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Stories by Scott Marks

Religion in Christmas movies, Yellow Deli a cult?, San DIego Sikhs, Christmas without Jesus, Hare Krishnas

Church on Sunday? If not, did you ever wonder why people do? One man's search for Christianity's core. By Matthew Lickona, April 8, 2009 | Read the full article Joy to the Screen Isn’t the ...

September 26, 2020
Henry Silva’s golden years

This week, I struck gold with Henry Silva. Johnny Cool is the swingingest Rat Pack neo-noir ever filmed without the active participation of Frank and Dean. Peter Lawford co-produced, Joey Bishop begged the question, “Would ...

September 25, 2020
Antebellum: Janelle Monáe’s Moment

It would be impossible to discuss Antebellum without giving away the film’s startling secret. If you have yet to see the movie, please bookmark the page for future reference. It takes five minutes for the ...

September 24, 2020
Unexpendable Rambo

It’s over, Johnny. Rambo: Last Blood was the final nail in the Rambo coffin. This week, we look back on the first and fourth installments of Sylvester Stallone’s fivefold franchise. First Blood (1982) Abandoned, betrayed, ...

September 18, 2020
The controversy behind Maïmouna Doucouré’s Cuties

Remember when Cuties were orange and tasty and sold by the box? They still are, just don’t expect any promotional tie-ins with Maïmouna Doucouré’s controversial debut feature, the straight-arrow coming-of-age dramedy Cuties. Why the recently ...

September 17, 2020
Mark Twain's daughter ends up at the Bahia Hotel, Osama bin Laden's brother at USIU

Third Spud from the Sun: Cameron Crowe Then and Now “A couple things about Cameron set him down a peg from even the rank and file of ’zine greenhorn dust-suckers. He for all intents & ...

September 12, 2020
Dracula’s eternal life

Three things I know about Dracula. Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (1922) It was not the famous bloodsucker’s first screen appearance: that distinction goes to the long lost Hungarian film Dracula’s Death, made a year ...

September 11, 2020
WTF is DTF?

DTF: Down to Fornicate. It’s impossible to imagine the eponymous initialism was there from the outset. Doting filmmaker Al Bailey (he played matchmaker for the film’s subject “Christian” and his late wife Charlotte) initially intended ...

September 10, 2020
Off to the Races with the Marx Brothers

It’s a slow week at the movies, and what with my 65th birthday looming large, I decided to spend Labor Day weekend sweating through a sea of nostalgia. What lies ahead are answers to the ...

September 10, 2020
Proust-ian pastrami with Tom Palazzolo

Tom Palazzolo is one of Chicago’s foremost documentarians, but you don’t have to be a local to appreciate his films. Anyone who’s ever had the occasion to visit a bustling deli will find something to ...

September 4, 2020
Reading Cinemas and AMC Theaters to open tonight

This has been the longest dry spell of my moviegoing life. Even the most blizzardy Chicago winter could not keep me away for more than a few weeks let alone the almost six months it’s ...

September 3, 2020
I Am Woman: The Roaring ’70s

There was a point in America’s history when you couldn’t enter a supermarket or flip the radio dial without hearing I Am Woman’s titular tune. I clicked on the screening link expecting to find another ...

September 3, 2020
Bob Hope using Bing Crosby’s Dumbo ears to pin back his ankles

This week brings a pair of comedy duos: one legendary, the other with plenty of Hope (and Crosby) in their soul. Where the Truth Lies (2005) A fictionalized account of a murder that may or ...

August 28, 2020
Beasts Clawing at Straws: Greedy-go-round

What is it that will ultimately draw the following four characters together: the misfortunate maintenance man at a men’s sauna, a crooked customs officer, the resilient boss of a glittery nightspot, and the battered B-girl ...

August 27, 2020
Fred Astaire’s staggering glory days

This week’s homework assignment finds Fred Astaire and company in peak form. Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940) If Orson Welles is credited with introducing the ceiling to cinema (he didn’t), then the “Begin the Beguine” ...

August 21, 2020
Guest of Honour: Atom Egoyan’s rabbit feat

The way Guest of Honour is being vaunted in some circles, one would think that it had been decades since its writer-director had turned in anything of quality. The truth is that Atom Egoyan has ...

August 20, 2020
Oceanside Film Festival goes virtual

This year, the Oceanside Film Festival goes virtual, with over 120 shorts and features. The festival runs August 15 and 16. Visit online for more information and reviews. The Devil’s Road: A Baja Adventure (2019) ...

August 14, 2020
Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies, uncovered

We open as the curtain rises on the #MeToo movement. When our return to cinemas is finally ensured, there will be a new closing credit aberration to reckon with, a job described simply as “Intimacy ...

August 12, 2020
Tennis with François Truffaut and Donal Logue

It’s game, set, and match with these three tennis-related films. Tennis, Anyone...? (2005) Things you learn at the movies: next time you’re at a strip club, walk up to the first exotic dancer you see ...

August 7, 2020
Song Without a Name: gone baby gone

Peru 1988. Under the credits, newspaper headlines and file photos summarize the situation: a government at war against ruthless guerilla forces. Georgina (Pamela Mendoza) can be heard faintly in the distance, singing the song without ...

August 6, 2020
Gordon Parks’ Batman and Robin crimebusters

Three variations on a cops-and-robbers theme from the early ‘70s The Super Cops (1974) Released three months after Serpico, Gordon Parks’ film followed a pair of successful Shaft scores with this real-life account of two ...

July 31, 2020
First Cow: mooving picture

In ancient times, they might have called First Cow, an allegorical tale of two culturally discordant cowpokes who join forces to carve out a culinary slice of the American dream, “Figowitz and the Chinaman” and ...

July 30, 2020
Carl Reiner beats Mel Brooks to the bad taste punch in Where’s Poppa?

Every now and then, a critic has occasion to treat a film that demands special treatment. The recent passing of Carl Reiner has provided just such an occasion. Where’s Poppa? (1970) When Robert Klane set ...

July 24, 2020
A Nice Girl Like You: Lucy Hale’s porno pilgrimage

What’s A Nice Girl Like You doing in a lead review spot like this? Happy accidents happen. Were it not for my stringent self passing on a screener with a disclaimer branded across the bottom ...

July 23, 2020
Three from La Mesa’s Reanimated Records

La Mesa’s very own Reanimated Records was open, but only for curbside pickup. Owner Nic Friesen was a beautiful enough person to forward a photoset of recent acquisitions. What follows are but three jewels among ...

July 17, 2020
Bittersweet Kaye Ballard

There are those whose knowledge of Kaye Ballard is limited to the caricatured screaming Italian she playing opposite demure Eve Arden on TV’s The Mothers-In-Law. Ballard’s ball-shaped eyes, radiating angst from beneath a perfectly manicured ...

July 16, 2020
Albert Brooks’ mockinfomercial introduction

This week, it’s Albert Brooks’ first and (hopefully not) last, plus a bit of Sinatra propaganda. Albert Brooks Famous School for Comedians (1972) Omnibus television at its finest, The Great American Dream Machine was a ...

July 10, 2020
The Tobacconist: Stogie story

Other than an innate ability to turn heads with each passing performance, what do Montgomery Clift, Alan Arkin, Alec Guinness, Bud Cort, and Viggo Mortensen share in common? At a given moment in each man’s ...

July 9, 2020
Football: a career low for Lucille Ball

Do you miss the prospects of a football-free 2020? Not me, especially with this trio of celluloid scores to spike in celebration. Easy Living (1949) Jacques Tourneur had never seen a football game when RKO ...

July 3, 2020
The Truth: no better suited than Catherine Deneuve

For decades, Fabienne Dangeville has been the face of French culture (and haute couture). Considered by many to be one of history’s most celebrated beauties (and Europe’s greatest actress), the icy blonde was set to ...

July 2, 2020
John Wayne and a latex octopus

Finding this week’s selections was as easy as giving the old external harddrive a spin. There, nestled alphabetically in the “W”s, were a trio of “Wakes,” all new to me. There’s one to dream, one ...

June 26, 2020
Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things: Sultana of song

In one seemingly simple sentence, musician Laura Mvula concisely sums up the everlasting appeal of Ella Fitzgerald: “She made it seem like anything is possible.” (It’s likely that at one point or another, generally in ...

June 25, 2020
Girlfriends on film: Henry Orient, Thora & ScarJo, and Cattle Annie & Little Britches

Spinning ‘round the turn comes this week’s sure-bet trifecta, a trio of thoroughbred friendships of the unforgettable teenage girl variety. The World of Henry Orient (1964) While strolling through Central Park one day, Val (Tippy ...

June 19, 2020
Da 5 Bloods: a Spike Lee war joint

When Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo first began shopping their sprawling story of a Vietnam treasure hunt around the studios, it was conceived with four white veterans in mind. IMDB reports that Lloyd Levin, producer ...

June 18, 2020
Claude Sautet: melodramatic throwback

It’s been almost four decades since Romy Schneider’s career was cut short by cardiac arrest at the unripe age of 43. Schneider made her acting debut when she was 15, and during her time spent ...

June 12, 2020
The King of Staten Island: after the disaster

The real Scott Davidson, Pete’s father, was a New York firefighter and first-responder who died in 2001 when the World Trade Center collapsed around him. Anyone familiar with his son’s Comedy Central appearances knows how ...

June 11, 2020
Isolation drills from Groucho Marx to Sam Rockwell

When the lockdown first caught hold, I pinky-promised myself not to devote column space to movies focused on quarantines, vaccines, epidemics, or violently insane world leaders who suggest injecting household chemicals as a cure for ...

June 5, 2020
Working Man: Blue collar blues

At the same time many Americans are clamoring to get back to work, here comes a film about a man who refuses to be ousted from his job. Work gives us purpose; our jobs help ...

June 4, 2020
Al Capone’s film legacy

I have a hood on my back. No sooner do I finish Capone, Hollywood’s latest footnote to the legacy of the Prohibition-era crime lord, than our trustworthy friend Jon over at Rarefilmm.com posts what is ...

May 29, 2020
Jon Hyatt’s Screened Out warns of “brain hackers”

“What’s with all the movies?” was one of my father’s pet questions. “Don’t you ever read a book?” (This coming from a man who never cracked a spine in his life.) Years later, Dad’s counsel ...

May 28, 2020
Brackett and Wilder go to Hollywood

Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett collaborated on fourteen pictures together before going their separate artistic ways in 1951. (Wilder went on to have an equally fertile collaboration with I.A.L. Diamond with whom he shared screenwriter’s ...

May 22, 2020
Capone: Gangster geriatrica

You know Muni and Robards and Rico Bandello/ Steiger and Gazzara and Dame Judith who was no fellow/ But does Tom Hardy present a compelling scumball/ or is Capone yet another long haul?/ Così cosà. ...

May 21, 2020
Action in the 1970s: Gene Hackman, Walter Matthau, and Whit Bissell

A trio of ‘70s action flicks for your amusement, led by Gene Hackman, Walter Matthau, and... Whit Bissell? French Connection II (1975) The porkpie hat is as unmistakably American as the beret is French. And ...

May 15, 2020
Possessor: body horror head case

Brandon Cronenberg’s second feature will no doubt confirm those nasty rumors that daddy David set his son on the road to dreamland every night with Videodrome projected on the nursery wall opposite the baby’s crib. ...

May 14, 2020
Three Lloyd Bacon comedies starring James Cagney

This week’s triad features a tangy-as-always James Cagney starring in three comedies under the direction of Warner Brothers’ swift-footed Lloyd Bacon. Picture Snatcher (1933) In his column in the January 21, 1933 edition of Editor ...

May 8, 2020
Clementine: Overwrought meets underripe

We open on a note of anticipatory anxiety: an offscreen voice awakens Karen (Otmara Marrero). Soft tones profess, “You’re beautiful,” followed by, “You’re gonna break my heart.” Other than an eager exchange with a pooch ...

May 7, 2020
A close look at religions in San Diego

There Is One God "The equality of all people and all religions is central to our faith. We didn't want to seem as though we were saying, 'No! We're not Muslims! Don't attack us! Those ...

May 2, 2020
Vietnam vet turned dirty-water hot dog vendor

For Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who told Fox News that older Americans should sacrifice their lives for the good of the economy, we offer up a handful of ass-kicking seniors, led by pandemic paraclete ...

May 1, 2020
Jim Thompson's Série Noire, translated

When a sock to the chin connects in a Jim Thomspon novel, it does so with such force that you’ll be reaching to condole your jaw. A quick turn of the page, and the stench ...

April 30, 2020
The Filthiest People Alive

The first installment of the three part documentary feature Time Warp: The Greatest Cult Films of All-Time premiered on numerous VOD platforms this week. Here are three essential exploitation epics for further research. Pink Flamingos ...

April 24, 2020

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