4 items from 2015
Orson Welles indisputably made a huge impact on the film industry, both in terms of technical proficiency and storytelling sophistication. However, Welles was never the biggest fan of films themselves. He just saw it as a way to tell stories he wanted to. That makes sense to me of how he approached filmmaking. Had he been a movie fan, I don't know if he would have thought so much outside of the box about to make them than he did. That isn't to say he didn't like all movies. In the early 1950s, Welles managed to cobble together a list of his ten favorite films for Sound on Sight (via Open Culture). As he had only been exposed to a couple of decades of cinema, I think this is a very interesting list, and one that makes a lot of sense for someone like Welles. City Lights (dir. Charles Chaplin) Greed (dir. »
- Mike Shutt
Written and directed by Jean Renoir
Jean Renoir’s A Day in the Country comes at a curious point in the director’s career. In 1936, he had several exceptional silent films to his credit, as well as such classics of early French sound cinema as La Chienne (1931), Boudu Saved from Drowning (1932), and The Crime of Monsieur Lange (1936), among others. But he had still not yet achieved his singular place on world cinema’s pre-war stage. That he would do just a year later, with La Grande Illusion (1937). As noted on the new Criterion Blu-ray, A Day in the Country was “conceived as a short feature…[and] nearly finished production in 1936 when Renoir was called away for The Lower Depths. Shooting was abandoned then, but the film was completed with the existing footage by Renoir’s team and released in its current form in 1946, after the »
- Jeremy Carr
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has been under fire for the lack of racial and gender equality in Oscar nominations, but there’s one area where the org can freely boast about diversity: this year’s international contenders. There are non-u.S. nominees in 22 out of 24 categories.
The long list includes two of the five directors — Norway’s Morten Tyldum (“The Imitation Game”) and Mexico’s Alejandro G. Inarritu (“Birdman”) — as well as all five nominees in the music-score category, the first time that’s ever happened.
The roster also includes contenders in two “mainstream” categories for their foreign-language work: cinematographers Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski for Poland’s “Ida” and Marion Cotillard with a French-lingo performance in Belgium’s “Two Days, One Night.”
Academy honchos have been working hard to broaden the organization’s makeup, to better reflect the international film business. AMPAS president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, »
- Tim Gray
Everyone knows Woody Allen. At least, everyone thinks they know Woody Allen. His plumage is easily identifiable: horn-rimmed glasses, baggy suit, wispy hair, kvetching demeanor, ironic sense of humor, acute fear of death. As is his habitat: New York City, though recently he has flown as far afield as London, Barcelona, and Paris. His likes are well known: Bergman, Dostoevsky, New Orleans jazz. So too his dislikes: spiders, cars, nature, Wagner records, the entire city of Los Angeles. Whether or not these traits represent the true Allen, who’s to say? It is impossible to tell, with Allen, where cinema ends and life begins, an obfuscation he readily encourages. In the late nineteen-seventies, disillusioned with the comedic success he’d found making such films as Sleeper (1973), Love and Death (1975), and Annie Hall (1977), he turned for darker territory with Stardust Memories (1980), a film in which, none too surprisingly, he plays a »
- Graham Daseler
4 items from 2015
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