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There are countless missed opportunities in Grace of Monaco, a sponsorship deal with Ferrero Rocher being chief among them. Like the choccies doled out by that cheapnik ambassador, this portrait of Grace Kelly 'the royal years' aspires to refinement and class when, in reality, it's just an afternoon sugar buzz for bored housewives. No wonder the Cannes glitterati turned up their noses, but you don't have to be a connoisseur to know this is a pile of Nutella.
What was Nicole Kidman thinking? For one thing she is two decades too old to be playing Grace Kelly from the late '50s to early '60s (the star was only 26 when she went from Hollywood's High Society to the House of Grimaldi). Kidman does »
The 2014 Cannes Film Festival got off to an excellent start on Wednesday evening, as journalists heralded the arrival of an emotionally wrenching, fact-inspired drama set in a formerly French-ruled colony coming under threat of hostile siege. I am referring, of course, to “Timbuktu,” the deeply stirring new film from the Mauritanian-born filmmaker Abderrahmane Sissako, which had its first screening for journalists around the same time that the program’s official curtain-raiser, “Grace of Monaco,” was making its way up the red-carpeted Palais steps — its first high-profile stop en route to its final destination in cinematic oblivion.
It is, by now, a familiar formula: Kick off the proceedings with a lightweight confection that will supply all the glamour and star wattage a hot-ticket event like Cannes demands, while at the same time shocking the press next door with a hard-hitting piece of social realism. That way you get your empty-headed Hollywood frippery, »
- Justin Chang
With apologies to Three Six Mafia, it's hard out here for a princess. In the past year, first-world problem films – the plush brand of non-issue cinema exemplified by last year's Cannes entry “A Castle in Italy,” in which linen-clad lunchers fretted prettily about what to do with their priceless original Brueghels – have been threatened by the Princess Problem Picture, a currently thriving subgenre that sets out to measure the true weight of a tiara. Whether the wearer is a closeted Scandi ice maiden who just wants, Garbo-style, to be left alone (“Frozen”) or a hounded British divorcee who just wants, Lauper-style, to have fun (“Diana”), female royalty hasn't seemed such a drag since the age of Henry VIII. Enter Olivier Dahan's “Grace of Monaco,” a biopic that announces its intention to further remove the scales from our eyes with an opening quote from its subject: “The idea of my life as a fairytale, »
- Guy Lodge
1. The term "gaslight." The Ingrid Bergman thriller "Gaslight" -- released 70 years ago this week, on May 4, 1944, wasn't the original use of the title. There was Patrick Hamilton's 1938 play "Gas Light," retitled "Angel Street" when it came to Broadway a couple years later. And there was a British film version in 1939, starring Anton Walbrook (later the cruel impresario in "The Red Shoes") and Diana Wynyard.
Still, the glossy 1944 MGM version remains the best-known telling of the tale, with the title an apparent reference to the flickering Victorian lamps that are part of Gregory's (Charles Boyer) scheme to make wife Paula (Bergman) think she's seeing things that aren't there, thus deliberately undermining her sanity in order to have her institutionalized so that he'll be free to ransack the ancestral home to find the missing family jewels.
This version of Hamilton's tale was so popular that it made the word "gaslight"into a verb, »
- Gary Susman
Michelle Williams was Oscar-nominated for her critically-acclaimed performance as Monroe in Simon Curtis's My Week with Marilyn (2011). The movie centered on Monroe's fraught relationship with her then co-star Laurence Olivier, played by Kenneth Branagh, during the production of The Prince and the Showgirl in Britain.
Reflecting upon the role, Williams said: "Gosh, sometimes I can't even believe I did it because the challenges were just...
"In a way, you had to remove the fact that she was an »
Ahead of a new TV adaptation this Easter weekend, Julie Myerson revisits Daphne du Maurier's classic tale of Cornish smugglers, and discovers a much darker novel than she remembers reading as a teenager
I was 14 when I first stumbled upon them pleasingly fat, bright yellow, cellophane-covered Gollancz hardbacks, which I carried home from Nottingham library. The pictureless covers with thick, red-and-black lettering were unapologetically, seductively adult. Rebecca. Frenchman's Creek. Mary Anne. The Parasites. Even the titles were sternly bereft of frills. These books meant business and oh, the joy of discovering that your new favourite author had written not just two or three novels, but many.
I read them all at 14 and then re-read most of them as an adult. Jamaica Inn was one of the few I'd not yet got around to, but the ghastliness of certain details had stuck. Who could forget that godforsaken tavern in the »
- Julie Myerson
Five Thirty Eight parses Shakespeare and finds that Romeo & Juliet have a relationship that's not totally based on getting to know one another. Duh!
The Wire reviews Doll & Em, a new miniseries starring Emily Mortimer
Salon on the eve of the release of Divergent, a reminder that not every Ya best-seller aiming for Hunger Games phenom status succeeds: Beautiful Creatures, City of Ember, The Host and more...
Vulture 294 "issues" Glee has addressed in its first 99 episodes
Variety they went really young casting Peter Pan for that self proclaimed "international" and "diverse" Pan film which keeps casting white people in »
- NATHANIEL R
The 85-year history of the Academy Awards is rife with statistical oddities, and one that has the potential to play out this Sunday is among the most intriguing: a split between the films that win Best Picture and Best Director.
Though conventional wisdom has long held that only one film will walk away with both prizes on Oscar night, many pundits are predicting that the awards will instead go to two different movies this year, with "Gravity" director Alfonso Cuaron expected to snag the Best Director statuette, while "12 Years a Slave" (or "American Hustle," depending on where your loyalties lie) is the favorite to win Best Picture.
While such a split has occurred just 22 times since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences started handing out trophies in 1929, four of the first five ceremonies produced a divide between the Best Director and Best Picture prizes. "Wings," dubbed the original »
- Katie Roberts
Alfred Hitchcock never won an Oscar as Best Director, but the first year he worked in Hollywood he made a pair of memorable films. Rebecca was nominated for 11 Academy Awards (including Best Director) and won two, for George Barnes’ cinematography and for Best Picture. The second release, which appeared in theaters just four months later, also earned a handful of nominations—including Best Picture—but isn’t cited as often as it should among the director’s finest work. Foreign Correspondent is one of my all-time favorites and it’s been given deluxe treatment in a terrific new Blu-ray/DVD release from The Criterion Collection. In a video essay called “Hollywood Propaganda and World War...
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- Leonard Maltin
Why does cinema favor the mad woman? It's easy to see why Oscar does: roles like Jasmine French give an actress space to not only chew but swallow and spit up scene after scene. Cate Blanchett will almost certainly win Best Actress this year for her frittered, diabolical performance in "Blue Jasmine" as cinema's archetypical woman-on-the-verge: that pill-popping, martini-swilling mad Medea who men fear and women sometimes dream of (being? playing? escaping into?).Thus, here are eight classic Oscar snubs in the Best Actress category. Bow down to Gena Rowlands in "A Woman Under the Influence." Watch clips after the jump. Also, check out our Toh! feature on eight scene-stealing female performances from 2013.1940 Who Won: Ginger Rogers ("Kitty Foyle") Who Should've Won: Joan Fontaine ("Rebecca") Who Was Nominated: Bette Davis ("The Letter"), Katharine Hepburn ("The Philadelphia Story"), Martha Scott ("Our Town") Hitchock's delirious and deliciously twisted English gothic »
- Ryan Lattanzio
This year’s Best Actor race is shaping up to be one of the greatest of all time. And by greatest, I mean both the most competitive and also the most outstanding, in the sense that each nominee is excellent — hypothetical winners in almost any other year. They also reflect the depth of superb male performances in 2013. Consider: Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips), Robert Redford (All Is Lost), Joaquin Phoneix (Her), Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis), and Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station) all missed the cut.
EW’s Owen Gleiberman recently analyzed this year’s Best Actor race, calling it the most “fiercely, »
- Jeff Labrecque
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
As if his British films weren’t evidence enough of his talent, Alfred Hitchcock made quite the impression when he came to Hollywood in 1940. His first picture in the states, Rebecca, was nominated for Best Picture at the 1941 Academy Awards. So was his second, Foreign Correspondent, also released in 1940. While Rebecca would ultimately win, many – then and now – consider the achievement as belonging more to producer David O. Selznick than to the director. This is not without some justification. Though Rebecca bears more than a few notably Hitchcockian touches, between the two features, Foreign Correspondent looks and feels more appropriately like Hitchcock’s previous and later works. The Criterion Collection, recently very kind to Hitchcock on Blu-ray, now gives this latter feature a suitably well-rounded treatment, with a documentary on the film’s visual effects, an »
- Jeremy Carr
After directing more than twenty feature films in Britain, Alfred Hitchcock’s big introduction to Hollywood came in the form of two films released only four months apart in 1940, both of which were nominated for that year’s Best Picture Academy Award. The gothic chamber drama Rebecca ended up taking home the Oscar, while the trans-continental wartime adventure Foreign Correspondent eventually became all but a footnote in the Hitchcock canon. While Rebecca is no doubt a complex, layered masterwork with its fair share of brilliant Hitchcockian touches (check out IndieWire’s excellent take on the film’s lesbian themes), critics and historians have contended that Rebecca was at least as much a David O. Selznick film as it was a Hitchcock entry. In fact, Hitch himself told Truffaut that he didn’t see Rebecca as a Hitchcock picture because of its lack of humor. But Foreign Correspondent (whose Criterion treatment was released this week) displays a more »
- Landon Palmer
Criterion adds another illustrious Alfred Hitchcock title to the collection this month with Foreign Correspondent, which followed hot on the heels of Rebecca in 1940, the beginning of the director’s American period. Though not a perfect film, it does register as one of his most unfairly overlooked films, even as it shows various signs of outside tampering as a film belonging very much to the period in which it was made. Though suffering from the effect of too many cooks in the writing kitchen, it’s a title as filled with plot twists as it is wit, as well as Hitchcock’s signature elaborate set pieces.
Opening with a dedication to the bravery of those foreign correspondents and others that risk their lives in war time, we enter into the realm of a Us newsroom where frustration is running high at the lack of actual coverage worthy news filtering in from the correspondents. »
- Nicholas Bell
Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Game of Thrones: The Complete Third Season The naval assault against the Lannisters has failed, and that little prick Joffrey remains atop the throne. Elsewhere, Daenerys is gathering an army to join her and her trio of dragons, Robb Stark is working to mend fences and create allies, and the White Walkers are continuing their ridiculously slow journey towards civilization. I’ve never read the novels, and I can’t imagine doing so without photos so I can recognize who’s who in the enormous list of characters, but this is some wonderfully dense and entertaining television. Season three continues to follow numerous story threads and characters, and while some are more engaging than others there’s not a single dud among them. The production value remains high resulting not only in strong performances »
- Rob Hunter
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 »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
Hitchcock’s War Face
Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 film Foreign Correspondent is often underrated or forgotten when it comes to lists of the director’s “best” films. In fact, it was nominated for an Oscar Best Picture the same year as Rebecca (which won), and, personally, I think it’s the better movie. It’s certainly more of a “Hitchcock film” than Rebecca, as it is one of those cross-country espionage adventure-thrillers along the lines of The 39 Steps, Saboteur, and North by Northwest.
It was the director’s second Hollywood movie. Although Hitchcock was contracted to David O. Selznick (who produced Rebecca), Hitch’s deal allowed Selznick to “farm out” the director to other studios and producers, for a piece of Hitchcock’s salary, of course. In this case, Foreign Correspondent was produced by Walter Wanger (who had also produced John Ford’s Stagecoach). It’s interesting that »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Cinema Retro)
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
Ja from Mnpp here with a fun new weekly game for us to play!
One of the reasons I love horror films is because more than most genres they give us the chance to see how movies can manipulate their audience into morally tricky identification territory. I find it fascinating, from a psychological standpoint, seeing how a master like say Alfred Hitchcock can use cinema to turn the simple act of mopping up a bathroom into widespread criminal complicity. Some times the bad guys are just so much more interesting than the good guys, ya know? So that's what this here series is about - I'm going to give you a film's protagonist and its antagonist, list a couple of their pros and their cons, and then you're gonna tell me whose team you're on. This week I give you...
Mrs. Danvers vs. The Second Mrs. de Winter in Rebecca »
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