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Cinematographer Wally Pfister, in the midst of filming his feature directorial debut, “Transcendence,” enjoys some distinct advantages in his new role: One of his executive producers is Christopher Nolan, with whom he has collaborated exclusively, dating back to the director’s breakthrough film “Memento”; the star of his sci-fi movie is worldwide box office magnet Johnny Depp; Pfister’s picture will be released by Hollywood’s biggest studio, Warner Bros., and he was empowered with the kind of budget — approximately $100 million — few first-timers are afforded.
But those advantages are freighted with the expectations and pressures that come with such a large-scale endeavor. Besides, remarkably few directors of photography have successfully made a longterm transition to helming features. Among those, a mere handful — George Stevens, Barry Sonnenfeld and Jan de Bont among them — have enjoyed critical and commercial success. And only one, Nicolas Roeg, could be seen as a unique stylist whose creative stamp is unmistakable. »
- Steve Chagollan
Review by Sam Moffitt
Life and Death of Colonel Blimp is one of those films I have read and heard about for years, and finally got to see. How nice to see a legendary “great film” and see it live up to, and in many ways surpass, its reputation. First a little back ground.
The Archers is one of the most honored and respected film production companies in the history of the cinema. Based in England, most of their films were produced, written and directed by two men, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. Some of their films I have been familiar with for years, the incredible Black Narcissus. The equally incredible Red Shoes, one of the most honored, studied and dissected films ever made. College courses have been made around this one film, the Red Shoes, and it seems to be required viewing for anyone who dances or wants to dance ballet. »
- Movie Geeks
Xan Brooks's account of his emotional engagement with Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's A Canterbury Tale (A pilgrim's progress, Review, 10 August) captures beautifully what many feel about this evocative film. Unfortunately, he plays down two important elements that make the film what it is. Most important is the contribution of Pressburger, who was much more than Powell's "regular collaborator", but a full partner in all departments except directing on this and 16 other features.
Having organised the first full retrospective of their work for the BFI, I can testify that they considered the film a "failure", but were gratified when the BBC's restoration of the truncated original premiered to acclaim at the Nft in 1978. Emeric later introduced the film at MoMA in New York and spoke about trying to create the conditions for "magic" to happen on screen – his contribution shouldn't be downgraded. The other vital ingredient was the non-professional Sgt John Sweet, »
Women in Film: Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner, and dozens of movie actresses in curious morphing montage A few dozen top international female movie stars, most of them Hollywood celebrities, are seen in the Women in Film morphing montage below created by Philip Scott Johnson. The faces belong to actresses from the 1910s to the early 21st century. (Image: The ‘Daughter’ of Marilyn Monroe and Ava Gardner — who sort of looks like a cross between Eleanor Parker and Cyd Charisse as well — in the Women in Film morphing montage.) Just as interesting as trying to identify each of the famous faces is stopping the video while the morphing is going on, so you get Daughter of Marilyn Monroe and Ava Gardner, or Daughter of Audrey Hepburn and Dorothy Dandridge, or Daughter of Michelle Pfeiffer and Sigourney Weaver. Some of those Daughters are quite pretty; others look like they’ve just landed on this planet. »
- Andre Soares
James Mangold's "The Wolverine" -- the sixth installment in the X-Men franchise -- hits theaters on July 26. Critics are all over the map on this Japan-set entry; Variety calls the film "smart... and surprisingly existential" and praises jacked lead Hugh Jackman for being in top form, while the Telegraph claims the film is coming five years too late in the superhero film craze: "It affects a pubescent snarl." More review highlights below. Mangold ("Walk the Line," "3:10 to Yuma") has named Roman Polanski's "Chinatown," Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's "Black Narcissus," William Friedkin's "The French Connection" and Yasujiro Ozu's "Floating Weeds" among his inspirations for making "The Wolverine." Our Comic-Con interview with him is here. Variety:The Marvel team has recast the Incredible Hulk three times in recent years, but when it comes to their most popular hothead, Wolverine, there’s only one actor fit to wear »
- Beth Hanna
Director James Mangold and Hugh Jackman's first collaboration was 12 years ago, on the romantic comedy "Kate & Leopold." Jackman starred as a time traveler from 19th century England who falls in love with a businesswoman, played by Meg Ryan. Their latest is "The Wolverine," which takes its cues from samurai movies and "Black Narcissus," for starters.
Then again, it stands to reason that a director like Mangold, whose credits include "Girl, Interrupted," "Walk the Line," and "3:10 to Yuma," would not make a run-of-the-mill comic-book movie. It has as many subtitles as it does action sequences, and Wolverine's closest ally is a young woman with cherry Kool-Aid colored hair named Yukio (Rila Fukushima), who, thankfully, never strips down to a school girl's uniform. In short, this is an unexpected superhero movie.
Mangold met with Moviefone in New York City during an exhausting press tour seemingly fueled by the flat whites at Jackman's Laughing Man Coffee. »
- Jenni Miller
James Mangold has been promoting his take on The Wolverine as something very different from the usual Cbm, comparing it to classic movies as diverse and interesting as The Outlaw Josey Wales and Black Narcissus. He's promised us a unique superhero experience, hinting at inner turmoil and conflict as opposed to the usual "big bad" formula -- and, for the most part, that's what he's delivered. The Wolverine does have some obvious connections to past (and future) X-Men movies but basically this is a standalone story. Based (at times very loosely) on Chris Claremont's "Japan Saga", we find Logan living in the Canadian mountains; a tortured, violent man still haunted by the death of his beloved Jean Grey. When a group of hunters leave an animal to die in pain he ventures back into civilization to take revenge, only to encounter Yukio (Rila Fukushima) who convinces him to travel »
Jackson Ball presents his five essential Powell and Pressburger films...
The history of cinema isn’t short of great filmmaking duos. The Coen brothers, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne and the Wachowskis are just a few examples of partnerships behind the camera. However, there have been few duos that have influenced the film industry quite like Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.
Having met in 1935, the pair would go on to make over twenty films together, almost all of which saw them sharing the writing, producing and directing credits. Much of Powell and Pressburger’s work went underappreciated in its time, but would end up inspiring a whole generation of filmmakers later on (avid fans include Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola).
Here are a handful of their most significant contributions to cinematic history…
5. The Tales of Hoffmann (1951)
Based on a classic French Opera, The Tales of Hoffman displays Powell and Pressburger »
- Flickering Myth
We're almost done with these quickie surveys of my favorites and yours from decades past. Herewith the 1940s which I hesitated jotting down as there are more classics from this decade that I haven't seen than in arguably any other. If I keep waiting until I've watched everything it would never be posted. In truth, I need a project which forces me to fully deal with the gaps in my 40s viewing. A pleasurable project it would be, surely. But for now, off the top of my list-manic head....
Black Narcissus (1947)
01 The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
02 Casablanca (1943)
03 The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
04 Meet Me in St Louis (1944)
05 Double Indemnity (1944)
06 Black Narcissus (1947)
07 Citizen Kane (1941)
08 Notorious (1946)
09 It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
10 Gilda (1946)
with apologies to other greats
Rope (1948), The Heiress »
- NATHANIEL R
Blu-ray & DVD Release Date: June 4, 2013
Price: DVD $24.99, Blu-ray $34.99
Studio: Cohen Film Collection/Entertainment One
Judy (Swanson) and Nicholas (Olivier) are a young society couple who marry based on the “perfect understanding” that they will be allowed to enjoy extramarital adventures and never let jealousy come between them.
That arrangement is soon put to the test when a drunk Nicholas sleeps with a former lover (Nora Swinburne, TV’s The Forsythe Saga). When he returns to Judy, he is guilt-ridden and confesses his indiscretion. Judy forgives him, but Nicholas is soon battling his own feelings of jealousy when he comes to believe that Judy has slept with an old friend of hers (John Halliday, »
The newly restored print of Joseph L. Mankiewicz's Cleopatra will have its world premiere as an official selection of Cannes Classics at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival on May 21. The next day it will open for a limited theatrical engagement in more than 200 theaters around the world, followed by a Blu-ray release on May 28. Today a trailer has been released showing off the new restoration. Back in 2011 I caught a screening of Cleopatra in its original 70mm format at Seattle's Cinerama and for all its flaws, it's a film I actually enjoy, perhaps just as much for what's on screen as for the story behind its making. As I wrote in October of 2011: The production, which cost a reported $44 million to produce (about $325.7 million today), is still considered the most expensive movie in history based on inflation (though, depending on what calculator you use, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End »
- Brad Brevet
A new poster for The Wolverine has arrived and according to IMPAwards the characters on either side of the top of the poster stand for "Death" and "Life". At this point I really don't know what to expect from this film considering the list of ten films that apparently inpsired director James Mangold while he was in the process of making the film and then the trailers, which didn't exactly scream out Floating Weeds and Black Narcissus. I understand the end product is one thing and the marketing is another, but what exactly is this new poster for the film saying to you about what to expect? Is there a point where the message can become so conflicted the end result is simply a mess? The Wolverine hits theaters on July 26. »
- Brad Brevet
Beyond the Hills
Directed by Cristian Mungiu
Written by Cristian Mungiu
Dreadful anticipation, the kind that most mainstream horror films strive for and fail to achieve, permeates every second of Beyond the Hills, a new film from Romanian writer-director Cristian Mungiu. The film, a patient, uneasy drama about the nature and presence of evil set against the backdrop of a small Romanian monastery and its newest member, grows more and more disturbing as its players go to the extremes to banish out the perceived other from their would-be purified community. Though Beyond the Hills has a too-slow first act, on the whole, the film is quietly devastating.
Cosmina Stratan plays Voichiţa, a young woman ensconced in that monastery since leaving an orphanage where she spent her childhood. As Beyond the Hills opens, she picks up her old friend from the orphanage, Alina (Cristina Flutur), so they can live out »
- Josh Spiegel
Feature James Clayton 5 Apr 2013 - 06:36
The release of Spring Breakers leaves James pondering the loss of childhood innocence in the movies...
I love the smell of corrupted innocence in the morning. It smells like victory, and that's a victory that's shared by all parties. The corrupted ex-innocents are happy (they're finally free to embrace their dark side), the corrupting influences are happy (they've achieved their objective) and the audience is happy.
You may protest, but I put it to you that your pious position is all pretence and that you're in a denial. In spite of enthusiastic public support for 'the good' and for purity, really, everyone is rooting for the dark side to do well.
People are perverse and genuinely prefer it when the nasty, the sinister or the unpalatable powers through and pollutes proceedings. Look deep inside yourself and you'll realise that you do want to trek into darkness, »
Before the legendary British filmmaking duo of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger lensed the classics The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus or A Matter of Life & Death, they raised quite a stir with their life long tale of an aging army officer, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. The directors were working as hired guns on British war propaganda films in the midst of World War II when they started work on the picture. Featuring the well-known British cartoon icon created by David Low, Colonel Blimp was a satirical symbol of low brow soldiery and politics of the time, and when Powell and Pressburger decided to recast the character as Clive Candy, placed by the amorphous Roger Livesey, and have him befriend a German soldier, a sworn enemy of the state at the time, British officials, including Winston Churchill himself, were outraged and tried desperately to dissuade the film’s completion. »
- Jordan M. Smith
It’s been hard to come by actual information about the X-Men spinoff/rebootquel The Wolverine, unless you’re the kind of film geek who thinks it’s exciting that director James Mangold apparently thinks the movie has some kind of thematic connection to Black Narcissus. But we’re about to learn more about the next Hugh Jackman solo adventure. Mangold tweeted that he will share a sneak peak of the Wolverine teaser trailer on March 26th, followed by a full teaser online on the 27th.
To tide you over for the next week, 20th Century Fox just released an »
- Darren Franich
Cristian Mungiu's prize-winning film is a powerful and sombre meditation on faith and friendship in present-day Romania
Eight years ago the appearance of Cristi Puiu's The Death of Mr Lazarescu, a stoical, grimly funny story about the ghastly legacy of the Ceausescu regime, won a major prize at Cannes. It was soon followed by Cristian Mungiu's 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days, which won the Palme d'Or at Cannes and seemed to confirm that something remarkable was happening in the Romanian cinema. Now, after a longish wait, Mungiu has made another feature, Beyond the Hills, a painful and exacting picture that confirms his position as a film-maker of the first rank.
4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days was set during a single wintry afternoon and evening in 1987 during the rule of Ceausescu and centres around two female students sharing a room in a bleak university dormitory. One is blond, honest, self-sacrificing, the other dark-haired, »
- Philip French
During this papal interregnum, the best source of Vatican news is coming from South Philly blogger Rocco Palmo, whose blog reportedly is the go-to site for news and gossip about papal succession. When it comes to films about the church, I’m partial to nun films ("The Nun’s Story," "The Sound of Music," "The Trouble With Angels," "Therese," "Black Narcissus") than pope movies, because the pontiff is usually a distant authoritarian rather than a fleshed-out character. Still, I have some favorite film popes, including, improbably, John Goodman as Pope Sergius in "Pope Joan" (the 2009 movie starring Johanna Wokaluk as the 9th-century woman who, though Vatican historians say it never happened, according to legend posed as a male, and was elevated to pope). As Pope Joan, Wokaluk says something to the effect that women are superior to men because Eve ate the apple for the love of knowledge and Adam »
- Carrie Rickey
Our weekly round up of all the latest stories from the world of screen superheroes, including Justice League and the DC Movie Universe, Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, The Avengers 2, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 4, Ghost Rider, The Wolverine, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Aka Jessica Jones, S.H.I.E.L.D., Arrow, Marvel's Avengers Assemble, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., Green Lantern: The Animated Series, Young Justice, Superman: Unbound and more...
With Marvel dominating the majority of superhero movie headlines lately, DC fans had something to shout about this week as the internet exploded with a new rumour that Warner Bros. has tapped The Dark Knight Trilogy mastermind Christopher Nolan to spearhead its fledgling DC movie universe. According to a report from rumour-maestro El Mayimbe of Latino Review, Nolan is »
- Flickering Myth
Movie: The Wizard of Oz Release Year: 1939 Studio: MGM Director: Victor Fleming, George Cukor (uncredited), Mervyn LeRoy (uncredited), Norman Taurog (uncredited) and King Vidor (uncredited director of the Kansas scenes) Starring: Judy Garland as Dorothy, Frank Morgan as Professor Marvel, The Wizard of Oz, The Gatekeeper, The Carriage Driver and The Guard, Ray Bolger as 'Hunk' and The Scarecrow, Bert Lahr as 'Zeke' and The Cowardly Lion, Jack Haley as 'Hickory' and The Tin Man, Billie Burke as Glinda, Margaret Hamilton as Miss Gulch and The Wicked Witch of the West, Charley Grapewin as Uncle Henry, Pat Walshe as Nikko, Clara Blandick as Auntie Em, Terry as Toto and The Singer Midgets as The Munchkins Cinematographer: Harold Rosson (Singin' in the Rain, The Asphalt Jungle) Note: Today's entry is running as a contribution to Nathaniel's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" series at TheFilmExperience where several others have »
- Brad Brevet
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