20 items from 2015
Top Ten Scream Queens: Barbara Steele, who both emitted screams and made others do same, is in a category of her own. Top Ten Scream Queens Halloween is over until next year, but the equally bewitching Day of the Dead is just around the corner. So, dead or alive, here's my revised and expanded list of cinema's Top Ten Scream Queens. This highly personal compilation is based on how memorable – as opposed to how loud or how frequent – were the screams. That's the key reason you won't find listed below actresses featured in gory slasher films. After all, the screams – and just about everything else in such movies – are as meaningless as their plots. You also won't find any screaming guys (i.e., Scream Kings) on the list below even though I've got absolutely nothing against guys who scream in horror, whether in movies or in life. There are »
- Andre Soares
A performative exploration of Australia’s own Orry-Kelly, perhaps most infamously known as Cary Grant’s lover, Women He’s Undressed is a playful look at the man behind the costumes worn by Marilyn Monroe, Betty Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Rosalind Russell, and Errol Flynn, amongst other legends of Hollywood’s Golden Age. The film’s story is told via an electrifying mix of first-person interviews, performances of Orry-Kelly’s letters, and archival materials, including clips from his films Some Like It Hot, The Maltese Falcon, Les Girls, and Arsenic and Old Lace.
The film’s charms exist in the performative elements contextualized amongst the film’s interviewees. Director Gillian Armstrong (known for her narrative films Little Women and Oscar and Lucinda) paints a picture partially routed in national pride, about a small town boy from rural New South Wales who makes good in Hollywood. The fragmented nature of the narrative »
- John Fink
George R. R. Martin’s ‘A Song Of Ice And Fire’ sequence of fantasy novels were one of literature’s best kept secrets for nearly fifteen years… that is, until the premier episode of HBO’s cable television adaptation Game Of Thrones was broadcast in April 2011 and blew poor George’s comfortable life to smithereens.
There’s no question that Martin’s been fortunate with HBO’s treatment of his novels – and, by extension, so have his fans. Game Of Thrones has only started significantly deviating from the story being told in Martin’s ongoing novels in the latest season: True Blood only used Charlaine Harris’ ‘Southern Vampire Mysteries’ as a starting point, and Dexter treated Jeff Lindsay’s original novels more as a loose guideline.
Following on from the rampant success of Game Of Thrones, the race was on to find another series of novels that might replicate »
- Ben Cooke
As far as Hollywood was concerned, hardboiled pulp author Raymond Chandler was big news in 1944 and 1945, working with Billy Wilder on the Production Code breakthrough hit Double Indemnity, and getting two of his popular Philip Marlowe books transposed to the screen -- and not completely shorn of their racy content. Savant Blu-ray Review The Warner Archive Collection Warner Archive Collection 1944 / B&W / 1:37 flat Academy / 95 min. / Street Date September 15, 2015 / available through the WBshop / 21.99 Starring Dick Powell, Claire Trevor, Anne Shirley, Otto Kruger, Mike Mazurki. Cinematography Harry J. Wild Art Direction Carroll Clark, Albert S. D'Agostino Film Editor Joseph Noriega Original Music Roy Webb Written by John Paxton from Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler Produced by Sid Rogell, Adrian Scott Directed by Edward Dmytryk
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
Many films noirs seem to come from the same stylistic universe, in terms of themes and visuals. But a few of the »
- Glenn Erickson
In a novel effort to stress that film noir wasn’t a film movement specifically an output solely produced for American audiences, Kino Lorber releases a five disc set of obscure noir examples released in the UK. Spanning a near ten year period from 1943 to 1952, the titles displayed here do seem to chart a progression in tone, at least resulting in parallels with American counterparts. Though a couple of the selections here aren’t very noteworthy, either as artifacts of British noir or items worthy of reappraisal, it does contain items of considerable interest, including rare titles from forgotten or underrated auteurs like Ronald Neame, Roy Ward Baker, and Ralph Thomas.
They Met in the Dark
- Nicholas Bell
According to William Goldman, who won Oscars for writing Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid and All The President’s Men, there are three types of movies: those that aspire to quality and succeed, those that aspire to quality and fail, and those that were never meant to be any good at all.
The last group, Goldman claims, comprises “movies for which the pulse was either totally or primarily financial: rip-offs, spin-offs, sequels etc.” In other words, most of today’s pictures are about as creative and well intentioned as Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan.
Executives that talk about rebooting this or reimagining that sound like Eskimos describing snow, using multiple words to describe the same thing. In the end, they only require two – ‘cash’ and ‘grab’.
There have, of course, always been sequels and remakes, and the world would be a poorer place without »
- Ian Watson
I didn't have much luck with the movies I saw in theaters this week and that's including skipping Pixels. I caught screenings of Southpaw (read the review here), Paper Towns (read the review here) and Vacation (review coming next week), but at home I had a little better luck, though I only watched one "new" film... new to me that is. In preparation for tomorrow night's screening of Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, my wife and I watched Mission: Impossible and Mission: Impossible II, two films I like and yes, that even means I enjoy M:i 2 on some level, mainly on a level that I take enjoyment out of John Woo's ridiculous direction while, at the same time, I'm able to recognize it's a pretty bad movie. We watched Mission: Impossible III rather recently so tonight might be Ghost Protocol... we'll see. readmore postid="54359" The other film I watched »
- Brad Brevet
Warner Bros.’ Archive Collection has been doing quite the job giving genre and non-genre fans an extensive amount of DVD and Bluray releases of classic horror, crime noir and comedy films, some of which are available for the first time. Sure there are Quite a lot of new genre films to keep us busy for ages, but it does feel good to sit back and watch classic films that not only inspired today’s film-making, but paved the way for a lot of recent films.
We thought it would be nice to write a bit about some of our favorite releases from WB’s Archive Collection, thanks to the gang over there for sending a few titles my way to check out. Read on!
The story of a series of murders being investigated by a detective and his new partner (Albert Finney and the absolutely gorgeous Diane Venora), Wolfen suffered, »
- Jerry Smith
This week, Neil Calloway looks at why soccer movies tend to bomb at the box office…
The timing could not have been better; name recognition could not have been higher, it was the perfect time to release a film about an organisation that dominated the headlines for the past few weeks. It doesn’t always work out like that, though, and United Passions, the film telling the story of FIFA, made a miserly $918 dollars during its opening weekend. That’s not a typo. That’s nine hundred and eighteen dollars. Turns out there is such a thing as bad publicity.
In fairness, the film was only released on ten screens, but a screen average of just over $90 does not bode well for a film that cost somewhere between $25 and $32 million dollars, with FIFA itself putting up around $17 million of the budget. On a limited release elsewhere in the world (as well as FIFA, »
- Neil Calloway
With such a definitive and spoiler-happy title as “He Married His Wife” (even with pronouns lending a level of mystery), plot quickly becomes unimportant. Even the contemporary micro-genre this 1940 film fills, the comedy of remarriage, immediately announces T.H. Randall’s (Joel McCrea) eventual reunion with estranged wife Valerie (Nancy Kelly). In order for the couple to come together, both actors must switch between clown and straight-man acts at screwball pace using the supporting cast as colorful props.This outline worked well for Howard Hawks’s Bringing Up Baby (1938) two years earlier, but that had the remarkable advantage of both Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, both known for versatility in anything their studio would throw at them. Conversely, 20th Century Fox put director Roy Del Ruth to the task of He Married His Wife as a workman director capable of identifying the strengths of a trending narrative style for economic opportunity. »
- Zach Lewis
Laura Kitchens was last seen alive on March 7th.
She was murdered.
Castle, The Maltese Falcon, Sherlock – what do they all have in common besides being about detectives?
They’re fictional – i.e. you can’t be them.
Well, dust off your oversized magnifying glass and old electric razor (for the late nights you’ll be pulling), because BBC Writers room have released a new immersive digital mystery as of…right now.
A woman named Laura Kitchens has been murdered. Using footage from the last 24 hours of her life (from the fictional surveillance programme SaturnEye), as well as access to her Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles, you must solve the mystery of her death. Click the image below to get started:
Although ‘immersive digital mystery’ sounds a bit hipster-esque, the grungey set-up of the site and the concept behind the ‘experience’ itself is wonderfully engaging. There are echoes of everything »
- Oli Davis
There’s a light touch to much of Dave Boyle’s modern-noir Man from Reno, eschewing the usual aesthetic trappings of the genre, lulling the viewer into a false sense of comfort before inevitably pulling the rug out from under. The movie opens in the fog and climaxes on a sunny dock, rendering the so-called ambience of film-noir moot. The notion here that a noir doesn’t have to be set in run down alleys and shadowy high-contrast rooms and smoky bars to suggest something corrupt and malicious; a sunny dock and a warmly-lit hotel-room hold just as much, if not more, sinister intent. There’s something downright transgressive about using San Francisco in such a manner, the city that gave birth to the quintessential noirs The Lady From Shanghai & The Maltese Falcon now repurposed as their aesthetic counterpart. Two entwining storylines compete for attention. In the first, a successful »
- Tommy Cook
Reno 911: Boyle’s Indie Neo-Noir an Enjoyable Pulpy Exercise
For his fifth feature, indie filmmaker Dave Boyle pays homage to film noir tropes with his twisty, engaging Man From Reno. Along the lines of the light, comically inclined indie sleuthing of Aaron Katz’s Portland set Cold Weather (2010), Boyle gives noir a fresh face in the culturally ambiguous city of San Francisco. Though not all of its tangential elements feel quite successful, Boyle’s screenplay, co-written with his regular collaborators Michael Lerman and Joel Clark, features an unpredictably dark third act that more resolutely recalls the films it’s inspired by than most of its modern counterparts.
Recently escaping from a book tour back home in Japan, famed pulpy mystery author Aki (Ayako Fujitano) finds herself alone in San Francisco while her disappearance causes a dramatic furor. She runs into a sexy stranger who calls himself Akira (Kazuki Kitamura »
- Nicholas Bell
Teresa Wright: Later years (See preceding post: "Teresa Wright: From Marlon Brando to Matt Damon.") Teresa Wright and Robert Anderson were divorced in 1978. They would remain friends in the ensuing years. Wright spent most of the last decade of her life in Connecticut, making only sporadic public appearances. In 1998, she could be seen with her grandson, film producer Jonah Smith, at New York's Yankee Stadium, where she threw the ceremonial first pitch. Wright also became involved in the Greater New York chapter of the Als Association. (The Pride of the Yankees subject, Lou Gehrig, died of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in 1941.) The week she turned 82 in October 2000, Wright attended the 20th anniversary celebration of Somewhere in Time, where she posed for pictures with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. In March 2003, she was a guest at the 75th Academy Awards, in the segment showcasing Oscar-winning actors of the past. Two years later, »
- Andre Soares
In 2000, writer-director Michael Almereyda began his journey with William Shakespeare at the top, taking on “Hamlet” in his Ethan Hawke-starring adaptation set in in modern-day Manhattan. For his return to the Bard, however, Almereyda is bringing to the screen one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known, lesser-beloved plays, “Cymbeline.” The film uses Shakespeare’s original text, which tells the story of Cymbeline (a king in pre-Roman England, perhaps historical, perhaps legendary) and his daughter, Imogen, who marries the penniless Posthumus against her father’s wishes. In Almereyda’s version, which opens in select theaters Friday, Cymbeline is the kingpin of the Britons Motorcycle Club in a rundown, backwater American town. Here, the Roman foes are dirty cops, and a brutal turf war breaks out when Cymbeline (Ed Harris), at the urging of his wife (Milla Jovovich) refuses to honor an agreement with the police. Posthumus – here a skateboarding gang member – is played by Penn Badgley. »
- Emily Rome
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
The Killing, 1956.
Directed by Stanley Kubrick.
Seven men are intent on executing the perfect robbery and taking a racetrack for two million dollars. But nothing goes quite as planned…
Kubrick’s third feature was something of a make or break for him. Given what happened following its release that may sound somewhat ridiculous, but in the film world of the mid-1950’s Kubrick, even at the incredibly young age of 28, truly needed a project that would show off his clear-eyed vision and premium levels of creativity and storytelling. His previous two features, Fear and Desire (1953) and Killers Kiss (1955) (also included as an extra on this release) had met with limited success, both financial and critical. The master-waiting-to-happen had to have a project to really put everything at his disposal into. »
- Robert W Monk
'Cat People' 1942 actress Simone Simon Remembered: Starred in Jacques Tourneur's cult horror movie classic (photo: Simone Simon in 'Cat People') Pert, pouty, pretty Simone Simon is best remembered for her starring roles in Jacques Tourneur's cult horror movie Cat People (1942) and in Jean Renoir's French film noir La Bête Humaine (1938). Long before Brigitte Bardot, Mamie Van Doren, Ann-Margret, and (for a few years) Jane Fonda became known as cinema's Sex Kittens, Simone Simon exuded feline charm in a film career that spanned a quarter of a century. From the early '30s to the mid-'50s, she seduced men young and old on both sides of the Atlantic – at times, with fatal results. During that period, Simon was featured in nearly 40 movies in France, Italy, Germany, Britain, and Hollywood. Besides Jean Renoir, in her native country she worked for the likes of Jacqueline Audry »
- Andre Soares
Loretta Young films as TCM celebrates her 102nd birthday (photo: Loretta Young ca. 1935) Loretta Young would have turned 102 years old today. Turner Classic Movies is celebrating the birthday of the Salt Lake City-born, Academy Award-winning actress today, January 6, 2015, with no less than ten Loretta Young films, most of them released by Warner Bros. in the early '30s. Young, who began her film career in a bit part in the 1927 Colleen Moore star vehicle Her Wild Oat, remained a Warners contract player from the late '20s up until 1933. (See also: "Loretta Young Movies.") Now, ten Loretta Young films on one day may sound like a lot, but one should remember that most Warner Bros. -- in fact, most Hollywood -- releases of the late '20s and early '30s were either B Movies or programmers. The latter were relatively short (usually 60 to 75 minutes) feature films starring A (or B+) performers, »
- Andre Soares
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
20 items from 2015
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