16 items from 2015
Chinese director Diao Yinan delivered his international breakout with third feature Black Coal, Thin Ice. Amassing a number of accolades during its festival circuit run, it was the prestigious winner of the Golden Bear at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival (beating titles like Linklater’s Boyhood, Resnais’ Life of Riley, and Yann Demange’s ’71). Unfortunately, such prestigious honors didn’t translate into a distribution deal since Yinan’s film never made it to a Us theatrical release. Fans of hard boiled film noir, particularly of complex, labyrinthine and convoluted narrative structures should definitely enjoy Yinan’s supremely stylistic murder mystery.
In northern China 1999, the body parts of a man are discovered all over the province, including dumpsters and coal factories. Detective Zhang (Liao Fan) is consumed by his wife leaving him, which is where his focus seems to be when his investigative team thinks they’ve identified the men behind the murder. »
- Nicholas Bell
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
Gary Cooper movies on TCM: Cooper at his best and at his weakest Gary Cooper is Turner Classic Movies' “Summer Under the Stars” star today, Aug. 30, '15. Unfortunately, TCM isn't showing any Cooper movie premiere – despite the fact that most of his Paramount movies of the '20s and '30s remain unavailable. This evening's features are Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), Sergeant York (1941), and Love in the Afternoon (1957). Mr. Deeds Goes to Town solidified Gary Cooper's stardom and helped to make Jean Arthur Columbia's top female star. The film is a tad overlong and, like every Frank Capra movie, it's also highly sentimental. What saves it from the Hell of Good Intentions is the acting of the two leads – Cooper and Arthur are both excellent – and of several supporting players. Directed by Howard Hawks, the jingoistic, pro-war Sergeant York was a huge box office hit, eventually earning Academy Award nominations in several categories, »
- Andre Soares
It’s always a treat to hear what the Coen Brothers are up to. With their latest film Hail, Caesar! having just wrapped, it’s no surprise that the famous duo are looking for a new project. According to Deadline, the Coen Brothers are set to write and possibly direct an adaptation of Kenneth Millar’s crime novel Black Money (which he wrote under the pseudonym Ross Macdonald) for Warner Bros.
The novel itself is part of a series of crime stories centering on Lew Archer, a private detective working out of Southern California (think Philip Marlowe as played by Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep). In this story, Archer is hired by a man rejected by his girlfriend who wants Archer to investigate the man she has run off with, leading Archer into a world of money schemes. While having written many stories with Lew Archer as the main character, »
- Sarah Pearce Lord
A review of tonight's "True Detective" coming up just as soon as I manage an Applebee's... "After all, don't fight what you can't change." -Frank Among the many glaring problems of this season, one of the biggest has been the convoluted mystery at the center of it. In crafting a plot involving so many disparate characters, crimes, agendas and even eras, Nic Pizzolatto hasn't lacked for ambition this year, but the story has lacked any obvious reason for the audience to care about any of it. The show's struggle with characterization ties into this — if Frank had been a more successful character, for instance, I might have been curious about who caused him to lose his money and power, but as Vince Vaughn struggled to find his voice, it didn't feel worth the mental effort — but like Ray Velcoro, I spent a lot of the season's early chapters struggling to »
- Alan Sepinwall
Everything in Max Renn’s life is beginning to pulsate. First the Betamax videotape sent to him by one Bianca O’Blivion, which seems to breathe in his hand as he removes it from its beige packaging. Then Max’s television, squatting in the corner of his apartment, appears take on a life of its own: veins twitching, the screen bulging to the sound of a woman’s voice: “Come to me, Max. Come to me...”
David Cronenberg’s Videodrome, released in 1982, is loaded with violent and startling imagery like this. Like Apocalypse Now, its very narrative seems to disintegrate as its morally suspect protagonist Max Renn (James Woods) embarks on a journey into his own heart of darkness: a fascination with the origins of a video signal soon leads him to a world of corruption, »
There are few more evocative first lines in 20th-century American literature than that of James M. Cain's 1934 novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice. "They threw me off the hay truck about noon," begins the book's narrator, an amoral drifter named Frank Chambers. He soon finds himself near a roadside sandwich joint called the Twin Oaks Tavern, a spot that, Chambers says, is "like a million others in California." But bad things happen at this rural little diner — things like adultery, kinky sex and first-degree murder. The book's sinister series »
Written by Jules Furthman
Directed by Edmund Goulding
A carny cons his way up to high society through cold-reading and (un)timely circumstance. Based on that one-liner, who would you cast? If you say Tyrone Power, I’d say that my friend Stan Carlisle is on his way (The name Stan Carlisle being a con-industry handshake of sorts, informing one con-artist that he’s stepping in on another man’s con, or at least according to Eddie “The Czar of Noir” Muller’s introduction of this film at Tcmff). In Nightmare Alley, Tyrone Power, the 20th Century Fox matinee idol, plays a lowlife con man, who lies and cheats his way from a podunk carnival to becoming a spiritualist amongst the more gullible of Chicago’s upper crust. His character is also the namesake of the above con slang.
And any which way, yes, Tyrone Power »
- Diana Drumm
'Focus' movie: Will Smith has third weakest weekend box-office debut of his career (photo: Will Smith in 'Focus') According to those referred to in polite society as "conservatives," winter storms and freezing temperatures are evidence that there's no such thing as global warming. Let's not even go there. Instead, let's focus (bad pun intended) on the Focus movie starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie as a con couple, which opened below expectations – with wintery weather as a possible culprit – in North America this weekend, February 27-March 1, 2015. According to box-office tracking, as late as a couple of days ago Warner Bros.' modestly budgeted Focus was expected to take in between $22-24 million. Barring a miracle akin to a sudden halt to rising ocean temperatures (pardon the hyperbole), that's not about to happen. Now, before I proceed: "modestly budgeted"? Well, for a Will Smith movie, $50 million – after »
- Zac Gille
Robert Altman was a very quirky director, sometimes missing the mark, but oftentimes brilliant. His 1973 take on Raymond Chandler’s 1953 novel The Long Goodbye is a case in point. It might take a second viewing to appreciate what’s really going on in the film. Updating what is essentially a 1940s film noir character to the swinging 70s was a risky and challenging prospect—and Altman and his star, Elliott Gould as Philip Marlowe (!), pull it off.
It’s one of those pictures that critics hated when it was first released; and yet, by the end of the year, it was being named on several Top Ten lists. I admit that when I first saw it in 1973, I didn’t much care for it. I still wasn’t totally in tune with the kinds of movies Altman made—even after M*A*S*H, »
- email@example.com (Cinema Retro)
Then there is Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice starring Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Martin Short, Reese Witherspoon, Maya Rudolph, and Benicio Del Toro, plus a bevy of other game thespians. This adaptation has a contrary effect. It makes you want to hightail it to the incinerator with every Pynchon paperback you might own. Farewell, V. Sayonara, Gravity's Rainbow.
But before I get too critical, let me just note that this apparently was a project of love for Anderson. Anyone who would tackle Pynchon's verbiage and hope to get a slightly comprehensible screenplay out of it would only do so out of an illimitable devotion for the author. Anderson's chance of success, of course, »
- Brandon Judell
ETonline is paying tribute to the stars that passed away in the past year with our "Oscar: In Memoriam" fan art collection. Check out some of the highlights below and check back in on the Et Tumblr page for more.
Photos: In Memoriam: Stars We Lost In 2014
The legendary comedian committed suicide on August 11, 2014.
The inspirational author and poet passed away on May 28, 2014 at age 86.
News: Was Joan Rivers Snubbed in the 2015 GRAMMYs In Memoriam Segment?
The legendary comedian and fashion critic died at age 81 after complications during surgery on September 4, 2014.
The Maverick and Rockford »
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
Watching Paul Thomas Anderson’s wonderfully textured and intricate La-set Inherent Vice, you are easily reminded of the famous story about Howard Hawks’ version of The Big Sleep (1946). A baffled Hawks and his collaborators wrote to author Raymond Chandler asking whether a chauffeur in the story was murdered or had committed suicide and were gratified when Chandler wrote back saying he didn't "know either." »
Director Barry Levinson offers his thoughts on what’s behind the growing outcry for more diversity in Hollywood films.
Are we a racist country? Yes. But we are getting better. For certain. And while that battle for absolute equality is being played out, an odd controversy about the racial injustice in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has emerged. The Oscar nominations of 2015 are being questioned as racially prejudicial. There are those who say a black woman, who directed “Selma,” was overlooked because of racial bias, and the actor who played Martin Luther King Jr. was also overlooked because he was black. The film was nominated by the Academy, but these individuals were not. I would tend to agree with these accusations if I thought the Academy had a great record of selecting the best nominees each year, but they don’t. It is impossible to pass through a single awards season without hearing, »
- Barry Levinson
By Don Stradley
Charles Bronson was 55 at the time of “St Ives” (1976). He was just a couple years past his star-making turn in “Death Wish”, and was enjoying a surprising run of success. I say surprising because Bronson had, after all, been little more than a craggy second banana for most of his career. Now, inexplicably, he had box office clout as a leading man. In fact, Bronson reigned unchallenged for a few years as the most popular male actor in international markets. Yes, even bigger than Eastwood, Newman, Reynolds, Redford, or any other 1970s star you can name. Many of Bronson’s movies were partly financed by foreign investors, for even if his movies didn’t score stateside, they still drew buckets of money in Prague or Madrid. Some have suggested that his popularity on foreign screens was due to how little he said in his movies (there was »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Cinema Retro)
16 items from 2015
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