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The Hearst media empire has been around for 125 years now. To commemorate such an esteemed anniversary, filmmaker Leslie Iwerks delves into the empire’s history, chronicling its impact on culture. William Randolph Hearst is frequently portrayed in an unflattering light in pop culture (see: The Fountainhead, Deadwood, or the infamous Citizen Kane); yet Iwerks casts him and his empire in a very flattering light in this almost-biased documentary.
The first half of the film focuses on Hearst himself. His rise to power through the San Francisco Examiner, his scandalous affair with actress Marion Davies, and his controversial creation of yellow journalism.
- John Keith
Ask people about their favorite movies and the same titles come up regularly—Casablanca, Pulp Fiction, Annie Hall, Citizen Kane. But some movies have special meaning for people even if they don't turn up on lists of established favorites. These are the secret movies we keep in our pockets like lucky coins—there's something intimate about them, as if they belong to us alone.
For many people, particularly those who were in their twenties at the time of its release, Richard Linklater's 1995 Before Sunrise—in which Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke play young tourists who fold a lifetime of romance (and plenty of arguing) into one night in Vienna—is one of those movies. For others, 2004's Before Sunset, which reunites Ha »
Femme Fatales Week! begins at Trailers from Hell, with director Dan Ireland introducing "Vertigo," Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece and last year's Sight & Sound top-ranked film of all time, starring James Stewart and Kim Novak. Stewart was born on May 20, 1908. "Hitchcock's masterpiece to date and one of the four or five most profound and beautiful films the cinema has yet given us". That was critic Robin Wood's astute 1968 evaluation ten years after Alfred Hitchcock's final collaboration with James Stewart had been released to indifferent box office and unappreciative reviews. Tragic, obsessive and backed by an unforgettable Bernard Herrmann score, it's one of the director's most mesmerizing accomplishments. It knocked Citizen Kane off its nearly 50 year perch as the #1 picture of all time in the 2012 Sight and Sound decade poll of critics and filmmakers. »
- Trailers From Hell
A Tumblr blog has garnered internet popularity for encapsulating movies in just nine images.
Digital Spy have picked out a select few (nine, to be precise) to feature from the blog.
Visit 9filmframes.tumblr.com to see more.
After a two-hour extravaganza (Tim Tebow! Magic tricks! Songs!) and the revelation that both Trace Adkins and Penn Jillette can launch semi-successful ice cream flavors and socials, it was time for one last firing and for one of the finalists to emerge victorious in this b-a-n-a-n-a-s season. Spoiler alert: Don’t keep reading if you haven’t watched the All-Star Celebrity Apprentice season finale. My recap will be up at 2 a.m. Update: Here it is!
- Adam Carlson
We’ve all heard someone make the hasty generalisation that modern movies are going down a spiral of descending quality and can’t even begin to compare to the classics such as Citizen Kane, Casablanca and The Godfather. Don’t get me wrong: those movies are some of the best that film has to offer, but there are a real plethora of modern movies that are just as good (but for entirely different reasons).
Casual film fans and cinephiles alike can find something to enjoy in each of the movies I’ve listed here and the majority of these entries are astounding achievements in their own right. Stories have been reinvented decade after decade and the modern times we currently live in have done a great deal to advance movies, especially with digital filmmaking evolving to take precedence in ways that it never has before.
Without further ado, I now »
- Dolan Reynolds
The director of the new film of The Great Gatsby is under no illusions that his style is everyone's cup of tea – and that, he says, is why he has such a kinship with the novel's author
It takes a lot of heavy lifting to make a lavish party swing. On the day before The Great Gatsby opens this year's Cannes film festival, the nearby Carlton Hotel has been recast as a chaotic factory of harried PRs and industry factotums. An immaculate woman, all but blinded by the potted plant she is carrying, blunders haplessly through a platter of macaroons that has been left on the floor. The cakes go everywhere; the carpet is carnage. "Merde," exclaims the woman, but she barely breaks her stride.
If high-rolling Jay Gatsby had ever come to Cannes, he would surely have boarded at a joint like this, with its grand beehive domes and tranquil private beach. »
- Xan Brooks
Truth be told, up until very recently, not only had I not seen a single The Fast and the Furious movie, I wasn’t really in any great rush to do so either. I’d heard from various sources that the first outing was an over the top piece of guilty fun, but after that they all kind of tailed off. That all changed however when Fast Five came out in 2011 to extremely warm critical reviews.
Bringing some familiar faces from the rest of the series back into the fold and adding the man-mountain that is Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson was a clear statement of intent that this instalment was not doing anything by halves. Here was a movie that took being massively Ott to new heights and gleefully reveled in its ridiculous nature. Reviews suggested Diesel and Johnson came together like a beefed up version of De Niro and »
- Rob Keeling
Twenty years ago, when I first started reading credits of movies I loved to see who'd written the screenplay, one name leapt out at me: Eric Red. In the space of three years in the late 1980s he wrote the terrifying Rutger Hauer road movie The Hitcher and two brilliant genre movies for a young director called Kathryn Bigelow: the trailer-trash vampire movie Near Dark, and Blue Steel, a feminist cop movie with Jamie Lee Curtis as a rookie up against an amorous serial killer. The first two of those have gone on to become bona fide cult classics. But Red remains little known – as does the film of his I really loved, one he wrote and directed in 1988, Cohen and Tate. »
It might seem strange to outsiders that the death of a 92-year-old former visual-effects man for B-movies should attract so much media coverage. But to begin to comprehend the impact that Raymond ‘Ray’ Harryhausen has had on the movie industry you only have to look at the names of those directors who claim him as their inspiration: Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Peter Jackson, Tim Burton, Terry Gilliam, George Lucas, Guillermo Del Toro, and then there’s the special effects gurus like Stan Winston, Dennis Muren, Rick Baker and Rob Bottin.
What’s even more incredible, considering the profound influence that Harryhausen had on the generations of filmmakers that came after him, is that he only ever made 16 feature films. Yet all of them (okay, with the possible exception of The Animal World) are regarded as classics, not only of the fantasy genre with which he is associated, but in their own right. »
- Simon Williams
Clash of the Titans was the first film I had the pleasure of seeing in the movie theater. To my seven year old eyes it was simply amazing, only looking away from the screen when Medusa appeared, for fear I would turn to stone. The creature work of Ray Harryhausen was groundbreaking, and all too real to me. I truly believed that Bubo, the golden owl, existed somewhere in the world, and it made me smile. I was shaking when the Kraken was released, terrified for the citizens of Argos. I was sucked into his world for one hundred and eighteen minutes, and never wanted to leave. This movie is what put me on the path to where I am today, and started my love affair with all things fantasy.
Titans was, and still is, a testament to the creativity, ingenuity, and brilliance of a small boy from California with big dreams. »
- Carl Jansson
Ray Harryhausen—no, make that The Great Ray Harryhausen— one of the most wondrous craftsmen and peerless special effects artists in the history of cinema, died on Tuesday, May 7, in London, where he had lived for years. He was 92 years old.
Ray Harryhausen, 1920-2013
Though Ray Harryhausen utilized all kinds of Diy effects over the years in such films as Mighty Joe Young (1941), The Beast from 20th Fathoms (1953), 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957), The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), Jason and the Argonauts (1963), One Million Years B.C. (1966), Clash of the Titans (1981) and a bunch of others (if you’re not familiar with at least a couple of these, you’re from another planet), he was best known for his work in the field of stop-motion animation.
Out of deep respect for Mr. Harryhausen and the stop-motion artistry of which he was the undisputed king, let me quickly explain what it all was »
The Good, the Baz and the Ugly
It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that bling in Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby,” which arrives six months after its originally scheduled December release date but maintains something of a gussied-up holiday feel, like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as staged by Liberace. Indeed, it comes as little surprise that the Aussie auteur behind the gaudy, more-is-more spectacles “Moulin Rouge” and “Australia” has delivered a “Gatsby” less in the spirit of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel than in that of its eponymous antihero — a man who believes bejeweled excess will help him win the heart of the one thing his money can’t buy.
Cinema audiences can prove as fickle and elusive as Daisy Buchanan, too, but a starry cast (and soundtrack) and sheer curiosity value will power this Warner/Village Roadshow co-production to career-best B. »
- Scott Foundas, Justin Chang and Peter Debruge
He brought out dreams to life.
Raymond “Ray” Harryhausen (June 29, 1920 – May 7, 2013) died today at age 92, leaving behind a legacy of pioneering special effects work and a filmography that has deeply influenced writers, artists, and filmmakers for generations.
Dubbed by Starlog as “The Man Who Work Miracles”, he was one of the most influential movie makers who was himself inspired by Willis O’Brien’s stop-motion animation in King Kong. He took O’Brien’s efforts and improved upon them, branding it as Dynamation.
Although he resided in England for the majority of his adult life, Harryhausen was born in Los Angeles. King Kong was the spark that set him on a course towards a career in film, meticulously creating miniatures that could be photographed a few frames at a time followed by the tiniest of movements, followed by more frames, until the model appeared to move across the screen. This »
- Robert Greenberger
Legendary special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen, who worked on films such as the original “Clash of the Titans,” has died at the age of 92. The stop-motion expert passed away Tuesday in London. Harryhausen, a Los Angeles native, was heavily influenced by the 1933 version of “King Kong,” and began making his own stop-motion films while immersed in L.A.'s budding science fiction community. (He was also lifelong friends with sci-fi author Ray Bradbury.) He went on to work on many prestigious Hollywood projects, including joining the Oscar-winning effects team for the 1949 giant gorilla feature “Mighty Joe Young.” (Harryhausen later made a cameo in the movie's 1998 remake.) His work gained him notoriety in the film community and the opportunity to head his own effects team, pioneering a technique known as Dynamation, which changed the way actors could interact with stop-motion effects. The best examples of that work came in the 1958 film “The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, »
- Katie Roberts
Ray Harryhausen, whose dazzling and innovative visual effects work on fantasy adventure films like The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958) and Jason and the Argonauts (1963) augured the explosion of effects-driven cinema over the last 30 years, died in London on May 7 at the age of 92, according to his Facebook page.
Born in Los Angeles in 1920, Harryhausen began his love affair with stop-motion animation early after watching the seminal effects movie King Kong (1933). He started making his own stop-motion films in his family’s garage while connecting with a burgeoning science-fiction fan community in L.A., including life-long friend Ray Bradbury, who would »
- Adam B. Vary
Australian's characteristically lavish treatment of source material divides critics
True to form then, initial reviews for what is arguably 2013's most eagerly awaited film have revealed splits over the Australian's characteristically lavish treatment, which includes a soundtrack produced in collaboration with Jay-z.
"This enormous production begins by being over-the-top and moves on from there," announced the Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy , who nonetheless gave an overall seal of approval, describing the cast, including Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan as "first-rate" and concluding that "the ambience and story provide a measure of intoxication".
Paying the film what might, in some ways, be the ultimate tribute, the review went on to compare the moment when DiCaprio's Gatsby first appears on screen »
- Ben Quinn
In today’s world, screenwriters everywhere craft their version of Citizen Kane using fancy software like Final Draft that allows them to master the complicated format of screenplays (it’s even available for your iPad…), but there was a time when screenplays were typed on typewriters – and sometimes even written by hand. We’re not sure why handwritten screenplay drafts of classic films fill us with such a sense of wonder and awe – but if we had to guess it’s because the (hand) writing on a notebook page looks and feels so distinctive. Screenplays all use the same font and follow the same format and style conventions. One printed script is practically indistinguishable from another. If you placed a copy of the screenplay for Bucky Larson...
- Mike Bracken
Italian director Mario Bava was responsible for some truly great horror movies of the 60s and 70s, including The Mask of Satan, Black Sabbath, Blood and Black Lace, Lisa and the Devil and proto-slasher A Bay of Blood. However some, whilst a success at the time, haven’t aged quite so well… like Baron Blood.
The film is yet another gothic horror from Bava that, like Black Sunday before it, features a witch’s curse – this time placed on Baron Otto von Kleist, Austria’s legendarily murderous ‘Baron Blood’, whose corpse is inadvertently revived when an ancient incantation is read out as a joke by a descendant and his girlfriend. Naturally, the Baron decides to carry on where he originally left off, with the help of an »
- Phil Wheat
Deanna Durbin in the 1940s: From wholesome musicals to film noir sex worker (photo: Gene Kelly and Deanna Durbin cast against type in the un-Christmas-y Christmas Holiday) [See previous post: "Deanna Durbin Without Joe Pasternak: Adrift at Universal."] The Deanna Durbin vs. Universal dispute was settled in early 1942, when the actress was supposedly granted director and story approval. But things didn’t go all that smoothly from then on. There would be no loan-outs to the more opulent MGM, and Durbin would later complain that Universal refused to abide by her requests. Also, for the first time since her career skyrocketed in 1936, Durbin was absent from the screen for a whole year. The key reason there were no 1942 Deanna Durbin movies was the troubled production of her next star vehicle, The Amazing Mrs. Holliday, in which Durbin tries to smuggle Chinese orphans into the U.S., and which underwent not only various title changes, but also various directors and various script »
- Andre Soares
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