Film Reviews

Trump Assassination Risk, Real or Reel?

Posted in Film Reviews, The Global Scene Through Berkeleyan Eyes on November 30th, 2015 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Nov. 29, 2015


Howard Beale, left.

I don’t know what to do about…the economy and the Russians and the crime in the street.

All I know is that first, you’ve got to get mad.

You’ve gotta say, “I’m a human being, goddammit! My life has value!”
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Berkeley Sunset Boulevard Sequel

Posted in Film Reviews, The Berkeley Scene on January 16th, 2015 by admin – Be the first to comment

Prelude to a sequel

Berkeley Sunset Boulevard Sequel

by Steed Dropout
Jan. 16, 2015


[Editor’s note: in keeping with a Berkeley Reporter tradition, we are celebrating Berkeley’s latest PFA Wilder film festival with our sequel to Wilder-Brackett’s Sunset Boulevard.]



Joe Gillis is not dead. It’s not that he survived swimming in Norma’s pool while full of lead from her gun; In the sequel, he gets off Sunset before she can plug him–“back to that copydesk in Dayton.”

He tells Betty to write him at the Dayton Noodle, or whatever, and hitchhikes out of Hollywood, just in time. “This place can kill your soul,” he mutters. He describes his Hollywood career to the truck driver, who drives Gillis as far as Denver.
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High in the Air With the Ghost of Roger Ebert–“Gravity”

Posted in Film Reviews on October 8th, 2013 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Oct. 7, 2013
Berkeley, Ca


If you really want the story and credits and all—Google it.

It was Kubrick’s 2001, Billy Wilder’s “Spirit of St. Louis,” (about Lindberg’s crossing the Atlantic), a little “Speed” (runaway bus) and an angel film, like “Heaven Knows Mr. Jordan.”

Roger Ebert, the most generous of film critics would score this a 3 and Siskel would have thumbs downed it.

Vincent Canby would have treated it as a before Oscars action yarn and praised it with faint dams.

Mick LaSalle jumped out of his seat.

Pauline Kael would have teed off on this Ace Hardware epic.

When Clooney sips vodka as a ghost and gives a canned speech, I can hear Kael’s bones tinkle.

Bullock emerging from water, recalls Jaws.
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A Pill “Bigger Than Life”

Posted in Film Reviews, The Berkeley Scene on September 25th, 2013 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Sept. 22, 2013
Berkeley, Ca


“Bigger Than Life,” ’56, Dir. by Nicholas Ray was as shocking as any of his films and an unheeded warning about prescription drugs.

Two hours ago, I just popped three of the same pills which caused school-teacher James Mason’s life to “spin out of control” in Ray’s cautionary tale.

Coming back from Sunday church service, he roars, “God was wrong” and is not stricken dead.

I’m waiting for my life to go blooey so I can tell you about it.

I also popped some antibiotics for the same reason as the cortisone—a potentially dangerous ear-infection.

my doctor said I would be “horny” whatever that is, and warned me to avoid using the drug at bedtime because my heart will race.
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Hitchcock Stuns Pacific Film Archive With Silence

Posted in Film Reviews, The Berkeley Scene on August 20th, 2013 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Aug 20, 2013

Berkeley, Ca


Opening night of a Hitchcock nine-silent films series brought laughter and amazement to U.C. Berkeley’s PFA, Friday.

Never mind that the laughter was inappropriate — in response to the facial contortions and eye-popping of British silent film idol Ivor Novello.

The amazement was appropriate enough. Tinting and formerly unassembled film elements from nine film archives produced a startling version of the 1926, “The Lodger.”

Hitchcock’s first British hit — drawing on German film expressionism — played like fifties technicolor, if you allow for 1920’s stage-conventions — which evoked laughter.

Challenged to tell a story in faces, one silent-era director urged his actors to “move your face.” Ivor Novello (hamming it up) reflected that approach admirably, topping even Bella Lugosi.

The great Ivor Novello as the Lodger at PFA
Poison: You know you're at PFA when….. Photo by Ted Friedman.

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Argo, Still Fresh Tomato

Posted in Film Reviews, The Global Scene Through Berkeleyan Eyes on October 25th, 2012 by admin – Be the first to comment

By Steed Dropout
Oct. 24, 2012

Berkeley, Ca


“Argo Fuck Yourself is a running joke from the movie, Argo which continues to fill theaters weeks after its national release last month.

Argo Fuck Yourself is WW2 military usage, like Kilroy Was Here, or In-like-Flynn (Errol, WW2 era actor, a successful womanizer.)

Photo by Ted Friedman.

Argo “only dropped 15% to $16.6 million, last weekend, making it the best hold for a non-holiday live action film on record,” according to the Bible of Showbiz — Variety
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Sunset Blvd. Meets Telegraph Meets People’s Park – the Movie

Posted in Film Reviews, People's Park, Telegraph Avenue on July 29th, 2012 by admin – Be the first to comment

(from stories in Berkeley Daily Planet, and Berkeley Reporter)

by Steed Dropout and Joe Gillis
July 28, 2012
Berkeley, Ca


Open on overview of Berkeley’s People’s Park.

Over the scene we now hear sirens. Now camera moves to street sign: TELEGRAPH AVE. Dark, and more dark, but we can see through.

Reporter’s voice: Yes, this is famous Telegraph Avenue scene of bloody riots in the sixties…near the grizzly murder last week of a beloved People’s Park dog — Dude. Park regulars with nowhere else to go because they’re homeless are calling “their” dog’s death — Murder.

Voice Over: This is People’s Park. It’s 1 a.m. That’s me down there, the good-looking but so dead dog with all the screaming people going nuts over me. People’s Park was to have been my dream — like your swimming pools and backyard barbecues.

Joe Gillis, pictured here in Norma Desmond's pool, 1952, near Sunset Boulevard.
Gillis is dead.

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Ripe Tomatoes: Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather Turns Forty

Posted in Film Reviews on July 14th, 2012 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
July 12, 2012


Berkeley, Ca

Godfather quietly turned forty a few months ago, but except for a joint re-release by Paramount at fifty-five nation-wide Cinemark theaters, the birthday lacked hype. Godfather at forty was as big-screen near Berkeley as Walnut Creek, or San Jose.

The film was first restored in 1997 using state-of-the-art technology, then “transferred last year to files making it available to be seen on Cinemark XD screens.”

“The year it was released The Godfather won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Marlon Brando) and Best Adapted Screenplay. Since its release the film has made nearly $250 million at the global box office and is considered by most to be one of the greatest films of all time,” according to Cinemark flack.

Saddest scene since death of Bambi, Disney, '42. Sonny buys the farm, leaving behind a four picture deal.

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PFA Revives “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”

Posted in Film Reviews on May 1st, 2012 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
April 30, 2012


Fresh from New York’s Film Forum, which recently revived 1953’s “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”, Pacific Film Archive has procured a film-can of celebrity cans, if you know what I mean about Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell, the two hootest broads from the 40s-50s Hollywood dream factory. (on DVD)

Wanting to compare my reception to a ’53 film that had bored me, at 14, I vowed to see duo sultresses do their Betty and Veronica act as I had seen them sixty years ago.

After seeing the film anew Tuesday night from the eyes of a film bluff who has been a film history student for two decades, I could not fully recall my 14 year-old’s reaction.

So after the film, I interviewed a 13 year-old who was in attendance with his mothers. The kid, as I will call him, was years ahead of me. My 14 years old was closer to the kid’s eight-year-old brother who played with his cell-phone during the film, and called the film way boring.

I would have eagerly played with a ’53 cell phone during my 1953 viewing.

But the 13 year-old at PFA saw Monroe as funny, and sexy, and greatly enjoyed the film. We all agreed that Jane Russell, who died at 89 last year was manly-big. She married a famous football player, and is seen flirting with athletes in this Howard Hawk’s film.

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