Cultural Gutter: A Visit to Tativille

I have a new one up on The Cultural Gutter! Yesterday’s Tomorrow: A Visit to Tativille is a look at one of my all-time favorite films, 1958’s futurist farce Mon Oncle by Jacques Tati. Tati’s third film, and the second to feature the iconic character of M. Hulot, Mon Oncle is a film built largely on the shoulders…

The Great Beauty

Italy’s Berlusconi era was characterized by the decadence and corruption of the country’s prime minister. Director Paolo Sorrentino admits that while the decadence was fun, it created a cultural stagnation from which, perhaps, it’s time to emerge.

Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka

The Devil used to have a lot more to do on Christmas Eve than he does these days, having been supplanted more or less in the Christmas time evil business by retail store owners and Black Friday stampedes. There was a time, however, when Ol’ Scratch regarded the night before Christmas as prime soul-stealing time,…

Aloha from Hawaii

Elvis Presley didn’t like his own movies, except maybe Flaming Star and King Creole. He idolized “angry young man” actors like Marlon Brando and James Dean and always hoped that with the right coaching, he might be able to count himself among their ranks. And maybe he could have. King Creole certainly shows impressive flashes….

Karate-Robo Zaborgar

Karate Robo Zaborgar presented me with the sort of soul-searching conflict that often plagues those of us who worry about the higher philosophical questions in life. On the one hand, it was a presumably loving spoof of one of my favorite genres — the old “tokusatsu” superhero shows of the 1970s, with their karate cyborgs,…

Yatterman

Yatterman is a colorful, overblown, largely idiotic live-action adaptation of an anime series from 1977. It’s also a painful illustration of every weak point wildly hit-or-miss director Takashi Miike possesses, while at the same time it fails to highlight any of the thing he does well. Miike’s staunch unwillingness to make anything less than 14,000…

Vampire vs. Vampire

Lam Ching-Ying made a whole slew of vampire comedies. The most interesting aspect of Vampire vs. Vampire is the fact that it pits Lam’s character against a Western style vampire

Mr. Vampire

Old Hong Kong movies use the presence of a Taoist priest as a license to print crazy, despite the real world practice of Taoism’s emphasis on quiet contemplation and equilibrium with nature.

The Cat & The Canary

It is logical, and it seemed easy enough, to begin a discussion of The Cat and the Canary with a discussion of the history of “old dark house” mysteries — those movies where a disparate and largely shifty group of people convene upon a mysterious old mansion and find themselves embroiled in — and probably accused of — either a murder or a theft.

Troll Hunter

I cannot count “point of view” films among the styles of film making for which I possess much tolerance. Aside from rarely being the least bit convincing as “found footage,” relying as they do on the conceit that assorted people would continue to film an incident long after the extreme danger factor would move just…

Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla

It turns out that the talents of Jerry Lewis become obvious when you are confronted with the odious sight of a much less talented comedian ripping off Lewis’ shtick.

Norwegian Ninja

It makes me happy to wake up and discover, more or less totally by accident, that the world of film is still surprising and delightful. I have no idea how I heard of Norwegian Ninja. Perhaps appropriate to the subject matter, awareness of the movie simply popped into my head with no external stimulus at…