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 …

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

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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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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“Grand Street” (2014): Dreamily Melancholy New York City Romance Vastly Deserves NYC Premiere

Amory (Tom Byam Shaw) is a failing screenwriter who rarely forgets the faces of his detractors--especially if the face in question is that of the strikingly beautiful, strikingly aloof Camilla (Charlotte Riley), a film exec. A year after she rejects his deeply personal script ("Just because it happened to you doesn't make it interesting," she …

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“The Game” Re-emerges 25 Years Later…in Panama

I had never heard of "The Game," a political drama made by two of Spike Lee's former business partners/friends, until I stumbled upon the negative review by the notoriously dry New York Times critic Vincent Canby, from April 1990. That month, the film, which wrapped in 1987, hit New York City's Criterion Center theater, having …

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The Little Movie That Couldn’t: An Oral History of Elliott Gould’s Never-Completed “A Glimpse of Tiger”

There are few in-depth Elliott Gould profiles that don't mention "A Glimpse of Tiger," the abandoned 1971 Warner Bros. dark comedy that Gould was slated to co-produce and star in. Fresh from the harrowing but ego-boosting tutelage of Ingmar Bergman, who'd selected Gould as his first American actor to star in his 1970 melodrama "The …

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The Mouse That Charmed: An Evening with Kim Darby

When I called the now-retired actress Kim Darby at her California home a few months ago--to discuss her more obscure 1960s and 1970s work--she apologized (needlessly) for having taken a few days to free up her schedule. Her sister was in town, she explained, and her house was a total mess. Dishes were piled up …

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