GENIUS BEFORE THE ARTIST: Michel Hazanavicius And His OSS 117 FILMS

This piece was originally published January 30th, 2012.

OSS117 Post TemplateMichel Hazanavicius’ The Artist has been garnering award after award and may very well end up sweeping the upcoming Academy Awardswell it should in any case.

Easily one of the best films that I have seen recently, I can honestly add it to the list of my favorite films of all time.

 

Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Béjo in The Artist

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This story of a great fan fave silent film actor facing the oncoming changes that came with the new talkies era, is such a wonderful, skillfully crafted and entertaining homage to cinema’s past, that it will doubtlessly continue to snowball into a huge mainstream success, and deservedly so.

The genius of Hazanavicius’ filmmaking did not begin with The Artist however.

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The Films Of GEORGE AND MIKE KUCHAR: The 8mm Mozarts

This piece was originally published September 12th, 2011.

Kuchar Brothers Post TemplateThe Kuchar Brothers were (along with Kenneth Anger) among the earliest originators and innovators of what we now know think of as independent film.

John Waters started making films because of them and calls them “The Warner Brothers of the Underground.”

David Lynch, Brian De Palma, Gus Van Sant, Guy Maddin, Buck Henry, Todd Solondz, Atom Egoyan are but a tiny few of the independent and otherwise film directors that name The Kuchars as their influence and inspirations.

Taking the small 8mm film camera and turning it from something that previously would be merely used for capturing family vacations and holiday gatherings, The Kuchars instead created their own brand of ambitious, mini Douglas Sirk and Tennessee Williams melodramas that were filtered through their own warped teenaged sensibilities with a decidedly crazed black humor that would be indicative of the fledgling cinema underground that they were helping to create.

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JAWS WEEK: A Tribute to the Scare of ’75

This piece was originally published June 15th, 2009

Jaws IconJAWS.

The mere mention still brings me back to the days of 1975 when it was the scariest film of the year.

The film was the first true summer blockbuster, and a cultural giant of a movie about giant of a shark that radically changed and forever crushed our innocent view of a happy day at the beach.

As a kid I grew up by a beach and spent much of my outdoor time swimming in its water and goofing around on the sand. It was the days of carefree (and legal!) bonfires, diggin’ up cool “stuff” and consistently being amazed at the hundreds of primitive monster-like horseshoe crabs that would wash ashore each year.

Little did I know that the most amazing of all monsters of the sea was soon to be unleashed upon us all.

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Sam Raimi’s Stooges: Celebrating The Director’s Earliest Films

This piece was originally published June 1st, 2009

Shemp IconEverything in life always comes back to The Three Stooges…

We all know how much Sam Raimi loves a good, old fashioned, ancient and horrible curse. The type that has been unleashed by some unsuspecting chump.

Nothing like a good curse plot to wrap a film around. Curses seem to bring out some of the best in Raimi’s work, from his early first feature, Within The Woods, through all of the Evil Dead masterpieces, to his newest film Drag Me To Hell.

The other major influence on Raimi’s work has always been the ultra violent Columbia comedy shorts of The Three Stooges: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard, and who can forget that most underrated of all Stooges, Shemp Howard.

The release of a new Sam Raimi directed film is usually a cause for celebration.

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I Was a Teenage Movie Maker 2: Confessions of a Super 8 Freak

This piece was originally published March 9th, 2009

Frankie Teen IconI had fun making amateur movies as a kid with my friends. Things were different then…were they ever. You see, video — that was something that was waay out of our league. Only grownups that had academic credentials used video. I saw that firsthand, observing the wacky hipsters who came into our 3rd grade music class videotaping our visit from the local Looking Glass Theater children’s acting troupe. No, video cameras were out of the question. They cost unfathomable amounts of money, were huge clunky behemoths with accompanying heavyweight television monitors, and shot disturbingly poor grade black and white images. This did not meet with our colorful kid standards at all — video cameras were best left to the early German Krautrockers like Kraftwerk who also had room sized, hand built synthesizers.

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