16 items from 2014
Even in 1988, there wasn't anything terribly original about The Vanishing. Its central image, of a victimized woman who had disappeared without rational explanation, goes back at least as far as The Lady Vanishes, while its central character, a man whose pursuit of truth has boiled over into obsession, was already a subject of parody. Even its famous shocker of an ending shouldn't have surprised anyone familiar with the noir genre that it draws from so heavily at times. But clichés, whether grounded in truth or not, become clichés for a reason, and The Vanishing serves as both a potent evocation and charged refutation of that principle. Moviegoers may like their men doomed and their women dead, but rare is the film that makes explicit a hero's (an ambiguous term in this film) need to control women even in their death. The Vanishing might not be telling us anything we don't already know, »
- Anders Nelson
It's that time of year again and it's time to update the list for the second half of 2014 as Barnes & Noble has just kicked off their 50% off Criterion sale and as impossible a task as it is to cut things down to just a few titles, I have done my best to break Criterion's titles down into a few categories. Hopefully those looking for box sets, specific directors or what I think are absolute musts will find this makes things a little bit easier. Let's get to it... First Picks I was given the Zatoichi collection for Christmas last year and being a collection that holds 25 films and another disc full of supplementary material it is the absolute definition of a must buy when it comes to the Criterion Collection. It is, once again, on sale for $112.49, half off the Msrp of $224.99, and worth every penny. I spent the entire year going through it. »
- Brad Brevet
Best British movies of all time? (Image: a young Michael Caine in 'Get Carter') Ten years ago, Get Carter, starring Michael Caine as a dangerous-looking London gangster (see photo above), was selected as the United Kingdom's very best movie of all time according to 25 British film critics polled by Total Film magazine. To say that Mike Hodges' 1971 thriller was a surprising choice would be an understatement. I mean, not a David Lean epic or an early Alfred Hitchcock thriller? What a difference ten years make. On Total Film's 2014 list, published last May, Get Carter was no. 44 among the magazine's Top 50 best British movies of all time. How could that be? Well, first of all, people would be very naive if they took such lists seriously, whether we're talking Total Film, the British Film Institute, or, to keep things British, Sight & Sound magazine. Second, whereas Total Film's 2004 list was the result of a 25-critic consensus, »
- Andre Soares
The Criterion Collection loves it some Alfred Hitchcock. And why wouldn’t they? The legendary director entertained, thrilled and terrified movie and TV viewers for years, and the company currently has editions of "The 39 Steps," "Foreign Correspondent," "The Lady Vanishes," and "The Man Who Knew Too Much." The director had no shortage of obsessions, and eyes are near the top of that list. In his 1967 book, “Hitchcock,” François Truffaut quoted Hitch as saying, “Dialogue should simply be a sound among other sounds, just something that comes out of the mouths of people whose eyes tell the story in visual terms.” We can see how truly he believed this in a new video by filmmaker :: kogonada. Featuring a score by Rob Cawley, the video essay pays tribute to the way the master of suspense focused on his characters’ eyes to reflect (with no small degree of tension) what was happening in his films. »
- Zach Hollwedel
Throughout the summer, an admin on the r/movies subreddit has been leading Reddit users in a poll of the best movies from every year for the last 100 years called 100 Years of Yearly Cinema. The poll concluded three days ago, and the list of every movie from 1914 to 2013 has been published today.
Users were asked to nominate films from a given year and up-vote their favorite nominees. The full list includes the outright winner along with the first two runners-up from each year. The list is mostly a predictable assortment of IMDb favorites and certified classics, but a few surprise gems have also risen to the top of the crust, including the early experimental documentary Man With a Movie Camera in 1929, Abel Gance’s J’Accuse! in 1919, the Fred Astaire film Top Hat over Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps in 1935, and Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing over John Ford’s »
- Brian Welk
Any Hitchcock fan has no doubt looked carefully while watching one of his movies in order to spot his infamous cameos. Hitchcock’s earlier cameos are especially hard to catch, and so Youtube user Morgan T. Rhys put together this video compiling every cameo Alfred Hitchcock ever made.
Hitchcock made a total of 39 self-referential cameos in his films over a 50 year period. Four of his films featured two cameo appearances (The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog UK), Suspicion, Rope, and Under Capricorn). Two recurring themes featured Hitchcock carrying a musical instrument, and using public transportation.
The films are as follows:
The Lodger (1927), Easy Virtue (1928), Blackmail (1929),Murder! (1930), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), The 39 Steps (1935),Sabotage (1936), Young and Innocent (1937), The Lady Vanishes (1938), Rebecca(1940), Foreign Correspondent (1940), Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941), Suspicion (1941),Saboteur (1942), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Lifeboat (1944), Spellbound (1945),Notorious (1946), The Paradine Case (1947), Rope (1948), Under Capricorn (1949),Stage Fright (1950), Strangers on a Train »
Barnes & Noble has just kicked off their 50% off Criterion sale and while it's impossible to suggest titles that will suit everyone looking to beef up their collection at this perfect time of year, I will do my best to offer some suggestions. Let's get to it... My Absolute First Pick I am almost done going through this collection and it was a collection I got for Christmas under these exact circumstances. Typically priced at $224.99, you can now get this amazing set of 25 Zatoichi films for only $112. Box sets, in my opinion, are what sales like this were made for. Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman Next Ten Recommendations It isn't easy so this is a collection of just some of my favorite films (of all-time and within the collection) and a little variety, though pretty much my standard, go to Criterion first picks, especially if you are just starting out. Persona Breathless »
- Brad Brevet
Not Rated, 1 Hr., 35 Mins.
Director Patrice Leconte seems to have cribbed from the Merchant Ivory playbook for a lukewarm tale of repressed desire set in 1912 Germany, where a young engineer (Richard Madden) comes between his sickly boss (Alan Rickman) and his wife (Rebecca Hall). It’s well made but drearily familiar, what with its stolen glances and pleas of “No, we mustn’t!” (Also available on VOD) B- —Chris Nashawaty
R, 1 Hr., 32 Mins.
Revenge is a dish best served cold, and the same can go for revenge movies. Looking more like a middle manager than Charles Bronson, »
- EW staff
We seek out some of the best films available to watch for free online. This week: Hitchcock's 1938 tale of mystery, espionage and a disappearing governess
My favourite Hitchcock: The Lady Vanishes
Iris Henderson (Margaret Lockwood) is a young British tourist travelling through central Europe. On boarding a train that will take her home to get married, she's befriended by Miss Froy (May Whitty), an amiable governess, who promptly disappears in extremely mysterious circumstances. Her fellow passengers insist that Miss Froy never existed and that Iris is suffering delusions but she teams up with fellow-Brit Gilbert (Michael Redgrave), a charming-yet-vexacious musicologist, and the pair of them set about getting to the bottom of what's going on. »
- Adam Boult
Welcome, beloved guests. The time has come to check-in to The Grand Budapest Hotel. Upon arrival, be sure to take in the beautiful world surrounding you, as created by director and co-writer Wes Anderson, as well as the wonderful hotel aesthetic, brought to you by production designer Adam Stockhausen. This week, Wamg and a few members of the press sat down (in a roundtable discussion) with Anderson and Stockhausen to talk about Anderson’s all new caper The Grand Budapest Hotel. Check it out below!
The Grand Budapest Hotel recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars; and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting; a raging battle for an enormous family fortune; a desperate chase on motorcycles, trains, sleds, and skis; and the sweetest »
- Melissa Howland
Finding Nemo encompasses a tremendous amount of positive imagery that makes up Disney and Pixar’s populous appeal. From learning how to trust family and friends, to overcoming biggest fears and obstacles, Finding Nemo understands how to tap into the audience’s heartstrings and neatly ties in a meaningful message for the viewer to take home. Yet with every good side, there is a dark presence that even Disney can’t back away from. Like many Disney films, from Bambi to Frozen, Finding Nemo deals with a story whose basis stems from a broken household struggling with a great deal of separation. Why does Disney cling onto threads of such despair and heartache? Perhaps it’s a factor many can relate to. Or perhaps it’s a working formula that sweetens the arc of a happy ending. Either way, separation is a tapped fountain of which Hollywood has dipped into time after time again. »
- Christopher Clemente
Is the airplane becoming the modern equivalent of the snowed-in country house? Apparently so, as Liam Neeson manages a fuselage full of trouble in this enjoyable silly thriller
Liam Neeson is the grizzled ex-cop turned air marshal on an ordinary flight from New York to London, secretly packing a badge, a gun and a whole mess of personal demons that might yet be exorcised by an act of redemptive heroism. Out of the blue, in mid-flight, he gets a chilling anonymous message on his special air‑marshal instant-message device. Every 20 minutes, a passenger on his plane is going to be killed, unless $150m is paid into a certain numbered account. Liam's bloodshot eyes flicker tensely around the plane – which one of this cross-section of humanity is sending the messages? »
- Peter Bradshaw
Alfred Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent is exactly the kind of film that benefits from a Criterion Collection release. I don't consider this to be one of Hitch's "best", but at the same time it's got the elements that make his films fascinating, and, most importantly, entertaining. And Criterion always does a great job bringing a focus to some of Hitchcock's less discussed gems. Add to that, Foreign Correspondent carries an additional weight as a result of its place in history as a propaganda film, emphasized most in Joel McCrea's speech at the end of the film amid the bombing of London, warning those back in the U.S. just what exactly Germany was up to. The scene was added after filming had already wrapped, just over a month before the film would actually hit theaters. Following Rebecca, Foreign Correspondent was Hitchcock's second American feature. Both would be nominated for »
- Brad Brevet
Cinema history has a few great double-up years: 12-month periods in which a classic filmmaker had not one but two great films. Mel Brooks may be the most notorious, releasing two of the best comedies of all time in 1974 (“Blazing Saddles” & “Young Frankenstein”) and Steven Spielberg has arguably done it a few times, inarguably in 1993 (“Jurassic Park” & “Schindler’s List”) and he would double-up again in 2002 (“Minority Report” & “Catch Me If You Can”) and 2011 (“Tintin” & “War Horse”).
One of the most-often forgotten double-up years was Alfred Hitchcock’s first year as an American filmmaker — 1940, which saw the premiere of “Rebecca” in April and “Foreign Correspondent” in August. The former has been a Criterion inductee for years and the latter joins the most important club in Blu-ray/DVD history this week in a finely-transferred and wonderfully accompanied release.
“Rebecca” has the higher historical pedigree, largely because it’s less dry »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
Happy birthday to the glamorous Kim Novak, who is 81 today. It’s impossible to think of Novak without remembering her shock blonde super-coif in Vertigo (not to mention the way she werrrrrked Edith Head‘s form-sucking pencil skirts), and thus, it’s impossible to think of Novak without remembering the great female roles in Hitchcock movies. Here are my picks for the 10 best.
This is sort of a gonzo first pick, but give it up: The Lady Vanishes rules and Dame May Whitty, with all her grandmotherly charms, is just a subversive ol’ hoot as the bad-ass spy who sets up the intrigue of the story. This is the kind of role Margaret Rutherford would win an Oscar for. You underestimate the depth of how much she kicks ass.
Is it wild? Oh, yes. Is it sometimes a little embarrassing? »
- Louis Virtel
One of the more frequent accusations leveled at Wes Anderson — that he’s a filmmaker who favors style over substance — will ring even hollower than usual after “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” a captivating 1930s-set caper whose innumerable surface pleasures might just seduce you into overlooking its sly intelligence and depth of feeling. As intricately layered as a Dobos torte and nearly as rich, this twisty tale of murder, theft, conspiracy and unlikely friendship finds its maker in an unusually ambitious and expansive mood — still arranging his characters in detail-perfect dioramas, to be sure, but with a bracing awareness of the fascism, war and decay about to encroach upon their lovingly hand-crafted world. The result is no musty nostalgia trip but rather a vibrant and imaginative evocation of a bygone era, with a brilliant lead performance from Ralph Fiennes that lends Anderson’s latest exercise in artifice a genuine soul.
From a creative standpoint, »
- Justin Chang
16 items from 2014
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