F.W. Murnau’s Faust

Written by Joe D on July 27th, 2022

I just watched Faust again last night. I bought the BluRay put out by Kino and it looks terrific. You can really appreciate the time, effort and artistry put into making this film. UFA gave Murnau unlimited money and time to make the best film he could. He succeeded marvelously. The imagery is superb.

So many amazing miniatures were built, especially memorable is where Mephisto looms over the city and the flying POV over mountains and water, a huge miniature filmed with a camera on a small rollercoaster track. When Faust summons Mephisto rings of fire rise up around him, this same effect was used later by Fritz Lang in his epic Metropolis. Something I did not know, Murnau disliked the script he was given and secretly collaborated with Thea Von Harbou. She would later write Metropolis and Marry fritz Lang!

 

There are other parallels with Metropolis, the biggest one being burning the woman at the stake as the climax of the film. The lighting is amazing as well. The sets beautiful. Back then they could not make dupe negatives of good quality so they filmed with 2 cameras and did alternate takes for different world markets. I think there were 7 complete negative versos of Faust from which they struck the hundreds of prints for distribution. It is incredible to think that a hand cranked little machine ( the early motion picture camera) could create such sensations in millions of people. It is almost like Magic or witchcraft. Incredible. I also noticed for the first time that William Dieterle was in the cast. No wonder he became such an amazing director. Working for Murnau, learning everything from such a maestro. Check out his films, especially Portrait Of Jenny.

In any case watch Faust, get the Blurry, it’s worth it and experience one of the most influential films ever made. I mean this and Nosferatu are maybe the 2 most influential films made by the same director.

 

Ilya Muramets

Written by Joe D on July 14th, 2022

There is a new restoration of Aleksandr Ptushko’s masterpiece, Ilya Muramets. I ordered a copy but have not got it yet. The image quality looks amazing and I believe it contains scenes that were cut from the old American release. Here’s the trailer for the new restoration, by Deaf Crocodile. Check it out.

 

Bruce Lee- Game Of Death

Written by Joe D on April 23rd, 2022

Bruce Lee , the amazing martial Artist/ Movie Star/ Filmmaker was working on this film when he died. A version of it was finished a year later. Now someone has found lost footage of Bruce and it’s pretty cool. this is an edited sequence that I assume Bruce put together with his editor. I don’t really know the whole story but I’ll try and find out. Any way I love Bruce Lee, I met his daughter after the premiere of Man With The Iron Fists, a film I edited. I told her how much I admired her father, she was very nice. But check out these action sequences, too Bad he didn’t get to finish the film.

A Hero

Written by Joe D on January 23rd, 2022

 

                                             Asghar Farhadi

I just watched A Hero by the great Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi. An excellent film, the story of a man who tries to do the right thing and is of course punished by Society. I have seen almost all of his films, they are all great, wonderfully written, acted and directed. Moral puzzles, all worth watching. I was lucky enough to see him speak at a screening of The Salesman, a truly great film, that posed some very complicated questions and did not give you the answers. Something I like in a film. Farhadi himself said he did not know the answer to these questions, he had a feeling what had happened but he the filmmaker did not know for sure. Amazing! He left it up to the audience to decide! On the way down to the parking garage, a man in the elevator expressed his view vehemently! “He definitely raped her!” He proclaimed. This is great Cinema, it has the power to create dialogs that last long after the film has been projected. Filmmaking through time. Also, we are at odds with Iran, our governments are almost at war, yet Cinema has the power to show the humanity of the people living in the Forbidden Country, what a great gift.

A Hero is also in my opinion a homage to the great Luis Bunuel Film, Nazarin. A film where a simple country priest(in Mexico) tries to live according to the true teachings of Christ. And of course is spurned and eventually arrested. In A Hero the daughter of the Creditor that our hero owes money to is named Nazarin, also at the end of Bunuel’s film, a peasant woman taking pity on Nazarin, who she assumes is a criminal because he’s being led to jail in chains, gives him a pineapple. At the end of A Hero, he gets a box of baklava.

Let’s Get Lost

Written by Joe D on January 18th, 2022

Here on You tube you can watch the whole Let’s Get Lost, a beautiful documentary on the late great musician Chet Baker. Made by the great photographer Bruce Weber, this film is a minor masterpiece. Edited beautifully by Angelo Corrao, it is a real pleasure to watch. When I lived in NYC I was friends with a wonderful guy named Leo Mitchell, a jazz drummer, he always wanted to play Rock and Roll music with me because he had grown up as a Jazz musician and never played straight ahead Rock. What a great guy. He toured with Chet Baker in Europe several times. Years later I asked my friend Jack Nitzsche about an album he had done with Chet Baker called A Taste Of Tequila” or something like that. He said “Don’t listen to that album. It’s horrible. Chet and I both needed the money.”

Anyway watch the film and be amazed.

The Making Of Silent Running

Written by Joe D on January 15th, 2022

Here is a cool documentary, shot on the set of the seminal film Silent Running. I saw this in the theater when it came out and really enjoyed it. Ahead of it’s time, the environmental message that’s even more relevant today. Bruce Dern is great and the double amputees that play the robots are really cool. They’re all teenagers, who knew. I later worked with two key players from this film, Michael Cimino, who was one of the writers and John Dykstra a VFX supervisor. Anyway check it out and see the film!

Agnes Varda, Michel Hugo, Black Panthers, Model Shop, Lions, Love, (Lies)

Written by Joe D on January 10th, 2022

I justwatchedAgnesVarda’s great documentary Black Panthers and was surprised to see the name Michel Hugo in the credits as one of the cameramen. I took a course in Cinematography he taught at the Hollywood Film School back in about 1977. He was a great guy. He shot a lot of cool movies including Jaques Demy’s Model Shop, a movie I love. I didn’t know this until today! Check out his credits! A lot of great films!

The great DP, Michel Hugo

Anyway here’s a clip from Black Panthers.

Andas an added bonus a sequencefrom Lions, Love, (Lies) Agnes Varda’s LA film. Some of the street signsare very close to my house. I love the way these French filmmakrers show Los Angeles, so dreamlike and so real.

Louis Feuillade’s Les Vampires

Written by Joe D on January 6th, 2022

Here is a silent serial that was a big hit with the Surrealists back in the day. One look at the imagery in this trailer and you’ll see why. Elements of Grand Guignol  A French Theater of Shock and Horror popular at the time) and a newspaperman/Detective  hero give it a contemporary relevance, but especially the wonderful, Irma Vep, a female super villian. Ahead of it’s time! Check out the trailer and watch the whole thing on the Criterion Channel. This is excellent silent film making, location shooting, death defying stunts, headless corpses, the list goes on. It is sort of a film version of a comic book, but in my opinion much better than these CGI laden bloated monstroisities from Marvel that are ruining the Film Industry. So Check it out and Enjoy!

The Mask Of Dimitrious

Written by Joe D on December 28th, 2021

Here is a very cool film dirrected by the master opf atmosphere Jean Negulescu. Based on a very good book by Eric Ambler, the greatest thing about this film is the re-pairing of Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet, fresh off their intial work together, Casablanca. Negulescu started out as a painter and his visual sense is evident throughout his films, especially his Film Noirs, like this one. Anyway Enjoy! I found a link to the whole movie on the Internet Film Archive. But first here is the trailer.

 

https://archive.org/details/1944maskofdimitrios

 

Delia Derbyshire

Written by Joe D on December 17th, 2021

Here is a documentary about the amazing Delia Derbyshire, a pioneering electronic musician, probably best known for the Dr.Who theme. She never got official credit and therefore any music rights, i.e. money. She changed music.

Blast Of Silence

Written by Joe D on December 6th, 2021

Here is a beautifully shot low budget film, made in NYC in 1961. What amazing locations, check out Penn Station, an architectural marvel, before it was torn down to put the box of Madison Squarer Garden in it’s place. A real crime against humanity. This movie featurtes a ton of voice over by the great gravel throated Lionel Stander, who was in Once Upon A Time In The West and other cool films, like Unfaithfully Yours by Preston Sturis, and Cul de Sac by that perverted dwarf Roman Polanski.I think the VO was added later to help the film, I don’t think it was in the original script, there is a seperate credit for voice over writing.  The Ending of this film is a classic, you have to see it, kind of reminiscent of the end of Truffaut’s Shoot The Piano Player.The director and Star of this film made another film after this called Pie In The Sky or Terror in the City. I havent seen it but I will be on the lookout for it. Then he went onto direct TV shows. Too Bad. The guy has real talent, he should have stayed in the Cinema. But we all have to make a living. So too bad.

I think there is a re-release of this film happening. I went to see it at Quentin Tarantino’s New Beverly on a double bill with Nighty Of The Hunter. First time I’ve been in a movie theater since the pandemic! Two great prints! They looked amazing! See it in 35mm if you are able. From the opening Out Of The Tunnel Birth sequence to the terrific ending, it’s worth it!

Out Of The Blue

Written by Joe D on November 19th, 2021

I just found out that a 4k restoration of this film is being shown in theaters. I think it’s one of Dennis Hoppers best films. I hear tell it started as an after school special, then Hopper took over and turned it into a crazy Art film. But it really is cool, great characters and acting, totally unexpected things happen in it, Check it out!