Although never a super-star, actress Glenne Headly had a wonderful one-two punch in the 1980s, with the gloriously funny remake Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and offbeat technicolor comic-strip blockbuster Dick Tracy. Headly also had a steady television career with regular roles on ER and MONK. The actress was always doing one or two films on top of one or two TV shows, being a serial guest star on shows as diverse as the X-Files, Parks & Recreation and one of the several CSI spin-offs. She started out her career in Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company, where she met her first husband, John Malkovich. The marriage ended in divorce after only a few years, after Malkovich started cheating on her with Michelle Pfeiffer on the set of Dangerous Liaisons. Like Nicole Kidman, about the same time she stepped away from a high-profile husband, opportunity for edgier material in more sizable roles, seemed to present itself. Like most great character actors, she was an onscreen chameleon, going from funny to sexy to vulnerable to hyper-intelligent to invisible across projects, and her works speaks for itself in its own quiet way, because she was never a Hollywood celebrity.
Errol Morris’s latest film portrays he friend and neighbor, portrait photographer Elsa Dorfman, and her body of work which is mainly ultra-large format Polaroid portraits, both of families and of some rather famous folks too. The poster design is offbeat and unusual and a little unassuming but also kind of quietly rebellious (as is Ms. Dorfman herself.) Take the handwriting on the poster, yes, people sharpie labels on their Polaroids all the time, so there is that, but you rarely see this kind of thing on a bit of promotional material. Also, the inky roll-lines on the sides of the poster, also a part of the large format roller-driven process, but still rather striking on the edges of a movie-poster. Then there is Ms. Dorfman herself, hardly imbued with movie-star looks, yet easily able to command the frame, is her pose a display or a query or an example of her work, this is a perfect incitement into what is Morris’ most gentle and casual (albeit not lacking in rigour in the slightest!)
Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot
Screenplay: René Masson, Frédéric Grendel, Henri-Georges Clouzot, Jérôme Géronimi
Based on a Novel by: Pierre Boileau, Thomas Narcejac
Starring: Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzot, Paul Meurisse, Charles Vanel
Running Time: 117 min
BBFC Certificate: 12
Diabolique seems an odd film for Criterion to choose to release in the UK as part of their collection of exquisite Blu-Ray re-releases of classic films. That’s not to say Diabolique doesn’t deserve to be part of the Criterion Collection. It’s a highly respected film from an equally respected director. However, another boutique Blu-Ray label, Arrow Academy, turned their hand to it only three years ago (albeit under the film’s alternative title, Les Diaboliques). I haven’t actually watched that release, so can’t compare, but knowing Arrow’s reputation, it’s probably equally as well remastered and seems to have a couple of equally as decent special features included. Nevertheless, it’s a film worthy of attention and I’d not seen it for a few years, so I didn’t hesitate to request a copy to review for you all here.
In Diabolique, Christina (Véra Clouzot) and Nicole (Simone Signoret) are an unlikely pair who plot to kill Christina’s husband, a cruel headmaster named Michel (Paul Meurisse). They’re an odd couple because Nicole was Michel’s mistress and Christina is perfectly aware of this. The twisted Michel makes no secret of it and this, on top of his constant belittling and humiliation of Christina, drive the women to the drastic measure of committing murder. Their plan, driven largely by the cold and calculated Nicole, seems to go relatively smoothly until Michel’s body goes missing. As Christina’s fear of being caught builds on top of her mounting guilt, her sanity and already weak heart are tested to their limits.
As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!
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Get Your Cast To Mars was originally a three part (+ bonus episode) micro-podcast focusing on the planet Mars in the movies. Matthew Brown and Kurt Halfyard considered the red planet as an image, an idea, and a somewhat rare place visited in the cinema (and Television) of the past 100 years.
Like humanity itself, we just can’t leave well enough alone! Welcome to our ultra-casual (no introductions, we just drop you right in the middle of the experience) and long promised bonus episode to Season 2! While the second season focused on National Geographic’s MARS docudrama-mini and all that was fine and nice, we couldn’t help but check in in Trump-era 2017 to talk about Mars as an evolving infection. As per Season 1’s bonus episode the lion-share is on Sir Ridley Scott’s evolving Alien franchise. To be on topic, somewhat, there is also some discussion about Daniel Espinosa’s LIFE.
Consider this bonus episode the capstone to our two-season-and-done micro-podcast. We hope you enjoy this extra edition as much as we did the strong black coffee and savoury biscuits, while recording at Toronto’s Sumach Espresso.
Viewing Syllabus: Life (2017) and Alien: Covenant (2017).
As always, please join in the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section and again, thanks for listening!
The Complete First Season of Matt and Kurt getting their Cast To Mars:
Episode 2 – The NASA Years
Episode 3 – Mars Before NASA
Bonus Episode – Ridley Scott’s The Martian & Prometheus
The Second Season:
Episode 2 – Hell is Other People
Episode 3 – Will and Capital
Bonus Episode – Daniel Espinosa’s Life & Ridley Scott’s Covenant
Director: Kimo Stamboel, Timo Tjahjanto
Screenplay: Timo Tjahjanto
Starring: Iko Uwais, Chelsea Islan, Sunny Pang
Running Time: 118 min
BBFC Certificate: 18
For decades it was Hong Kong that dominated the martial arts movie scene. From the genre’s beginnings, to the vast catalogue of the Shaw Brothers studio, to the success of Golden Harvest in the 80’s and 90’s, Hong Kong led the way in the genre and few other areas/countries managed to capture their success or level of quality. Hollywood had long tried, and although there are some great American action films, their depiction of martial arts has rarely felt as convincing or spectacular. As the new millennium moved on though, a boom in martial arts cinema caused by the success of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Matrix eventually led to Hong Kong’s action output growing tired. Too many releases tried to copy the formula of those hugely successful titles, but there was rarely the talent or money behind them to achieve their level of quality. As such, the Hong Kong martial arts scene has dried up somewhat, at least in terms of finding critical or commercial success overseas, bar one or two exceptions (the Ip Man films did quite well and have a lot of fans).
With Hong Kong’s martial arts crown slipping, one country has made a few great steps forward to snatch it from them, or rather leap through the air, shatter their skull and wrench the crown from their twitching, dying body. That country is Indonesia. They’ve been making action movies for a long time, but nothing all that notable until a Welsh director named Gareth Evans made his sophomore film there, Merantau (a.k.a. Merantau Warrior) alongside native Indonesian actor/action choreographer Iko Uwais. That film wasn’t a huge success, but it turned a few heads amongst action fans and paved the way for Evans and Uwais’ follow up, The Raid. That martial arts masterpiece blew the doors open with its brutal, intense action sequences and taut, visceral direction. Evans and Uwais returned three years later with The Raid 2, which many felt managed to improve on the first, by upping the scale and adding a more elaborate plot. Personally I slightly prefer the first film, but The Raid 2 is still undoubtedly one of the finest action films of the last twenty years, if not ever.
Eager to show he’s equally as important to that illustrious pair of films than Evans after his frustratingly wasted cameo in The Force Awakens, Uwais joins the ‘Mo Brothers’ (Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto) for Headshot. Like in the Raid films, Uwais acts and choreographs the action with his Uwais Team and certainly proves his worth, as Headshot is one hell of a badass martial arts movie.
Wonder Woman is here, and we dive deep into the suddenly-refreshing waters of the DCEU – with additional talk of Batman, the Justice League, Aquaman, and the cult of narrative around projects of this scale. Plus, Price’s Disney boycott finally worked, and with Sense8 on its way out, peak TV may have finally peaked.
Having already displayed the fine posters for Steven Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky and Kenneth Branagh’s Murder On The Orient Express above the their trailers earlier this week, I was thinking it might be tricky to find something this week for this column. But then along comes the French poster for Edgar Wrights Baby Driver, which has a nice innovation for solving both the ‘floating heads’ and the ‘all cast members displayed on the poster’ dilemmas of modern poster design. And the solution is delightfully simple. Have the leads, Ansel Elgort and Lily James be in their car while rolling down the window. Reflect the rest of the cast in the glass of the window. I am quite surprised that nobody has done this up to now, or at least I’ve not seen it in another poster. If you know of one, let me know.
The yellow typesetting against the metallic red of the car (as well as the stripe along the top with a pull quote) is all business, but the film’s title itself is really playful, exactly the kind of tone and balance Wright manages to strike with each picture.
Forget “endless summer.” We’re officially into endless June.
I mean, how many movies can you possibly release in a month? Apparently many though how many will actually be seen by any great number of people remains to be seen. Still, June offers up a little something for everyone so there is that to get excited about.
Also, much fangirling from me about Wonder Woman.