19 items from 2015
The way film composer and former Oingo Boingo frontman Danny Elfman tells it, his whole career boils down to two words: "Fuck it." He muttered that philosophical phrase when he offered an opportunity to write his first movie score – for director Tim Burton's feature debut, Pee-wee's Big Adventure – and the musician said it again when given the chance to perform his now-impressive catalog of symphonic cinematic creations in his "Music From the Films of Tim Burton" concert series.
The shows, which opened in London in 2013 and will kick off »
Written by Robert Smith
Directed by Irving Pichel
Everyone is unfortunate enough to experience, at one point in their lifetime, an episode when it seems as though every single decision they make produces the worst results imaginable. Each successive attempt to ameliorate the predicament only worsens it. Call it Murphy’s Law, call it poor planning and judgment, but whatever it is, car mechanic Dan Brady (Mickey Rooney) is bitten by the terrible bug from the moment he meets a lovely girl, Vera Novak (Jeanne Cagney), working the cash register at a nearby deli. Sensing an opportunity to for a fun night out, Dan opts, despite his better judgment, to steal 20$ from his employer’s register, fully expecting to pay it back the next day seeing as an old friend owes him that very amount anyhow. When said friend fails to come up with the money off hand, »
- Edgar Chaput
In 1963, Film Quarterly published an essay entitled “Circles and Squares.” It addressed the French auteur theory, introduced to America by The Village Voice’s Andrew Sarris. Auteurism holds that a film’s primary creator is its director; Sarris’s “Notes on the Auteur Theory” further distinguished auteurs as filmmakers with distinct, recurring styles. Challenging him was a California-based writer named Pauline Kael.
Kael attacked Sarris’s obsession with trivial links between filmmaker’s movies, whether repeated shots or thematic preoccupations. This led critics to overpraise directors’ lesser films, as when Jacques Rivette declared Howard Hawks’ Monkey Business a masterpiece. “It is an insult to an artist to praise his bad work along with his good; it indicates that you are incapable of judging either,” Kael wrote.
She criticized auteurist preoccupation with Hawks and Alfred Hitchcock, claiming critics “work embarrassingly hard trying to give some semblance of intellectual respectability to mindless, »
- Christopher Saunders
This week marks the 10th anniversary of the release of "Crash" (on May 6, 2005), an all-star movie whose controversy came not from its provocative treatment of racial issues but from its Best Picture Oscar victory a few months later, against what many critics felt was a much more deserving movie, "Brokeback Mountain."
The "Crash" vs. "Brokeback" battle is one of those lingering disputes that makes the Academy Awards so fascinating, year after year. Moviegoers and critics who revisit older movies are constantly judging the Academy's judgment. Even decades of hindsight may not always be enough to tell whether the Oscar voters of a particular year got it right or wrong. Whether it's "Birdman" vs. "Boyhood," "The King's Speech" vs. "The Social Network," "Saving Private Ryan" vs. "Shakespeare in Love" or even "An American in Paris" vs. "A Streetcar Named Desire," we're still confirming the Academy's taste or dismissing it as hopelessly off-base years later. »
- Gary Susman
Brad Pitt 'Glory Days' costar Nicholas Kallsen Brad Pitt 'Glory Days' costar Nicholas Kallsen dead at 48 Nicholas Kallsen, who was featured opposite Brad Pitt in the short-lived television series Glory Days, has died at age 48 in Thailand according to online reports. Their source is one of Rupert Murdoch's rags, citing a Facebook posting by one of the actor's friends. The cause of death was purportedly – no specific source was provided – a drug overdose.* Aired on Fox in July 1990, Glory Days told the story of four high-school friends whose paths take different directions after graduation. Besides Nicholas Kallsen and Brad Pitt, the show also featured Spike Alexander and Evan Mirand. Glory Days lasted a mere six episodes – two of which directed by former Happy Days actor Anson Williams – before its cancellation. Roommates Nicholas Kallsen and Brad Pitt vying for same 'Thelma & Louise' role? The Murdoch tabloid also »
- Andre Soares
Ah, 1989. The year the Berlin Wall came down and Yugoslavia won the Eurovision Song Contest. It was also a big year for film, with Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade topping the box office and Batman dominating the summer with its inescapable marketing blitz.
Outside the top 10 highest-grossing list, which included Back To The Future II, Dead Poets Society and Honey I Shrunk The Kids, 1989 also included a plethora of less commonly-appreciated films. Some were big in their native countries but only received a limited release in the Us and UK. Others were poorly received but have since been reassessed as cult items.
From comedies to thrillers, here's our pick of 25 underappreciated films from the end of the 80s...
25. An Innocent Man
Disney, through its Touchstone banner, had high hopes for this thriller, »
Cry of the City, 1948
Directed by Robert Siodmak.
Adapted from the novel The Chair for Martin Rome by Henry Edward Helseth, the film tells the story of a charismatic criminal and his nemesis, Lieutenant Candella…
Remember Barzini? The old-crone who was taken out on the steps of the New York Supreme Courthouse in The Godfather? An unforgettable face in Coppola’s masterpiece, he is [spoilers for The Godfather…] the mob-boss behind Sonny’s murder and the powerful force that manages to convince Tessio to give up Michael Corleone. Actor Richard Conte demands our attention, and carries the menace that could rival – but not overpower – the Don’s empire. It goes without saying that Conte wasn’t plucked from obscurity and was chosen carefully by Coppola. He had an unforgettable career in noir thrillers, including one of his earliest, stand-out roles in »
- Simon Columb
The second week of April is a big one for horror fans, as one of the most buzzed-about indie genre films of 2014—The Babadook—is finally coming home this Tuesday courtesy of Scream Factory and IFC Midnight. There are also a multitude of classic cult titles arriving in high-def on April 14th as well, including Long Weekend, Tales of Terror, the sequels to both The Toxic Avenger and Class of Nuke ’Em High, and Class of 1984.
Several new titles are also being released this week including Jinn, Roadside, and Echoes, and 20th Century Fox is unleashing their terror-filled sequel, The Woman in Black 2 Angel of Death, on both Blu-ray and DVD.
- Heather Wixson
Christian Petzold took a bold step into history with 2012's Barbara, exiling Nina Hoss's heroine into the diaphanous threats and suspicions of a provincial, 1980s East Germany. With Phoenix, his follow-up, Petzold takes this movement into history even further, striking starkly, deeply at questions of identity in a post-war Germany quivering silently with destitution, rage, and willful blindness. In a spectral sequence opening the film directly evoking the eerie clinical imagery of Georges Franju's lyrical horror film Eyes without a Face, Nelly, a concentration camp survivor, returns in quiet to Berlin after having reconstructive surgery following wartime mutilations. The woman who emerges from under the knife cannot be recognized. She emerges as embodied by Nina Hoss—a true queen in today's cinema—and her slender, lean physique becomes that of a post-war zombie, a ghost embodied, tottering and halting, a body not familiar with movements outside the camp, »
- Daniel Kasman
If you are anything like me and were told that the cast of a film was Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone you’d be handing over your money to see it without question. Add to this cast a director like Jacques Tourneur famous for films like The Cat People and Night of the Demon and this has classic written all over it. Arrow Video have released Comedy of Terrors on Blu-ray and DVD, while it may not be a perfect film, there is a charm that is undeniable and infectious that make it hard not to fall for.
- Paul Metcalf
There are 195 individuals nominated for Oscar this year. And when the winners are named Feb. 22, they will become part of film history, joining such greats as Billy Wilder, Ingrid Bergman, Ben Hecht and Walt Disney.
But 80% of the contenders will go home empty-handed. However, there is good news: They are in good company as well.
Here is a sampling of nominees that didn’t win: “Citizen Kane,” “Chinatown” and “Star Wars”; directors Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks, Stanley Kubrick and Ingmar Bergman; writers Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Dashiell Hammett, John Steinbeck, Graham Greene, Harold Pinter and David Mamet; actors Gloria Swanson in “Sunset Blvd.”; Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”; and Peter O’Toole in “Lawrence of Arabia.”
They managed to do Ok, though.
- Tim Gray
The Comedy of Terrors, 1963.
Directed by Jacques Tourneur.
A scheming undertaker resorts to extreme measures to bring in some new business in order to pay his rent.
Both comedy and terror are two of the hardest genres to get right and combining the two successfully is even harder, so calling your film The Comedy of Terrors is going to give it a lot to live up to right from the off. Luckily the opening scene of a misty graveyard playing host to a funeral as several mourners look on sets the scene perfectly as once the service is over and the mourners depart, undertaker Waldo Trumbull (Vincent Price – The Fall of the House of Usher) and his assistant Felix Gillie (Peter Lorre - Casablanca) give each other a nod and they’re off to work, »
- Gary Collinson
“Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine”
Casablanca Screens at The Hi-Pointe Theater in St. Louis Saturday morning February 14th at 10:30am
Casablanca was the last movie that the Tivoli showed in the 35mm format (about 2 years ago) – and now you’ll have the chance to see it presented in a sharp digital presentation when it plays this Saturday morning at The Hi-Pointe as part of their monthly Classic Film Series.
I there was ever a film deserved to be considered a classic then Casablanca is it, Even if you haven’t seen it before you’ll recognize much of the dialogue; it is probably the most quoted, and misquoted, film of all time. Humphrey Bogart is excellent in this career defining role as bar owner Rick Blaine who has come into possession of two “letters of transit” which »
- Tom Stockman
Simone Simon in 'La Bête Humaine' 1938: Jean Renoir's film noir (photo: Jean Gabin and Simone Simon in 'La Bête Humaine') (See previous post: "'Cat People' 1942 Actress Simone Simon Remembered.") In the late 1930s, with her Hollywood career stalled while facing competition at 20th Century-Fox from another French import, Annabella (later Tyrone Power's wife), Simone Simon returned to France. Once there, she reestablished herself as an actress to be reckoned with in Jean Renoir's La Bête Humaine. An updated version of Émile Zola's 1890 novel, La Bête Humaine is enveloped in a dark, brooding atmosphere not uncommon in pre-World War II French films. Known for their "poetic realism," examples from that era include Renoir's own The Lower Depths (1936), Julien Duvivier's La Belle Équipe (1936) and Pépé le Moko (1937), and particularly Marcel Carné's Port of Shadows (1938) and Daybreak (1939). This thematic and »
- Andre Soares
Welcome to another horror/thriller round-up! This time around we have details on Backstreet Boy Nick Carter’s in-the-works zombie western movie, release details for Arrow Video’s UK Blu-ray / DVD of the Vincent Price-starring The Comedy of Terrors, and an update on Warner Bros.’ and Team Downey’s in-development film based on the real-life sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the subsequent shark attacks on the surviving crew members.
In an interview with Noisey, Backstreet Boy Nick Carter revealed that he will be directing and starring in a zombie western called Dead West (not to be confused with Joe R. Lansdale’s 1986 zombie western novel, Dead in the West) for Asylum this March. Carter also co-wrote the script and has a couple of potential cast members in mind (excerpts from Noisey via Shock Till You Drop):
“It’s called Dead West. [Laughs.] It’s a zombie horror western movie. »
- Derek Anderson
It's once again time to drag out the celebrity equivalent to musty yearbooks: wonderfully dated red carpet photos. With the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday Jan. 25, we dug through the archives and surfaced 20 years of gowns, power couples and confusing trends straight from the SAGs of yore. While Benedict Cumberbatch and Rosamund Pike are still relatively new to the SAG scene, most of the nominees have been walking the show's star-studded carpet for years. This means plenty of hidden treasures, from Jennifer Aniston's formal crop top to Billy Bob Thorton's inexplicable hair. See what 2015's honorees look like »
- Kelli Bender, @kbendernyc
One is written by Richard Matheson, based on the stories of Edgar Allan Poe, directed by Roger Corman, and stars Vincent Price, while the other features Boris Karloff, Barbara Steele, and Christopher Lee—you’d be hard-pressed to find more star-studded horror lineups than those included in Tales of Terror and The Crimson Cult, two films coming out on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber, the special features of which have been announced.
Here are the special features that are expected to be included on the Tales of Terror Blu-ray/DVD and The Crimson Cult Blu-ray, both of which are slated for an April release (bonus features via Kino Lorber):
Tales of Terror Blu-ray/DVD Bonus Features:
New on-camera Interview with Producer/Director Roger Corman New Audio Commentary by Film Historian Tim Lucas New Audio Commentary by Vincent Price Historian David Del Valle & Actor David Frankham Original Theatrical Trailer Maybe more »
- Derek Anderson
How would you program this year's newest, most interesting films into double features with movies of the past you saw in 2014?
Looking back over the year at what films moved and impressed us, it is clear that watching old films is a crucial part of making new films meaningful. Thus, the annual tradition of our end of year poll, which calls upon our writers to pick both a new and an old film: they were challenged to choose a new film they saw in 2014—in theatres or at a festival—and creatively pair it with an old film they also saw in 2014 to create a unique double feature.
All the contributors were given the option to write some text explaining their 2014 fantasy double feature. What's more, each writer was given the option to list more pairings, with or without explanation, as further imaginative film programming we'd be lucky to catch »
40. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Lost to: Silence of the Lambs 1991 was the first time an animated film ever grabbed a nomination for Best Picture with Disney’s version of “Beauty and the Beast.” The film also picked up nominations for sound, Original Score (for which it won) and three – count ‘em Three – for Best Original Song, the Oscar going to the title song. The film never really had a chance of winning (though this was one rare year where the Academy went exceedingly dark with their winner), but its inclusion was the first step toward a wider range of films getting a chance and the creation of the eventual Best Animated Film category.
39. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Lost to: How Green Was My Valley
1941 would one day become one of the most notorious Oscar upsets, but not because of this film, however brilliant it is (the other film is much higher »
- Joshua Gaul
19 items from 2015
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