Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Honeymoon Killers (1969)

"The Honeymoon Killers (1969) is more Cain than even James Cain himself. Martha Beck and Ray Fernandez, the film’s central lovers/killers, could easily take the place of any of Cain’s partners-in-crime. They’re just as cold-blooded and ruthless as duplicitous wife Phyllis Nirdlinger and insurance agent Walter Huff in Double Indemnity, and just as hot-blooded and passionate as vagabond Frank Chambers and restless waitress Cora Papadakis in The Postman Always Rings Twice. Yet unlike them, Martha and Raymond didn’t come from any author’s imagination—they came straight from the newspaper headlines of 1949."

Read my full review of Leonard Kastle's The Honeymoon Killers here at Hammer to Nail.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Stahl vs. Sirk at Anthology Film Archives

"John M. Stahl and Douglas Sirk were fated to share a double bill. The passing decades have made it clear that these two icons of melodrama don’t merely reflect their respective time periods, but actively comment upon them. Moreover, as contract directors at Universal, both were fortuitously given the same material to adapt — which not only eagerly invites comparison, but also highlights their singularity as artists."

Read my full coverage of Anthology Film Archives' series Imitations of Life: Stahl vs. Sirk online here at The L Magazine.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

ROSSELLINI’S HISTORY FILMS - The Change and Growth of An Independent Master

"But there’s also a larger debt that has gone unpaid for far too long, which is that Rossellini embodied a far more important concept of an 'independent filmmaker' that went beyond topics and aesthetics. He resisted labels and refused to be tied down to a single style. Yet the farther he moved away from the particularities of his earlier work, the more the world rejected Rossellini. He made a certain kind of movie, and that’s what they expected and, more importantly, understood. Such is the dilemma all artists face when they grow and change."

Read my full review of The Taking of Power by Louis XIV (1966) (Criterion Collection) and Eclipse Series 14: Rossellini’s History Films—Renaissance and Enlightenment online here at Hammer to Nail.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

In Memoriam: Donald Westlake

"On New Year’s Eve, Donald Westlake, alias Richard Stark, went to that big bank heist in the sky – the “one last score” you never return from. The 75-year-old Brooklyn-native and writer of more than 150 books (not to mention numerous short stories and screenplays) died of a heart attack while on vacation in Mexico. Born in 1933, Westlake was one of the last remnants of a bygone literary era. He may have attended several colleges, but he never graduated from any. And he certainly didn’t learn writing from any “creative writing” class. Instead, he threw himself into the thriving pulp paperback market and began churning out novels at a rate that would scare many contemporary writers into an early retirement..."

Read my full article on Donald Westlake online here at The L Magazine.