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Throughout November, Sos staffers will be discussing the movies that made them into film fanatics.
(click here for the full list)
Luis Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel begins with a shot of the exterior of a church. Organ music plays as the credits roll. Three shots follow: a shot of a sign indicating “Providence Street,” a wide-shot of the street itself, and a shot that dollies into a medium wide-shot as servant and house-owner converse. The servant wants to leave. The house-owner, dressed to the nines, says that dinner is about to start and that if the servant leaves he shouldn’t come back. He leaves anyway.
This opening is emblematic of Buñuel’s style, serves as foreshadowing, and is one of the many reasons why The Exterminating Angel is the film that pushed me into cinematic obsession. Buñuel’s camera is mobile. It’s frequently wide and in deep focus. »
- Neal Dhand
Directed by: Jennifer Chambers Lynch
Written by: Jennifer Chambers Lynch
If Boxing Helena felt like a feminist parable conceived by a pretentious 19-year-old (which it actually was), Hisss feels like a 2nd attempt at a similar parable after the first one was laughed out of a creative writing class. Her confidence shaken, she opts not to attempt to bare her soul, but instead goes the safer route of updating a cultural fable to modern day, one which carries with it ripe material for ideas about gender dynamics and what not. After all, if you’re pretentious, you can’t just come out and tell a story about a snake lady eating people without at least the pretense that there is some subtext going on.
The basic plot is that an Indian snake woman (she can change from human form to snake »
- Thomas Duke
31 – Rosemary’s Baby
Directed by Roman Polanski
Roman Polanski’s brilliant horror-thriller was nominated for two Oscars, winning Best Supporting Actress for Ruth Gordon. The director’s first American film, adapted from Ira Levin’s horror bestseller, is a spellbinding and twisted tale of Satanism and pregnancy. Supremely mounted, the film benefits from it’s strong atmosphere, apartment setting, eerie childlike score and polished production values by cinematographer William Fraker. The cast is brilliant, with Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes as the young couple playing opposite Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer, the elderly neighbors. There is ominous tension in the film from first frame to last – the climax makes for one of the greatest endings of all time. Rarely has a film displayed such an uncompromising portrait of betrayal as this one. Career or marriage – which would you choose?
30 – Eraserhead
Directed by David Lynch
Filmed intermittently over the course of a five-year period, »
Director: Michel Hazanavicius Writer: Michel Hazanavicius Starring: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, James Cromwell, John Goodman, Malcolm McDowell, Penelope Ann Miller, Missi Pyle, Bitsie Tulloch Most of us remember that video killed the radio star, but how often do we ruminate upon the fact that talkies killed the silent film? For those of you who have not brushed up on your film history in a while: Until the 1920s, films were made with no synchronized recorded sound -- this means there is no spoken dialogue. Instead, the "dialogue" of silent films is communicated via facial expressions, body gestures, and title cards. Attempts to create sync-sound films might go back to the Edison lab (circa 1896), but it was not until the 1920s that sound-on-disc and sound-on-film sound formats such as Photokinema (1921), Phonofilm (1923), Vitaphone (1926), Fox Movietone (1927), and RCA Photophone (1928) came into common practice. The Jazz Singer (1927) is often toted as the first commercially successful sound film; and, »
- Don Simpson
25 – Halloween
Directed by John Carpenter
1978 – Us
A historical milestone that single-handedly shaped and altered the future of the entire genre. This seminal horror flick actually gets better with age; it’s downright transcendent and holds up with determination as an effective thriller that will always stand head and shoulders above the hundreds of imitators to come. Halloween had one hell of an influence on the entire film industry. You have to admire how Carpenter avoids explicit onscreen violence, and achieves a considerable power almost entirely through visual means, using its widescreen frame, expert hand-held camerawork, and terrifying foreground and background imagery.
24 – Black Christmas
Directed by Bob Clark
1974 – Canada
We never did find out who Billy was. Maybe it’s for the best, since they never made any sequels to Bob Clark’s seminal slasher film, a film which predates Carpenter’s Halloween by four years. Whereas Texas Chainsaw Massacre, released the same year, »
Each week within this column we strive to pair the latest in theatrical releases to the worthwhile titles now streaming on Netflix Instant Watch. This week we look at alternatives to Footloose, The Skin I Live In and Texas Killing Fields .
This weekend music , murder and madness collide in theaters, where small-town teens discover the joys of choreography, a devastated widower delves into madness, and Texan detectives track a sadistic killer. But if these features won’t sate your cravings for badass dance moves, Spanish flavored drama, and true to life crime tales, we got you covered with a list of hot titles that are currently available online.
A town where dancing is illegal is turned upside down by a teen-aged rebel (Kenny Wormald) with the deep desire to cut loose…footloose. Craig Brewer, the subversive director behind Hustle & Flow and Black Snake Moan, helms this sassy remake of the »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (thefilmstage.com)
Gertrude Stein was a wealthy American art collector and writer who – by her own account in The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas – dominated the Paris avant garde in the days of Picasso. She was undoubtedly one of Picasso's boldest collectors, his only real female friend (her being gay got him past his normally tyrannous libido) and the object of one of his most revolutionary paintings. Picasso's Portrait of Gertrude Stein, which hangs on her wall in the film, gives her the face of a stone idol. She wears a mask of her own in her modernist literary classic that portrays herself through the eyes of her lover Alice B Toklas. Stein embodies, in her own writings and Picasso's painting, the severity of high modernism. »
- Jonathan Jones
Tinseltown has majestic monuments of the silent era, reminding us of a time when American film and art co-existed. Is that golden age gone forever?
The detritus of artistic ambition lies all over Hollywood like a wreckage of broken dreams. Grauman's Egyptian theatre on Hollywood Boulevard may sound like just another tourist stop, between the Walk of Fame and Universal City, but it is so much stranger than that. The Egyptian opened in 1922 as a temple of imagination and aspiration. Meticulously restored and now used to show independent films by the American Cinematheque, it oozes a serious attitude to cinema.
The Egyptian theatre defies all the cliches of Hollywood vulgarity. Yes, it is over the top – very – but not in the crass, tawdry way beloved by European stereotypes of American culture. On the contrary: it speaks of passion, idealism, and sincerity. Like the Neoclassicists of the 18th century, Sid Grauman »
- Jonathan Jones
From the Strange Collaborations Dept.: We reported earlier that "Transformers" star Shia Labeouf was preparing to get behind the camera to direct a video for '90s shock-rocker Marilyn Manson and now you can see the R-rated result. The actor, who has previously directed a video for rapper Cage, called the shots on "Born Villain," which is a graphically violent short film inspired in equal measure by Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali's silent horror show "Un Chien Andalou," and Shakespeare's "MacBeth." A companion photography book will also be released, so you can pore over the images for hours on end. »
- Dave Lewis
I couldn't think of an odder pairing than Shia Labeouf and Marilyn Manson. But as Labeouf tells MTV, the two have developed a genuine friendship after Labeouf casually approached the shock rocker while at a concert watching the rock band The Kills. Labeouf eventually talked Manson into letting him direct his next music video. The result, "Born Villain," can be seen below.
Here are Labeouf's thoughts on the experience: This, for me, this is a really cool diversion for me when I'm not making a movie. It gives me an opportunity to work with musicians I admire who I would otherwise never get to work with in any other capacity. I really have a fun time doing it. It allows me to be creative in another art form and work with heroes. I also think there are fans of mine who aren't fans of Manson's and vice versa; that's why »
- Kevin Blumeyer
Shia Labeouf’s directing credit makes this video for Marilyn Manson’s new “Born Villain” something of a curiosity. I will give him a nod, though. Many videos from established rock stars trafficking in violence and theatricalized Sm imagery gloss it up too much. But there’s something genuinely sleazy about this one, even with all the obvious references (Jodorowsky, Gilles Berquet, David Cronenberg, Cinema of Transgression). Says Labeouf to MTV, “The song has all these references to ‘Macbeth’ and all this Shakespeare and heavy theology, so we tried to make Manson’s ‘Un Chien Andalou’ macabre ‘Macbeth’ — that’s sort of what that became.” (Hat tip: Bloody Disgusting.)
According to Stereogum, Labeouf and Manson met at a Kills concert. The two, along with photographer Karolyn Pho, have also put together a limited edition photo book of the video.
This video is adults only and Nsfw. »
- Scott Macaulay
Other than control his alcohol-enhanced anger issues, is there anything Shia Laboeuf can't do? First, he directed a few music videos for Kid Cudi and Maniac, and now he's behind this unsurprisingly dark music video for Marilyn Manson. First reactions to the song and video are that it's a little try-hard, with the same-old same-old violent imagery and Alejandro Jodorowsky influences. Laboeuf said to MTV: "The song has all these references to Macbeth and all this Shakespeare and heavy theology, so we tried to make Manson's Un Chien Andalou [into] macabre Macbeth — that's sort of what that became." I'll admit, it did make me wince a little, but not at the creepy clown girl or people seemingly sewn together or the needle going in and out of that girl's cheek (spoiler alert?) — mostly, it was just that part at the [...] »
As you may have heard, Michel Hazanavicius’s “The Artist” (The Weinstein Company, 11/23, ?, trailer) — which made a big splash at this year’s Cannes Film Festival (where it was a serious contender for the Palm d’Or and its star Jean Dujardin was named best actor), and which will soon be seen again at the Toronto International Film Festival — is not only in black-and-white, but also silent!
Many credible analysts — including Harvey Weinstein, who is as savvy an Oscar-prospector as anyone, and whose studio purchased the film’s rights shortly after Cannes – believe that it is visually beautiful/emotionally powerful enough to seriously factor into this year’s Oscar race.
But could a silent film, in this day and age, actually catch on with the public and/or Oscar voters?
Most people today dismiss silent movies as lacking something — namely, sound — but that’s not a particularly enlightened position. After all, »
- Scott Feinberg
Michael Bay’s third installement of the Transformers franchise premiered in Moscow and the folks over at The Monocular Group released a video asking that people reconsider their negative views of Bay and his films. It’s a smart, entertaining and somewhat ironic clip that features the songs Baby Dee by Horn Pipe and Equilibrium by Snüffel. Keep in mind this is not actually a promo for the film but a promo for Monocular, a company that specializes in viral advertising.
Personally I think Bay has a unique talent in directing and I can’t think of anyone else who could have directed a Transformers movie. However I wish he would find someone to write him better scripts I actually enjoyed the first Transformers film and defended it on our Michael Bay podcast special a few years ago. Sadly the second film carried with it, one of the worst screenplays ever penned. »
- Kyle Reese
Gregg Araki, one of the creators of the self-styled New Queer Cinema, briefly turned away from his characteristic frivolous nihilism to enter the cinematic mainstream with Mysterious Skin (2004), a sensitive and moving study of two boys from a small midwest town whose lives are transformed by a seductive paedophile.
Araki is up to his old tricks but in lighter mood with Kaboom, an always intriguing, often very funny, apocalyptic tale of Smith, an 18-year-old gay freshman at a California university who becomes involved with a sinister millenarian sect while studying film and experimenting with sex and drugs. Smith's favourite movie is Buñuel and Dalí's Un Chien Andalou, but he suspects that being a student of film is "like studying an animal that's on the verge of extinction".
- Philip French
Matt here… With the raunchy teen mystery Kaboom out in UK cinemas on Friday, our very own Michael Edwards sat down with the Mysterious Skin director to talk about sex, cinema and how much Owf’s Simon Gallagher loves him. Actually I was with Simon in Cannes last year when the movie played to an unexpected crowd and the audience was just with it all the way as it descended further and further into Gregg Araki’s unique form of madness. No other screening during that festival would bring about as much discussion as Kaboom.
It’s a movie definitely worth catching as it’s quite unlike anything you’ve ever seen before…
Owf: Could you tell us a bit about how the project got started?
- Michael Edwards
(Luis Buñuel, 1930, 15, BFI)
A handful of films that outraged audiences and made censors apoplectic in their day have retained their ability to shock. High on that list are the two avant-garde masterpieces featured in this box, and on which two of Spain's most provocative artists, Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí, collaborated: the 16-minute silent Un Chien Andalou (1929) and its early sound companion, the 63-minute L'Age d'Or. Blasphemous and erotic, they're films to puzzle over and constantly revisit. The first begins with the indelible shot of Buñuel slicing what appears to be a woman's eye with a razor; the second has the famously transgressive image of a woman sucking the toe of a statue. For both films Dalí and Buñuel trawled their subconscious minds to come up with bizarre sequences that assault bourgeois values and sexual oppression while making no logical sense, and they were acclaimed by the leading arbiters of »
- Philip French
DVD & Blu-ray, BFI
Spanish director Luis Buñuel's importance in the world of film-making is often overlooked, perhaps because he wasn't part of any handy film movement such as New Wave or neo-realism.
But he was part of an artistic movement, hanging out with surrealists such as Man Ray and Max Ernst. Oddly, this has left him between two stools: too artistic for cinema, too cinematic to be considered true art. This release contains two groundbreaking films Buñuel made some 80 years ago in collaboration with Salvador Dalí.
Their first, the notorious Un Chien Andalou, included here as an extra, has inspired everyone from David Lynch to David Bowie and Pixies. It's rich in imagery, from ants crawling out of a hand and rotting animals stuffed in pianos to the famous shot of a razor blade bisecting an eye. With sequences drawn from dreams rather than conscious imagination, the »
- Phelim O'Neill, Richard Vine
This week I asked the contributing Film Experience team how they felt about Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and I also wanted to gauge whether we had any Little Monsters in our midst via Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" droppings.
You refused to see Pirates 4. What would ever bring you back to this franchise?
Michael: It's hard to imagine what could bring me back to the franchise at this point, (I feel like I only just got done sitting through At World's End) but a a 90 minute running time would be a step in the right direction.
Andreas: If Disney ever wants me to shell out for another Pirates movie, they'll have to go down a really surprising route, like selling it as "Andrei Rublev on the high seas." Or maybe they could introduce interesting characters! Some outrageous twist like that. What if they solved all »
- NATHANIEL R
There are plenty of creepy moments in Spanish horror Julia's Eyes, but is it as harrowing as Demolition Man? Here's Paul's review...
Do you want to know what film scared me more than any other when I was a kid? The film that, at the mere mention of its title, would send me running screaming to my room in a moist-eyed flurry of hysteria? You probably don’t even need me to say do you? It’s Demolition Man.
Now, there is a good reason for this. Aside from the obvious fact that I was a child, I was fairly cowardly and wet. If you haven’t seen Demoliton Man, there’s a scene at the beginning where Snipes’ character is imprisoned and tries to escape. Unfortunately, the only way to get out of the futuristic cell is to use an eye scanner. To bypass the lock, therefore, Snipes takes a warden hostage, »
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