MMC! was lucky enough to see Kier-La Janisse’s latest Saturday Morning All-You-Can-Eat Cartoon Party and the best of the program was Jerry Lieberman’s Huff ‘n Puff, an anti-smoking PSA for the American Cancer Society that riffs on the story of the Three Little Pigs with some strange gallows humour. We could only assume that the Big Bad Wolf died just after the short ended. The short seems to have been part of a larger campaign that included an illustrated story offered as a pamphlet. (If anyone knows the year this animated short was produced or released, I’d appreciate the info!)
The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents A Face in the Crowd.
Before he brought Mayberry, North Carolina, into American homes and became an icon of moral rectitude as Sheriff Andy Taylor, Andy Griffith burst onto cinema screens as Lonesome Rhodes, a charismatic drifter with a canny, down-home wit and an avaricious taste for status and influence. After charming Arkansas radio reporter Marcia Jeffries (Patricia Neal) and becoming a local media star, Rhodes leverages his growing popularity into national television fame and a trusted position among political and industrial power-brokers. Gradually Rhodes is corrupted by his own success and his laid-back attitude gives way to a monstrous off-camera personality. With stand-out supporting performances by Walter Matthau, Anthony Franciosa, and Lee Remick, director Elia Kazan and screenwriter Budd Schulberg create a roaring statement against grassroots fascism, advertising fakery, and the pernicious influence of television on the political process.
- New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
- Introduction by filmmaker Steven Spielberg
- New conversation between filmmaker Martin Scorsese and critic Kent Jones
- Ron Simon on A Face in the Crowd and the Golden Age of Television
- Facing the Past, a 2005 documentary on the making of the film
- Griffith’s 1972 appearance on the television show Morning Exchange
- “What It Was, Was Football,” Griffith’s 1953 comedy monologue
- Afterword by filmmaker Spike Lee
- PLUS: An interview with Elia Kazan on A Face in the Crowd, an essay by historian Foster Hirsch and a reprint of Budd Schulberg’s short source story “Your Arkansas Traveler”
October is upon us and that means horror-themed shorts here at MMC!
We kick off our month with a trio of Lovecraftian parody films by Canadian writer-director Joseph Nanni. In the hustle and bustle of our workaday lives, it’s easy to forget the invisible world that exists alongside ours, abiding in slumber its fearsome indifference to our small place in an ancient multiverse. Thank goodness religion, medicine, and insurance are doing their parts to protect us!
Elder Sign (Joseph Nanni, 2009)
The Necronomicon (Joseph Nanni, 2009)
HP Lovecraft Insurance (Joseph Nanni, 2015)
Back in January, the Criterion Collection paired the Oscar-winning short film Logorama (Ludovic Houplain, Hervé de Crécy, and François Alaux, 2009) with Jean-Luc Godard’s Masculin féminin (1966). Created by the French collective H5, the short constructs Los Angeles entirely from (3,000 or so) trademarked logos and then presents these sanitized images of friendly consumerism in the sun-drenched violence typical to films like To Live and Die in L.A. (William Friedkin, 1985) and Heat (Michael Mann, 1995). The result is a clever statement on the ubiquity of capitalist commodification in our daily life and a somewhat nasty dismantling of the corporate messaging shorthanded into these capitalist symbols. Those interested in the legality of Logorama (or at least the American legality of a French film) should read Rose Lawrence’s “LOGORAMA: The Great Trademark Heist.” Lawrence’s unpacking of the legal tests for parody, satire, infringement, and dilution are particularly useful in considering the artistic aims, popular interactions, and social commentaries at work in the short film. As a bonus, Lawrence also touches upon important legal texts like George of the Jungle 2 (David Grossman, 2003) and Aqua’s “Barbie Girl.”
We must admit, the last couple days have been tough here at MMC! and morale is lagging with things looking to get worse before they get better. I’m not sure if Wes Anderson’s new short Come Together (2016), a promotional work for H&M stores, helps the situation by offering some Christmas cheer or gives some further reason to mope by another of Anderson’s characteristic sad sack dollhouses, but we’re glad for it either way. Enjoy it now here, before it appears on the Criterion Collection’s eventual release of The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), and we’ll see you in December!
Hey kids, enjoy the fun of fleeing for your life and abandoning your spaceship to an unstoppable monster!
Were kids in 1979 clamouring for an 18-inch replica toy of a terrifying monster from an R-rated movie? That’s hard too imagine (although that toy looks pretty great). I love the idea that when some young boy wasn’t looking, that Alien doll was stolen by some little girl who put a bonnet on it and seated it at a tiny table as a guest at an imagined tea party. “Would you like a biscuit, Mrs. Scaryskullface?” “Yessssssssssss.”