Wednesday, February 26, 2014

new links and content: Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: the links (Bhob Stewart memorial edition)

Two Weeks in Another Town
Below, the links to reviews and citations, to what seems to me an unusually rich haul of a/v items this week (relatively few of the reviews below are warnings, at least not in entirety)...along with Find a Witness delivered today by Evan Lewis, a few more have been added as I found or became aware of them (please let me know in comments when I've missed yours or someone else's)...as always, thanks to all our contributors and to you readers...and I've added a quick review of Herblock: The Black and the White below...

Robert "Bhob" Stewart, 1937-2014  (his blog)

Bill Crider: Higher Ground (1988 telefilm/pilot episode)  [trailer]

Brian Arnold: Continental Divide

BV Lawson: Media Murder

Comedy Film Nerds: Oscar Preview with Doug Benson

Dan Stumpf: Rangers of Fortune

Dave Zeltserman: Touch of Evil

David Vineyard: adaptations of The Three Hostages by John Buchan

Ed Lynskey: Guilty Bystander

Elizabeth Foxwell: Stolen

Evan Lewis: Find the Witness

George Kelley: Flash Gordon (2007 television series) 

Greg Proops Film Club

How Did This Get Made?: Winter's Tale

Iba Dawson: the Lincoln Motion Picture Company; Samuel Goldwyn

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: The Jim Backus Show: Hot Off the Wire (1960 syndicated tv sitcom)
The Far Country

Jack Seabrook: Alfred Hitchcock Presents: "A Woman's Help"

Jackie Kashian: Eric Lampaert on evolution and other matters

Jacqueline T. Lynch: Murder She Wrote: "Reflections of the Mind"

Jake Hinkson: Norman Foster

James Reasoner: The Far Country


Jerry House: Twelfth Night (1910 film)

Police Python 357
John Charles: the serials Secret Agent X-9

Juri Nummelin: Valhalla Rising; The Reflecting Skin

Kate Laity: "Äppelkriget" (aka "The Apple War"); George Harrison as Pirate Bob (Rutland Weekend Television)

Kliph Nesteroff: Jack Benny's Bag (1968 NBC comedy special); Tars and SparsLate Night with David Letterman: "Harold Ramis"

Veronica Cartwright
Laura: The Wind Rises; The Slipper and the Rose

Lucy Brown: The Bishop's Wife (1947 film)

Martin Edwards: Se7en

Marty McKee: Griff repackage: Death Follows a Psycho

Michael Shonk: television series one can see on YouTube...and not on "legit" dvd, so far...(this time, for sure)

Mystery Dave: A Man Called Adam

Patti Abbott: Topper (1937 film...and, incidentally, the 1950s tv series)

Dorothy M. Johnson...
Prashant Trikannad: 5 Rediscovered Movies

Rick: The Midnight Special (television series); Veronica Cartwright

Rod Lott: The Company of Wolves; Drive-In Madness!; House of Whipcord

Ron Scheer: The Hanging Tree; Gravel in Her Gut and Spit in Her Eye: The Life of Dorothy M. Johnson 
Your Show of Shows

Sergio Angelini: Police Python 357 (aka The Case Against Ferro) (based on The Big Clock)

Stacia Jones: Night of the Comet; Two Weeks in Another Town

Stephen Bowie: long takes in dramatic television

Yvette Banek: Your Show of Shows

Todd Mason:
Herbert Block, or Herblock
Herblock: The Black and the White is, to say the least, an interesting example of filmmakers, one hesitates to actually call them documentarians or the film a documentary, getting in their own way and doing perhaps half their self-set task very well indeed, punting the other half. Herbert Block was probably the most influential and certainly the most lauded of US political cartoonists during his lifetime (1909-2001)...so how to get that across? Let's first synthesize a narrative for actor Alan Mandell to monologize, in character as Block with no indication that we are not witnessing some remarkably well-shot footage of Block himself,  and then let's invite the commentary of a range of Block's colleagues on The Washington Post (pretty good idea, since Block apparently
Alan Mandell as Block
all but lived in his office there during the workweek, and enjoyed interacting with the other staffers there as peers, many of whom were starstruck at first and remain grateful that he enjoyed engaging with them thus)...and then get some input from cartoonists (three that I recall...Paul Conrad [I believe it was] is on and off in a flash, Jules Feiffer, who is a proper historian of cartooning as well as a peer of similar influence, and Robert Mankoff, most famous in these years as cartoon editor at The New Yorker) and then bring in such lightweights as Ted Koppel and Tom Brokaw to provide typically blow-dried economia, insisting (among other non-insights) that somehow Block Could See the Future of a Republican Party overrun by its right wing, as if this hadn't been the continuous history of the GOP over the past century, the latter decades of which these ninnies had supposedly spent careers covering as responsible journalists; consistent tool Brit Hume (imagine an ever-callow, dull-witted version of William F. Buckley, Jr. if you don't recognize the name from his career at ABC News and now the Fox News Channel) sullenly recalls how Block, a Republican who looked upon the actions of the FDR Administration as a better response to the needs of the nation than the inaction of the Hoover Admin, supposedly was always so much kinder to Democrats; as this has just come after and in the midst of a series of caricatures of the duplicity of LBJ, the incompetence of Carter, and Clinton's inability to keep himself in check, this typical self-pitying whine is rather deftly skewered in context, a deftness
Caption usually invisible as shown in film.
writer/director Michael Stevens (scripting with writer Sara Lukinson) fails to demonstrate in most of the rest of the film, even down to failing to correctly frame many of the Block cartoons put on display for the likes of Lewis Black and Carl Bernstein to react to, in their cases usually sapiently...too frequently, and for no obvious reason, the frame cuts off the cartoons' captions, for example.  Much is made of Block's independence at the Post, where he lands after World War II military service, without noting till nearly the very end of the film how much stock Block controlled in the Post's parent corporation. And the re-enactments of Block's childhood are not only out of place in a documentary but so saccharine as to put the casual viewer off, much less the remotely skeptical.  All told, it's good to hear from some of these folks, and good to have further evidence of how blinkered and pompous supposedly wiser heads in the News Industry remain, and a real pity the job wasn't done better.  Herblock's books remain (if as out of print as his daily panels), as does the testimony of other peers (such as Walt Kelly) to the quality of his work...they may become obscure, but I suspect this film will become more obscure much more quickly.

6 comments:

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Some great stuff here Tpdd - thanks for corralling!

Todd Mason said...

Thanks, Sergio...yours not least! (I consider myself tipped.)

Juri Nummelin said...

Just posted my actual Overlooked Film post.

Todd Mason said...

Thanks, Juri...that's a film I've been meaning to see for a while.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Thanks for the Block review - a less well-known figure on this side of the pond of course so no idea if we'll get a look-see. Mind you, sounds annoying to a fairly profound degree ...

Todd Mason said...

It's not the worst documentary attempt I've ever seen...Oliver Stone might be current champeen in that regard...but it surely is irksome in more ways than it needs to be.