Sep 28, 2012

The Toronto Film Noir Syndicate


...and now that Word on the Street has past, it's time to continue to the next project I've been involved with for the past couple of months. Yours truly has joined Shirley Hughes and David Faris in The Toronto Film Noir Syndicate. This collective will be showing classic film noir several times throughout the year.

Tomorrow, Saturday Sept. 29 is our inaugural screening. This is the first of our fundraiser screening, in which we hope to raise funds and awareness for our plan to hold these events in the future at a theatrical venue.  Tomorrow's event will be held at the Dominion on Queen, 500 Queen St. #E.  The show begins at 8 PM-- admission is five dollars.

For further details, visit the syndicate's website by clicking here.

You can also like the Toronto Film Noir Syndicate on Facebook.

Sep 25, 2012

DVD Releases That We Dig This Week (09.25.12)


Brothers and sisters, if there is one DVD release this week that is after our own hearts, it is the set, Weird Noir: Six B-Movies, released from Something Weird.

How obscure are these films? Yours truly has only heard of half of them, and has seen none. All of these B-budgeted films noir harken from the 1950s and early 1960s.

Beverly Garland stars in Stark Fear (1962), who must convince people that her husband is going to kill her; detectives investigate a murder in a burlesque theatre in Girl on the Run (1953) (yup- that sounds like a Something Weird release….); Fallguy (1962) features a teenager who is mixed up in political intrigue and a murder he didn't commit; Jacques Bergerac (The Hypnotic Eye) and Mala Powers (Cyrano de Bergerac) star in Fear No More (1961), about a mentally unbalanced woman accused of murder on a train (and I LOVE train movies….); The Naked Road (1959) is a potboiler about a model who gets involved with a sleazy ad exec and other slovenly characters; and finally, there is The 7th Commandment (1961), directed and co-written by Irv Berwick (Monster of Piedras Blancas), about an amnesiac who is now a reverend, being swindled by an old flame. (I've been curious about this title for years!)




There you have it - a half-dozen little noir quickies that seem perfect for a rainy fall night. Does this mean that Something Weird is finally getting back into releasing factory DVDs? I sure hope so.

But wait! There's more! Today, Criterion also releases actor-director Paul Bartel's hilarious black comedy Eating Raoul (1982), also with his frequent co-star Mary Woronov! As bonuses, the package also features Bartel's early shorts The Secret Cinema (1968) and Naughty Nurses (1969).



All six of the popular Lone Wolf and Cub series of films (from 1972 to 1974) based upon the manga by Kazuo Koike are released in one set by AnimEigo, each featuring Tomisaburo Wakayama as the shogun hero: Sword of Vengeance (1972), Baby Cart at the River Styx (1973), Baby Cart to Hades (1972), Baby Cart in Peril (1972), Baby Cart in the Land of Demons (1973), and finally, White Heaven in Hell (1974).



Also, with ample time before Halloween, Redemption has released Mario Bava's underrated chiller Hatchet For the Honeymoon (1970).



Flicker Alley also has a couple of DVD/Blu-Ray combo packs for the widescreen aficionado this week. This week happens to also be the 60th anniversary of the widescreen process, Cinerama, which changed the scope of movies forever, in order to compete with television. 1952's This is Cinerama introduced movie goers to a whole new movie experience unlike any before. Also, lovers of the big screen process will be thrilled with another combo release: 1958's Windjammer: the Voyage of the Christian Radich. This chronicle of the Norwegian vessel, travelling from Oslo to the Caribbean was the only film to be shot in the Cinemiracle process. Largely unseen since its release, this has been painstakingly restored; and both of these are sure to be collector's items.



Sep 21, 2012

Issue #25 Debuts Sunday!


Wow. It's hard to believe that not only has ESR been in existence for eleven years, but our twenty-fifth issue debuts Sunday at Word on the Street. Perhaps that counts as a silver jubilee or something...

The blog has been largely dormant in the past few weeks, as we've devoted our time to preparing the new issue. Next week, after we've kicked off the launch of ESR #25, we will be back in the blogosphere and how!  Fall is now upon us. These next ten weeks of the year are what yours truly lives for. In addition just loving the season itself, I am enraptured by the many great cultural events during this time, and also delighted by the creative muse that revisits for this period of time. As the weeks progress, it is our intention to make our web presence come alive with more postings of reviews and events.

Oh yes. The new issue. Our silver issue continues to run the gamut of covering everything but current mainstream cinema, with articles on Laurel and Hardy's 1940s films, the gritty films noir of Andrew L. Stone, a detailed history and review of Grizzly 2, the independent works of Sara Driver, and lots of DVD reviews pertaining to recent releases of older, interesting pictures.  This is an action-packed 60-page issue, retailing for five dollars.

Our latest release also finds us in a transitional period. Because ESR publishes far less frequently than the old days, it is makes less sense to stay current in print. The blog has been used for, and will continue to be relevant with timely news pieces. As a result, the future of ESR's print edition exists with longer-format articles. This issue reflects our ongoing shift from a plethora of short works, to fewer articles of greater length. Within the next twelve months, the overall look and durability of our publication will be changing, and in addition I will be devoting some time to one or two print-on-demand book projects.

We're excited about our new release, and hope you can join in our celebration with the first stop on our fall tour. Word on the Street runs Sunday September 23 from 11 AM to 6 PM at Queen's Park Circle. We're at booth MM18. See you there!

For further details, visit the Word on the Street website.


Sep 14, 2012

Invasion of the Hecklers




I'm grateful to live in a city that is large enough to accommodate repertory screenings on a regular basis, and I try to see an older film that interests me on a big screen whenever possible. However, there is one thing that drives me crazy: it's having to listen to the "commentary" from the hecklers in the audience.

Whether it's at Vagrancy Films, Trash Palace or anywhere else that screens older films on a regular basis, one must always contend with these idiots who treat the cinema like their own living room, and feel the need to share their Mystery Science Theater-like commentary with everybody else in the theatre. The problem, of course, is that, well, MST3K was clever and funny.

(In fact, when I saw the documentary Corman's World at the Bloor, I went to the balcony to sit because the "renovations" on the main floor made the screen too high and the chairs too small, but quickly went back downstairs to squeeze my not-so-big ass into the plastic chairs because I didn't want to listen to the hipsters in the balcony.)

The problem is more universal than just with the posers in Toronto. Witness Matt Zoller Seitz's posting today on the Press Play blog, in which he laments over a recent screening of the classic James Bond movie From Russia With Love, which was sabotaged by people chortling over outdated technology and values. The following quote, uttered by his friend at the screening, I think says it all:

“Why pay twelve bucks to see an old movie in a theater, then sit there the whole time and act superior to it?” he said. “That doesn’t make any sense to me. If you act that way, you’re wasting your money. You’re not getting everything out of the movie. You’re not experiencing it".

One should try to see old favourites on a big screen whenever the opportunity presents itself, but is it any wonder people choose to sit home with a DVD or Netflix instead?

I've never understood this "holier than thou" attitude that pervades screenings of second-run or specialized fare. One assumes that in this modern age where everything is ironic, hipsters in the audience feel that they must exhibit their superiority over the material. And this is in an audience that is supposed to appreciate this marginalized fare?

Sep 13, 2012

We Haven't Forgotten About You...


...we hope you haven't forgotten about us.

Hello friends. This blog has been silent for a few weeks, as we've had to devote our time to other things ESR-related.

Toronto's Word on the Street occurs next Sunday- as it is the first of many literary trade shows and events in the autumn, we are keeping with our tradition to debut the new issue of The Eclectic Screening Room there before going on the road with it in the next couple of months. In the meantime, too, we've been making preparations for screenings, working on the website, and doing other assorted activities. All of these details will be revealed within the next week, once we've completely signed off on them. It's been a slightly nutty past couple of months as we've attempted to juggle so many things, and truthfully haven't had much time to really stand back and ponder what we're doing.

Suffice it to say, we're looking forward to re-connecting with old friends in the new season, and finding some new allies along the way. It is my desire to make this blog come alive again very soon-- I just couldn't reasonably devote time to it beforehand while juggling so many other things. Lots of exciting things are happening in the next few weeks.

Stay tuned! And thanks for your continued support.





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