Check out my first feature NEW YORK LATELY for free

I made NEW YORK LATELY about 8 years ago with the help of so many talented friends. People who donated their time and artistry to bring my vision to life. I set out to make something grand with a kaleidoscope of characters, influenced by films like SHORT CUTS and BOOGIE NIGHTS. When it came out, people mentioned that it reminded them of CRASH and LOVE ACTUALLY. I thought, "hey, not bad. I'll take it." After all, I didn't go to film school. This movie was my film school.

I cashed out my 401K (which wasn't that much) and mostly used credit cards to make this film. I used the money to rent gear, fly actors into town and feed everyone. No one was paid. To this day, I'm so thankful for the fact that they all were willing to join the project because they believed in me. That means so much and is extremely humbling.

When I see the film now, I notice all the things I could've done better. Choices I made then, that I wouldn't make today. But I also see some brilliant performances and the wonderful moments they created on screen. And I see friends that I still have to this day. And I think about all the friends I've made from screening it across the country. All that makes me proud.

I'm still shocked and grateful the film made some Top 10 lists in 2009 and I can't believe there is even a fan site for it. And now, I'm very thankful that 8 years later, the film is still out there. Being shared and talked about. It's not extinct and forgotten. For me, that's a dream come true. And ultimately, as an artist, having an audience is what inspires me to keep going.

Thanks to Fandependent Films, you can now watch the film for free for the next month. Click here to visit the page. And soon, I'll share free videos featuring a commentary by myself; and one by film critic Andrew James which is highly entertaining as well.

Top Films of Everything I Saw in 2015

In cased you missed it, here are my other Top Films Lists
2014
2013
2012
2011

My Top Films list compromises of any film (from any year) that I've seen for the first time in 2015. Due to my own projects, I sadly wasn't able to catch all the awards contenders as I'd hoped (and yes I've missed a ton).

So this is more about the movies that I watched and left a lasting impression. These were just really damn entertaining. Or inspiring. Sometimes both.

18. COOTIES (2014) - directed by Jonathan Milott & Cary Murnion | written by Leigh Whannell & Ian Brennan
Just had a blast with this one. The comedy is actually a bit hit or miss depending on your tastes...but it's been a while since a horror/comedy felt like it was really having fun while also being smart about it. Plus I'll see anything with Alison Pill in it. And of course....dual rear wheel.

17. DOPE (2015) - written & directed by Rick Famuyiwa
The first half of the film bursts out of the box like lightning. So much so, that the 2nd half of the film can't hold up to its promise. But it's still a load of fun. And Kiersey Clemons is just wonderful.

16. THE DUFF (2015) - directed by Ari Sandel | written by Josh A. Cagan
The teen comedy is alive and well. This was surprisingly smart, funny and romantic; featuring a knockout performance by Mae Whitman. It felt like a modern-day John Hughes type film.

15. THE HATEFUL EIGHT (2015) - written & directed by Quentin Tarantino
No one does it like Tarantino. Some love his stuff. Others avoid him like the plague. Although this film sits in the middle of his filmography for me, I really admire his boldness and "don't give a shit" attitude towards screenwriting and cinema conventions. Only he can get away with certain things that others would be crucified for. I really dug the atmosphere of the movie, while not entirely loving the story. I dug the performances while not entirely loving any of the characters. I was repulsed at times, but couldn't look away. And I'm a sucker for anything old school in terms of the movie going experience, so I really loved the Overture and Intermission experience.

14. DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2014)  - directed by Matt Reeves | written by Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver
They said it was better than its predecessor (2011's RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES). I didn't believe them. They were right.  

13. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION (2015)
written & directed by Christopher McQuarrie
This was a thrilling, action packed film that was just so entertaining on so many levels. A pure Popcorn Movie through and through. I found myself saying to my wife "this is fun" a lot. Now I realize it may not hold up over the years, however just as so far as enjoying myself with the spectacle of blockbuster cinema, there was no better for me. And that had a lot do with Rebecca Ferguson's electric performance. I enjoyed her so much I'd love a spinoff film with just her character.  

12. EX MACHINA (2015) - written & directed by Alex Garland
The atmosphere in this just oozes with originality and beauty. And as I watched, something felt off and it unnerved me (in a good way). Not sure I dug where the film went in the 3rd act as opposed to what it set up, but it still left me captivated and with some thought provoking questions that I thought about for days after. Not too many films do that nowadays.

11. ME AND EARLY AND THE DYING GIRL (2015) - directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon | written by Jesse Andrews
This one definitely felt like a 'Sundance formula' film. But Olivia Cooke is going to be a superstar and it shows in this film. The story is witty. Performances are strong around (Thomas Mann and RJ Cyler have great chemistry). And that ending. I saw this film about a month after my dad passed away, so it probably has something to do with why the film hit me like it did.

10. KEEP ON KEEPIN' ON (2014) - directed by Alan Hicks | written by Davis Coombe & Alan Hicks
This doc about an aspiring artist and his struggles for success, all the while being mentored by the late jazz great Clark Terry was heartbreaking and inspiring. As an artist, I related so much to his plight...the highs and lows. The wonderful bond that is forged between two souls is so poignant and beautiful. And I love jazz, so the soundtrack is a joy. This is also another one I saw after losing my dad, which made the film personally resonate with me in a profound way.

9. BANGKOK HILTON (1989) - directed by Ken Cameron | written by Ken Cameron, Terry Hayes & Tony Morphett
I'm a huge Nicole Kidman fan. And this little seen (around the world) mini-series from her homeland was one of her first breakout roles. For some reason, seeing Denholm Elliot play such a drastically different kind of character was just so compelling. He's just great in it. And Kidman's raw performance had me glued to the edge of my seat. I binge watched this one (approx. 4 hours) in 2 days. PS - look for a young Hugo Weaving in this too.

8. TENDER MERCIES (1983) - directed by Bruce Beresford | written by Horton Foote
Robert Duvall is a national treasure. I think that of all of his most memorable roles, most don't bring up this quiet Oscar-winning performance as their favorite. But for me, watching this broken man's quiet hopefulness slowly slipping away -- and how Duvall just owns it -- left my heart silently aching along with him.

7. IKIRU (1952) - directed by Akira Kurosawa | written by Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto & Hideo Oguni
I stayed away from this film for a while as the topic never really interested me. But as I'm getting along in my years, I finally visited it. And it blew my mind on how it directly deals with mortality and questioning yourself upon leaving some type of mark -- somewhere, anywhere -- before you go. Hoping you will be remembered somehow. By someone. Anyone. I was both uplifted and saddened. It had a deep effect on me and what I hope to achieve as some kind of legacy as a filmmaker...which I realize could ultimately be just tears in rain.

6. CHARLEY VARRICK (1973) - directed by Don Siegel | written by Howard Rodman & Dean Riesner
I'm a sucker for crime/gangster films. Not mafia ones, but more like "regular joe" capers. Con men. Losers. People that aren't perfect. Those are my jam. And when you throw in Walter Matthau chewing up the scenery (that actually sees him be romantic) it's just a blast. Then you add in Joe Don Baker and John Vernon...forget about it!

5. STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015) - directed byJ.J. Abrams | written by Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams & Michael Arndt
I feel sorry for all the people who rip this film apart for its plot and characters. Because no other movie in a long long time has made me feel like a kid again. I definitely could critique some things, but where's the fun in that? It entertained me. I had a smile on my face pretty much the whole time.

4. IL SORPASSO (1962) - directed by Dino Risi | written by Dino Risi, Ettore Scola & Ruggero Maccari
Quite possibly my favorite road trip film. Many have been done before and after this one. But I just loved how this movie was able to capture the carefree nature of traveling the open road. It wanders naturally. Most modern road trip films feel too constructed, whereas this one just felt like....life. I really enjoyed seeing the evolution of the characters and friendship. And without the surprising ending (and its gravitas), I don't think the experience would've been the same.

 4. CLAIRE'S KNEE (1970) and A SUMMER'S TALE (1996)
written & directed by Eric Rohmer
Nothing like a Rohmer film. The pacing. The wandering story. The conversations. And the unrequited desires. Some hate his movies. Others sing his praises. These 2 films were perfect in capturing moments in time where I was vicariously experiencing them with such fucking delight. I felt like I was on vacation, exploring life and love. I also watched several other Rohmer films this year that left me cold and bored....but these two I want to revisit and live again and again.

3. PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE (1974) - written & directed by Brian De Palma
I'm a sucker for musicals. And even a bigger sucker of De Palma films. This one had alluded me for quite some time, even though I've flirted with seeing it many times. I've actually seen snippets of it over the years, but finally it was time to catch this from beginning to end. And oh what an ending. Just loved its bold vision. And the songs. Man, those songs. So haunting and beautiful. So tragic and yet so bitingly funny. I'd love to make something like this.

2. STILL WALKING (2008) - written & directed by Hirokazu Koreeda
Man I love this movie from Hirokazu Koreeda. I watched it a few months after my father had passed away, and even though the father character in this film is nothing like mine, it still was heartbreaking. Partly due to seeing this family interact on-screen and knowing I'll never have that again in my life. And also just seeing how this simple story had so much to say in its simpllicty. This one definitely made me think of my parents and how I love them. And I'll never be able to hold on to what I once had.

1. FORCE MAJEURE (2014) - written & directed by Ruben Östlund
This is by far my actual favorite film I saw in 2015. The dark, dark, DARK humor was just so delicious. And the unpredictable story was just so refreshing. The entire time I was riveted, on the edge of my seat...and it's a drama? Or dark comedy? Or it's a hybrid of everything because I firmly believe that's what life is really like. Life doesn't fit into one genre.  And when the story ends in the movie (like a boss), it feels like it's just the beginning. And it's marvelous.

 

Other films I really enjoyed for their creep factor were THE GUEST, SPRING and STARRY EYES. The docs ALIVE INSIDE and GLEN CAMPBELL: I'LL BE ME were heartbreaking. And both original series TOGETHERNESS and MASTER OF NONE were stellar.

EVERYTHING I WATCHED IN 2015

1/1 - Dawn of the Planet of the Apes; Chinese Puzzle
1/2 - Divergent
1/3 - The Maze Runner; Housebound
1/17 - In The Blood
1/30 - Open Windows; Whiplash
1/31 - Mean Girls (rewatch); Little Shop of Horrors (rewatch); Top Chef
2/1 - Luther (3); Orphan Black
2/2 - Sexy Baby;
2/3 - Luther
2/4 - Top Chef
2/5 - Orphan Black (3); Before I Go To Sleep
2/6 - Switched At Birth (2); Orphan Black (2); Gone Girl
2/7 - Orphan Black (2)
2/9 - Fresh Off The Boat (2)
2/10 - Top Chef
2/12 - Top Chef
2/13 - Knock; Disengaged; Slut; A Case of Pyrophillia; The Only Man; Innocent; Grave Shivers
2/14 - Luther (3); Blood Ties
2/15 - Nightcrawler
2/16 - Luther (2); Honeymoon; Windrider
2/17 - Fresh Off The Boat (2); Fur; Luther
2/20 - Life Itself; Blood and Black Lace
2/21 - Togetherness (2)
2/22 - Oscars
2/23 - Togetherness (4 ); Fresh Off The Boat
2/24 - Two Night Stand; Dear White People
2/25 - The Walking Dead; A Life in Dirty Movies
2/26 - Cloudrise; The Spoils of Babylon
2/27 - The Tenant; House of Cards (3)
2/28 - To Be Takei; Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day; Wrinkles; The Frame; House of Cards (3)
3/1 - House of Cards (2); Lucy
3/3 - The Walking Dead
3/4 - Switched At Birth
3/5 - Ouija;
3/6 - Love, Rosie
3/7 - Fresh Off The Boat; Togetherness; Men, Women and Children; Trek Nation; Star Trek: Generations; Secretary
3/8 - House of Cards (5);
3/9 - Walking Dead; Talking Dead
3/10 - Fresh Off The Boat
3/11 - Foxcatcher; Sawdust and Tinsel; Starry Eyes; Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (3)
3/12 - Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt; Big Hero 6
3/13 - Back Issues: The Hustler Magazine Story
3/14 - Les Mis on stage (Arizona Broadway Theater)
3/16 - Kingsman: The Secret Service
3/18 - Walking Dead; Talking Dead; Love and Death (rewatch)
3/19 - Phoenix Film Fest shorts; And So It Goes; Switched At Birth
3/20 - The Search for General Tso’s Chicken; Barbecue; Animal
3/21 - Star Trek: TOS; Glee, Everything Or Nothing
3/22 - Spring
3/23 - Force Majeure; I Origins; Switched At Birth
3/28 - A Million Ways To Die in the West
4/1 - Hollywood’s Best Film Directors (Ivan Reitman)
4/2 - The Tale of the Princess Kaguya; Walking Dead (2)
4/3 - Ask Me Anything; Going Clear;
4/4 - Furious 7; Fresh Off the Boat;
4/5 - Whisper of the Heart; Interstellar; Coherence
4/6 - Mad Men; eXistenZ; Twilight Zone (2)
4/7 - Twilight Zone
4/8 - Fresh Off The Boat; Poltergeist (rewatch); Rebid
4/9 - Premature; Twilight Zone (2)
4/10 - Sharky’s Machine; Switched At Birth; The Devil Came From Akasava
4/11 - masterchef; masterchef jr
4/14 - Mad Men; Fresh Off the Boat
4/15 - Big Eyes; Exposed
4/16 - Armour of God
4/17 - Wolfcop, She’s All That (rewatch)
4/18 - Corruption; 10 Things I Hate About You (rewatch)
4/21 - The Babadook; The West Wing
4/22 - The West Wing
4/23 - The West Wing
4/24 - Une Liberation; Boost
4/26 - Luther; The Twilight Zone; Silicon Valley
4/27 - Luther; Mad Men; Girly
5/6 - mad men
5/7 - Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
5/8 - The Great Gatsby; Monster; House on Sorority Row; The Peacemaker (rewatch)
5/9 - West Wing
5/10 - West Wing;  Mission Impossible 4 (rewatch);
5/11 - Australian exploitation film
5/12 - Make Way For Tomorrow
5/13 - West Wing, Switched at Birth
5/14 - West Wing; The Train; Next Food Network Star
5/15 - Underworld (rewatch)
5/17 - Still Alice
5/18 - Silicon Valley; Mad Men; Next Food Network Star
5/19 - Mischief (rewatch); Secret Admirer (rewatch); Next Food Network Star
5/20 - Run; Next Food Network Star
5/21 - Next Food Network Star
5/22 - Next Food Network Star
5/23 - Charley Varrick; West Wing
5/24 - The Rocketeer (rewatch); Zombeavers; The Den
5/25 - West Wing;  Parts Unknown
5/26 - West Wing; Small Time Crooks (rewatch); Parts Unknown; Bangkok Hilton
5/27 - Creature; The Duff; It! The Terror From Beyond Space; Bangkok Hilton (2)
5/28 - Bangkok Hilton (2); The Black Marble;
5/29 - The Thing (rewatch)
6/8 - Silicon Valley; Disturbia (rewatch); The Wraith (rewatch)
6/9 - The Pyramid; The Conversation (rewatch); McFarland USA, The Inbetweeners 2;
6/10 - Capricorn One (rewatch); Nashville Girl
6/11 - Experiment in Terror;
6/21 - Coal Miner’s Daughter
6/27 - History of the Eagles (Part One & Part Two)
6/28 - What Happened, Miss Simone?; Backstreet Boys: Show 'Em What You’re Made Of
6/29 - The Other One:…Bob Weir; Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage
6/30 - Paddington
7/1 - The Fleetwood Mac Story
7/4 - Almost Famous (rewatch); SuperMensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon; Who Is Harry Nilsson?
7/5 - Fame High; Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me; Austin to Boston
7/13 - Ballers (3 eps)
7/14 - Ballers; The Sure Thing (rewatch)
7/15 - Fabulous Baker Boys (rewatch); Roller Boogie
7/16 - Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton; Switched At Birth; B.B. King: The Life of Riley
7/17 - The World of Henry Orient; Love Exposure; Savage Streets; Laggies
7/18 - Can’t Stand Losing You: Surviving the Police;
7/19 - Harry in Your Pocket; Little Miss Sunshine (rewatch)
7/20 - Switched At Birth; Ballers;
7/22 - The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel;
7/23 - Masterchef; Home Free
7/24 - Dead Bullet (rough cut)
7/25 - Dead Again (rewatch); Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (rewatch)
7/26 - Ballers; Let’s Get Lost;
7/27 - Il Sorpasso; The Guest
7/28 - Ikiru; Switched at Birth; Goodbye To All That
7/29 - Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
7/30 - Troubadours;
8/1 - A Star Is Born (1976); Focus;
8/2 - I, Madman; Phantom of the Paradise (rewatch)
8/3 - Katy Perry: Part of Me; Ballers
8/6 - Master Chef, Home Free
8/7 - Beyond the Lights
8/8 - Insurgent; Far From The Madding Crowd
8/9 - Barely Lethal; Ballers
8/10 - Tender Mercies; Crazy Heart (rewatch); Casting By
8/11 - It Follows
8/13 - A Summer’s Tale; The Sign of Leo; Masterchef; Sex and Drugs and Rock n’ Roll
8/22 - Burying the Ex
8/23 - masterchef; homefree; Eagle Eye (rewatch)
8/24 - ballers; F/X (rewatch)
8/25 - Tell No One; The Fugitive (rewatch); While We’re Young
8/26 - The Interpreter; The China Syndrome; Wet Hot American Summer; Chained Heat
8/27 - The Game (rewatch); Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (rewatch); The Sugarland Express; Hackers (rewatch)
8/28 - Wet Hot American Summer
8/29 - Masterchef
8/30 - Michael Clayton (rewatch); Blackhat; Home Free
8/31 - Wet Hot American Summer
9/1 - Still of the Night; The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo; Project Greenlight
9/2 - Thelma and Louise; Project Greenlight
9/3 - Project Greenlight
9/4 - Project Greenlight
9/5 - Home Free; Project Greenlight
9/6 - The Incredibles (rewatch); Miracle Mile; I’ll Be Me;
9/7 - Project Greenlight
9/8 - Senior Project
9/9 - I’ll Be Me
9/11- Switched At Birth
9/12 - Road Hard
9/13 - Master Chef; Home Free; Project Greenlight
9/14 - Late Spring; Still Walking; Switched At Birth
9/15 - Switched At Birth; Sunrise; Atlantic City; Road to Nothing; Zathura (rewatch); Janie Jones
9/16 - Tig
9/17 - Switched At Birth; Keep On Keepin’ On; Master Chef; Grace Unplugged;
9/18 - Never Tear Us Apart: The Story of INXS
9/19 - Cherry 2000; Firewalker; Mary Mary Bloody Mary
9/21 - Quiet Riot: Well Now You’re Here, There’s No Way Back; Greetings From Tim Buckley; Who The F*#K Is Arthur Fogle; Tig: Boy Girl Interrupted; One Direction: This Is Us
9/22 - Paul Williams Still Alive; Knock Knock It’s Tig Nitaro; Love and Mercy; Charles Bradley: Soul of America;
9/23 -  Switched At Birth; The Man With The Golden Gun (rewatch); Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin’; Meat Loaf: In and Out of Hell; Richard Linklater: 21 Years
10/4 - Project Greenlight
10/5 - The Swell Season; Richard Pryor Doc; Remembering Robin Williams
10/7 - Batkid Begins; I Need That Record
10/8 - Fresh Off The Boat; Harold Mayor Of The Sunset Strip
10/11 - Bruce Springsteen: Blood Brothers; Entourage the movie
10/12 - Project Greenlight; Magic Mike XXL
10/13 - Coyote Ugly (rewatch); Bachelor Night
10/14 - Open Road;
10/15 - Chops; Hit So Hard; Fresh Off The Boat; Final Girls
10/16 - San Andreas;
10/20 - High Fidelity (rewatch)
10/21 - Back In Time
10/22 - The Wolkfpack; Jurassic World
10/23 - Unfriended; Man Up
10/24 - The Blob (1988; rewatch): Fright Night (1985; rewatch)
10/25 - Spinning Plates; Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed;
10/26 - Project Greenlight; It Might Get Loud
10/28 - Shark Tank
10/29 - Shark Tank
10/30 - Project Greenlight
11/3 - Alan Zweig’s VINYL; The Leisure Class
11/4 - Do I Sound Gay?
11/6 - Inside/Out, Shark Tank
11/8 - Saturday Night Fever; Master of None
11/9 - The Collector; Master of None;
11/10 - Tu Y Yo, Lost In Translation (rewatch); Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara;
11/15 - Tomorrowland; The Gift
11/16 - Shark Tank
11/17 - Ned Rifle;
11/18 - Safelight; Fresh Off The Boat; Aziz Live at Madison Square Garden
11/19 -  Dope
11/20 - Unnerved spot check
11/21 - The Runaways
11/22 - Walking Dead
11/24 - Claire’s Knee
12/1 - Electric Boogalo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films
12/2 - Chaos on the Bridge; Fresh off the boat
12/3 - 3 Nights in the Desert;
12/4 - A Very Murray Christmas; Bait; Cop Car
12/5 - Shark Tank; Junior Masterchef
12/6 - Junior Masterchef
12/7 - Junior Masterchef
12/8 - Amy
12/9 - Shack Out on 101;
12/10 - Spectre;
12/11 - Cooties
12/12 - Shark Tank
12/15 - Torn Curtain; Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
12/16 - Jane The Virgin
12/18 - People, Places, Things;
12/19 - Star Wars: The Force Awakens
12/23 - Silver Linings Playbook (rewatch); Short Term 12 (rewatch); We Are Your Friends; Ex Machina
12/24 - The Hateful Eight
12/25 - Mad Max: Fury Road
12/26 - Love Actually (rewatch)
12/27 - It Happened One Night (rewatch); John Wick; Goodnight Mommy

Just one look

In researching my current script, I recently revisited Sofia Coppola's LOST IN TRANSLATION (2003). There are so many amazing moments in the film it's hard to choose just one.

This was probably my 5th or 6th time seeing the film. And I was watching it particularly for the karaoke scene this time. There's just so much going on in this sequence, which finds itself smack dab in the middle of the running time.

It's a major turning point for the characters. And it's all done without saying a word.

Rather, they're singing karaoke. Simply looking at each other.

And it says so much.

There are 2 particular moments where I find brilliant.

1) (00:35 click to view) Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) singing The Predenders 'Brass in Pocket (I'm Special)' -- first off it's the perfect song choice as it allows Bob (Bill Murray) to perform the chorus, echoing "special..." as he looks at her. And look how he does it. It's hilarious and honest.

2) (01:34 click to view)  The look that Charlotte gives Bob, his glance catching her do it...then their emotional exchange all through the eyes. Looking and not looking. We've all been there and the actors perform it so perfectly. (It also doesn't hurt that the song is the gorgeous 'More Than This' by Roxy Music as pwoned by Bill Murray)

It's a perfect moment in a perfect film.

Rather than watch my specific moments I've linked, I hope you watch the entire clip embedded above. Even better, see the entire film (again).

 

Dream Project

I had some fun putting together concept posters for a dream project of mine: a biopic of the incredible singer Linda Ronstadt. These are totally created by a fan (me) and nothing else.

"They haven't invented a word for that loneliness that everybody goes through on the road. The world is tearing by you, real fast, and all these people are looking at you. ... People see me in my 'girl-singer' suit."   -- Linda Ronstadt

The Films My Dad Showed Me

I've been dreading writing, and more importantly, posting this. Because when I do, and if you're reading this now, my father, Francis King, has passed away.

One of the biggest influences he had on my life was introducing me to the films that he and my mom loved. When they were dating in Taiwan, they went to the movies a lot. And they saw a ton of American films.

I somehow think their love of going to the movies rubbed off on me and my love for cinema.

I want to share with you now the films my parents showed me -- and how I love them so much. Both my parents and the films.

REAR WINDOW (1954) - quite possibly THE FIRST Hitchcock film I ever saw. Still one of my all-time favorites to this day. As a kid, I experienced so much genuine terror and delight with its unique storyline and visual style. Watching it now, it still holds up and is an example of a master at work. It's a perfect film.

SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959) - As a kid, I never realized how "adult" the humor was in the film. I just enjoyed the slapstick and screwball antics. It was only until later did I come to appreciate its daring, bawdy, sexy side. The performances and directing are a true delight. The dialogue is a dream. This one gets better with every viewing.

NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959) - Action. Suspense. Romance. Great score. Cary Grant. What else could you ask for?

THE MUSIC MAN (1962) - I love the songs. They're ingrained in my head. I probably saw this film at least once a week. I had a mad crush on Shirley Jones. "Marian the Librarian" is simply one of my favorite numbers I've ever seen (I couldn't find an online clip of the entire number or else I would've posted it). But this is also a great clip showing how much complexity there actually is to the songs.

THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963) - an epic adventure with an all-star cast. This was another film I probably watched at least once a month. Every time a favorite character of mine had an upcoming death scene, I secretly wished that for once -- just this time -- that they'd get away. And this was the film that introduced me to Steve McQueen. Enough said.

MY FAIR LADY (1964)  - another musical where I still think of the songs to this day. My dad used to hum the tunes all the time. That's probably one of my best memories. And I definitely had a crush on Eliza Doolittle.

WAIT UNTIL DARK (1967) - this is the film (along with REAR WINDOW) that made me love the "single location thriller". I realized a good story didn't need tons of locations. And it's another film starring Audrey Hepburn. I think my parents must've loved her (who didn't?).

Spoilers in the clip below.

 

 

 

 

 

Goodbye Dad

This morning my father, Francis King, passed away peacefully. He was the strongest, smartest, most honest, most humble man that I knew. Recently I was trying to think of his favorite hobby (besides working -- he was a passionate workaholic) and for the life of me I couldn't think of what he enjoyed doing. Until I realized it was family. His hobby was loving and caring for his family. For my mom, my brother and me. Everything he did was for us. He wanted us to be happy and succeed in whatever we did.

He was pretty quiet and private though. A typical phone conversation on his birthday would be:

Me: Happy birthday Dad. I love you.
Dad: Okay thank you. You wanna talk to mom now?

I loved those talks. I looked forward to them.

I will miss him terribly. I loved him so much. This post doesn't seem to do much justice. However, in some small way by sharing this with all of you, it helps to keep his memory alive. By reading this, you now know about him. And that makes me smile.


The Train (Arrow Films Blu-ray Review)

Preface: If you haven't heard of ARROW FILMS, think of them as the English counterpart to North America's Criterion Collection mixed with Shout Factory. Most of Arrow's catalogue is Region B, which means if you're in the US, your standard Blu-ray player won't play them. You'll need a region-free player, which can be found for under $200. It's worth it. I've expanded my collection and viewing opportunities by being able to get any film on Blu from around the world.

John Frankenheimer's THE TRAIN starring Burt Lancaster hits Blu-ray courtesy of Arrow Films (Note: it's a Region B disc).

THE FILM

Here's Arrow's official synopsis:

Synopsis: ONE MAN’S IMPOSSIBLE MISSION – TO SAVE HIS COUNTRY’S PRICELESS TREASURES

Directed by John Frankenheimer at the peak of his powers, The Train was made during a tremendous run of top-class pictures that also included Birdman of Alcatraz, Seven Days in May and The Manchurian Candidate, with Seconds soon to follow.

France, 1944. Art lover and fanatical Nazi Colonel Von Waldheim has plundered a Paris museum for its masterpieces, including works by Van Gogh, Picasso and Cezanne. His intention is to have them transported by rail to Berlin, but one man stands in his way. Aware that the Allied forces are fast approaching the French capital, Resistance fighter Labiche need only stall the train for a few more days, but he’ll have to use all of his wits and skills to do so.

Featuring two Oscar-winners in its lead roles – Burt Lancaster as Labiche and Paul Scofield as Von Waldheim – and Jeanne Moreau and Michel Simon in support, The Train combines star power with spectacular action sequences to produce a classic war movie.

Instead of a more traditional review I thought it'd be fun to do a running commentary for this. I jotted down my thoughts as the film played. It was my first time viewing so for the most part I paid attention unless I really needed to get a thought down.

There will be minor spoilers:

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Silence in the opening  minutes. Draws me into the German soldier.

An action/thriller film starting with people talking about art? Only in the classic days. Love it.

Love the font of the opening credits. Can't wait to see Burt. Haven't seen him in a film for a few months. Jeane Morreau is in this?? Yes!

Frankenheimer's deep-focus composition and camera movement are hypnotic.

The plot is about protecting art. France's National pride.  Man, I love this.

Love how they have set up that Lancaster's character (Labiche) values his men's lives over art. Setting up his belief system.

"I'm too old to be careful" - great line by the engineer character (Papa Boule)

The composition is masterful when we see the shot--reverse shot of the engineer being lined up for execution.

Humor always breaks the tension. Such an effective tool to make me like a character. Labiche "you gonna tuck me in as well?" (when being closely watched by the Germans)

Awesome cut of the door closing to the station agent being struck in the face.

Love how Jeanne is being sucked into the story now as an unwilling participant at first. Now she's warming up to Burt. Interesting....of course, they're interrupted just as they're starting to connect. Great storytelling

Ok the train whistle is starting to get on my nerves.

That old lady who closed the gate and stepped aside for the train was dangerously close. Didn't seem like a stunt woman. Wow.

Authentic train derailing. Frankenheimer and collisions pre-CGI world. Love it

Burt did his own stunts. Falling on that bridge looked badass.

Damn stakes are high. All the French Resistance people are being killed.

Love this dialogue exchange:                                                                                       "No one will be hurt.."                                                                                                   "No one's ever hurt. Just dead."

Lancaster's performance is on fire when he's told England simply wants to paint the train to mark it. Damn he was good.

Such a physically demanding role for Lancaster. When he lays the explosives on the tracks and runs. He sells it. When he slides down that rocky hillside -- jesus!

Paul Scofield as Colonel Von Waldheim is electric. His obsession. His defeat. Can't take my eyes off him.

Here it comes. Mano a mano. The final face off.  Great fucking shot of Lancaster's feet walking alongside the train. HIs determination. Its no different than the Colonel's.

Incredible final shot. That's how you end movies. No epilogue or tagged on ending needed. The story's done. And scene.

VIDEO/AUDIO
Region: B
Rating: PG
Cat No: FCD1103
Duration: 133 mins
Language: English
Subtitles: English SDH
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
Audio: 1.0 Mono
Discs: 1
Black & White

The picture quality is simply gorgeous. Seems like natural grain throughout. Image is crisp. The film looks brand new. Sound had no issues on my 5.1 system.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the film
  • Uncompressed 1.0 mono PCM audio
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Audio commentary by director John Frankenheimer
  • Optional isolated score by Maurice Jarre
  • Burt Lancaster in the Sixties – a newly-filmed interview with Lancaster’s biographer Kate Buford, tracing the actor’s career throughout the decade - I love Lancaster so this is a total treat and the star of the bonus features. It's over 30 mins long and you learn a ton about his career aspirations and his power in Hollywood.
  • French television news report on the making of The Train, containing interviews with the locals of Acquigny
  • Archive interview with Michel Simon
  • Footage of The Train’s gala screening in Marseilles
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Vladimir Zimakov
  • Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Sheldon Hall, illustrated with original stills and artwork

BOTTOM LINE

I'd never gotten around to seeing THE TRAIN even though Lancaster is one of my favorite actors and I highly respect John Frankenheimer's work.

This film was amazing. It totally feels that it's the grandfather to the story formula of many action films that followed. It's tense. Its performances and stunts are phenomenal. I'd definitely add this one to your shelf!

Viva physical media.