Saturday, December 5, 2015

Try It, You'll Like It!: The Americanization of Emily

[Disclaimer: some of this post was written while under the fog of Percoset prescribed to me due to a massive kidney stone shortly before publishing. However, I made a commitment to have this thing up and ready, so here it is. It isn't anywhere near perfect or what I was hoping for, and I'm sure you'll be able to tell where/when the pain and drugs--and a little procrastination--got to be too much. Either way, I hope you take a little enjoyment from this. --Peter]

Getting into classic movies when you haven't really watched them before doesn't have to be a difficult prospect. You already know your own taste, so you can take it from there to decide where you want to start. But if you're looking for my advice...The Americanization of Emily (1964) is a good gateway to old movies (although I wouldn't call this movie old, per se).

It has humor; love and sex (well, 1964 sex); it has drama in the form of anti-war sentiment; an absolutely incredible cast--James Garner, Julie Andrews, Melvyn Douglas, and James Coburn; and Mary Poppins herself gets called a bitch! Are you intrigued yet? Read on.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Whit Bissell: Uncredited but not forgotten

Everyone participating in this weekend's blogathon, whether as a contributor or as a reader, has likely watched every movie ever made. And somewhere along the way through that celluloid jungle, particular individuals start to stand out: "Hey, that woman looks familiar!", "Where have I seen him before?", "That face is so familiar; now I have to watch this horrible thing until the end just so I can see the credits!", or "Help me, IMDB!" That is the legacy left by the character actor.

Character actors are every bit as essential to a great film as the the top-billed stars. And a character actor can also make an otherwise mediocre film something that approaches watchable. I don't want to use the cliche that they are the "glue that holds a film together", but there would definitely be something missing if not for these wonderful people.

As a part of this weekend's What A Character! Blogathon, I'm going to talk about one of my favorites: Whit Bissell.

Criterion Blogathon: Fritz Lang's M

"The man in black will soon be here, whith his cleaver's blade so true, he'll make mincemeat out of you."

And that is how Fritz Lang's 1931 film M starts. Reminiscent of A Nightmare on Elm Street's "One, two, Freddie's coming for you...", the children's rhyme in M does two things: it lets you know that there is a killer on the loose, but it also speaks to the "it won't happen to me" mindset of the children. Kids being kids, they worry about nothing at their own peril.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

TCM Discoveries: My kids and The Unknown

"This is a story they tell in old's a story they say is true."

Hello, movie lovers, today is the TCM Discoveries Blogathon, hosted by Nitrate Diva. We're supposed to post about films that we first saw via one of the many platforms of TCM. However, I'm going to put a different spin on it and write about the first time my children saw a specific film on TCM. That movie? 1927's The Unknown.

Directed by Tod Browning (Dracula, Freaks, The Unholy Three, London After Midnight...well, you get the idea--Browning made some startlingly good films), starring Lon Chaney and a very young Joan Crawford, The Unknown is a wickedly dark tale of love, hate, and deception. And let's just say that Vincent Van Gogh has nothing on Chaney's "Alonzo" when it comes to doing something drastic for the one he loves.

[Caution: some spoilers follow!]

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Hey, Hollywood, I got your reboot right here!

Things in Hollywood are getting a little ridiculous with all of the different re-boots/re-makes/re-tellings/re-imaginings that are being planned and made. There have been two remake announcements that have really gotten the cinephile community up in arms: Nosferatu and Mary Poppins.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

I Love You, M*A*S*H

Whether it's because of a memory of the family getting together at the same time each week, or you want to have something to discuss with your friends, or you just have a guilty pleasure, television shows occupy a special place in all of our hearts.

Sometimes our favorite show is not the best show on TV; at other times it is. More often than not, I find that a person's all-time favorite show isn't necessarily recognized as the best-ever. In my opinion, that best-ever spot is occupied by Breaking Bad, followed very closely by The Wire...yours may be different. This piece is about my all-time favorite show: M*A*S*H.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The New Medusa: Katharine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine


It's time for the Anti-Damsel Blogathon, hosted by Movies Silently and The Last Drive In. Everyone who is participating is showing that women are more than helpless, needy, frightened, and objects. Women are vibrant, intelligent, and many times the better sex.

After a very lazy two-month hiatus from my fledgling blog, I'm covering someone who probably comes to mind most often when thinking of a strong woman: Katharine Hepburn, and her role as Eleanor of Aquitaine in the 1968 film The Lion in Winter.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Classic Film Review: Seven Days in May

(Photo Courtesy:

Opening with a dramatic countdown superimposed over the Constitution, Seven Days in May is a compelling and engaging film right from the very beginning. Director John Frankenheimer immediately puts us in a position to choose a side: are you hawk, dove...or owl? 

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Exorcist still scares this 40-year-old man

All movies should be watched in the dark, but this is especially true for horror films. Yet, as a 40-year-old man, I am watching The Exorcist with every light in my house on, the doors to a darkened bathroom and the basement are closed, my feet are fully and firmly on the couch, and I have a little more bourbon than usual in my glass. I am scared shitless.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Classic Film Review: The Thing from Another World

This post is part of the My Favorite Classic Movie Blogathon in celebration of National Classic Movie Day (May 16th). Click here to view the schedule listing all the great posts in this blogathon. 

Chocolate and peanut butter. Milk and cookies. Batman and Robin. Those are things that are always thought of as great pairings, but let's consider another one: the 1950s and sci-fi.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), Invaders from Mars (1953), and The War of the Worlds (1953)...and 1951's The Thing from Another World.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Film Review: The Water Diviner

Full disclosure: Turkey is a country I visited after a number of years of my own personal "research"; it made a huge impact on me during my readings, and my visit in 2004 only served to intensify my love for all things Turkish. I recognize that what the Ottoman Empire did against the Armenians was genocide, and I believe that the current Turkish government should take ownership of their country's history. That being said, I still have an unapologetic love and admiration for the country, the people, and their history--warts and all.


The film marks the debut of Russell Crowe calling the shots behind the camera, and it is a shaky, but admirable start. The Water Diviner is a good, not great, film, and some of the criticism that has come down on it about not depicting the Armenian genocide is a little unfair. Andrew O'Hehir may believe that what happened to Armenians should have been a necessary part of this film, but when you consider that the film is already a bit muddled in the middle, adding genocide into a story that is ostensibly about a man trying to reclaim his sons would have been a bit much. And although the Armenians' story is a very important one to tell, Russell Crowe is not the one to tell it.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Netflix and Marvel are onto something big


Ah, the joys of going on a binge of your favorite television show, web series, or series of films. It's become quite the enjoyable misuse of our time--whether you re-watch a series you loved or are, like me, trying to get out from under the rock you lived for a period of time (I missed out on The Wire and Breaking Bad while they were running, but have since become a huge fan of both), there's going to be something out there for you...and it keeps getting better.

Friday, April 10, 2015

007: The Case for Idris Elba

Let me start by saying I am not a James Bond aficionado, but I am a fan of the films in general and have a few that I enjoy a great deal. I am in the camp that says that Sean Connery is the greatest Bond of all time, but Daniel Craig is giving him a run for his money, and Skyfall may be the best Bond film of them all.

Re-booting is sort of a trend with franchises these days, specifically with comic book films, but the Bond franchise has been doing it longer and better than anyone out there, starting with 1973's Live and Let Die, which was the start of a new Bond (Roger Moore) on a regular basis.

No matter who your favorite Bond may be, each of them had something to bring to the table as individual actors, but certain other factors were musts: attractive to both women and men (let's be honest, guys have sort of a man-crush on the character), sexuality, intelligence, nobility (if not morality), and power.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Once Upon a Time in America, an underrated gangster great

D.W. Griffith's The Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912) is considered the first gangster film, but with Prohibition, James Cagney, and Edward G. Robinson, the genre became one of the most popular for well over 80 years.

White Heat, Little Caesar, and perhaps the Paul Muni Scarface, are probably the most recognizable films from the prohibition/depression era, but if we throw in something like Key Largo, the list of greats gets even longer. The modern era, though, gives us perhaps the greatest-ever of the genre, with The Godfather (Parts I and II--I'll leave it up to the reader if Part III should be included), Goodfellas, and certainly the Al Pacino Scarface. Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs, and even Pulp Fiction, should also be considered as staples of the modern gangster film.

There's one film, though, that may make the lists of the hardcore fans, but isn't necessarily in the discussion when gangster films come up in casual conversation: Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America (1984).

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Brilliance of F. Murray Abraham

When I sat down to think about what to write for my first real post at this fledgling blog, it took all of a millisecond to decide that I wanted to write about F. Murray Abraham. Why? Because his performance as Antonio Salieri in 1984's Amadeus may be the finest performance ever put on film.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Welcome to Aperture Reviews!

What is Aperture Reviews? Well, to be honest, I'm not quite sure just yet. But since "Review" is in the name, you can bet that there will be...uh, well, reviews. Some reviews will be for new films, and I may even re-hash some old films out there.

I've loved films for a very long time, and after discussing them to no end, it seemed like a natural step to join the interwebz and start discussing them on a wider scale.

Basically, this is just going to be a place for me to talk about films, actors, directors, and who-knows-what-else when it comes to movies. There will be various types of lists, posts about specific performances, and anything else that I can think of.

This will, of course, be a work in progress; it won't be exactly what I want (or what you're looking for) right away. It will be trial and error, but it will be fun. I can't say how often I'll be able to get posts up, but keep coming and we'll see what happens.

So, thank you for stopping by. If there's something you'd like me to post about, feel free to email and I'll see what I can do.