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We know that Quentin Tarantino, armed with his prodigious and encyclopedic knowledge of movies and TV, likes to quote pop culture in his films. So, what are the references in Django Unchained (which is reviewed here by David Edelstein)? Here’s what we’ve found. Holler below in the comments if you've identified any that we missed.Australian accents: Tarantino’s Australian accent as an employee of the LeQuint-Dickey Mining Company is probably meant as a shout-out to the Ozploitation films the writer-director likes so much, but we also have a crazy alternate theory: It might also be a nod to James Mason’s famously awful southern accent in the infamous Mandingo (see under: Mandingo Circuit) — an accent so bad it actually sounds Australian.Bell, Zoe: One of the trackers is played by Bell, the stuntwoman who had a lead role in Tarantino’s Death Proof. She’s not exactly recognizable, »
- Bilge Ebiri
December is Tarantino Month here at Sos, and in the week leading up our January month-long theme of westerns, I thought it would be best to whip up an article spotlighting some films that influenced Tarantino’s long awaited take on the western, Django Unchained. For my money, all of the films listed below are essential viewing for fans of Django Unchained. I’ll be diving deeper into these films come January, but in the meantime, this should hopefully whet your appetite. Enjoy!
Note: I’m not including any Sergio Leone Spaghetti westerns as they should be essential viewing for anyone, regardless if you like or dislike Tarantino’s film.
Directed by Sergio Corbucci
1966, Italy / Spain
(*My apologies for this coming so long after Sound on Sight’s celebration of 50 years of James Bond, but I’ve been swamped with end-of-semester work and only just now managed to finish this. Hope you all still find this of interest.)
As a coda to the Sos’s James Bond salute, there’s still a point I think deserves to be made.
The Bond franchise which has been with us so long, has become so deeply entrenched in popular culture, that we often forget what it was that first distinguished the Bonds a half-century ago. Skyfall might be one of the best of the Bonds, and even, arguably, one of the best big-budget big-action flicks to come along in quite a while, but it’s not alone. The annual box office is – and has been, for quite some time – dominated by big, action-packed blockbusters of one sort of another. »
- Bill Mesce
If the year's two biggest blockbusters strive to be meatier than Transformers, hooray. But great pop shouldn't be too po-faced
As 2012's bum end approaches, I've been getting up to speed with some of the thrilling cultural phenomena that somehow passed me by, months after everyone else got bored of them. My life's been one big catch-up channel. It's not just idle curiosity: I'm preparing an end-of-the-year TV show, so I have to digest this stuff quickly: Homeland. Gangnam Style. The dog that won Britain's Got Talent. Brand new items in my mental trolley.
Some patterns emerge. Recently I watched The Dark Knight Rises and Skyfall and realised they're essentially the same. In both films a screen icon gets the shit knocked out of him early on and spends much of the second act intermittently clutching his back and complaining. You might as well be watching a $200m advert for Voltarol. »
- Charlie Brooker
Considering the coverage U.S. cinema receives globally, it might seem odd that there should be a festival that focuses solely on films from the U.S. And yet, a cursory glance over the program for the third edition of the American Film Festival shows just how limited in scope the majority of mainstream American releases actually are. If one wants to find out more about America – the world that exists beyond the blockbusters – it is necessary to dig a little deeper. It is only then that you uncover a rich seam of innovative, challenging and engaging films.
The American Film Festival in Poland this November promotes American indies abroad. Considering there’s money to be made abroad which is not always readily accessible here, indie filmmakers here in the U.S. should take notice of what's going on in Poland.
Indies have to get into the international scene and the European distribs are often ignorant of what indies exist here in the U.S.
The 2 best films in post-production from last year’s American Film Festival in Wroclaw, Poland are now complete and were here in Competition at the Napa Valley Film Festival. Again, Not Waving but Drowning took a prize, this time for cinematography. A new network seems to be creating itself which I hope continues to include arthouse distributor and producer Sophie Dulac’s Champs Elysees Film Festival in Paris and the Mobile New Horizons Ff in Wroclaw, Poland’s largest film festival owned by the largest arthouse film distributor (Gutek) in Poland, a rich territory which thus far is relatively untouched even by the European recession.
The films that open and close the third edition offer some indication of what audiences can look forward to over the course of five days. Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, the director’s seventh feature, is arguably his most stylised work: a film whose look has been designed to the minutiae, as it charts the love affair between two teens in late-1960s coastal America. As for Ben Affleck’s impressive third feature Argo, which closes the festival, it couldn’t be more different. A high-octane drama, based on a true story that unfolded following the Iranian occupation of the American Embassy in Tehran in 1979, it cements Affleck’s reputation as a skilled filmmaker. It is also one of the most intelligent and enjoyable Hollywood thrillers in years.
Other major Us films featured in the festival include John Hillcoat’s (The Road, The Proposition) Lawless and The Master, the latest film by Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia, Boogie Nights). Hillcoat’s film, loosely based on the true story of bootleggers at the height of prohibition in rural Virginia, stars Shia Labeouf, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska and Guy Pearce. With a script by Nick Cave, Lawless plays to Hillcoat’s strengths as one of contemporary cinema’s most muscular directors and features an impressive turn by Labeouf, suggesting there is more to him than the idiotic lead in Michael Bay’s woeful Transformers franchise.
Anderson’s film is a companion piece – of sorts – to his 2007 drama There Will Be Blood. Like that film, it pits two men against each other: one a primal, barely formed creature whose inability to conform to societal norms finds him adrift in the world; the other the head of a belief system that purports to offer the secrets to humanity’s past and its betterment for the future. A complex, troubling and brilliant film, it is further evidence of Anderson’s position as one of America’s leading filmmakers.
Away from the mainstream, there are numerous delights on offer. Highlights include: Safety Not Guaranteed, a low-budget, comic addition to the time-travel sub-genre; Jeff, Who Lives at Home, the latest film from the Duplass brothers (The Puffy Chair), starring Jason Segel; Bernie, Richard Linklater’s second collaboration with Jack Black, albeit worlds away from School of Rock; the hugely controversial Compliance, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and has seen audiences walking out of screenings wherever it has shown; and Now Forager, a nuanced character study of two mushroom pickers in up state New York, which featured in the Gotham in Progress event at last year’s festival.
Alongside new releases are four retrospectives. Audiences have the chance to see all of Wes Anderson’s films, including his brilliant sophomore feature Rushmore – one of the best films of the 1990s. The Universal horror films of the 1930s (arguably the golden age of Hollywood horror) are represented by three of the most iconic features from that period: Todd Browning’s Dracula (1931), starring Bela Lugosi; Karl Freund’s The Mummy (1932); and arguably the best of the three, James Whale’s adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1931).
The festival is also showcasing is a selection of Nicholas Ray’s films from the 1950s. Ray, one of the visionaries of Hollywood during that decade, took a scalpel to American life, producing a body of work that eviscerated the Norman Rockwell-inspired image of suburbia, with it’s trimmed lawns and white picket fences. Rebel Without a Cause (1955), with James Dean’s searing performance as a teenage rebelling against societal norms, may be the best known of the four films screening, but there is much pleasure to be had from Joan Crawford in one of her finest performances, opposite Sterling Hayden in Johnny Guitar (1954). Humphrey Bogart is scintillating as a hard-bitten Hollywood screenwriter in one of Tinseltown’s bleakest chronicles, In a Lonely Place (1950). However, the real gem in this brief overview is the director’s 1956 masterpiece Bigger Than Life. James Mason is at his best playing a schoolteacher whose addiction to a prescribed drug transforms his personality. It is a harrowing drama that exposes the rot at the core of Eisenhower-era America.
The final retrospective celebrates the films of Jerry Schatzberg. An acclaimed photographer, he has also directed a body of work that looks at life mostly lived on the margins of American society. Included is the director’s debut Puzzle of a Downfall Child (1971), featuring a startling performance by Faye Dunaway, and Street Smart (1987), about the impact of a journalist’s false claims, starring an Oscar-nominated performance by Morgan Freeman. However, the gems in this brief overview are Panic in Needle Park (1971) and Scarecrow (1973). Both feature a young Al Pacino, but the real star of the films is Schatzberg, who will be present during the festival to talk about his career. His freewheeling camera gave actors the chance to explore their characters in a way less fearless directors would balk at. However, he never loses the sense of place within which the action unfolds. Pacino and Gene Hackman’s journey through America’s hinterland in Scarecrow finds Schatzberg at his best, producing one of the great road movies of the era and reminding us how vital and engaging American cinema can be.
Ten Films to See at the Festival
Ben Affleck directs what might be this year’s most entertaining Hollywood film.
Bigger Than Life (1956)
One of the most original indies of recent years, a nuanced comedy drama set in the world of mushroom picking.
Arguably this year’s most controversial film at the festival, which walks a fine line between exploration and exploitation.
An old-fashioned gangster film set in America’s heartland and featuring a stellar cast.
4:44 Last Day on Earth
American cinema’s enfant terrible Abel Ferrara’s latest film is one of his most highly regarded in recent years.
A powerful account of a serial killer in America’s Deep South, whose crimes were ignored by the media.
- Sydney Levine
Blu-ray Release Date: Feb. 5, 2013
Price: Blu-ray $27.98
Streisand and Kristofferson in A Star is Born.
The 1976 musical drama-romance film A Star Is Born starring Barbra Streisand (Little Fockers) and Kris Kristofferson (Heaven’s Gate) is a remake of two earlier films—a 1937 drama starring Janet Gaynor and Frederic March and a 1954 musical version with Judy Garland (Easter Parade) and James Mason (Bigger Than Life).
The ’76 version tell the story of a talented young singer, Esther Hoffman (Streisand) who enters the music business, and meets and falls in love with veteran talented rock star John Norman Howard (Kristofferson) only to find her career ascending while his goes into decline. As their relationship grows, her success only makes John’s downward spiral more apparent.
The R-rated movie won five Golden Globes, including Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy, as well as an Academy Award for Best Original Song (“Evergreen,” written by »
Being a film star not high up on the list of 1950's children's career ambitions
Only 2 per cent of the boys and 5 per cent of the girls answered "Film actor" or "Film actress" to the question in a Government "quiz" on cinema-going "What would you most like to be when you grow up?" When they were asked which of sixteen film stars they would like to be nearly one in seven said "None." The children's ambitions were, on the whole, very practical, says the report, issued to-day, of a social survey made by the Central Office of Information in 1948 for the Departmental Committee on Children and the Cinema.
Answering the careers question, which was put only to children in the 10-15 age group, 58 per cent of the boys made "realistic" choices. So did 73 per cent of the girls. Compared with 36 per cent of the boys, only 15 per cent of the »
"Saboteur" (1942): Basically a spy story, this fast-paced effort culminates in one of director Hitchcock's most memorable endings, putting heroic Robert Cummings and not-so-heroic Norman Lloyd atop the Statue of Liberty.
"Rear Window" (1954): The production design is a star of this great thriller that keeps a light touch, as an apartment dweller (James Stewart) waylaid by a broken leg thinks he spies a neighbor (Raymond Burr) committing murder.
Midway through the interview, at the end of a monologue during which he has first marvelled at the way I can access the internet on my tape-machine (I can't) and then upset the coffee table by crossing his legs, Martin Landau checks and gives a rueful smile. "Anyway," he says. "You asked me a question a while ago. I'm sort of going on and on like a dial-tone here."
By this point it's clear that an audience with Landau will not run on conventional lines. Questions are not so much questions as prompts: an invitation for the actor to embark on another strolling pastoral through his 60-year career. He talks about the craft of acting, the actors he has »
- Xan Brooks
Because the world would not be complete with just one film about the making of an Alfred Hitchcock classic, the upcoming HBO film The Girl (a.k.a., The One About The Birds) has been joined by the Oscar-baiting docudrama Hitchcock (a.k.a., The One About Psycho.) The first trailer for Hitchcock just hit the internet, and, as expected, the film looks to be a showcase for Anthony Hopkins’ Hitchcock impression. But the trailer is arguably stolen by Helen Mirren, playing Hitchcock’s fiercely devoted wife Alma. (Scarlett Johansson also appears as Janet Leigh.)
This is all well and good, »
- Darren Franich
Esperanza Spalding speculation grows after delay in announcing start date prompts R&B singer to walk away for a second time
The singer and actor is believed to have walked away due to delays in announcing a start date for the film, a musical take on the popular story previously made three times by Hollywood. A Star is Born still does not have a male lead, despite a three year search during which Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, Will Smith, Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Robert Downey Jr, Eminem, Christian Bale, Jon Hamm and Bradley Cooper have all reportedly come under consideration.
Knowles has left the project over delays before, but came back on board when Eastwood was announced as director in January last year. »
- Ben Child
Clint Eastwood’s next project A Star Is Born has hit many obstacles and production hasn’t even started yet. Initially the film was delayed because the star of the movie Beyonce decided to go and have a baby. Now, her schedule is so packed with various projects that she can’t commit to being the lead of the film anymore.
A Star Is Born is a remake of the 1954 film with the same title starring Judy Garland and James Mason, and tells the story of a movie star finding himself at the end of his career. He then meets a young woman who he turns into a star, but a conflict arises as she continues towards the top and he falls further behind in his fame. Beyonce dropping out from the film is not the only casting problem Eastwood is facing; he has yet to cast a male lead. »
- Isra Alkassi
It is not pleasant for me to say these things, but Clint Eastwood’s A Star Is Born has hit yet another problem with a female lead as Beyonce Knowles has dropped out of the long-gestating remake for the second time.
As you may remember, the movie had been pushed back after Beyonce announced pregnancy last year. This time she didn’t reveal the reason, she just confirmed that she will no longer be starring in the latest remake of A Star Is Born:
For months we tried to coordinate our schedules to bring this remake to life but it was just not possible. Hopefully in the future we will get a chance to work together.
E! Online smartly commented:
However, the »
- Nick Martin
• Ben Affleck is in preliminary negotiations to star in Focus, about a con man who becomes romantically involved with a rookie female scam artist. Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (Crazy, Stupid, Love) are writing and directing. [Deadline]
• Not so much a casting “net” as a casting “release” item: Beyoncé has bowed out of Clint Eastwood’s long-gestating remake of A Star is Born due to scheduling difficulties and the lack of a male star. About an up-and-comer who falls for a dimming male star, the film was put on hold after Beyoncé became pregnant. Will Fetters had penned the latest version of the script. »
- Adam B. Vary
Director Clint Eastwood’s remake of A Star Is Born has hit yet another snag. Production was initially pushed back when star Beyonce Knowles became pregnant, and then Eastwood was having trouble casting his male lead. The director approached a number of top shelf talent including Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Cruise, Christian Bale, and Bradley Cooper, but failed to land a commitment. Now Eastwood has lost his female lead, as Knowles has dropped out of the project altogether due to scheduling issues. Hit the jump for more details including who Eastwood is eyeing for Knowles’ replacement. For those unfamiliar with A Star Is Born, the story concerns a movie star whose career is on the decline. He helps a young showgirl ascend to stardom but tensions grow between them as her star rises while he descends further into obscurity. The 1954 version starring Judy Garland and James Mason picked up six Oscar nominations. »
- Adam Chitwood
The last official update on the status of Warner Bros.' Clint Eastwood-directed remake of A Star is Born came during the press conference for Trouble with the Curve when Eastwood himself told ComingSoon.net, "[That's] a project that we're going to do down the line. It's six months away." Today, Variety updates that Beyonce, previously attached to play the female lead, has dropped out of the project and that the search is on for a her replacement as well as for a male star to headline. Eastwood's version will mark the fourth big-screen iteration of the film. William A. Wellman directed the 1937 original with Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. The 1954 George Cukor film is probably the best known, starring Judy Garland and James Mason. 1976 saw Frank Pierson tackle »
This great producer left his mark on much more than just the James Bond franchise, writes John Patterson
When it comes time to celebrate 50 years of the James Bond franchise on Friday – Dr No was released on 5 October, 1962 – I hope we recall the half-forgotten man of the whole enterprise: the man who, after reading Goldfinger, discerned the potential movie fortune lying dormant in the novels of Ian Fleming; the man who made Sean Connery a star, and sealed Michael Caine's future by giving him his own spy franchise; the man whom one-time producing partner Tony Richardson called "a huckster, a sublime huckster". I hope we remember Harry Saltzman.
Saltzman was, by all accounts, the ultimate caricature of the movie producer: warm, loud, crass, a consummate gambler with the requisite rackety past, a keen eye for the main chance and a tight fist around the purse strings. For all that, »
- John Patterson
Sad news in Tinseltown. Actor Herbert Lom, best known for playing Clarles Dreyfus, the exasperated police commissioner and boss of Peter Sellers' Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther films, died Thursday at age 95, per the BBC. His family said he passed away peacefully in his sleep. Throughout his career, the Czech-born thespian appeared in more than 100 films, portraying Napoleon in 1942's A Young Mr. Pitt and again in 1956's War and Peace. He also notably starred in The Seventh Veil with James Mason in 1945, and alongside Alec Guinness and a pre-Clouseau Sellers in the 1955 comedy The Ladykillers. His most recent role was that of a professor in the 2004 TV movie Marple: The Murder at »
Not only are Fsr’s resident Bond nerds (specifically yours truly and my partner in espionage, Brian Salisbury) gearing up for the release of Skyfall in November, but we are also rubbing our hands together with anticipation of opening our new Bond 50 Blu-ray box sets that came out this week. Since we’re in the movie news business, we can watch all 22 of these films, we can chalk up the 40+ hours of movie watching to a full work week. We bet you’re feeling an extreme amount of jealousy right now (or an extreme amount of pity for us… not quite sure which). But as we prepare to watch all the James Bond movies again, we’ll also reflect upon the different actors who have played James Bond in the past. Here’s a quick breakdown of the legendary (and one not-so-legendary) Bond actors over the years. Fortunately, since Daniel Craig has signed on for some additional »
- Kevin Carr
Brock Otterbacher directs Jeff Wiesen, Tim Hansen, Katy Foley and Debbie Kagy in the thrilling new short Summon, with music from MovieWeb's very own Brian Balchack. We have the first teaser trailer for this occult masterpiece. Check it out!
For more info, go to www.builtbycyclops.com
"No one knows where it came from, but the first recorded use of it is from the journal of one James Mason, who, in the late nineteen century, documented the numerous times he tried to summon the spirit of his dead wife. While each time he felt a contactor, he reported stranger and stranger occurrences happening in his house. Until one day...He just disappeared. At this point, he'd become a recluse, so no one noticed he was missing until about a year later, when someone thought to check in on him. It was clear that he'd been in the middle of some sort of ritual. »
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