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April 28 2017

No U-Turn, Clifford Choi, 1981

A Cinema City comedy, directed by a lesser known New Wave director, that somehow manages to be both humble and extravagant. For the most part, it stays strictly on street level (great location shooting, including at least some hidden camera stuff). Here, on the street, the world is rather strictly separated along gender lines. The men outside in their pimped out cars have trouble differentiating between shopgirls and prostitutes, the women inside in the boutiques shy away from naked men even when they're just photographs of antique statues.

The mood is playful, though. A would-be flasher doesn't hide a dick, but a pistole under his raincoat and when things get moving they move pretty fast. The two leads get to fuck rather early in the film, and this leads to what must be one of the best sex cutaways in film history... or it might just as easily be an hommage I didn't recognize, as this is obviously the work of a movie buff, most explicitly when the images of Dawn of the Dead watched by the protagonists in a cinema later reappear in No U-Turn's own climax.

But the romantic coupling of the leads is also comically doubled in the relationship of two minor characters, and all of these scenes are played out as slapstick of the most vulgar sort. Their first clumsy "love scene" is identified with / commented on by a wrestling match on tv (and introduced with a very weird shot / counter shot-sequence). There's a mean, nihilistic streak running through the whole film (culminating in an extremely gruesome car racing scene) which coexists rather uneasily with its general laid back attitude. A strange, fascinating mixture, a strictly commercial film staying within the compounds of its own genre at all time while still exploring its own little facette of Hong Kong craziness.

Dolby x Moonbot Collab ‘Escape’ Released Online

After premiering last weekend at the Tribeca Film Festival, Dolby Laboratories has released its new advertising short, "Escape," on the internet.

The post Dolby x Moonbot Collab ‘Escape’ Released Online appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

April 27 2017

‘Happy’ by Alice Saey

Music video for Mark Lotterman's "Happy" directed by Alice Saey.

The post ‘Happy’ by Alice Saey appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

Review: Captain America: Civil War (USA 2016)

Entertaining enough, for a lumbering behemoth that had to service over a dozen major characters and advance multiple plot threads. The resulting story does, not coincidentally given its origin, feel a bit like a Marvel event comic, but the generally solid caliber of writing, special effects and acting (Elizabeth Olsen aside – she is terrible as the Scarlet Witch) keep it fun and fast-paced.

For whatever reason (the Russo Brother’s competence?), the Captain America films tend to be among the better of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, while the Thor movies without fail literally put me sleep.

2 1/2 out of 4 stars (Good).

Some Thoughts On The New ‘Cars 3’ Trailer

Pixar is pushing photorealism in cartoons to a new level with "Cars 3."

The post Some Thoughts On The New ‘Cars 3’ Trailer appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

April 26 2017

‘Animated American’ by James Baker and Joe Haidar

A cg-loving executive has a hare-raising experience when he meets an out of work toon rabbit.

The post ‘Animated American’ by James Baker and Joe Haidar appeared first on Cartoon Brew.


* Texte zum 26. April 2017, zusammengestellt von Fritz Göttler und Markus Nechleba [… in progress]

The Forgotten: Harry Piel's "What's Happening at the Beely Circus?" (1927)

Harry Piel was kind of a Doug Fairbanks or Harry Houdini figure in German cinema, starring in a series of action-adventure spectacles showcasing his derring-do and fearless stuntwork.
But first he was a writer-director, although an unusually dynamic one. He was nicknamed "the dynamite-director" because of the profusion of explosions in his movies. His acting career began when he got bored with remaining off-camera, and simply promoted himself to star. Not many of his films survive: many perished in a WWII air raid.
One that can still be seen is his circus mystery, Was ist Los im Zirkus Beely? (1927), in which Harry is falsely accused of murder and must uncover chicanery at a huge circus—not a traveling one, a permanent one, a mighty big top of stone. Piel gets a lot of exciting use out of this edifice, rather like the way Buster Keaton would exploit the structural qualities of a locomotive or ocean liner. Most of the film is set here, as Harry evades capture by the stalwart Inspector Bull and hunts the three villains, a vixenish vamp, a hulking henchman and a masked man of mystery. The latter is authentically alarming, his mask a good deal scarier than Michael Myers' melted Shatner visage.
There are some impressive feats, though unlike Houdini et al., Piel relied on a stuntman for the truly hazardous stuff. But he conquers and then befriends a rampaging tiger with what seems like mesmerism. Could Fairbanks do that? He has to resort to evasive tactics when thrown among lions: closeups show him wrestling with what's patently a man in a lion costume, or at any rate a head and arm. Did the rest of the costume exist, or were they just trying to frame it carefully to avoid being rumbled? The laughable effect is repeated so many times it attains a certain majesty, never convincing but eventually just accepted as part of the film's stylized showbiz texture.
Elsewhere, we have much dangling from ropes, a hydraulic platform which threatens to crush two separate characters, boxing dogs (they keep yawning in mid-fight) and an amusing POV shot when harry is stunned by a blow from behind and sees stars: spinning circles of stars, a very showbiz version of concussion.
Piel is a funny sort of leading man, plastered in make-up more even than was common at the time, his face a pasty pie, slashed with black lips. Tousled after a skirmish, he briefly resembles the great Robert Smith of the Cure. Not much of an actor, but a stylish and shameless poser, he's fun to watch in tuxedo or in leather chaps, impersonating a cowboy.
Piel was an enthusiastic but somewhat unsuccessful Nazi from 1933, who got in trouble for going off-message in his propaganda. Post-war, he was interned by the British and banned from movies for a few years. He never really got back on track, unlike many Party members. His film seems largely innocuous and apolitical, except that the henchman is a big black guy, and it feels uncomfortable watching him get apprehended by the circus orchestra at the end: a bunch of white guys walloping a black guy, even with the slapstick use of musical instruments as bludgeons, is apt to feel creepy.
The Forgotten is a fortnightly column by David Cairns, author of Shadowplay.
das spukschloss im spessart (kurt hoffmann, deutschland 1960)

Artist of the Day: Ilya Donets

Discover the art of Ilya Donets, Cartoon Brew's Artist of the Day.

The post Artist of the Day: Ilya Donets appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

Boxer Rebellion, Chang Cheh, 1976

The Boxer Rebellion, reframed as Chang Cheh body cinema.

Not the young, angry nationalists are the heroes, but a bunch of misfits - never in uniform - on the sidelines, at first at best hesitantly taking part in the fight. Only when everything is lost they start to come alive, in the film's much stronger second half,

Chang Cheh has hardly any interest in historical texture (although one might argue that, when it comes to the depiciton of colonial power, this almost turns his film into meta-critique), and no interest whatsoever in historical forces that cannot be boiled down to body images and hand to hand combat. All those self-important and clueless discussions of tactics, all those competently made but never fully realized battle scenes... The first part ends with a ritualistic celebration, in which Chang Cheh's cinema reaches its own point zero: One fighter after another steps into the open, presenting his body, his fighting techniques, in a way his whole self. Not to dedicate himself to the nation, but to become an object of cinema. In its second half the film strips away history, in order to lay bare an intimately rendered melodrama of masculine masochism. 

April 25 2017

‘Loving Vincent’: 6 Facts About The First Oil Painted Animated Feature

The directors of "Loving Vincent" share details about the unique production techniques used to create their new feature.

The post ‘Loving Vincent’: 6 Facts About The First Oil Painted Animated Feature appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

‘Cleaner’ by Sung Hwan Lee

In a post-apocalyptic future, machine robots try to eliminate human beings who are responsible for pollution.

The post ‘Cleaner’ by Sung Hwan Lee appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

Über Revolver

Am Dienstag, den 16.05.2017 bin in Stuttgart, um im Rahmen der Ringvorlesung „Filmkritik + Videoessay” an der Merz Akademie über unsere Arbeit an/bei/mit REVOLVER zu sprechen.


The Indiegogo campaign for Spectacular Optical's upcoming book Lost Girls:  The Cinema of Jean Rollin is now live and taking donations.  Head over to the campaign to see samples from the book and read about the exciting 'perks' that are being offered to contributors.  Be sure to donate if you can and please help spread the word via social media and your own sites.  Here is a preview of the book, featuring editor Samm Deighan, that Spectacular Optical have just released.

LOST GIRLS: THE CINEMA OF JEAN ROLLIN (Indiegogo Campaign Is Now Live)

The Indiegogo campaign for Spectacular Optical's upcoming book Lost Girls:  The Cinema of Jean Rollin is now live and taking donations.  Head over to the campaign to see samples from the book and read about the exciting 'perks' that are being offered to contributors.  Be sure to donate if you can and please help spread the word via social media and your own sites.  Here is a preview of the book, featuring editor Samm Deighan, that Spectacular Optical have just released.

Review: Live and Let Die (UK 1973)

Is it damning to praise Live and Let Die for not being as racist as it could have been (even though it’s still pretty damn racist) because its racism seems to come from a place of profound ignorance rather than active hatefulness?  The film is a smash-up of the Bond and Blaxploitation genres, bringing in ringers like the always great Yaphet Kotto, Gloria Hendry (from Black Belt Jones and Black Caesar), and Julius Harris (so amazing as Big Papa in Hell Up in Harlem), and pitting them against Roger Moore as the lighter, sillier Bond.  Unfortunately, whatever the intentions of the filmmakers, the subject matter does not fare well in the hands of exploitation-minded Brits who couldn’t even reach the grotty highs and lows of a Jack Hill.

I actually like Moore in this movie, which reminded me of how much fun he was as Bond before his geriatric performances in Octopussy and A View to a Kill.  However, the movie itself is mostly a mess, poorly plotted and meandering, and Jane Seymour and Hendry are totally wasted as the female leads.  Not what I’d call peak Moore (that would be The Spy Who Loved Me, of course, though I still have a childhood affection for the dumb but fun Moonraker).  2 out of 4 stars (Average).


anatahan poster 1.jpg

Josef von Sternberg - 1953
Kino Classics BD Region A

At this point, I would think most people with any interest in Josef von Sternberg's last film are aware that it was primarily shot inside a studio, and was based on a true incident of a group of Japanese men and one woman found on a small Pacific island, virtually abandoned during and after World War II. That the film continues von Sternberg's penchant for artificial and stylized settings is no surprise. What none of the other reviews of Anatahan that I've read bother to note is the orientalism found here. Sure, the basic story actually happened, and the characters are treated respectfully.

At one point, some of the men create a Shinto shrine. Von Sternberg, as narrator, mentions that four of the men were Buddhists, and two were Christians. I don't know if this detail was in the novel that provided the basis for the film, but I do know that Shinto was established as the state religion of Japan during this time, and any other religious practice would have been done in secret.

As for the "Queen Bee", Keiko, von Sternberg has the lone woman living in a jungle island introduced wearing one very nice kimono, with a sea shell necklace. Not realistic, and not appropriate for the setting, but this is a von Sternberg film, made by the guy who sent Marlene Dietrich chasing after Gary Cooper in the desert while she was wearing high heels. Nineteen year old Akemi Negishi is introduced looking more like someone's idea of a geisha, than a woman stranded far from civilization. Again, this is history as filtered through von Sternberg, kind of like The Scarlet Empress. A more recent book as been published about the survivors of Anatahan, and the description of the woman who inspired Keiko, is, well, less inspiring as noted in the Japan Times - "It was certainly not her looks. Kazuko Higa was a diminutive, lantern-jawed woman who could have been charitably called handsome."

By 1953, Josef von Sternberg's career as a Hollywood director was over. Unlike E. A. Dupont, a top silent director reduced to making The Neanderthal Man that same year, von Sternberg was able to make Anatahan mostly on his own terms. That the budget was limited is most obvious in the last ten minutes, with the survivors off the island, Japan seen as a rear-projection still of an airplane on the landing strip. Von Sternberg gets credit for the screenplay, cinematography and direction, while his work as narrator is anonymous.

The blu-ray has both the original 1953 release version, as well as the 1958 revision, notable for showing more of Akemi Negishi with less clothing. In his visual essay, film historian Tag Gallagher mentions how Negishi went on to have supporting roles in several films by Akira Kurosawa, but doesn't mention that fellow Toho house director, Ishiro Honda cast Negishi in several films as well, including King Kong vs. Godzilla. Additional Kaiju connections include a score by Akira Ifukube, and special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya. An interview with son Nicholas von Sternberg includes discussion of working methods, and the display of a chart Josef von Sternberg created to map out the drama. What is pointed out is that von Sternberg did not know Anatahan would be his last film. The blu-ray includes English subtitles transcribing von Sternberg's narration, but not the Japanese dialogue. The justification may be that this is in keeping with the original spirit of the film, with von Sternberg acting as the mediator between the viewer and his visual story. As it is, for those who have familiarity with von Sternberg, the themes and some of the visual motifs are those to be found in his films from the Thirties, any one which might have been titled, The Devil is a Woman.

anatahan italian poster.jpg

Reposted by02mysoup-aa 02mysoup-aa
das wirtshaus im spessart (kurt hoffmann, deutschland 1958)

April 24 2017

Annecy Unveils Full Lineup Of 23 Animated Features

Arthur de Pins' "Zombillenium" will be the festival's opening night film.

The post Annecy Unveils Full Lineup Of 23 Animated Features appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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