Backbeat is not just another Beatles biopic; it’s more of an intimate story of friendship, love and ultimately death. The film’s focus is not on the rise of the group’s fame but, more on the triangular relationship between German photographer Astrid Kirchherr, Stu Sutcliffe, the original fifth Beatle, and John Lennon.
The years were 1960 to 1962. Stu Sutcliffe (Stephen Dorff) is an art student, a talented painter with sensitive, good looks, a James Dean aura and a rock and roll heart. He also has a best friend by the name of John Lennon (Ian Hart). Lennon’s ragtag band then consisting of Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Pete Best were on their way to Germany to perform along the Reeperbahn district. Stu played base and was in the band due to John’s insistence and Stu own loyalty to his friend. Continue reading →
In 1991, American Playhouse, a PBS produced series presented A Marriage: Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz. The production starred Jane Alexander as O’Keeffe and Christopher Plummer as Stieglitz. There are few, if any, artistic couples who loom as significant in the history of culture and art as Stieglitz and O’Keeffe. Alfred Stieglitz did not consider himself just a photographer, but an artist and through his galleries and his highbrow magazine, Camera Work he almost single-handedly made photography a recognized art form. Additionally, he was a pioneer in introducing the Modern Art movement to America. Continue reading →
By 1992, Joe Pesci had been around for thirty years beginning with a small role in the 1961 film, Hey, Let’s Twist, a showcase for the then chart-topping rock and roll group, Joey Dee and the Starliters (Peppermint Twist). Pesci began getting some attention in the mid-1980’s with films like Easy Money and Once Upon a Time in America. But it was not until 1989 with Lethal Weapon 2 and 1990 with the double whammy of Home Alone and Goodfellas that Pesci became a name on everyone’s lips. Riding this success, Pesci had a series of important roles over the next few years. In 1992 alone, he appeared in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Lethal Weapon 3 and My Cousin Vinny. That same year he also had the lead role in the little-known film, The Public Eye.Continue reading →
In my own personal hierarchy, Dolores Claiborne secures its spot as one of the best adaptations of a Stephen King novel. This film is a “horror” story sans chainsaws, hacked body parts or ghosts. Well, that last part is just partially correct, only here, the ghosts are psychological. Director Taylor Hackford and screenwriter Tony Gilroy have given us a mature and cleverly made thriller with superb acting from Kathy Bates and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Continue reading →
The palmetto bug is capable when alarmed of ejecting a foul-smelling spray that will knock you over. Also known as the Florida skunk roach, humans should be cautious not to upset these darling little creatures. Its scent has been known to repel dangerous enemies. For Harry Barber, our anti-hero, he will discover the palmetto bug is his only true friend. Continue reading →
One of neo-noirs most underrated and little talked about films is George Armitage’s Miami Blues. The 1990 film is based on Charles Willeford’s 1986 novel, the first in his series featuring the dysfunctional detective, Hoke Moseley. Willeford was a prolific writer, and not just of crime fiction. He was a poet and biographer. His crime novels are darkly humorous tales juxtaposing violence and humor keeping you off balance all the way. Three of his novels have been turned into films: The Woman Chaser, Cockfighter and Miami Blues. All are unconventional, dark and eccentric which may account for why his work has not been mined for further screen adventures. Continue reading →
Whether you are a musician, writer, actor, artist or any other public figure, you know having fans is an integral part of the experience. Fans are supportive, financially and artistically. Fans follow the artist on social media, fans share experiences and thoughts between each other, and fans are devoted. However, with some fans there comes the point when that devotion takes a turn toward some very dark places; far from the ordinary, toward the bizarre, the maniacal or even worst. Fan is short for fanatic which derives from the Latin adjective fanaticus. Unlike the average or normal fan, the fanatic has lost all perspective of their relationship to the artist. They are overly passionate and unreasonable in their devotion to their idol. Some even feel they know the artist and have a personal relationship where the artist is speaking directly to them. It’s all very delusional, and needless to say, way outside the boundries of what is considered conventional behavior. Then there is Annie Wilkes.Continue reading →
Lawrence Kasdan’s Body Heat takes place in a small, dreadfully hot, humid Southern Florida coastal town. The heat of the title reflects three important elements of the film. First up, the obvious; the stifling hot Florida weather. Every character’s skin glistens with beads of sweat. Shirts are constantly seen with sweat stains. Continue reading →
Author Jim Thompson created some of the darkest pulp crime fiction ever to land between the covers of greasy paperbacks left in two bit diners on dark rain soaked nights. He was a writer whose tales were filled with sleazy grifters and psychopaths. An alcoholic himself, Thompson’s works featured characters that drank too much booze, like it was a life-saving device.
Okay, first let me say that “Night Falls on Manhattan” is not a bad movie; it is just by 1997 we had seen it all before and better. Lumet is on familiar territory here, political fraud, crooked cops, and ethical dilemmas. It is a road he has traveled on many times and at a far better speed. What was once shocking in “Serpico” is now old hat, been there, saw that last night on “Law and Order” or some other TV police show.
Life isn’t black and white; there are always shades of gray, that’s the theme running through this political drama. Based on the novel, “Tainted Evidence” by Robert Daley, author of “Prince of the City” and “Year of the Dragon” among others, high values are thwarted, the good guys are not all good, the villains are victims of life, and all are casualties of their owned flawed behavior. Lumet made movies for adults, his characters were not cardboard cutouts, they were real three dimensional people in difficult situations, and never perfect. No matter how hard they tried, they would get caught up life’s complicated twist and turns. Continue reading →