Journeys: Two Films by Juleen Compton
(1965) + Plastic Dome Of
Norma Jean (1966)/Flicker
Bookshop In The World
10,000 Nights in The Jungle
(2022/Dark Star Blu-ray)/She
B/C+/B-/B & C+/B- Sound: B-/C/B-/B- & C+/B- Extras:
B-/C-/C/C-/B- Films: C+/C+/C+/B/B-
for a variety of dramas, new and old, as awards season is here...
start with a double feature. Cinematic
Journeys: Two Films by Juleen Compton
(1965) + Plastic
Dome Of Norma Jean
offer two remarkable independent productions before such a cinema
fully formed in the U.S., one set in Greece, the other somewhere in
the Ozark Mountains of Missouri. The films both have actors who
became name stars and have their moments.
has Raina (played by the director) who is unhappy with her life while
away and tries to kill herself (the scene oddly has a few
similarities with the pre-title sequence (music, certain camera
shots) with the 1969 James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret
Service) by drowning, but she is saved, for now? She has a
decent boyfriend (an up and coming Gary Collins, who added talk show
host to his acting credits decades later) but is not interested in
marriage or being bored by domestic life (more radical then than now)
so off to Greece it is.
Jean (played by Sharon Henesy) apparently has the power to see
the future and when her and her boyfriend (Robert Gentry) buy the
title object, when she lays atop it and starts to think. Suddenly, a
Rock Band (!!!) shows up (Antonioni's Blow-Up and Preminger's
Bunny Lake Is Missing, both the same year, landed up with name
bands as their unexpected focus) and even helps them put the dome
together. Then they agree to play there!
amazing, the band includes Sam Waterston, Marco St. John and Skip
Tennant, a major lead actor and two longtime character actors in
their first feature films. They will be the main attraction, but
when that is not working out as expected, they turn to Norma Jean to
show off her clairvoyant talents to make the money they need to break
even and/or make a big profit. Instead, things go sadly wrong.
to say Compton's heroines seem to be in more trouble than expected,
but she is more interested in dealing with worst case scenarios than
having a vibrant, bold, groundbreaking woman who conquers all, an
often unrealistic situation, even if such a character were male. The
films can be rough and uneven, but they are also bold, at least a bit
ahead of their time and it is shocking they have hardly been seen.
That we have small hit films that are orphan films in need of saving
before it is too late is shocking, but these have hardly been
screened since their release and are long overdue for reissue.
they have survived and great efforts that were successful to restore
and preserve both films have brought them back. They sound good and
look really good, reminding us how good monochrome film of the time
could look, though it was being slowly eclipsed by color film stocks.
The acting is not bad, if not stunning, though the actors have their
moments in both films and seeing familiar faces in early roles is
Alley has backed yet another pair of key winners and I definitely
recommend that you see them at least once to see how good a director
Miss Compton is, how she had interesting ideas and knew what to do
with new talent. This especially extends to future filmmakers, as
there is much to be learned here for them too.
Commentary for The Plastic Dome of Norma Jean by film
historian and archivist Maya Montanez Smukler and filmmaker Allison
A 2020 interview with filmmaker Juleen Compton, conducted by Maya
Gallery: Slideshow presentation featuring behind-the-scenes images
from the productions of Stranded and The Plastic Dome of
a Booklet Insert featuring introductory comments on the films by
director Juleen Compton and an article by Richard Brody covering
Compton's career as a filmmaker and her films Stranded and
The Plastic Dome of Norma Jean.
Last Bookshop In The World
(2022) is a somewhat comical, then intellectual exercise that might
remind one of Godard as four book fans from Europe go, not to save
the last bookstore around (things are not THAT bad... yet?) but to
establish the last one beyond the reach of those who would destroy
such a place.
talk about books, ones they love, ones that changed them and more,
making this a writerly film as well as one with a somewhat basic,
readerly narrative. With all the recent retro-censorship of books
going on, including in the U.S. since 2016, the film is as timely as
ever, even if it features some things we have seen before.
Unfortunately, we apparently need to see them again.
director makes an impassioned point about why he made the film,
citing Bradbury's Fahrenheit
(now 60 years old as we post this) and Truffaut's underrated 1966
film of the book, even in the digital age, getting uncut, unaltered,
manipulated versions of any book is a concern, especially the likes
of anything from Bradbury, or Orwell or so many others too long to
list. A solid effort all around.
and official trailers are the only extras.
10,000 Nights in The Jungle
(2022) is a new film based on the true story of a man (the title
character, played by Yuya Endo young, then Kanju Tsuda when he is
older) who was in the island jungle of Lubang in the Philippines, as
the Japanese Imperialists are working with the Axis Powers to win
WWII. They lose, but he and his fellow soldiers are not aware of
this and land up holding out for decades until they are discovered.
film does a good job of portraying this, but I was not always
convinced in parts and visually, the eras are not distinct enough
visually, which hurts the presentation. However, many such stories
of many wars (including the U.S. Civil War, where Confederate
Soldiers did not believe they lost long after it was all over and I
am not talking about those in deep denial top the point they are
mentally ill) so this is an extreme example of what happened in so
many past wars.
it works more than not and if you are interested, you'll want to take
a good look at it.
are solid and include:
between the director and composers THE MUSIC (31 min)
between the director, writer and editor THE SCRIPT (37 min)
The Long Night with Tsuda and Suzuki (22 min)
Silent Solo Tsuda Kanji (8 min)
Casting: Young Endo - Haiku "Conspiracy Theory" (9
(2022) is easily one of the year's best films, telling how two women
(a terrific pairing of Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan, two extremely
underrated actresses, as real life New York Times reporters Megan
Twohey and Jodi Kantor, respectively) finding out that a major
Hollywood film producer with huge critical and commercial success is
a serial rapist and sexual harasser. It turns out to be the Harvey
first, it seems like it might be a small number of women and maybe
not such a big name, but the information keeps taking twists and
turns for them, they do not know what to think at first, nor do their
editors at the paper (including Patricia Clarkson and Andre Braugher
in great turns here) and as they get closer, they start to get
threats, but they continue.
Farrow is also following some of the same story, while they are sworn
to secrecy by people they are trying to help and protect at the same
time, then it all gets darker before they get a chance to finally get
their story out there. The screenplay suggests there are ways this
all may have never been revealed and the editing, style and directing
rightly suggest Pakula's All
The President's Men
(1976) and that this is a flipside to that horrific scandal.
is the person who manages to recreate Weinstein's voice and the
stand-in that looks like him (when he was still physically well) in
uncanny reenactments of the past. Though I knew generally what had
happened, what was set in place to ruin the lives of the many female
victims here and how much covering up and systematic sexism, et al,
is more outrageous than you'd think and it is of serious, top concern
to all mature adults.
film is so strong, I am surprised it is not more of a front-runner
during this wards season, that more critics did not get behind it and
that it is not being talked about much more than it is. I want to
strongly add that this is NOT a film with 'old news' you know
everything about, but has much more to show and say than even I was
expecting. I was impressed in a year that has had plenty of
disappointments, duds and some of the worst releases I have ever
is a remarkable film and one everyone should put on their must-see
list. Very impressive!
THE STORY: An exclusive behind-the-scenes featurette with
journalists Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor that recounts what it took
for them to break this incredible true story.
a THEATRICAL TRAILER.
but not least,
(2021, with ten directors!) recreating how Orson Welles (Jewell
Wilson Bridges), John Houseman (Daniel Kuhlman) and actress Rose
McClendon (Inger Tudor) team up to create an unlikely hit version of
a Shakespeare classic in the Great Depression year of 1936, set in
Haiti and when the U.S. Government had set up a program for the Arts
that was well-funded and a success, despite its later repeal by
Right-Wing forces not long after.
we have had a few films about Welles behind-the-scenes, not counting
documentaries, every such story is remarkable and they cannot be told
enough, especially since in the face of all the bad things that
happen, keep happening and even happen when grown adults should be
smarter and know better, what he and his collaborators pulled off
remains as remarkable as ever.
COVID, it is nice to see live theater making a comeback, but this
reminds us how vital and priceless the stage and the arts are to a
free society and how ahead of his time Welles and Company were. The
actors are very good here and the way the story is told is mostly
very believable, with only a few minor false notes or slightly off
moments. Otherwise, this one is worth a good look.
include a Feature-Length Audio Commentary with actors Jewell Wilson
Bridges and Inger Tudor, producers Miles Alva and Jason Phillips,
writer Erica Sutherlin, and director Zoe Salnave
actual 1936 (rough) footage of the original play, courtesy of the
National Archives and Records Administration.
for playback performance. The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white
digital High Definition image transfers on
the two Compton films might show the age of the materials used in
slight ways in small spots, but they are scanned from the original
35mm camera negatives and other original materials to present them as
clearly, with the best detail and gray scale you'll see on Blu-ray.
They also look as good as any release here and the optical monophonic
sound has been well restored in PCM 2.0 Mono, with few issues, though
can sound a little off in parts.
1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Onoda can be
on the soft side and not just because of any style choices, though
color is good. The DTS-HD MA
(Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is on the quiet side with a
soundfield that is not as rich as I would have liked it to be, but it
is fine otherwise.
1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on She Said
is the other really good-looking disc here, a nice shoot with a good
look throughout, though I wished it were in 4K. It includes a DVD,
here in anamorphically enhanced 1.85
X 1 image is passable and its lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix also
passable and no match for the lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1
lossless mix on the Blu-ray. The film is well-recorded and mixed,
though the soundfield goes quiet at times.
1080p 2 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Voodoo
and its DTS-HD
MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix are good, but a little soft and
underwhelming. I hope they did not hold back because they were doing
a period piece.
the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Bookshop looks
decent for a new digital production with its often outdoor shots, but
the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo can be a bit weak at times, so be
careful of high volume playback and volume switching.