Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938)

This is the only cinematic adaptation of Mark Twain’s classic novel that I've seen (so far), but I have a feeling that this might be the best one. There not really much to say, plotwise at least: it follows the adventures (major and minor) of young scamp Tom Sawyer (Tommy Kelly). He does ordinary stuff that any boy in the 19th century would do to pass the time: fishing, wooing cute Becky, and witnessing to murder, among other things.
            This opulent, technicolor production is a great visualization of the story. It helps that the cast is really good, and are near dead-ringers for the characters portrayed. Newcomer Tommy Kelly is very impressive, being both mischievous and utterly charming. Other performers that stand out are the always delightful May Robson as the eternally loving but continually irritated Aunt Polly, and Victor Jory as a very frightening Injun Joe.
            This is very close to its source material, which works to the movie's advantage. Besides keeping the iconic scenes (the fence painting, the island, etc), much of the dialogue is straignt from the book, keeping Twain's humor and charm intact. It doesn't attempt to be grandiose or epic; the leisurely pace is better suited to the episodic structure, not unlike a lazy summer day.
            An especially impressive aspect is the set direction by William Cameron Menzies (later, he would do Gone With the Wind's decor). There are some truly gorgeous matte painting and sound stages that take full advantage of the vibrant color palate. My favorite set has to be McDougal's Cave, where Tom and Becky get lost. It's a gargantuan labyrinth of rock, with waterfalls, stone throne, and entrance-blocking boulders. It's nightmareish, yet strangely beautiful.
            And speaking of beautiful, there are also some seriously nice lighting and cinematography, the later being provided by the great James Wong Howe; I especially liked a sequence where a candle goes out, only to be replaced with moonlight.
           The studio era managed to crank out some really great film versions of classic books, and thankfully this is one of them. Episodic and compressive, but never confusing, disjointed, or dull, this is a must see for young and old.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

On Approval (1943)

          When the first thing seen is stock wartime footage, you think you what type of film you got into. When the first thing you hear is the omniscient narrator droning “Oh dear, is this another war picture?”, you know you're in for a treat. All this leads up to a very funny, very dry look over at the “peacetime” exercise and music of 1939 Britain, which doesn't really connect to the rest of the story, but provides a nice prologue nonetheless.
            The real plot is this: in the Naughty Nineties, the aristocratic Richard Halton (Roland Culver) proposes to a very-well-off widow, Maria (Beatrice Lillie). She accepts, but with a catch: before making the great leap into matrimony, they must live together in for one month on an island in Scotland, just make sure they would like being married. Along for the ride is Richard’s snobbish and always inebriated friend George (Clive Brook), and Helen’s clever American friend, Helen (Googie Withers). Getting to island is easy; surviving each other isn't.
            This movie is extremely funny and clever, due in no small part to the actors, who are all excellent. There is a real chemistry between them, with bon mots innuendos bouncing around like ping-pong balls. Like many a good comedy, there are continual twists and turns in dialogue and events, that I dare not reveal any, for fear of spoilers.
            One thing that really stood out to me was the amount of risqué elements. I cannot count how many lines have double meanings. Heck, most of dialogue could be said with a “nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more, say no more.”
            But don’t take my word for it; see it! It very droll, very farcical, very unpredictable, and is definitely not padded or overlong (its running time of 73 minutes feels just right). All the ingredients to make a great film are here: great cast, wonderfully dialogue, etc. This wonderful discovery is well worth your time, and is never boring.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Maid of Salem (1937)

Claudette Colbert returns, her glamour able to shine through the confines of puritan garb. This time, she finds loves and happiness with an outlaw (Fred McMurray), outside the confines of her home in conservative, god-fearing Salem Massachusetts. All this comes crashing down when witch-hunting frenzy takes hold.

As far as I can tell, this is the earliest cinematic variation of the Salem Witch Trials. The few reviews that I've been able to find often compare this to Arthur Miller's infinitely better known play, The Crucible. And it’s easy to see why; besides sharing the same setting and historical event as a backdrop, the plot centers on a person whose love life gets them in trouble, and when they dare to protest and point out the madness of the trails, fall victim to its mechanisms. Unlike Miller, emphasis is placed on the gossipy and lynch mob atmosphere resulting from the accusations.

The movie blames the strictness of the society, and it’s discouragement of affection with families, as the cause of the troubles. The fits enacted by Ann are cries for attention and a way to hold some power in a loveless, abusive household.

The artistic design is very impressive, managing to conjure up a drab conformist community that views a new bonnet as something close to blasphemy. The cast is also very good; McMurray is adequate as the dashing romantic outlaw, but the rest of the villagers are made up of some fine character actors. Madame, Sul-Te-Wan, for example,as the slave Tituba, one of the early victims of the witch hunt, is incredibly impressive.

If I have some reservations, they mostly have to do with the the ending. Not to give anything away, but it is pure Hollywood. It just feels tied up too neatly, though I suppose if one were to scrunch up their eyes, they could interpret the last shot to be ambiguous and rather disconcerting. Also, there this a the character of the dr., whose sole purpose is to point out the obvious messages in the film. In other words, he’s the closest thing the films comes to an Arthur Dimmesdale equivalent.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Three Cornered Moon (1933)

They don’t make comedies like this anymore! Claudet Colbert leads a stellar cast in a slapstick comedy about a wealthy Brooklyn family, the Rimplegars that discovers they lost most their money in the crash of ’29, and have continued to do so, thanks to their mother’s (the delightfully dotty Mary Boland) limited economic know-how (and her four grown-up children needing to order a taxi each).

Though the sudden lack of funds moves the plot ahead, much of the humor results from the family's interaction with each other. The actors portraying the Rimplegars have great chemistry and repartee, especially the brothers, played by Wallace Ford, Tom Brown and William Bakewell. They fight and bicker plenty, but share great fondness and love for each other as well. When the going gets tough, they support each other; and when things come up roses, they celebrate like there’s no tomorrow, in scenes of such unbridled, ridiculous joy that it’s hard not to smile along with them.

That’s not to say there isn’t some sting in this apparent piece of fluff. Colbert’s fiancée/lodger is a struggling intellectual writer, the kind that keeps cubist paintings and continually muses about life’s lack of meaning. The film has no patience for this artistic type; though he is a romantic at heart, his idealism and devotion to his modern novel (whose prose consists of a strange kind of modern spur of thinking innuendo) costs him a chance to get a job and put food on the table. 
The critique of holding art above survival fits well with the contemporary times. After all it was the mother’s lack of understanding of stocks and keeping money that got them into the whole in the first place (her investment into the Three Cornered Moon mine was the beginning of their woe, hence the title). But this is a comedy, and a highly enjoyable one at that. Like Hallelujah I'm a Bum and Sullivan's Travels, it somehow manages to squeeze out laughs from the dark reality of the Great Depression, thanks to wit, heart, and a great cast.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I Confess (1953)

Hitchcock films are usually divided into two groups: the ones that are continually discussed, re-evaluated and shown to film students--the classics (Pyscho, North By Northwest, Rear Window, etc.) Then there are the little known ones, the ones that only cinephiles know about, the less cared for films (Under Capricorn, Jamaica Inn, Stage Fright, etc). Today's film is part of the latter group, and alas, there are good reasons why.
The premise is as follows: late one night, a church caretaker (O.E. Hasse) tells Father Logan (Montgomery Clift) that he is a murderer. Since he does so in a Confessional, the priest feels that he cannot tell others of what was told to him. Unfortunately for him, what evidence the cops have point to Logan as the prime suspect.

            This potentially interesting premise gets a mostly lackluster treatment. None of the performances are particularly memorable. Not Clift, who is given plenty of angst time, but not enough chance to really show or give voice to his inner conflicts. Anne Baxter, as Clift’s love interest from before he joined the cloth, cried plenty but only moved me to frustration: often I felt like yelling at the screen "I know that you love this guy, and you told the cops about it, so why are you so modest on the darn stand?!!" Even the murderer, played overly sinisterly by Hasse, who starts out as a tormented grey-scale character quickly changes to a two-dimensional villain.
            Oh, and don’t get me started on the score. With some exceptions (Strangers on a Train  and High Noon) I can’t stand Dimitri Tiomkin soundtracks. His music usually alternates between extreme bombasticness or incredible sentimentality. This film is no exeption, and continually hearing his music over the action (his allows few non-musical moments) is enough to lower my what little liking I have of the movie.
           Despite all that, however, there are things that I do enjoy about the movie. The camerawork and framing are often beautiful, showing off some very nice-on location scenes of Quebec. The contrasts between strong sunlight and shadows are stark, and add an extra level of seriousness that the rather thin script barely manages to convey.
            On the whole, I would only recommend this film to those who are die-hard Hitchcock fans, and those who are interested in Catholic-themed films. And even if you do fullfill those requirements, a warning: this is pretty slow going.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Silver Cord (1933)

Based on a play by Sidney Howard, the set-up is deceptively simple: two brothers bring their girls to visit their doting, loving,  and perfect mother. The eldest (Joel McCrea) has recently married a biologist (Irene Dunne) who won't let matrimony prevent her from working; the youngest (Eric Linden) is engaged to a headstrong, straightforward girl (Frances Dee). It appears that Mother (Laura Hope Crews) is pleased with how things turned with her perfect boys. But the further plans she has for them don't take the girls into consideration.
            Now this is a movie that psych majors are sure to really enjoy. There is so much Oedipal subtext that is ridiculous! It is a fascinating portrait of the ultimate domineering mother whose extreme love for her sons is matched by her fierce lashing out at anything or anyone that could take them away from her. This self deluding monster doesn't for a moment think what she is doing is wrong. On the contrary, she considers herself a model of perfect motherhood, which is what makes her so terrifying. It's a real show-stopper of a role, and Ms. Crews’s melodramatic yet mesmerizing performance totally owns it.
            The rest of the cast is also very good: McCrea is fine as the stronger of the two sons, with the weaker one played by to a snooty, spineless perfection by Linden. The younger women of the cast deserve special mention.  Dunne and Dee are both straight-talking and strong-willed, and get plenty of time to shine.
            Now, this film is based on a play, and it shows it: most of the action takes place inside of the Mother’s house, the camerawork is static, and there are plenty of monologues galore. But the story and dialogue is interesting enough to prevent it from being boring. enough, and the interactions between the different people are effective, and often brutal.
            Though it does not have that much action, I can say with satisfaction that this film is very good and worth sitting: there is enough innuendo and drama to fill to keep one's attention.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Killer's Kiss (1955)

A once promising boxer turned palooka (Jamie Smith) is all set to move out of the seedy cesspool that is NYC to life of peace and quite in Seattle. He plans are briefly thrown out of wack when he saves a taxi dancer (Irene Kane) in the apartment across his from being attacked by her gangster boss/boyfriend (Frank Silvera). The boxer and the dancer find themselves drawn to each other, while the boss is figuring a way to take back what he believes is his.

If I had no idea who the director was after seeing this extremely low-budget film, I'd assume that he was a very talented individual who knew how to use the camera in interesting ways. If he was lucky, he probably went on do some nice-looking films, and plenty of TV shows. But since this is Stanley Kubrick's second turn as a director, I look at it more as a prelude of the much superior The Killing (1956), in addition to his other classic works. The gritty streets and crumbling buildings of NYC are well utilized to create an atmosphere of dread, assisted by interesting cinematography; The camera is place in front of a fish bowl to distort the features of the hero, and races down an empty street in a processed-negative dream sequence.

And though I have to give Kubrick well deserved credit for making a lot out of a little, the constant reminders of the minuscule budget he had to work with are hard to ignore. There are situations where "tell, don't show" is employed, usually when a character talks about events in voiceover. The actors are adequate, thought not particularly memorable. The plot is really nothing to write home about, lacking any real suspense or surprise in the story. The dialogue is bearable, though again, not great. It's kinda understandable why Kubrick never worked with an original script after this.

Kubrick fans and film noir conisuers should definitely should check it out. This is a case where creative stylistics win out over a rather bland story. Which is a shame; if the story matched up with the exciting visuals, this could have made a first-rate noir, instead of the okaish one that it is.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Mating Season (1951)

A man from a lower-class (John Lund) falls in love with a beautiful and kind girl who is also incredibly rich (the always glamerous Gene Tierney) . However, he is embarrassed by his background. When his hamburger stand-owning mom (Thelma Ritter) comes to stay, his wife mistakes her for hired help. Not wanting to embarrass her, the mom goes along with it. How long can they keep up with this charade?
            This is Thelma Ritter’s movie, no doubt about that. Even though she is fourth billed, underneath the less seen Miriam Hopkins.  But the characters are all connected to her in some way, and she is the center of the action.
            I don’t know why the title is The Mating Game. There is probably ten minutes of the film dedicated to actual courtship before the sudden wedding. The only thing I can guess it refers to is the complications of relationships. I don’t know, maybe I am just reading far too into it.
            Now, I previously refered to this being Thelma Ritter’s movie. Thankfully, she is her usual charismatic self, being both goodhearted and no-nonsense at the same time. Here, she is kind of  like a street talking Mary Poppins.
            Ah, but another great performance is from Miriam Hopkins. She is amazing as a mother-in-law from Hell: snobby, whinny and nagging.  She praises Mussolini’s health practices and orders Ellen (thinking she is a servant) to not call her by her by her first name. She and Ritter steal scenes whenever they are onscreen.
            As much as I like the performances, I felt that sometimes sugar-sweet sentiment got in the way of the humor. That’s not to say it wasn’t funny, but I do wish that it moved at a more quicker pace. Still, I would recommend this film, on the strength of Ritter and Hopkins.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Napoleon (1927)

I  have been meaning to see Napoleon, Abel Gance's silent bio-pic, for as long as I have been interested in film, so for a while, but it was not until last Sunday, when I journeyed to the glorious art deco Paramount Theatre in Oakland that I fulfilled that goal. Before it started, I knew already that it was considered a classic; I knew about the radical camera movement, the widescreen, and that it was meant to be the first part of a series of bio-pics on the life of Mr. Bonaparte. My hopes were high, but not too much: I had already seen the director's (Abel Gance) J'Accuse (1919), which I thought was rather dull and unmemorable (I might do a more detailed review of that later, but anyway...). I knew, however, as I made my way through that grand atrium, and sat myself down into the sets in the even more impressive auditorium, that this experience I would not forget.
          And I was correct. This did not meet my expectations, but far surpassed them into space. I do not think that this a really good movie, nor great.
         It is brilliant.
         Never have I seen a film that takes such full and creative advantage of cinema techniques, or use actors to such great effect, or even manage to make me sit on the edge of my seat for 5 1/2 hours (three intermissions not included).
        First off, the basics: the film covers the life of The Little General from his childhood years of winning violent snow fight in a military academy despite being outnumbered, to him being a young man and dealing with the baggage that entails: escaping from death in his homeland of Corsica, taking Toulon, wooing Josephine, and finally invading Italy, all of which he is ridiculously good at.
        Now, I'm not usually a fan of the bio-pic; far too often,  they end up as a checklist of said subject's accomplishments, in addition to allowing plenty of Oscar bait, and are rather dull pieces of cinema. But not this time, oh no. Gance covers the important bases of Napoleon's early life, and then some, but does it with incredible panache.
        How does he do this? By putting the camera on a horse, a pendulum, or have it strapped to the cameraman. By the perfect stages of small and grand set pieces, from cooking in a drafty apartment to the French Revolution's stormy and crowded National Convention to the muddy and bloody Siege of Toulon. By superimposition, rapid crosscutting, and having three screens going for the big climax.
       Through all this, Napoleon himself stands tall. Building the future dictator up as a savior of a chaotic France through plenty of symbolism and badassery. The lead performance by Albert Dieudonné manages to carry the role with great skill, showing pride and genius, but also being human, through his piercing eyes and hawk-like features.
       And the rest of the cast is amazing, too. Vladimir Roudenko is incredible as the brilliant but lonely Napoleon as a child; he makes the most of the early scenes he is in. Also of note are Gina Manés as the worldly Joséphine, Edmond Van Daële as a sly Robespierre, and Gance himself as cold-blooded and well spoken Saint-Just.
      All of this I saw in Oakland, and the viewing experience was incredible: what other place could be better to view this masterpiece for the first time then here, in a gorgeous movie palace, on the big screen, with Carl Davis conducting his rousing score, which incorporates the contemporary music of Beethoven, Mozart, and folk tunes, among others, to great effect. When the first act ended at around 3:30 pm, I believed I had found my new favorite move. At the end of the show at around 9:30, when the light came up and the tricolors of the French flag shown on the now-revealed three screens, I was certain.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The True Glory (1945)

This film is not that well known. Understandable, considering the comparative lack of widespread interest in old documentaries, including those made in war time. The True Glory, however, I think should gain a greater audience.
            It is a documentary about the Allied invasion of Germany, which consists of using real footage and narrations from those who served on the front.
            I must say upfront that this is a very obvious piece of propaganda, but there is no denying that it is a very well-made one. The wartime footage is amazing. There are shots from sea, from the ground, and from planes. There are battle footage, and shots of peace and quiet. But what holds it together are the narrations, spoken by those serving in the armed forces.
            You don’t know their names, but that does not prevent you from paying attention to what they are saying. They from the army, from the navy, the airforcee, and the war rooms. They have to deal with weapons, death, cold, and lack of direction and communication. They are men and women; American, British and French. They talk about prepareing for D-day, the invasion, and events leading up to the end of the war in Europe. Sometimes amusing indents are revealed, but most of the time there is a somber mood. These stories are full of colorful language and paint great portraits of the type of people who were part of the armed forces.
            Now keep in mind, this is no “Saving Private Ryan.” Most of the violence is skipped over (after all, the purpose of this government-sponcered film was to boost moral) but one still sees disturbing imagery, none more so then a sequence in a consentration camp.
            But this a well put together piece of propogana, with no small help from uncreditied co-director Carol Reed. The editing of the clips is masterful, and the inspirational music drive the film onward with gusto. The final message a teamwork is worth paying attention too. And as a timecapsel of show the (brief) positive relations between the Russians and the Americans before the war won, it is worth seeing.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Patterns (1956)

Fred Staples (Van Heflin) is the executive in a New York company. In this cut-throat, white-collared business world, he has to deal with a morally unscrupulous boss, Walter Ramsey (Evertt Sloane), in addition to his own conflicting ambitions.
        I never thought that a movie about office politics could be this interesting (sorry Executive Suite, but you did have your slow parts, despite arriving earlier), well-made, and creative. Of course, it helps to have an interesting and well written script by Rod Serling, and some first-rate performances.
        Though Mr. Heflin an effective low-key lead, Mr. Sloane steals the show as a dozy of a mean boss, Toward the few employers that he likes, he puts on the appearance of congeniality, and acts, to quote a female character, "simple and childlike". However, most of the time, especially at board meetings, he is a ruthless, heartless, and just plain cruel Boss from Hell. It is an amazing performance, and Sloane was completely up to it.
        Though I have already praised, Serling's script, I will do so again. His writing was sharp and memorable. You know a script is good when the monologues have you on the edge of your seat (sorry, Stanley Krammer....).
        Some of the staging are simple, but highly effective: for example, there is a scene showing a character overhearing other characters talking; however the camera is completing focused on the former. Techniques like this were borrowed from the film's original incarnation as a made-for-TV movie, but work just as well on the big screen. Additionally, there are some nice lighting effects, and a few on location exteriors shot in NYC which further add flavors of authenticity in the production.
        A further thing that is very impressive about Patterns is that how little it has aged over time. There are still problems with keeping ones morals in a competitive job market, and there are still bosses that are cruel and mean. Overall, I highly recommend this film: its lack of comic relief my turn off some views, but it is an effective and intense drama.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Ghost Goes West (1936)

           In 18th Century Scotland, a flirtatious Scot (Robert Donat) is killed running away from a rival clan. Because of his cowardliness, he is doomed to walk in his family castle as a ghost, until a relative can confront a relative of the rival clan. In the present day, his last descendent (Donat again) has to sell his castle to an American family, the Martins, and they want to bring it back to the States. What is a ghost to do?
            This movie was a disappointment: I though that Mr. Donat and a plot similar to The Canterville Ghost would make an interesting movie. Alas, I was proved wrong: this often slow moving, and sometimes dreadfully dull.
            The performances aren’t bad, but I though that Donat played his two characters (the ghost and his modern descendent) in the same way. Not too similar that I was confused between them, mind you, but enough that I found neither particularly memorable. And the love interest, curtesy of Jean Parker as  one of the castle's new owners, is so bland, that I felt myself beginning to fall asleep every time she was on screen.
            Not all is bad, though. The film really starts moving when they actually get to America, an hour into the movie. From there, there are some wonderfully jabs at Americanizing foreign things, mostly through how Mr. Martin (Eugene Pallette) gives the castle a makeover for an "authentic" highland party: a gondola in the moat surround the castle, a light show, or, my favorite, a jazz band playing Scottish tunes in a Latin American style (while in kilts, no less!)
            If the movie had spent more time in America, and less time in the highlands, and focused more on Scotish-American relations, instead of on the love-story, it would have been better. I think that was a major strength in The Canterville Ghost: it paid attention to the ghost, but also spent time making fun of the clash between American and British ideals.  But since Ghost Goes West spent so much time being wishy washy about money and Debts on the mainland, it unfortunately becomes forgettable.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Tom, Dick and Harry (1941)

Janie (Ginger Rogers) has a simple plan: to marry a rich fella and live happily ever after. But reaching her goal gets complicated when she finds herself engaged to not one, but three different men: ambitious Tom (George Murphy), wealthy Dick (Alan Marshal), and happy-go-lucky Harry (Burgess Meredith). What’s a girl to do?
           This is an extremely amusing comedy, with a clever, if gimmicky, premise: Janie after Janie goes on a date with each of her boyfriends, she has a dream in which she pictures married life with one of them will be like. The repeated structure worked out beautifully with each alteration; these sequences are laugh out loud funny, and quite odd and surreal. Of the Forgotten Films that I have watched so far, this is one of my favorites.  It’s the kind off film that leaves you feeling warm, fuzzy, and just plain happy inside.
            Now, this was not a perfect movie. The characters are two-dimensional (at best), and much of enjoyment of the film hangs on your tolerance for Rogers continually baiting her poor fiancees.
            Thankfully the film itself manages to overcome these flaws. All the actors are wonderful, somehow managing to invest their paper-doll personas with charm and humor (with the exception Phil Silvers, who is in a (mercifully) brief cameo).
            As if you couldn’t tell, I really, really liked this quirky movie, and whole-heartedly recommend it. This is one romantic comedy that defies your expectations, in the most wonderfully weird ways possible.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Doorway to Hell (1930)

Lew Ayres plays a young but powerful gangster, who organizes all the big-time bootleggers in the city to stick to their own territories, with himself as boss. This works out swell, until Lew decides to go straight and head to Florida to look after his little brother, whom he had enrolled into military school. Predictably, things quickly go to hell in the city. And some guys will go to desperate measures to get him back….
            I was weary about seeing an early talkie gangster films, especially after the disappointments of Alibi (1929) and Little Caesar (1930). Those two , like many movies from the time period, were hampered by stiff cinematography, bland acting, and dull dialogue. However, Doorway to Hell was not as bad as I expected. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised.
            First off, let’s get the highlight of this thing out of the way: James Cagney has a supporting role as Ayres's best pal and second hand man. This was made a year before “The Public Enemy” made him a star, and already he steals whatever scene he is in. Heck, when he is in the same frame as the star, he can't help but focus your attention on him.
            Alas, the same thing cannot be said of Ayres. Though he's miscast (I found it really hard to suspend disbelief that he of the All Quiet on the Western Front  fame could hold an entire criminal empire in the palm of his hand) but he was effective in making a charming and likable crook, a usual site in pre-code ganger films.
            Another person you should keep an eye out for is a pre-Renfield, Dwight Frye, in bit part. He gets to do a drive-by shooting with machine-gun hidden in a violin case in the opening.True, he doesn't have time to go Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and bug out his eyes in that gloriously insane way of his, but it's pretty great to see him comparatively sane role.
            Visually and plotwise it's rather conventional, with some exceptions. There are some lovely examples of using a camera to show, not tell, harkening back to the days of silent films. In addition, there are double-deals, betrayals, murders, a woman who has an affair with her husband’s best friend, a prison break, more gangster talk than you can shake a stick at, and of course, Cagney. In case you can't tell, this is definitely a must-see for any fan of old-school gangster films.