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Say the words “French Connection” and plenty of images come to mind: Gene Hackman in a porkpie hat, the grit and grime of pre-Giuliani New York City, and some of the most nerve-jangling, eardrum-rattling car chases ever committed to celluloid. And yet “The Connection," while clearly indebted to the slick, entertaining amorality of William Friedkin’s classic cop thriller, is neither a remake nor a re-interpretation. It is instead a much different story, albeit one that draws inspiration from the same true events that were the basis for the 1971 film that saw Hackman chase down crooks on foot in an ill-fitting Santa suit. A new French trailer has arrived, promising down-and-dirty thrills, plenty of action, and the dependably chiseled mug of the man once dubbed “France’s George Clooney,” Mr. Jean Dujardin. On the basis of this trailer, “The Connection” promises to be a leaner, cleaner film then Friedkin’s sprawling, »
- Nicholas Laskin
Steven Awalt – author interviewed by Todd Garbarini
“Well, it’s about time, Charlie!”
Dennis Weaver utters these words in my favorite Steven Spielberg film, Duel, a production that was originally commissioned by Universal Pictures as an Mow, industry shorthand for “movie of the week”, which aired on Saturday, November 13, 1971. The reviews were glowing; the film’s admirers greatly outweighed its detractors and it put Mr. Spielberg, arguably the most phenomenally successful director in the history of the medium, on a path to a career that would make any contemporary director green with envy. Followed by a spate of contractually obligated television outings, Duel would prove to be the springboard that would catapult Mr. Spielberg into the realm that he was shooting for since his youth: that of feature film directing. Duel would also land him in the court of Hollywood producers David Brown and Richard Zanuck and get him his »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Cinema Retro)
When Pulp Fiction opened in theaters 20 years ago today, the mainstream moviegoing audience was introduced to a dynamic new Hollywood talent. Quentin Tarantino was a 31-year-old hipster whose formal film education never rose much higher than working as a clerk in a Manhattan Beach video store. A walking encyclopedia of film history who fetishized some of the more obscure genres, Tarantino had a gift for dialog and his own visual toolbox that expanded the language of cinematic storytelling. Pulp Fiction was the culmination of a two-year stretch where the director went from Nobody to Wunderkind, beginning with the Sundance premiere »
- Jeff Labrecque
From long credits to bullet time, here are a few techniques and film conventions we don't see in the movies these days...
Over more than a century, cinema has built up its own storytelling vocabulary. Thanks to generations of intelligent and groundbreaking filmmakers, movies contain a rich and complex set of editing, filming and framing techniques, most of them so firmly embedded in our subconscious that we don't even think about them while we're sitting in our local multiplex.
Inevitably, there are some aspects of filmmaking that have changed considerably over time. New ideas and conventions continuously float in, while old ones become over-used and phase out as a result. It's the latter we're focusing on here: the filmmaking conventions and techniques that are either becoming rare, or have vanished altogether. Bear in mind that some of the things below may suddenly come back into vogue very soon, while the »
Christopher Reeve Foundation for spinal cord and stem cell research (photo: Darryl Hannah and Christopher Reeve in 'Rear Window') (See previous post: "'Superman' Christopher Reeve and his Movies: Ten-Year Death Anniversary.") In his 1998 autobiography Still Me, Christopher Reeve recalled: "At an especially bleak moment [prior to an operation that might result in his death], the door [of his hospital room] flew open and in hurried a squat fellow with a blue scrub hat and a yellow surgical gown and glasses, speaking in a Russian accent. For the first time since the accident, I laughed. My old friend had helped me know that somehow I was going to be okay." The "old friend" was the recently deceased Robin Williams, whom Reeve had befriended while both were studying at Juillard. Eventually, Reeve became a staunch advocate for spinal cord and stem cell research, sponsoring with his wife the Christopher Reeve Foundation — later renamed the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation (and formerly known »
- Andre Soares
Director and star Mathieu Amalric in The Blue Room: "I thought a lot of the usual suspects. A man sitting and looking, and he is not listening."
Mathieu Amalric's The Blue Room (La Chambre Bleue) is based on Georges Simenon's novel. Amalric stars with Stéphanie Cléau, Léa Drucker with Serge Bozon, Mona Jaffart, Laurent Poitrenaux and Blutch in his whodunnit with a question mark for each molded part - the who, the done and especially the it.
David Lynch's Lost Highway - William Holden's death - Gene Hackman and Kevin Costner in Roger Donaldson's No Way Out form a thread. Katharine Hepburn on a ladder climbing up to Cary Grant in Howard Hawks' Bringing Up Baby, editing with François Gédigier and Bozon's voice are heard in part 2 of our conversation.
Anne-Katrin Titze: You mentioned how quickly Simenon wrote the book and you also said »
- Anne-Katrin Titze
It was a good run, Liam Neeson. The 62-year-old who was Oskar Schindler and Alfred Kinsey spent the last seven years kicking the crap out of much younger bad guys in bone-crushing B-movies, best epitomized by the Taken films. But as of this past weekend, there's a new sheriff in town. Two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington, one of the biggest movie stars of the past 25 years, and almost always, the coolest guy in the room, delivered his 12th No. 1 film, The Equalizer. Directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), The Equalizer is a Neeson-ized adaptation of the 1980s CBS detective drama series that starred Edward Woodward. »
- Jeff Labrecque
The Blue Room director Mathieu Amalric with Anne-Katrin Titze: "What is incredible is that, yes, the bee is in [George Simenon's] novel on the belly." Photo: Charlie Olsky
Mathieu Amalric's The Blue Room (La Chambre Bleue), based on Georges Simenon's novel, stars Stéphanie Cléau, Léa Drucker with Serge Bozon, Mona Jaffart, Laurent Poitrenaux and Blutch. Amalric recently starred with Emmanuelle Seigner in Roman Polanski's Venus in Fur.
The morning after the North American premiere at the New York Film Festival, we discussed Simenon's love of Stendahl, leaving a message for composer John Zorn, Katharine Hepburn on a ladder, adapting Eric Reinhardt for the stage, William Holden's death in connection to David Lynch, Gene Hackman and Kevin Costner, bees and shoes.
Léa Drucker as Delphine Gahyde
Vladimir Nabokov warned in Transparent Things "When we concentrate on a material object, whatever its situation, the very act of attention may »
- Anne-Katrin Titze
A two-time Academy Award-winner (with a further four nominations under his belt), Washington has achieved just about all there is to achieve in his glittering Hollywood career. Picking out his five best movies is a tricky job, but we've attempted to do it anyway. Read on to find out which Denzel movies we think are the absolute essentials...
Edward Zwick's American Civil War drama starred Washington as Private Silas Trip, a soldier in the first Union Army unit to be made up entirely of African-American men. Washington stole the movie from its leading man Matthew Broderick, and bagged a Supporting Actor Oscar win for his troubles. He was nominated two years prior for playing activist Steve Biko in Cry Freedom, but this was the movie that »
Polly Bergen: Actress on Richard Nixon's 'enemies list' (image: Polly Bergen publicity shot ca. late 1950s) (See previous article: "Polly Bergen Movies: First U.S. Woman President.") As discussed in the previous post, despite its deceptively progressive premise — the first United States woman president as a palpable reality — Kisses for My President, written by veteran Paramount screenwriter Claude Binyon (Search for Beauty, The Gilded Lily) and newcomer Robert G. Kane (whose sole other movie credit was the poorly received Arnold Schwarzenegger comedy Western Villain), was an unabashedly reactionary, "traditional family values" effort. Ironically, Polly Bergen, for her part, was a liberal-minded, politically active Democrat. At around the time Kisses for My President was released, Bergen, along with Gregory Peck, James Garner, and other Hollywood personalities, publicly came out against California's Proposition 14, a 1964 ballot initiative that would have nullified the Rumford Fair Housing Act, thus paving the way for »
- Andre Soares
At a loss for what to watch this week? From new DVDs and Blu-rays, to what's streaming on Netflix, we've got you covered.
New on DVD and Blu-ray
Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen star as a married couple living in a nice suburban neighborhood with their new baby. When a fraternity moves in next door, the Radners struggle with feeling terrible uncool and also having their lives wrecked by a bunch of hard-partying bros. Zac Efron co-stars as Teddy, the head of the frat, with Dave Franco as his right-hand man.
"Halloween: The Complete Collection"
Do you need this 15-disc Blu-ray box set comprised of all of the "Halloween" movies, including the producer's cut of "Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers," Rob Zombie's 2007 and 2009 versions, audio commentary, and lots more? "Need" is such a childish word. You won't literally die if you didn't manage to order »
- Jenni Miller
Polly Bergen dead at 84: ‘First woman president of the U.S.A.,’ former mistress of Tony Soprano’s father Emmy Award-winning actress Polly Bergen — whose roles ranged from the first U.S.A. woman president in Kisses for My President to the former mistress of both Tony Soprano’s father and John F. Kennedy in the television hit series The Sopranos — died from "natural causes" on September 20, 2014, at her home in Southbury, Connecticut. The 84-year-old Bergen, a heavy smoker for five decades, had been suffering from emphysema and other ailments since the 1990s. "Most people think I was born in a rich Long Island family," she told The Washington Post in 1988, but Polly Bergen was actually born Nellie Paulina Burgin on July 14, 1930, to an impoverished family in Knoxville, Tennessee. Her father was an illiterate construction worker while her mother got only as far as the third grade. The family »
- Andre Soares
The Connection (La French), 2014.
Directed by Cédric Jimenez.
French police magistrate Pierre Michel wages an obsessive six-year battle to bring down Marseilles’ infamous “French Connection” drug ring.
A motorcycle weaves through the traffic where it connects with a car where the passengers are executed at point blank range. Meanwhile a police magistrate who is responsible for juveniles tries to convince a teenage female drug addict to go clean and tells his own story of how he was able to overcome his gambling problem. The two storylines become intertwined as the lawyer gets promoted to dismantle an infamous and ruthless drug network which has members of the police force, local and government officials on its payroll; the death of the young girl from an overdose ignites an obsession which will see him bend the rules in an effort to make that justice prevails. »
- Trevor Hogg
With a career spanning thirty years, Viggo Mortensen is one of Hollywood’s most experienced actors. To celebrate the release of his recent film The Two Faces Of January on Blu-ray, DVD and VOD from Monday 15th September, we are taking a look at some of the roles that have made him one of the finest contemporary actors on the planet.
Crimson Tide (1995)
Though Mortensen had enjoyed several roles prior to Crimson Tide this was one of his first truly major roles. Starring alongside Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman, Mortensen, as nuclear-submarine weapons lieutenant Peter Ince, adopted the quiet restraint needed to portray an average man who finds himself in a less than average situation. Caught in the power struggle between Captain Frank Ramsey (Hackman) and Lieutenant Commander Ron Hunter (Washington), one would forgive any actor for letting the two Hollywood heavyweights overshadow him but Mortensen holds his own, delivering »
- Jazmine Sky Bradley
With everything being planned for the mega-blockbuster Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it's truly strange that so many fans have become focused on Jesse Eisenberg's hairstyle as Lex Luthor. Some reports say he will have bright red hair, others say he will have shoulder-length bleached blonde hair that is reminiscent of early 90s Kurt Cobain. Some speculate that, like Lex in the early comics, he will have hair that eventually gets burned off in a laboratory experiment.
Jesse Eisenberg isn't giving the secret away, appearing in most paparazzi photos with a rag over his head. Today, we get a new photo of the actor, and guess what? He has hair. But is it his? Or is he trying to conceal his bald head? Take a look at the image in question, which finds the aloof thespian agreeing to a rare photo with fan Nicole Yioupis.
just met jesse »
Ever since Martin Scorsese made Goodfellas, giving the crime thriller a shot of sleek cool and moral complexity that moviegoers had not seen since the days of Delon and Melville, directors have hoped to recreate that film’s bustling energy and unnerving stabs at violence. In the process, many of those filmmakers have just ripped off Scorsese’s stylistic impulses, like electric montages to American rock and roll music, and glorified, sweeping long takes. However, Scorsese’s proclivity to craft absorbing, deeply conflicted heroes and villains is harder for others to master. Case in point: Cédric Jimenez’s stylish but formulaic true-crime thriller The Connection, which makes its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival this week.
The title refers to the infamous “French Connection” heroin ring. Seasoned moviegoers and fans of 1970s cinema know that name from the Oscar-winning thriller with Gene Hackman as Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle. Well, that »
- Jordan Adler
Blu-ray Release Date: Oct. 14, 2014
Price: Blu-ray $29.95
Studio: Twilight Time
On the tail of their Blu-ray release of Oliver Stone’s Salvador comes a Twilight Time Blu-ray debut of that other photojournalist-in-Latin-America film of the early Eighties, 1983’s Under Fire, starring Nick Nolte (TV’s Rich Man Poor Man), Joanna Cassidy (Blade Runner) and Gene Hackman (The Conversation).
Set during the last days of the Nicaraguan revolution that ended the Somoza regime in Nicaragua in 1979, the film revolves around three journalists involved in a romantic triangle as they cover the political intrigue that led up to that year’s revolution.
As supplier Twilight Time prints up only 3,000 copies of each title, the time to order your Blu-ray »
We've been patiently awaiting the official reveal of Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, with the actor doing his best to stay out of the many paparazzi set photos that have leaked from the Detroit portion of the shoot. Today, we get our first look at the actor on set, but we still don't get a good look at this new Lex Luthor, as Jesse is covering his head with a towel.
Remember those Batman v Superman set candids we promised?... look for them on Tuesday! #HenryCavill#Exclusivespic.twitter.com/bTS01xpgoY
— Henry Cavill (@HenryCavillNews) August 31, 2014
One of the many arguing points for or against Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor is whether or not he will be bald, »
Since his casting as Lex Luthor in the upcoming "Man of Steel" sequel "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," actor Jesse Eisenberg hasn't spoken much about his role as the famed nemesis of the Last Son of Krypton.
Officially he isn't allowed to say much, but he does tell Total Film (via Cbm) that the psychology of the character drew him in:
"There are some indications of how the character should behave based on the script, and then as actor makes it his or her own. I got to know one of the writers, Chris Terrio, and we were able to discuss things at length and figure out who this person is to create a real psychology behind what is, perhaps, in a comic book, a less than totally modern psychology. I can only say I've been asked to play an interesting role. A complicated, challenging person."
Security on a project like this is high, »
- Garth Franklin
When Total Film caught up with Jesse Eisenberg to discuss his new drama Night Moves and, more importantly, his role as Lex Luthor in the highly-anticipated Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the 30-year-old actor revealed he does not read comics nor has he seen any comic book movies. In fact, when Tf mentioned how Heath Ledger reinvented the Joker and tapped into modern-day fears of terrorism in The Dark Knight, Eisenberg could only reply, "Oh, that's interesting, really interesting." However, after he had landed the villain role in Zack Snyder's Man of Steel follow-up, the actor did look through stacks of comics and he also watched "that movie with Gene Hackman," referring to one of Christopher Reeve's early Superman movies. "My father always cautions me against thinking of something as a means to some other end, because then its irresponsible to the 'means' thing," explained Jesse Eisenberg, »
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