Cultural Gutter: The Gentleman Adventurer

I have a new Frolic Afield up on The Cultural Gutter: The Gentleman Adventurer takes a look at the BBC series Adam Adamant Lives! A swashbuckling Edwardian gentleman, quick with his cane-sword or a witty retort, is frozen in time and revived in swingin’ sixties London, where accompanied by his go-go girl sidekick, he immediately…

Chinese Ghost Story

Partially a remake of a Shaw Bros. classic, partially an adaptation of an old Chinese folk tale, Chinese Ghost Story became one of the defining films of the Hong Kong New Wave and inspired countless imitations, including its own sequels and remakes. There is little in the short story “The Magic Sword,” part of the…

Gangs of Wasseypur

For over half a century, a small city in northern India has been the site of a seemingly endless war between rival crime families. Anurag Kashyap’s exploration of the town’s endless cycle of violence spans generations and wonders if anything can stop the flow of blood. The small town of Wasseypur is located in northeastern…

Asambhav

Attempting to cram every single flashy editing trick into one film, and usually into one scene, and sometimes into a single shot, this Bollywood espionage thriller is as entertaining as it is moronic. And it is really moronic. It’s been said that in an effort to appeal to as massive a population as possible, the…

Cultural Gutter: A Halting Fire

My time has come. Another Frolic Afield over at the Cultural Gutter. A Halting Fire takes a look at the first season of Halt and Catch Fire, a show with subject matter — the micro-computing revolution of the early 1980s — near and dear to my heart. It’s also about the unwillingness of so many…

Oh, What a Lovely War

Richard Attenborough directs this farcical yet horrifying send-up of the grueling First World War, based on an absurdist stage musical written by Joan Littlewood. On August 4, 1914, Germany declared war on and subsequently invaded Belgium, a declared neutral in the escalating conflict between France, Russia, and the allied countries of German and Austria-Hungary. Europe…

Cultural Gutter: Einstein and the Bearded Lady

Time for another Frolic Afield over at The Cultural Gutter, where I am writing Einstein and the Bearded Lady, about the Czech science fiction comedy I Killed Einstein, Gentlemen (Zabil jsem Einsteina, panove) from 1970. The film asks the question, “What would men of the future be willing to risk to make sure women don’t…

The Devil Rides Out

Hammer and Christopher Lee tackle Satan and Dennis Wheatley’s occult adventurer Duc de Richleau on one of the studio’s finest horror films, despite some shoddy special effects at the back end.

Deadlier than the Male

The phrase “in the wake of James Bond’s success” is probably the single most over-used phrase in any examination of the flood of spy films that flowed freely onto screens worldwide in the wake of James Bond’s success. Unfortunately, facts are facts and while the Bond films certainly were not the first espionage thrillers to…

No Masterpiece Without Madness

Frolicking afield once again, for my monthly article over at The Cultural Gutter. “You Can’t Make a Masterpiece Without Madness” takes a look at the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune, the tale of how director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ambitious adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune never got made, and how that story of “failure” is oddly inspiring and uplifting.

They Were 11

They Were 11 is an interesting take on sci-fi anime from the eighties, and definitely a marked departure from the space operas overflowing from the previous decades and the wham-bam sci-fi actioners that defined the eighties. There is really only one action scene in the entire movie, and that’s a pie fight. Yet despite the…

Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf

There are those among us who, in a moment of moral weakness, find themselves unwilling or unable to turn away from a grisly situation. As to the psychological motivations behind this tendency, they are legion and vary from person to person. Perhaps it is a desire to affirm that someone is worse off than you,…