For the record, I realize how bad this looks.
This site was away for…quite a while. Due to
completely foreseen circumstances in my life, I’ll admit it: I got lazy. I was working overnights, applying to (and later preparing for) graduate school, and generally not doing my job to maintain this site. There’s, what, an eight month gap between the write-ups of Joy and Nerve? Sheesh.
But as you can tell from recent activity (as well as our new layout!)–we’re back. And not just back as in “one new release review a week”–although we certainly will be reviewing new releases at rate at least equal to that, if not more.
No, this “new” Five For Filming marks the debut of something I’ve been wanting to do for some time–such a long time, in fact, that it clarifies the meaning of this site’s name as more than just a lame hockey pun.
I’m pleased to announce that starting this Sunday, August 14, Five For Filming will introduce a Weekly Retrospective series: an introduction to five films of varying popularity and disparate time periods, all centered around a common theme, idea, or otherwise shared thread.
For the most part, I hope to be able to tie these series to a film that will be coming out in wide release each week; however, some weeks may be notoriously hard to do so for (especially in the January dead zone), so I can’t promise you that what you’ll find will always be relevant to what you can find in your local multiplex. What I do hope to promise, though, is an entrance to our cinematic past that attempts to go beyond the standard “Best ____ Films” format of listicles and capsule reviews. Some of these articles may have spoilers–simply because talking and writing about a film with regards to its context in history can be nigh impossible if one reviews it in the same style as a contemporary film. Needless to say, you have been warned.
To celebrate the debut of this new feature, I’d like to welcome you to our first weekly retrospective: A CELEBRATION OF DEBUT FEATURES!
The debut feature film of any director occupies a strange place, to put it mildly. Up until quite recently, the term “debut film” itself was a misnomer; any director trusted with a feature film of their own would have been toiling for years behind the scenes creating short films, working as an assistant or second-unit director, or perhaps even directing full-length features that would never bear their name. Unlike the debut album of a band, a debut feature won’t usually be held up as the best work a director ever did, or as the truest expression of their artistry. We all remember Spielberg for Jaws, not Duel, after all.
And yet…sometimes, despite everything working against it, a debut feature just lands. Take 2004’s Primer, a movie shot for $7,000 by a Dallas software developer that ended up taking home the jury prize at Sundance. Or Donnie Darko, which became an absolute anomaly: a film that could become a midnight-screening cult classic in the eras of Blockbuster and Netflix.
Of course, one remembers, Donnie Darko is also a different kind of anomaly: the only bright spot in Richard Kelly’s directorial oeuvre.
Sadly, this isn’t necessarily uncommon for debuts, especially ones that make a big splash at the time. Although the debut can be a masterwork or a solid foundation for the rest of a career, it can just as easily be a moment establishing a director as a one-hit wonder–the cinematic equivalent of a catchy indie song used in a car commercial that fades away by the time the next year’s model is released.
Keeping that in mind, I’d like to introduce next week’s films and invite you to view them beforehand if you so desire. In chronological order, they are:
- The Maltese Falcon, directed by John Huston (1941, USA)
- The Night of the Hunter, directed by Charles Laughton (1955, USA)
- Black Sunday, directed by Mario Bava (1960, Italy)
- Eraserhead, directed by David Lynch (1977, USA)
- Blood Simple, directed by Joel and Ethan Coen (1984, USA)
The Maltese Falcon, The Night of the Hunter, and Eraserhead are available to rent from all major streaming services (Google Play, Amazon Video, and iTunes). In addition, Eraserhead can be viewed for free by Hulu subscribers. Black Sunday is available for rent only through Amazon Video. Blood Simple is current available only on DVD–although its Criterion Blu-Ray release is due out September 20, 2016.
We’ll continue our new release reviews this weekend with a look at the new raunchy animated comedy Sausage Party–and begin our retrospective series Sunday.
Welcome back, y’all.