Monday, 19 January 2015

HONEYMOON - DVD/BLU-RAY Review By Greg Klymkiw - Sicko Shocker on VSC & Magnolia

Honorary Canadian Chiller
Canadian women are making the best horror films in the world right now. One just needs to look in the direction of the Soska Sisters, Audrey Cummings, Karen Lam and Jovanka Vuckovic and know this to be true.

Filmmaker Leigh Janiak is NOT Canadian, but she might as well be.

Her first feature HONEYMOON is set in the wilds of Canada and prior to learning that this twisted, uber-talented Cleveland lassie actually vacationed with her folks as a child in their Canuck cottage every summer, my first two helpings of the movie convinced me she HAD to be a Canuck.

There is nothing scarier and creepier than the Canadian wilderness. It's not DELIVERANCE-scary (though in its sickeningly benign Canuckian way it CAN be), but it's chilling as all get-out in very subtle ways. Everything about Canada is "subtle" which is what ultimately gives it a unique flavour whenever horrific things actually happen up here. Canadian wilderness, you see, feels so endless that you sense the natural world is swallowing you whole and worst of all, it's quiet - so goddamned quiet you sometimes want to kill someone or, better yet, yourself. God knows, the hair-raising stylistic frissons of master Canuckian filmmakers like David Cronenberg, Guy Maddin and Atom Egoyan (the latter's latest and severely misunderstood THE CAPTIVE, a perfect case in point about our rural ickiness) have all managed to induce the kind of shudders endemic to this supremely perverse country. Now we can add the Honorary Canadian Leigh Janiak and HONEYMOON to my list of the best Canadian films NEVER made by Canadians (FARGO and SLAP SHOT taking the top-slots in this Klymkiw-exclusive genre). HONEYMOON is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Video Services Corp. (VSC) and Magnolia. If you want the shit scared right out of you, I urge you to get out there and buy this one immediately.

And now, my review:

EXTRICATION, please!
Honeymoon (2014)
Dir. Leigh Janiak
Starring: Rose Leslie, Harry Treadaway

Review By Greg Klymkiw

There's an urban legend that goes thusly: A man coughs so violently that a thick rope of dark, gooey, sputum jettisons from his mouth.

This is not a case of said sputum yet depositing itself on the floor, wall or any such surface, but rather, continues to hang from the man's mouth in a manner more physiologically commensurate to that of a drooling mastiff in severely hot, humid weather. With every cough, one rapidly following the other, the man continues to release several more inches of the gelatinous goo which, refuses to separate from within. The man grabs onto the foul rope of viscous saliva with both hands, clenching and squeezing for dear life, his eyes popping in terror like Mantan Moreland in a haunted house. The man begins to resemble a church bell-ringer on bennies, tugging vigorously as he extricates more, and more, and yet, more of the bilious, glutinous cordage from his dank, sopping maw. There is no end to the glistening, pus-ridden copulae of meaty, bloody phlegm. He keeps yanking upon it with deranged abandon and it still continues to gush forth, forming finally, a sausage-link-like coil on the floor. It becomes plainly obvious to the gent that this bilious cascade is no simple, garden variety discharge.

Creepy Kitchen Action
To his sheer and utter horror, the man realizes that he's somehow managed to dislodge a hideously diseased lung that surges from his chest cavity, up through his esophagus as it indelicately streams over his tonsils and tongue, grazing his lips and plummeting to the ground.

And so it goes.

There is a scene, a major two-by-four-to-the-face horror setpiece in Honeymoon, Leigh Janiak's auspicious feature length directorial debut that brings the aforementioned urban legend immediately to mind. It is, however, no mere diseased lung being extricated, it's something far more disturbingly insidious and downright disgusting. Most of all, Janiak (who co-wrote the clever script with Phil Graziadei) doesn't utilize an orifice as quaint as a mere mouth, but instead violates an opening of far more indelicacy, one which inspires, not only horror, but deep shame.

The picture opens innocuously enough. We meet Bea (Rose Leslie) and Paul (Harry Treadaway), a young, mid-twentysomething newlywed couple who drive straight up north to the former's legacy cottage for what will be a private getaway for our lovebirds to more officially consummate their union that's just been held before friends, family and God, the Holy Father.

For a good, long time we share the couple's giddy, loving abandon - getting to know them as people, but also gaining insight into their relationship. At the same time, we experience the subtle shifts in mood and honest human emotion that any newlywed couple will encounter, even at this early juncture in their relationship. As life will oft have it, there are, then, a few cracks in the fortification of their lifelong commitment to each other, but nothing out of the ordinary and certainly nothing to raise alarm.

For the most part, they're almost insufferably in love and we explore the most intimate details of their new and happy life together. (Yes folks, plenty o' sex twixt our attractive, talented actors.)

This is until, one night. As the couple sleep deeply after one of many vigorous sessions of coitus with no interruptus, a mysterious light begins to shine through their bedroom window. This is no ordinary incandescence and it passes over the bodies of Bea and Paul in a slow, deliberate manner. Rather than bathing them in a warm glow of peace and comfort, we feel like an entity is taking something dear and precious from them and that it will take all their fortitude to keep their love alive.

That, however, isn't the only thing they'll need to keep alive and it's from this point onwards that a slow, creepy crawly horror takes over and indeed intensifies. There's something in them thar' woods that's going to change their lives forever.

And it ain't pretty.

Honeymoon is one of the best horror films you're likely to have seen in quite some time. It is first and foremost a love story, but like many couplings in this genre, the threats on every front are going to mount exponentially. There will be times when they as characters and even we, as the audience, will begin to question our own sanity. Janiak displays a surprising command of the medium and her gifts to scare the living shit out of us are pitched to a very high, but sophisticated degree. Working in the grand tradition of the masterful Val Lewton, Janiak hits all the necessary marks of the RKO horror chief's checklist for great genre films: Focus upon the contemporary, focus upon humanity, focus upon the foibles of society, focus upon the insidious reality of the horror and if there's to be an otherworldly element to the picture, make sure it stays rooted in the relationships, dynamic and interplay between the characters.

And, of course, never, ever, ever forget that the best horror is rooted in atmosphere, so beware!

Beware the forest. Beware the night. Most of all, beware the light.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: **** Four Stars.

Honeymoon is a VSC and Magnolia DVD/BLu-Ray release. It includes a myriad of added value features including interviews with Janiak, the actors as well as a selection of promo pieces and various trailers.



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Sunday, 18 January 2015

DESECRATED - Review By Greg Klymkiw - All those who watch this movie desecrate themselves, though not quite as badly as those poor souls who have to act in it.

"Hi. My name is Haylie Duff. I am Hilary Duff's sister. I play Michael Ironside's daughter in this awful movie. Woe is me!"
Desecrated (2012/2015)
Dir. Rob Garcia
Starring: Haylie Duff, Gonzalo Menendez, Michael Ironside

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Haylie Duff's little sister Hilary never had it this bad. Never! Hilary, of course, was the star of the series and movie Lizzie McGuire and even had an exclusive line of tweenie-bopper clothing called "STUFF by Hilary Duff" at the now-defunct Zeller's department store chain. Haylie, however, has starred in a whole whack of dubious movies and toils as a Food Blogger. She might also be vying as the heir apparent to Sarah Jessica Parker's crown of Equine Princess of Hollywood.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

THE ATTICUS INSTITUTE - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Chilling, original premise, great leading lady buoy Demonic Possession Shocker on Anchor Bay Entertainment BRD/DVD

Anchor Bay BRD blows lid on possession.
The Atticus Institute (2015)
Dir. Chris Sparling
Starring: Rya Kihlstedt, William Mapother, John Rubinstein

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Dr. Henry West (William Mapother) has devoted his career and risked his reputation in the study of paranormal activity. When a promising experiment in telekinesis is exposed as a fraud, his already-underfunded institute faces extinction until a very curious subject is introduced to him. Judith Winstead (Rya Kihlstedt) displays considerable gifts, but as experiments upon her continue, it's clear she's not your everyday garden variety subject in this field.

Spewing viscous goo is always a treat, but
as per usual, it's only the BEGINNING.
Judith is possessed by a demon.

When the evil within threatens both herself and everyone involved at the institute, help from a shady military agency devoted to parapsychology is summoned.

The demon, now under the purview of these bureaucratic automatons, gets stronger and stranger.

Friday, 16 January 2015

HOUSEBOUND - BRD/DVD Review By Greg Klymkiw - Blood-Drenched Kiwi Kitchen Sink Horror Show now available via Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada & Raven Banner

Being the tender tale
of a mother-daughter,
an amiable paranormal

investigator, a creepy Teddy
and a creepier social worker.
One right Royal Kiwi

Kitchen Sink!
Housebound (2014)
Dir. Gerard Johnstone
Starring: Morgana O'Reilly, Rima Te Wiata, Glen-Paul Waru, Cameron Rhodes, Ross Harper, Mick Innes, Millen Baird

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Kylie (Morgana O'Reilly) is a nasty piece of work. Since leaving home, the chunky, unkempt, greasy, tattooed and criminally-minded lassie has been through the revolving doors of Kiwi drug rehab clinics and courtrooms more times than she can remember. A not-unsympathetic judge working for Her Majesty's Crown in New Zealand has all the facts at his fingertips. Her latest escapade involved smashing into an ATM for drug money.

Deciding Kylie needs some stability in her life. albeit forced, he orders her to several months under house arrest in the countryside with her dear Mum (Rima Te Wiata) in the old country homestead.

Prison might have been better since the family home was never, ever a place Kylie felt comfortable in.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

THE FILM CORNER'S 4TH ANNUAL TOP 10 HEROES OF CANADIAN FILM as selected by your Most Reverend Greg Klymkiw in this, the year of Our Good Lord, 2014 (in alphabetical order, of course)

THE TOP 10 HEROES OF CANADIAN CINEMA 2014
as selected by the Film Corner's Most Reverend Greg Klymkiw
(in alphabetical order, of course)

Thursday, 1 January 2015

THE FILM CORNER CANADIAN FILM AWARDS 2014 - The very best in Canadian Cinema - Many of these films were first unleashed at such film festivals and venues as TIFF 2014, TIFF Bell Lightbox, Hot Docs 2014, Toronto After Dark 2014, FantAsia 2014, FNC 2014, BITS 2014, NIFF 2014, The Royal Cinema and the Magic Lantern Carlton Cinemas

Monday, 29 December 2014

THE NIGHT PORTER - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Classic NAZI S&M on Criterion BRD/DVD

Criterion BluRay Special Edition
is quite the treat!!!
The Night Porter (1974)
Dir. Liliana Cavani
Starring: Dirk Bogarde, Charlotte Rampling
Review By Greg Klymkiw


Liliana Cavani's 1974 depiction of the post-war resumption of a violent sadomasochistic relationship between a former S.S. officer (the prim, grim, perversely dashing Dirk Bogarde) and a concentration camp survivor (an icily sensual, waif-like Charlotte Rampling, alternating twixt childlike pleading and a grinning, thin-lipped malevolence), is one of a mere handful of pictures to inspire genuine revulsion amongst critics and audiences (both upon its initial release and even to this day).

Sunday, 28 December 2014

THE FILM CORNER presents Greg Klymkiw's 10 Best Films of 2014, for thine edification - Many of these films were first unleashed at such film festivals and venues as TIFF 2014, TIFF Bell Lightbox, Hot Docs 2014, Toronto After Dark 2014, FantAsia 2014, FNC 2014, BITS 2014, NIFF 2014, The Royal Cinema and the Magic Lantern Carlton Cinemas

THE FILM CORNER presents
Greg Klymkiw's 10 Best Films of 2014 (in alphabetical order)

Each film is accompanied by an italicized excerpt from the original review. Feel free to click on the title to read the full review

COLD IN JULY Dir. Jim Mickle
Dane (Michael C. Hall) hasn't even had time to get out of his station wagon when he arrives at the cemetery. Then again, nobody would ever know he's been the lone witness to the tail-end of the burial. No one, that is, save for Russell (Sam Shepard), the lanky, grizzled and grimacing old man with a grey buzz-cut atop his dome and a pair of shades he's removed to reveal his piercing eyes. The old man, seemingly appearing from nowhere, towers above Dane, dwarfed only by the big, old Texas sky. He leans into the open window, burning holes into the killer of his only son. "Come to watch the shit go into the hole, huh?" quips Russell with a half smile. "Mighty Christian of you."

Saturday, 27 December 2014

THE FILM CORNER presents THE 10 WORST MOVIES of 2014 as selected by Greg Klymkiw.

The Film Corner's
10 WORST MOVIES OF 2014
as selected by
Greg Klymkiw


2014 had its fair share of dreadful movies. A whopping three titles received my lowest rating: THE TURD DISCOVERED BEHIND HARRY'S CHAR BROIL AND DINING LOUNGE. Below you'll get a link to my original review (by clicking on the title of the movie) and a brief italicized quotation from said review.

In alphabetical order, The 10 Worst Movies of 2014:


THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2
Andrew Garfield is a woeful Peter Parker. Upchuck at this, web-slingers: An annoying hedgehog tuft of hair upon his oversized gourd-like cranium, a thin, misshapen long face that's seemingly being winched from his jaw to ground level, weasel-like eyes, crooked smirk and shrivelled proboscis with its perpetually upturned tip and an irremovable sneer. I won't even get started on his spindly Ichabod-Crane-like body. Oh, and it's 142 minutes long.

Friday, 26 December 2014

MR. TURNER - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Opens TIFF BellLightbox via MongrelMedia


TIMOTHY SPALL:
JMW TURNER
Mr. Turner
Dir. Mike Leigh
Starring: Timothy Spall, Dorothy Atkinson, Marion Bailey, Paul Jesson, Lesley Manville


Review By Greg Klymkiw

It seems fitting that the first film biography of the great Romantic landscape painter JMW Turner, oft-referred to as "the painter of light", is the product of one of the world's greatest living directors, Mike Leigh (Life is Sweet, Naked, Secrets & Lies, Vera Drake, Topsy-Turvy). The exquisite properties of light in cinema, the glorious dance of film through a projector, the astonishing grace, promise and amalgamation of so many mediums into one, all driven by exposing and rendering the luminosity which, Turner proclaimed on his deathbed as God itself, is what yields this astonishing, moving celebration of a supremely important visual artist.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

THE INTERVIEW - Review By Greg Klymkiw - KimJong-un AssassinationComedy not funny


The cast of
THE INTERVIEW
has way more fun
than its audience will.

The Interview (2014)
Dir. Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
Scr. Dan Sterling
Starring: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Randall Park, Lizzy Caplan, Diana Bang, Eminem, Rob Lowe

Review By Greg Klymkiw

On paper, this must have sounded pretty good. The producer (Seth Rogen) and host (James Franco) of a highly rated sleaze-o-rama TV interview show specialize in outrageous shock-value exposes of American pop culture celebrities: for example, Eminem announces his homosexuality on the show, whilst Rob Lowe removes a toupee and there's talk of interviewing Matthew McConaughey about his sexual relations with a goat. When the dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, a huge fan of the show agrees to an interview, our bro-mantic couple are not only going to be shipped all expenses paid to North Korea, but are approached and trained by the CIA to assassinate him.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Greg Klymkiw picks The Film Corner's Top 21 Documentaries of 2014 - Stellar Year 4 DOCS - Many of these films were first unleashed at such film festivals and venues as TIFF 2014, TIFF Bell Lightbox, Hot Docs 2014, Toronto After Dark 2014, FantAsia 2014, FNC 2014, BITS 2014, NIFF 2014, Planet Out 2014, The Royal Cinema and the Magic Lantern Carlton Cinemas


Documentary cinema in 2014 was so powerful that it seems almost ludicrous to even attempt a list honouring only 10 movies, so I've decided to include a few categories here that are comprised of a variety of films within them which I've chosen to bundle together and furthermore present my picks as the Top 21 Documentaries of 2014. The list will be in alphabetical order by category and title.

Documentaries on the Artistic Process:

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Greg Klymkiw's 10 BEST HORROR/SCI-FI/FANTASY/ACTION FILMS of 2014 - Many of these films were first unleashed at such film festivals and venues as TIFF 2014, TIFF Bell Lightbox, Hot Docs 2014, Toronto After Dark 2014, FantAsia 2014, FNC 2014, BITS 2014, NIFF 2014, The Royal Cinema and the Magic Lantern Carlton Cinemas


Berkshire County
Dir. Audrey Cummings, Scr. Chris Gamble, Prod. A71 Productions, High Star Entertainment, Narrow Edge Productions
Pigs, you see, are lurking in the woods. Not just any pigs, mind you, but a family of travelling serial killers adorned in horrifying pig masks. And these sick fuckers mean business.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

SEE NO EVIL 2 - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Soskas deliver goods w/gun-for-hire slasher pic

If this happy fellow
was stalking you
in a morgue at night,
it would probably NOT
be an ideal situation.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Greg Klymkiw, presents the The Film Corner Awards (TFCA) in this the year of Our Lord 2014 - Many of these films were first unleashed at such film festivals and venues as TIFF 2014, TIFF Bell Lightbox, Hot Docs 2014, Toronto After Dark 2014, FantAsia 2014, FNC 2014, BITS 2014, NIFF 2014, The Royal Cinema and the Magic Lantern Carlton Cinemas


THE FILM CORNER AWARDS (TFCA) 2014, 
AS SELECTED BY THE REV. GREG KLYMKIW

This will be the first in a series of year-end Film Corner round-ups of cinema in 2014. Below, you will find the citations of excellence from me, Greg Klymkiw, in the form of my annual The Film Corner Awards (TFCA) for 2014. The most interesting observation is that ALL of these films were first screened within the context of major international film festivals which is further proof of their importance in presenting audiences with the very best that cinema has to offer whilst most mainstream exhibition chains are more interested in presenting refuse on multi-screens of the most ephemeral kind. All the citations here came from films unleashed at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF 2014), the Toronto After Dark Film Festival (TADFF 2014), Hot Docs 2014, Montreal's 2014 FantAsia International Film Festival and the 2014 Montreal Nouveau Cinema Festival (FNC 2014). In Canada, only two of the films cited have been released theatrically within the hardly-visionary, downright lazy mega-plex chain Cineplex Entertainment and even those films are being allowed to play on a limited number of screens in an even-more limited number of cities while ludicrous numbers of awful movies are draining screen time at the aforementioned chain's big boxes. It's not as if all the films the chain allows to hog screens are doing numbers to justify this combination of piggishness and laziness. Keep your eyes open, though. The films cited here are all astounding BIG-SCREEN experiences, which will hopefully find BIG-SCREEN exhibition before being relegated to less-than-ideal home entertainment venues. And now, here goes, The Film Corner Awards (TFCA 2014) as selected by your most Reverend Greg Klymkiw. Included are brief quotes from my original reviews  and links to the full-length reviews from the past year (just click on the title).

American cinema, more than anything, has always exemplified the American Dream. Almost in response to this, director David Zellner with his co-writer brother Nathan, have created Kumiko The Treasure Hunter, one of the most haunting, tragic and profoundly moving explorations of mental illness within the context of dashed hopes and dreams offered by the magic of movies and the wide-open expanse of a country teeming with opportunity and riches.

Best Feature Film
Kumiko The Treasure Hunter

Thursday, 18 December 2014

DRUM - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Delectably vile MANDINGO sequel on Kino Lorber BRD

"Papa? You put Drum with Elvira.
She's a purty l'il wench and everybody says she's in heat."

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

ELMER GANTRY - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Lancaster Dazzles in Kino Lorber Blu-Ray

"You think Jesus was some kind of a sissy, eh? Let me tell you, Jesus wouldn't be afraid to walk in here or any speakeasy to preach the gospel. Jesus had guts! He wasn't afraid of the whole Roman army." --Burt Lancaster as Elmer Gantry
WHAT IS RELIGION? Religion is LOVE!
And love is the morning and the evening star…
I know nothing of theosophy, philosophy,
psychology, ideology or any other ology.
But I DO know this:
With Christ, you're SAVED,
Without Christ, you're LOST.
And how do I know there's a merciful God?
Because I've seen the Devil plenty of times!

Elmer Gantry (1960)
Dir. Richard Brooks
Starring: Burt Lancaster, Jean Simmons, Arthur Kennedy, Dean Jagger, Shirley Jones, Patti Page, Edeard Andrews, John McIntire

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Slinking through one post-war-pre-depression tank town after another, with a smile wider than the midwestern prairie skies always above him, title character Elmer Gantry (Burt Lancaster) might be the best travelling salesman in America.

Driven by a thirst for cheap liquor, even cheaper women, the company of other back-slapping bagmen and blessed by the Lord on high with the alternately revered and reviled acoethes loquendi, Elmer's gift of gab knows no bounds. He's always got the latest and greatest ribald jokes on the tip of his tongue and splatters his brilliant, charming sales pitches with the expert blarney of a top-flight evangelist, peppering every second word, phrase or sentence with passionate dollops of scripture.

When we first meet him in the unforgettable Richard Brooks 1960 film adaptation of the sprawling 1927 Sinclair Lewis satirical novel of the same name, Gantry is holding court amongst a colourful coterie of similarly sharp-tongued vipers in a sleazy watering hole, his eye on the ample rump of the blood-red form-fitting dress of a local whore at the bar and his loquacious patter in mid-joke. Gantry's delivery is first rate. Like any great comedian or, for that matter any orator worth his weight in gold will tell you, it's not so much the content spewing forth from within, but rather, the manner in which it's related.

And, Oh, does Elmer let rip with a good one:

"So, anyway... anyway, this guy comes home, you see, and he finds his wife in the sack with his best friend. And the husband says, "Oh Harry, how could you do this to me?" And the wife, she says, "Why should you complain? Harry didn't do it to you!"

Elmer's gag is met with a raucous chorus of approving guffaws and hearty accolades:

"What did I tell you? Isn't he a card?"

"Oh yeah! Class. Real class."

Within seconds, Gantry spies a Sally Ann worker attempting to collect alms for poor orphans. It is, after all, Christmas. As the woman leaves with one paltry donation and babbling of derision from the assembled booze hounds, he leaps immediately into action. Like a fiery preacher, Gantry, raises his eyes upwards and emotes, "Hey, Lord? Can you hear me up there, Jesus? You didn't think we'd forget your birthday, did you?" He looks upon his cohorts with disgust, makes the first donation, then points to a portrait of a football star above the bar. "Think that quarterback's hot stuff? Well, let me tell you,," he opines furiously and with passion, "Jesus would have made the best little all-American quarterback in history."


In no time at all, Gantry's pitch to these hard-drinking cynical reprobates results in a full plate of dough for the pretty little Sally Anne Missy. He's the real thing. He can sell anything to anyone.

And Elmer, ultimately proves his sales gifts when he sidles his way into the heart of gorgeous, sexy travelling tent evangelist Sister Sharon Falconer (Jean Simmons) and not only takes her virginity, but becomes her righthand preacher. Employing the same hucksterism he uses on the road with his clients, Gantry not only transforms into a beloved star evangelist, but starts to command wheelbarrows worth of money for her religious organization. Though Gantry is slowly and genuinely falling in love with Sister Sharon, he can't leave his cocksman-like ways completely behind him. He gets some boinking in on the side with Sister Rachel (Patti Page - YES! THAT Patti Page), the evangelical singer and musical director of the Falconer God Squad. And, of course, he even briefly rekindles his love affair with the mouth-wateringly delectable whore Lulu Baines (Shirley Jones, here looking very un-Partridge-Family-like).

Where there is religion, there is sin and sex and plenty of babes.

Richard Brooks (In Cold Blood, Looking For Mr. Goodbar) not only directed Elmer Gantry, but he also wrote the superb adaptation of the novel. It's a great book and Brooks expertly wove a terrific movie from a mere 80 or so pages of the Sinclair Lewis bestseller and miraculously, it's just as funny, sexy and penetrating a work in the medium of film as it was as literature. Brooks adheres to the savagery of Lewis's satire and even manages to create an even-more compelling version of Sister Sharon - at least for the purposes of the film. In both mediums, however, she's clearly based on the controversial evangelist Sister Aimee Semple MacPherson, the founder of one of the more extremes sects of the Pentecostal Church.

When Lewis published his book, he was bombarded with criticism from all Christian quarters, even receiving death threats from God-fearing Christians. No matter, this merely drove sales of the book to astronomical heights and over thirty years later, the book was still popular enough to generate a movie that was not only showered with awards and accolades, but became one of the top-grossing films of all-time, over 11.000.000 smackers in 1960 dollars upon its first release and holding the crown as the 40th biggest grosser.

This, of course, seems extraordinary today and I sincerely doubt anyone would be able to make such a savage, intelligent and entertaining contemporary movie rooted in shredding Christianity to bits as this one does AND be a huge hit. Elmer Gantry, to my eyes, has not dated. Thematically, the religious fundamentalism displayed in the book and movie have, if anything, intensified today. The story's sexual frankness seems rooted in period, but not because the filmmaking is dated.

Speaking of which, Brooks's direction here is a marvel. He implements a classical style, but every so often, he imbues the picture with the kind of flourishes which are as modern and effective as anything employed now. I won't spoil it, but when you're watching the film, note the superb manner in which Gantry's sell-job to Falconer transforms into the very thing he trying too pitch with her. Also, Brooks employs numerous clever insert shots along the way which subtly add powerful story beats without being obvious. Both his screenplay and direction work a slow burn. We delight, from the beginning, in Gantry's charm, but as the picture progresses we get more and more hints of Gantry's genuine charlatan-like personality. There's an overwhelming sense during the picture's final third that as his love for Falconer grows, hers grows to a point of obsession that begins to hint how now man will ever take the place of Jesus in her heart.

The inevitability with which things steadily mount to a tragic conclusion are, rather than being ploddingly predictable are the kind of inexorable truth of this world and these characters. Gantry is especially a towering figure in all this. Even when things seem at their very worst, he picks up his bootstraps and offers a genuine sense of solace and hope to the parishioners. The light in Lancaster's eyes as he rousingly sings "I'm on my way to Canaan Land" is both the light of inspiration and that of an expert grifter/bagman. The people have hope from a fraud, but it's their belief that offers a savage indictment of how the flock will follow anyone with the power to rouse them, no matter how disingenuous it is. On the other hand, there's a hint, only a hint, mind you that there exists the potential for redemption.

Wisely, Lewis's book, Brooks's interpretation of it and ultimately his canny direction evokes the real truth -- that redemption is only in the eye of the beholder and in Gantry's case, he not only knows his scripture, he uses it to convey the truth to those smart enough to get it and most importantly himself. As he clutches the Good Book in his hand, Gantry quotes from St Paul, First Corinthians:

"When I was a child, I spake as a child.

I understood as a child.

When I became a man,

I put away childish things."

The bullshitter is tired of bullshitting other bullshitters -- mostly himself, the biggest bullshitter of them all. And though he knows this and acknowledges it, there's also a sense that he wholeheartedly embraces the old adage that you can't bullshit a bullshitter to begin with and especially not the one with whom he sees everyday in the mirror as he's about to perform his manly ablutions.

Elmer Gantry is a perfect picture in every respect, principally in the exquisite key creative endeavours such as art direction, cinematography and the magnificently stirring Andre Previn score which, when one is making a movie about something as big as America, a score with clear nods to Aaron Copland (but living and breathing on its own two feet) seems more than appropriate.

The cast, from the picture's stars on down to the extras are nothing less than first-rate. Arthur Kennedy as the "agitator" journalist who seeks to expose Falconer's church carries himself with his usual stolid earnestness, but as a newspaperman with a conscience, it works very nicely and he has a terrific rapport with Lancaster, especially during their final scenes together. Dean Jagger as Falconer's right-hand preacher holds his own with Lancaster during his fiery sermons and he proves a formidable bullshit detector in his mistrust of Gantry. It's a treat seeing the huge 50s/60s songstress Patti Page as the devoted and naive beauty who rounds out Falconer's team. Jean Simmons as the good sister Falconer knocks you on your ass as well as investing her role with a nice combination of repression and conflicted virginal desire to be manhandled by Gantry and she holds her own with Lancaster and indeed moves us tremendously during the tragic last third of the film. Shirley Jones is pure lollapalooza whore-with-a-heart-of-gold-cum-vengeful-woman-scorned and her final scene with Lancaster is a heartbreaker.


As for Lancaster, and no matter how good everyone around him truly is, the simple fact remains that this is his show all the way. To be sure, he's always generous and gracious with his fellow performers when he shares the frame with them and his bombastic nature is consistently rooted in Gantry's character to such a degree that he plays the scenes by always attempting to connect or communicate with others, to listen to them (as Gantry naturally would in order to achieve the upper hand). Never, though, does Lancaster use the flamboyance to hog the show. BUT, when Brooks allows Lancaster time alone - when it's just the camera, Burt and the viewer, we are witness to one of the most astoundingly malevolent sales jobs committed to celluloid.

At one point during a mega-fiery sermon, Lancaster takes a run and a leap and recreates s major slide into home plate. It's not just great physical acting, but when he picks himself up energetically, he drills holes ever-so calmly, yet with a kind of come-hither defiance, not unlike the Mona Lisa's ever-shifting gaze and he proclaims:

"Any punk ball player can make a slide like that. But how many folks have got the guts to play ball on God's team? And heed this -- The captain of that team is Jesus Christ Almighty himself."

Lancaster's so damned convincing, you believe it hook, line and sinker.

Belief, however, is what the movie is all about. Believing in yourself, believing you'll score the big sale, believing you can get anyone to believe anything and everything you say because you're so goddamn charismatic (and know it), that you can convince the believers and non-believers alike that hitting a Grand Slam for Jesus Christ means emptying your pockets for the Church, no matter how much you need the money for yourself or your family.

In a world where religious leaders, politicians and captains of corporate power are all snake-oil salesman, where the richest 1% of the world's population are cumulatively, exponentially richer than the 99% of all the rest, Elmer Gantry is a novel and a film that have as much power to attack the hypocrisy of any organized entity but especially the scourge of faith-based industries -- then as now as for the future.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: ***** 5 Stars

Elmer Gantry is available on a great transfer from the best existing materials on a Kino Lorber Blu-Ray. It's about time the gorgeous colours and aural presentation have found themselves available on the best home viewing format created to date. The film is housed in a box featuring the glorious original poster and in addition to a trailer, we get one solid bonus worth noting -- a terrific on-camera interview with Shirley Jones. The Kino Lorber release is also available in Canada via Video Services Corp (VSC).


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Wednesday, 10 December 2014

TARAS BULBA (1962) - Blu-Ray Review By Greg Klymkiw - Glory Be to Kino: BULBA on BRD!


On BRD at last! Thanks to
KINO-LORBER
Taras Bulba (1962)
dir. J. Lee Thompson
Starring: Yul Brynner, Tony Curtis
Review By Greg Klymkiw
“Do not put your faith in a Pole.
Put your faith in your sword
and your sword in the Pole!”
Thus spake Taras Bulba – Cossack Chief!(Played by Yul Brynner 1962)
These days, there are so few truly momentous events for lovers of fine cinema and, frankly, even fewer such momentous events for those of the Ukrainian persuasion. However, film lovers and Ukrainians both have something to celebrate. Especially Ukrainians.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

WHO IS DAYANI CRISTAL? Review By Greg Klymkiw - Highly acclaimed by the Film Corner



America is so precious about its border
it kills thousands of people per year.
These are dirt-poor migrant workers.
They'll do work American WhiteTrash
won't do, yet they're murdered.
WHY?

Monday, 8 December 2014

PROM NIGHT - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Classic Canuck Slasher Pic Gets Stellar VSC/Synapse BLU-RAY


A MAN
WITH AN AXE
TO GRIND
HAS A DATE

WITH YOU
FOR THE PROM!!!
Prom Night (1980)
Dir. Paul Lynch
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Leslie Nielsen, Antoinette Bower, Robert A. Silverman, George Touliatos, David Gardner, Michael Tough, Anne-Marie Martin (AKA "Eddie Benton"), Joy Thompson, Marybeth Rubens, Casey Stevens, Jeff Wincott, David Mucci

Review By Greg Klymkiw

The slasher film exploded on the scene with a vengeance from the mid-70s to the 80s, "vengeance" being the operative word. Often involving a masked and/or fleetingly-glimpsed stalker with a bone to pick, this sub genre of horror was typified by young babes and hunks receiving their violent comeuppance at the hands of said killer. The scares were mostly rooted in shock cuts and the films' plots were coat hangers with which to hang a series of grotesquely gory killings upon.