Wednesday, September 27, 2017


We're on the road again...

Scott & I drove from St. Albans Queens to Brooklyn and had a nice chat about superhero movies (past, present & up-coming). It's awesome. Give it a listen!


Friday, September 22, 2017


We're back! In this installment of The School Of Tarkovsky we're going to look at some more comparisons that slipped through the cracks in these last few months. If you follow me on twitter then some of these will look familiar. But for those of you who do not - here are some additional comparisons/visual similarities from regular students of Tarkovsky like Carlos Reygadas & Nuri Bilge Ceylan along with unexpected filmmakers like Wong Kar Wai & Barry Jenkins.

While some of these comparisons are in fact totally coincidental (which still doesn’t take away from how cool they look next to each other), you have to understand the connections that some of these have with one another. You aren’t required to know the backgrounds of these images and/or the filmmakers responsible for them but if you feel the need to negatively & cynically question Tarkovky’s influence (like some do on various forms of social media), at least know what the fuck you’re talking about. The more people question some of these comparisons the more they just confirm that they don’t read about cinema very much. I understand that some of this pushback comes from the assumption that I’m calling their favorite filmmakers “copycats” when that isn’t the case (there are only so many original images & ideas in film. You could trace the majority of modern cinema's visual influences back to the work of early Bunuel, Epstein & Cocteau).
I’m not always talking out of my ass when I compare films. Especially in the case of Andrei Tarkovsky. I don’t mean to repeat myself but some of the regular filmmakers who pop up in this series are folks like Carlos Reygadas, Lars Von Trier, Claire Denis, Elem Klimov & Alexander Sokurov. When Carlos Reygadas first stepped on the scene with his first two films (Japon & Battle In Heaven), can you honestly say to yourself that he didn’t bring up Andrei Tarkovsky any chance he got when being interviewed? Not only that, but in the special features of Japon he goes out of his way to praise Tarkovsky. Given those two facts, is it so far-fetched to think that he wouldn’t reference Tarkovsky in his work (see below along just about every other entry in this series)?
Lars Von Trier not only dedicated some of his work to Tarkovsky but he also once said that he wanted to be Andrei Tarkovsky early on in his career (he also name-dropped Tarkovsky more than once at a video Q&A at the IFC Center back in 2006 where I was in attendance).

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – Claire Denis worked on Tarkovsky’s Sacrifice. While that doesn’t guarantee that his influence rubbed off on her, the connection between Denis & Tarkovsky is still there on some level.

Is it out of line that Alexander Sokurov would draw inspiration from the films of his personal friend Andrei Tarkovsky?

I always find it funny when filmmakers rummage through the criterion collection closet praising the films that influenced them or talk about the scenes they “ripped off” on a DVD commentary track (see/listen to any early Paul Thomas Anderson commentary track) but when someone (…me) shows the influence they speak of, suddenly everyone goes; “whoa whoa whoa! That’s pretty vague, man! You could find those images in any movie!” It really makes no sense to me.

Speaking of rummaging through criterion closets, look at Barry Jenkins who recently participated in the criterion closet series. Someone recently put together a lovely video analysis comparing Moonlight with the films of Wong Kar Wai (many people are ripping it off as their own work) which he co-signed and endorsed. It should also be noted that Mr. Jenkins took joy in a few of my own movie comparisons as well…

Given Barry Jenkins' obvious love of cinema, is it really too far-fetched to think that a Tarkovsky film rubbed off on him in some way (see the first image below)?

Solaris / Moonlight

I dedicated an entire entry comparing the work of Nuri Bilge Ceylan to Tarkovsky so when you see this Stalker/Uzak comparison, please don’t question me...
Stalker / Uzak

The horrors of war seen through the perspective of young Russian Protagonists who start out innocent & hopeful but by the end of the film they’ve aged psychologically (highlighted by scenes where you can see the aging all over their faces as they look directly in to the camera).
I don’t think it’s so out of line to compare these two movies. Do you?
Ivan's Childhood /  Come & See

The contrast of a fake/model house next to a real house burning to the ground...
Badlands / Sacrifice

This could be a reach but it still looks cool, doesn't it?
The Mirror / The Clouds Of Sils Maria

Ivan's Childhood / In The Mood For Love
There's nothing to debate here
Ivan's Childhood / The Revenant

again - nothing to debate...
Ivan's Childhood / Post Tenebras Lux

Ivan's Childhood / The Tree Of Life

The Mirror / The Thin Red Line

The Mirror / Silent Light

While Bertrand Bonello is more a student from the School of Bresson (he would have his actors watch Bresson films to prepare for their roles), it isn't too out of line to assume he was influenced by other filmmakers like Tarkovsky
Andrei Rublev / Tiresia

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


Much like Paris, Texas, this is a road episode (Scotty & I drove from Brooklyn to Queens). Listen as we talk about everything from IT to Bernard Rose's post-Candyman work.

This episode is also dedicated to Harry Dead Stanton & Bobby "The Brain" Heenan.


Friday, September 8, 2017


This week we were joined by recurring guest/friend of the show Mtume Gant to to talk Hal Hartley, Purchase University, Ingmar Bergman and so much more.


Friday, September 1, 2017


No matter the genre, Bill Duke's directorial work focuses primarily on people of color (Dark Girls, A Rage In Harlem, A Prince Among Slaves, Hoodlum, etc). Actually, I've always wondered why he, along with Carl Franklin, Charles Burnett & Wendell B. Harris, weren't included on that famous New York Times cover highlighting Black filmmakers in the early 90's. Bill Duke was just as active & prolific as some of the filmmakers that made the cover...

While Duke's films are enjoyed by folks of all races, I have a hard time believing the average non-black movie goer can truly appreciate something like Dark Girls or even A Rage In Harlem

I liken Bill Duke to someone like Tom Noonan. As actor's they've appeared in big budget action action films to low budget indies. But as filmmakers, their work is much more personal in contrast to The Last Action Hero (Noonan) or Commando (Duke)

After what seems like my millionth viewing of Deep Cover I came to the conclusion that not only is it a modern masterpiece, but Bill Duke's directorial work is unique & underrated.  There are many threads that run throughout all of his films and we're going to look at those now. 


There may be some strides & improvements in mainstream American movies these days but in the 80's & 90's, unless you were part of an elite/exclusive group of actresses (Halle Berry, Whoopi Goldberg, Angela Basset, Rae Dawn Chong, etc), it was tough getting screen time.
While Bill Duke has worked with mega stars like Goldberg, he also utilized underused Black actresses like Victoria Dillard (Deep Cover) & underrated character actors like Loretta Divine (Hoodlum)
Deep Cover
Dark Girls
A Rage In Harlem
Sister Act 2
Not Easily Broken
America's Dream

Bill Duke certainly doesn't shy away from Black pride. Weather its a documentary celebrating (and dissecting) dark skin, or throwing in subliminal imagery in to some of his films (see the image for Sister Act 2), he likes to celebrate his ethnicity...
Dark Girls
A Rage In Harlem
Deep Cover
Bill Duke sneaks in Historically Black College clothing in Sister Act 2
A Prince Among Slaves
America's Dream
Deacons For Defense

Stepping away from race for a moment (we'll delve back in to that later), Duke has a talent for crafting Villains that aren't just typical "bad guys" but rather menacing with little to no redeeming qualities.
It should be noted that some of these "villains" are based on very real people who were motivated by racism (Hoodlum & Deacons For Defense)
A Rage In Harlem
Deep Cover
Deep Cover
The Golden Spiders: A Nero Wolfe Mystery
Deacons For Defense

Deep Cover
Deep Cover
A Rage In Harlem
Deacons For Defense

Who Framed Roger Rabbit / A Rage In Harlem
King Of New York /  Deep Cover
Deep Cover / Only God Forgives
Onibaba/Deep Cover
Screamin' Jay Hawkins in Mystery Train (L) / A Rage In Harlem (R)

Deacons For Defense
Not Easily Broken
Sister Act 2

As a director Bill Duke has worked in almost every genre but Noir/Neo-Noir is the one genre he explores more than anything else. One element that makes his films extra noir-ish is the dark lighting and use of shadows...
Deep Cover
A Rage In Harlem

The relationships between siblings, cousins and parents & children are often strained, complicated or problematic (to say the least in some cases), but there is a bond/connection between blood relatives that often plays a major role in the plots of Bill Duke's movies.
a moment between brothers in A Rage In Harlem
Bumpy Johnson mourning his cousin in Hoodlum
Mother & Daughter in Sister Act 2
a father/son moment in Deep Cover

Much like his peers & elders (Jim Jarmusch, Spike Lee, Ernest Dickerson & Abel Ferrara), Bill Duke embraced hip-hop culture when others turned their nose up at it.
"Deep Cover" was not only the theme song for the movie of the same name but it also put Death Row records on the map. Rakim hadn't record a song in five years prior to working on the Hoodlum soundtrack and Bill Duke occasionally casts (female) hip-hop artists in supporting roles.
Deep Cover
Def Jef's caemo in Deep Cover
Queen Latifah in Hoodlum
Lauryn Hill in Sister Act 2

Actors like Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg & Forest Whitaker do "transcend" the racial lines in mainstream Hollywood from time to time, but their iconic status means a little more to Black audiences. Weather you're a veteran journeyman actor (Paul Benjamin), legend of 70's Black cinema (Glynn Turman & Cicely Tyson) or a mega-star like Glover & Goldberg, you're almost guaranteed a role in a Bill Duke film.
Some Black actors catch a lot of flack for "selling out" (which they sometimes do) but others aren't given credit for working with the few (talented) mainstream Black directors working today.
Wesley Snipes in America's Dream
Paul Benjamin in Hoodlum
Glynn Turman in Deep Cover
Clarence Williams in Deep Cover
Whoopi Golderberg in Sister Act 2

Danny Glover in A Rage In Harlem
Forest Whitaker in A Rage In Harlem
Cicely Tyson in Hoodlum
Ossie Davis in Deacons For Defense
Lou Gosset Jr. in Cover


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