Thursday, June 19, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
The Avon Theatre in Stamford will be running a series devoted to offbeat "cult" films called Cult Classics every Thursday night this summer. The Stamford Advocate discusses the series here . More info can be found at the theatre's web site there .
This is the one I want to see. (It's playing in August.) -Ed
(Thanks to Kate Petrow for letting me know about this.)
Italian thriller director Dario Argento came through again with his latest release, Mother of Tears , the very belated sequel to his previous films, Suspiria (1977) and Inferno (1980). I saw the film last Thursday night in Soho's Sunshine Landmark Cinema (where the surrounding neighborhood at night looks just like the kind you'd find in an Argento movie) at the 8:20 showing, just before the movie gets "bumped" to "midnight showing only" status. AND I LOVED IT!!!!
(Star Asia Argento goes through a lot for her father's film.)
This film is totally over the top. There are so many bizarre but grandly (and bloody; this is NOT a film for children) staged scenes of killings and other acts of violence that a viewer is liable to feel dizzy in a punch-drunk way afterwards. The photography and direction is first rate, and the cast, led by the director's daughter Asia Argento (Land of the Dead; Marie Antoinette), more than make up for the script's various plot holes. (At one point -read the links I put on this post for an explaination why- Asia's character discovers her parents were good witches and she inherited their powers. Trying to elude the cops, she discovers she can make herself invisible, right in front of people, just like Lamont Cranston.) And of course, it wouldn't be an Argento film without some awkwardly written translated-into-English lines ("There's more here than meets the eye", one cop says after finding the brutally murdered body of a colleague), but the dubbing is otherwise quite good. It's not for all tastes, but Mother Of Tears is entertaining and NEVER dull!
Reviews and plot summaries can be found at Movies.com , the New York Times ,Entertainment Weekly , Filmcritic.com and even Wikipedia , which goes into the background of the film's gestation. The DVD Planet website has a September 23rd release date for the film's Region One DVD. You BET I'm going to see it again!
Saturday, June 14, 2008
(Left: Philip Jose Farmer's Venus On The Half- Shell and Others collection.)
One of my favorite science fiction writers, Philip Jose Farmer, has just gotten his 1975 sf spoof novel Venus On The Half-Shell republished, along with other humorous takeoffs in a new collection from Subterranean Press, the details of which can be found here . This is one of the items I'll be looking at during my vacation. (You have your way to relax, I have mine.) Yep, I'll be ordering a copy for the library.
Another book I'll be checking out, from Fatagraphics Press , is Blake Bell's Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko , which officially comes out later this month, but I managed to get my greedy little hands on a pre-publication copy. The book can be ordered here and the author, who has his own site on Ditko , is interviewed here . Mr. Ditko is perhaps best known as the co-creator of the Marvel Comics character Spider-Man .
Tim Lucas, the editor of Video Watchdog , spent thirty years researching the life and career of Italian horror director Mario Bava (1914-1980), and the magnificient result of his efforts can be found in his self-published Mario Bava: All The Colors Of The Dark , which I got for half price quite a while ago. The tome, which is over a thousand pages, also discusses Bava's various films, including the 1960 Gothic classic Black Sunday . Lucas's blog on the book can be found here . And here's the coming attractions trailer for Black Sunday . (Yep, we carry Bava's films! )
In 1975, to promote his then-latest solo album, No Other , former Byrds member Gene Clark (1944-1991), with his hastily-put together backing band, embarked on a grueling concert tour. Highlights from one of those shows can be found on the Silverado '75-Live and Unreleased CD, from Collector's Choice Music . Here's a clip of Clark performing one of the songs from his set.
Finally, I'm going to be checking out a DVD collection of four 1960s Hammer films, three of which star Christopher Lee , called Icons Of Adventure, put out by Sony. DVD Talk has a pretty good review of it posted.
These should keep me out of the pool halls for the next two weeks.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
(The late Don Adams as Maxwell Smart, Secret Agent 86 for CONTROL, from the classic 1965-70 TV series Get Smart .)
One of the all-time best TV comedies ever devised was the 1965-70 series Get Smart , created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry . Starring Don Adams as Maxwell Smart, CONTROL agent 86, plus Barbara Feldon as Agent 99 and Edward C. Platt as "The Chief" , the show was a hilarious takeoff on the 60's James Bond Spy Craze . Every week, Max & 99 would foil some nutty scheme by the rival spy organization KAOS to conquer the world.
Nearly two years ago, Time Life put out the entire five season run on DVD, which you can order from here . (Visitors to this blog may remember another classic 60s spy series available on DVD from Time Life.) Below is a scene from a 1965 episode:
I'm focusing on Get Smart due to the upcoming new movie version which opens June 20 in theatres. Here's a trailer for the new film. I'll reserve comment on the new film until when (more likely if ) I see it. -Ed
(Don Adams and Barbara Feldon as Max & 99 with their classic shoe phones, although I don't remember 99 having one in the series....)
Update: Here's an online site devoted to the original show, complete with episode guide and interviews!
(Above: The Kurzweil 3000 in action.)
I'm very happy to announce that, thanks to the Tech Department, Greenwich Library now has available the new, updated (and much improved) Kurzweil 3000 software for the visually and hearing impaired community. Computers with the software can be located on the first and third floors.
The software allows patrons to read from the computer screen using audio options and screen magnification when wanting to read a hard copy or online document. Attached to the computer is a scanner that can scan (in color now!) books, documents and flyers, allowing them to be shown on the computer screen to be read (or, using the audio function, "reads" them out loud) by the patron. Instructions to operate the K3000 can be found here .
What's great about the new software is that, unlike the previous Kurzweil 1000 that we had, the K3000 offers better picture and sound clarity, as well as less disorientating magnification options. (The old ZoomText function on the K1000 had a tendency to make the viewer dizzy and sometimes even nauseous.)
Here's a nice instructional video highlighting the K3000's functions. It runs for about six minutes. For any further questions, feel free to contact me at (203) 622-7918 or at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Friday, June 6, 2008
(Cover to Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #133, October, 1970; Kirby's first issue of the title.)
An online site to the Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center devoted to the classic comics artist and visionary can be found here .
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
The Arts Section of last Sunday's New York Times (June 1st, 2008) featured two articles of interest. On page 19, there was a full page piece on Italian movie thriller director Dario Argento , whose long awaited Mother of Tears (the belated sequel to two of his previous films, 1977's Suspiria , and 1980's Inferno ) will be premiering this week in New York. I've been a big fan of Argento's, and I'm glad his latest work is getting such attention. His directorial style has influenced dozens of current American films & TV shows (like CSI and its spinoffs) and I hope this'll mean more recognition from the critics. (The library carries several of his films; I recommend the aforementioned Suspiria and especially 1982's Tenebrae .)
Harking back to the topic of a previous post on this blog, the NYT Arts Section, beginning on page one, ran a pretty good story on the new James Bond 007 novel Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks , as well as offering a critical overview of the original Ian Fleming novels and, of course, the long-running (forty six years!) movie series. Of course, you can find these books & films here at the library also. (BTW That shot of Roger Moore in the gun barrel sight is actually from 1973's Live And Let Die . Who says I don't know my Bond?)
AND The NYT Book Review contained this nice article by The Daily Show 's John Hodgman on the influence that the late comic book illustrator Jack Kirby (1917-1994) had on the genre. (My review of Mark Evanier's Kirby: King of Comics , which we also carry, of course, can be found here .)
FINALLY, the Times' Connecticut Section had this informative and touching article on "Puppies Behind Bars" (yes, that's actually what it's called!), a program at several prisons in the Tri-State area where inmates train dogs to assist the disabled.
All of these articles can be found in hard copy form from our Periodicals section or online via the New York Times (in case you don't want to register for an online subscription).