Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Evolution of Dancing Gangsters

Walk Cheerfully (1930) silent Ozu film.
The Band Wagon (1953) Vincent Minelli musical.
Band of Outsiders (1964) Jean-Luc Godard movie
Pulp Fiction (1994) - Quentin Tarantino flic.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Old prof...

Stanton Englehart has passed away. He was a great artist but an even better human being. He was very compassionate, humorous, generous, vibrant and a pleasure to be around.
He taught art classes at Fort Lewis College in CO.
One of the classes he taught was on Aesthetics. I took the class back in 1990. It was a cool class because the students would talk aesthetics and art most of the day. Then Stanton would play music and we would write in our journals or read the books he had assigned. At the end of the year he would let the students grade themselves. He felt we ultimately would be humble enough to not give ourselves an A+ and he was right: He had to talk some of us out of giving ourselves a B.
He painted a lot of landscapes and was particularly partial to the Southwestern United States [close to where he lived his entire life]. He would visit Lake Powell often, with his wife, and he would come back and paint these big colorful paintings that would take up half the wall. A book on his paintings can be found here.

The books he assigned for his class were:

The Memory of Old Jack
The Universe is a Green Dragon
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

He had an influence on my life. He'll be missed by many.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Handshakes [and smiles]

Khrushchev & JFK

Mao and Nixon

Bush and Abdullah

Obama and Chavez

You getting the picture people? Diplomats shake hands. This is how the world moves forward.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Italiano Prog

I stumbled upon a Seventies Italian Prog Rock band while perusing the internet recently.

Il Mucchio
They only made one album back in 1970 but it's considered one of the first Italian Prog Rock albums so it has some importance.
It's pretty wild stuff with a lot of organ soaked psychedelic / pop rock sounds accompanied by guitars, drums and, of course, lyrics in Italian. They even do an interesting version of Ave Maria.
There is a My Space page where you can hear some of their music.

Song on YouTube

Friday, April 10, 2009

Lost Island of VHS...

The Dead - John Huston - 1987
One of the best 'last movies' by a master but also a great ensemble work that stands up viewing after viewing. Based on a James Joyce short story it's about a gathering of family and friends for an Epiphany dinner circa 1904.
What starts as a seemingly random series of scenes that resemble a Masterpiece Theater episode slowly evolves into a remarkable warm and rewarding film about the fragility of life. The fidelity of the direction, editing and all around acting [Angelica Huston, Donal McCann, Dan O'Herlihy and many others) make it one of the better films of the 1980's.
I watched this recently through On Demand on The Sundance channel. It was full frame with poor audio quality. This needs to be on DVD in R1.

Update: This is finally getting a DVD release in November 2009 but the first pressing of the DVD is missing the film's first 10 minutes. It apparently was fixed on the second pressing but the first pressing is still on sale out there.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Jane Austin & Zombie attacks

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.

It was inevitable, right?

Thursday, April 02, 2009


The H-Man is a 1958 Japanese sci-fi thriller [of sorts] that pits cops against both Tokyo's underground and mysterious radioactive slime monsters that melt everyone they touch.
Like many Japanese monster films of the period this one deals with the terror that the Atomic age wrought; The film's opening image is a nuclear bomb exploding and the monster [or monsters] are mutants that are believed to have developed due to a Hydrogen bomb test.
The Japanese title translates as "Beauty and the Liquid Men". Beauty in this case is a nightclub singer (Yumi Shirakawa) who is kidnapped by one of the gangsters. And the Liquid Men are, naturally, the slim monsters, which makes you wonder why the film was retitled The H-Man rather than The H-Men. I guess singular is more scary than plural in this case?
On the surface this is a promising film. I mean, you've got your heroin trading gangsters, your scantily clad nightclub dancers and an oozing thing crawling up an down the walls attacking amd melting everyone in its way. And it all marches along to a climax in the Tokyo sewer which the city has decided to firebomb in order to get rid of the menace. Plus, it's directed by Ishiro Honda best known for Godzilla. But The H-Man really doesn't deliver. It's neither scary nor suspenseful nor provocative. Although it is watchable and frequently humorous - especially the English dubbed version Columbia released that shown on TCM the other night.

The DVD for this film is not available through regular commercial channels on R1 but it can be found here.