bumper stickers meant to induce a finger wagging Green consciousness onto those who can’t quite read them as they’re wiping the highway drain residue out of their eyes), that the world will end tomorrow (if the apocalypse begins in Martha’s Vineyard, then we might have irrefutable proof that, indeed, there is a God) unless we heed their wolfish howls and surrender to their strategy of redressing supposed environmental abuses by burning through as much cash as possible (it’s a science thing that we anti-ozone taxpayers wouldn’t understand because we’re not empowered female Nobel laureates like AOC or Jerry Nadler), we present this month’s edition of America’s most bawdy game of intellectual flummery, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, always, by the makers of America’s favorite breakfast candy, SKITTLES, the last of the world’s edible confections not purloined by mainland China for use as an aphrodisiac. In this edition we present cinematic representations of an antiquated mode of self-propulsion- the bike -heretofore condemned by the Biden Administration as injurious to the White House’s continued pleading with OPEC for the makings of more combustible fuel (as explained by WH memorandum: “The reliance on non-consumptive vehicular transport would put an unjust, and frankly unAmerican, burden on the investable income of many of Congress’s most reliable contributors of kickbacks, a symbiotic shortfall which would prove detrimental to continued Congressional stagnation but is also probably Islamophobic, xenophobic and racist, and we’re not Trump!”) or impractical under AOC’s Green New Deal which discourages any mode of propulsion unencumbered by either windmill or solar panel. However, the following twenty five images are taken from films showcasing the use of pedaled conveyance in the years before America has capitulated to the sweet tranquilizers of insanity and stupidity. Your task is to mask up and identify all twenty five films (without the use of offensive pronouns, if you please) and convey your findings to our now suitably dry staff for evaluation. The first to correctly identify all twenty five films (no second place participation trophies here, Chuckles) will receive the all-powerful CSR Culture Shock Award, still protected by the Second Amendment, though non-transferable for cash or Ponzi scheme bond issues. Good luck.
Posted in biography, books, Boston, Drive-In Movies, Italian cinema, Movies, photography, Romance, war movies, women, writing
They Had Lenses Then: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Sept. 2021 Edition, Vol. 35mm
Eschewing the usual mockery of political and social buffoons in the course of shamelessly circuitous introduction, current events demand that a passing dismissal of the criminally inept toddlers currently occupying the great swampland handed over to Pierre L’Enfant to plot the home of a future asylum of incompetence be necessary only to rescue the violently perplexed national sense of coherence and reason from a swift and expedient rush to the nearest vomitorium. And with that happy image in mind, we welcome you to the latest edition of America’s most eclaired (as opposed to acclaimed) morsel of cerebral pastry, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you- as always -by those fine folks who provide a nutritionally impoverished world with SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this edition we feature those happy purveyors of the magical realm between reality and illusion (no, not White House speech writers), the (non-digital) photographer, as depicted in the cinema. Your task is to identify all twenty five films from which the following images are sourced. To make this edition all the more attractive, we have made this month’s edition 27 – 45% easier (depending on geographic location, ) to solve. Naturally, the first to correctly identify all twenty five images will receive the highly distinguished CSR Culture Shock Award, the preferred aperitif to ignite a night of shameless Rabelaisian carousing. Good luck.
Posted in Audie Murphy, biography, books, Boston, Drive-In Movies, History, Mimsy Farmer, Musicals, politics, Romance, women, writing
When a trio of amateur spelunkers accidentally discover and unleash a living and frisky missing link from a shallow cave, naturally the interest of the world scientific community becomes secondary to the interests of a local real estate developer whose role it is to be allowed to be recklessly and unexplainably petty while unrealistically interfering with the discovery until it’s rather domesticated nature is so provoked as to create civil disobedience of the type expected of and sadly typical of the climax of a creatively impoverished monster picture. This is Freddie Francis‘ “Trog”.
One of the most thankless labors of the film critic (presuming they are of a serious nature in approaching the cinema as an art form and not merely as a paid shill to sing hosannas over the latest visual illiteracy) is to sit through an offense such as “Trog”, a scandalously unimaginative and tepid offering which not only proves to be a thief of ninety healthy minutes from even the least discerning viewer’s life, but also makes an almost impossible task of breathing language into an intelligibly formed commentary aimed at a film so deliberately vacant, from conception to execution, in both its artistic anemia and thematic inertia. Applying additional insult to ennui, “Trog” signals the motion picture career curtain of one of Hollywood’s most enduring stars, Joan Crawford, being put through valedictory paces so demeaning they could only be considered cruel though, unfortunately, not so unusual punishment.
To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/chandler-swain-reviews-nites-at-the-natick-drive-in/chandler-swain-reviews-nites-at-the-bellingham-drive-in/
They Shoot Bad Movies Don’t They?: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Aug. 2021 Edition, Vol. 35MM
Despite Chairman Xi’s 2019 Xmas gift to the civilized world (and Vermont) in the form of a mildly annoying pandemic which not only destroyed the global economy but laid waste to millions of innocent lives (depending upon your particular geographic situation, consult your local authorities as to which is the greater priority), that profound think tank known as Hollywood has declared a reconstitution of purpose in their method of draining every cent of what remains of any compensatory emergency relief payments to the great unwashed from such unessential expenses as food and shelter, while the necessity of increasing subscriptions to endless streaming services in order to keep the champagne flowing among the supernal Olympians who provide what is shamelessly promoted as necessary cultural stimuli created by people who in the glory days of the big studios would most likely pass through the gates with a station much higher than lavatory attendants. If the continuance of a saturation of Xeroxed movie blandness is insufferable on the digitally enhanced idiot box (necessitating an investigation as to why the Grandad of Movie Awards has decided to silently eliminate such niceties as its past banishment of product produced and distributed for television from participation in its annual celebratory nomination process in its own by-laws), the same brain-deadening Far East market-bound pablum serving up ceaseless CGI conflagrations without a hint of interest in dialogue, character development or immersive human interaction is doubly insufferable when such imbecile offenses seem the only remaining options on the menu for reopening cinemas (at escalated prices), those faux rumpus room multiplexes which have already sucked the life out of the civilized theatrical experience. Which brings us to this month’s edition of America’s most annoyed monthly reminder that a cinema mind is a terrible thing to waste: the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by those stubbornly patriotic distributors of SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this edition we celebrate the poor suckers who patronize the cinema, expecting a modicum of pleasure and usually emerging with alarmingly ground teeth. Thankfully the featured images are depictions of theater patrons as seen in the movies, so their universal rapture is in keeping with film’s ability to create illusion. Your task is to identify all twenty five films represented by the images and report your findings to the enlightened staff here at CSR. The first to correctly identify all twenty five will receive the CSR Culture Shock Award, the last honorarium guaranteed to get you a good table at the legendary Benny Fong’s House of Fong. Good luck.
Posted in Andy Warhol, biography, books, Boston, comedy, Drive-In Movies, football, germ warfare, Ingrid Thulin, Jenny Agutter, Movies, music, religion
…On Gossamer Wings: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, July 2021 Edition, Vol. 0G
With the current interest is privatized space travel capturing the popular imagination, and providing a welcome distraction and yet another promising one-way ticket out of our shared breathable atmosphere for all of the elitist celebrity climate change phonies who think nothing of wagging accusing talons at your hankering for a juicy hamburger as the death knell of Mother Nature (though suspiciously silent of the vast Chinese rice fields whose own release of methane gasses fail to pass stringent Green New Deal demarcations for causing Global Extinction as long as it is cultivated by followers of the Little Red Book) while taking an evening excursion into the stars, propelled by engines emitting enough noxious exhaust in seconds to equal the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Ohio and downtown India combined during a ten year period. With this in mind, it is an entirely appropriate moment to squeeze in the monthly sucker punch which introduces the monthly edition of America’s most reliably irritating (if not highly anticipated) scheduled indictment of the failure of national teacher’s unions, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by that interstate cartel which satisfies our hunger for SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast street candy. In this edition we explore the world of the cinema spacecraft, that curious gizmo which propels human characters from planet to planet, usually without the motivation of sanctimonious hectoring by certain ex-barmaids on the federal dole who make being sucked into the silent vacuum of space seem like sweet relief. Your mission is to identify all twenty five films from which the curious assortment of galactic travel modes originate, The first to correctly identify all twenty five will receive a weekend excuse pass from Space Camp as well as possession of a genuine and thoroughly honorable CSR Culture Shock Award, redeemable in all galactic rest stops for free travel maps and a complimentary zero-gravity coffee mug. Good luck.
“‘Gator Bait” (1974)
“‘Gator Bait” is a simplistic tale of revenge that is simply told, entirely lacking in any trace of nuance or pretensions toward Art and it’s all the better for it. What familial regional exploitation directors Beverly and Ferd Sebastian lack in budgetary gloss they more than compensate in a comfort with their material while maintaining an impressive technical proficiency in what appears to be a difficult and uncomfortable location shoot.
When slow-witted Ben Bracket (Ben Sebastian) is accidentally killed by Deputy Billy Boy (Clyde Ventura) in their attempt to snare wildcat poacher Desiree Thibodeau (Claudia Jennings, who impresses with a difficult but remarkably consistent Cajun accent unmanageable by the majority of Actor’s Studio alumni) in the act for the purposes of forcibly enjoying her sexual wares, Billy Boy reports the killing to his father, Sheriff Joe Bob Thomas (Bill Thurman), as having been perpetrated by the swamp dwelling beauty. An enraged patriarch of the Bracket clan, Leroy (Douglas Dirkson), initiates a search for Desiree, deep into the heart of the swampland which inevitably results in a chain of retributive internecine events.
Despite an unsurprising portraiture of social unrefinement in the film’s limited roster of characters, the lack of condescension to the rural antagonists eliminates the usual Hollywood cinematic assertions of genetically influenced primitivism among characters situated outside of prestigious gated suburban communities or metropolitan penthouses.
To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/chandler-swain-reviews-drive-in-cinema-2/chandler-swain-reviews-nites-at-the-queens-chapel-drive-in/
Memorium: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, June 2021 Edition, Vol. 6
In the aftermath of America’s annual amnesia as to the true meaning of Memorial Day aside from the now-popular three day bacchanal celebrated by those nursing that perpetual hangover from the previous weekend’s two day bacchanal, we present with great pride (and more than a little trepidation to express patriotic zeal lest we be tagged as Trump/Putin marionettes by the current touring ensemble of The Karl Marx Follies currently- and ironically -at play at 1600 Pennsylvania) this month’s edition of America’s cerebral answer to post-nasal drip, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by those wonderful folk who bring you SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this edition we turned our jaundiced attention to the the humble cemetery, the eternal resting ground (until greedy local developers decide to use the land for the latest much-needed location of a nail shop/T-Mobile/Stan’s Package Store strip mall) of the dearly departed. The following images illustrate Hollywood’s understanding of the cemetery as not only a place of sorrow and remembrance, but equally useful as a backdrop for underhanded chicanery. Your task is to correctly identify the twenty five films represented in the following images and report your findings to, well… us. (What do you think? Reporting your info to the Senate Intelligence Committee is going to win you brownie points?) The first to complete the challenge correctly will receive the sacred icon known by scholars and certain disreputable people from Newark as the CSR Culture Shock Award, redeemable for a lovely sectional sofa (offer excludes, taxes, shipping costs, custom fees and the cost of the sofa) at our home office located in beautiful downtown Warsaw. Good luck.
HORSE SENSE: CLASSIC FILM IMAGES PHOTO QUIZ, MAY 2021 EDITION, VOL. 6 HANDS
If the current pandemic teaches us anything (a supposition which for reasons only a scientific investigation the size of the Manhattan Project might begin to unravel why any enlightenment is foreign to the intellectually and morally bereft elected Beltway political cadre of clowns), it is that whatever assumptions we might have attributed as to the basic worthlessness of a certain two-legged species (identified though now legislatively censored pronoun designations), they are, in reality, far more dire than previously suspected. However dour this realization may have upon initial consideration, further meditation lends itself to a rather optimistic alternative point of view and that is in acquiescence to a comforting surrender to the fact that those post-apocalyptic movie scenarios involving cities suddenly absent of bustling, elbowing, noisome crowds, obliviously rude children and their moronic parents who insist on jamming a wide-load stroller onto a working escalator only to create greater traffic tie-ups than downtown Tokyo at rush hour, are an unconscious and prescient example of cultural wish fulfillment in which the entirety of a miserably unsocial and surly populace is relegated to those phantasmagorical states of limbos so embraced by those same grim science fiction films. Surely, the past year has proven that the company of the four-footed make for far more substantial and loyal companions than anything which both walks erect and is equipped with the opposable thumbs necessary for interminable selfie scanning on smart phones. Which brings us to this month’s edition of America’ most trusted mental laxative, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by those diligent purveyors of SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this edition we turn our attention to the most noble creatures to ever suffer through the humiliation of forced human interaction. We are, of course, referring to the valiant horse whose positively supernal resistance to throwing their rider into the nearest bottomless chasm is proof positive of an incalculable tolerance toward dumb creatures far exceeding that of even the most decorated Saint. The following twenty five images depict the horse in all of their patient nobility as seen on the motion picture screen. Your task is to identify the films from which the images are sourced and report said result to our CSR offices conveniently located in an undisclosed underground bunker somewhere in the Western Hemisphere. The first to correctly identify all twenty five images will receive the splendid (and nourishing) CSR Culture Shock Award, suitable for marking the pathway for marauding armies of red ants. Good luck.
Posted in Africa, art house cinema, biography, books, Drive-In Movies, Movies, photography, Romance, westerns, women, writing
“The Stone Killer” (1973)
Discontent to assure audiences of a visceral thrill ride by the mere mention in the opening credits of Michael Winner assuming the directorial antics, “The Stone Killer” begins with a scene showing Charles Bronson’s tough guy police detective casually tossing his hat into the cruiser, climbing a staircase under gunfire and blasting the armed perp on a fire escape, just to let you know that he and the film mean to waste no time in getting down to dirty (Harry) business.
That this opening incident is entirely unrelated to anything within the rest of the picture seems to have not occurred to anyone intimately involved in the production, which may explain some of the other, more critical oversights: for instance, that the plot makes little to no sense or that every character is conceived and portrayed as such broad archetypal stereotypes that a cataract-afflicted amateur with no law enforcement experience could spot the bad guys from ten blocks away without the use of spectacles. Paul Koslo’s shockingly coiffed killer is a Broadway neon sign screaming “PSYCHO LOON”, a fact that fails to dissuade Bronson’s detective arresting and manhandling all of the wrong people until he clumsily bungles the simple arrest of the genuine perpetrator, leading to a spectacularly destructive chase sequence in which the safety of the citizens of Los Angeles seems less important than Bronson’s Lou Torrey engaging in an act of behavioral overreach which is suggested (only momentarily and then immediately forgotten) as a hint of a deeper psychological rage born of his intolerance for the criminal element.
Source of all of the police procedural fuss is a plot in which Sicilian Mafia bigwig Al Vescari (Martin Balsam, affecting the most cartoonish Italian accent since the days of Lucy Ricardo stomping in the wine vats of Parma) plans the unexplainably delayed (42 years) revenge for “The Night of Sicilian Vespers”, a massacre Mafioso Dons by rival career climbers. Vescari’s plan involves the use of veteran soldiers outside of “the organization”, know under the designation of “stone killer”.
To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/nights-at-the-aspen-hill-cinema/
“Public Affairs” (1983)
Henri Pachard’s “Public Affairs” (which he also co-scripted) would have you believe that politics is no deeper than a lowbrow humor which seems suspiciously lifted using the frivolous filter of vague remembrance of the sound truck campaign pronouncements from Robert Altman’s “Nashville”, If unambitious homage can be considered a form of flattery it might have proven to be a usable defense in any legal claims the makers of the earlier film might have made with an accusation of counterfeiting by way of slanderous anti-intellectualism, but it doesn’t excuse nor make “Public Affairs” a more elevated enterprise.
The film follows the final days of Congressman Nicholas Stern (Paul Thomas) who has mounted a Senatorial campaign heavily tilted towards a fervent anti-smut agenda. Given the nature of the film, it is also unsurprising that Stern is an unrepentant hypocrite, a chronic womanizer whose prodigious appetite for sexual unions in which his pleasure seems increased by the degrading of his female partners. Suspicious of Stern’s true character is television reporter Elvira Lawrence (Annette Haven) who employs what is exampled (without a trace of irony) as the usual method of extracting investigative information from a target’s associate: initiating a torridly intimate affair.
Being that the focus of the film is indulgent in extended scenes of hardcore carnality of every stripe, most without relevance to the thinly conceived plot, the chosen theme of the critical moral political posturing poses a problematic mocking of the very adult sex industry from which it is sourced. Since Pachard and co-scenarist Joyce Snyder’s failure to reconcile their willingness to present Stern’s anti-smut message as a positive ideal subject to corrupt betrayal- a message dramatized as embraced with popular support -while taking great pains to enjoy the exposure of the phony moralist (and thus, ridicule his message) creates an insoluble dichotomy from which the film never retrieves its bearings. If the script presented its characters’ motivations with a more serious deliberation, the corruption of self-interest in the face of public interest (it was a powerful subtext of Alan J. Pakula’s “All the President’s Men”) might have yielded a fertile ground for social commentary. Alternately, a strictly comedic approach might be fruitful were it to pointedly illustrate the rich arena of political folly. Unfortunately, Pachard and Co. seem content with capricious follow-throughs on its potentially provocative thematic conception. That the current product satisfies neither more substantial form of dramaturgy is characteristic of far too many “adult” films which all too easily concede to merely stacking the number of graphic couplings as an expression evolutionary provocation rather than any attempt to elicit a meaningful symbiotic sophistication of content between the elements of the mainstream and the pornographic.
To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/sexual-politics-in-the-cinema//
Isn’t Running a Sign You’re Up to No-Good?: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Apr. 2021 Edition, Vol. 26.2
With this year’s upcoming cancelled running of the Boston Marathon, there is little reason for the annual Patriot’s Day holiday save for another unexplained day of state government workers not showing up for another day in which they don’t perform their jobs anyway, so… (Ask anyone on the a Boston street the reason for the holiday and you’re likely to get a vacant stare…. then again the same would probably apply with a similar Back Bay inquiry about Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, Columbus Day and Labor Day, so… ) Nevertheless, the former members of the Massachusetts Cultural Council (ostracized for their painfully stubborn resistance to the corruption that was expected of all within the agency) comprising invaluable editorial assistance for the CSR home team are working their overtime magic to ensure that no holiday, observed or otherwise will compromise this month’s expected laxity of post scheduling. In the meantime, since we mentioned the Boston Marathon and are desperate to find a theme unconnected to the Muppet currently occupying a certain bleached D.C. residence (talk about yet another federal property which might usefully imprison its tenant with the same razor wire separating good citizens from the Feral Jackals on the Hill), we will proceed with a tenuous thematic attribution in this month’s edition of America’s favorite cerebral mind-melt, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by those pioneer spirits who bravely distribute America’s favorite breakfast candy, SKITTLES, throughout Obama’s 57 states. (Obviously mistaking the Republic for a jar of sweet relish. A mistake anyone could have made.) In this edition, we present the humble and traffic obstructing runner as presented in the cinema. Your task is to identify the following twenty five films represented in the images and relay these sparks of wisdom to the CSR Headquarters. The first to do so will receive the invaluable CSR Culture Shock Award, a medicinal totem repellent to government rodents named Fauci. Good luck.
Posted in art house cinema, biography, books, Boston, British films, crime, Drive-In Movies, grindhouse, Movies, Mystery, politics, women, writing
All Creatures Great and Small: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, March 2021 Edition, Vol. 46XXL
With the arrival of a theatrical film award season celebrating the achievements of a year completely invisible of theatrical entertainment, it has become more evident than ever before that the continuous sessions of gowned and tuxedoed inebriated trophy grabbing by the Hollywood elites has become a bold symbol of a cadre of increasingly uncreative “artists” so far removed from the reality of the experience of the average person that it explains the current detachment of the mainstream entertainment industry’s gratuitous reveling in vacuous fantasy while rejecting reflections of the human condition as pitiable grumblings of a great unwashed working class. In the uninspired minds of Hollywood royalty, they are the watchdog giants of entitlement lording over the homunculi forming the rest of an ignorant and undeserving society. With this in mind, we bring you the latest installment in what we’re afraid is that continuous series of monthly irritations popularly known as the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you with admirable stubbornness by those happy folk who peddle SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this edition, we present twenty five examples of Hollywood’s less offensive depictions of the giant and the infinitesimal. Your task is to identify the twenty five films and relay to us their true identity. As a result of such dedicated effort, the first to correctly identify every image will receive the much exalted though misunderstood CSR Culture Shock Award, essential in the successful practice of black magic and explaining the continued popularity of the McRib sandwich. Good luck.
Posted in animation, Bert I. Gordon, books, Boston, Drive-In Movies, horror, kaiju, Movies, Pre-Code Movies, science fiction, silent movies, writing
While convolution in a murder mystery is nothing new, a film usually pays dividends if, in the end, a semblance of coherence can be deciphered from even the most labyrinthine of evidentiary bread crumb trails. (The exception of the eternally baffling Howard Hawks production of “The Big Sleep” whose exclusion to the rule has more to do with the entertaining distractions of Hollywood star power and breezy stylishness, along with a critical Get Out of Jail Free card for virtually any film from a filmmaker included in the Auteurist Pantheon.)
In “Jade”, William Friedkin seems to delight in his camera gliding over the ornate mise-en-scene with a fetishistic compulsiveness of impassioned lovers caressing (if the point of this tactile stroking is lost, the orgasmic crashes of James Horner’s overheated scoring may yet result in the audience absently reaching for a cigarette). It is a type of hyper-eroticized teasing that conveys a particularly disreputable surrender to the lurid when a carved banister is meant to convey all of the seductive properties of a high society escort. Yet for all of its labor intensive attempts at artfully steamy sexiness, “Jade” fails to conjure the merest seismic flutter on the sensuality meter, a crippling enough failed standard for what has been euphemistically (if not optimistically, according to the whims of studio marketers) referred to as an “erotic thriller”, but less impactful when taking into consideration that absolutely nothing which transpires in the rest of the film makes a bit of sense.
To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/multiplex-movies/
“TRADER HORN” (1973)
The painfully optimistic marketing material announces that this remake of the 1931 African adventure “Trader Horn” is in the grand tradition of “King Solomon’s Mines” and “Mogambo”. For once we are presented with an example of long-sought after honesty in Hollywood advertising, though one might be careful as for what one wishes. If this version summons less a sensation of nostalgia than one of contrived revisitation, it is most assuredly due to the bulk of this “new” version being cobbled together with such an alarming quantity of previously used stock footage from those aforementioned films (among others), that it may be a legitimate cause for a thorough Treasury audit into the Aubrey-era accounting books at MGM.
“Trader Horn” is the type of sensationalized literary property to which the studios of the so-called Golden Age were particular drawn; especially with those properties promising exotic locales (even if cleverly faked in studio) brimming with intrigue. However, even the most slavishly decorous settings could not ignite a spark in such a colorless romantic pairing as the sullen Jean Sorel accompanied by an alarmingly antiseptic Anne Heywood with whom we are stranded on a meager journey through what appears to be the studio’s Culver City backlot. So crisply arranged are the newly lensed safari locations, one can practically see the lawnmower marks on the veldt.
To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/now-playing-at-the-mercado-cinema/
“The Addams Family” (2019)
If anyone is sincere in capturing the delicious, wickedly funny malevolence of the original Charles Addams cartoons, it would seem prudent to preserve the monochromatic design of the drawings. The new animated “The Addams Family”, while returning to the original design of the characters specific to the printed cartoons (impossible to duplicate with exactitude in live action), immerses Addams’ characters in a world of color, with the artist’s macabrely expressive ink washes replaced with a palette that is often distractingly ugly at best, but too often simply murky. If that were the only problem.
The film is also an unfortunate continuation of Hollywood’s insistence on shuffling aside genuine voice talent for what passes for an engagement of those granted the unimpressive status of celebrity. Thus, instead of voice work which will delight the ear, not to mention enhance their respective characters, we have the vocal readings of a blandness comparable to those of digital voice assistants: technically serviceable but devoid of any engaging spark of individuality (As Morticia, Charlize Theron’s work is especially wan). These colorless vocal performances accompany the continued plasticized nature of pixelated animation that has become the coma inducing standard of assembly line production.
To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/for-kids-of-all-ages/
Noir!: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Feb. 2021 Edition, Vol. .38
Being that February is Black History Month and the crew at CSR are noted for their sensitivity to the burning issues of the day, it was decided during the last staff meeting that to designate this month’s edition as a celebration of Noir was a close enough thematic fit to make a glancing acknowledgement of a typically empty calendar celebration while keeping us at arm’s length in becoming embroiled in any of the raucous political boiling points of the day. (Who needs more obscene postage due telegrams from a certain high spirited former barmaid now working behind ironically appropriate razor wire in our fair nation’s capital?) Also, more importantly, it was in keeping with our titling our monthly brain teasers with a consistent level of social impudence, and we are lovers of many things, but none more highly prized than impudent condescension. And so without further- as the great Bard of Avon would put it -ado, we present this month’s edition of America’s favorite cerebral headsneeze, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by those fascinating folk who peddle us our daily supply of SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this edition, we celebrate, acknowledge and continue to generate considerably visual strain over the beloved cinematic genre of the Film Noir, happily characterized as that slimy cinematic underworld of guys with gats, dames with dangerous curves and enough shadow to make Elizabeth Taylor’s eye make-up livid with envy. Each of the following twenty five images is from a Film Noir production. Your task is to solve the mystery of the true identity of each of the twenty five films illustrated, and then to bring your findings back here to CSR’s Mr. Big. The first to complete the dirty deed will get a payoff of one genuine copy of the CSR Culture Shock Award: more valuable than a sack of brass rings and a sweeter Valentine’s offering than a kisser full of grapefruit. Good luck.
In George Stevens’ film “Shane”, when excitable homesteader Frank Torrey (Elisha Cook Jr.) is gunned down by the enigmatic hired killer Jack Wilson (Jack Palance), the director deliberately amplified the volume of the shot to emphasize the violence inherent in a death by gunfire. By using a subtle but simple sensorial shock technique, Stevens was able to momentarily stir the audience from their complacency as passive spectators to make the lethal act more disquieting and thus invest the likelihood of similar consequences for other innocents with an intensified emotional immediacy.
In “Tombstone”, director George P. Cosmatos takes a similar but more extreme approach, by continually pummels the viewer with seismic storms of thundering hooves and explosive gunplay, almost continually abetted by Bruce Broughton’s muscular scoring which sings out with the dramatic import of what has or is about to occur with all of the subtlety of a claxon horn. Whether this approach is meant to immerse the viewer in the intensity of the violent confrontations, the results continue the fascinating confusion modern cinema has in conflating brute intensity with excitement. While it is possible to find immersion with the film’s reckless momentum, it is a strenuous form of pleasure. There is no question that one may emerge with the feeling of having been physically worked over by the film’s aural assault alone.
“Tombstone” doesn’t tread any particularly new territory that hasn’t already been steeply embellished by previous versions of the story, though in relating the familiar story of Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell, slightly inconsistent but with genuine highs), his brothers and Doc Holliday (an astonishing career performance by Val Kilmer) against Ike Clanton (an unrecognizable Stephen Lang) and the Cowboys, the carnage has been elevated to an absurdist level. One would have to reach back to Roger Corman’s “The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” to find a find a movie comparable in its willingness to undercut the visceral potency of its own historical highlight merely by a miscalculation of the overabundant quantity of bloodletting featured throughout the entirety of the film, producing a literal numbing of the senses from overstimulation.
To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/multiplex-movies/
“Red Sun” (1971)
With the emergence of the Spaghetti Western, the appearance of ethnically incongruent casts became more commonplace, especially in light of the Italian film industry’s habit of shooting films MOS. The capability of producers for international casts assembled to expand the range of a popular genre production’s global range of marketability (and in doing so, built on the blueprint initiated by the already emergent Italian horror and peplum films) was advanced by the ease with which any linguistical incongruity of a performance soundtrack was immediately correctable with the substitution of a port-dubbing track of any national origin. (That the films, generally situated in the American West, were nonetheless populated by extras seemingly comprised of colorfully grizzled natives from the hills surrounding Almeria, Spain is one of the irreverent idiosyncrasies of the genre when their every utterance emerges with a distinctively flat Midwestern accent.) However, the extension of multinational castings often resulted in odd pairings for which there seemed to be little rational explanation save for the extension of international box-office magnetism. The great Japanese actor Tatsuya Nakadai featured formidably as the primary antagonist in 1968’s “Oggi a me… domani a te!” though his presence was clearly meant for its enhancement of regional box-office potential than in any meaningful cultural representation in the context of the film.
In Terence Young’s “Red Sun” East again meets the old West with the able participation of a goodly representation of half of the NATO nations and the usual compliment of Almerian local color. Though unlike many multinational European westerns, in this film there has been some level of effort, labored as it may be, to naturally integrate the international seasoning of the casting.
To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/nights-at-the-wheaton-plaza-playhouse/
Lucky 2021: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Jan. 2021 Edition, Vol. 0-0
Thank goodness for the end of 2020. Not that we have anything to complain about here at the offices of CSR, but we’re so tired of listening to everyone else. However, with the pioneer spirit that fought two World Wars, forged a country from a wilderness and survived one of TCM’s innumerable marketing campaigns of swill (as if the assertion that Cabernet Au “Duck Soup” is a varietal of genuine enological interest weren’t enough) which proffered Elizabeth Taylor not as The Bleating Vulgar Spawn of Excessive Alcohol and Make-Up Application but as a Star of the Month, we bring you this month’s edition of the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you as always by SKITTLES, America’s only breakfast candy that hasn’t been poisoned by a twelve part reversal of opinion by Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s leading candidate (attention TIME Magazine!) for Person More Likely to Flip Than Simone Biles on a Balance Beam. In this edition we look forward to more of the same in ’21 and therefore segue that bold pessimism (Is this your first visit to Earth or what?) into the quite cleverly unrelated subject of movies that feature gambling with cards. Each of the following 25 images is sourced from a motion picture in which cigars, beer and potato chips are happily promoted as the essential three nutritional food groups indigenous to the strenuous recreation of flipping cards for fun and profit. Your task, as always, is to identify all twenty five films and report your findings to the proper authorities (that’s us, Butch), where after careful scrutiny we will tabulate the findings (allowing for the proper period of tabulation hanky-panky) and discover the first to calculate the correct responses of all featured films. The first to do so will receive the coveted CSR Culture Shock Award, happily useful in this edition as a drink coaster. Good luck.