Don’t ever watch this film. This film is heinously bad. Richard Kelly, director of cult classic Donnie Darko who also directs this filmic war crime, Southland Tales, should write a check to make up for the time wasted by everybody who sat through this bloated, vapid, overwritten, overacted, underproduced yet overproduced, hackery. If you want an experience akin to this movie, jump into a saguaro cactus while stark-naked and then watch this film. Don’t take a single cactus spine out of yourself while watching it. This is essential to the experience. Continue reading



The Sword of Doom is a brutal 1966 samurai film made by Kihachi Okamoto. It’s sanguine, dark, and brilliantly shot by Hiroshi Murai. It’s not a terribly high brow movie and definitely not a sterling example of jidaigeki (period pieces focusing around samurai) but it contains brilliant moments of “real grunt-and-groan sword-swinging” (as the 1967 New York time review says.) This same article referred to the Tarrantino-esque climax at the end of the film as being the most “chop-choppingest climax, ever.” And this scene is without a doubt really good: paper screens sliced through into tatters, sprays of bitumen-black blood dappling tatami mats, kimonos ripping, keen blades whistling through the air. The voyage however, leading up to this particular scene is slightly ill-plotted (mostly because it was planned to be many movies based on a episodic novel), but overall immensely entertaining. Continue reading


Quand passent les cigognes

The Cranes are Flying is a 1957 film, made in the U.S.S.R by Soviet director Mikhail Kalatozov (director of seminal Soviet films such as I am Cuba and Letter Never Sent.) It is a point of light seen through a chink in the Iron Curtain, a grounded propaganda piece that stands on its own as high-art. Through some of the tawdry, jingoist propaganda produced by the Soviet Union, this movie was made, you could say, against all odds. It is an essential film, although its’ central plot is somewhat lacking. There are wonderful elements of this story however, a story about two lovers: Veronika (Tatiana Samoilova) and Boris (Aleksey Batalov). Just as Leonard Maltin said about the previous film I reviewed, Playtime, when he called Jaques Tati the “only man in movie history to get a laugh out of the hum of a neon sign!” Mikhail Kalatozov is, in the same way, one of the only directors to wring laughs out of what was a harsh reality for Soviets during and after the war. Continue reading


A heightened reality of Brutalist and Bauhaus architecture, Jaques Tati’s 1966 film Playtime, which he also stars in, is an amazing film. Staid, gray buildings, gridlocked cars, clinical business interiors: everything looking like it’s  straight out of a design magazine. It’s a slap-sticky, carefully choreographed romp through steel and glass Paris, full of bizarre trade-shows, and half-built haute restaurants in which everything goes wrong amidst circus-like modernity. Continue reading

Pickup Real: What I Will Do

This is my blog about movies I enjoy. I’ll review them and analyze them. Expect as much. I’d like to pick apart movies and reveal the social climate in which they were made, as well as how they were made. I love films. I love watching them and studying them as well as writing about them. I love movies because they can get you into a new headspace, a new mindset. They can wrap you up in atmosphere. They can magnetize you, make you bite your fingernails down to the quick, make you rip your hair out of your scalp, as well as calm you, transport you to another place. A well-made film is an absolutely fantastic experience. I’d like to share that experience with you, whomever “you” may be. That’s what I will do.

Words by Luca Foggini. Photo by The Hufffington Post.