12 items from 2011
There have been more than 400 film and TV adaptations so far, and counting, some brilliant, some memorably awful
The opening credits of BBC1's new three-part adaptation of Great Expectations (27-29 December) show a chrysalis cracking open to reveal a pair of trembling wings. A few seconds later this delicate emergence is replaced on screen by the escaped convict Magwitch (Ray Winstone) erupting from the stagnant waters of the Essex marshes. Covered in blood and slime, he is at once the monster of nightmares and a huge misshapen baby gasping its first breath.
In a single sequence, the director Brian Kirk gets to the heart of Dickens's novel as a fable of rebirth and renewal. Together with Sarah Phelps, the screenwriter, he has created a world in which characters are forever seeking to transform themselves – or each other. A spookily young Miss Havisham (Gillian Anderson), still cocooned in her tatty wedding dress, »
- Robert Douglas-Fairhurst
Taliesin refers to the architect’s former home/studio in Spring Green, Wisconsin, where the majority of the film’s plot will be set. It has been regarded as a “masterpiece of Prairie-style architecture,” and generated much attention for Wright, as he built it for himself and his married mistress, Martha “Mamah” Cheney. In 1914, Cheney, her children, and four others were murdered by a domestic worker while Wright was away.
Beresford has described Meyer‘s script with the definitive label of “very good,” stating that it “doesn’t cover his whole life, just a small section of it, and it doesn’t whitewash him into some sort of saint.” Known predominantly for helming Driving Miss Daisy, Beresford has expressed excitement for the project, »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (thefilmstage.com)
Director Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy) is set to tackle famed American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. THR reports that Bereford has signed on to develop and direct Taliesin, a film centered on the events surrounding the architect’s former home and studio in rural Wisconsin (which he named Taliesin). In 1914, while Wright was away from his home, a domestic worker murdered Wright’s wife/mistress, her two children, and four others by locking them inside the home and setting it on fire. It’s definitely an integral portion of Wright’s life, and one that should make for an intriguing (if macabre) feature film. The script for Taliesin was written by Nicholas Meyer (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home), and Beresford tells THR that it doesn’t cover Wright’s entire life, just this small portion of it. He’s been scouting locations in and around Chicago and says he »
- Adam Chitwood
While Occupy Wall Street goes global, Martha Colburn has made two short films documenting the movement and Cinefoundation launches #OccupyCinema. One of the more popular recent Ows speakers has, of course, been Slavoj Žižek, and Anne Thompson reports that he and Sophie Fiennes have just completed shooting on their followup to The Pervert's Guide to Cinema, the timely Pervert's Guide to Ideology.
Even as This Is Not a Film runs a sort of victory lap through the festival circuit since its triumphant premiere in Cannes, an appeals court in Tehran has upheld the sentence against Jafar Panahi many of those same festivals have been protesting for practically a year now. Laurent Maillard, reporting for the Afp, turns to a government-run newspaper in Iran for confirmation: "The charges he was sentenced for are acting against national security and propaganda against the regime." Maillard: "Panahi was convicted in December last year over »
What is this show now, Torchwood: Miracle Day?
Warehouse 13, the fun and silly Syfy show about magical artifacts, took a dark turn this week, and ended with two shocking moments. One was straight out of soap opera, and the other much more serious, but both were handled well. And both are sure to cause repercussions in the last half of the season
The agents finally caught up with the nefarious Sally Stukowski, who is suspected in the deaths of several Warehouse Regents (the bosses of the Warehouse Agents). An artifact-enhanced questioning reveals the whereabouts of another possible assassination attempt, and while Artie and Myka head over to try to stop it, Sally is in store for more ... questioning.
Lon Chaney on TCM: He Who Gets Slapped, The Unknown, Mr. Wu Get ready for more extreme perversity in West of Zanzibar (1928), as Chaney abuses both Warner Baxter and Mary Nolan, while the great-looking Mr. Wu (1927) offers Chaney as a Chinese creep about to destroy the life of lovely Renée Adorée — one of the best and prettiest actresses of the 1920s. Adorée — who was just as effective in her few early talkies — died of tuberculosis in 1933. Also worth mentioning, the great John Arnold was Mr. Wu's cinematographer. I'm no fan of Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), or The Phantom of the Opera (1925), but Chaney's work in them — especially in Hunchback — is quite remarkable. I mean, his performances aren't necessarily great, but they're certainly unforgettable. Chaney's leading ladies — all of whom are in love with younger, better-looking men — are Loretta Young (Laugh, Clown, Laugh), Patsy Ruth Miller »
- Andre Soares
Lon Chaney, He Who Gets Slapped Lon Chaney is one of the most fascinating movie stars in film history. Throughout the 1920s, Chaney was one the biggest box-office draws the world over despite what could kindly be described as an unhandsome face — one that was often disguised by heavy layers of makeup to make him look ancient, deformed, Chinese, female, etc. His roles usually fell into two categories: total fiends, or fiends and semi-fiends in love/lust with or protective of some pretty young thing or other. On Monday, August 15, Turner Classic Movies will be showing 15 Lon Chaney movies, in addition to the reconstructed — by way of stills — London After Midnight (1927), perhaps the most talked about lost film ever. TCM will also present the premiere of the 1922 version of Oliver Twist, directed by future Oscar winner Frank Lloyd (Cavalcade, Mutiny on the Bounty), and starring Chaney as Fagin, The Kid's Jackie Coogan as Oliver, »
- Andre Soares
Betty Compson, Clive Brook, Woman to Woman Despite some confusion in various reports, the 1923 melodrama The White Shadow, half of which was recently found at the New Zealand Film Archive, is not Alfred Hitchcock's directorial debut. It isn't Hitchcock's first ever credited effort, either. That honor apparently belongs to Woman to Woman, which came out earlier that same year. The White Shadow, in fact, was a Woman to Woman afterthought. Both movies were directed by Graham Cutts, both were produced by future British film industry stalwarts Victor Saville and Michael Balcon, both were based on works by Michael Morton (the earlier film was taken from a Morton play; the later one from a Morton novel), and both starred Clive Brook and Hollywood import Betty Compson. (Compson plays two parts in both films as well; but whereas in The White Shadow she plays two actual characters, in Woman to Woman »
- Andre Soares
Turner Classic Movies' look at Arabs in Hollywood movies continues this evening with six movies. Why exactly Gabriel Pascal's film adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra (1945) is one of the six, I don't know. Caesar was a Roman-born emperor; Cleopatra, a descendant of Greek royalty, was an Egyptian queen long before the Arab conquest of Egypt. Now, I may be puzzled about its inclusion, but Caesar and Cleopatra is very much worth watching chiefly thanks to Claude Rains' brilliant performance as the first half of the title role and Vivien Leigh's highly theatrical but enjoyable star turn as the second half of the title role. Kismet (1944) would have been more enjoyable had it been directed by Henry Hathaway, Michael Curtiz, Frank Lloyd, or even Lloyd Bacon. William Dieterle, best known for several ponderous Warner Bros. biopics of the '30s, had a heavy hand »
- Andre Soares
Rudolph Valentino, Agnes Ayres in George Melford's The Sheik Long before they became Hollywood's favorite terrorists, Arabs were generally portrayed as lusty, uncouth, infantile beings in myriad Hollywood movies. Turner Classic Movies returns this month with their annual "Race & Hollywood" film series. The "race" this time around: Arabs. Frank Lloyd's long but generally entertaining 1924 epic The Sea Hawk is almost over. TCM has shown this one before a few times; long-thought lost, The Sea Hawk was restored about a decade ago. Popular leading man Milton Sills stars. Next are two silents starring movie idols of the 1920s: The Thief of Bagdad (1924) and The Sheik (1921). One of Douglas Fairbanks' biggest hits, The Thief of Bagdad was directed by Raoul Walsh; this Arabian Nights romp is probably Fairbanks' most enjoyable vehicle of that era. Quite possibly, it's Fairbanks best movie, period. Starring Rudolph Valentino, who set as many hearts aflutter as Justin Bieber, »
- Andre Soares
Well, I've finally done it, I've seen all of the Oscar Best Picture winners. But I've also updated my personal list of "Must Watch Movies" and I still have 171 movies to go. This is a list I've compiled using the AFI Top 100 American Movies, Roger Ebert's Greatest Movies list, Oscar Best Picture winners, Tiff's Essential 100 Movies and several incarnations of the IMDb Top 250.
On Friday I actually updated the list, adding the latest IMDb Top 250 to my previous list and now have a total of 294 films that have at one time or another been on IMDb's Top 250 and actually have two new films I need to watch that weren't on there previously -- The Celebration (1998) and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984). Ebert has also been updating his list of greatest movies and I had to add a few there as well.
Overall it makes for a list »
- Brad Brevet
Cavalcade (1933) Direction: Frank Lloyd Cast: Clive Brook, Diana Wynyard, Herbert Mundin, Una O'Connor, Beryl Mercer, Irene Browne, Merle Tottenham, Frank Lawton, Ursula Jeans, Margaret Lindsay Screenplay: Reginald Berkeley, Sonya Levien; from Noel Coward's 1931 play Oscar Movies, Pre-Code Movies Herbert Mundin, Diana Wynyard, Clive Brook, Una O'Connor, Cavalcade Synopsis: Upstairs, Robert and Jane Marryot (Clive Brook, Diana Wynyard), and downstairs, Alfred and Ellen Bridges (Herbert Mundin, Una O'Connor), in a British household, from 1900 to 1933. The Pros: Cavalcade won Best Picture and Best Director Oscars for the period 1932-33 (basically from Aug. '32-Dec. '33) and was reportedly the biggest box-office hit of 1933, grossing more than $3.5m (approx. $121m today*). That makes it a historical curiosity. Best Actress Oscar nominee Diana Wynyard has one remarkable moment, walking among armistice revelers but not feeling at all like celebrating after having lost a son to the Great War. Noel Coward, for his [...] »
- Andre Soares
12 items from 2011
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