Sunday, May 29, 2016

ColossalCon conquers Sandusky, June 2-5

Don't dare call them mere cartoons. To its cultish fandom, this medium is known as "anime." Their creators, like Hayo Miyazaki, Yatoshi Kon and Osamu Tezuka, are considered geniuses on the level of Chuck Jones and Walt Disney. Movies like SPIRITED AWAY and AKIRA and series such as Cowboy Bepop and Ranma 1/2 are considered classic achievements. And their dedicated/demented fans go by the Japanese term "otaku."  

These people take their anime seriously. For example...When was the last time you saw crowds participating in Bugs Bunny lookalike contests? Or ruthlessly competing in Popeye trivia? Or paying big money for rare LILO & STITCH material, downloaded from the internet off bootleg Far East laserdiscs and edited and translated by obsessed fans in home computers?  

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Nice Guys

Review by Pamela Zoslov

Shane Black, the screenwriter and director who created comedy thrillers like the Lethal Weapon series, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and The Long Kiss Goodnight, was influenced by the detective stories he devoured as a youth: Mike Shayne, Shell Scott, Chester Drum. “There was a real kind of masculine, rough-hewn rhythm to those caper novels,” Black recalls.

Those pulps are the source of Black's trademark wisecracking style, reflected in the best moments of THE NICE GUYS, a shaggy mystery/comedy that began life as an unsuccessful TV pilot. Black's crackling dialogue is the best thing about this messy, oversized actioner, which stars Russell Crowe (good) and Ryan Gosling (less good) as a pair of mismatched L.A sleuths trying to untangle a mystery surrounding the death of a porn star in 1977 Los Angeles.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Rambo: First Blood Part II (May 21 at midnight at the Capitol Theatre)

The sequel to the hit Sylvester Stallone actioner FIRST BLOOD (based on a decent David Morrell novel; check it out sometime) was a far bigger, farrrr dumber and more financially successful action-blockbuster that opened in 1985 on a then-record number of movie screens. It couldn't help but make money with those odds, but in that era of Cold-War-bodybuilder-action-violence right-wing Aryan fantasies, it was a monster hit at the box office. Or "monstrous hit," depending on your political outlook.

John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) was a fairly human-sized outcast Vietnam vet vagrant, tormented and bullied by small-town cops in the first film. This outing finds the muscleman combat-hardened supercommando brought out of prison to earn a possible presidential pardon. Rambo has 36 hours to be air-dropped into communist Vietnam and seek evidence surviving American POWs are still being held captive. But his superiors - yuppie white-collar executive types only interested in a coverup - don't expect him to succeed.

When Rambo (being invincible) does indeed find an active POW camp that's held the poor G.I.s for 20 years, the treacherous American elites deliberately abandon our protag to evil Russian and Viet Cong forces, and Rambo has to fight his way free - mostly without his shirt, muscles gleaming like an oiled up bodybuilder, amidst giant fireball explosions.

Metropolis (May 21 at 9:35 p.m. and May 22 at 3:45 p.m. at the Cleveland Cinematheque

I have to confess, I haven’t seen this particular “2002 restoration” of Fritz Lang’s classic METROPOLIS. For those of you smart enough to know that movies go all the way back to the 20th century, you may be aware that various editions of this 1926 German Expressionist science-fiction spectacle have circulated, some missing about a half-hour or more of footage.

The long, long film was typically cut to pieces by unscrupulous theater owners to more comfortably fit their timetables. Director Lang, fleeing the Nazis for a Hollywood career, didn’t exactly have the opportunity to pack all his reels in the luggage. When Berlin was bombed during WWII, copies of what would have been considered the “original” METROPOLIS all wound up destroyed. From time to time a new alleged restoration of the film would show up – a famous 1984 colorized one from composer Giorgia Moroder using still photos as storyboard bridges to fill in the gaps in the missing chapters.

But it was in the early 21st century that (in addition to all the jobs going to China, the middle class getting exterminated and the prospect of a good life being stolen from all but the top two percent of rich people (oh, happy graduation season, by the way (good luck paying those student loans with part-time minimum wage McJobs (if you’re even lucky enough to get one (being the son or daughter or niece or nephew of a company VP might help; I hoped you all planned that))) a copy of METROPOLIS more complete than any other extant surfaced in South America.

(Now, what are the chances that the late, great SF/fantasy buff David Massaro, Cleveland’s answer to Forrest J Ackerman, probably had a print of the authentic, complete METROPOLIS on one of his cluttered shelves – how well I remember his residence - all this time, but nobody paid attention to him about it. (typical Cleveland situation (just like nobody in the real world will pay attention to your resumes and employment applications, grads (or did I mention that already?))))

Friday, May 13, 2016

High-Rise (opens in Akron May 13th at the Nightlight Cinema. Screens May 19th and 22nd at the Cleveland Cinematheque.)

[HIGH RISE opens in Akron on Friday May 13th at the Nightlight Cinema. Screens Thursday May 19th at 8:20 pm and Sunday May 22nd at 8:05 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

HIGH-RISE opens in what looks like a post-apocalyptic wasteland out of a ROAD WARRIOR movie in which our protagonist, Dr. Laing (Tom Hiddleston) walks unaffected through squalor and carnage to reach his balcony, where he roasts a dog leg over an open fire. We then flash back 3 months prior and discover this is not some dystopian future, but rather England in the 1970s. What could possibly have driven the residents of the swanky apartment building built by Anthony Royal (Jeremy Irons) into such savagery?

Based on the novel by J. G. Ballard published in 1975 and set in more or less the same time, Ben Wheatley’s film certainly captures the look and feel of that era’s pop art cinema. The retro-futuristic set design looks like something out of Radley Metzger’s CAMILLE 2000, and the lighting and color palette feel era appropriate as well. The problem is, one of the film’s central themes, of how living in the isolated environment of a high rise apartment building might negatively alter the psyche of those living there, seems just as retro. Only not in a good way.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Dark Side of Disney (now available on DVD and VOD)

[THE DARK SIDE OF DISNEY is now available on DVD and VOD.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

The average person who visits a Disney theme park is perfectly happy to enjoy the rides and attractions just as they were intended to be. But there are those whose relationship with the parks are a little more… intense. Perhaps “obsessive” wouldn’t be too strong a word. Some form clubs or, as the always sensationalistic media terms them, Disney “gangs” to share their devotion with other equally passionate souls. Some want to look behind the curtain, boldly venturing into employees-only areas of the park or exploring closed attractions. Some want to experience the park with a little chemical enhancement. And some want to ensure that they are a part of their favorite park for eternity.

Monday, May 9, 2016

May/June 2016 Schedule at the Cleveland Cinematheque

[Press release from the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Six film noir classics from Mexico, actor Willem Dafoe, and ten movies featuring famous Republicans are just a few of the attractions at the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque in May and June. The 30-year-old specialty film exhibitor will also premiere 13 exclusive new films and revive other classic movies in showings at its new Peter B. Lewis Theater, 11610 Euclid Avenue in the Uptown district of University Circle.
“Mexico at Midnight: Film Noir from Mexican Cinema’s Golden Age,” running May 7 through 24, is a six-film series derived from a very highly acclaimed, seven-film retrospective of the same name presented last July at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  It consists of tough, stylish, sexy, cynical crime films made by the Mexican film industry during the 1940s and 1950s, starring such south-of-the-border luminaries as Dolores del Rio, María Félix, Pedro Armendáriz, and Arturo de Cordóva. All of the movies are coming from Mexico. According to The New York Times, “‘Mexico at Midnight’ overflows with fatalistic tales of passion, jealousy and betrayal.” The Village Voice concurred: “These are taut, fraught entertainments, every bit the equal of what Hollywood was crafting.”
SAT        5/7         6:00 PM                THE OTHER ONE
SUN       5/8         6:30 PM                IN THE PALM OF YOUR HAND
SAT        5/14       5:30 PM                NIGHT FALLS
SUN       5/15       6:30 PM                THE DEVIL’S MONEY
SAT        5/21       5:00 PM                THE KNEELING GODDESS
TUE        5/24       6:45 PM                ANOTHER DAWN
Actor Willem Dafoe returns to the Cinematheque on Saturday, May 14, at 7:30 pm. The Oscar-nominated actor will answer audience questions after the first Ohio showing of Abel Ferrara’s 2014 film PASOLINI, in which Dafoe plays the late Italian film director Pier Paolo Pasolini, subject of a complete Cinematheque retrospective in 2014.
“The Republicans Are Coming, the Republicans Are Coming,” running May 27 through June 26, is a series of ten classic films that showcase prominent members of the GOP who have made major contributions to the movies, either behind or in front of the cameras—or both. A few of the films resonate with key issues in the 2016 campaign.
FRI          5/27       7:00 PM                CONAN THE BARBARIAN
SAT        5/28       6:45 PM                THE FOUNTAINHEAD
SAT        5/28       9:00 PM                CONAN THE BARBARIAN
SUN       5/29       4:00 PM                THE FOUNTAINHEAD
SAT        6/4         5:00 PM                THE LITTLE COLONEL
SAT        6/4         8:40 PM                KINGS ROW
SUN       6/5         3:45 PM                KINGS ROW
FRI          6/10       7:00 PM                SAFETY LAST!
SAT        6/11       5:00 PM                SAFETY LAST!
SAT        6/11       9:00 PM                THE GREEN BERETS
THU       6/16       8:40 PM                MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON
SAT        6/18       5:00 PM                MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON
SAT        6/18       7:30 PM                EL CID
FRI          6/24       9:35 PM                INVASION U.S.A.
SAT        6/25       7:00 PM                UNFORGIVEN
SUN       6/26       6:30 PM                INVASION U.S.A.
SUN       6/26       8:40 PM                UNFORGIVEN
Unless noted, admission to each film is $9; Cinematheque members, those with CIA or Cleveland State University I.D.’s, and those age 25 & under $7. Free parking for filmgoers is available in Lot 73 and the CIA Annex lot, both accessed from E. 117th Street. For further information, call John Ewing or Tim Harry at (216) 421-7450, send an email to, or visit
Cinematheque films are supported by a grant from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture.
The complete May-June Cinematheque schedule follows.

Captain America: Civil War

Review by Bob Ignizio

After all the mass mayhem, destruction, and death of the previous Marvel Cinmeatic Univers movies, most notably the two AVENGERS films, some people in that fictional world are justifiably concerned about super powered individuals taking the law into their own hands. The last straw is an incident in which The Avengers fight a bad guy who sets off an explosion to kill Captain American (Chris Evans). Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) uses her powers to move the blast away from Cap, but several innocent bystanders are still killed.

The United Nations wants oversight of these costumed crusaders. Tony Stark aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), riddled with guilt after being confronted by the mother of another casualty of a super powered throw-down, thinks this is a good idea. Steve Rogers aka Captain America (Chris Evans), while recognizing the responsibility the heroes bear for this collateral damage, doesn’t.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Far From Men (now on video)

All hail Viggo Mortenson as the American answer to Max Von Sydow, that is to say, a serious and thoughtful-seeming actor who can go from all-star escapism and fluff such as HIDALGO and the LORD OF THE RINGS films to way off-the-beaten-track foreign fare, personal projects and “art” films. Now watch, Mortenson will show up as a cartoon bad guy or cape-wearer in a Justice League movie, shaking his fist and saying “I’ll get you Wonder Woman!” and I will be begging Bob Ignizio to take down this posting. Or at least put his own by-line on it. I’m so sick of comic-book movies.

The multi-lingual Mortenson stars and co-produced (for iconic French studio Pathe) the French- and Arabic-language drama FAR FROM MEN, which represents director David Delhoffen’s decent expansion of the Albert Camus short story “The Guest,” on which generations of high-school students such as I had been weaned (to all my fellow former high-school French students, anyone found any jobs out there? I’m still looking).

Unlike similar attenuations of short-story material, this one doesn’t feel terribly padded, even if it does bring some sex and more violence into the tale than Camus did.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Tale of Tales (opens May 6th at the Capitol Theatre)

[TALE OF TALES opens in Cleveland on Friday May 6th exclusively at the Capitol Theatre.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

Even in their watered down, Disney-fied versions, fairy tales can get pretty dark. In fact, Disney’s SNOW WHITE has been credited with influencing that country’s take on the horror film, in particular Dario Argento’s SUSPIRIA. Go back to early written collections of fairly tales by the Brother’s Grimm and Charles Perrault, and the tales get even darker.

Go further back yet and we find ourselves in Italy once again. That’s where Italian poet and courtier Giambattista Basile collected some truly horrific versions of fairy tales both familiar and not in what he called "The Tale of Tales, or Entertainment for Little Ones".  The new anthology film adapted from Basile’s book, TALE OF TALES by Italian director Matteo Garrone, is most definitely not “Entertainment for Little Ones”.