12 items from 2014
Chuck Workman’s latest bouquet to cinematic history, “Magician,” provides a solid overview of Orson Welles’ life and output. While little here will be news to cineastes, the mix of interviews and archival footage — particularly high-quality clips from the subject’s directorial features — should engage fans while providing a fine introduction for those whose knowledge doesn’t stretch beyond recognizing the words “Citizen Kane.” More a natural for ancillary formats (it’ll be a film-studies classroom perennial) than theatrical exposure, the documentary plans a theatrical launch on Dec. 12.
A straightforward, chronological approach in chaptered form starts with “1915-1941: The Boy Wonder,” charting Welles’ eccentric, transient childhood, and the thirst for artistic expression that led to adventuresome stage triumphs (like the all-black “Voodoo Macbeth”) in his early 20s. He also became a highly popular radio actor (notably as voice of “The Shadow” on that mystery serial), and it was in »
- Dennis Harvey
It's Tim. September marks the centennial of famed director Robert Wise, winner of Oscars for the musicals West Side Story and The Sound of Music among several other classic films, and the members of Team Experience are going to spend the next several days revisiting work from the entire range of his career. And what better place to start than at the very beginning: 1944's The Curse of the Cat People, which was Wise's directorial debut, taking over from Gunther V. Fritsch, when the project fell behind schedule. It's part of the legendary run of movies produced by Val Lewton's horror-oriented B-unit at Rko, a studio where Wise had already logged time as an editor (cutting both Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons, no less). But it's not, itself, a horror movie, despite being the sequel to Cat People, one of the canonically great horror films in history. And »
- Tim Brayton
Drew Barrymore half-sister Jessica Barrymore found dead near San Diego (photo: Jessica Barrymore) Drew Barrymore’s half-sister Jessica Barrymore was found dead in her car early Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in National City, located between San Diego and Chula Vista in Southern California. Jessica Barrymore (née Brahma [Jessica] Blyth Barrymore) would have turned 48 on Thursday, July 31. According to a witness, Jessica Barrymore, who worked at a Petco store, was found reclined in the driver’s seat, with a drink between her legs. White pills were seen scattered on the passenger seat. Despite online rags reporting either that Drew Barrymore’s half-sister committed suicide or died from a drug overdose, the official cause of death hasn’t been announced. As per the Los Angeles Times, an autopsy will be performed in the next few days. In a statement published in the gossip magazine People, Drew Barrymore, 39, said she had "only met her [sister Jessica] briefly." Their father was John Drew Barrymore, »
- Andre Soares
Sometimes it’s humiliating what the world has done with our film history. Horror stories abound about the poor preservation and disposal of film prints of movies like Lawrence of Arabia, and of course the more famous examples with Metropolis and The Magnificent Ambersons.
One historian is trying to rectify the legacy of another landmark film, Gone With the Wind. Peter Bonner, a historian and Gone With the Wind tour guide in Atlanta, recently came across the forgotten pieces to the movie set of Scarlett O’Hara’s famous plantation home “Tara”.
The set from the film was eventually dismantled, sold from Selznick Studios to Desi Arnaz and later shipped to Georgia, where it has now been rotting in storage for nearly three decades.
The Daily Mail reported on Sunday about Bonner’s efforts to restore the many pieces to Tara and make it available for tours. Bonner’s Facebook page, »
- Brian Welk
It is not too shabby in what the Northeast (New England) part of the United States has produced in terms of past and present actors/actresses making their show business dreams come true. Film careers can be a lot like ice cubes–they start out solid and cool but if you sit around in stagnation your efforts and hard work can melt away before one’s very eyes. Certainly no one can accuse this talented crop of thespians of being one-hit wonders on the big screen. After all, one does not become a recipient of an Academy Award by just sheer luck and charitable fortune.
As a native Bostonian and life long New Englander, I felt compelled to spotlight those Massachusetts-born and bred actors from the same region that had ultimate success on the big screen in winning the Oscar for their acting achievement and contribution to the motion picture industry. »
- Frank Ochieng
For the month of May, Twitch commemorates what would have been the great Orson Welles' 99th birthday by putting his career under the spotlight. In Full Disclosure, we take the filmography of a revered filmmaker each month and then select a film we have never seen before and assess it for the very first time. While none of our collective needed to strike Citizen Kane off their lists of shame this time around (many having already done so just last year), in the gallery below you can read some fresh thoughts on a wide selection of Welles' works, including Touch of Evil, The Magnificent Ambersons and The Lady From Shanghai. ...
[Read the whole post on twitchfilm.com...]
Twenty years ago today, Quentin Tarantino and Harvey Weinstein unveiled the filmmaker’s sophomore movie — an ambitious anthology of crime stories, all interconnected and metatextualized — at a late Saturday night screening at the Cannes Film Festival. A little over three hours later, as the crowd staggered out of the Palais des Festivals, they knew they had an audience favorite on their hands. Soon, they would be able to add Palme d’Or winner, Best Picture Oscar nominee, the first indie film to break the $100 million mark, a gamechanger and a modern classic to the list. »
Feature James Clayton 21 Feb 2014 - 06:09
Editors are a vital yet oft-overlooked part of filmmaking. James takes a closer look at the work of these mystery craftspeople...
Here's a pretty disturbing proposition for you to mentally chop down into easily digestible chunks - Lars Von Trier's Nymphomaniac makes its way into cinemas this week. The controversial Danish director's new ensemble movie revolves around the reminiscence of a sex addict named Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) who's found in the street by an academic (Stellan Skarsgård). Joe proceeds to tell him her personal story and the film plays out in flashbacks across different time periods, fleshed out by an array of well-known actors who engage themselves in graphic carnal activity.
This story first appeared in the Feb. 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. David O. Russell digs into a large canvas tote bag, yanking out books, CDs, notepads and pens, straining the seams of his black three-piece suit (one of five identical J.Crew suits he wears each day). There are DVDs of Orson Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons and Stanley Kramer's Guess Who's Coming to Dinner; a paperback called The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness, from the writings of Epictetus; a thank-you card from Russell's lawyer, Bruce Ramer; a half-finished
- Stephen Galloway
The cinema of Orson Welles is defined by compromise -- by funding lost, control wrested away, footage excised and eradicated.
With his debut film, Welles enjoyed unprecedented freedom and authority; his final one has languished uncompleted and unseen for nearly 40 years, embroiled to this day in legal controversy. History portrays his narrative as a strong man's grip gradually loosening. What ought to be remembered, and what's so extraordinary, is that the greatness of his art has survived these concessions: His films endure even as fragments of their author's original vision, from the incomplete historical sweep of The Magnificent Ambersons (a masterpiece undiminished by its studio-mandated elisions) to the maimed and malformed Touch of Evil (assembled p »
The inimitable Terence Davies gets his first Criterion treatment this month with his 1992 title, The Long Day Closes, a superb memory poem drenched in melancholy nostalgia. A follow-up to the much more dark and brutal Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988), Davies returns once more to the memoirs of a ravaged childhood, further expanded upon from his first three short films which comprised The Terence Davies Trilogy (1976-1984). Swimming freely between quiet fantasy sequences and recollections of free associations as we drift in and out of abandoned ramshackle buildings of the past like a restless spirit, there is a delicate and fragile longing in Davies’ second feature, a ruminative exploration absent from the pained dirge of his previous film.
- Nicholas Bell
Rabid fans who delight in the wretched excess — or, if you prefer, excessive wretchedness — of Lloyd Kaufman’s infamous Troma schlock factory will doubtless embrace “Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1” with all the fervent appreciation that a more conventional cinephile might reserve for a fully restored edition of “The Magnificent Ambersons.” Other viewers, especially those unaccustomed to Troma’s output, will likely be befuddled, repulsed, disgusted and/or painfully bored by this aggressively offensive and purposefully cheesy horror romp. Such over-the-top tastelessness is very much an acquired taste, although the Troma fanbase conceivably could push the pic into profit.
The term “freewheeling” does not begin to describe the slapdash, anything-goes quality of the screenplay co-written by Troma mogul Kaufman, who returned to the director’s chair for the first time in eight years to oversee this kinda-sorta sequel to his 1986 “Class of Nuke ‘Em High.” The original film — which »
- Joe Leydon
12 items from 2014
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