Billoboards on Broadway

itch2Back in the glory days, Times Square had more movie theaters than there were peanuts in a peanut factory. The bright lights of the theaters were part of what lit up the Great White Way. Today, there is not one movie theater to be found in the Broadway area. Some of those now long gone palaces were huge like the Roxy that had close to 6,000 seats. As big as the theaters were, the signs advertising the movies were even bigger. Sometimes they were ever better than or at least as interesting as the movies themselves. Continue reading

Five Bad Dads for Father’s Day

It’s equal time here at Twenty Four Frames.  On Mother’s Day I listed five bad movie Moms. Just like with Mom’s on screen there are plenty of examples of bad male  parental behavior. Here are a few of my favorites.

The Shining Jack Nicholsen knocking

All work and no play makes Jack a very nutty dad. Nicholson’s portrayal of the alcoholic crazed Mr. Torrance who forces his family to move into a spooky empty hotel where he decides the best way to handle a disobedient family is with an ax. When his wife Wendy pleas not to hurt her, he screams out “I’m not gonna hurt you, I’m gonna bash your brains in!” Continue reading

Finding a Book Cover

I love old movie theaters. Ever since I began to have an interest in still photography I have been photographing theaters. It began in New York City back in the 1970’s. Back then, the theaters I photographed were not considered old, or classic. At the time, they were just the theaters where you went to see the latest new releases. Over the years, whenever I travel, I have always remained on the lookout for old theaters wherever I go. Theaters that have managed to survive the wrong arm of society’s law; old needs to be replaced. When we, my wife and I, moved to the Tamps Bay area in the late 1990’s we discovered the Tampa Theater. It’s a 1927 movie palace that was, and still is, actively showing current independent films, classic films as well as live shows. The building fortunately has been declared a landmark, so we should be able to enjoy its pleasures for years to come. In early 2008, we went to see “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.” An art film, the Tampa Theater was the only place in town showing it at the time. On this particular occasion I took my camera and a tri-pod with the intent to photograph not only the outside, but the theater inside. I asked permission and management was gracious enough to allow me to shoot a few photos as long as I was not shooting during the showing of the film. Anyway, I took a series of shots both outside and in, some of which are shown here. Continue reading

A Mothers Day Flick

She’ll never win any “Best Mother of the Year” awards but Anjelica Huston as Lily Dillon in Stephen Frears THE GRIFTERS, based on Jim Thompson’s pulp fiction classic, gives a superb performance as one of the nastiest Mom’s on screen. After a scam gone wrong and her son Roy (John Cusack) gets beat up badly, she tells the ambulance medic “He’s gonna be alright ain’t he? If not, I’m going to kill you.” Yet, she has no problem stealing her boy’s money at the same time. Ah, motherly love.

With a screenplay by Donald Westlake, THE GRIFTERS is a great neo-noir and makes for an terrific alternative Mother’s Day flick.

The Grifters

Film Noir at Twenty Four Frames Per Second

A small bit of self promotion here. My first e-book Film Noir at Twenty Four Frames Per Second is now available in the Kindle version on Amazon. Twenty essays and reviews from classics like “Ace in the Hole” and “Detour” to lesser known works like “Cause for Alarm” and “Roadblock” are looked at. Within the next few weeks or less I hope to put out a Nook version over at the Barnes and Noble site. Here is the link…http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JZCDPEW
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The Take2 Guide to Steven Spielberg

The new e-book, The Take2 Guide to Steven Spielberg, which includes an article by yours truly (The Summer of Jaws), is now available in all e-Book formats.spielberg_guide5_ss_697da926-bab1-44fe-83dd-df70360208c0_1024x1024 The book includes articles, interviews and reviews covering Spielberg’s entire career and features more than 60 contributors including Jonathan Rosenbaum, Joseph McBride. Matt Zoller Seitz, Tom Carson and James Bernardinelli as well as fellow film bloggers Sam Juliano, Joel Bocko,Ed Howard and others.  Edited by fellow blogger and filmmaker Adam Zanzie.

Attached below is a press release…

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11719016.htm

Big Bad Mama (1974) Steve Carver

big-bad-mamaKing of the B’s, Roger Corman was well acquainted with making gangster films, having previous directed “Machine Gun Kelly,” starring Charles Buchinsky, aka Charles Bronson, “The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre,” with Jason Robards as Big Al Capone and in the 1970’s, his final film, “Bloody Mama” with Shelley Winters as Ma Barker and an unknown young actor named Robert DeNiro as one of Mama’s boys, the drug addicted, Lloyd. Later in the decade Corman produced “Capone” with Ben Gazarra over acting throughout as the Chicago mobster.

Other than “I, Mobster,” a film he made in 1958, all these films were based on real life underworld characters and that’s what he wanted to do once again with his latest project. According the extras on the DVD, Corman told screenwriter Frances Doel to do some research for a real life female gangster in the history books. With Corman, having already filmed the exploits of Ma Barker, Doel could not find another real life female gangster so she created the fictional Wilma McClatchie. Continue reading

A Few Thoughts on Harold Ramis

harold

Even if you never heard of Harold Ramis, you certainly would know his movies. Writer, director, actor, Ramis was one of the architects of the modern day comedy. You know his films, “Caddyshack,” “Stripes,” “Ghostbusters,” “Groundhog Day” and so many more. I first remember seeing his name way back in 1978 when I went to see “Animal House” at the Loew’s New York Twin (now The Beekman Twin) on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. I always paid attention to the credits in movies; who directed, who wrote the screenplay, who was the DP.  I was taught by Professor Richard Brown of the New School whose adult education classes I attended that you should stay for the end credits. It showed respect and you learned who the artists were behind the work. Granted, these were the days before end credits ran for ten minutes listing everyone and I mean everyone who had anything to do with the film including the guys who cleaned up the bathrooms. Continue reading

Philip Seymour Hoffman: A Regular Guy

Seymour

It shouldn’t have ended this way, a superb actor found dead with a needle in his arm, empty bags of smack littered about in his downtown Manhattan apartment. He was only 46 years old. Behind he leaves his partner, Mimi O’Donnell, three small children, fellow actors and film lovers who soaked in and admired his talent with every nuance in his performance.

His family, friends and fellow talents will miss him as a human being, a father, a brilliant light and we will miss him for his performances that gave us joy, excitement and inspiration. We will feel cheated of the future works that could have been and  now will never be.

The ugliness of his demise though in no way diminishes the work he left behind in an array of films with performances both brilliant and natural. A prolific actor, Hoffman leaves a legacy of more than 50 films in less than 25 years. His career included movies such as “Almost Famous” where he played legendary rock music critic Lester Bangs and “Capote” where he seemingly possessed the soul of the late author and won an Academy Award for Best Actor.

He worked with some of the best directors including Sidney Lumet in the filmmaker’s final film, “Before the Devil Knows Your Dead,” with Mike Nichols in “Charlie Wilson’s War,” the Coen Brothers in their cult classic, “The Big Lebowski,” and twice with Paul Thomas Anderson in “Magnolia” and “The Master.” There were big budget films like “Mission Impossible III, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “Moneyball” and small independent flicks like “Savages,” “Synecdoche, New York” and “A Late Quartet,” the last one directed by Dustin Hoffman.

Hoffman’s looks,demeanor, his stocky built, rumpled hair and sloppy clothes gave him the appearance of an everyday guy, one who lived next door, exemplified by his role in the 2010 film “Jack Goes Boating.” His everydayness was also expressed by his neighbors who stated you always would see him in the neighborhood, walking his kids, just like a regular guy.

Best Films of 2013

2013 was an intoxicating year in film. Filmmakers as diverse as Woody Allen, Steve McQueen, Martin Scorsese, Spike Jonze and the Coen Brothers all releasing some of the best films of the year, and in some cases, the best of their careers. Admittedly, my list is limited to mostly films made in the U.S., not because I believe America has a hook on making the best movies, it is due more to my location, timing and release patterns.

My top ten list is actually a top five list. I have been wrestling back and forth, attempting to decide,  in what order the remaining films would fall. Subsequently, since I did not want this post to be published in July, I just added them to my Honorable Mentions all which are in alphabecial order. Continue reading