Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cult Film Wallpapers Link


I have decided to phase out my Photobucket account so I have opened up a side blog that I am going to use exclusively to host the screenshot wallpapers I make here and at my other blogs. I enjoy making them and want them to be easily accessible for readers who are interested. Nothing will change here...each week a new wallpaper thumbnail will continue to appear to the right, only when you will clink on it you will no longer be taken to Photobucket but instead to this spot, which I have called Cult Film Wallpapers. I am currently putting all my old ones on there and should have it completed and ready for just new creations by the end of the weekend. By the way, this week's shot I captured of Catherine Jourdine in Alain-Robbe Grillet's Eden and After is perhaps my favorite one I have done, and I hope it proves a fitting kick-off to the special month I have planned for February.

Two Appreciated Awards

I wanted to thank Kate at the great Love Train for the Tenebrous Empire for awarding my Jean Rollin side project, Fascination, it's first blogging award. The Dardos has been making the rounds lately and I was thrilled to have one of my blogs recognized.
I also wanted to thank author Tara Hanks for awarding Moon in the Gutter with the Butterfly blogging award, which from what I gather is typically given to more Literature oriented blogs. Tara, a writer who shares my love for Marilyn Monroe among other things, runs a great website along with her blog and I invite everyone to check it out for information on her work. Thanks again to both Kate and Tara for honoring my work here and at Fascination.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Operation Screenshot (Films of the 2000s): Martin Scorsese's The Departed (2006)

While I suspect that this might be one of the more unpopular choices of this series so far, I am actually extremely happy to include it. After being incredibly disappointed by Scorsese's films since Bringing Out The Dead, I had particularly looked forward to The Departed. However with my first viewing I only found it to be a partial return to form. Revisiting the film though has been a great treat and I now think it's his finest work since Casino and possibly The Age of Innocence. Complaints that Scorsese is revisiting themes he has explored time and time again don't ring true to me as I expect my favorite filmmakers to return to many of the same thematic and personal obsessions throughout their career. The Departed is a thrilling and hugely entertaining film, and and Martin Scorsese is one of the few American filmmakers who would place a film in my best of lists of the seventies, eighties, nineties and now this decade. God bless him...



















Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Coming in February


I’m going to mix things up here a little bit at Moon in the Gutter in February and I hope the month long change proves enjoyable. With just a few exceptions, my favorite posts here since beginning this venture a couple of years back have been the ones focusing on films that have slipped through the cracks for one reason or the other. So throughout the month of February I will be having a Missing in Action on Region 1 DVD blowout. Be on the lookout for posts on a variety of films ranging from art-house classics, rare exploitation films to mainstream American works that for whatever reason have all still failed to secure an American DVD release. Many of the films I will be covering have also failed to secure any sort DVD release so hopefully my worldwide readers will stay interested as well. I will try and stay away from films (like The Magnificent Ambersons) that have been high on most film fans want lists and will instead focus on more forgotten or obscure works, but I will be posting on a few sorely missing titles (like Ken Russell’s The Devils) whose absences have already been greatly lamented.

Also I would like to extend an invite to all of my blogging buddies reading to salute their own favorite missing in action title (or titles) sometime in February as well. Send me the link to your post if you choose to do one and I will create a special side panel here throughout the month to link back to it. Give Moon in the Gutter a shout out as well if you choose to join in.

I hope the month proves enjoyable and I am looking forward to getting it going next week as the new month begins.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Over at Fascination: The Jean Rollin Experience



Today I will be concluding my look at The Demoniacs over at Fascination: The Jean Rollin Experience and I will begin my look at Lips of Blood over there later this week. I have also started a poll based on his key works of the seventies that I invite everyone interested to participate in, and will be offering up a look at the Michel Gentil signed Tout le monde il en a deux as well in the next few days. Thanks to the Moon in the Gutter readers who have been checking in on Fascination as it's been a blast putting it together.
Followers of my other ongoing side project Nostalgia Kinky have probably noticed that it has been inactive for the last month or so but it will be kick starting again as well closer to February.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Out 1 Celebrates All Things David Lynch


My blogging buddies (I get such a kick out of that phrase) over at Out 1 are having a David Lynch blog-a-thon that everyone should check out. Several articles in with hopefully more to come, and with a Lynch poll to top it off. Head over and give them a read, and for God's sake will someone join me in voting for Lost Highway as their favorite Lynch film!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Operation Screenshot (Films of the 2000s): Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream (2000)



















Some Quick Thoughts on The Oscar Nominations


While it was almost a sure thing, I am freaking thrilled that Mickey Rourke finally has an Oscar nomination for Best Actor on his resume. Otherwise, the main thing that stood out for me about the nominations was that there were very few real surprises. I have managed to see most of the major films nominated this year, and I am planning on knocking off at least a couple more (Milk and Frost/Nixon) this weekend. Of the best picture nominated films I have seen, I didn't think any of them were as good as The Wrestler, Vicki Cristina Barcelona, Gran Torino, The Dark Knight or Rachel Getting Married but those were all long shots at best.
Mickey is up against a tough group in his category (how awesome that Richard Jenkins finally got a nod as well) and I think the Best Actor race will be the most interesting of the evening. I suspect my hopes that Anne Hathaway will win Best Actress have been dashed by the fact that Kate Winslet was not nominated for supporting actress, but it will be hard to complain if Winslet wins as she has been due for awhile. Once again, I question Streep being nominated but I need to get over it as it seems to be a foregone bloody conclusion each year. The supporting categories are just awesome though and I am especially glad to see Tomei and Downey acknowledged for their work.
I was struck that this is one of those odd years where the directors and Best Film categories are matched up perfectly, although I have a feeling that the awards might be split with Van Sant snagging best director and Slumdog Millionaire getting the picture nod.
Finally, where is Bruce Springsteen on the list of nominated songs?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Tribute in Stills to Stacey Tendeter





Tim Lucas over at Video Watchblog has uncovered the sad news that Stacey Tendeter, the haunting red-headed British actress who played Muriel in Francois Truffaut’s masterful Two English Girls passed away in October of 2008.
Despite giving a mesmerizing and touching performance in Truffaut’s most undervalued masterpiece, the career of Stacey Tendeter was mostly relegated to the small screen throughout the seventies and eighties, although things could have gone very differently for her as the two stories below demonstrate.



Before spotting the young and fierce Isabelle Adjani on French television in the mid seventies, Truffaut had originally thought of reuniting with Tendeter for The Story of Adele H. in 1975. According to Truffaut by Antoine de Baecque and Serge Toubiana screen-tests were made and Tendeter fit the part, but Truffaut couldn’t get Adjani out of his head and the rest is history. Adjani would become one of the biggest stars and most respected actresses in French history and Tendeter would slip into oblivion.
Even though she didn’t get to play the role of Victor Hugo’s tragic daughter in one of Truffaut’s most popular productions several of Two English Girls most searing moments seem like a dry run for Adele H., specifically a fevered dream sequence featuring Tendeter at her her most fragile, vulnerable and heartbreaking.



Truffaut didn’t forget Stacey Tendeter and in a letter to Anette Insdorf (found in the remarkable Francoise Truffaut Correspondence 1945-1984) in 1977 he makes mention that he would be acting opposite her in his eerie and resonate The Green Room. However it was not to be once again and Nathalie Baye ended up with the role.
I have many books on Truffaut, and his films, but very few make mention of Stacey Tendeter so behind the scenes information on her most famous role remain sketchy. Truffaut himself had this to say though in talking about her (and co-star Kika Markham) in a 1972 interview with Pascal Thomas:

“(Muriel) is played with all the verve of her deep and throaty voice by the young Stacey Tendeter. The two English actresses had done a little theater, some radio and television, but had never acted in films and above all had never acted in anything French. I guided them scene by scene, giving them instructions inspired by my reading of all the available biographies of the admirable Bronte sisters, also passionate, puritanical Englishwomen.”

I have been known to call Two English Girls my favorite film from my favorite director so the news that one of its stars has passed on at such a young age is extremely saddening. Consider these stills of Stacey Tendeter from Two English Girls my small tribute.











Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Rachel Getting Married

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Rachel Getting Married returns Jonathan Demme to the spot where he has belonged for a very long time, namely among the most vital and greatest of all American filmmakers. This searing and heartfelt film, his first non-documentary work in nearly five years, is his best since his triumphant Silence of the Lambs way back in 1991, and one of the greatest of all of his works. Mixing bittersweet comedy with heavy unsettling drama and a sharp directorial hand, Rachel Getting Married is vintage Jonathan Demme and its among the most alive and successful productions of 2008.

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It’s no coincidence that my favorite films of 2008 (Rachel Getting Married, The Wrestler, Vicki Christina Barcelona and even Rambo) all have one thing in common, namely that they are all essentially character studies of very flawed, complicated and profoundly human individuals. None more so than Kym, the tragic lead of Rachel Getting Married played beautifully by Anne Hathaway who immediately joins the great Jonathan Demme heroines (Griffith in Something Wild, Pfeiffer in Married to the Mob and Foster in Silence of the Lambs) in a role that is simultaneously heartbreaking, frustrating and gut-wrenching.

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Kym has always been the screw up of her family. Drunk or stoned since her early teens and damaged by her older sister’s accomplishments even earlier, she has just been released from a nine month stint in rehab when Rachel Getting Married opens up, just in time for her sister’s marriage to a charismatic and intelligent young man named Sydney.
Scripted by first time screen-writer, actress Jenny Lumet, Rachel Getting Married is one of the most authentic feeling productions of the year. Lumet’s look at an upper class family of artists and success stories, and the fragile little girl seemingly always one step behind has the kind of honest and knowing feel that is missing from the similar modern works by the likes of Noah Baumbach. It’s a refreshingly down to earth and unforced work that is handled beautifully in Demme’s hands, who directs with the kind of wild energy that has been missing in his films since the ferociously funny Married to the Mob twenty years ago.

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Shot on location in Connecticut with a huge ensemble cast, including Demme’s mentor Roger Corman and several musicians he has worked with in the past, Rachel Getting Married is the sort of American film that populated cinemas in the seventies but is rarely seen anymore. While we still have many character based pieces, it is the characters driving Rachel Getting Married that makes it seem so out of step with its time. The characters, ranging from abrasive to irritating but never less than realistic, Demme and Lumet bravely populate their film with are so incredibly vivid and kudos should be given to the entire cast for their work. Also, Demme’s brave directorial decision to deliberately draw the film out with a seemingly unending series of musical interludes at its climax perfectly matches the feeling I’m sure all of us can share of a wedding that has gone on far too long. A particular shot towards the end of the film of a hung-over bridesmaid stumbling to the bathroom in her underwear is one of the most perfectly realized and brilliant moments in Demme’s illustrious career, and Rachel Getting Married is filled with those kind of bristling and funny asides that the award winning director has always excelled at.
Shot beautifully by Leaving Las Vegas (and frequent Demme collaborator) Declan Quinn in a hand held style reminiscent of John Cassavetes color productions of the seventies, Rachel Getting Married is a cause for celebration for those of us who have wanted Jonathan Demme to deliver the kind of film he used to do every few years with seemingly ease. It’s a beautifully gut-punching film that I preferred far and away to more acclaimed works of the year like Slumdog Millionaire, Doubt and even The Dark Knight.

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Of course none of it would work without Anne Hathaway. I can see why people might find her Kym to be an unforgivable an unsympathetic character but I had the opposite reaction. Perhaps due to the fact that I have struggled with some of the same issues in my own life, I found Hathaway’s work here to be among the most personally resonate and remarkable of the decade and frankly I will have a hard time with anyone else winning the Best Actress award this year.

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Like most of his greatest works (Silence of the Lambs excluded) Jonathan Demme will be ignored when the Oscar nominations are announced this week. His film will at least get a couple but it won’t be enough for a production much more subtle and daring than most of the film’s honored this year. It doesn’t matter though; I walked out of the theater feeling like I had witnessed the resurrection of one of my favorite American directors and that was award enough in my book.