10 Classic German Expressionist Films

NOSFERATU - German Expressionist classic

Open Culture has selected 10 iconic films to watch for free, from Nosferatu to the prophetic classic Metropolis.

German Expressionism ended in 1933 when the Nazis came to power. They weren’t interested in asking uncomfortable questions and viewed such dark tales of cinematic angst as unpatriotic. Instead, they preferred bright, cheerful tales of Aryan youths climbing mountains. By that time, the movement’s most talented directors — Fritz Lang and F.W. Murnau — had fled to America. And it was in America where German Expressionism found its biggest impact. Its stark lighting, grotesque shadows and bleak worldview would go on on to profoundly influence film noir in the late 1940s after another horrific, disillusioning war.

10 Classic German Expressionist Films: From Nosferatu to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari via Open Culture

The Eccentric Life Of Ed Wood

The Eccentric Life Of Ed Wood

Reviled modern-day directors haven’t got anything on Ed Wood. The American filmmaker made a slew of horrendous low-budget movies in the realms of sci-fi, horror, and crime. During the 60s and 70s, he started making more pornographic films with his signature camp style.

His most famous pieces include Glen or Glenda, Bride of the Monster, Plan 9 from Outer Space, and Night of the Ghouls. But perhaps his work wasn’t that bad under their original gaze as he remained obscure until his death in 1978. Then, two years later, Wood was awarded a Golden Turkey Award for Worst Director of All Time in 1980 and his work was given another look.

Besides his filmmaking, Ed Wood was also known for his cross-dressing. It’s said his mother wanted a daughter and would dress Wood up in girl’s clothes, inspiring him to carry it on into adult life. He said he loved the feeling of angora on his skin.

In the video below, his life and work are examined through modern eyes to see whether Ed Wood was that bad or simply misunderstood.

Stream it below.

Possibly The First Ever Cat Video From 1894?

Professor Welton’s Boxing Cats (1894)

The video, filmed by none other than Thomas Edison, shows two cats “boxing.” But don’t worry, no actual punches took place, just gentle swipes in boxing gloves for about 30 seconds. Amongst his plethora of inventions, he was also a filmmaker. This cat video is probably the least strange and least harmful of his collection.

Of all the things I can imagine cats doing in a video, boxing isn’t one of them. But Thomas Edison had other ideas (even if some of them were stolen *ahem*).

*whispers* I still prefer Nikola Tesla.

40,000 Movie Posters Under The Sea with Posteritati

Anatomy of a Murder 1959 Poster

The store/gallery is based in New York where you can purchase everything from a 1960s Swiss Scene Card of Casablanca for $150 to a 1933 Argentinian King Kong poster for $75,000.

Batman Returns poster
Batman Returns poster

As well as posters, Posteritati also sell books. The ones that caught my eye were Art of the Modern Movie Poster (2008) and The Independent Movie Poster Book (2005). If I was a rich man, I’d buy so many posters (and maybe a Fiddler on the Roof poster.)

Find more on the Posteritati website.

(via Kottke.org)

FilmGrab: an archive of movie stills and potential memes

FilmGrab

What is FilmGrab?

FilmGrab started out as a personal archive for its creator, Donnacha, and soon turned into a treasure trove filled with nearly 80,000 images from over 1000 movies. The images are free to use for personal use (and we love a site with free to use images) and one of those uses could be for memes, for example. With so many films to choose from and a wide range of genres, there’s bound to be something “memeifiable” in there.

Of course, these kinds of sites cost money to maintain and Donnacha has created a Patreon if you wanted to pledge to the cause. We strongly recommend you do.

No matter what you use FilmGrab for – providing it’s not for commercial purposes – you should appreciate the time and care taken by both Donnacha and the filmmakers themselves in creating cultural showpieces.

FilmGrab | Twitter | Facebook

The National Film Archive of Japan uploads 60 animated films from 1917–1941

The Bear Brothers

The National Film Archive of Japan (NFAJ) has kindly uploaded 60 films from 1917 to 1941, each one primitive as the other. But when you think these creations were the foundations of masterpieces like Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion, you’ll appreciate them even more.

This shows Japanese animations are more than just anime so I’d highly recommend you watch some of them and get more accustomed to Japanese cinema.

Check the National Film Center’s website for a full list of movies.

The Hateful Eight's Homage To The Thing

Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight was packed full of references.

But the main focal point of his homage was John Carpenter’s The Thing (besides saying the N-word as many times as possible). I usually refrain from watching horror films because they scare me but The Thing is my favourite. I think it’s the cabin fever suspense a la Alien. The special effects are incredible even though they scare the crap out of me but that confirms their quality.

Below is a shot-by-shot comparison of the two films and the resemblance between them is uncanny. As homages/muses go, The Thing is a superb choice.

Get Out: Black Solidarity and Knowing the Code

Get Out is probably one of the most unique and intriguing horror films I’ve seen since It Follows. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past month or two, Get Out is a huge box-office success and a critically acclaimed horror/thriller/comedy mash-up from the mind of Jordan Peele. A lot has been written about how Get Out derives its horror from racial overtones. This is certainly true and as a young black man myself, what resonated with me most was how Chris attempted to initially combat the awkwardness of the situation – particularly through his language.

The film

In Get Out, Chris Washington, an African-American, accompanies his white girlfriend Rose to meet her parents in a predominately white community but he soon discovers something sinister is afoot. Most black people in predominately white countries are aware of the concept of microaggressions. Get Out successfully highlights how those day-to-day microaggressions contribute to fetishizing an individual by reducing them to stereotypical components. Instead of greeting Chris normally, white characters in the film adopt forced African-American slang and proclaim their love of Obama. To them, Chris isn’t ‘Chris the Individual’, instead, he’s reduced to ‘Chris The Black Guy’ – a thoroughly isolating experience.

Chris’ attempts to remedy this isolation strongly resonated with me. Whilst staying with Rose’s parents, Chris only encounters three other black people. His first solution to avoiding that segregation is to appeal to them for solidarity. But there’s something ‘off’ about the black servants who serve Rose’s family, and similarly something unsettling about the only other black man who Chris meets at the parents’ party. When he tries to engage with them on their assumed level, i.e. through African-American idioms, slang and gestures (the fist bump for example), they don’t reciprocate.

On my initial viewing of Get Out, it got me thinking about the ‘black guy nod’. Personally, I don’t even know when I learned or when I started doing the ‘black guy nod’, otherwise called just ‘the nod’ or the ‘Negro nod’. This refers to a knowing look and small nod of the head shared between black people whenever they see each other in an area without many other black people.

Last year, when walking down the streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, I did it when I noticed a black guy walking past me and he kindly returned the gesture. We didn’t even say anything to each other, we just nodded knowingly, kept it moving and I never saw him again. I don’t know his name, where he was from, but it just seemed like something I ought to do.

A scene from Get Out

It’s not the only tool for establishing solidarity; code-switching is an effective tool for connecting with someone from the same culture. Code-switching refers to when a speaker alternates between two or more languages or dialects. It’s often context and audience dependent. For minorities, this can be especially important. Referencing shared cultural experiences can be a form of emotional survival. And considering that survival is at the core of Get Out, it’s probably the best exploration of code-switching I’ve seen on cinema. (Dave Chappelle has a hilarious stand-up routine where he mentions Black people looking out for each other in dangerous situations.)

We codes

Some academics propose that this type of intra-communal code-switching can be divided into “we” and “they” codes. “We codes” are geared towards the home, family and immediate community, while “they codes” are associated with wider public discourse. A “we code” might consist of something as overt as a shared language or regional dialect that people of a shared heritage might use versus the standardised language they use when corresponding in formal settings. “We codes” establish solidarity for people who might be marginalised and minorities in a specific context.

A good example of Chris attempting a “we code”, is when he tries to establish a rapport with Walter, a black groundskeeper who serves Rose’s family. It’s a short scene; whilst Walter is outside doing manual labour, Chris says to Walter, “they working you good out here, huh?” in a friendly manner. Potentially, this is Chris’ attempt to highlight a distinction between the wealthy whites who own the property and the African-American outsiders, namely Chris, Georgina and Walter. Walter responds by reaffirming his link with Rose’s family, leaving the audience to feel that Chris is alone and Walter is not an ally.

It’s an awkward moment when Chris tries to segue into a “we code” with fellow African-Americans in the town, only for it not to be reciprocated. For Chris and the audience, this confirms that there’s something ominous brewing in the community with regards to the way it views black people. This shifts the tone of the film from merely being a clumsy navigation of meeting the girlfriend’s parents (a la Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner) to a disturbing and unsafe atmosphere. There’s no one there who can relate to Chris, which poses a threat to him as the true horror of the story unfolds.

Conclusion

There are many things we can take away from Get Out. There are so many thematic points to unpick which makes me look forward to re-watching it. The importance of reciprocating code-switching is demonstrated by the fact that the only person looking out for Chris, is the person who is most relatable to him culturally and linguistically. It’s a film with a lot of substance, but my favourite aspect of the film is its encouragement for ethnic minorities, particularly African-Americans, to look out for each other.

Get Out was released in UK Cinemas on the 17th March 2017.

The Addams Family Promo That Became Michael Jackson's Ghosts

MICHAEL JACKSON - IS IT SCARY 1993 EDIT ( Addams Family Values Short Film ) Rare fottage inedit

The original project was a 12-15 minute short promoting the new Addams Family Values movie but due to Michael’s molestation allegations, the project was shelved. This didn’t stop his motivation towards and the short became “Michael Jackson’s Ghosts” three years later.

Very little changed from the 1993 version compared to the final 1996 version apart from the role of Mayor. Ken Jenkins, better known as Dr Bob Kelso in US comedy Scrubs, played the Mayor in 1993. In Ghosts, Michael played both the Mayor and the Maestro. Yup, that’s Michael dressed as an overweight white man with a chip on his shoulder. Spot the irony if you will.

Read an extract about the making of Ghosts from the book, Making Michael.

The Machete Order - An Alternative Way To Star Wars

Well, think again as an alternative order has been proposed called “The Machete Order”. Absolutely No Machete Juggling writer Rod Hilton came up with the idea that suggests you watch the Star Wars films in the following order:

You’ll notice Episode I: The Phantom Menace has been omitted. The primary reason for this isn’t because it sucks (although that certainly helps making the decision to ignore it much easier), but you’ll need to read the full Machete Order blog post as to why it didn’t make the cut.

Read the whole thing at Absolutely No Machete Juggling.

Everything Wrong With Batman & Robin In 17 Minutes

Everything Wrong With Batman & Robin In An Awful Lot Of Minutes

In case you weren’t aware of the horror that is Batman & Robin, CinemaSins has it covered with a 20-minute video detailing all the mistakes and continuity errors. I’ll admit to enjoying this film when I was seven, not least for the inclusions of Alicia Silverstone and Uma Thurman. I know better now.

Acting in the pre-Nolan Batman movies was never stellar. It pretty much peaked at the start with Michael Keaton’s brilliant performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Jack Nicholson as The Joker, and Kim Basinger as Vicky Vale.

Ah well, at least Batman Returns is intact. Oh wait, maybe not.