20 items from 2015
Charles Brackett ca. 1945: Hollywood diarist and Billy Wilder's co-screenwriter (1936–1949) and producer (1945–1949). Q&A with 'Charles Brackett Diaries' editor Anthony Slide: Billy Wilder's screenwriter-producer partner in his own words Six-time Academy Award winner Billy Wilder is a film legend. He is renowned for classics such as The Major and the Minor, Double Indemnity, Sunset Blvd., Witness for the Prosecution, Some Like It Hot, and The Apartment. The fact that Wilder was not the sole creator of these movies is all but irrelevant to graduates from the Auteur School of Film History. Wilder directed, co-wrote, and at times produced his films. That should suffice. For auteurists, perhaps. But not for those interested in the whole story. That's one key reason why the Charles Brackett diaries are such a great read. Through Brackett's vantage point, they offer a welcome – and unique – glimpse into the collaborative efforts that resulted in »
- Andre Soares
'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.' 2015: Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer. 'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.' movie is a domestic box office bomb: Will it be saved by international filmgoers? Directed by Sherlock Holmes' Guy Ritchie and toplining Man of Steel star Henry Cavill and The Lone Ranger costar Armie Hammer, the Warner Bros. release The Man from U.N.C.L.E. has been a domestic box office disaster, performing about 25 percent below – already quite modest – expectations. (See also: “'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.' Movie: Bigger Box Office Flop Than Expected.”) This past weekend, the $80 million-budget The Man from U.N.C.L.E. collected a meager $13.42 million from 3,638 North American theaters, averaging $3,689 per site. After five days out, the big-screen reboot of the popular 1960s television series starring Robert Vaughn and David McCallum has taken in a mere $16.77 million. For comparison's sake: »
- Zac Gille
“Remix culture applied to cinema” — that’s the elevator pitch for DJ Spooky’s latest release, Rebirth of a Nation, a multimedia work that uses remixing, original scoring and various DJ techniques to interrogate D.W. Griffith’s 1915 The Birth of a Nation. Collapsing the three hour film into an hour of sound and image, DJ Spooky’s project critically analyzes the film’s legacy on both film grammar and the depiction of race in the more than a century since. Originally commissioned by the Spoleto Festival, Rebirth of a Nation has been performed around the world and is now available on CD, with […] »
- Scott Macaulay
BBC Culture has this week unveiled a new list of the top 100 American films, as voted for by a pool of international film critics from across the globe. The format of the poll was that any film that would make the list had to have recieved funding from a Us source, and the directors of the films did not need to be from the USA, nor did the films voted for need to be filmed in the Us.
Critics were asked to submit their top 10 lists, which would try to find the top 100 American films that while “not necessarily the most important, but the greatest on an emotional level”. The list, as you may have guessed, is very different to the lists curated by say the BFI or AFI over the years, so there are certainly a few surprises on here, with Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave (2013), Terrence Malick »
- Scott J. Davis
First off, let's make one thing clear. We're not scratching our heads at Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing" making the BBC's 100 greatest American films. That movie, of which an image accompanies this post, not only made the list, but ranked appropriately at no. 25. It's the rest of the selections that have us scratching and, yes, shaking our heads in disbelief. A wonderful page view driver, these sorts of lists make great fodder for passionate movie fans no matter what their age or part of the world they hail from. There is nothing more entertaining than watching two critics from opposite ends of the globe try to debate whether "The Dark Knight" should have been nominated for best picture or make a list like this. Even in this age of short form content where Vines, Shapchats and Instagram videos have captured viewers attention, movies will continue to inspire because »
- Gregory Ellwood
Leave it to the Brits to compile a list of the best American films of all-time. BBC Culture has published a list of what it calls "The 100 Greatest American Films", as selected by 62 international film critics in order to "get a global perspective on American film." As BBC Culture notes, the critics polled represent a combination of broadcasters, book authors and reviewers at various newspapers and magazines across the world. As for what makes an American filmc "Any movie that received funding from a U.S. source," BBC Culture's publication states, which is to say the terminology was quite loose, but the list contains a majority of the staples you'd expect to see. Citizen Kane -- what elsec -- comes in at #1, and in typical fashion The Godfather follows at #2. Vertigo, which in 2012 topped Sight & Sound's list of the greatest films of all-time, comes in at #3 on BBC Culture's list. »
- Jordan Benesh
Every now and then a major publication or news organisation comes up with a top fifty or one hundred films of all time list - a list which always stirs up debate, discussion and often interesting arguments about the justifications of the list's inclusions, ordering and notable exclusions.
Today it's the turn of BBC Culture who consulted sixty-two international film critics including print reviews, bloggers, broadcasters and film academics to come up with what they consider the one-hundred greatest American films of all time. To qualify, the film had to be made by a U.S. studio or mostly funded by American money.
Usually when a list of this type is done it is by institutes or publications within the United States asking American critics their favourites. This time it's non-American critics born outside the culture what they think are the best representations of that culture. Specifically they were asked »
- Garth Franklin
A film that's long overdue, and couldn't be more timely (I'm certainly really looking forward to it), is Nate Parker's directorial debut (which he also stars in), "The Birth of a Nation" (I can only assume as a reaction/response to D.W. Griffith's incendiary 1915 film of the same title), which will retell the August 21st, 1831 story, set in Virginia, of the Nat Turner led slave uprising, during which several dozen whites were killed before it was defeated. Turner was later captured, tried and hanged. Soon after his execution, a local lawyer, Thomas Ruffin Gray, took it upon himself to publish "The Confessions of Nat Turner," derived partly from »
- Tambay A. Obenson
African-American film 'Bert Williams: Lime Kiln Club Field Day.' With Williams and Odessa Warren Grey.* Rare, early 20th-century African-American film among San Francisco Silent Film Festival highlights Directed by Edwin Middleton and T. Hayes Hunter, the Biograph Company's Lime Kiln Club Field Day (1913) was the film I most looked forward to at the 2015 edition of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. One hundred years old, unfinished, and destined to be scrapped and tossed into the dust bin, it rose from the ashes. Starring entertainer Bert Williams – whose film appearances have virtually disappeared, but whose legacy lives on – Lime Kiln Club Field Day has become a rare example of African-American life in the first years of the 20th century. In the introduction to the film, the audience was treated to a treasure trove of Black memorabilia: sheet music, stills, promotional material, and newspaper clippings that survive. Details of the »
- Danny Fortune
In a world where few cinematic taboos remain, previously ‘unfilmable’ projects like J.G. Ballard’s High Rise (2015, adapted by cult director Ben Wheatley) are belatedly brought to the screen – long anticipated by Ballard’s controversial Crash (1996, believed too obscene to film for two decades but successfully transplanted by David Cronenberg) and The Atrocity Exhibtion (2000, a literary nightmare of clinical surrealism turned into a languid exploitation movie).
So what makes a literary property untouchable in an age where people can obtain almost any feature uncut on DVD? It’s not what you might think: explicit sex and extreme violence are not the no-nos they once were (though combining the two is still problematic). But the deranged viewpoint of a mad or antisocial narrator can still be regarded as dangerous territory – especially if their version of reality demands a big budget…
Ballard’s novel of urban dystopia (abandoned by »
- Paul Woods
“It was a room in L.A.,” DuVernay said in her keynote speech at SXSW on Saturday morning. “It’s not anything but a big room with very nice people dressed up. It’s very cool. But my work’s worth is not about what happens in, around or for that room.”
DuVernay delivered a passionate, at times emotional, speech in Austin about her journey making “Selma,” revealing she was Paramount’s seventh choice to direct the drama about the 1965 civil rights marches.
A member of the audience asked DuVernay why it took so long for Hollywood to tell King’s story.
“The studios aren’t lining up to make films about black protagonists,” DuVernay said. “Black people being autonomous and independent. »
- Ramin Setoodeh
Dw Griffith’s landmark film was one of the most influential in early cinema, but as well as sophisticated cinematic techniques it was also drenched in racism. In the week of its centenary screening, Ashley Clark reassesses its standing
Dw Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation – which premiered in New York 100 years ago this week – has a just reputation as one of cinema’s greatest problem pictures. Based on Thomas Dixon’s novel The Clansman, it chronicles the relationship of two families in Civil War- and Reconstruction-era America over several years. It is undeniably a technically astounding achievement: critics have long praised its editing techniques, shot composition and epic sense of scale, while its pioneering aesthetic qualities are taught in schools and universities worldwide.
But – and it is a big but – The Birth of a Nation also happens to be an egregiously racist piece of work. It is the »
- Ashley Clark
While David Cairns is spending the week with the work of René Clément, it's Errol Morris Week at Grantland. Also in today's roundup of news and views: Early television work by Tim Burton and David Cronenberg. D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation at 100. Erich Kuersten argues that The Terror (1963), begun on a whim by Roger Corman and completed by Francis Ford Coppola and Monte Hellman, "is part one of a very strange textural existential genre meltdown Hellman trilogy" that would be followed by The Shooting (1966) and Two-Lane Blacktop (1971). Charles Mudede writes about spending a week in a hotel room with Michael Pitt. And more. » - David Hudson »
In today's roundup of news and views: David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson on Jacques Tati's Playtime, Godfrey Cheshire on D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation, Caveh Zahedi on the day he met Robert Bresson, Max Goldberg on the influence of Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo, Bilge Ebiri on Ousmane Sembene, J. Hoberman on Clint Eastwood and American Sniper, Gilberto Perez on Jean Renoir's A Day in the Country, Jonathan Rosenbaum on Luis Buñuel's The Young One, Howard Hampton on Nicolas Roeg and Don’t Look Now (1973), Olivier Assayas on John Carpenter’s The Fog—and lots more. » - David Hudson »
Channel 4’s most expensive ever drama has arrived to fill the Downton slot, packed with beautiful people doing naughty things in colonial India
The birth of a nation, the decline of an empire. Indian independence is still important – its intersections of race and caste and class inform identity politics in both countries, and set in motion national trajectories still being charted. But does it make good telly, or is it like being hit over the head with homework and a vague sense of guilt? Not for me; I’m Indian. So let’s talk about it!
Channel 4’s most expensive ever drama arrived on screen following a month of trailers and billboard-sized photos of its cast hanging in city centres like portraits of despots. Airing in the Downton slot, Indian Summers is meant to draw the comparison, but sets itself against another piece of history too. The ground »
- Rhik Samadder
The Hollywood Reporter
The calendar delivers an invitation to pause and observe — not celebrate — the 100th anniversary of the most important, innovative and despicable film in American history.
On February 8, 1915, D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of Nation (then under its original title, The Clansman) premiered at Clunes Auditorium in Los Angeles, with a full symphony orchestra playing live musical accompaniment. It soon became a nationwide sensation: a cinematic milestone that established the narrative feature film as the flagship product of Hollywood cinema. Its depiction of African-Americans also exposed — in the most visceral and vivid way — the raw symptoms of a peculiarly American pathology. For the last century, for better but mostly for worse, its impact has rippled through the currents of American culture.
Read the rest of this entry…
- Anjelica Oswald
By one way of reckoning, this week — February 8, to be exact — can be called the 100th birthday of the medium that many of us have spent our lives enthralled with: the feature film. But don’t expect any parades, fireworks, grand speeches, or other shows of celebration. That’s because the film that premiered at Clune’s Auditorium in Los Angeles on February 8, 1915, was D. W. Griffith’s The Clansman, soon to be retitled The Birth of a Nation — the most virulently racist major movie ever released in the U.S. Of course, the definitions of such landmark dates can be debated. (Thanks to propaganda by the French, many people think motion pictures were first publicly projected in Paris by the Lumiere brothers in December of 1895, when in fact this was accomplished in New York by a former Confederate artillery officer named Woodville Latham seven months earlier.) But the three-hour »
- Godfrey Cheshire
The calendar delivers an invitation to pause and observe — not celebrate — the 100th anniversary of the most important, innovative and despicable film in American history. On February 8, 1915, D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of Nation (then under its original title, The Clansman) premiered at Clunes Auditorium in Los Angeles, with a full symphony orchestra playing live musical accompaniment. It soon became a nationwide sensation: a cinematic milestone that established the narrative feature film as the flagship product of Hollywood cinema. Its depiction of African-Americans also exposed — in the most visceral and vivid way — the
- Thomas Doherty
Stumbling across that list of best-edited films yesterday had me assuming that there might be other nuggets like that out there, and sure enough, there is American Cinematographer's poll of the American Society of Cinematographers membership for the best-shot films ever, which I do recall hearing about at the time. But they did things a little differently. Basically, in 1998, cinematographers were asked for their top picks in two eras: films from 1894-1949 (or the dawn of cinema through the classic era), and then 1950-1997, for a top 50 in each case. Then they followed up 10 years later with another poll focused on the films between 1998 and 2008. Unlike the editors' list, though, ties run absolutely rampant here and allow for way more than 50 films in each era to be cited. I'd love to see what these lists would look like combined, however. I imagine "Citizen Kane," which was on top of the 1894-1949 list, »
- Kristopher Tapley
Buzzfeed a definitive ranking of Disney Prince butts - as great as it sounds though I'd place Prince Phillip higher because my imagination works (I love that former Prince Bd Wong even replied to his ranking on Twitter)
Vulture let us all worship Charlize Theron who has demanded (and been given) equal pay to her male co-star for The Huntsman. It's not like people went to the first movie for Hemsworth...Insane. Sexism by the numbers.
The Film Grapevine Birdman and the unexpected virtue of Contrivance
Slate on why Wes Anderson movies have never been popular with the Academy Awards before (presumably) now. Fairly good reasoning
Mnpp Wet Hot American Summer »
- NATHANIEL R
20 items from 2015
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