9 items from 2015
Tony Awards co-host Kristin Chenoweth did double duty as she also led the cast of her hit show "On the Twentieth Century" in a rollicking medley of merry tunes. This is the first rialto revival for the 1978 tuner, with music by Cy Coleman and lyrics from Betty Comden and Aldoph Green, who based their book on the 1932 farce by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur ("The Front Page"). -Break- Join the fiery debate over the Tony Awards going on right now in our red-hot forums Among those also showcased in these performances of “Life Is Like A Train,” “On the 20th Century,” “I’ve Got It All” and “Babette,” is Featured Actor nominee Andy Karl. He lost as did Chenoweth with the show going 0 for 5 in all. »
In 1963, Film Quarterly published an essay entitled “Circles and Squares.” It addressed the French auteur theory, introduced to America by The Village Voice’s Andrew Sarris. Auteurism holds that a film’s primary creator is its director; Sarris’s “Notes on the Auteur Theory” further distinguished auteurs as filmmakers with distinct, recurring styles. Challenging him was a California-based writer named Pauline Kael.
Kael attacked Sarris’s obsession with trivial links between filmmaker’s movies, whether repeated shots or thematic preoccupations. This led critics to overpraise directors’ lesser films, as when Jacques Rivette declared Howard Hawks’ Monkey Business a masterpiece. “It is an insult to an artist to praise his bad work along with his good; it indicates that you are incapable of judging either,” Kael wrote.
She criticized auteurist preoccupation with Hawks and Alfred Hitchcock, claiming critics “work embarrassingly hard trying to give some semblance of intellectual respectability to mindless, »
- Christopher Saunders
Cry of the City, 1948
Directed by Robert Siodmak.
Adapted from the novel The Chair for Martin Rome by Henry Edward Helseth, the film tells the story of a charismatic criminal and his nemesis, Lieutenant Candella…
Remember Barzini? The old-crone who was taken out on the steps of the New York Supreme Courthouse in The Godfather? An unforgettable face in Coppola’s masterpiece, he is [spoilers for The Godfather…] the mob-boss behind Sonny’s murder and the powerful force that manages to convince Tessio to give up Michael Corleone. Actor Richard Conte demands our attention, and carries the menace that could rival – but not overpower – the Don’s empire. It goes without saying that Conte wasn’t plucked from obscurity and was chosen carefully by Coppola. He had an unforgettable career in noir thrillers, including one of his earliest, stand-out roles in »
- Simon Columb
Robert Montgomery’s 1947 sophomore film, Ride the Pink Horse is an exciting film noir gem ripe for rediscovery, available on Blu-ray for the first time courtesy of Criterion’s digital restoration. Best known as a comedic actor and Oscar nominated for roles in Night Must Fall (1937) and Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), Montgomery would eventually direct a handful of titles mostly neglected by the passage of time with the exception of his first directorial credit, the experimental noir Lady in the Lake (as the film is presented entirely from the point of view of its protagonist, as if we’re looking directly through his eyes), an adaptation of a Raymond Chandler novel. Lady premiered earlier in the very same year, and though it is often referenced for its structural technique, it’s his follow-up title that’s more impressive, as unique and off kilter as its enigmatic title.
Former GI Lucky »
- Nicholas Bell
Top Five Chris Rock's movie was one of the better comedies last year and it took me a couple times to realize this so definitely give it a chance and after that first viewing, if you aren't entirely convinced, give it a second spin.
Ride the Pink Horse (Criterion Collection) I have a copy of this, but haven't yet watched it, though I'm looking forward to it and will share some thoughts down the road. For now, here's Criterion's description: Hollywood actor turned idiosyncratic auteur Robert Montgomery directs and stars in this striking crime drama based on a novel by Dorothy B. Hughes. He plays a tough-talking former GI who comes to a small New Mexico town to »
- Brad Brevet
“Border Town Noir”
Most film noir pictures take place in urban centers—New York City, Los Angeles—where the big city is as much a character as the unhappy humans in these often bleak and brutal, sometimes brilliant, Hollywood crime films that spanned the early forties to the late fifties. Film noir peaked in the latter half of the forties, with an abundance of the classic titles released between 1946-1948.
One of the more unique things about Ride the Pink Horse is that the urban setting is gone. Instead, the action is set in a border town in New Mexico, where there is indeed danger, to be sure, but there’s also a little less pessimism among the inhabitants—unlike in the urban noirs in which everyone’s a cynic. Interestingly, one might say that the “border town noir” could be a sub-set of the broader category, »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Cinema Retro)
There are 195 individuals nominated for Oscar this year. And when the winners are named Feb. 22, they will become part of film history, joining such greats as Billy Wilder, Ingrid Bergman, Ben Hecht and Walt Disney.
But 80% of the contenders will go home empty-handed. However, there is good news: They are in good company as well.
Here is a sampling of nominees that didn’t win: “Citizen Kane,” “Chinatown” and “Star Wars”; directors Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks, Stanley Kubrick and Ingmar Bergman; writers Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Dashiell Hammett, John Steinbeck, Graham Greene, Harold Pinter and David Mamet; actors Gloria Swanson in “Sunset Blvd.”; Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”; and Peter O’Toole in “Lawrence of Arabia.”
They managed to do Ok, though.
- Tim Gray
Everyone knows Woody Allen. At least, everyone thinks they know Woody Allen. His plumage is easily identifiable: horn-rimmed glasses, baggy suit, wispy hair, kvetching demeanor, ironic sense of humor, acute fear of death. As is his habitat: New York City, though recently he has flown as far afield as London, Barcelona, and Paris. His likes are well known: Bergman, Dostoevsky, New Orleans jazz. So too his dislikes: spiders, cars, nature, Wagner records, the entire city of Los Angeles. Whether or not these traits represent the true Allen, who’s to say? It is impossible to tell, with Allen, where cinema ends and life begins, an obfuscation he readily encourages. In the late nineteen-seventies, disillusioned with the comedic success he’d found making such films as Sleeper (1973), Love and Death (1975), and Annie Hall (1977), he turned for darker territory with Stardust Memories (1980), a film in which, none too surprisingly, he plays a »
- Graham Daseler
Directed by Robert Montgomery
Set in the small New Mexican town of San Pablo during a locally popular festival, actor-director Robert Montgomery’s Ride the Pink Horse begins as a lonely stranger, Gagin (Montgomery), arrives in town by bus, takes a moment at the station to rent a locker into which he stashes a cheque, and then commences his search for one Frank Hugo (Fred Clark), wealthy businessman and the one responsible for the death of Gagin’s wartime friend. More than claim vengeance through blood, Gagin concocts a scheme to blackmail Frank, the aforementioned cheque holding particular importance in the ordeal. A stubbornly stern individual, Gagin is not easy to make friends with, but in a town where almost everybody is after his skin, including Frank, the latter’s main squeeze Marjorie (Andrea King) and FBI »
- Edgar Chaput
9 items from 2015
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