MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

By Mike Wilmington

Wilmington on DVDs: Lebanon, Shock Corridor, Dances with Wolves, Sherlock Jr. and more


Lebanon (Four Stars)

Israel: Samuel Maoz, 2010 (Sony Picture Classics)

Lebanon. Spring, 1982. The war.We are inside an armored tank with four Israeli soldiers, in Beirut, in the throes of the Lebanon War. The battle is a raging hellfield punctuated with death, only barely comprehensible to the men or to us. Israelis battle Arabs battle Phalangists (Christian Arabs). The streets pop with gunfire. You can’t tell civilians from killers. The tank is hot and stinking and so small, the four can barely move around — tempers flaring, nerves frayed — as they roll though the streets, and peer through a periscope or gun sight seeking traps to avoid, enemies to kill.

This death-battered tank crew consist of a commander, Assi (Itay Taran), a driver, Yigal (Michael Moshonov), a gun-loader, Hertzel (Oshri Cohen) and a gunner, Shmuel (Yoav Donat). The gunner is young and scared, and when he gets his first targets in his sights, some gunmen in a car, he’s so struck by their humanity, their all-too-vulnerable flesh, that he can’t pull the trigger — and his hesitation gets some Israeli soldiers killed. To be a good soldier of a kind, he learns fast, you have to be a killer. Automatic. Don’t think. Don’t feel. Press the trigger.

Occasionally an officer named Jamil (Zohar Strauss) shows up and enters their crowded confines. He tells them everything is going okay, to hang in there, says they are headed for a rendezvous at a place called San Tropez — same name almost as the famed French resort. Jamil seems to be some kind of bull artist. They come to realize they can only trust their eyes, trust and live the moments — and their eyes only show them what’s happening though the rectangular viewer of the periscope, through the electronic gunsight on the tank. They see people outside, ravaged streets, gunfire, empty streets, the flurry and the wait. “Safe” within the tank, they keep rolling forward, stopping, waiting, firing, waiting, firing again.

Where is San Tropez? Who is Jamil? What’s going on outside? They are trapped in hell, in the sweltering “No Exit” belly of the tank. But they’re not dreaming; it’s no nightmare. It’s their reality (and ours) then and now. They have to stay clear. They have to play soldier. They have to push their fears way way down, down to the darkest pit of their guts and brains, and twist them up and lock them in and throw away the key. They have to do their job. Don’t think. Don’t feel. Press the trigger.

Shmuel was about 20 when he served in the Lebanese War. 27 years later, that scared young gunner’s real-life model had grown older and become an Israeli filmmaker named Samuel Maoz — the man who wrote and directed Lebanon and saw it win the Golden Lion (Grand Prize) of the Venice Film Festival. So what we are seeing here is mostly what moviemaker Samuel, or what the good soldier Shmuel, remembers of his experiences as a 20 year old gunner in a tank — frightened, inexperienced, screwing up, squabbling with his tank mates, trying to do the right thing, trying to stay alive, trying to figure out what in hell is going on all around them. Trying to keep himself primed so he won’t make another mistake.

As a gunner, he probably did. As a filmmaker he doesn’t.

Great war films, and Lebanon is certainly one of them, are often made by men who actually saw the fighting or participated in it — like the combat soldiers Sam Fuller, Oliver Stone or Maoz. There have been some extraordinary Israeli war films in recent decades, some from ex-participants like Eli Cohen (Ricochets) and Ari Folman (Waltzing with Bashir), and what’s remarkable about many of them is their objectivity, the determination of these filmmakers to stay clear-eyed and hew to the truth.

Few of those movies strike you as so relentlessly objective, so fiercely devoted to the naked fact, as Lebanon. Maoz goes outside the tank only three times, at the opening and closing. Almost everything we see is in those iron confines, though periscope or gun sight. Everything we see may well have happened and been told to Maoz, or, more likely, happened right before his eyes. If War is Hell, this is the window to it.

“Every truthful movie about war is anti-war.” So said WW2 “Big Red One” veteran turned Hollywood filmmaker Sammy Fuller. That’s true. So I don’t agree with some admirers of Lebanon, who insist it has no agenda and no political viewpoint. Telling the truth is an agenda. Getting the facts right is a political viewpoint. It’s just that these viewpoints and agendas are not tied irrevocably to any political cliché or ideological imperative. They’re reasoned, principled, not automatic.

Maoz’ agenda here is very clear: to put us inside that tank, to let us know what it felt like to be 20, to be scared, to be confused, to be riding though a world of terror and slaughter, to feel the embrace of chaos, to hear the crackle of gunfire, to see the bodies drop, to have a human being in your gun sights. Don’t think. Don’t feel… (In Hebrew, with English subtitles.)

Extras: Documentary.



Shock Corridor (Also Blu-ray) (Three and a Half Stars)U.S.; Samuel Fuller, 1963 (Criterion)

Sam Fuller’s classic black-and-white B-movie Shock Corridor — about an arrogant reporter, hunting Pulitzers, who gets himself falsely committed to an insane asylum, in order to solve a murder committed inside its walls — is a cheap little picture, made for peanuts, that packs wallop after wallop in one powerfully conceived and incandescently unhinged scene after another. Fuller fears neither God nor man in this show, and he especially doesn’t fear most movie critics, whose every canon of taste and judgment he tends to ignore or trample on, but who wound up largely on his side anyway.Set mostly in the asylum‘s endless corridor, an image out of a B-movie Salvador Dali painting , as well as the stark sleeping dormitories and spotless asylum kitchen, a nearly empty police station and one or two rooms of what’s supposed to be a big metropolitan daily, Shock Corridor makes its very cheapness an asset. The movie turns its low budget minimalism into something surreal and nightmarish, a world emptied of conventional signposts, solace and clutter, an arena in which the lunatics and doctors can act out their strange playlets.

The asylum corridor of the title stretches off into infinity (an effect done with mirrors and midgets), while lunatics loiter in the hall and have nutty conversations. Meanwhile, reporter Johnny Barrett (Peter Breck of The Big Valley), hunts up those three crazy witness to try to find the killer, while brutal guards patrol the halls and harass the inmates, occasionally giving them a whack upside — until finally, Fuller stages is the kind of wild “B” climax that can haunt your dreams.

SPOILER ALERTHe lets loose a cloudburst in the corridor, pouring torrents of water down on the set (which was wrecked, in what was obviously a one-scene-or-nothing deal), and sends his hero screaming into what may later prove real, total madness.


This reporter, to be sure, seems something of a head case himself right from the beginning: egotistical, argumentative, bellicose, he makes Jack Nicholson‘s rebellious Randle McMurphy of One Flew Over the Cuckoo‘s Nest seem relatively reasonable. Johnny‘s ruse seems crazy to begin with. First, he rehearses the symptoms of psychosis with a friendly psychiatrist, Dr. Fong (Philip Ahn), and then he enlists his stripper girlfriend Cathy (Constance Towers) to masquerade as his sister, for whom he feigns a supposedly incestuous obsession. (That would seem an easy lie to check and disprove, but, as usual with Fuller, we let it pass — especially after Cathy does a smoky dream-strip or two in Johnny’s head. The movie though, would probably have been stronger if there’d been a real sister, maybe in addition to Catchy.)

Once inside, played out with maximum impact against those severe white asylum backdrops, the script starts succumbing to B-movie obsessions and infatuations and noir shtick of its own. Johnny starts playing with fire — jaw-boning with the know-it-all Dr Menkin (Paul Dubov) and befriending the huge-of-girth, opera-prone Pagliacci, played by Larry Tucker of the then L. A. comedy team, and later scriptwriting duo, of Paul Mazursky and Larry Tucker. (Over the years, Mazursky kept asking Fuller, why he wasn’t cast in Shock Corridor too, only to be answered, Sam claimed, with an infuriating ”You were too skinny.”)

The safely crazy Johnny then tracks down and interrogates the three lunatic witnesses: Stuart (James Best), a Korean war veteran and turncoat who now thinks he‘s a Confederate Civil War General (Jeb Stuart, no less); Trent (Hari Rhodes), a James Meredith-style trail-blazing black student at a Southern white university, who now thinks he‘s a Grand Wizard in the Ku Klux Klan, and Boden (Gene Evans, the Sgt. Zack of Fuller‘s great Korean War movie The Steel Helmet), the world‘s most brilliant nuclear scientist, now with the brain of a six-year-old. “Who killed Sloane?” he asks each of them in turn, after weaseling or bullying his way into their confidence — and eventually he finds out.

But at the same time, as Johnny keeps edging nearer the truth of the murder mystery, he is also edging closer to madness, stumbling closer to the traps of real insanity that seemed to bedevil him from the start. Fuller uses his pulpy, uninhibited, politically explosive plot to suggest that not just the inmates, but the world that produced them, is a little crazy. Looking back at the ’60s, how can we argue?

If you try to compare Shock Corridor to a relatively realistic picture of mental institutions and psychiatry like Milos Forman‘s and Bo Goldman‘s film of Ken Kesey‘s One Flew over the Cuckoo‘s Nest, or even The Snake Pit, you’ll find it wanting. Fuller may be a hard-nosed reporter, an expert student and observer of the dirty underbellies of the societies he portrays in his movies. But he‘s also a symbolist and polemicist, who likes to editorialize, and use his stories to get at some overarching truths. The Cold War, racial prejudice and the arms race are as loony as the inmates. Journalism is a trust, not a goldmine; madness and sex are nothing to toy with.

The movie was cheap and the cast less than A-list (but still good). But the technical talent on Shock Corridor was ace-high. Eugene Lourie (of Renoir‘s Rules of the Game and The Southerner) did the sets. Stanley Cortez (The Magnificent Ambersons, The Night of the Hunter) was the cinematographer. They make the movie look great. It was a B-movie audience and critical hit back in 1963, despite the fact that the movie‘s money man, Samuel Firks, turned out to be a welsher and crook, stiffing Fuller on his profit share. But at least Firks gave him final cut and left the production alone, even when Fuller flooded the set.

The seeds of Shock Corridor were in a thriller script called “Straightjacket” that Fuller wrote for Fritz Lang in the ‘40s, with the same newsman-in-the-nuthouse premise and, Fuller said, a hard-hitting “expose” attitude toward inhuman conditions in mental institutions of the time. (Fuller researched them deeply.) I wish Lang had made that film. But in Shock Corridor, Sam, with far less dough and prestige behind him than a ‘40s Fritz Lang movie would have commanded, spreads his net wider. Not just psychiatry, but American society itself, is under the lens.

This is the kind of movie that auteurists of the ‘60s and ‘70s sought out on late night TV and in film societies and took perverse delight in praising to the skies. I know. I was one of them, needling the squares (some of whom later became semioticians), although my “Cahiers” Hollywood favorites were Welles, Ford, Hitchcock. the tough, terse Howard Hawks and the more human and tender Nicholas Ray. Fuller I had to grow into. I had a different conception of writing and acting (and still do).

But Shock Corridor, still plays like a hospital afire. Shot and cut by Fuller just as he wanted, made without interference (or profits) on the fringes of the industry, with nothing held back and probably nothing softened, it’s a movie that, like Johnny, may seem at first too brash and too loud and too unbraked and too damn-your-eyes, drown-the-set sure of itself. But it gets the story told.

Extras: Adam Simon’s 1996 documentary on Fuller, “The Typewriter, the Rifle and the Camera” (Three Stars); Video interview with Constance Towers; Trailer; Booklet with a Robert Polito essay; Daniel Clowes illustrations, and an excerpt on “Shock Corridor” from Fuller‘s autobiography “A Third Face: My Tale of Writing, Fighting, and Filmmaking.”



Dances with Wolves (Two Discs) (Four Stars)

U.S.: Kevin Costner, 1990 (MGM/Twentieth Century Fox)

Kevin Costner’s revisionist Western, the 1990 “best picture” Oscar-winner about the leaguered Sioux tribe, increasingly cut off from their land, roots and history, and the ex-Civil War hero who befriends and loves them — a scenically gorgeous, spectacular and very moving film, with an incredible buffalo hunt scene, and an emotional climax, written by Michael Blake from his novel, starring Costner, Mary McConnell and Graham Greene (the Native American actor, not the British novelist).

Of course, this film shouldn’t have beaten out Goodfellas for the Oscar. Of course, the Academy voters were playing idealist, and they turned down Martin Scorsese’s classic because it was too rough, dirty and foul-mouthed, rewarded Dances with Wolves for its scenic beauty and the way it showed the bad and good side of American history. But you know something? If these two movies competed for the Oscar again today — as by “Kevin Kennelly” and “Martin Scalise“ — Dances with Wolves might well win again.

Extras: Extended edition with 55 minutes of additional scenes; Two Commentaries with Costner, producer Jim Wilson, cinematographer Dean Semler, and editor Neil Travis; Two in-feature guides; Documentary; Featurettes; Photo montage; Trailer.



 Sherlock Jr. and The Three Ages (Four Stars)
U.S.: Buster Keaton/Eddie Cline, 1923-24 (Kino)

Sherlock, Jr. (U.S.: Buster Keaton, 1924) Four Stars. Buster Keaton is a small town movie projectionist, a lonely sad-eyed guy with a poker-face, a porkpie hat perched on his head, and that sudden, seemingly unconscious athleticism that always astonishes us. He yearns for the love of town belle Kathryn McGuire, is frustrated by slick, mustached rival Ward Crane, and tumbles into a jewel robbery, which — as a confirmed fan of detective Sherlock Holmes, he intends to detect and solve. 

But before he can, Buster falls asleep in the movie theater’s projection booth, and ends up walking into the movie itself — where he finds McGuire, Crane and another thwarted romance — along with a montage that Eisenstein would have sold his Potemkin for: an utterly mischievous montage that keeps dropping him rudely from one scene to the next, one location to the next, from mountains to deserts to bustling streets.

Along with The General and The Navigator, Sherlock Jr. represents the acme of Keaton’s comic genius, his fertile imagination and uncanny technical prowess. CGI be damned. In 87 years, Sherlock Jr. has not been surpassed for sheer dreamlike invention and execution. It never will be.


Three Ages (U.S.: Keaton, 1923) Three Stars. Buster sends up D. W. Griffith‘s 1916 masterpiece Intolerance and its prodigious four-episode, alternating-stories structure — a comic nudge and tribute from one moviemaking giant to another. It’s no Intolerance. And no Sherlock Jr., for that matter. But funny stuff. The Stone Age, the Roman Empire and the Jazz Age are all Busterized. Wonderfully.

Extras for Sherlock Jr.: Three musical scores by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, the Club Foot Orchestra and a Jay Ward-compiled vintage jazz score; Commentary by David Kalat; “Making Of“ documentary; Visual essay on “Sherlock Jr.’s“ locations by John Bengtson.

Extras for Three Ages: Three scores, an orchestra one by Robert Israel, one for piano, and one for organ by Lee Irwin; Excerpt from Griffith’s 1912 Stone Age film (a Keaton inspiration), “Man’s Genesis”; Bengtson visual essay on the locations; “Three Ages“ recut as three short films.



Buried (Two and a Half Stars)

U.S.; Rodrigo Cortes, 2010

Paul Conroy, an American worker in Iraq (Ryan Reynolds) wakes up to find himself in a coffin. His only light source is a cigarette lighter. His only contact with the outside world is a cell-phone. Desperately, he calls his estranged wife, the U.S. government, his company. And his captors, some terrorists, call him, threaten him.The lighter is getting used up. The cell-phone battery is running down. The oxygen in that coffin must be getting used up too. Conroy keeps clicking and clicking the lighter, calling and calling. It’s like the predicament of Agnes Moorehead or Barbara Stanwyck in Lucille Fletcher‘s classic radio drama turned movie script, Sorry, Wrong Number. You can’t escape. You can’t move. You can only call on the phone. For a while. Sometime, maybe sometime soon, time will run out.

This movie, written by Chris Sparling and directed by Rodrigo Cortes, starts out ingeniously. It opens in the coffin, keeps the screen black until Reynolds switches on the lighter, than keeps us there, trapped, confined, pinned down in a blackness that goes on and off with each flick of the lighter. Cortes keeps it up, ingeniously. Reynolds mostly makes the hysteria, frenzy and desperation believable. This actor, taking a real chance, deserves a hand. A hand up out of the coffin for sure, but also a hand from us, the audience.

But I have to say, without revealing anything, that Buried has such a phony, contrived ending, that for me, it almost spoils everything. And that ending also exposes some of the artifice and contrivance that keep us from asking too many questions beforehand. A shame. But, if you want somebody to film Sartre‘s No Exit, The Premature Burial, or the Floyd Collins story (from trapped miner Collins’ viewpoint), Cortes is obviously your guy.

Extras: Featurette; Trailer.Takers (Two Stars)U.S.: John Luessenhop, 2010 (Sony)

The less said about this movie the better. Still, there’s a foot-chase scene in Takers — maybe not a great one, but at least a fast and snappy one — in which cops Jack Welles (Matt Dillon) and Eddie Hatcher (Jay Hernandez) chase bank robber Jesse Attica (Chris Brown) all over an L. A. business district and through a kitchen. At the screening I attended, it woke the audience up and they started cheering, possibly because Chris Brown nearly went though a car roof.

But where is the movie around the chase scene? The first half of Takers is grainy, gray and incoherent, and shot in slavish imitation of Michael Mann‘s Heat. Then we get the robbery, the chase, the shootout, cop scandals, the Mexican standoff. Some of it is splintered into foggy fragments, with a lot of slow-mo breakage, shot in witless imitation of Sam Peckinpah.

What’s going on? Five chic bank robbers — played by Brown and Michael Ealy (as brothers who do a “Butch Cassidy“ bit), Hayden Christensen, Paul Walker, and Idris Elba as the Jamaican boss — spend their off-ours in high-end revelry, looking like angry fashion models or Dead End Kids redesigned by Calvin Klein. (That last refers especially to Christensen’s jazzbo A. J., who sports a Lester Young-style porkpie hat.) They’re contacted by T. I. Harris as Ghost, an obvious lying psychopath just out of jail, who has a robbery plan that a ten-year-old child zonked on airplane glue could probably spot as a setup.

Zoe Saldana pops in and out as a girlfriend, and, sadly, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, the great actress of Mike Leigh’s Secrets & Lies, is on board as Elba’s coke-addicted sister. There’s a lot of shooting and running and smashing, and dialogue that sounds as if it were improvised by drunks trying to crash Kate Mantilini’s at midnight. And there’s Matt Dillon, who fouls everybody up by actually giving a performance, as the moody Welles, a cop who looks as if he‘d rather be at a funeral.

To say this movie is bad isn’t doing it justice. The director-writer John Luessenhop, was a Wall Street attorney, and if this is the way Wall Street insiders see the world, it’s no wonder we crashed. But, still and all, there’s that sort-of-great chase scene. Maybe they could build another movie around it.

Extras: Luessenhop and Cast Commentaries; Music Video.

Stone (Two and a Half Stars)

U.S.; John Curran, 2010 (Anchor Bay)

Robert De Niro is a great movie actor trapped in an industry that doesn’t seem to want to make great movies — at least with older actors like De Niro, and like Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, Bobby Duvall or Al Pacino.

What a waste! De Niro, who’s a national acting treasure, has a potentially memorable dramatic role in Stone, a fairly good script by Angus MacLachlan (Junebug), pretty good direction by John Curran (We Don’t Live Here Anymore) and good cast mates in Edward Norton, Frances Conroy and Milla Jovovich — and he makes the most of the opportunity.

It’s the kind of showcase we’d want for him. De Niro plays a taciturn prison probation official named Jack, a quiet but selfish and brutal man with a dark family secret in his past, and he gives us many levels of this complex, unlikable man, while keeping him repressed and disguised. He shows us how Jack holds himself in, his weary lack of heart or ambition, how he listens and sizes people up, and how he escapes and explodes (at least twice) into momentary viciousness or madness.

Stone is also a potentially good vehicle for that excellent actor Edward Norton, playing Jack’s somewhat psychopathic client, an arsonist and prisoner named Stone, whose hair is in cornrows, whose eyes have a dead meanness and a foxlike glitter, and who speaks in a rapid mushy blur of obscenity, jail yard slang, conman bluster and imitation gangsta rap. And it’s a surprising breakout for sex-bomb Jovovich (The Fifth Element), whose compelling performance as Stone’s sexually incendiary wife Lucetta (whom he dangles as bait in front of Jack to get his parole) is a mild surprise. Conroy has the much less juicy role of Jack‘s bullied wife Madylyn, but she brings it alive.

Written by Angus MacLachlan (Junebug) and directed by John Curran (We Don’t Live Here Anymore), this is a film for adults, by adults, done with intelligence. The first scene between Stone and Jack in Jack’s office, with Stone trying to needle and prod the man who will write the report on his possible release, dazzle him with verbal footwork and Jack quietly, sullenly, holding back and prodding Stone back, is great stuff. If the movie had kept that tempo and force and richness, it would have been a De Niro classic, and a Norton classic too.

But the payoff and the ending here, are somewhat confused, vague, and evasive. This movie could have been a powerhouse; instead it just hits a climax of sorts, not too surprising, not too riveting, goes nowhere very interesting and then slithers off screen. It’s kind of punchless noir, and it doesn’t live up to its promise. De Niro and Norton, showing us again what they can do, leave us hungry for more.

Extras: Featurette; Trailer.

Jack Goes Boating (Also Blu-ray) (Three Stars)

U. S.; Philip Seymour Hoffman, 2010 (Anchor Bay)

Jack Goes Boating, which marks the directorial debut of that admirable actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, is a sweet, smart little picture that fulfills its seemingly modest goals easily and well. It’s not perfect, and audiences more used to the ubermenschen fantasies or gaudy sex dreams of many big studio products may get impatient with playwright Robert Glaudini‘s tale of two seeming losers — Hoffman as pudgy, insecure New York limo driver Jack and Amy Ryan as shy, insecure funeral home employee Connie — urged toward each other by their mutual friends Clyde and Lucy (John Ortiz and Daphne Rubin-Vega), two matchmakers whose own marriage seems on the verge of collapse even as they try to open doors for others.

But modest virtues are still virtues. It’s hard not to enjoy this show, nor to wish Hoffman well and see the seeds of even better things for him in this movie — hard not to have a soft spot for these happily, deftly drawn people, especially Ortiz‘s flawed but good-hearted Clyde, always patient and ready to teach his buddy (to swim or to navigate life) and the shambling, messy Jack, ready to learn, dive, try to breathe underwater and try again.

Jack Goes Boating comes from a play that the two longtime colleague/friends did on stage together, and it‘s another example of why Sidney Lumet’s strategy of long, detailed rehearsals before shooting (a tactic Hoffman has lauded as a model) pays off in spades, in the acting.

All the acting in Jack is fine, the mood is gentle, the dialogue (by Glaudini, adapting his play) sharp, and the visual style and images of Manhattan attractive and evocative. Jack has its silly sides. But the movie lulls you, warms you up and cools you out. It’s a Marty in the key of Erik Satie. Even when Hoffman‘s movie is showing a ruinous dinner date exploding in drugs, squabbles and tantrums, it maintains its equanimity, humanity and tenderness.

Extras: Featurettes; Deleted Scenes; Trailer.

Legacy: The Story of Civilization (Three Discs) (Three Stars)

U.K.: Peter Spry-Leverton, 1991 (Athena)

Oxford historian Michael Wood takes us on a grand tour of the countries that were early cradles of civilization: India, China, Egypt, Iraq, Central America (the Mayas and Aztecs) and finally, Europe. Beautifully photographed, lucidly narrated, factually packed: an educational treat.

Extras: Profiles of great thinkers of the Axial Age; Viewer‘s Guide booklet..

Treasure Island (Three Stars)

U.S.: John Hough, 1972 (Warner Archive)

This colorful version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s great pirate novel, one of the imperishable boyhood novels (and I only hope they still read it) is supposed to be grossly inferior to the two more famous film versions: the Victor Fleming directed 1934 MGM version, with Wallace Beery as Long John Silver and Jackie Cooper as Jim Hawkins, and the 1959 Walt Disney version, directed by Byron Haskin, with Robert Newton (“Aaaaaarrrh!“) and Bobby Driscoll.

But it’s not at all bad, and not just because it was very faithfully co-written by Orson Welles (as the pseudonymous “O. W. Jeeves”), who also stars as Silver in a very mumbly, understated but agreeably Wellesian performance. In addition, Kim Burfield is a sturdy young Jim Hawkins, Walter Slezak an offtype but pleasant Squire Trelawney, and the scenery and photography match or surpass the first two movies.

Of course, there’s always the possibility in a film like this, that Welles directed his own scenes, or others, which is what happened in 1949‘s Black Magic. There, Welles played the magician Cagliostro and when he appears on screen, nominal director Gregory Ratoff actually seems to have been levitated, dropped into a hat or vanished.

I couldn’t tell if anything like that happened to John Hough (The Legend of Hell House, Escape to Witch Mountain, Dirty Mary and Crazy Larry) during Treasure Island, which doesn’t list Welles as an uncredited director in IMDb. (There are two others though, both Italian.)

But this film does have more low angles, high shots and depth of field (and nicer shots and long takes) than we usually see in this kind of movie. And, if Welles had had another director overseeing all his scenes, you’d think he would have told O. W. to speak up every once in a while. No extras. Made on demand. Visit or www.wbshop,com

Sherlock Jr. and The Three Ages (Four Stars)
U.S.: Buster Keaton/Eddie Cline, 1923-24 (Kino)

Sherlock, Jr. (U.S.: Buster Keaton, 1924) Four Stars. Buster Keaton is a small town movie projectionist, a lonely sad-eyed guy with a poker-face, a porkpie hat perched on his head, and that sudden, seemingly unconscious athleticism that always astonishes us. He yearns for the love of town belle Kathryn McGuire, is frustrated by slick, mustached rival Ward Crane, and tumbles into a jewel robbery, which — as a confirmed fan of detective Sherlock Holmes, he intends to detect and solve.


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3 Responses to “Wilmington on DVDs: Lebanon, Shock Corridor, Dances with Wolves, Sherlock Jr. and more”

  1. Robert Hamer says:

    Um, I think you mean Dances With Wolves shouldn’t have beaten GOODFELLAS for the Oscar…

  2. Sally says:

    I always enjoy your column. Re: Jack Goes Boating, I like many aspects of it but I felt like Hoffman’s acting was a letdown. He was so devoid of any personality and so zombielike that for me the whole story became strained because of it. Still, the other perfomances are quite good.

  3. Vina says:

    Glad I’ve failnly found something I agree with!


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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon