16 items from 2015
Manhattan, Season 2, Episode 6, “33”
Written by Scott Brown & Megan Ferrell Burke
Directed by Kimberly Peirce
Airs Tuesdays at 9pm (Et) on Wgn
Following last week’s unofficial midseason finale, Manhattan‘s “33” deftly resets the table for the second half of the season. As the series edges closer to the fraught Trinity test that was teased in the season premiere, the main players on the Hill — both the godless and the god-fearing — are struggling with ethical dilemmas. Whether it’s squeamishness over their current actions (Jim), guilt for what they have already done (Abby), or a feverish need to wrangle in what they’ve unleashed (Frank), they’re all wrestling with demons.
First there’s Frank, who in “The World of Tomorrow,” seemed to be coping with life back at Los Alamos as well as a powerless man can, essentially playing possum until he can find an opportunity to undermine Darrow and the Gadget. »
- A.R. Wilson
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (Sphe) became the second studio to announce Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc releases, fueling speculation that the disc format may be in store for a resurgence.
Sony’s first batch of releases in the ultra-high-definition format, set to arrive on an unspecified date in early 2016, will include “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” “Salt,” “Hancock,” “Chappie,” “Pineapple
Express” and “The Smurfs 2,” followed, the studio announced Tuesday, “by a growing roster of titles including new release film and television content.”
“By some estimates, consumers will own over 100 million Ultra HD television sets by 2019,” said Sphe president Man Jit Singh. “Sony Pictures’ 4K Ultra HD Discs will deliver consumers the ultimate home theater experience, with stunning picture and sound quality.”
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment was the first studio to announce a slate of upcoming Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc releases. At Ifa 2015 in Berlin in early September, on the heels »
- Thomas K. Arnold
Constance Cummings in 'Night After Night.' Constance Cummings: Working with Frank Capra and Mae West (See previous post: “Constance Cummings: Actress Went from Harold Lloyd to Eugene O'Neill.”) Back at Columbia, Harry Cohn didn't do a very good job at making Constance Cummings feel important. By the end of 1932, Columbia and its sweet ingenue found themselves in court, fighting bitterly over stipulations in her contract. According to the actress and lawyer's daughter, Columbia had failed to notify her that they were picking up her option. Therefore, she was a free agent, able to offer her services wherever she pleased. Harry Cohn felt otherwise, claiming that his contract player had waived such a notice. The battle would spill over into 1933. On the positive side, in addition to Movie Crazy 1932 provided Cummings with three other notable Hollywood movies: Washington Merry-Go-Round, American Madness, and Night After Night. 'Washington Merry-Go-Round »
- Andre Soares
Written by Peter Straughan
Directed by David Gordon Green
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington featured a young, authentic Jimmy Stewart who does battle with the corrupt political machine. Many decades later, that hardened view of politicians (and the machine that gets them elected) has not changed. David Gordon Green’s loosely fictionalized take on a 2005 documentary by Rachel Boynton doesn’t attempt to change any minds about the political process. Green begins the film with an off-screen journalist interviewing Jane Bodine (Sandra Bullock), who prompts Jane to explain where her inspiration for her work comes from. Jane responds “When I started in this business, my heroes were politicians and leaders. Then I met them.”
Comfortably settled in a mountainside cabin, “Calamity” Jane has exiled herself after a few defeats on the campaign trail, but (Ann Dowd) aims to recruit her anyway. Jane relents when »
- Colin Biggs
At the 87th Academy Awards earlier this year, Michael Keaton was many prognosticator’s best actor front-runner for his performance in director Alejandro Iñárritu‘s Birdman. The legendary actor had a career resurgence in the role of Riggan Thomson (much needed after nearly a decade between major film roles) and the film’s subject matter of artistry and stage production/film making, both of which have been recipes for Oscar success for past performers. However, the award that night went to 33-year old British actor Eddie Redmayne for his role as physicist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything.
This year, Keaton again finds himself in a film surrounded by Oscar buzz, Spotlight, which centers on the investigation by Boston Globe journalists into the Catholic Church child molestation scandal. Keaton’s performance has garnered much positive attention and may likely lead to a second nomination for the 64-year old actor. »
- Patrick Shanley
It’s impossible to picture Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies with anyone but Tom Hanks in the leading role. At a time when cynicism runs high, especially on the subject of our government, he manages to disarm us with his earnestness, becoming this generation’s equivalent of James Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Another actor could have played James Donovan, the real-life attorney who was given the unenviable task of defending a Russian spy at the height of the Cold War…but Hanks makes the character both credible and relatable as few others could. That’s not to say that this is merely a star vehicle. The brilliant Mark Rylance plays the sardonic spy, Amy Ryan is Hanks’...
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- Leonard Maltin
It’s that last scene in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington that gives even the most jaded person hope. With his voice hoarse, his lank hair falling into his eyes, senator Jefferson Smith (Jimmy Stewart) croaks, “Somebody will listen to me!” before fainting to the floor of the U.S. Senate chamber. Director
Frank Capra’s 1939 film casts Stewart as a naïve Boy Scout leader who’s chosen by his state’s corrupt leaders to fill a vacant Senate seat. But when the idealistic Mr. Smith learns he’s been set up to not just fail, but to be drummed out of office, he engages in a 23-hour filibuster, giving an impassioned speech about the power of honesty, decency and loving thy neighbour.
Yes it’s a hokey and awfully sentimental movie, but it’s also hugely entertaining and sends the message that the men and women who’ve been »
- Ingrid Randoja - Cineplex Magazine
You had only to look at the collected films of Brad Bird to know that Tomorrowland would be in large part a reverie for yesterday. The Iron Giant (1999) was such a friendly evocation of Cold War sci-fi that it belongs, in paperback form, tucked away in the back of a school library. The Incredibles (2004) was a tribute to 60s comics, 60s modernism, and the jazzy vibe of Thunderball-era Bond movies. Ratatouille (2007), with its story of talking rats in a timeless Paris, was a very classical kind of animation. More than anything else Pixar has put out—though Finding Nemo (2003) might come close—its style operates in the vernacular of what Disney animation used to mean in the 50s. Even Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011), whose place in Bird's filmography is largely to show if he could handle live action (he can!), is the biggest throwback of that franchise. Its plot centered »
- Duncan Gray
When Tom James (Hugh Laurie) joined Selina Meyer’s (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) campaign on Veep, everyone congratulated her for making such a great choice. The same can and should be said for Veep in bringing Hugh Laurie back to our TV screeners. In a complete contrast to Dr. House, though, Laurie as James is so affable and friendly that everyone absolutely adores him — so much so, that Selina worries he’s taking the spotlight away from her as Potus. As one headline says, “Tom James: The Best Potus We Never Had.” “Don’t show that one [to Selina],” her personal assistant suggests. [caption id="attachment_465481" align="alignright" width="350"] Image via HBO[/caption] One of the things that makes HBO’s biting satire so great is that it feels like it could be real: that politics are petty and full of mistrust, and no real friendships or connections can be made because of a constant jockeying for power. Despite that, »
- Allison Keene
The experiment has failed. The Oscars simply don’t work. And no, I’m not just continuing to vent my frustration over Boyhood losing.
For the last six years, The Academy has experimented with a different number of Best Picture nominees, starting with 10, then a variable number between five and 10 based on first place votes.
That experiment could now be coming to an end. The Hollywood Reporter floated the rumor Tuesday that the Academy is seriously considering switching back to five nominees for Best Picture, and that the motion has support with a “significant fraction of the Academy”.
This is speculation at the moment, as the Academy’s Board of Governors isn’t set to meet until March 24. That said, this year’s Oscar ratings were down by 15 percent from last year, despite having one of the year’s biggest box office hits in American Sniper up for Best Picture »
- Brian Welk
The late films of René Clément are even more neglected than the early and middle films of René Clément, which is to say, very neglected indeed. Falling somewhat between the generation of Jean Renoir and that of the nouvelle vague, he may have been seen as a dangerous professional rival, but he certainly was no friend to the emerging Cahiers du cinema cinephiles, declaring at the time of Fahrenheit 451's production that each Truffaut film was worse than the one before.
Almost effaced from film history apart from a couple of unavoidably impressive titles, Clément remains a stylish professional whose devotion to the thriller genre would have been considered admirable if he were American, but sits awkwardly with our expectations of French cinema: we have room for Henri-Georges Clouzot and Jean-Pierre Melville only.
Clément's last four films are all twisty thrillers, the kind of films that spend ages setting »
- David Cairns
There are 195 individuals nominated for Oscar this year. And when the winners are named Feb. 22, they will become part of film history, joining such greats as Billy Wilder, Ingrid Bergman, Ben Hecht and Walt Disney.
But 80% of the contenders will go home empty-handed. However, there is good news: They are in good company as well.
Here is a sampling of nominees that didn’t win: “Citizen Kane,” “Chinatown” and “Star Wars”; directors Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks, Stanley Kubrick and Ingmar Bergman; writers Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Dashiell Hammett, John Steinbeck, Graham Greene, Harold Pinter and David Mamet; actors Gloria Swanson in “Sunset Blvd.”; Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”; and Peter O’Toole in “Lawrence of Arabia.”
They managed to do Ok, though.
- Tim Gray
Given how revered Disney's "Pinocchio" is today, it's hard to believe it was a flop when it was first released exactly three quarters of a century ago. Upon its New York City premiere, on February 7, 1940, critics hailed the film as a masterpiece, and even to this day, many prefer it to Disney's pioneering first animated feature, 1937's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." Yet it took the film many years and multiple re-releases to make a profit.
Today, of course, the legacy of "Pinocchio" is inescapable. Everyone's image of the puppet-boy with the nose that grows when he lies comes not from Carlo Collodi's original novel but from the kid with the Tyrolean hat and the Mickey Mouse gloves, as drawn by Disney animators. And the opening tune, Jiminy Cricket's "When You Wish Upon a Star," is ubiquitous as the theme music played before every Walt Disney movie and home video release. »
- Gary Susman
Jean Arthur films on TCM include three Frank Capra classics Five Jean Arthur films will be shown this evening, Monday, January 5, 2015, on Turner Classic Movies, including three directed by Frank Capra, the man who helped to turn Arthur into a major Hollywood star. They are the following: Capra's Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, You Can't Take It with You, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; George Stevens' The More the Merrier; and Frank Borzage's History Is Made at Night. One the most effective performers of the studio era, Jean Arthur -- whose film career began inauspiciously in 1923 -- was Columbia Pictures' biggest female star from the mid-'30s to the mid-'40s, when Rita Hayworth came to prominence and, coincidentally, Arthur's Columbia contract expired. Today, she's best known for her trio of films directed by Frank Capra, Columbia's top director of the 1930s. Jean Arthur-Frank Capra »
- Andre Soares
#10. Chinatown (1974)
Lost to: The Godfather Part II
Well, no one will argue that it should have won, but still. Roman Polanski’s film made a true leading man out of Jack Nicholson. It grabbed eleven nominations, only taking home one. That being said, that one was for Original Screenplay, written by Robert Towne, which may be the greatest even written. Entire courses could be taught on this screenplay alone and Polanski and his actors delivered a perfect translation of it to the screen. Also starring Faye Dunaway and the great John Huston, the story of power and corruption still stands as one of the greatest films of the 1970′s (or any decade for that matter). It’s just a shame it ran into the greatest movie sequel of all time.
#9. Cabaret (1972)
Lost to: The Godfather
Seems weird, doesn’t it? Well, the Liza Minnelli vehicle is on this list for »
- Joshua Gaul
40. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Lost to: Silence of the Lambs 1991 was the first time an animated film ever grabbed a nomination for Best Picture with Disney’s version of “Beauty and the Beast.” The film also picked up nominations for sound, Original Score (for which it won) and three – count ‘em Three – for Best Original Song, the Oscar going to the title song. The film never really had a chance of winning (though this was one rare year where the Academy went exceedingly dark with their winner), but its inclusion was the first step toward a wider range of films getting a chance and the creation of the eventual Best Animated Film category.
39. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Lost to: How Green Was My Valley
1941 would one day become one of the most notorious Oscar upsets, but not because of this film, however brilliant it is (the other film is much higher »
- Joshua Gaul
16 items from 2015
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