My Month in Review: February '11

Triumph des willens (Triumph of the Will)
Leni Reifenstahl, 1935
A masterfully crafted propagandist document of how seductive charisma created one of the most significant forces the world has seen, and an absolute force of cinema if evaluated objectively. We are in and above a strict symmetrical order of crowds and parades, and "behind-the-scenes" with the troops at ease. We are motorcade passengers, peering directly over Adolf Hitler's shoulder and from his eyes' view. Reifenstahl's comprehensive photography and her shocking proximity to some of history's greatest enemies places us in the Nuremberg Rally as if we were closer than anyone in attendance.

Lursmani cheqmashi (The Nail in the Boot)
Mikhail Kalatozov, 1931
An exhilarating achievement in montage and evocative, often extreme close-up composition chronicling a single Soviet's unflinching defiance against great odds in honor of his country. Odd and possibly blasphemous as it may sound, I played MC5's "Back in the U.S.A." over the images and the album worked all but perfectly when commenced close to the time the title object comes into play (somewhere in the twelfth minute, I believe, placing the album's end precisely at the 41:12 mark). Even sans "Sonic" accompaniment, Nail in the Boot explodes with sheer volatility!

Peter Glenville, 1964
An absorbing demystification of nobility carried out with straightforward elegance and theatrical purity. Peter O'Toole and Richard Burton are magnificent.

Oktyabr (October)
Sergei M. Eisenstein & Grigori Aleksandrov, 1928
AKA Ten Days that Shook the World. Hardly anything in cinematic realms tops Battleship Potemkin's Odessa Steps sequence from Eisenstein, but the Soviet propaganda master comes mighty close here as he further experiments with montage in this arresting epic with unrelenting visual sublimity and a rebellious verve to compliment its subjects. Heralded are industrial intricacies of the very constructs the proletariat built and used against the Russian Provisional Government.

It's Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books
Richard Linklater, 1988
We perpetually endure - or unwittingly subject ourselves to - life's mundanities to reach that single daily moment of potential which we then are likely too fried to exploit. Linklater's circumstantial minimalism captures and motivates with ease, presenting a reality to live vicariously through while introducing ideas that would be expounded upon in beloved favorites of mine such as Dazed & Confused, Before Sunrise and Tape.

Another Year
Mike Leigh, 2010
When our lives fail to conform to our expectations of certain ages and our dreams languish unfulfilled, how does the resulting unhappiness reflect in our carriage? We can spend so many years simply expecting happiness and growing into the comfort zone of anticipation, but what are we to do when the Autumn years approach and nothing's happened? Do we have to accept our lot or are we apt to risk and bargain? Read the full review.

KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park
Gordon Hessler, 1978
AKA Attack of the Phantoms. Pure campy fun with a killer soundtrack. Uproarious both intentionally through goofy puns and unintentionally through the band members' uneven enthusiasm, absurdly portrayed super-personas and dimestore supporting cast (save for the rewardingly dedicated Anthony Zerbe). I'd love to see the superhero rock group concept revived on screen.

Travolti da un insolito destino nell'azzurro mare d'agosto
(Swept Away by an Unusual Destiny in the Blue Sea of August)
Lina Wertmüller, 1974
AKA Swept Away. This one takes a while to get going as it establishes its sympathies for the proletariat, simultaneously condemning the heedless vapidity of the bourgeoisie. As with its central characters though, once marooned it heightens, becoming exponentially more interesting as it goes. The isolated island setting boils life down to core elements, here easing the occasionally humorous evaluation of class hierarchies. I quickly rally as seemingly intended behind our male lead and laugh at the stubbornly aristocratic woman in her misery. Little compassion is shown for the latter throughout, even as her new superior's vengeful "game" treads on tyranny.

Mario Van Peebles, 1995
Through the two Mario Van Peebles films I've seen, I discern the director gets by on subject matter. Baadasssss' story, chronicling Van Peebles' father Melvin's efforts in creating Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, is a true inspiration despite the absence of anything too visually or narratively memorable. Panther, historical fiction about the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, powerfully conveys its key subjects' significance despite the same. It may be of note that Roger Guenveur Smith, the "one man" in the one-man show about Panther founder Huey Newton mentioned a few films down from here, portrays an FBI agent behind an effort to neutralize the Panthers by flooding the ghetto with drugs.

Mat (Mother)
Vsevolod Pudovkin, 1926
Powerfully striking throughout (let's just say that pun is intended)... and the ending? Yeah, I pretty much cried. I wonder if Scorsese had this in mind when constructing Gangs of New York.

Steve Gordon, 1981
Patient moral queries are raised throughout this touching laugh riot only to be dubiously answered, but I've come to terms with the probably realism depicted. The cast is spectacular, Liza Minnelli in particular. I'd like to know what became of the prostitute character.

Further first-time viewings, continued in order of preference:

Invitation to the Dance - Gene Kelly, 1952
If ever there was required definitive evidence of Kelly's invaluableness as a performing artist, this is it. I may prefer the eternal charmer's more accessible work such as Anchors Aweigh! and the obvious choice Singin' in the Rain, but the non-verbal narratives on display here are inarguably superb on cerebral and emotionally involving levels.

Hall Pass - Bobby & Peter Farrelly, 2011
The Farrellys have attempted morality before. Just look at Shallow Hal (on second thought, don't). With Hall Pass, they're touching on a very real, lingering issue within romantically committed life. Complacency battles ambition, but is our ambition really quelled by what we label "the ol' ball and chain" or are we as individuals to blame? Perhaps in this age of wilting monogamy all we need is to be reminded why we took the plunge in the first place. A moral journey in crude comedy's clothing, Hall Pass allows its audience - just as The Seven Year Itch did - to be unsure. At times the "right" and "wrong" choices aren't so clear cut from what is typically our omniscient vantage. By engaging us superficially, the Farrellys have actually created an empathetic avenue over which we stand to be reassured in our love lives. Read the full review.

The Human Centipede (First Sequence) - Tom Six, 2009
What would be grotesquely and scatologically pornographic is rendered fascinating through Frankenstein-like devotion in spite of the victimized creation's unglorified pain. Half arthouse, half grindhouse, all gluttonous provocation with wildly misanthropic and aberrantly sexual undertones. Suck it, Saw.

Quattro mosche di velluto grigio (Four Flies on Grey Velvet) - Dario Argento, 1971
Definitive Argento! Easily one of the better - and scarier - films I've seen from the giallo master, second probably only to Deep Red (though it might be noted I've yet to see several of his more reputed works). Imbued with the spirit of late '60s psychedelic rock, Four Flies features what I believe is the only love scene I've encountered in an Argento and an interesting way of passing over its protagonist's explanations to his acquaintances what the audience is already aware of. Plus, Bud Spencer!

Aelita - Yakov Protazanov, 1924
AKA Aelita, The Queen of Mars. Thoroughly entertaining, if a bit hokey. An unusual yet powerful companion to its commemorative October Revolution contemporaries due to setting and what may or may not be intended anti-revolutionary undertones. Whatever the intention, the epilogical hammer and sickle moment is beautifully achieved. Additionally, Valentina Kuindzhi may be my new favorite silent cinema siren.

A Huey P. Newton Story - Spike Lee, 2001
An affecting one-man characterization of the Black Panther leader's inner workings.

Kynodontas (Dogtooth) - Yorgos Lanthimos, 2009
Multiplicatively imaginative and rather Haneke-esque, this fetchingly photographed piece deprives us a typical audience's omniscience as its characters are deprived estimable inculcation. If I'm ever doubting my parenting skills, I now know what film to watch for a confidence boost.

Stanley Kubrick's Boxes - Jon Ronson, 2008
With this personal journey through the mysteries of one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, I have learned more than I ever thought I would about Kubrick - perhaps more than I would have cared to know. There's a certain discomfort as this stranger to Kubrick's inner circle involves himself as Herzog did with Timothy Treadwell's aftermath in Grizzly Man, though thankfully to lesser extent. All that aside, much of what's shown is, as one hopes considering the subject, utterly fascinating, and for any Kubrick fan the use of familiar score/soundtrack clips and copycat editing techniques is fun.

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work - Ricki Stern & Anne Sundberg, 2010
Good and seemingly balanced biographical documentary. I learned a lot about Joan Rivers and had a good time doing it. That's the point, right?

Potomok Chingis-khana (The Heir to Ghengis Khan) - Vsevolod Pudovkin, 1928
AKA Storm Over Asia. Pudovkin seems all about endings. The matter of its historical accuracy a non-issue, this one begins promisingly and closes with extreme boldness, mostly compensating for its intermittent midsection.

Supervixens - Russ Meyer, 1975
For the fair amount of work I've seen from Meyer's noted contemporaries, the man's work itself has remained a blind spot until now. Supervixens is comparable to fragments of Al Adamson's output (I.E. I Spit On Your Corpse), with its (free-to-film-in) desert setting and narrative subject matter, but the "nudie cutie" diagnosis sets it apart. Meyer's is a world where women are defined by ample endowment and sexual prowess holds sway over just about everything. The purposefully silly romp is done with uncommon vigor that builds and builds until a quite literal climax.

Mary & Max - Adam Elliot, 2009
An unexpectedly cute clay-animated tale of quaint and chronic loneliness. Eventually heavy-handed, but primarily delicate with shades of Wes Anderson (and I don't mean Fantastic Mr. Fox).

Master of the World - William Witney, 1961
Bava-esque lighting, inspired set design... but Master of the World (really more "Robur the Conquerer") is no War-Gods of the Deep, even for the great Vincent Price's turn as Jules Verne's tragic antihero Captain Robur - a man above men, lovingly but conflictedly combatting war itself and put at crowded odds with the very mentalities he goes out of his way to avoid in the form of our "protagonists". Similarly, Charles Bronson is no Tab Hunter. Still, a thought-provoking Verne tale goes a long way.

Gor - Fritz Kiersch, 1987
Who ordered the double-helping of subligar-clad camp? Oh, I suppose that would be me... but seriously - forgotten midnight classic?? And Bluto's in it!!

Grass: A Nation's Battle for Life - Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Shoedsack, 1925
As a big fan of King Kong and to a relatively lesser extent The Most Dangerous Game (mind you most everything is relatively lesser against Kong) I've been meaning to see this for some time (along with Chang, which I will likely get to that soon). It delivered more or less as expected, and I have nothing but enthusiastic respect for what Cooper and Shoedsack were doing (that they'd continue more dramatically with the mentioned titles).

Le rat de ville et le rat des champs (The Town Rat & the Country Rat) - Wladyslaw Starewicz, 1927
A droll short impressive primarily for its role in seminal stop motion.

The Second Circle (Krug Vtoroy) - Aleksandr Sokurov, 1990
Consistently and starkly attractive in its mournful expression of pain through (sometimes subtly and oddly sexual) imagery. I experimentally played Robbi Robb's "In Time" from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure over the hour mark's scene and absolutely loved the result (sorry, Sokurov purists).

Solntse (The Sun) - Aleksandr Sokurov, 2005
Without need to depict battlefield, The Sun's visually appealing personal (as opposed to historical) tale generates a palpable sense of wartime's rattled pressure center on the verge of defeat with what appears to be reverence for Japanese culture at the end of an era against derision of casual Americanness. Issey Ogata's performance is exceptional. "Snow in winter looks like the Sakura in March. Time is indifferent and erases both of them."

The Dungeonmaster - Dave Allen, Charles Band, John Carl Buechler, Steven Ford, Peter Manoogian, Ted Nicolau & Rosemarie Turko, 1984
AKA Ragewar. If not totally Mystery Science Theater 3,000 material, at least darn close. Some fun special effects and good, hammy everything else.

Creation - John Amiel, 2009
I once attempted to read Charles Darwin's "The Descent of Man". It soared over my head then, and for all I know it still would. It's in a box somewhere... I should unearth it and find out. If anything it should be easier to follow than Ernst Mayer's "What Evolution Is". Seriously, I need a Fred Alan Wolf type to explain the ultra-sciencey stuff (and make Twilight Zone sounds when things get crazier than crazy). Of course I do grasp - and have since I can remember - the core concepts of Darwin's work. Creation aims for exactly this denominator in its audience - comprehension of Darwin in spite of blanks drawn when it comes to specifics - and covers his theories through a personal story involving his eldest daughter and vice versa. In this it can feel awfully spoon-fed at times, but at others it does the trick nicely with instances of gorgeous nature photography to boot.

9½ Weeks - Adrian Lyne, 1986
Hard lights, industry, emptiness, balloons and honey. Erotica that covers plenty of bases without uncovering gratuitous amounts of skin. I never before put my finger on how similar Mickey Rourke and Bruce Willis were in the '80s.

Konets Sankt-Peterburga (The End of St. Petersburg) - Vsevolod Pudovkin & Mikhail Doller, 1927
The first film commissioned in commemoration of the Bolshevik Revolution, Pudovkin's second in his "Revolutionary Trilogy" is a much more straight-forward telling of what led to the proletariat uprising than Eisenstein's formalist October (the second commissioned), and it thereby lacks the spirit of that invigorating piece. Not as dynamic as Mother but stark enough to be visually interesting with a sprinkling of noteworthy sequences. Pudovkin's sense of montage is counted indeed, though again it pales against those other films' rattling finales. Somewhat interesting to be watching these October Revolution films with Egyptian government overthrow so prevalent in the world's headlines.

American Grindhouse - Elijah Drenner, 2010
Probably on par with its Ozploitation counterpart, Not Quite Hollywood, if not more structurally refined.

Carriers - Àlex & David Pastor, 2009
I'm a big fan of Robert Kirkman's "The Walking Dead", so this was about as fresh as a month-old zombie to me. In that regard though, had AMC's dubious take on The Walking Dead chosen the route of a more faithful adaptation, it just might have been a little something like Carriers.

Top Secret! - David Zucker, Jerry Zucker & Jim Abrahams, 1984
A smattering of memorable gags elevate this to the level of a relatively worthy Bond send-up, but it's Shirley no Airplane!.

She - Avi Nesher, 1982
Once you get past the pathetic introductory skirmish, this one is fun enough, but doggone it, it's just a frail attempt at a live action Heavy Metal. Anyone else now have an early Green Day song stuck in their head?

Flesh - Paul Morrissey, 1968
With admiration of Flesh for Frankenstein and adoration of Blood for Dracula, it was about time I got around to the "Paul Morrissey Trilogy". Having now seen Flesh, however, I'm not sure when I'll be getting on to Trash and Heat. For its purposes it's not bad by any (or at least many) means, I'm sure it was provocative in its time and in what I gather is true Morrissey fashion the opening shot is remarkable, but its portrait of affluent poverty's determined resorts doesn't compel me in any way beyond "Gee, Joe Dallesandro sure is pretty."

Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot (Monsieur Hulot's Holiday) - Jacques Tati, 1953
It's difficult to fault this one for much. Its Chaplin/Keaton-esque appeal is obvious and its atmosphere attractive. Its commonly employed descriptor is 'gentle', and I concur. Furthermore, Hulot's mere presence as opposed to his purposed actions causing agitation in the beachside community's balance is occasionally humorous and surely took a special mind to conceive. I cannot, however, say I was ever all that amused.

Cold Souls - Sophie Barthes, 2009
Though entertaining enough due to its base premise, Cold Souls is irreflectively soulless.

Teseo contro il minotauro (Theseus Conquers the Minotaur) - Silvio Amadio, 1960
AKA Minotaur, the Wild Beast of Crete; AKA The Minotaur. For all the titular minotaur-ness you'd hope the beast himself would be on screen more than two minutes. Then, considering here he looks like a fanged Son of Kong, maybe you wouldn't. Overall, a below-average peplum probably best watched out of the corner of your eye while you do something more useful, like watch better pepla.

Legion - Scott Stevens, 2010
Rashly inept, but just strange enough to be watchable. It never means to raise suspicion one way or another, but I'm not convinced as to the actual "goodness", "badness" or just plain craziness of the warring parties. Whatever the case, Dennis Quaid sure gives his all to these silly affairs, doesn't he? More power to him.

Vicious Lips - Albert Pyun, 1987
0.25% Space Odyssey, 0.75% Star Wars, 99% bad wigs, plus bad '80s pop rock, bad acting, bad sets and bad plot. So, yeah, bad, but... wigs, '80s pop rock, etcetera! Obviously it's enjoyable on some level.

Zelig - Woody Allen, 1983
Terribly clever. Also terribly lifeless.

Mat i syn (Mother & Son) - Aleksandr Sokurov, 1997
Long shots of pastoral nature paralleled with brooding humanity and fractured by persistent whisper. Would work better as an installment. Or maybe a much shorter film. As an already modest 70-minute feature... just go for a hike instead.

Following - Christopher Nolan, 1998
Sheer popularity has now led me to see every of Nolan's films, though the only I ever genuinely wanted to see was Insomnia. Following is certainly not my least favorite of the director's and in fact its first act is probably better than anything else he's done, but overall it is an annoying bore - the spawning ground of about every Nolanism that leads me against the man's oeuvre as a whole.

Don't Play Us Cheap - Melvin Van Peebles, 1973
I hate to hate on a Melvin Van Peebles work, but this more or less straight-forwardly filmed play is a convoluted bore.

Just Go With It - Dennis Dugan, 2011
No matter how preposterous [Adam] Sandler's other bad comedies are, at least a pittance is paid to plausibility. Due to comparatively superior establishment, I'll buy Little Nicky before I buy this. Formula's formula for a reason though, and I will confess to sneaky, trifling tingles once the key romance kicked in. There's a load more Devlin to sift through ("Devlin" being the film's euphemism for, well, you know...) but the saccharine center is there for couples attempting to enjoy an easy evening. Still, I wonder if there was more behind Sandler's nervously chuckled line to a hula-garbed [Jennifer] Aniston, "I'm sorry about this." Read the full review.

Up in the Air - Jason Reitman, 2009
Its worst transgression is disallowing its audience to think for itself. Less annoying than Juno, more mature than Thank You For Smoking, though in this case the latter may not be a plus.

Unknown - Jaume Collet-Serra, 2011
I propose a new subgenre nomenclature: twisters! The key reason to see any of these movies - even [Collet-Serra's] last outing The Orphan, for example - is to try and figure out the inevitable (and in this case, essentially promised) twist ending. Then, again, Unknown isn't the best platform for its fellow twisters to defect from as it fails to engage the mind. There are clues, all be them noncontextual, along with a clumsy tightrope act between rationality and insanity, but to boil it down is to realize the desired information isn't discoverable. It's simply withheld. Our twists come to us in the form of blatant, unrewarding exposition whenever the filmmakers deem it timely. Read the full review.

A Walk on the Moon - Tony Goldwyn, 1999
Good soundtrack. Good nothing else.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time - Mike Newell, 2010
I'm not a huge subscriber to the notion of films so bad they're good. If I enjoy something, even something generally disdained, chances are I find it genuinely respectable on at least some level. This haphazardly frantic story of a brat prone to lucky breaks performed by an ensemble of white people pretending to be Persian by doing British accents comes pretty close to being so bad it's good. It is so pathetically dreadful that I can't help but laugh at near every scene, rendering amusing what would be a miserable two hours. Still, the key of this phrase is the first part: so bad.

Ursus, il terrore dei kirghisi (Ursus, Prisoner of Evil) - Antonio Margheriti, 1964
AKA Hercules, Prisoner of Evil (Ursus doesn't sell in America, apparently, a la Maciste's stateside retitling as "The Son of Hercules"). It may be of similar note that director Antonio Margheriti is credited as Anthony Dawson. I honestly did not think I would see anything worse than Prince of Persia this month, or any time soonish for that matter. With all these "B" movies I suppose I was pressing that eventuality. This one makes Theseus Conquers the Minotaur look good. Really, all it has going are a couple pretty women. I could hardly sit through it. Actually, confession: I didn't! Too terrible to tolerate. And Reg Park looks funky sans beard.

Total first-time viewings: 54

- I also viewed 25 animated Soviet propaganda shorts. They should count, of course, but then I'd have an even less wieldy list!
- This month I'm adding a brief list of rewatches, ranked according to preferred re-experience, not necessarily overall preference. I believe January's four qualified titles would have been Un lac (Grandrieux, 2008), Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (Verbinski, 2007), About A Boy (Weitz & Weitz, 2002) and Sex and the City 2 (King, 2010).

Rewatches (10 total):
Dazed & Confused (Linklater, 1993), The Shining (Kubrick, 1980), Collateral (Mann, 2004), Miami Vice (Mann, 2006), A Clockwork Orange (Kubrick, 1971), Frankenstein (Branagh, 1994), Death to Smoochy (DeVito, 2002), The Graduate (Nichols, 1967), Armageddon (Bay, 1998), Forrest Gump (Zemeckis, 1994).

- This was actually my first proper viewing of The Shining, in that it was widescreen. Due to a mix of Kubrick's gorgeous symmetry and Warner Brothers' questionable releasing decisions, I honestly thought the picture was 4:3 for years and years. If I had a meter charting my most-watched movies The Shining would be in the top ten I'm sure (likely behind Vanilla Sky, Boogie Nights, The Doors and A Night at the Roxbury), but seeing it as it was meant to be seen for the first time was a glorious rediscovery.
- Miami Vice is an excellent companion piece to Collateral in that it treads much of the same ground but does so in a more streamlined fashion and with less exposition (what exposition exists is cleverly disguised). Concurrently, the two are as different as Los Angeles and Miami are far apart. Both are riveting digital achievements but in deciding between them I prefer Collateral's rawness ("Darwin, I Ching, whatever man, we gotta roll with it"). While Vice has my mind (and personal favorite Colin Farrell), Collateral has my heart (and incomparable performer Tom Cruise in one of his finest turns yet).
- For all its nerve, Branagh's Frankenstein feels a bit nerveless at times, but it is still the best direct adaptation of Mary Shelley's masterwork I've seen, altered ending and all. I still want to see an adaptation that features the novel's original dialogue. "If you will comply with my conditions, I will leave them and you at peace; but if you refuse, I will glut the maw of death, until it be satiated with the blood of your remaining friends." Phew, now how great would it have been to hear De Niro spout that!? Or from Branagh, whose background in Shakespeare proves him more than capable: "Devil, do you dare approach me? And do not you fear the fierce vengeance of my arm wreaked on your miserable head? Begone, vile insect! Or rather, stay, that I may trample you to dust!" Yeah, it's gotta happen.
- The last three were not of my choosing. I get The Graduate, it's just not my (plastic) bag. Armageddon's glaring pacing issues and brash implausibility make its rigid Americana difficult to digest. As for Gump... well, I've never been its biggest fan but it has its moments (the National Mall scene and pretty much anything involving Lieutenant Dan). This viewing, however, the top-heavy doses of grating sap were all the more apparent.


REVIEW: Hall Pass (Bobby & Peter Farrelly, 2011)

The way "Shutter Island" feels like it could have been made by a modern Alfred Hitchcock, the first thing I note of this picture's composition is an unexpected Billy Wilder tone. I'm making lofty comparisons, I know, but it's no mere coincidence. "Hall Pass" is essentially "The Seven Year Itch" for February, 2011. Our leads (well-timed team Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis) are granted seven days free from surveilled marital obligation by their wives (the hilarious pair of Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate) in hopes they'll learn the hard way a lesson in love. Over the course of this week, the men - less heroes in misogyny than puppylike victims of their own misgivings - fumble through preparation for would-be hook-ups either too tired, too wasted or just too uncertain to make any real moves.

The Farrellys have attempted morality before. Just look at "Shallow Hal" (on second thought, don't). With "Hall Pass", they're touching on a very real, lingering issue within romantically committed life. Complacency battles ambition, but is our ambition really quelled by what we label "the ol' ball and chain" or are we as individuals to blame? Perhaps in this age of wilting monogamy all we need is to be reminded why we took the plunge in the first place. A moral journey in crude comedy's clothing, "Hall Pass" allows its audience - just as "The Seven Year Itch" did - to be unsure. At times the "right" and "wrong" choices aren't so clear cut from what is typically our omniscient vantage. By engaging us superficially, the Farrellys have actually created an empathetic avenue over which we stand to be reassured in our love lives.


ICON Goes Digital!

In a new blog post, editor-in-chief Julie Rabbani has announced Icon Magazine's switch to digital on the heels of Borders' bankruptcy. Following explosive beginnings in Naples, FL under the Bayfront banner, Icon's second issue was distributed nationwide in Borders and Barnes & Noble locations. With print becoming less and less practical from financial and environmental perspectives, "Icon decided to jump in with both feet and not fall with the bookstores."

From the post:
"ICON will be a free publication to the public. This means that now anyone from anywhere in the world will be able to gt an email subscription and get notified whenever the new issue is released. Anyone can go on our website and view the magazine. Not only will this attract more viewers globally, but it will also increase sales for advertisers. All the links in the magazine will be clickable and take the viewer directly to the sites that are listed. Digital means no more limited page count, more ad space available and social media will be bursting at the seams.
"ICON will not only sell ad space in the magazine but also online advertising on the site itself.
"ICON is in the process of having the site revamped by some of the top designers in the industry. It will be an interactive site with rich media and video, also integrated will be the magazine blog, twitter and facebook."

Icon's Spring issue will be available by the end of March across the virtual newsstands of Apple (iPad, iPhone), Amazon (Kindle) and various other computer- and handheld-based venues.


REVIEW: Unknown (Jaume Collet-Serra, 2011)

I hope you've packed a hefty pair of suspenders 'cause pesky old disbelief is going to need 'em. When not stumbling through messes of unpronounced action we're rolling with logical leaps, particularly regarding standard security procedure. Strangers without identification are allowed high clearance simply via turned backs. International undercover assassins leave paper trails while fumbling with the operation of their own devices. Meanwhile these characters' dialogue is so rigidly cliché I'm surprised we never hear the phrase "follow that taxi!" All this and an undermining dispassion are sure to disappoint fans of 2008's moderately surprising Neeson vehicle, "Taken".

I suppose I'm being a bit harsh on what is by all rights "just a thriller". Subsequently I suppose things'd be dandy if "Unknown" were at least some form of thrilling. I propose a new subgenre: twisters! The key reason to see any of these movies - even director Jaume Collet-Serra's last outing "The Orphan", for example - is to try and figure out the inevitable (and in this case, essentially promised) twist ending. Then, again, "Unknown" isn't the best platform for its fellow twisters to defect from as it fails to engage the mind. There are clues, all be them noncontextual, along with a clumsy tightrope act between rationality and insanity, but to boil it down is to realize the desired information isn't discoverable. It's simply withheld. Our twists come to us in the form of blatant, unrewarding exposition whenever the filmmakers deem it timely. At least in "Shutter Island", which features perhaps the most exposition-heavy twist reveal in cinema history (one character goes as far as to pull out a chart; 'nuff said), we're tugged to and fro throughout in spite of being 99% sure we've solved the mystery.


A Glimpse in to Animated Soviet Propaganda: Fascist Barbarians (Galvanization)

Summaries of We Can Do ItVasilyokTale of a ToyThe Adventures of the Young PioneersTo You Moscow and Fascist Jackboots Shall Not Trample Our Motherland as presented in the Soyuzmultfilm Studios collection "Animated Soviet Propaganda".

Eto v nashih silah (We Can Do It)
Lev Atamanov, 1970
People the world over are terrorized by a colossal black bird borne of fascism and capitalism. Common acts of love and art (including formerly outlawed jazz music) create doves of peace vastly more powerful than the monster's evil and all is once again well. The message, apart from the barefaced, is seemingly to perseverance in peace (and, but not necessarily, Communism) is to bestow auspice worldwide. By the way, that typewriter shot? Stephen J. Cannell, anyone? Watch We Can Do It.

Stella Aristakesova, 1973
Vasilyok is a boy growing up in an idyllically Monet/Seurat-like agrarian village sprung from the ruins of war. His grandfather never returned from WWII, but a premature comprehension of death leads the boy on a journey to find his lost relative. He discovers a battleship bearing his grandfather's name - an exhortation that service to the Soviet Union rewards virtual immortality - and captains it home to his grieving grandmother. Part bright and cutesy commemoration, part emboldening recruitment tool. Watch Vasilyok.

Istoriya odnoĭ kukly (Tale of a Toy)
Boris Ablynin, 1984
In this blend of animation and live action, a Don Quixote puppet it constructed and brought to battle Quixote's infamous windmill, here with sails in the shape of a swastika. The puppet's maker is executed by an S.S. officer, but the puppet lives on to conquer the windmill. You can kill the flesh, but you cannot kill the idea. Watch Tale of a Toy.

Priklyucheniya yunyh pionerov (The Adventures of the Young Pioneers)
Vladimir Pekar, 1971
Resourceful Pioneers (essentially Red Boy Scouts) resist occupation from dim Nazis intent on burning books and lining their own pockets. It is difficult to gauge this one's significance in its time, considering its debatable applicability to revanchism paranoia. If anything, this Tom & Jerry-esque escapade states to children that citizens upholding the valor of the Soviet Union, even if only in spirit, will be met with equal return. Watch The Adventures of the Young Pioneers.

Chtoby tebe Moskvu (To You Moscow)
Grigory Lomidze, 1947
As any country is portrayed in its own history books, here Russia is gloriously painted against all comers with the then-800-year-old Moscow, "The Great City of Lenin", as its beating heart. Notable leaders are traditionally honored while commonfolk and enemies are suggested through animals - dutiful horses in old wartime, meek puppies beneath the Provisional Government, and suffocative ravens at the dawn of WWII. A love letter to the capital, To You Moscow also functions as a quickie review of Russian history. Watch To You Moscow.

Ne molmam Fashistskie sapogi Nasha Rodina
(Fascist Jackboots Shall Not Trample Our Motherland)
Alexander Ivanov & Ivan Ivanov-Vano, 1941
The use of the song "Our Armor is Strong and Our Tanks are Fast" (performed by the Alexandrov Ensemble) elevates this otherwise basic morale-boosting "poster" of a literally hoggish Hitler clomping across Europe and leaving fire in his treads before falling victim to the USSR. Watch Fascist Jackboots Shall Not Trample Our Motherland.