What is MONDO 70? It is not a "Mondo" movie, but it can be about one. It is not from 1970, but it can be about the '70s. That you might mistake the name for a movie title of a certain kind from a certain time is no accident. I hope it conveys some of the flavor of the blog to come.
MONDO 70 is dedicated to extraordinary films. I look for something out of the ordinary in movies. That doesn't mean I'm an escapist or interested only in fantasy, but it does mean that I abhor the mundane in cinema. This is not the place to look for reviews or romantic comedies or teen coming-of-age films, unless they are old enough or foreign enough to tell us something interesting about their time or place. Even with that rule set, exceptions are possible, but you'll more likely find "genre" cinema here; films that are not dedicated to seamless imitation of so-called real life, but instead display signs of reel life -- that vitality of imagination, inspiration or desperation that can justify a movie's existence.
MONDO 70 is international in scope and steeped in history. Every movie made is actually a documentary in that it shows us something real, whether that be a writer or a director's vision, the labors of actors, or the social and cultural milieu from which each show arises. Arguably, the less refined, the less slick, or simply the less competent the production, the more it becomes a documentary, as failing illusions reveal the creative struggles before our eyes. Sometimes this can have a paradoxically inspiring effect. Watching Al Adamson's Dracula vs. Frankenstein, an especially bad horror film that nevertheless has a certain elan that more superficially successful shows lack, I felt more inspired to make movies (if only!) than by many other films that impressed me more otherwise. The bad films show us simultaneously how hard it is to make movies (well) and how easy it is -- or how easy it was in an earlier time.
MONDO 70 is more than bad movies. It will be a showcase for those films and their makers that I consider worthy of recognition among the canonical classics. Some will already be in many people's canons; others may remain below most people's radar. MONDO 70 is a product of my infatuation with DVDs and the opportunity they've given me to discover great directors like Jean-Pierre Melville and Kinji Fukasaku whose work I'd barely been aware of before the turn of the millennium. The object, however, is not to impose criteria for greatness, but to emphasize that these and other directors will deliver distinctive moviegoing experiences for discerning viewers.
MONDO 70 is founded upon three principal resources. First, my own DVD collection, including the indispensible compilatons of public-domain obscurities from Mill Creek Entertainment as well as the canonized showpieces of the Criterion Collection; then that commendable public resource, the DVD collection of the Albany Public Library, which offers everything from the newest popular releases to a healthy selection of international product, all for free, ableit on a first-come-first-served basis; and the on-line library of Movieflix.com, which overlaps the Mill Creek inventory but includes many items not readily available in the 50-movie sets. Together, these resources allow me to scan high and low, old and new, the good, bad and ugly, in search of novelty, visual stimulation, and the occasional outrage.
This blog probably won't be updated as frequently as my political blog, The Think 3 Institute, but I promise reguarlity at least. I consider it my weekend project, an alternative to political or social commentary that I can spare time for now that the presdential election is over. I hope that slow and steady will win the race for me, or at least, keep me going. I've seen movie blogs race out to flying starts only to slow down drastically and stagnate as inspiration fades or everday burdens catch up with people. For better or worse, I have fewer domestic resposibilities than other people might, so I expect to be make new reviews and other posts available at least on a weekly basis. With that in mind, I'd better get started, lest this look like the old bait-&-switch with nothing behind the ballyhoo. I hope you enjoy it.