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"Gilbert Adair, the acclaimed critic who had some of his own novels turned into successful films, has died aged 66," reports Catherine Shoard in the Guardian. "Adair won the respect of cineastes with volumes such as A Night at the Pictures (1985), Myths & Memories (1986), Hollywood's Vietnam (1981), Flickers (1995), Surfing the Zeitgeist (1997) and with his translation of the letters of François Truffaut (published in 1990). He was a prolific journalist, writing a regular column for the Sunday Times in the 1990s, as well as for this paper — last year he interviewed the French filmmaker Alain Resnais."
As a screenwriter, Adair will be remembered for his collaborations with Raúl Ruiz (The Territory in 1981, Klimt in 2006, Blind Revenge in 2010) and Bernardo Bertolucci (The Dreamers in 2003, based on his own novel, The Holy Innocents). Richard Kwietniowski's Love and Death on Long Island (1997) is based on Adair's novel.
In January 2010, Adair wrote in the Guardian, "I yield to »
Witty, self-deprecating writer with a passion for cinema whose work shone 'like sparklers in the autumn gloom'
In Gilbert Adair's And Then There Was No One (2009), the third of his pastiches of Agatha Christie's detective stories, a writer called Gilbert Adair is lacerated thus by a reader: "The point, Gilbert, is that you've always been such a narcissistic writer. Which is why you've never had the popular touch … Postmodernism is dead … Nobody gives two hoots about self-referentiality any longer, just as nobody gives two hoots, or even a single hoot, about you. Your books are out of sight, out of sound, out of fashion and out of print."
Such self-referential gambits have exasperated some readers, but in Adair's staunchly postmodern, self-deprecating hands, the manoeuvre was disarming. Adair, who has died aged 66 of a brain haemorrhage, had often enjoyed playfully rehearsing his own literary erasure. In the 1990s he »
- Stuart Jeffries, Ronald Bergan
Filed under: Best Movies Ever, Family Film Guide, Columns, This Week in Movies
Be our guest, be our guest
Put your knowledge to the test
There's some trivia you may know
But you might not know the rest
It's a treat, it's a feast,
Disney's 'Beauty and the Beast'
Now the movie's turning 20
We've come up with factoids plenty
Chip 'n' Dale, Jean Cocteau,
They're connected, don't you know
As are Jackie Chan and Pixar -- you impressed?
Sure, these lyrics may be trash, man
(We're so sorry, Howard Ashman)
But be our guest, read the rest, be our guest!
Continue Reading »
- Gary Susman
Underground film-maker with a bent for the tawdry and camp
If ever there were an exemplar of Susan Sontag's definitions of camp, it would be the work of the underground film-maker George Kuchar, who has died of prostate cancer aged 69. Although Kuchar was unknown to Sontag at the time she wrote Notes on Camp (1964), she could have been referring to his no-budget pictures with her general description of camp as being "serious about the frivolous, frivolous about the serious. The essence of camp is its love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration. Camp sees everything in quotation marks. The ultimate camp statement is it's good because it's awful."
Around the time of Sontag's seminal essay, there emerged a series of influential "outrageous" camp films such as Jack Smith's Flaming Creatures (1963), which depicted a transvestite orgy, Andy Warhol's Blow Job (1963) and Kenneth Anger's gay biker movie »
- Ronald Bergan
Jean Cocteau and Jean Vigo are two of the great towers of French cinema. Pre-New Wave, the two inspired filmmakers like Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard with their different approaches. Vigo was an upstart filmmaker who died young and left an indelible impression, while Cocteau was a poet, playwright, painter, and all around artiste. All of Vigo’s films are collected in the Criterion Collection’s release The Complete Jean Vigo, while Orpheus – arguably Cocteau’s masterwork – has been upgraded for Blu-ray. Our review of The Complete Jean Vigo and Orpheus on Blu-ray follow after the jump. Jean Cocteau’s film career is practically defined by two works: Beauty and the Beast and Orpheus. The latter was part of his Orphic trilogy – started with the short film Blood of a Poet and concluded with The Testament of Orpheus. Both are worth seeing, but Orpheus stands on its own, and works »
- Andre Dellamorte
Originally published in the Guardian on 12 October 1963
Paris, October 11
Jean Cocteau, writer, film producer, and painter, died in his home at Milly, near Paris, today aged 73. The death of Cocteau at one o'clock today seems to have been directly linked with that of Edith Piaf, the popular singer, who died at seven in the morning in a Paris nursing home. A representative of the Paris State Radio, who was also a friend of Jean Cocteau, rang him up to ask him if he felt well enough to take part in the commemoration of Edith Piaf's death in some form on the air.
M. Cocteau was convalescing after a severe heart attack earlier in the summer, but had resumed working and was, in fact, this morning engaged on drafting a new stage set for "Pelléas and Mélisande."
Jean Cocteau replied that he had had an extremely bad feverish night and had a temperature. »
DVD Playhouse—September 2011
By Allen Gardner
In A Better World (Sony) Winner of last year’s Best Foreign Film Oscar, this Danish export looks at two fractured families and the effect that the adult world dysfunction has on their two sons, who form an immediate and potentially deadly bond. Director Susanne Bier delivers another powerful work that maintains its drive during the films’ first 2/3, then falters somewhat during the last act. Still, well-worth seeing, and beautifully made. Also available on Blu-ray disc. Bonuses: Deleted scenes; Commentary by Bier and editor Pernille Bech Christensen; Interview with Bier. Widescreen. Dolby and DTS-hd 5.1 surround.
X-men First Class (20th Century Fox) “Origins” film set in the early 1960s, traces the beginnings of Magento and Professor X (played ably here by Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy), and how the once-close friends and colleagues became bitter enemies. First half is slam-bang entertainment at its stylish best, »
- The Hollywood Interview.com
Chicago – “Interpret as you wish,” invites narrator and filmmaker Jean Cocteau prior to his contemporary retelling of the Orpheus legend and the second installment of his Orphic Trilogy, which also includes 1930’s “The Blood of a Poet” and 1960’s “Testament of Orpheus.” Cocteau’s 1950 masterwork, simply titled “Orpheus,” is one of his most emotionally complex and deeply personal projects. It’s also a lot of fun.
Unlike other avant-garde filmmakers, Cocteau sports a immensely playful spirit that causes viewers to wholly embrace his onscreen abstractions rather than dissect them for their intended meaning. The titular protagonist in “Orpheus” is told by another character that the “dreamer must accept his dreams,” and Cocteau expects his audience to follow suit. This results in a picture of unforgettable images as whimsically absurd as they are dramatically resonant.
Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
For most of the modern era, artists have struggled to reverse the aging process on the major works of antiquity, and have experimented valiantly with different ways to make the entertainment of several hundred or even thousand years ago appear contemporary. For the most part, it is an uphill climb, as direct translations of works like Pyramus and Thisbe are more likely to come across as ancient soap operas, their melodrama draining them of potential vitality before even the first murder or love affair. Of these attempts, Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus must be one of the most successful, simply because it manages to translate the narrative beats to the modern day without making any attempt to translate its bizarre and obtuse logic. The heart of the Orpheus narrative and its tragedy have been preserved, but in placing its action in so dischordant a setting, it inverts the natural politics of adaptation, »
- Anders Nelson
When, in 1934, Jean Vigo died of tuberculosis, he was only 29, "a neglected figure at the margins of the industry who had seen one of his films (Zéro de Conduite) banned by the French authorities and another (L'Atalante) recut and retitled by its producer." Dennis Lim in the Los Angeles Times: "Vigo lends himself to romanticization, and not just because of his tragic early death and the aura of unfulfilled promise. He led a brief but colorful life as a fellow traveler of the French surrealists and the son of a well-known anarchist who was apparently murdered in prison. Vigo's first film, the silent, 23-minute À Propos de Nice (On the Subject of Nice), part of the 'city symphony' genre that flourished in the 1920s, confirmed that the young Jean was very much his father's son…. All of Vigo's films were shot by Boris Kaufman, brother of the Soviet film pioneer »
Fans of Criterion’s Eclipse line of DVDs have no doubt already taken notice that a new box set was just added to the catalog last week – Eclipse Series 28: The Warped World of Koreyoshi Kurahara. With its vivid orange and pink packaging, it practically leaps off the shelf into your hands, like a plump juicy grapefruit just begging to be squeezed. And though I’m an unabashed promoter of the series, finding something to like in every set and film I’ve seen so far, I have to say that I’m particularly enthusiastic about this collection. Though the films were all shot in the 1960s, the variety of topics, the liveliness of the action and the vitality of their cinematic techniques makes this one of Eclipse’s most exciting and attractive sets to date for contemporary audiences that like their entertainment to veer recklessly on the wild side. »
- David Blakeslee
Your Weekly Source for the Newest Releases to Blu-Ray Tuesday, August 30th, 2011
The 5th Quarter: Special Edition (2010)
Synopsis: In February, 2006, young Luke Abbate accepted a ride home from a fellow student following his high-school team practice. In a severe case of irresponsible and reckless teen-age driving, and over the objections of Luke and the other young passengers, the driver lost control of the car at nearly 90 miles-per-hour, spinning off a narrow road and landing in an embankment some seventy feet below. Luke suffered irreparable brain damage, and died in the hospital two days later – just four days before his sixteenth birthday. (highdefdigest.com)
Special Features: Making-of Featurette.
Synopsis: The horrific account of 6 year old Martin Bristol, abducted from his backyard swing and forced to witness the brutal crimes of a deranged madman. (highdefdigest.com)
Commentary track with director/writer Stevan Mena Behind the scenes featurette Deleted »
- Travis Keune
Jena Cocteau and Jean-Pierre Melville are two of the most important French filmmakers of the 20th century, and worked together on the film Les Enfants Terrible, with a script from Cocteau and direction from Melville. And though Cocteau has been lauded as one of the great artists of the 20th century, Melville is has only recently been discovered. It was a repertory release of Le Samourai in the 1990’s that led to many of his works being championed and released by the Criterion Collection. Cocteau’s greatest film, Beauty and the Beast, and Melville’s kinky film about attraction to the unattainable Leon Morin, Priest are now on Blu-ray thanks to the Criterion Collection. Our reviews of both follow after the jump. When Jean Cocteau came to direct La Belle et La Bette (The Beauty and the Beast) in 1946, he was coming to it as the war was ending. He »
- Andre Dellamorte
I wish I could remember the first time I watched Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et la Bete). It was certainly no more than only three years ago, after I received it as part of Criterion's Janus Collection, but it must have been before I started my regular What I Watched columns. Nevertheless, it was an absolute stunner and one I have to admit I didn't expect to overwhelm me as much as it did.
This is a film with few imperfections if any. The magic behind the effects may be obvious, but they remain magical nonetheless. I imagine the makeup Jean Marais wears as the Beast will make some modern audience members laugh at first sight, but I have to also believe should those same audience members endure the whole of this film's 93 minutes, by the time it is over they too will yearn for the Beast to return. »
- Brad Brevet
This week on DVD and Blu-ray we've got smart pills, video games and uh... Topher Grace. Major releases hitting stores today include the Bradley Cooper thriller Limitless, '80s party comedy Take Me Home Tonight starring Topher Grace and Anna Faris, and the direct-to-dvd action flick Tekken, based on the popular fighting game. Digging a little deeper, some of the week's smaller releases include indie comedy Peep World starring Michael C. Hall and Sarah Silverman, a thriller called Cracks directed by Ridley Scott's daughter Jordan, and the 10th Anniversary Edition of Dark Days, Marc Singer's documentary about the homeless population living in New York City's subway system. Also, new to Blu-ray we have Amelie, Boyz N The Hood, and the Criterion release of Jean Cocteau's original 1946 Beauty and the Beast. What will you be buying or renting? Check out the full list of relevant releases after the jump. »
Criterion Collection: Beauty and the Beast [Blu-ray] Movie: Disc: Click here to read the dvd review! "Influenced by the avant garde artists of the early 20th Century, Cocteau developed an eerie surrealistic visual style; rich with symbolism, magical settings and photographic effects. But, thanks to his background as a writer, Cocteau would employ his signature stylistics in the telling of generally coherent narratives – regardless of their underpinnings in fantasy – and his films achieved worldwide recognition and critical success. It’s not a stretch to describe Jean Cocteau as the Julie Taymor of his era." »
Returning to tantalize you with thoughts of lasers dancing through the air with bits of celluloid attached to neurons (or however it is that Blu-ray works), we have the prospect of ghosts, and other things that go bump in the night to tempt your wallet. Most Notable New Releases A Chinese Ghost Story (Region A; Panorama) Wilson Yip's remake of the beloved original (by Ching Siu-Tung) "turns out to be a vacuous and tedious CGI-laden crapfest," according to James Marsh, our very own Man in Hong Kong. Louis Koo stars as a demon hunter.Beauty and the Beast (Region A; Criterion Collection)Jean Cocteau's classic fantasy stars Josette Day and Jean Marais. As to the Blu-ray transfer, DVD Beaver comments: "Some fans may have had higher »
Beauty and the Beast is one of the most-adapted stories out there, and as such already has two screen incarnations that are standouts in their respective realms: the Jean Cocteau version from 1946 and Disney's 1991 animated version. We might soon add one more new version to the pile, and indeed to the mountain of projects being developed by Guillermo del Toro. The writer/director/producer is working on a new Beauty and the Beast, and has Emma Watson set to star. (Not as the Beast, one would expect.) ComingSoon  talked to producer Denise Di Novi while she was promoting Crazy, Stupid, Love, and she said that the adaptation is coming together now. Such a lack of respect for the most recent screen version of the story, Beastly! Wait, that movie was garbage. No respect necessary. As she's been busy for the past decade on Harry Potter, Emma Watson has done little »
- Russ Fischer
You can never quite tell just what projects Guillermo del Toro is juggling in his head at any one time. The imaginative helmer has so many creative ideas, so many stories he wants to tell, that someday he is going to have to admit to himself that he simply can’t make everything.
In the past year alone we’ve heard about his love for The Haunted Mansion and his desire to take another shot at adapting the famous Disney ride. We’ve heard about his Van Helsing movie with Tom Cruise that was nearly put into production last year and we all know about the new Frankenstein he wants to make with Doug Jones. Not to mention the one that got away… H.P. Lovecraft’s At The Mountains of Madness.
There’s so many classic monsters of film land that speak directly to the director and legendary figures he »
- Matt Holmes
Your Weekly Source for the Newest Releases to Blu-Ray Tuesday, July 19th, 2011
Synopsis: Bursting with imagination and having seen her share of tragedy and fantasy, Amélie is not like the other girls. When she grows up she becomes a waitress in a Montmartre bar run by a former dancer. Amelie enjoys simple pleasures until she discovers that her goal in life is to help others. To that end, she invents all sorts of tricks that allow her to intervene incognito into other people’s lives, including an imbibing concierge and her hypochondriac neighbor. But Amélie’s most difficult case turns out to be Nino Quicampoix, a lonely sex shop employee who collects photos abandoned at coin-operated photobooths. (blu-ray.com)
Special Features: The Look of Amelie featurette; Fantasies of Audrey Tatou; Q&A with the director and cast; Auditions; Storyboard to screen comparisons; An Intimate Chat With Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet »
- Travis Keune
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