Saturday, August 01, 2009


What the hell am I doing up at this hour? The short answer: doing something I want to do that I would have loved to have done about eight hours ago, which is, whip up a big list of links for the weekend to keep you occupied with good news and interesting items to enrich your life and waste your time in equal measure. This won’t be a writing post, just a quick word or two to get you started, in the mold of what David Hudson has done so brilliantly in the past for Green Cine Daily and then IFC Daily, making those sites a one-stop shopping center for the serious cinephile. When Hudson packed his bags and left IFC over a month ago, all the while promising to return in a new and improved version, it was heartening news in the face of such an important figure going, however briefly or not, off-line. Well, speaking of David Hudson, the chrysalis has popped open and David has indeed sprouted beautiful new wings. He has resurrected the format at The Auteurs Daily, and he really has, at first glance, done a great job of rethinking the work he does so tirelessly, efficiently and comprehensively for the online film community. I would argue that he’s been one of the most important figures, if not the most important, in shaping the way the online world of film writers, fans and cognoscenti have been able to congregate and keep up with writing and events they might have otherwise missed. And now David’s plans are to make that keeping up even easier, using, of all things, Twitter. Being a very resistant Twitter virgin, I was suspicious at first. But I’ve seen the plan in operation for a few days now, and I have to say, it’s pretty great. I’ll let David explain it to you himself. For now, let us just be exceedingly glad that the man is back and ragin’ full on.


So, what else can I point you to before the sun comes up? Let’s see. Let’s start with the bad news.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has decided to cancel its wide-ranging and essential film program. Yes, the city that has such a strong connection to movies of every kind now has one less HUGE venue for the screening of classics and international cinema. Jesus, of all the venues in town, I figured this one would be one of the last to go, certainly not before smaller theaters like the Cinefamily or the New Beverly Cinema whose budgets aren’t a blemish on LACMA’s books. One outraged film fan, as outraged as we all should be, is Kenneth Turan, who writes about the end of an era of film culture programming with just the right amount of anger and disappointment. Unbelievable.


Now, some good news:

ALERT! Yeah, I know they’re a big-ass corporation and all, but every once in a while there’s a reason to step into or log onto a Barnes and Noble, and here’s the best one I’ve seen in many a moon: they’re having a 50% Off sale on the Criterion Collection through this weekend. (Sale ends Monday.) And if you have one of those annoying Barnes and Noble membership cards, you can take off another 10%. I’ve already done my damage (La Bete Humaine, Videodrome and Young Mr. Lincoln), but that doesn’t mean you have to restrain yourself. I think you’d really better check it out right now.


You can find me and my daughter at the Billy Wilder Theater this afternoon (Saturday) for the matinee screening of The Red Shoes (1948), spectacularly restored and in Los Angeles this weekend only. Online ticket sales for the Saturday matinee (2:00 p.m.), Saturday evening (7:30 p.m.) and Sunday matinee (11:00 a.m.) have ended, but there are tickets available for each screening beginning one hour before show time at the box office. This is a huge weekend for my daughter in terms of film history. Saturday night we’re seeing Cary Grant and Irene Dunne in The Awful Truth (1937) and Irene Dunne and Melvyn Douglas in Theodora Goes Wild (1936) courtesy of the New Beverly, and we’re back at the New Bev again Sunday afternoon (with Grandma and Grandpa) for Charlie Chaplin-- Modern Times (1936)-- and Buster Keaton-- The General (1926). Plus popcorn!


One of my favorite writer-directors, Ron Shelton, whose film of Game of Shadows, the controversial nonfiction book about steroids and the BALCO scandal, is, unlike Moneyball, still coming soon, recently wrote a terrific piece for the Sunday Los Angeles Times that I’ve been meaning to link to for a while now. If you’re not a Times subscriber, you may have missed Shelton on Steve Dalkowski, the man who some believe was the hardest throwing pitcher in baseball as well as the inspiration for Ebby Calvin “Nuke” Laloosh, the wild-throwing sensation played by Tim Robbins in Shelton’s ode to the minor leagues, Bull Durham. This is a fascinating and ultimately sad story that is imbued with the same love of the game that has always been Shelton’s hallmark as a writer and filmmaker.


Here’s Roger Ebert musing on yet another list of the greatest movies ever made. The difference? This one is actually worth reading. Number one? The Night of the Hunter.

More goodies:

Mick La Salle on the history of the Hays Production Code.

One of my favorite people, Anne Thompson, has made a new home at IndieWIRE, and Eugene Hernandez tells the whole story. Congratulations, Anne!

Other than the re-emergence of David Hudson and the tons of other great stuff available at The Auteurs every day, Glenn Kenny’s “Topics/Questions/Exercises of the Week” has fast become one of my favorite features, and not least because of the feature-within-the-feature, “The Armond White-ism of the Week.” And this week’s a doozy:

“…our Mr. White finds himself in a bit of a pickle, upon contemplating the fact that his own review of Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker about a month back was in consonance with pretty much every other New York-based reviewer's notice (except Kyle Smith's, of course). This simply won't do, so this week, in the middle of some cerebration on the Dardennes's Lorna's Silence (which involves him, not surprisingly, attempting to split a difference that exists only in his head) he throws in a bit of not-in-any-way-forced back-pedaling on Locker...”

Sorry, you gotta go to Glenn’s column to get the rest. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.

Rodger Jacobs, one of the original friends of this blog, is doing his magic in Las Vegas these days, and he’s come up with some impressions of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid that anyone interested in screenwriter Rudy Wurtlizer or director Sam Peckinpah won’t want to miss.

God, how I hope he makes this a series: Tom Sutpen launches "Frames Within the Frame (Part One)", frame grabs that truly do grab you with the spirit of inventiveness and pictorial richness coursing through a slew of disparate and fascinating movies. Tom, can I request a chapter on Brian De Palma?

Three words for you: Monster Movie Music. I’m pretty damn sure I don’t need to say anything more. (I guarantee you Kimberly Lindbergs already knows what I’m talking about.)


Kimberly, you might like this too. Do the name Eileen Dietz ring a bell? Last weekend my wife bought me a pack of 2008 Donruss Americana II trading cards as kind of a joke. It had John Wayne on the package, so she figured it couldn’t miss. I opened the pack up, and there were cards with pics and facts on Dave Prowse, George Herbert Walker Bush, 7th heaven hottie Barry Watson, a couple of other WB types I didn’t know, and one for Ms. Dietz. The name immediately sent a tingle of recognition through me. Eileen Dietz, a young actress in 1973, doubled for Linda Blair and even played Pazuzu himself in those hellishly scary subliminal shots that haunt Father Karras in The Exorcist. I, of course, started looking up what Ms. Dietz has been up to since 1973, and she’s been pretty busy, according to her web site. But I was really amused that, even though I used to read all about her in various accounts of the making of The Exorcist, I hadn’t been aware of her name in a couple of decades, and yet I knew who she was instantly when I saw that card. Which makes me (and anyone else who recognizes the name) one of the biggest nerds on the planet, and the card itself kind of a nerdy tribute of some insignificant consequence (follow that?), right? Greatest trading card ever? Maybe the one with Eileen Dietz on it.

(Just to get even nerdier, here’s video of some guy opening up a bunch of Donruss Americana cards.)


Two or Three Movies You Might Be Interested In:

The LebowskiFest documentary is out and about. It’s called The Achievers, and it might be playing at a theater near you (or on Netflix) soon. (It’s in L.A. at the Sunset 5 today, Saturday, only.)

Why have I not heard about Gerald Peary’s documentary on the history of American film criticism, entitled For the Love of Movies until now? Might not make converts out of anyone not inclined to read film criticism already, but it looks like it might be at the very least a diverting hour and a half. Here’s the trailer:

Speaking of the love of movies, the Luis Bunuel Film Institute, an organization headed by Bunuel’s sons Juan-Luis and Rafael that is devoted to preserving and promoting the life and work of the great director, is working to raise money to make a documentary based on Jean–Claude Carriere’s book The Secret Language of Film. Sounds like an interesting project, and if you contribute funds, you get a producing credit.

And how hopeless does it make me that I am excited about seeing Tron: Legacy based on this new trailer? (This is a rhetorical question, but if you insist...)

Finally, appropo of nothing, here’s a link to

1) some really creepy recipes, some of which, God help me, sound delicious;

2) the musings of a hungry goat;

3) and a report on a place you’d better not ever see me coming out of:

Please have a wonderful weekend. I’ll be back on Monday with Joe Dante, back for another interview in conjunction with DANTE’S INFERNO II, opening at the New Beverly this Wednesday.



Rodger Jacobs said...

Actually, I'm living in Las Vegas these days, Dennis, left S.F. in November of '07. Thanks for the nod.

Jonathan Pacheco said...

I caught "For the Love of Movies" at SXSW. Unfortunately it wasn't nearly as strong as I wish it was. It tries to cover too broad of a topic and era, and partially because of the ever-changing nature of the topic, it can feel a bit dated an naive at times. It's well-meaning, but not the film I thought I would get.

Craig said...

I like to think the NY critics decided collectively to pull a prank on Armond by loudly complaining about "The Hurt Locker" following their screening, tricking His Counter-Intuitiveness into thinking he'd be the only one sticking up for it. Perhaps they could put this into regular practice.

(Full disclosure: I think it's a little overrated too, but I said as much in my initial review.)

Jett Loe said...

Re: what Jonathan said, I agree the film wasn't the strongest, maybe that's not its fault = it wasn't necessarily the film i wanted to see - yet the topic is fascinating and the pic is worthwhile overall -

sorry for the self-link ;) but if you're interested you can hear an interview with the film-maker, critic Gerald Peary, here: 'For the Love of Movies' Interview

blaaagh said...

I dunno what you were doing up so early/late, but I'm glad you wrote this: it was so much fun to read! I particularly like the item on Eileen Dietz, as you could probably guess--that picture is still scary--and the Monster Movie Music blog bit...I've bookmarked that one! Now, no more staying up so late, young man.

jim emerson said...

THE PRESIDENT'S ANALYST!!! God, I love that movie. My mom and I bonded over it when I was just a kid. Godfrey Cambridge's final session (in one shot) is brilliant. Nobody would even do such a thing today...

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Blaaagh: I promise, no more late nights... at least this week. I am feeling the singe of burn-out right now, that's for sure! Of course I thought of you when I saw that Eileen Dietz card!

And, Jim, I immediately thought of you, not only because of the New Beverly but specifically when I saw The President's Analyst was going to play. I can't wait to see those splashy colors on the big screen!

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