7 items from 2013
Yes, this past Thursday I hit the big 6-0. Yeah, yeah, I know a woman isn’t supposed to reveal her age, but just who the hell would I be fooling? Not my family. Nor any of my friends. Not even those who read my comics back in the 80s and 90s and care to do a little homework and math – Iirc, the New Talent Showcase issues included bios by all the tyros whose work appeared in that book. Mine lists my birthday. And as long as I talking about that bio, for the record I was not particularly inspired by Star Wars or – with absolutely no disrespect intended, and I’m not saying I don’t love their work – to George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Gerry Conway, or Doug Moench. This is how I remember it happened.
Joey Cavalieri (who wrote the bios) asking me who my favorite writers were. »
- Mindy Newell
Cementing himself as the great classicist of his generation, James Gray turns back the clock to 1921 in “The Immigrant,” a romantic tale that cuts to the very soul of the American experience. This rich, beautifully rendered film boasts an arrestingly soulful performance from Marion Cotillard as a Polish nurse-turned-prostitute for whom the symbolic promise of Ellis Island presents only hardship. Her travails unfold at a pace that will frustrate today’s attention-deficit audiences, limiting this Weinstein Co. acquisition’s popular prospects. Give it 20 years, however, and “The Immigrant” is sure to hold up far better than its modish competition, an ambitious yet imperfect cinematic classic with the heft and heart of great literature.
From the American canon, novels like Theodore Dreiser’s “Sister Carrie” offer charitable accounts of the lures and snares big-city life posed on single working women of the early 20th century. Such influences suggest a radical shift »
- Peter Debruge
George Stevens's meticulously observed 1951 version of Theodore Dreiser's massive 1925 novel An American Tragedy is back in cinemas to accompany the BFI South Bank's retrospective of Montgomery Clift, who plays the small-town social climber opposite Elizabeth Taylor as the beguiling upper-class object of his ascent. Clift competed with his close friend Marlon Brando for the title of finest actor of his postwar generation, and he chose to work with the best directors around (Hawks, Stevens, Zinnemann, Huston, Wyler, Hitchcock, Mankiewicz), invariably playing outsiders in conflict with their surroundings, looking for a home, a dream, a place in the sun but never finding it. He died in 1966 at the age of 45, destroyed by alcohol, drugs, a terrible car accident and guilt over his homosexuality. Clift's sensitive face and eyes revealed his inner torment, and his best performance, perhaps, was as the tormented peacetime soldier in From Here to Eternity, one »
- Philip French
Noir suspense merges with romantic tragedy in this stunning 1951 movie adapted from the Theodore Dreiser novel. It features two of the most beautiful people in movie history, Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor. They are almost like reflections of each other; when they kiss, something incestuous and thrillingly forbidden throbs out of the screen. Clift plays George Eastman, a poor but personable young man who lands a job in his wealthy uncle's business. He begins dating Alice (Shelley Winters), who works on the factory floor, but then falls madly in love with Angela Vickers (Taylor), a beautiful socialite who is part of his uncle's smart set. His connections and luck encourage George to believe in his destiny, and that old encumbrances must be shrugged off. Clift perfectly shows how bewildered, earnest, »
- Peter Bradshaw
★★★★★ Remembered primarily for its passionate love story, the consensus over the years has been that 1951's A Place in the Sun toned down the social commentary of Theodore Dreiser's American Tragedy, focusing instead on the central relationship. Watching the film over 60 years since its initial theatrical release, it would appear that accepted critical wisdom has undersold this astonishing picture. While the romance is indeed achingly beautiful and played out with remarkable maturity, A Place in the Sun's searing indictment of the American Dream, tinged with both anger and regret, makes it one of the best films to come out of 50s Hollywood.
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- CineVue UK
Throughout February, BFI Southbank is presenting a season of films starring American actor Montgomery Clift, including such classics as A Place in the Sun, From Here to Eternity, I Confess, The Misfits and Red River, and to celebrate we're offering three readers the chance to win a pair of tickets to a film of their choosing.
Charismatic and insightful, Montgomery Clift bought a potent sensitivity to his portrayals which make him the most modern of Hollywood legends. He shared the screen with Katherine Hepburn, Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor; was directed by John Huston, Alfred Hitchcock and Vittoria De Sica; and brought to life the writings of Tennessee Williams, Theodore Dreiser and Arthur Miller. A troubled psyche and tragic personal life shortened his career, yet there’s still much to celebrate.
Kind of a Big Deal: Michelle Chong’s Choppy Directorial Effort Skirts By on Charm
The multi-talented Michelle Chong, a notable Singaporean host and television actress, dons screenwriter, director, and lead actress hats for her debut, Already Famous, an ironically titled character study about going against the odds to pursue your dreams. Chong, who’s already famous in her native country due to her presence in comedy shows like “The Noose,” and “Black Rose,” makes for a likeable and wholly watchable screen presence, so it’s unfortunate that the bloated pacing, generic storyline and cloyingly repetitive soundtrack hamper her natural charm and charisma. Distracting flourishes aside, this dreams-do-come-true story is as overworked as it’s ever been, not to mention stupendously unrealistic, as it was even by the time of Theodore Dreiser’s 1900 novel, Sister Carrie. Yet there’s an engaging mechanism at the center of her film, and there »
- Nicholas Bell
7 items from 2013
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