Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
The Hazards of Helen (1914)
Inventive and energetic productions on real locations
WARNING: the picture illustrating this title is not, repeat not, from The Hazards of Helen series. Yes, it does feature several of the actors who were to appear in Hazards episodes, but this is from 'The Conductor's Courtship' which preceded the series. Misleading by IMDb to keep featuring this image! Producing one episode a week, yes one per week, over 119 eps, what an achievement the Hazards was, no wonder that Helen Holmes and J.P. McGowan went on to found their own studio (Signal Corp, devoted to railroad melodramas) after ep 49!
Sekala Niskala (2017)
Quite simply, a masterpiece in every way. One for the centuries.
Whatever may be the future of 'cinema', this film will endure for its gripping film creativeness and its intense presentation of a culture and deep humanity. This is a Bali of the centuries, millennia even, quite different from the tawdry consumption pit that many tourist Australians seek so shallowly. Writing and direction are simply sublime in creativity and extraordinarily polished in execution. One to see many times (as was the Singapore film 'A Yellow Bird'). Voted Best Feature Fiction film at Adelaide Film festival 2018, Crystal Bear at Berlin. Apparently crowd- or subscriber-funded: well done, all. A nod to Doha Film Institute for its support of a truly major film achievement. See it in a dark cinema room, not on television.
West of Sunshine (2017)
Liked The Castle? Laugh and wince at West of Sunshine
In the tradition of Aussie larrikin yarns, with a soft touch for a bit of a loser in this life. Boisterously active yet on-the-button for locales and character. Often it is a mistake for a new director to use 2.35 widest screen, but this time it works. Oh those gliding shots of veteran cars. Good to see Kaarin Fairfax on big screen. If you liked The Dish or The Castle or the young Bryan Brown, this is a delight for you, and Not Too Long in run time. Good entry on a career, it seems to me.
Four Faces West (1948)
Beautifully photographed too by Hal Rosson
Harold Rosson must have been an interesting character. He was briefly married to Jean Harlow, for one thing. He was a top cinematographer for many years for MGM (check him out in IMDb). On this very moderately budgeted film, his pictures are just beautiful all through. Contrary to one reviewer, I found his depictions of Frances Dee most expressive and elegant too. Was this a sort of busman's holiday for Rosson, getting out of the studio quite a bit? Was he helping out a friend, or what took him to this assignment?
The Departure (2017)
Festival audience just sat holding breath
So beautiful every way. Apparent simpatico between director and cinematographer (lovely!), director and editor (graceful!), director and composer (subtle!), a wonderful example of the collective spirit in film. Strange that IMDb lists so few contributors to this high quality production. From Adelaide, South Australia, I'd like to write to congratulate the funding bodies: your film will be appreciated for years to come. When it comes to release time, be sure to take it slowly and let the word spread. Thanks to all involved!
The Conductor's Courtship (1914)
Neatly made comedy romance shows unusual side of J.P. McGowan
As early as June 1914, director J.P. McGowan and scenarist Matlack show a skillful mastery of film narrative, using a minimum of written inter-titles. In just twelve minutes, then a standard length for 'features', they tell a cracking yarn of true love -- a sort of Gretna Green situation. Helen is excited and strikingly pretty, McGowan is animated and handsome whereas in his better known action and drama films he mainly took a dour, heavy stance.
Lots of big steam along the rail line (S.P.L.A.S.L., a later component of Union Pacific), and some glances at locos that will have rail fans grinning. A neat surprise manoeuvre will get a nod from the stunt buffs.
In all, a lively and likable outing from early Hollywood, where McGowan had been sent to start up Kalem operations only a few months earlier. True to his motto, "Come On, Let's Go", J.P. McGowan thus became Hollywood's first Australian.
Mixed parentage, confused product
As in so many cases of international co-production, or a director hoisted out of his own zone, the result is a mess. Production values are high but nothing makes sense. There is no Black Room as in the French title, and no effective use or depiction of the process of Daguerreotype as in the English. Camera history fans (who are numerous) will be misled by that title, and disappointed in the script's failure to use a fascinating technical story. Evidently the director wrote his own script, often a mistake. With so many story threads (none followed effectively) this looks like intended for a miniseries. Seven people are credited as producers of some kind: evidently they could not agree on what this film was to be? The actors zomb their way through, none connecting with the others, all looking as confused about the goings-on as the audience is. One tiny scene had some zing: an older woman materialises (unexplained) from the past and disappears into where is not stated. It did have frisson. Strangely, that actor is not credited in IMDb. The ghost stuff otherwise is completely uninteresting. Are the costumes and decor impeccable? No doubt, but for what result? The camera glides endlessly but to no effect.