Silver Emulsion

Film Reviews

Verboten! (1959)

Verboten! (1959)

Starring James Best, Susan Cummings, Tom Pittman, Paul Dubov, Harold Daye, Dick Kallman, Stuart Randall, Steven Geray, Anna Hope, Robert Boon, Sasha Harden, Paul Busch, Neyle Morrow, Joe Turkel

Directed by Samuel Fuller

Expectations: High, it’s Sam Fuller.


Verboten! is notable for a few reasons. It is Sam Fuller’s first World War II movie, it was the last picture produced by RKO and it’s a damn fine piece of 1950s cinema. Opening with a bang as all Fuller pictures do, we are thrust into the action as a pair of soldiers are under assault from some Germans hiding behind a jeep. After a well-placed grenade they take a moment’s rest under a road sign that reads Trinken Verboten!, but their rest is short as they have orders to enter the town of Rothbach and clear out a sniper nested there. Queue Beethoven’s Fifth and run for cover!

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December 10, 2010 Posted by | 1950s, Action, Documentary, Drama, Movie Reviews, Rating: 3 & 1/2 Stars, War | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Falkenau, the Impossible (1988)

Falkenau, the Impossible [Falkenau, Vision de L’Impossible] (1988)

Starring Samuel Fuller

Directed by Emil Weiss

Expectations: High. I have been eagerly anticipating watching this since I reviewed The Big Red One a couple months back.


 

After moving to France following all the NAACP hoopla surrounding his last American film White Dog, Sam Fuller seemed to finally get the adoration and credit he always deserved at the hands of many European filmmakers and fans. One way they showed this gratitude was by making documentary films about the man, starring and narrated by Fuller himself. This is the first of these that I will be reviewing for the site and it is an apt place to start after recently looking at Fuller’s epic WWII film, The Big Red One. That film ends with the liberation of the Falkenau concentration camp, and it is this event that is the main subject of this documentary.

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November 5, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Documentary, Movie Reviews, Rating: 3 & 1/2 Stars, Short, War | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mini-Review: This Film is Not Yet Rated (2006)

This Film is Not Yet Rated (2006)

Starring Kirby Dick, Jack Valenti, Kimberly Peirce, Alison Anders, John Waters, Becky Altringer

Directed by Kirby Dick

Expectations: Medium.


This Film is Not Yet Rated looks to pull the tablecloth out from under the MPAA and expose their asinine film rating system. I am the choir this film is preaching to, I’ve been the guy complaining about the stupidity of the rating system for years. Therefore, this film didn’t teach me anything new, but it does entertain for the most part. If you haven’t noticed, films are rated arbitrarily and more for sexual content than for violence. This speaks to our generally conservative and sometimes backwards culture, where violence is more okay than sex for kids to see.

This film is great for the uninitiated to see the rating practices of the MPAA. The film and its director, Kirby Dick, are a bit extreme in their methods of obtaining the information for the film, resulting in something that will play well to people of like minds, but won’t necessarily sway combative viewers. It reminds me of Michael Moore’s films in this way, albeit a lot less well-made. It is interesting but a bit too long, check this one out if you’re in the mood for a bit of investigative journalism.

June 20, 2010 Posted by | 2000s, Documentary, Mini-Reviews, Rating: 2 & 1/2 Stars | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mini-Review: Fela Kuti: Music is the Weapon (1982)

Fela Kuti: Music is the Weapon [Musique au poing] (1982)

Starring Fela Kuti

Directed by Jean-Jacques Flori & Stéphane Tchalgadjieff

Expectations: Very High. I love Fela Kuti.


Fela Kuti is one of my favorite musical artists. He created the Afrobeat genre and sound together with his band the Africa ’70 (and later the Egypt ’80). He seems to have entered more of the mainstream conciousness with the recent success of the Broadway musical “Fela!” but the real heart of his music lies in Nigeria and the political struggles he faced there.

This film features a couple of live performances from Fela and the band, none of them full songs, but enough to allow you to get a sense of his personal style on-stage. The film also covers a history of Fela and his music, covering his trip to America where he met Black Panthers who inspired him to become more political in his own country. The problem is, if you know much of anything about Fela and his music, this documentary doesn’t offer much that you haven’t already heard. It’s not that big of a problem though, as any Fela fan will enjoy the live performances and the extensive interviews with Fela himself.

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June 6, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Documentary, Mini-Reviews, Rating: 3 Stars | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

MacHeads (2009)

MacHeads (2009)

Starring a bunch of MacHeads

Directed by Kobi Shely

Expectations: Low. I like Macs but I’m not a fanboy.


MacHeads tells the story of how the Mac community grew from an extremely dedicated bunch of computer nerds into millions of users that may or may not even own an Apple computer. The shift in Apple’s focus from the computer to the handheld device signaled the company’s rise in mainstream popularity, while also causing its hardcore fanbase to dwindle. Fanbase may be a strange word to use for a company but if you’ve ever talked with one of these folks you realize that hardcore Mac users really are huge fans of the company and what they stand for.

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May 29, 2010 Posted by | 2000s, Documentary, Movie Reviews, Rating: 2 & 1/2 Stars | , , , , | 2 Comments

Mini Review: Beer Wars (2009)

Beer Wars (2009)

Starring Anat Baron, Sam Calagione, Rhonda Kallman

Directed by Anat Baron

Expectations: Moderate. I like beer.


Beer Wars seeks to informs its viewers on the fundamental differences between big business beer companies like Anheuser-Busch and small, independent breweries like Dogfish Head. It starts out on the right foot, entertaining and communicating the facts. About halfway through, it loses a lot of steam as the facts run out. At this point it becomes a mixture of random scenes that don’t go much of anywhere and don’t shed any light on the subject. Lots of hitting the “independent breweries are better” nail into the ground.

I’m already on board with buying local and off-brand brews, so this film also has a quality of “preaching to the choir” for me. All the scenes with Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head Brewery, are great though, as he is a very honest, likeable fellow. Just the type of guy you’d want to have some grog with. He seems to have great fun running his business and apparently hasn’t lost sight of the dreams that compelled him to open a brewery in the first place. I don’t want to be too negative though, I liked the film. I just thought that it wasn’t as focused or concise as it should have been. The film is definitely better than that train wreck of a poster.

May 21, 2010 Posted by | 2000s, Documentary, Mini-Reviews, Movie Reviews, Rating: 2 & 1/2 Stars | , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Cove (2009)

The Cove (2009)

Starring Ric O’Barry, Louie Psihoyos

Directed by Louie Psihoyos

Expectations: High. I’ve heard nothing but good stuff.


The Cove is an interesting documentary. It seeks to expose the fishing practices of the Japanese village of Taiji, specifically the capture and killing of dolphins that goes on there. The practices are legal due to a few loopholes, but are definitely not right. The fisherman capture hundreds of dolphins at a time. Trainers from amusement parks and “Swim with the Dolphins” places come and select the dolphins they want. The fisherman kill all the unselected dolphins and sell them for meat. The film follows Ric O’Barry, who became famous after capturing and training the dolphins used in the 1960s television show Flipper. He now crusades to stop any and all wrongdoings against the creatures, feeling somewhat responsible for their rise in popularity. Ric worked with the dolphins on a daily basis and realized that they are not only incredibly smart, but that they are also self-aware.

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May 18, 2010 Posted by | 2000s, Documentary, Movie Reviews, Rating: 3 & 1/2 Stars | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mini Review: Seasons (1987)

Seasons (1987)

Narrated by William Shatner

Directed by Ben Shedd


An IMAX movie on the small screen is always going to be a downgrade, but sometimes the film is good enough to transcend the transition and remain entertaining. Seasons is one such film. It features beautiful nature sequences intermixed with human activities during each season. There’s also some killer vector graphics of the Sun and the Earth. You can’t go wrong with vector graphics in my opinion and these are top-notch. It also features a few sequences of time-lapse photography. William Shatner’s narration is perfect and matches the images well. The script might be a little over-the-top but who better to handle overly serious dialogue than Shatner? Also, the film only runs thirty minutes so it makes for a quick viewing.

All of these elements add up to a film that plays out similar to a narrated version of Koyaanisqatsi. Can’t say that I learned anything, but I was definitely entertained. Check it out if you like both Shatner and the seasons, as I’ve heard a lot of negative feedback from people who don’t like Shatner.

May 15, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Documentary, Mini-Reviews, Movie Reviews, Short | , , , , | Leave a comment

Mini Review: 21 Up (1977)

21 Up (1977)

Directed by Michael Apted


21 Up continues the series of documentary films started in 1964 that follows the lives of fourteen British children. The idea for the first film, Seven Up, came about from the Jesuit motto, “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man.” Every seven years the same children are interviewed about their lives and world views. It is an incredible concept and it’s interesting to see how the children grow up.

One flaw is that some of the participants are affected by seeing the films prior to being interviewed, specifically some of the upper class children, so their answers don’t seem as real as in earlier entries. There is something to be said about the fact that they are affected at all though. It suggests that taking a step back and being able to see themselves from another’s perspective, they find that they might be more biased than they thought themselves to be. I realize that this is an unavoidable flaw but it still nags at me.

My other problem with these films is that each one gets longer than the last. Most of the material is very dry and some of the interviews don’t really go anywhere. I love the series, but they are a slog to get through.

April 21, 2010 Posted by | 1970s, Documentary, Mini-Reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment

Mini-Review: The Seafarers (1953)

The Seafarers (1953)

Directed by Stanley Kubrick


The Seafarers is a documentary directed by Stanley Kubrick two years before his feature debut, Killer’s Kiss. It was thought lost for many years, but in 2008 it was released on DVD for hardcore Kubrick fans to watch and analyze. It is an industrial short made for the Seafarers International Union to show to potential members. It is notable as Kubrick’s first use of color film.

Surprisingly, there are a few moments of the budding Kubrick touch. The most enjoyable were the sideways moving dolly shots through the cafeteria. I always found the similar shot through the apartment in The Killing to be one of my favorites, so it’s fun to see what that shot evolved from. A fun 30 minutes for any Kubrick fan, but don’t expect anything groundbreaking.

April 17, 2010 Posted by | 1950s, Documentary, Mini-Reviews, Movie Reviews, Short | , , , | 2 Comments