1-20 of 31 items from 2011 « Prev | Next »
Beijing threw $100m at its gobsmacking Olympics opening ceremony. Can Danny Boyle top it? Meanwhile, six cultural figures reveal what they'd like to see at their fantasy opening ceremony
On 27 July, the world will see an elaborate and costly British cinematic event: the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, directed by Oscar-winner Danny Boyle. What on earth is it going to be like? So far, all we know is that he is hiring 10,000 people as extras to be performers and percussionists, and that they will have to make themselves available to rehearse two or three times a week, from March until the big day. No further announcements will be made until the new year. But all followers of the cinema know that Boyle's opening ceremony will be Britain's screen spectacular of 2012.
The pressure is on for Boyle to deliver something of which we can all be proud, and it is »
- Peter Bradshaw
The new film about Wallis Simpson assembles all the bad movie cliches – and tries to downplay those Nazi skeletons
Here's a quote that Madonna is welcome , nay, advised, to put on the posters of her upcoming film W.E., a hagiography of the deeply unpleasant Wallis Simpson: "Hey! This movie isn't quite as mindblowingly terrible as you expect it to be!" Obviously, the film is inescapably ridiculous, predicated as it is on the idea that not only is some godawful social climber with notorious fascist leanings in any way relevant to women today, but that a modern 28-year-old woman who spends thousands of dollars of her husband's money in order to dress like Simpson is a sensitive feminist heroine as opposed to possibly certifiable.
It is a clumsily assembled jigsaw of bad movie cliches, like the Trailer for Every Oscar-Winning Movie Ever on YouTube, but funnier, if inadvertently so. Strands of »
- Hadley Freeman
Director: Andrei Ujica Rendered in the artistic fashion of a Leni Riefenstahl documentary, The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu features a magnificent and poetic montage of archival footage about Romania's fallen ruler Nicolae Ceausescu. Autobiography begins on the final day of Ceausescu's life, with television footage of him and his wife undergoing a hastily organized two-hour court session prior to their execution on Christmas Day 1989. From there, director Andrei Ujica's documentary delves into a rich archival array of propagandistic footage with a recurring theme of pomp and circumstance as it chronicles Ceausescu's reign as the Secretary General of the Romanian Communist Party (1965-1989) and Romania's head of state (1967-1989). Ceausescu's reign started off promising with an open policy towards Western Europe and the United States (thus deviating from the other Warsaw Pact states during the Cold War); he even actively and openly condemned the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by the other Warsaw Pact forces. »
- Don Simpson
The Creative Impact award aims to honour those film-makers whose documentaries bring burning issues to our attention. But just how effective are they?
Movie people are forever telling the rest of us that movies can change the world – but they would say that, wouldn't they? It justifies the outrageous salaries, the decadent lifestyles and the grandiose awards acceptance speeches. Certainly, if James Cameron could point to figures detailing a fall in ocean-liner/iceberg collisions following Titanic's release, his "I'm the king of the world!" Oscar proclamation might have been more forgivable. But beyond the bluster of Hollywood and the joy of escapism, what kind of real-world impact can cinema really have?
The creators of the Puma Creative Impact award believe it can be massive. Its stated aim? "To honour the documentary film creating the most significant impact in the world." As the documentarist Morgan Spurlock, a juror for the award, »
- Morgan Spurlock, Ellen E Jones
One major aspect of the Nazi propaganda machine that gained their support from the German people was their promotion of nostalgia. And like any form of nostalgia (and especially in nostalgia’s frequent political function), this was a selective nostalgia, decidedly exploiting certain tropes and icons of German history and heritage. A major component of this nostalgia was the promotion of nature as the means of returning to pure German identity. Nature provided a convenient contrast to the values that the Nazi party wanted to work against, and it’s opposite – the urban center – was the focal point of all they problems they perceived Germany as having been misguided by, most explicitly centralized in the supposed decadence of 1920s Berlin. The political, aesthetic, and sexual aspirations (not to mention the diversity) of the Weimar period posed a threat to the ideals of tradition, uniformity, and the assumed hierarchy of specific social roles. This »
- Landon Palmer
The singer-turned-director is to re-edit her poorly received film. Here are a few tips
'I hope it's over with soon," Madonna sighed recently. Now it's reported that she is preparing to return to the editing suite to recut her film W.E. after her labour-of-love tale of Edward and Mrs Simpson was savaged by critics at this year's Venice film festival and seemed destined to die a swift and bloody death. But hope springs eternal and a new W.E. is poised to be born. Here's how the singer-turned-director can still pluck an Oscar-winning triumph from the jaws of disaster.
Play it as horror movie W.E. is not just a film about Edward and Wallis Simpson. It is also the story of Wally (Abbie Cornish), a trophy wife in late-90s New York who is obsessed with Wallis and occasionally communes with the woman's ghost. By inviting us to view this as a healthy relationship, »
- Xan Brooks
The original 1977 Star Wars film arrived on Blu-ray this week, along with the rest of the original trilogy and its prequels. News of the release has once again brought George Lucas into the center of a fan controversy about special editions versus original editions, and the issue of yet more obsessive tinkering. At the same time, though, the Blu-ray release is also a good opportunity to look back at what Lucas’ landmark first Star Wars film did give us.
Quite simply, Star Wars was the world’s first mash-up.
Originally a technical term to describe the mixing of disparate elements in website design, the mash-up concept quickly spread to music and, with the help of YouTube, to the cutting together of different movies to make something entirely new. »
Sometimes the gods smile on you ... and sometimes you're Madonna. The Material Girl has not had a good couple of days. First, her inaugural effort into directing a feature-length film, We, basically bombed at the Venice Film Festival. Then she catches even more flak over the Wallis Simpson biopic after a writer for The Daily notices she thanks two Nazi sympathizers—propagandist Leni Riefenstahl and John Galliano—in the credits. (Click to read reactions to that one .) And things get worse in Venice, notes the Mirror : At a press conference, she accepts a purple hydrangea then turns to the »
- Kate Schwartz
Madonna might have more trouble on her hands with her new film W.E. than just bad reviews. The film, about the romance between Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII, has been panned for whitewashing its subjects' historical ties to Nazi Germany. What's more, it's now being noted that in the end credits Madonna thanks Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl and anti-Semitic fashion designer John Galliano. »
- Daniel Jacobson
Terrence Malick's 1978 movie Days of Heaven was never a huge hit, but it was such a departure and so deliberate an attempt to have the audience stirred by beauty that it felt calming and inspiring. Without shame or caution it was trying to address the pre-modern era of American history, the natural conflict between landowners and newcomers. But it was just as interested in the vanity of men and women trying to tame and organise the wild parts of the country. Beyond that, was this perhaps the most beautiful picture ever made? Second films are famously hard, but with Days of Heaven, Malick was announcing that he would do things his way.
By common consent, his first film, Badlands (1973), was one »
- David Thomson
In one of those head-scratching pieces you often read in major newspapers, Maureen Dowd at the New York Times wrote an op-ed article on Sunday declaring her belief that Barack Obama’s time in the Whitehouse has been unfavourable (that’s fine, she is allowed her opinion and many would agree) but then friviously drops into her piece that filmmakers Kathyrn Bigelow and Mark Boal are enjoying “top-level access to the most classified mission in history” for their forthcoming film Kill Bin Laden, suggesting that by allowing their eyes to see documents unseen by the masses, they will be swayed to make a propaganda film to get the U.S. President re-elected at the next election in October 2012, the same month the film is set to open.
Here’s what she said;
- Matt Holmes
This week's news in the arts
If history tells us anything it is, first, that art about sport is usually a bad idea, and secondly, that artists never learn this. The Olympic Games have always been a tempting subject. Big jumps, taut thighs, twanging javelins: few artists can behold these marvels without feeling the urge to inadequately recreate them.
The Theban poet Pindar and his rival Bacchylides , who both wrote victory odes in the fifth century Bce, were surely not the first to get sucked in. As Pindar gushes in a poem for the Isthmian games: "To a poet's mind the gift is slight, to speak/ A kind word for unnumbered toils, and build/ For all to share a monument of beauty."
- Leo Benedictus
"Often he [Fritz Lang] would sit there in the country's penetrating sunlight under the merciful protection, so to speak, of his physical handicap. He allowed the films that, to his regret, he had been unable to make, pass across his inner eye. He had lost a lot of time through emigrating from Germany to France and later to the USA and then in attempting to return to Germany. And now: waiting for death. Without any commissions. These significant periods of time he would have liked to fill with films he'd already planned. He could describe them scene by scene. For a short moment, still in Europe, Godard had listened to these descriptions. For an afternoon, Godard was determined to film one of these outlines. That never came to anything, however, because he was busy with his own projects." —Alexander Kluge, "The Blind Director"
During the late 1950s, Alexander Kluge served as an »
Kevin Brownlow has won a lifetime-achievement Oscar and made superb films. So why isn't he better known?
On 13 November last year Kevin Brownlow received an honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement, alongside Francis Ford Coppola (Jean-Luc Godard didn't turn up). In his letter of nomination, Martin Scorsese declared that "Mr Brownlow is a giant among film historians and preservationists, known and justifiably respected throughout the world for his multiple achievements: as the author of The Parade's Gone By, a definitive history of the silent era, and . . . a biography of David Lean . . . and as the director with Andrew Mollo of two absolutely unique fiction films, Winstanley (1975) and It Happened Here (1964) . . . On a broader level, you might say that Mr Brownlow is film history." This sums up pretty well the extraordinary record of a remarkable Englishman.
But while Brownlow's achievements – as a historian of film, in preserving and restoring silent-era classics, and »
Getty The once-obscure Volkswagen Routan ninivan is a top pick among Generation X car shoppers, a survey says.
Are Minivans the preferred rides for Generation X? When do you let your kids navigate city or suburban streets on their own? And could China’s new cultural ambassador be a pleasant goat? A look at some of the most interesting stories on the Wall Street Journal blogs.
Minivans: The Preferred Rides For Generation X?: If you have noticed a lot »
- Christopher John Farley
The Sarah Palin documentary “The Undefeated”—which opens in 10 cities this Friday–couldn’t have opened at a better time. With a Newsweek cover story about the former Republican Vice Presidential candidate, wherein she declares, “I can win a national election,” Palin is once again in the media spotlight. Maybe she never left, »
- Anthony Kaufman
Meryl Streep's Thatcher film – like so much new cinema – reduces politics to a personal journey. Plus: top 10 political films
'One simply has to maximise your appeal, bring out all your qualities." So Margaret Thatcher, circa 1978, is advised in the teaser, released last week, for the forthcoming film The Iron Lady. Maximising a politician's appeal and bringing out all their qualities aren't always complementary enterprises – the fuller the characterisation, the less appealing they might become – but both reflect the resolute focus on the individual that has become de rigueur in political culture. But has such individualism also taken hold of political cinema? Built around a performance by Meryl Streep, giving what looks to be a very plausible, fingernails-down-a-blackboard turn, The Iron Lady may turn out to be hagiography, hatchet job or, more likely, something in-between. But in putting an iconic figure centre-stage and making their personal struggle its focus, the »
- Ben Walters
This week’s Must Read is actually a series of articles. Cineflyer is reprinting and transcribing articles from the first 2007 edition of The Moose, the newsletter of the Winnipeg Film Group. Here’s a scan of the cover. The issue included movie reviews by Darryl Nepinak and Mike Maryniuk’s top 10 Wfg films. Plus, there’s filmmaking tips by Cecilia Araneda and Heidi Phillips. An article by King of the Internet, Jaimz Asmundson. Guy Maddin interviews his favorite filmmaker, Guy Maddin.Heavy Metal Parking Lot hits the big time with a profile in the Wall Street Journal, of all places!Did you know Chicago’s Facets had a Tumblr blog? We didn’t, but now we do. Go bookmark.Plus, on the Facets blog, Gregory Hess reviews Steven Soderbergh’s “lost” film Kafka, which is only available on VHS. That’s weird.Speaking of Chicago, the Tribune spotlights two homegrown »
- Mike Everleth
In celebration of the launch of Obsessed With Film’s new, far more diverse site What Culture!, I’ve decided to chronicle the 10 films I consider to be the most culturally significant ever made. We all know that cinema can be extremely powerful, even important, in shaping our culture. However, it isn’t very often that a film really stands out as having an incredibly strong message that is powerful enough to shape or impact us as a society.
This list is obviously very personal to what I would consider ‘culturally significant’ of course, but I believe each of the films below have had some sort of impact on society and are worthy of their place here…
10. Far From Heaven (2002)
Multicultural or bi-racial relationships remain a rather taboo subject in Hollywood cinema, with very few productions featuring such relationships predominantly. When they do appear in popular productions they are either »
- Stuart Cummins
Albert Maysles seems to have just woken up. His breakfast sits untouched, his crumpled black shirt is undone, and he's wearing odd socks, one grey, one green. Outside his hotel room, the attendees of the Sheffield documentary festival are in the process of paying tribute to this legendary documentary-maker, with screenings, masterclasses – and, last night, a party that reportedly found him drinking shots until 4am. Not bad for an 84-year-old.
Asked what he thinks of such reverence, he suddenly snaps into focus. "It can take surprising forms," he smiles, eyes fixed on mine through black-framed glasses. "When I got there last night, there were two dozen people with their arms raised, saluting, like a guard of honour. That was nice. But surprising."
Ever since he set out to make a film about Soviet mental hospitals in the 1950s, »
- Danny Leigh
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