4 items from 2017
Author: Cai Ross
The original Planet of The Apes movies occupied a curious netherworld of critical opinion. With each film, the budget was sawn in half, leading to a successive pattern of diminishing returns that led to a cheapening of its esteem. The spin-off TV show was quickly cancelled, further dulling the lustre and few people even remember the animated series that finally put the Apes to bed until a rude awakening in 2001.
However, for all their child-pleasing capers (the family-friendly G rating was a mandatory stipulation from the studios), the Apes movies deftly juggled important themes and arguments about slavery, free-will, nuclear war, vivisection, racism and oppression, and man’s innate capacity for cruelty. In pure storytelling terms, the circuitous plot links the first five movies (and the new post-Rise cycle) into a pleasing, if relentlessly pessimistic, self-perpetuating full-circle.
Enormous box office successes in their early stages, they spawned »
- Cai Ross
(See previous post: “Gay Pride Movie Series Comes to a Close: From Heterosexual Angst to Indonesian Coup.”) Ken Russell's Valentino (1977) is notable for starring ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev as silent era icon Rudolph Valentino, whose sexual orientation, despite countless gay rumors, seems to have been, according to the available evidence, heterosexual. (Valentino's supposed affair with fellow “Latin Lover” Ramon Novarro has no basis in reality.) The female cast is also impressive: Veteran Leslie Caron (Lili, Gigi) as stage and screen star Alla Nazimova, ex-The Mamas & the Papas singer Michelle Phillips as Valentino wife and Nazimova protégée Natacha Rambova, Felicity Kendal as screenwriter/producer June Mathis (The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse), and Carol Kane – lately of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt fame. Bob Fosse's Cabaret (1972) is notable as one of the greatest musicals ever made. As a 1930s Cabaret presenter – and the Spirit of Germany – Joel Grey was the year's Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner. Liza Minnelli »
- Andre Soares
On the day a U.S. appeals court lifted an injunction that blocked a Mississippi “religious freedom” law – i.e., giving Christian extremists the right to discriminate against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people, etc. – not to mention the publication of a Republican-backed health care bill targeting the poor, the sick, the elderly, and those with “pre-existing conditions” – which would include HIV-infected people, a large chunk of whom are gay and bisexual men, so the wealthy in the U.S. can get a massive tax cut, Turner Classic Movies' 2017 Gay Pride or Lgbt Month celebration continues (into tomorrow morning, Thursday & Friday, June 22–23) with the presentation of movies by or featuring an eclectic – though seemingly all male – group: Montgomery Clift, Anthony Perkins, Tab Hunter, Dirk Bogarde, John Schlesinger, Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal, Arthur Laurents, and Jerome Robbins. After all, one assumes that, rumors or no, the presence of Mercedes McCambridge in one »
- Andre Soares
1949 / B&W / 1:37 flat Academy / 118 min. / Street Date January 10, 2017 / available through the WBshop / 21.99
Starring: Van Johnson, John Hodiak, Ricardo Montalban, George Murphy, Marshall Thompson, Don Taylor, James Whitmore, Douglas Fowley, Leon Ames, Guy Anderson, Denise Darcel, Richard Jaeckel, James Arness
Cinematography: Paul Vogel
Film Editor: John D. Dunning
Original Music: Lennie Hayton
Written by: Robert Pirosh
Produced by: Dore Schary
Directed by William A. Wellman
“The Guts, Gags and Glory of a Lot of Wonderful Guys!”
— say, what kind of movie is this, anyway?
Action movies about combat are now mostly about soldiers that fight like killing machines, or stories of battle with a strong political axe to grind. WW2 changed perceptions completely, when a mostly civilian army did the fighting. With the cessation of hostilities combat pictures tapered off quickly, and Hollywood gave the subject a break for several years. »
- Glenn Erickson
4 items from 2017
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