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The director of Silver Linings Playbook returns with a simmering and intriguingly confected black comedy
• Oscar predictions 2014: American Hustle
• News: American Hustle wins over NY critics
David O Russell's brazen, nerve-jangling, irresistibly watchable black comedy American Hustle is loosely based on a true story from the 1970s of how the FBI forced a notorious New Jersey conman to help entrap corrupt politicians with the offer of bribes from a "fake sheikh", a scam later beloved in British tabloid circles.
It blends the wiseguy voiceover nostalgia of Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas with the cheeky imposture of George Roy Hill's The Sting, and the headbutting and faintly surreal non-sequiturs in the dialogue have a little of David Mamet. But there is also something unmistakably Russell-esque in the neurotic, shrill and often very funny drama: a kind of neo-noir farce. Russell distils his own toxic kind of nitrous oxide and pipes it into the cinema. »
- Peter Bradshaw
This Summer we ran a piece examining eight of the scariest movies marketed to children, and thanks to popular demand, we're bringing you a second round of films that aren’t all necessarily proper horror titles, but that still terrified entire generations of kids. This list features a few legit horror films, as well as other genres with scary elements (whether intentional or not). Even the non-horror selections here still quite likely played a part in shaping - and traumatizing - young minds, while encouraging aspiring horror fans to seek out the macabre in all forms. Without further fanfare, we bring you eight more of the scariest movies marketed to children: Gremlins Joe Dante is somewhat of a master of family-friendly genre filmmaking. Aside from Gremlins, his resume includes films like Explorers and most recently The Hole. One of his most successful efforts – Gremlins – pushed the boundaries of what one »
- Tyler Doupe
Though there is no true "real story" behind the tale of Frankenstein and his monster, in the sense that a dude never stitched together other dudes and brought the creation to life, The History Channel will be exploring the classic story from all angles next year with a 178-minute disc dubbed Frankenstein: The Real Story.
From the Press Release
History® presents all the raw details and facts on the most famous science fiction character of all time in Frankenstein: The Real Story arriving on DVD January 14th from Lionsgate Home Entertainment. The story has both haunted and entertained the world for close to two centuries. Timed to the highly anticipated release of I, Frankenstein, this fascinating collection tells of a brilliant but deranged scientist who builds a grotesque monster from the body parts of fresh corpses. Featuring three engrossing documentaries that explore the story from various angles, the Frankenstein: The Real Story »
- John Squires
Mel Brooks's funniest parody benefits hugely from a wild Gene Wilder as Dr Fronkensteen, who follows in the same ghoulish footsteps as his deranged father and creates a monster (Peter Boyle) from dead body parts. Brooks lovingly recreates the look of the Universal horror films of the 1930s, though it's the cast and dialogue that make this a hoot. Marty Feldman is ideal as Igor, but it's Madeline Khan who steals the show as saucy Elizabeth: “He vould have an enormous schwanzstucker…” »
Every Wednesday, FM writers Simon Columb and Brogan Morris write two short reviews on Woody Allen films ... in the hope of watching all his films over the course of roughly 49 weeks. If you have been watching Woody's films and want to join in, feel free to comment with short reviews yourself! Next up is Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask & Manhattan...
Simon Columb on Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex...
Prior to filmmaking, Woody Allen was a comic-writer – making more money than both his parents combined at the age of 17 writing. Eyawtkas*Bwata (Wow…) is a great example of his darting mind and surrealist humour. Split into seven different stories, references range between Hamlet in the first sketch through to Antonioni and Fellini in later sequences. Women climaxing only in public, men in love with sheep and sperm as men ready »
- Gary Collinson
Odd List Simon Brew 20 Sep 2013 - 07:14
They don't make funny movies any more, right? Wrong. If you're looking for a laugh, then here are some you may have missed...
For this list, blame The Hangover Part III. It was whilst walking out of that film that I got into a chat with someone, who was bemoaning the lack of genuinely funny movie comedies. Certainly, big budget Hollywood comedies have no end of problems right now - with the occasional exception - but I couldn't help thinking of the many neglected gems that had gone through my DVD player over the past decade or so.
As such, I started to put this list together. It's inevitably subjective, as one person's comedy is another person's snore fest. But I've tried to dig out a mix of comedies from the past three decades that have either flown under the radar completely, or »
Hey PopWatchers! Stumped for ideas for your TV-watching pleasure this Labor Day week? Not to worry, we’ve got a well-rounded media diet for you, featuring all the pop-culture food groups: tennis, football, a mini-Friends reunion, a trip to your Roald Dahl-reading childhood, and a gaggle of gangsters in Atlantic City. All times listed are Eastern.
2013 U.S. Open Tennis 11:00-6:00 p.m., CBS
It’s the Men’s third and Women’s fourth round. C’mon, who wouldn’t want to watch some real-life tennis hotties? Also on a less fault-y note, ‘tis the last Grand Slam of the year! »
- Jennifer Arellano
"Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" has been terrorizing kids for over 40 years (the boat scene still gives us nightmares). And while the classic 1971 movie has inspired quite a few theories about what's really happening on-screen, there was apparently a lot going on off-screen, too.
In the above video, Wgn Morning News reveals some delicious tidbits about "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory," including:
- Peter Ostrum, who played Charlie, went through puberty during the film. His voice is high when he wins the golden ticket and is noticeably lower in the bubble scene.
- Gene Wilder was memorably zany as Willy Wonka, but other candidates for the role included Peter Sellers and the members of Monty Python. (How funny would it have been for Wonka to tell Violet, "It's just a flesh wound"?)
- The Oompa Loompas were German and couldn't speak English.
- One of the Oompa Loompas was a woman! »
- Kelly Woo
So I’d gone over to my cousin’s house to see his new puppy and, as he and I are often wont to do, we got to talking about movies and TV and the like. The conversation drifted around to movies we liked but our kids didn’t.
“I have Blazing Saddles (1974),” he said, nodding at his rack of DVDs. “I don’t show it to the kids.”
I thought of the movie’s fart jokes, gay jokes, horny jokes, race jokes. “Too vulgar?”
He shook his head. “It’s because I don’t think they’ll get it.”
It took me a second, but then I got what he meant, realizing how much of the movie’s humor was built on lampooning clichés entrenched by forty years of Westerns.
- Bill Mesce
Chicago – Mel Brooks’ “The Producers,” recently released in a perfect collector’s edition with both Sd and HD versions accompanied by spectacular special features by Shout Factory, may be a perfect comedy. It has that perfect balance of incredibly smart humor and physical antics that would define a lot of Brooks’ best work. It won the Oscar for Best Screenplay and, unlike a lot of films from the ’60s, would win it again today were it released tomorrow.
The Blu-ray of “The Producers” comes with a great documentary about the making of the film that includes interviews with Brooks, Gene Wilder, and many of the other major players from the film. And the movie itself looks good, holding up incredibly well in terms of comedy. Point me to a 45-year-old film that’s as funny. I dare you.
The Producers was released on Blu-ray and DVD on July 2, 2013
Photo credit: »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
Mel Brooks' horror spoof stars Gene Wilder as the great-grandson of the infamous Baron Victor Frankenstein who goes to Transylvania to continue his ancestor's monstrous experiments. An affectionate, laugh-out-loud send-up of the Karloff era with much to savour: Marty Feldman getting the hump as wise-cracking assistant Igor (that's "Eye-gor"), Peter Boyle's tux-clad monster lumbering his way through 'Putting On The Ritz' and Gene Hackman creating blind havoc in an unbilled role. »
Hoping to wipe any memories of Tim Burton’s shocking big-screen adaptation of Roald Dahl’s iconic children’s novel, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, we have the extended trailer for Sam Mendes’ stage production currently showing in London’s Dury Lane Theatre.
The Oscar-winning American Beauty and Skyfall director has given Dahl’s celebrated tale a brand new musical spin, with a host of original songs as well as a number from Mel Stuart’s 1971 colourful classic Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory starring Gene Wilder in his terrific role of the eccentric Candy Man. Our very own Victoria Bull recently attended the premiere and you can read her report, as well as her review of the show by clicking on the links.
- Craig Hunter
Moviefone's Top DVD of the Week
What's It About? Eugene Jarecki's ("Freakonomics") "The House I Live In" gives an in-depth look at America's war on drugs. The documentary brings our attention to the human rights issues created by the country's drug policy and the overcrowded prison system.
Why We're In: Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, Jarecki's solid work of journalism brings up a controversial and dire issue that calls for attention. While the doc's subject may only affect a segment of the population, it reminds us that the war on drugs is everybody's problem.
Moviefone's Top Blu-ray of the Week
What's It About? One of the funniest comedies ever, "The Producers" stars Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel as an accountant and playwright who do everything they can to produce a Broadway flop. The 1968 dark comedy was Mel Brooks' »
- Erin Whitney
Review Simon Brew 28 Jun 2013 - 06:36
Roald Dahl's classic book, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, has found its way to cinema screens twice thus far. Neither version was entirely faithful to Dahl's text, with liberties taken in different places. Arguably the least faithful, Mel Stuart's 1971 Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory is comfortably the most loved, with Gene Wilder's dark portrayal of the title role rightly revered. It was surprising, therefore, just how much Tim Burton's more recent take on the material managed to miss the mark, with a far kookier Willy Wonka, in the guise of Johnny Depp.
It seems a fair bet that the new stage Wonka, Douglas Hodge, has seen both these films. And, much like the new stage musical take on Dahl's book, »
In 1976, one of the biggest comedy hits of the year was Silver Streak, with Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor, but whether the film would be as big a hit today is another question altogether. Pryor stole Streak right from under Wilder, and it was the film that propelled Pryor from being a popular movie co-star to a bona fide A-list movie star. In the film, which was a spoof of Hitchcock films, Wilder plays a mild mannered ordinary guy on a train trip who witnesses a murder and finds himself being chased by bad guys who want him dead, and the police, who want him for murder, on and off the train.Of course, no one believes him, except for a woman and romantic interest whom he »
After months of hype, Sam Mendes’ trumpeted return to the West End is finally open to the public. Tackling a much-loved children’s literary classic, fully ingrained in popular culture (it’s already been the subject of two big screen adaptations) must have been a challenging proposition for the Skyfall director. Unsurprisingly, he pulls it off with genuine aplomb, and like the great Wonka’s otherworldly display of confectionery delights, there’s more than enough here to entice, astonish and enchant those of all ages.
As to be expected from a Mendes production, this is a slick-looking affair. The integration of art direction and visual content is superb, and an intro extolling the beauty of chocolate is credited to one Quentin Blake – a nice nod to the Roald Dahl legacy. While the production sticks largely to the book, there are some obvious contemporary changes worked in, although that subversive Dahl edge is still intact. »
- Adam Lowes
Sometimes, a movie can veer away from the plot of the book it's based on, and it's still an amazing movie ("Blade Runner" and "The Shining" come to mind, although Stephen King was so unhappy with "The Shining" adaptation that he decided to go off and make his own version, and it was horrible).
Other times, filmmakers make changes when adapting books that make the films even bigger stinkers than they would have been had they stuck to the plot in front of them. There are also some examples where the movie on the whole isn't bad, but the filmmakers throw in some random new content that often leaves me wondering, What were they thinking by adding that?! They had a perfectly good story without it.
Here are some of the changes made in the book-to-movie making process that I find absolutely unforgivable. These Contain Spoilers but then you wouldn't »
- Zoë Triska
It took “New Day” about 13 minutes to move from the same-old CNN to something a little different.
The new CNN ayem program has been billed by none other than the Time Warner cabler’s relatively new president, Jeff Zucker, as a program with a “generationally” different team of anchors: former ABC Newser Chris Cuomo, former Washington correspondent Kate Bolduan and Los Angeles export Michaela Pereira. The trio hit the screen today at 6 a.m. Eastern (with a promo by Cuomo and Bolduan surfacing on lead-in program “Early Start” at about 5:57) sounding a lot like traditional CNN. Their interplay didn’t truly surface until the news of the day had been transmitted.
Where MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” led off with a look at the notion that Russian President Vladmir Putin might have stolen a Super Bowl Ring (and a shot at anchor Mika Brzezinski’s purple shoe) and Fox News Channel »
- Brian Steinberg
I haven’t been seeing many movies lately and it’s been killing me; I feel like my mind’s shrunk into a leathery, walnut-sized nub. The 99% of the population who don’t spend hours every day watching movies often look askance at people like me; they seem to think that I’ve been wasting my time, while they, who spend those same hours shopping for napkin rings, cleaning their shower-tile grout, or—even worse—writing poetry, seem to think that their own cogitations are more spiritually uplifting. But recently I remembered just how creative watching movies can be when I re-read Walter Benjamin’s essay “Unpacking My Library”, in which the noted bibliophile wrote about a book collector’s relationship with his possessions. Surprisingly, there aren’t that many similarities between book collecting and cinephilia, but the differences do remind me why I’ve been feeling the need to »
- Doug Dibbern
I'm a big fan of Gene Wilder. The actor has made some incredibly entertaining and funny films in his career. A couple of my favorites are Young Frankenstein and Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. In a rare appearance to discuss his career, Wilder was asked what he thought of Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This was his response,
I think it's an insult. It's probably Warner Bros.' insult. Johnny Depp, I think, is a good actor, but I don't care for that director. He's a talented man, but I don't care for him doing stuff like he did.
And that answers that! I was excited to hear that Tim Burton was directing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I thought it would have been a perfect project for him, but I ended up not liking it. The original movie is still a better, more entertaining film, and »
- Joey Paur
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