10 items from 2016
Blame it on Al Jolson. Ever since that infernal crooner delivered the line “You ain’t heard nothin’ yet!” in 1927’s The Jazz Singer, audiences have demanded to hear actors speak in movies. The very next year, Mickey Mouse spoke in Steamboat Willie, and the era of the talkie had truly arrived. Displaced silent actress Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) would bemoan the situation in 1950’s Sunset Boulevard: “They had to have the ears of the whole world, too. So they opened their big mouths and out came talk, talk, talk!” The only silent films that have been made in recent decades have been deliberate throwbacks, like Michel Hazanavicius’ Oscar-winning The Artist. But maybe the silent movie, or at least the dialogue-free movie, has not yet breathed its last. On September 7, The Hollywood Reporter accidentally uploaded a wordless version of the trailer for the upcoming sequel Bridget Jones »
- Joe Blevins
The scathing black comedy offers up bitterness and grotesquery but also a revealing, and complicated, look at the end of the silent era
“Without me there wouldn’t be any Paramount Studios,” declares Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond in Billy Wilder’s black comedy Sunset Boulevard (1950). Former silent film star Desmond may be mad, but there is a grain of truth in what she says: Swanson was one of Paramount’s biggest stars even back when it was called Famous Players-Lasky, just as we are told Desmond was too. While Sunset Boulevard appears to attack the pretentions and excesses of the silent era, in fact its argument about the bad old days of Hollywood is more complicated than that. The horror at the heart of the film is that, as the studio system was starting to crumble, the beginnings of the industry were coming back to haunt it. Desmond’s »
- Pamela Hutchinson
Rita Hayworth in 3-D, in a hot story that was acceptable for 1925 and 1932, but too racy for repressed 1953. On a tropical island, a prostitute cabaret singer battles a fiery preacher missionary inspector for her freedom. Hayworth is dynamite, and it takes all of her talent to keep the show afloat, with so much interference from the equally repressed censors. Miss Sadie Thompson 3-D 3-D Blu-ray Twilight Time 1953 / Color / 1:85 widescreen / 91 min. / Street Date July 12, 2016 / Available from Twilight Time Movies Store29.95 Starring Rita Hayworth, José Ferrer, Aldo Ray, Russell Collins, Diosa Costello, Harry Bellaver, Wilton Graff, Peggy Converse, Henry Slate, Rudy Bond, Charles Bronson, Jo Ann Greer. Cinematography Charles Lawton Jr. Original Music George Duning, Morris Stoloff, Ned Washington, Lester Lee Written by Harry Kleiner from a story by W. Somerset Maugham Produced by Jerry Wald Directed by Curtis Bernhardt
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
Yes! 3-D on Blu-ray shows no sign of going away, »
- Glenn Erickson
Don't get on the plane! It's a Disaster Movie!Team Experience is looking at highlights and curios from the filmography of Olivia de Havilland for her Centennial this Friday. Here's guest contributor Sean Donovan...
Airport ’77, the third film of the Airport franchise, capitalized on the immense success of the 70s disaster movie craze in the twilight of its years. Just one year later in 1978, the critical and box office failure of Irwin Allen’s The Swarm showed how much audiences had sobered up, no longer excited by disaster movies and more interested in openly mocking them, based on their cheesy acting and overwrought destruction (a movement chronicled by Ken Feil in his worth-the-read book Dying for a Laugh: Disaster Movies and the Camp Imagination). So if something feels lacking and obligatory about Airport ’77- in which a botched hijacking lands a Boeing 747 in the ocean, the passengers struggling to get »
- Sean Donovan
“Me Before You” arrived in theaters on Friday with a dash of pedigree – it’s based on a novel by Jojo Moyes, whose romantic fiction for adults has been garlanded with praise — but let’s be clear: The film’s central characters may be 26 and 31 years old, but at heart this is another Ya tearjerker, a squeaky-clean love story submerged in youthful doom. In “Me About You,” two impossibly good-looking people drift into a slow-burn romance, but the love is haunted by tragedy, the kind that only love can conquer. You light up my life! The movie seems, on the surface, to be scrubbed of sex, but it delivers — and inspires — one bodily fluid with bountiful abandon, and that is tears. It’s a formula that goes back to “Love Story” (or maybe “Anna Karenina,” though Tolstoy wasn’t quite so intent on leaving you with that feel-good feeling). “Me Before You »
- Owen Gleiberman
Because the McU is into “very expensive nostalgia”
Sharon Stone revealed on The Late Late Show last Thursday that she’s joining the McU, and while she had no details to share because of a confidentiality agreement, she said that it’s a “wee” part. Now, that could just be in reference to the size of her role, or it could be a sneaky hint that she’s actually playing a miniaturizing superhero.
Namely Janet van Dyne, aka the original version of The Wasp.
There are good reasons why that guess is a bad one. Ant-Man and The Wasp, which is where the character would appear, doesn’t begin filming until summer 2017 for a July 2018 release, and while it’s possible such a significant part has already been cast, or at least is in the stages of being cast, Stone made it sound like she’s doing the movie “now,” as »
- Christopher Campbell
This Sunday marks the birthday of William Holden, who was born April 17, 1918. The actor ranked No. 25 on AFI’s list of all-time great leading men. Since he had classic good looks, an expressive voice, and was an excellent actor who starred in some of Hollywood’s most memorable movies, why wasn’t he even higher on the list? Maybe because Holden had a special talent for always making his co-stars look so good.
He starred in many hit films opposite actors who had flashier roles: Gloria Swanson in “Sunset Boulevard,” Judy Holliday in “Born Yesterday,” Audrey Hepburn in “Sabrina,” Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly in “The Country Girl,” Alec Guinness in “Bridge on the River Kwai,” and Faye Dunaway and Peter Finch in “Network.” Significantly, many of these actors won Oscars for their work. They gave great, showy performances, but Holden was the anchor of the films. It’s hard »
- Tim Gray
It was the most glamorous wedding of its era - and six decades later, the marriage of Oscar winning-actress Grace Kelly and Monaco's Prince Rainier remains one of the most fairy-tale weddings of all time. In private family photos obtained by People and kept in the palace in Monaco, the timeless magic of April 18, 1956 can be seen both publicly and behind the scenes. "It was such an incredible affair, and it's left such a mark on people," the couple's only son and heir, Prince Albert, tells People. "What it has meant for people has been incredible. For us, it was »
- Peter Mikelbank
Though she was popular nearly a century ago, Florence Foster Jenkins feels particularly relevant to modern art’s ongoing dialogue with awfulness as a version of the sublime. In another world, Xavier Giannoli’s prickly tragicomedy Marguerite could easily be an exercise in self-loathing in the same fashion as Rick Alverson’s films, but instead it’s a film whose virtues lies in a fierce neutrality towards its own subject. Even the characters who appear to be the most transparently kind or evil contain multitudes, and the film becomes a constant examination of its own tone.
As such, Marguerite is frantic and compellingly unpredictable, even as it heads into comfortable territory. Loosely based on the life of Jenkins, a ’20s-era socialite and Opera singer renowned for her supernaturally abhorrent voice (here’s a recording of her murdering every poor note of Mozart’s Der Hölle Rache), Marguerite follows Marguerite Dumont »
- Michael Snydel
For the longest time, it seemed like the last thing you should expect from Todd Haynes was a simple story. Coming out of the fertile 1990s Sundance scene, he was a provocateur and a delirious mash-up artist: his films were fractured narratives, or anti-narratives, or meta-narratives. His best work either smashed together wildly different styles and stories (as in his debut Poison ), or presented unsettling, contradictory ideas but refused climax or closure (as in his masterpiece Safe ). Even in a zeitgeist defined by Quentin Tarantino, the jukebox musicals Velvet Goldmine (1998) and I'm Not There (2007) looked like pastiche and homage taken to the farthest limit. But far more than Tarantino, Haynes, the former Ivy League semiotics student, insists on not simply getting swept away in the styles, but maintaining a critical viewpoint of how and why the styles function. In retrospect, everything about his method was already in place in his »
- Duncan Gray
10 items from 2016
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