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Detective Frank Drebin's outside his Los Angeles police precinct, squeezing off shots into the receding backside of his own car.
How this came to happen almost defies description. Having driven his Ford Crown Victoria into a couple of bins outside the building, Drebin stumbles out, seemingly oblivious to the airbags going off inside. One airbag knocks the car into drive and off the vehicle goes, almost running Drebin over as it rumbles downhill.
As an orchestrated bit of comedy cinema, it's the knockabout equivalent of the famous scene in The Untouchables, where Brian De Palma expertly wrings every drop of suspense from a pram thudding down a flight of stairs at a train station.
On the spur of the moment, Drebin comes to the conclusion that there's a criminal »
August marks the fading days of summer, the last gasp of heat-soaked freedom before vacations are over and everyday responsibilities start taking over. But if you've got a few bucks left over from that summer job, or some money you didn't spend on holiday, Criterion's August lineup has some compelling reasons to part with it. Kicking things off, Brian De Palma's sizzler "Dressed To Kill" arrives on the label. It will boast a new high def transfer, all kinds of new interviews (actress Nancy Allen, producer George Litto, composer Pino Donaggio, shower-scene body double Victoria Lynn Johnson, and poster and photographic art director Stephen Sayadian), featurettes about the different versions of the movie that were cut to avoid an X rating, and much more. This looks like a treat for De Palma devotees (but let's hope they change that kinda dreadful cover art). As expected, the Dardennes' acclaimed "Two Days, »
- Kevin Jagernauth
Director: J.C. Chandor
Running Time: 120 mins
Features: Commentary with J.C. Chandor, Neal Dodson & Anna Gerb. Featurettes, Behind The Violence (Making Of), The Contagious Nature Of Violence (Director Interview), Conversations With Oscar Isaac & Jessica Chastain, Trailers/TV Spots, Deleted Scenes, Behind The Scenes Photos
Imagine if Sidney Lumet had directed The Long Good Friday. That instead of a blood-soaked gangster thriller about a man trying to better himself with guns and fists you had something more thoughtful, yet just as sinister. Writer/director J.C. Chandor’s third film takes the backdrop of New York at the outset of 1981 – the notorious year of the title – and uses it as context for the engrossing story of an entrepreneur trying to operate the cleanest way possible in the murkiest of environments.
Oscar Isaac plays Abel, who runs a heating oil »
- Steve Palace
'JFK' movie with Kevin Costner as Jim Garrison 'JFK' assassination movie: Gripping political drama gives added meaning to 'Rewriting History' If it's an Oliver Stone film, it must be bombastic, sentimental, clunky, and controversial. With the exception of "clunky," JFK is all of the above. It is also riveting, earnest, dishonest, moving, irritating, paranoid, and, more frequently than one might expect, outright brilliant. In sum, Oliver Stone's 1991 political thriller about a determined district attorney's investigation of the assassination of U.S. president John F. Kennedy is a slick piece of propaganda that mostly works both dramatically and cinematically. If only some of the facts hadn't gotten trampled on the way to film illustriousness. With the exception of John Williams' overemphatic score – Oliver Stone films need anything but overemphasis – JFK's technical and artistic details are put in place to extraordinary effect. Joe Hutshing and Pietro Scalia's editing »
- Andre Soares
Sound on Sight undertook a massive project, compiling ranked lists of the most influential, unforgettable, and exciting action scenes in all of cinema. There were hundreds of nominees spread across ten different categories and a multi-week voting process from 11 of our writers. The results: 100 essential set pieces, sequences, and scenes from blockbusters to cult classics to arthouse obscurities.
Hollywood has had a long love affair with the heist sub-genre. Dating as far back as the silent film era with 1928’s Alias Jimmy Valentine, and transcending various genres like westerns (The War Wagon), war (Kelly’s Heroes) and even animation (Toy Story 3), the heist has tantalized our fantasies and outsmarted our wits for decades. Whether it’s for the very last time before retirement, gathering the gang back together for a big payday or for the thrill of pulling off the perfect robbery, all heist films share one key element: commitment to a plan. »
- Shane Ramirez
Having produced films by Roman Polanski (“Carnage”) and Brian De Palma (“Passion”) and co-produced David Cronenberg’s “Map to the Stars”), Said Ben Said’s Paris-based Sbs Prods. will not only produce but distribute in France and sell internationally Isabelle Huppert starrer “Elle,” only the second film in 10 years from Paul Verhoeven.
“I had a strong feeling with this one that I was doing something that I’d never done before, which applied when I made ‘Robocop,’ ” Verhoeven told Variety.
Written by David Birke (“13 Sins), “Elle” is based on “Oh…,” a novel by France’s Phillippe Dijan in which the protagonist, Michelle, played by Huppert, has a son whose girlfriend is pregnant, but by another man. Michelle herself is divorced and having an affair with her best friend’s husband, while her »
- John Hopewell
In so many ways The Connection (La French) feels like a film Michael Mann would have made with its dedication to intense action sequences, shot with immediacy and edits that give the viewer an understanding of the space within which the characters are interacting. And, like Mann, director Cedric Jimenez doesn't forgo character, understanding even the small moments between husband and wife, father and son, are important in a crime epic, allowing us to get to know the characters on a more personal level, getting to know them as people rather than just as cop and criminal. Described as a "European flipside to William Friedkin's The French Connection", The Connection is much more than a marketing blurb intent on piquing the interest of hard-to-attract general audience members. This is a down-and-dirty '70s crime thriller, with all the texture of the 35mm film it was shot on. In fact, »
- Brad Brevet
Scarlett Johansson Oscar dress Scarlett Johansson at the Oscars Looking great in a long purple dress, Scarlett Johansson displays her tight-fitting costume and bare back at the 83rd Academy Awards held on Feb. 27 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. Oscar 2011 co-host and Best Actor nominee James Franco (for Danny Boyle's 127 Hours) thus introduced Johansson and fellow Oscar presenter Matthew McConaughey: "I am six degrees of Kevin Bacon away from our next two presenters. Figure it out on the Internet." Well, if you're lucky. Some have remarked that Franco was a more effective Oscar host online, where he tweeted some of the evening's to-dos, than on the stage of the Kodak Theatre. His fellow equally panned Oscarcast host was actress Anne Hathaway. Scarlett Johansson movies Scarlett Johansson has been featured in more than 40 films since her debut at age 10 in Rob Reiner's North, back in 1994. Johansson, in fact, »
- D. Zhea
Editor's Note: This post is presented in partnership with Time Warner Cable Movies On Demand in support of Indie Film Month. Today's pick, "Black and White," is available now On Demand. Need help finding a movie to watch? Let TWC find the best fit for your mood here. Kevin Costner has never been a blockbuster megastar, but through decades of critically-acclaimed performances in movies both big and small, his staunch, quiet reliability has emerged as his very appeal. After rising to prominence in Brian De Palma's "The Untouchables" and the baseball-themed successes "Bull Durham" and "Field of Dreams," Costner went on to win two Academy Awards out of three nominations for writing, directing and starring in "Dances with Wolves." But that film didn't launch Costner into super-stardom. Through the decades since, he has established himself as a different kind of leading man. He doesn't always attract much attention, and the. »
- David Canfield
Once upon a time, museums were very erotic spaces, ecstasy machines, places where people picked up or fantasized about people, went into deep out-of-body states of pleasure near one another, catching fleeting glimpses of strangers in reflections looking at one another, seeing and losing one another in galleries, then seeing one another again, always almost alone, always in this excited psychic space of rest, pleasure, and strange alienation.Old film directors knew this. In Vertigo, Hitchcock pictures Jimmy Stewart enraptured by Kim Novak as she looks longingly at a portrait of a woman who looks uncannily like her; Brian De Palma’s Dressed to Kill opens with a five-minute flirtation, pursuit, and meeting in the Met, all while in the presence of paintings of the flesh. Once upon a time in the early 1980s, even I met a girl in the old Musée Picasso ... Alas, and probably for good, museums »
- Jerry Saltz
Our look at underappreciated films of the 80s continues, as we head back to 1988...
Either in terms of ticket sales or critical acclaim, 1988 was dominated by the likes of Rain Man, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Coming To America. It was the year Bruce Willis made the jump from TV to action star with Die Hard, and became a star in the process.
It was the year Leslie Nielsen made his own jump from the small to silver screen with Police Squad spin-off The Naked Gun, which sparked a hugely popular franchise of its own. Elsewhere, the eccentric Tim Burton scored one of the biggest hits of the year with Beetlejuice, the success of which would result in the birth of Batman a year later. And then there was Tom Cruise, who managed to make a drama about a student-turned-barman into a $170m hit, back when $170m was still an »
Director Christopher McQuarrie faced an unenviable task in taking the reins on Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, the fifth entry in Paramount’s blockbuster action franchise: taking a series that has already been graced with top-tier helmers like Brad Bird, J.J. Abrams and Brian De Palma, and making it his own. Luckily, a conversation that Yahoo recently had with McQuarrie and star Tom Cruise indicates that the Mission: Impossible series in good hands – and that Rogue Nation may actually go down as the most ambitious installment to date.
McQuarrie explained that he felt the burden of expectation keenly while working on the film, and he wanted to do right by the previous entries while making his distinctive:
“I asked myself ‘what can I do to celebrate all those elements of the franchise?’ A signature sequence the way (Brian) De Palma did, a villain the way Jj Abrams did, the stunts the way Brad did. »
- Isaac Feldberg
Some weird stuff happens when you’re asleep. Just about everyone can attest to that, whether they just half-remember an unusual dream or they’re susceptible to sleepwalking. But The Nightmare points out that for some people, there’s something bad waiting for them in the dark when they go to sleep. A horrible force that makes them fear the very act of lying down to rest.
The unusual nature of sleep paralysis is the subject of this documentary, and as for the movie itself, it’s an unusual way to address the topic. The Nightmare, in essence, is a horror documentary, set-up like a horror movie, shot like a horror movie and delivered like a horror movie. It’s perhaps the most based on a true story “based on a true story” horror ever made.
- Adam A. Donaldson
It's probably the franchise that has had the biggest cultural impact on cinema, but even still, fans around the world are discovering hidden gems and trivia contained within the Star Wars universe. George Lucas' space opera has spanned almost 40 years now, and inspired generations of movie writers, actors and directors to follow in his footsteps and further their passion for movie-making. In a few short months we'll have a brand new chapter to add to the story and a new generation again can look to the screen in awe and fall in love with Luke, Han, Chewy and Leia. We've put together a list of some of the best trivia from the films, so you can memorize and dazzle fellow fanboys before The Force Awakens. Enjoy! 1 - Prior to the release of A New Hope, Lucas screened the movie for a few director friends. Most predicted it would flop, »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Dave Higgins)
By Hank Reineke
On the weekend of April 24-25, DVD Drive-In and the Riverside Drive-In in Vandergrift, Pa, hosted the third annual April Ghouls Drive-In Monster-Rama. This springtime festival of 1970s and 1980s exploitation horror-films, now in its third year, is the more recent sister to September’s glorious Drive-In Super Monster-Rama. This latter event, which will enjoy its ninth incarnation this coming autumn, generally features a slate of more “traditional” monster movies from the 1960s and 1970s. Neither weekend of programming should be missed by any horror film devotee with access to an automobile. The intent of the original Drive-In Super Monster-Rama (first presented at the Riverside in 2007) was to authentically re-create the ambiance of the all-night drive-in theater spook shows of the 1960s and 1970s. In this regard, the event succeeds in every possible manner.
Co-sponsored from its inception by George Reis of the cult-film website “DVD Drive-In” and the Riverside Drive-In, »
- email@example.com (Cinema Retro)
All week our writers will debate: Which was the greatest film year of the past half century. Click here for a complete list of our essays. It’s perhaps a little quaint to choose a year that I wasn’t even alive during to represent the best year of cinema. I was not there to observe how any of these films conversed with the culture around them when they were first screened. So, although I am choosing the glorious year of 1973, I am choosing not just due to a perusal of top ten lists that year—but because the films that were released that year greatly influenced how I engage with movies now, in 2015. Films speak to more than just the audiences that watch them—they speak to each other. Filmmakers inspire each other. Allusions are made. A patchwork begins. These are the movies of our lives. Having grown up with cinema in the 90s, »
- Brian Formo
All week long our writers will debate: Which was the greatest film year of the past half century. Click here for a complete list of our essays. I was one of the first to select years for this particular exercise, which probably allowed me to select the correct year. The answer is, of course, 1974 and all other answers are wrong. No matter what your criteria happens to be, 1974 is going to come out on top. Again, this is not ambiguous or open to debate. We have to start, of course, with the best of the best. "Chinatown" is one of the greatest movies ever made. You can't structure a thriller better than Robert Towne and Roman Polanski do, nor shoot a Los Angeles movie better than John Alonzo has done. Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway give the best performances of their careers, which is no small achievement. If you ask »
- Daniel Fienberg
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, »
We film critics have an often infuriating tendency to write as much about ourselves, and the state of our profession, as we do about the movies. This is hardly a new phenomenon, of course, but it may be more prevalent than ever before: Whether we’re seeking out pockets of online validation or trying to provoke those with whom we violently disagree (or both), the rise of social media has made it all too easy to engage directly with our ideological allies and adversaries alike. At the same time, the continual thinning of our professional ranks has fueled endless arguments and think-pieces about whether the Internet has succeeded in decimating or diversifying the field.
All of which makes it particularly important to remember Richard Corliss — not just because the veteran Time critic hailed from that honorable, not-yet-bygone tradition of wordsmiths who composed sharp, beautifully considered reviews for the printed page, »
- Justin Chang
I wouldn't be who I am today without the recognition, insight and mentoring of Richard Corliss. I first met him when I was a wee Nyu Cinema Studies grad toiling in the publicity bullpen at United Artists at 729 Seventh Avenue. He was looking for photos for Brian De Palma's "Carrie" for Film Comment Magazine. We hit it off. He was smart and witty and loved movies and knew more about them than anyone I have ever met. But he was also curious, and always asked questions. He and then Village Voice columnist Stuart Byron and I would dish on the movie business, the box office and the Oscar race in a neverending quest to understand How Hollywood Works. Now I will have to carry on without him. Richard plucked me from publicity, took me in at Film Comment as Associate Editor, tried to teach me how to write. He'd edit my copy, »
- Anne Thompson
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