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Ray Harryhausen—no, make that The Great Ray Harryhausen— one of the most wondrous craftsmen and peerless special effects artists in the history of cinema, died on Tuesday, May 7, in London, where he had lived for years. He was 92 years old.
Ray Harryhausen, 1920-2013
Though Ray Harryhausen utilized all kinds of Diy effects over the years in such films as Mighty Joe Young (1941), The Beast from 20th Fathoms (1953), 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957), The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), Jason and the Argonauts (1963), One Million Years B.C. (1966), Clash of the Titans (1981) and a bunch of others (if you’re not familiar with at least a couple of these, you’re from another planet), he was best known for his work in the field of stop-motion animation.
Out of deep respect for Mr. Harryhausen and the stop-motion artistry of which he was the undisputed king, let me quickly explain what it all was »
Ministry of Fear is a film that wouldn't work if not for insanity. The arc of the drama would be too haphazard, the explanations too unsatisfying, and the actions of its villains (to say nothing of its hero) too wildly irrational. But this is Europe in 1944, and irrationality is the order of the day. It's in the drone of planes overhead, the casual talk of blackout time, and the suspicious glances on the street. Because the world waiting for Stephen Neale (Ray Milland) when he gets out of the mental hospital has gone just as mad as him.
A wartime thriller from Fritz Lang (let's call it a noir), Ministry of Fear is generally regarded as one of the German director's more obscure American films, a status that will hopefully shift now that it has been released, and thus quasi-canonized, by the Criterion Collection. On the face of it, this »
- Duncan Gray
Review by Sam Moffitt
After seeing the wonderful new movie Hitchcock in a theater and now seeing it again on Blu-Ray I thought it might be nice to revisit one of the Master of Suspense’s own films, preferably one I had not seen in some time. Family Plot was Sir Alfred’s last film and a pretty good finale to an amazing career that started in the silent era, an apprentice ship at Ufa Studio’s in Germany, watching no less a master film maker than Fritz Lang and ended in the 70’s when all the rules of film making were being broken by a bunch of young mavericks who changed the language of film altogether.
When I was a kid I loved everything about Hitchcock. I read his mystery magazine avidly, often in high school study hall instead of reading from a text book. My Mother would let »
- Movie Geeks
Masters of Cinema have kindly released L'assassin habite... au 21 (The Murderer Lives at... 21) on DVD. This, the directorial debut of Henri-Georges Clouzot, has never been an easy film to see in English-speaking territories. It's often dismissed a a minor effort, perhaps because of it's light-hearted tone, and because it's a more conventional whodunnit investigation than the more twisty and twisted later thrillers.
The stars are Pierre Fresnay (later hero of Le corbeau) and Suzy Delair (later heroine of Quai des Orfèvres, and Clouzot's mistress), playing a brilliant police inspector and his actress girlfriend. Suave Fresnay and blousy Delair would also play these roles in a sequel, Le dernier des six, scripted by Clouzot but not directed by him. It's not as good as this one but as a greedy swine I can't help wish that it could have been included as an extra on the disc.
There's been a series of robbery-murders, »
- David Cairns
Robots are a staple of science fiction. They’ve been appearing in films since 1927, and never lose their popularity. Why?
Who knows? What do I look like, a psychologist? All I know is they’re awesome, and it’s high time that we at WhatCulture took a look back at the robots that have been not only successful, but simply iconic amongst movie fans.
Some of these are from one lone movie, others from full-fledged franchises, others were introduced in TV shows and later found another life in film adaptions.
Note: We’ve excluded any robots that have a fully human appearance. Thus, Roy Batty from Blade Runner and such have been left out.
10. Maria (Metropolis)
- J.D. Westfall
When looking at film locations it would be shameful if the settings in the infamous German Expressionism movement were to be overlooked. A number of movements and directors over the years have Expressionism to thank. There is so much to say about this movement from the wonderful films that were born out of it, to the microelements that can still be seen in cinema today. However, what stands out the most are the incredible film sets.
German Expressionism as an art form was the response to the bleak reality of daily life. In the 1920s German films were developing a distinctive style, the emphasis of these films was placed on presenting an expressive, imaginative point of view opposed to everyday life. Cinema worked as a way to represent a reality the German public could only imagine and the films present a world violently distorted from the pressures of intense personal moods and emotions. »
Feature Ryan Lambie 11 Apr 2013 - 07:00
Blomkamp rightly gained attention and praise for his 2009 debut feature District 9, and his next film, this summer's Elysium, appears to contain the same amalgam of intelligence and action; and that brief yet indelible shot of Copley and his Japanese sword seems, in a weird sort of way, to sum up what's so compelling about Blomkamp's filmmaking career to date: clever, oblique, and joyously cartoonish.
Who needs the Terminator when you have Matt Damon? The first full-length trailer for Elysium is in the wild. And by the looks of the robotic exoskeleton the actor's sporting in this highly anticipated sci-fi adventure, fans of director Neill Blomkamp can rest assured he's going to deliver a worthy second film following 2009's critically acclaimed District 9. Here are five kickass things about Elysium that have us excited: 1. Occupy Takes Sci-Fi! The Occupy movement that took Wall Street by storm in 2011 and pointed out the growing inequality among the classes is actually a long and storied theme in cinematic science fiction dating as far back as Fritz Lang's Metropolis. In this case, the »
If you're of my particular nourish bent, you already plan to attend every program of the 15th annual Noir City festival of film noir, held at the appropriately vintage Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, home of the American Cinematheque, on Hollywood Boulevard, the appropriately noir boulevard of broken dreams. But if you'd prefer a tip sheet -- the most interesting, difficult to see, or newly restored films -- we've got one. Friday's opening show started things off with two fascinating, propulsive films by the underrated Cy Endfield, resident of England after he was blacklisted: "Try and Get Me," about a true incident of men falsely accused of murder in San Jose that was also the basis of Fritz Lang's "Fury," and the sexy "Hell Drivers," made in England and starring the similarly underrated Stanley Baker. You may know "Sunset Boulevard," which played Saturday, April 6 -- another boulevard of broken dreams, »
- Meredith Brody
Jess Franco, who has died aged 82, was a dedicated exponent of weird sex who leaves a vast and complex body of work
When the grand dames and gentlemen at Spain's 2009 Goya Film Awards sat drinking their champagne, I doubt many of them expected to see, before the night was through, a naked man and woman tied up and whipped in a circle of knives, two scimitar-wielding lesbians duking it out on a hilltop, a sadomasochistic orgy in a brothel or a coven of elderly witches massaging their nipples with a crucifix. Such, though, was the explosion of licentiousness in a montage of images from the career of Spanish filmmaker Jesús Franco Manera, aka Jess Franco, who received that night a lifetime achievement award.
Franco died in Málaga this week at the age of 82, but he leaves behind a vast and complex body of work – more than 180 movies in 54 years. Casual »
Spanish director dies following a stroke: Best known for his nearly two hundred underground, "exploitation" films "I think I was born because my father and my mother had sex ... ." Nope, that has nothing to do with the anti-censorship lectured delivered by Oz the Great and Powerful and Interior. Leather Bar's James Franco online. The words above were uttered by another Franco, a Spaniard. No, not the foaming-at-the-mouth right-wing military ruler Francisco Franco, but multitasking filmmaker Jesús Franco, aka Jess Franco aka dozens of other aliases, including those in honor of jazz performers Clifford Brown and James P. Johnson. His oeuvre included about 200 films, among them The White Slave, The Sexual History of O, Macumba Sexual, , Emmanuelle Exposed, Vampyros Lesbos, The Mistresses of Dr. Jekyll, and White Cannibal Queen. The director died today in Malaga, a city in southern Spain, after suffering a stroke. According to reports, he had never truly »
- Andre Soares
Laemmle Theatres and Kino Lorber Films have teamed up to present a new Dcp restoration of Fritz Lang's 1931 classic "M" in Los Angeles. Lang's first film with sound (which the director deploys brilliantly in contrast with eerily silent sequences), "M" is a still-controversial, twisted tale of a child-killer (Peter Lorre) run amuck in Berlin. It holds up as an early experiment in thriller tropes as Lang continued to plumb the possibilities of cinema as he did in his 1927 silent sci-fi epic "Metropolis." Beginning Friday April 5th, the Munich Film Archive's restoration of "M" will screen exclusively at the Royal in West La, the Playhouse 7 in Pasadena and the NoHo 7 in North Hollywood. Visit the Laemmle website for screening information. Trailer below. »
- Ryan Lattanzio
In Robert Wiene’s 1920 dreamlike horror classic, veteran German actor Werner Krauss plays the mysterious Dr. Caligari, the apparent force behind a creepy somnambulist named Cesare and played by Conrad Veidt, who abducts beautiful Lil Dagover. The finale in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari has inspired tons of movies and television shows, from Fritz Lang's 1944 film noir The Woman in the Window to the last episode of the TV series St. Elsewhere. In addition, the film shares some key elements in common (suppposedly as a result of a mere coincidence) with Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio's 2011 thriller Shutter Island. The 1920 crime melodrama Outside the Law is not in any way related to Rachid Bouchareb's 2010 political drama. Instead, the Tod Browning-directed movie is a well-made entry in the gangster genre (long before the explosion a decade later). Browning, best known for his early '30s efforts Dracula and Freaks, »
- Andre Soares
Fetishize the past all you want. The silent era gave way to a flood of cinematic storytellers ranking well amongst the greats. You didn’t need sound to realize a filmmaker like Fritz Lang was stretching the medium so far that it would take a couple of decades of talkies for anyone to match his vision. Similarly, the early silent works of Alfred Hitchcock belie a startling vision and knack for experimentation not commonly associated with filmmaking at the time. There’s a reason we think back to the silent classics of yesterday: some of those film are absolutely phenomenal, still enthralling today for the film buff with a bit of patience (a small percentage of the populace, but whatever), and still transformative, capturing the imagination in ways some contemporary Thx-scored noisemakers fail to do.But there’s a reason we don’t make silent films anymore. A lack of »
- Gabe Toro
Director: Seiji Mizushima
Running Time: 105 minutes
Extras: Japanese Cast Commentary, English Language Cast Commentary, Creators Commentary, The Making Of Fullmetal Alchemist: Conqueror Of Shamballa
Before cracking on with the review, it’s important to note that this is the film that finished off the original 2003 series, since rebooted as Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. That’s important because Manga Entertainment are also currently releasing collections of the latter series as well, so try not to cross the streams.
Fullmetal Alchemist was one of the greatest animes ever produced. It mixed in-depth character psychology, magic, astonishing animation, great action, emotional gravitas, and engaging stories throughout the entire course of its run. The series saw Edward Elric (Pak/Mignogna), a talented young alchemist, try and use his skills to bring his mother back to life. »
- Luke Ryan Baldock
Viola director Matías Piñeiro discusses the fluidity of Shakespeare, when Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville morphs into Fritz Lang's Metropolis, how European directors in America like Otto Preminger, Ernst Lubitsch, and Billy Wilder influence an Argentine director. His beguiling film sees a bike courier embraced by an all-female Shakespeare troupe. The morning before its Us premiere at New Directors/New Films, we met at a café to tackle what Paul Mazursky, Gus Van Sant, Orson Welles and Laurence Olivier have in common that Kenneth Branagh does not.
Anne-Katrin Titze: In Viola, the Shakespeare text moves almost imperceptibly into the everyday speech. Is it all planned out word for word by you? Is it completely scripted?
Matías Piñeiro: Pretty much scripted, except for the last song, which wasn't scripted at all. I write the script very close to the shooting. It's not that I write it and then eight »
- Anne-Katrin Titze
Chicago – Slight on special features and not as instantly recognizable as some recent inductions into the Criterion Collection like “On the Waterfront” or “Badlands,” Fritz Lang’s “Ministry of Fear” could easily slip under the radar even for people who know and love the thriller. Lang is one of the most interesting filmmakers of his era, as he found ways to inject his seemingly traditional work with much-more-complex themes. Working in Hollywood during World War II, Lang made thrillers that were more than just thrillers. “Ministry of Fear” is one of his best.
While it’s an entertaining thriller with top-notch production values and a surprisingly great performance from Ray Milland, part of the problem with the legacy of “Ministry of Fear” is the films with which it is easy to compare. Carol Reed’s “The Third Man” would touch on some of the same themes and is a vastly superior film, »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
Leaning back and shrouded in the nocturnal darkness of an interrogation room with only a glint of overhead light hitting his upper chest, a convicted serial killer glares at his psychiatric interrogator and insists “you already know that!” This is the introductory image of taboo-obsessed German filmmaker Romuald Karmakar’s The Deathmaker (1995), and the jarring lack of context to the statement is by design; it’s as if Karmakar is saying, “This is a film about knowledge.” Confined entirely to the space of a single nondescript room in Weimar-era Germany yet surprisingly and exhilaratingly expansive, the rest of the film constitutes a diverse set of interrogations into what it means to know, what can be known, different types of knowledge, and the depths of human behavior that knowledge actually complicates and obfuscates rather than illuminates.
Until a brief appearance of two prison guards and a final-act injection of a young victim and a visiting doctor, »
- Carson Lund
He was a drunk, on-screen and off, and starred in the most violent films of his age. But, first and foremost, he was a fantastic actor
This week's re-release of John Boorman's magnificent 1967 thriller Point Blank is all the evidence we really need of Lee Marvin's inextinguishable greatness as a movie icon. But since I've written elsewhere about Point Blank this week, let's imagine it never existed, and recall all the other reasons to love Lee.
Because for a couple of decades from the 50s to the 70s, whenever people referred to a movie as the most violent ever made, the chances were pretty good that Lee Marvin would be close to, if not the actual cause of, the very worst of the mayhem. Prime example: throwing a pot of scalding coffee in Gloria Grahame's face in Fritz Lang's potent big city crime thriller The Big Heat. »
- John Patterson
1931 was an epochal year for the horror genre. It saw the release of Dracula, then Frankenstein, arguably the most important one-two punch in horror history. These two films lit the fuse on the horror boom of the 1930s and established Universal as the predominant studio for supernatural thrills and chills. Perhaps more importantly, it introduced the world at large to Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, the most monumental icons the genre ever has or ever will see. Both blessed with enthralling screen presence, they gave off entirely different vibes and sported uniquely haunted appearances. In 1934, Universal got the bright idea to team up these contracted superstar boogeymen for a purported adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's short story, "The Black Cat" (read it here). A take on the tale in name only, The Black Cat stands eight decades later as the most stylish and controversial genre film released by any »
- Matt Risnes
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