Monday, November 26, 2018


Director Bernardo Bertolucci

I just learned that the Italian filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci died today at the age of 77 after a bout with cancer. You might remember some of his films, The Conformist, Last Tango in Paris, 1900, and the Last Emperor, to name a few. Bertolucci worked before money ruined Hollywood and the action movie, something that required little translation and could be sold overseas, became king. It could also be said that Bertolucci and his fellow filmmakers were the last generation of filmmakers to tell a story where the camera played the key role. Today, shooting a movie means shooting coverage. The art of cinema is long gone.

Bernardo Bertolucci with Marlon Brando
For me Bertolucci stood alone in his unique use and understanding of how to tell a story with a camera. The unbelievable tilts and pans that he used in Last Tango in Paris. The handheld chase through the woods in the Conformist. I will never forget that bumpy ride as a man ran for his life. Every bounce the camera made filled my gut with fear and emotion.

Robert Ellis
I saw Last Tango in Paris twenty-one times in a theater. The last screening was at a midnight show. I can remember walking outside after the film. It was dark and cold and snow was falling out of the air. When I looked down from the sky, I realized that the man beside me was blind. That’s the last time I ever saw the film. Bertolucci was wonderful. Cheers to a great life well lived!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Robert Ellis: CITY FOR FIRE, Chapter 20

Police Headquarters, Downtown LA …
Lena shows her partner Hank Novak and Lt. Barrera the crossword puzzle and the disc of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony she found in the death house, the implications ominous. The husband who confessed to killing his wife a month ago could be innocent. James Brant failed his polygraph but could be innocent as well. The coroner claims that Nikki Brant wasn’t raped. DNA results from the semen found at the house won’t be in until tomorrow afternoon. Then Lena shows them the meds she found by the victim's bed. Lena offers a new theory in all its horror. She tells Novak and her lieutenant that she thinks Nikki took a medication and became drowsy. In the beginning she thought she was having sex with her husband. When she realized she was in bed with a stranger, the killer’s knife was out, and it was way too late!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Robert Ellis: CITY OF FIRE, Chapter 19

The Death House … Rustic Canyon … Los Angeles ...

Wondering why Brant tried to break into the house, Lena searches the place, the oppressive smell of Nikki Brant’s tainted blood everywhere. Lena goes through every closet, every drawer, and finds nothing. On her way out, she spots a stack of newspapers in the kitchen. Someone filled in the crossword puzzle on the morning AFTER the murder. One month ago, a crossword puzzle was found by the bed of another murdered woman. Lena remembers that the killing was brutal and that Beethoven’s 6th Symphony had been found in the CD player. But it couldn’t be. The husband confessed to killing his wife and is in jail awaiting trial. Lena sees the Brant’s CD player and ejects the disc. It’s not Beethoven’s 6th. This time it’s No. 7. They’ve been headed in the wrong direction. Brant didn’t kill his wife. A serial killer did!