John Otteni

Criterion Month Day 22: Thief

Thief (1981)

I wish Michael Mann had started his film career in the early 70s. I don’t know if it’s the De Niro connection on account of Heat, but I like to think of Mann as the west coast Scorsese. While Scorsese was showing off the grit of New York City’s seamy underbelly in films like Mean Streets and Taxi Driver, Mann was doing the same for Los Angles with Heat and Collateral. Both directors have dabbled with period pieces, Scorsese (Age of Innocence, The Last Temptation of Christ), Mann (The Last of the Mohicans)—why is everything the “Last” of something?—and both have dabbled in horror, Scorsese (Cape Fear, Shutter Island) and Mann (The Keep, Manhunter). The difference is Scorsese started his film career a decade before.

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Criterion Month Day 19: The Spirit of the Beehive

The Spirit of the Beehive (1973)

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from working with kids off and on it’s that they are all liars. Then again, are you really a liar if you believe what you’re saying? The whole reason children lie in the first place is because everything in the world is so new to them. They take in so much more information with far less context. They’re bound to believe things that don’t make sense to adults. And it’s this naivety that is part of the reason The Spirit of the Beehive is such a great film about children. It takes on that blurred perspective of the world through the eyes of a child. Also, it has a Frankenstein. Big points for a Frankenstein.

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Rokk Talk Ep. 10: Everything In Its Right Place

Daft Punk, Eminem, LCD Soundsystem
The Hold Steady, Wilco, TV on the Radio
Fleet Foxes, Green Day, Arctic Monkeys, Coldplay
Jay Z, Alicia Keys, Yo La Tengo
Modest Mouse, Bon Iver, Godspeed You Black Emperor
Arcade Fire, Springsteen, Broken Social Scene
Radiohead, Brand New, everyone has U2
Outkast, Weezer, still haven’t heard Ween

We didn’t start the podcast!
It was always playing what was Colin saying?
We didn’t start the podcast!
John and Sean, they were singing right along on…

Welcome to another edition of Rokk Talk! This week John, Colin, and special guest Sean talk about their top ten favorite albums of the 2000s. The reason?… Is you. Continue reading


Criterion Month Day 17: Two-Lane Blacktop

Two-Lane Blacktop (1971)

I like to think there are primarily two kinds of films in the Criterion Collection, “Classics” and “Curiosities”. We all have a general idea of what makes a classic film. Whether it’s a memorable performance or a scene, cinematography or music, or whatever kind of pop culture foot print it leaves behind. What makes a “Curiosity”? A curiosity is more self-contained. It’s a time capsule we reopen after years of obscurity or muted fanfare to learn about a part of the past we may have forgotten about. Two-Lane Blacktop feels like a curiosity.

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Criterion Month Day 14: The Face of Another

The Face of Another (1966)

“We all have a social mask, right? We put it on, we go out, put our best foot forward, our best image. But behind that social mask is a personal truth, what we really, really believe about who we are and what we’re capable of.” That’s a quote from one of the greatest minds of our time, Dr. Phil. Though I have no respect whatsoever towards Dr. Phil as a medical professional, I figure that quote is as good as any way to start a review about a surrealist Japanese film from the 1960s.

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Criterion Month Day 5: The Wages of Fear

The Wages of Fear (1953)

Last February, Sean, Colin, and myself watched William Friedkin’s criminally underrated 1977 classic Sorcerer. Adapted from Georges Arnaud’s 1950 French novel “The Salary of Fear”, Sorcerer is a high stakes adventure film with stunning South American vistas and unforgettable action set pieces. But it wasn’t the first adaptation of the novel. It wasn’t even the second.

There was a loose American version of the story in 1958 titled “Violent Road” and before that Henri-Georges Clouzot’s classic The Wages of Fear (1953). Though this is supposed to be my take on The Wages of Fear, I feel it’s important to bring up Sorcerer. Because even after a single viewing I would put Sorcerer among the twenty or thirty best films I’ve ever seen.

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