Censorship, The Pawnbroker and Me

the-pawnbrokerFor many years, around the holiday season, the Catholic Church had a pledge they brought forth to their parishioners. The oath was for “Good” Catholics not to attend any film considered morally objectionable, that is, the big C word was applied…Condemned!For years, the Church’s list of objectionable films was a dominant force that changed filmmaking. Many directors, among them Stanley Kubrick (Spartacus) and Billy Wilder (The Seven Year Itch), edited their films, eliminating scenes found objectionable. While it’s true most of the films on the list were foreign that received the condemned rating there were exceptions. In 1953, Otto Preminger’s lightweight romantic comedy, The Moon is Blue was given the dreaded C rating, this after the Hays Office refused to give the film its seal of approval and Preminger and United Artists refused to make what today seem like ridiculous deletes.

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From Real to Reel: Real Life Photographers in the Movies – Alexander Gardner

Alexander_Gardner_1863Photography was in its infancy when Abraham Lincoln was running for President. It was a cumbersome and deliberate process. Cameras were these large boxes, set upon sturdy bulky tripods, using wet plates and a slow exposure making the possibilities of the sort of images captured limited. Continue reading

Six Films About Immigrants in America

The Godfather Part II Immigrant Ellis Island SceneI admire the strength it must take to leave your home, your family, and your country to search and hope for a better life in a far away and foreign land. But it’s that hope for a better life that the American dream has always represented. From the British who left England to come to America in the 1600’s to today’s immigrants America has always been the land of hope and dreams. Sometimes it worked out; sometimes it did not.

America is a country of immigrants, without them who would be here? We as a country have always welcomed immigrants. As John Lennon wrote and sang in his song, New York City, “the Statue of liberty said come.” Some of us seemed to have forgotten that today. Listed below are six films about the American immigrant experience. Continue reading

Ten Favorite Horror Films Plus Some

With Halloween a couple of days away here is a list I did a few years back on some of my favorite horror films.

Twenty Four Frames

A little Halloween fun with this post. A list of my ten favorite horror films plus a dozen more. As a kid, the one film that scared the hell out of me was Robert Wise’s, The Haunting, based on Shirley Jackson’s novel, The Haunting of Hill House.  I was a young teen, home alone on a Saturday night. On TV was this ghostly classic. It wasn’t what you saw that was scary, it was what you didn’t see. The unknown and the unseen are definitely more frightening. I was never so happy to have my parents finally come home!

I always found horror films that take place in normal or everyday situations, meaning without monsters or blobs, much scarier than the ones with three headed creatures or aliens. Rosemary’s Baby takes place in New York City. A typical couple who live in an apartment building with neighbors all around. Who doesn’t…

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One Hour Photo (2002) Mark Romanek

one_hour_photo_mrfzj“I just took pictures…” Sy Parrish

One Hour Photo is a sobering introspective look on why we are a world addicted to taking pictures. Today even more than ever we have this passion, desire, this need to record almost everything we do with a photograph. Many of us photograph as a sort of visual diary of family, friends, place we have been. For some of us, we take pictures to capture a fleeting moment that will never happen again. It could be a person’s expression or clouds patterns or waves crashing; they only happen once, and the camera catches it forever. For others taking photographs is a validation of sorts that yes we live, we exist. For Seymour “Sy” Parrish (Robin Williams) though, photographs are an escape from his painful past and an imaginary lifeline to a normal life. Continue reading

Hamburger Hill (1987) John Irvin

hamburger-hill-original-uk-quad-poster-anthony-barrile-87-3670-p

On May 10th, 1969, the U.S. military engaged in an all-out assault on the North Vietnamese army who were heavily fortified on Hill 937 located near the Laotian border. The attack  was successful however, it took ten days and cost 72 American soldiers their lives. Another 372 were wounded in action. The hill which had no strategic value in the war was quickly abandoned after the victory. The number of dead and wounded as a result of the fierce firepower from the entrenched North Vietnam Army resulted in bodies seemingly chopped up in pieces; thus the battle would forever become better-known by the nickname of Hamburger Hill. Through news reports, word got back to Washington about the bloody battle, the loss of lives and the uselessness of the victory. Congress began an investigation into the military leadership and actions. Continue reading

Gimme Shelter From The Storm: Altamont and The End of The Woodstock Generation

“I was born in a crossfire hurricane…” Sympathy for the Devil – The Rolling Stones.

Gimme

For the first time since 1966, The Rolling Stones were touring America. It was 1969, and the venues were large palaces like Madison Square Garden. It was a month-long tour that began in early November and cumulated one month later. The Stones were on fire. Jagger is in top form strutting on stage like a rooster let loose in a hen house. The music is raw, and the audience primed. The MSG concerts would be preserved with the best cuts eventually finding their way on vinyl in 1970 as Get Your Ya Ya’s Out. The Stones agreed to end their tour with a free concert in California, a sort of west coast version of Woodstock. Continue reading