Smut for General Audiences: “Nothing Personal” w/Suzanne Somers (1980)

"To be quick about it, she's terrible. Her smile...communicates no amusement, warmth, intelligence or interest. We watch the smile as we would watch the opening of a garage door...it's a minor mechanical feat." -Vincent Canby, chief New York Times critic, on Suzanne Somers' performance in the 1980 flop "Nothing Personal." Before the mid-to-late 1960s, foul …

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A Moment’s Reflection on “Moment by Moment” (1978)

Most colossal flops are the types of bad movies you can't wait to take down. You can't fathom the chutzpah of the filmmakers. So misguided was the script, acting and/or storyline, you wonder what the hell they were thinking, how it got the "go" from anyone in any sort of power. Whole books have been …

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Grudgingly Independent: An Interview with Long Island’s Own Fred Carpenter

An earlier Hidden Films entry discussed "On the Make," a 1989 disco drama that had a brief theatrical run and then more or less disappeared. But that film's debuting co-writer and producer, Fred Carpenter, has stayed in the game ever since, eventually moving on to directing. He continuously shoots, on the cheap, in Long Island--where …

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Upcoming Screenings: Chekhov’s “The Black Monk,” November 14, 7 PM, Montclair State University

"The Black Monk," a loose adaptation of Anton Chekhov's short story by Newark-based husband-and-wife filmmakers Marylou Tibaldo-Bongiorno and Jerome Bongiorno, is a beautifully shot, erudite, heartbreaking tale of misbegotten love. Set in Jerome's native Staten Island, the film is small in scale but consistently rich in themes. Chekhov's spartan 1894 work tells of a scholar …

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They Ought to Be on DVD, Part 1: “On the Make” (1989)

"They Ought to Be on DVD" is a recurring Hidden Films series dedicated to movies that received a New York City theatrical run—and thus a New York Times review—but no subsequent release in ancillary markets. Through interviews with cast and crew, we attempt to answer why. "I'm the first filmmaker to make a movie about …

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New York Times Slights, Part 1: Andrew Silver’s “Return” (1985)

I'm starting a new section on this blog called "New York Times Slights," honoring filmmakers whose movies--most of them small-scale--were unfairly given short shrift by the legendary paper. Bad reviews come and go, but vague bad reviews are another thing altogether.  To date, the paper's most dismissive/snobbish reviews came from the late Vincent Canby, who …

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Happy new year (and what to expect in 2016)!

Hi readers! This was an exciting year for several reasons (Hidden Films Twitter account up and running again, readership up, a few good profiles and reviews posted) but, as was the case last year, there was an unfortunate dearth of posts. This is something I absolutely intend to avoid in 2016. The perfectionist in me …

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“The Macomber Affair” (1947) and the woes of Post-Code Hollywood

When I read Ernest Hemingway's 1936 short story "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber," sent to me via email by my friend three or so years ago, I was absolutely appalled. Which I assume was Hemingway's desired emotional response even back in those heedless un-P.C. 1930s. It's crass and misogynistic, first inviting readers to …

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Masks, Melanoma, Mutilation: The Haunting Films of James Fotopoulos

by Sam Weisberg Growths. Contusions. Gaping head wounds. Pus. Mannequins with limbs missing. Neutral masks. Decaying masks (sometimes sketched in computer ink over the frame, sometimes sculpted in clay, sometimes worn by actors). Kangaroo masks. Gorilla masks. Drawings of centaurs, gargoyles, medieval torture chambers. Nipples. Conch shells that look like nipples. A man penetrating an …

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“A Snake Pit Gig”: The Making (and Undoing) of Abel Ferrara’s “Cat Chaser”

by Sam Weisberg A retired—but still heavily armed—right-wing Dominican general who used to strip his victims and torture them with golf clubs, now living high on the hog in Miami. A one-time foot soldier in the 1965 Dominican Civil War, now fronting a run-down Miami hotel. His search for the female Dominican sniper who saved …

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