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A Complicated Life: Hui’s Sprawling Biopic as Malcontented as Its Subject
Hong Kong director Ann Hui’s extensive filmography has been largely unavailable, though she’s steadily been making films since 1979. Her 2011 film, A Simple Life, received raves and awards after premiering at the Venice Film Festival, and perhaps paved the way for this epically extensive biopic, The Golden Era, which explores the life of famed essayist and novelist Xiao Hong. Though the film has been tipped as Hong Kong’s entry for this year’s Foreign Language Oscar submission, Hui’s zeal to capture the often degrading circumstances of Hong’s short existence often overwhelms her own subject, so much so that Xiao Hong often feels like a supporting player to Hui’s historical depths.
Born in 1911 to a family of landowners in Manchuria, Xiao Hong (Tang Wei) breaks the fourth wall to relate the basics of her »
- Nicholas Bell
"If I am remembered at all, it will be as the swine who rewrote Scott Fitzgerald," said Joseph L. Mankiewicz on numerous occasions, and though he does rate a mention in any Fitzgerald bio for his work revising Fitzgerald's screenplay of Three Comrades, he is also getting a sidebar retrospective, The Essential Iconoclast, at the New York Film Festival. Apart from including his several acknowledged classics, this also shines a light on some of the less celebrated movies in the distinguished Hollywood auteur's body of work.
In particular, The Late George Apley (1947) and Escape (1948) are seldom-screened dramas with suave English leading men, Ronald Colman and Mankiewicz favorite Rex Harrison, both supported by the delightful Peggy Cummins.
The Late George Apley supplements the emotion with a good portion of the wit Mankiewicz was so famous for. I spoke briefly on the telephone to co-star Cummins, best known »
- David Cairns
Some twenty-two years ago, just a couple of months before Joseph L. Mankiewicz passed away at the age of 83, New York’s Film Forum held a retrospective of his work. The one thing I knew about Mankiewicz back then was that Andrew Sarris had consigned him to The American Cinema’s circle of hell that was “Less Than Meet the Eye.” “The cinema of Joseph L. Mankiewicz is a cinema of intelligence without inspiration” he argued. Needless to say I went rather reluctantly to see his films, but by the end of the series I was a convert to his special brand of literate, sophisticated and genuinely moving cinema.
As a sidebar to the New York Film Festival, the Film Society of Lincoln Center is hosting a new retrospective of Mankiewicz’s films that runs »
- Adrian Curry
With so few events during which to premiere new and important avant-garde films in North America—among them, the recently wrapped Wavelengths section of the Toronto International Film Festival, the Ann Arbor Film Fest, and the San Francisco Cinematheque's Crossroads series—the shift that has occurred at this year's New York Film Festival is one well worth noting. This weekend, the inaugural Projects program will debut. Previously known as "Views from the Avant-Garde" and programmed by Mark McElhatten and Gavin Smith (though last year's titanic program was done by McElhatten alone), this sidebar more akin to a festival-inside-a-festival of film and video works has been re-named "Projections" and in its first year is programmed by a returned Smith, Film Society of Lincoln Center's Director of Programming Dennis Lim, and Aily Nash.
The section encompasses 13 programs over a single weekend during the festival, including a handful of feature length films and numerous shorts, »
- Daniel Kasman
I must admit upfront that I turned off Alice Rohrwacher's previous film, 2011's Corpo celeste, after an hour or so, made frustrated and fidgety by the lack of mise en scène (to appropriate Jacques Rivette's definition of the much-contested term, used drolly in reference to the cinema of Joseph L. Mankiewicz). So I certainly may be approaching her follow-up, The Wonders—playing in the New York Film Festival after being well-regarded and award-winning in competition at Cannes this year—with a bias. But indeed I found much of the same problems here that I found in the earlier film, and while her Cannes Grand Jury Prize winner is an improvement in imagemaking, it still has a way to go in filmmaking.
Much of the slovenly camerawork and garbled, unmotivated editing remains, draining an already naturally lackadaisical story of any sense of urgency, but with these more forceful images »
- Daniel Kasman
The late career of Joseph L. Mankiewicz—who is getting a sidebar retrospective, The Essential Iconoclast, at the New York Film Festival—is fascinating. While many of his contemporaries floundered as the rules of filmmaking changed, formally and in every other aspect, he found ways, for a while at least, to carry on telling the kind of stories he liked, with the kind of people he liked, in the way he liked. Sleuth (1972) could probably have been made earlier—the amorality and venality of the characters might well have passed the censor, since vice can be said to be punished. The filmmaking is a little less sure-footed than we expect from Mankiewicz, though: he should have been the perfect director for a two-hander full of arch talk in elegant surroundings, but his attempts to keep the visuals lively sometimes seem forced.
There Was a Crooked Man (1970), is more problematic, illustrating »
- David Cairns
Seventeen days might seem like ample breathing room to take in all the tidily curated bounty of the 52nd New York Film Festival, but the sidebars alone are a bit overwhelming. Old Hollywood iconoclast Joseph L. Mankiewicz (All About Eve) will be celebrated with a 21-feature tribute, and the forward-thinking "Convergence" series of films and panels explores bold innovations in multi-platform interactivity. One captivating standout is Tommy Pallotta and Femke Wolting's Somali pirate experience Last Hijack, which blends documentary footage and otherworldly animation with a transmedia supplement. (Thank god the future isn't video games.)
Among the repertory revivals are a 30th-anniversary screening of the everlastingly quotable mock-rock-doc This Is Spin »
A new issue of Film Comment is out and a generous slice of it is online. Amy Taubin talks with David Fincher about Gone Girl, Quintín considers the work of Lisandro Alonso and Robert Horton previews the New York Film Festival's Joseph L. Mankiewicz retrospective. Plus reviews of David Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars, Alex Ross Perry's Listen Up Philip and more. Also in today's roundup: Jonathan Rosenbaum on Béla Tarr, an excerpt from an unrealized screenplay by Pier Paolo Pasolini, Sophia Nguyen on Scarlett Johansson, essays on Federico Fellini's Il Bidone, Ben Rivers and Ben Russell’s A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness and more. » - David Hudson »
With the Toronto International Film Festival winding down, it’s time to get excited for the next one. So here’s a trailer for the 52nd New York Film Festival. The festival will open this year with the world premiere of David Fincher’s Gone Girl and will also feature the world premiere of Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest, Inherent Vice, as its Centerpiece selection. You can catch glimpses of those films along with others—including closing night selection Birdman—in the blood-pumping montage.
“We have a great line-up this year filled with soaring cinematic visions, concentrated meditations and wild inventions, »
- Esther Zuckerman
We're celebrating the centennial of director Robert Wise this week. Previously: Tim on "Curse of the Cat People" (1944) and Nathaniel on "Somebody Up There...". Now, David on Susan Hayward's Oscar vehicle, with an exclamation point!
Though the internet seems to increasingly denigrate the importance of punctuation, once upon a time it was vital to our sense of understanding language. Would I Want To Live! have any of the same feverish impact without that exclamation mark at the end of its title? Perhaps. But it signifies the bold stance of this cry for social justice in a millisecond. I mean, just look at this poster! Only Britain's notorious newspaper The Daily Mail has taglines that long these days.
That boldness is a quality more of the film's frenzied marketing than of the film itself; director Robert Wise, whose centennial we're marking this week, excised the closing rhetoric that producer Joseph L. Mankiewicz was insisting upon, »
The Noah movie opened the floodgates for biblical movies at the beginning of 2014 and to some, a welcome visit back to the Golden Age of Hollywood.
With Exodus bowing at the end of the year during awards season, Scott solidifies his status among the ranks of those larger-than-life directors – David Lean, Cecil B. DeMille, William Wyler, Joseph L. Mankiewicz – in his latest historical drama.
Casting is everything and with huge stars like Oscar-winners Christian Bale and Ben Kingsley, Oscar-nominee Sigourney Weaver and Joel Edgerton, the filmmaker may find himself at Hollywood’s big party in February. Last time Scott went epic was in May 2000 when Gladiator opened in theaters and later went on to win five Oscars, including Best Picture, at the 73rd Academy Awards. »
- Michelle McCue
The New York Film Festival, whose 52nd edition runs from September 26 through October 12, carries on rolling out the lineups for its various programs. This weekend sees the full roster for a Joseph L. Mankiewicz retrospective featuring such classics as All About Eve (1950), The Barefoot Contessa (1954), Guys and Dolls (1955) and Sleuth (1972). Additions to the Revivals section include Alfred Hitchcock's Jamaica Inn (1939) and Anthony Mann's The Man from Laramie (1955). And there are two programs of Short Films, too. » - David Hudson »
Episode 33 of 52: In which Katharine Hepburn is like the Goddess from the Machine.
I want to write about Katharine Hepburn, but the movie keeps getting in the way! Reading last night’s contributions to Hit Me With Your Best Shot, I was struck by how many bloggers described Suddenly, Last Summer as “camp,” “wildly expressive,” or “absolutely batshit gonzo crazy.” This is a film that will not be ignored. It’s garish and shocking. The psycho-babble hasn’t aged well--as Nathaniel points out, such things rarely do. The themes of cannibalism, sexual deviance, and monstrous madness creep like kudzu vines hanging in Violet Venable’s garden, blocking the light and threatening to squeeze the resistance out of unwary viewers who venture into the film unwarned.
This unsettling excess had been, up to that point, unusual for director Joseph L. Mankiewicz--best known for character dramas--but can be easily traced to his collaborators. »
- Anne Marie
Lauren Bacall Dead: 89-year-old Oscar nominee who starred opposite Humphrey Bogart in ‘To Have and Have Not’ and ‘The Big Sleep’ Lauren Bacall has died following a massive stroke earlier today, August 12. Curiously, the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nominee for The Mirror Has Two Faces, and the star of film classics such as To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep, and How to Marry a Millionaire, had been "killed" by an Internet hoax yesterday. Bacall would have turned 90 on September 16, 2014. According to Media Mass, the Lauren Bacall death rumors began on Monday, August 11, following the creation of a "R.I.P. Lauren Bacall" Facebook page that "attracted nearly one million of ‘likes.’" On the "R.I.P. Lauren Bacall" ‘About’ page, there was the following explanation: “At about 11 a.m. Et on Monday (August 11, 2014), our beloved actress Lauren Bacall passed away. Lauren Bacall was born on September 16, 1924 in New York. »
- Andre Soares
Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s acidic attack on celebrity culture is more relevant today than when originally released to rave reviews and Oscar glory. Bette Davis won her eighth Oscar in sixteen years as Margo Channing, a revered theatre star neurotic about her advancing years, and her relationship with Baxter’s Eve, a young wannabe actress with eyes fixed on Channing’s throne. »
As you’ve probably heard by now, we caught up with William Friedkin at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival last week where he revealed he’s had a meeting with “True Detective” creator Nic Pizzolatto about working on season two—we’ll have the full interview for you soon. While we wait to see how the directing situation for the HBO show pans out, it’s the perfect opportunity to sit in on a master class Friedkin conducted at the festival. Like his contemporaries in the so-called New Hollywood movement, Friedkin is an ardent and cultivated fan of cinema and so it’s no surprise when he namechecks films as disparate as Milos Forman’s “The Firemen’s Ball”, Akira Kurosawa’s “Rashomon” and Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s “All About Eve”—which he calls the best American screenplay ever—as his influences and some of his favorite films. The »
- Cain Rodriguez
Launched in 2012, Venice Classics will be presenting 21 new restorations at during the 71st edition of the festival running from August 27 through September 6. Among the highlights: Robert Bresson's Mouchette (1967), Krzysztof Kieslowski's No End (1984), Roman Polanski's Macbeth (1971), François Truffaut's Stolen Kisses (1968), Anthony Mann's The Man from Laramie (1955), Joseph L. Mankiewicz's Guys and Dolls (1955), Marco Bellocchio's China Is Near (1967), Maurice Pialat's Love Exists (1961) and Jack Clayton's The Innocents (1961). » - David Hudson »
The Venice Film Festival has unveiled the 21 restored films – 18 features and 3 shorts - that will screen in its Classics section of restored films.
The section, introduced in 2012, features a selection of classic film restorations completed over the past year by film libraries, cultural institutions or production companies around the world.
Director Giuliano Montaldo will chair the jury of film students which will award the Venice Classics Award for Best Restored Film and for Best Documentary on Cinema.
The 2014 Venice Classics line up:
Bez końca (No End), dir Krzysztof Kieślowski (Poland, 1984, 108’, Colour) restored by: Studio Filmowe Tor with the support of the National Audiovisual Institute (the Multiannual Government Programme Culture +) and the Polish Film Institute
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Sarah Cooper)
London — The Venice Film Festival has unveiled its Venice Classics line-up, which includes Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s “Guys and Dolls” (1955) and Francois Truffaut’s “Baisers voles” (Stolen Kisses, 1968).
The section is devoted to classic films that have been restored over the past year by film archives, cultural institutions or production companies, and documentaries about cinema and its auteurs. The pics compete for awards for best restored film, and best documentary on cinema.
The festival, which runs Aug. 27-Sept. 6, will present 21 restored films in the Venice Classics section, including 18 feature-length films and three short films.
The line-up includes a screening of Marco Bellocchio’s “La Cina e vicina” (China Is Near), winner of the Special Jury Prize at the 1967 Venice Film Festival. Restored by Sony Pictures Entertainment in collaboration with the Cineteca di Bologna, the film is drawn from the collection of Historic Archives of the Contemporary Arts (Asac).
Other films »
- Leo Barraclough
The obligatory movie catchphrase…memorable golden dialogue for the cinematic soul. What film fan does not enjoy reciting and repeating their favorite movie quotes? After all, there are countless catchphrases in films–some are famous, some are familiar, some are obscure. Still, paraphrasing movie quips has become an art onto itself?
So what are your all-time movie catchphrases? Perhaps it is Jimmy Cagney’s “You dirt rat…you killed my brother?”. Maybe it is Cary Grant’s “Judy, Judy, Judy”? Or how about Lauren Bacall’s “You know how to whistle, don’t you? Just blow…” Whatever movie catchphrases catches your fancy is fine so long as it brings up memories of the film or film characters tat have made a big impression on your cinema experiences.
The Lip Service: The Top 10 Movie Catchphrases selections are: (in alphabetical order according to film title):
1.) “Fasten your seat belts, it »
- Frank Ochieng
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