John Huston

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Last week, Rob Hunter was so befuddled and inspired by Drafthouse Films’s newest resurrection project The Visitor that he coined a term to make sense of it: “WTF Cinema.” Says FSR’s resident critic Lorde Mayor, “Basically, these are movies that consistently challenge expectations (both visual and narrative) to the point that viewers have literally no idea what to expect. This has nothing to do with plot twists, reveals, or shock endings, and instead has everything to do with leaving an audience in a frequent state of head-scratching awe as the unexpected appears onscreen again and again.” Hunter’s coinage is a useful idiom to describe (or express one’s total failure to describe) a certain type of movie that defies easy comprehension or simple justification for its existence. But I think there’s another aspect of The Visitor worth focusing on that tells us a lot about why it’s taken on this wonderful WTF currency: The Visitor, despite not having been re-edited since its initial theatrical run, is in no way the same film it was when originally released. The Visitor is a film of 2013 more than it ever was a film of 1979.

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I was going to review the new reissue of 1979’s The Visitor, but then a funny thing happened. I watched The Visitor. It’s hardly news to say that this thirty four year old movie is a mental fingerbang that bends genres and somehow teases both brilliance and stupidity, but I’m saying it anyway. Both highly derivative and wholly original, the film cherry picks elements from The Omen, The Fury, Phantasm, and more, and then swirls them together in a psychedelic mélange of horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and pure nuttiness as it tells the story of good and evil battling over a young girl’s potty-mouthed soul. There are a handful of small distributors (including Severin Films, Vinegar Syndrome, Synapse Films) that bring weird and obscure older films to home video, but for most of them that’s their niche. It’s what they do, the very purpose of the label, and those of us who love movies are grateful for it. Code Red DVD is one such example, and a fitting one too as they were the first to bring The Visitor to the U.S. in an uncut incarnation on DVD a few years ago (that can still be purchased here). Their reach is small though, so the announcement that Drafthouse Films had acquired the film for a remastered rollout in theaters followed by a Blu-ray/DVD release was music to the ears (and eyes) of strange-cinema fans everywhere. It’s great news for many reasons, but most noticeably it’s a reminder that even with Academy Award nominees […]

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Recently, Flavorwire got a kick out of a post from Slacktory where they used that ever-present man behind the curtain called Google to see what our internet age connects with celebrities. Then, we got a kick out of Flavorwire’s answer which involved 25 famous authors and what the search engine had to say. The experiment is simple. Type a name into Google Image Search, and the program automagically suggests more words to narrow down your search. Judging from entries like “white people problems” for J.D. Salinger and “death, oven, daddy” for Sylvia Plath, it seems like Google might be kinder to famous movie directors. Some of the responses fully encapsulate the person’s artistic output while others push toward the fringe, but all are shaped by what we’re searching for. Here’s a few things Google thinks you should add to the names of some of your favorite filmmakers.

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John Huston’s 1941 detective tale The Maltese Falcon gets credit for a lot of things. Not the least of which is the launching of both Huston’s career and the career of its star, Humphrey Bogart. It also gets credit for beginning the longstanding and successful onscreen pairing of Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet, and heck, more often than not it’s pointed to as the beginning of the entire film noir movement of the 40s. That’s a lot of acclaim for a pretty simple mystery story about a salty detective named Sam Spade trying to find the whereabouts of a statue shaped like a bird. The late 70s and early 80s were a time when genre films were king. Not only were the titans of the industry, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, tearing up the box office with huge event franchises like Star Wars and Indiana Jones, but lots of other directors were getting in on the act as well. Joe Dante hit it big with horror/comedy Gremlins, Robert Zemeckis struck gold with sci-fi/comedy Back to the Future, and even directors like Walter Hill made their names doing exploitation stuff like The Warriors. But, despite having the schlocky grit of something like The Warriors and the goofy humor of something like Gremlins, Alex Cox’s 1984 film Repo Man remains a movie remembered only by those plugged into the pulse of cult film. It’s a trivia question, an obscure pick, and not a cherished childhood memory like all the others.

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Every week, Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius log on to their favorite chat client of 1996 as OhDaeSu2039 and CatsandDogsLvng2Gether in order to discuss some topical topic of interest. This week, the duo try to avoid the pitfalls of bad novel adaptations by exploring some of the best. How do you take a work by one and turn it into a work by thousands? How do you appease fans while introducing a new audience to the story? Does it always involve whale genitalia? What are the rules of making a great film adaptation of a book?

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Every day, come rain or shine or internet tubes breaking, Film School Rejects showcases a trailer from the past. It’s truly fantastic that in this world of course, Clark Gable once made a movie with Marilyn Monroe. It’s even better that it’s an existential love story that plays like Street Car Named Desire in the middle of Nevada. The bonus is that Monroe is insanely good at paddle ball, even if it does lead to bar fights. It’s the 1960s answer to the Western genre, modernizing it and placing a gorgeous blonde bombshell right in the middle of Gable and Montgomery Clift to see who can make it out alive. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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A not quite finished film from Orson Welles that was shot in 1972 may very well soon see the light of day, according to The Guardian. The film, titled The Other Side of the Wind, is purportedly about the last days of an aging filmmaker, and was shot by Welles while he happened to be in his last days as an aging filmmaker. How Meta. Welles himself described the picture to its star John Huston as being, “about a bastard director… full of himself, who catches people and creates and destroys them. It’s about us, John.” Could it be that this bit of scripted work acts as a sort of companion piece to Welles’ phenomenal documentary F for Fake, which was made around the same time and centered itself around falsehood in the arts, both literally and figuratively? Regardless, I think that anybody could agree that any chance for the world to see another film made by Welles is an opportunity far too good to pass up. Or, at least, most people could agree. There is a slight dispute as to whether the film should be finished or not. Actor/director Peter Bogdanovich was apparently given extensive notes about the editing from Welles during the production and currently camps are divided as to whether a team including Bogdanovich should be allowed to create a final edit of the film or if they should just release the raw footage as Welles left it. I think experience has shown that in situations like […]

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Every week, Film School Rejects presents a movie that was made before you were born and tells you why you should like it. This week, Old Ass Movies presents: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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