10 items from 2015
We spend years viewing the world through the eyes of a child before abandoning it. Not the world, that is—but we grow into players in the game of Life, rub our heavy eyelids, and take to ever-trippy existence from a heightened perspective in which our formative fears and fantasies are filtered through a scope less blurry, unadulterated. And then in doing so we leave a little something behind. For a grown-up to be considered “childish” comes with more negative connotations than posi, but to retain one’s inner child is a paramount strength. So what is the difference?Theodore Geisel, also known under the pseudonym Dr. Seuss, authored the most celebrated children’s literature of his time. He presented generations upon generations whimsical visions which, in proper auteur style, require just a single glance to recognize as work of his. Geisel’s simply-worded fables were praised for encouraging youth »
- Oliver Skinner
★★★★☆ The technicolor mastery of the films of Powell and Pressburger is legendary. It is a hallmark of their oeuvre, a signpost of their significance. Add to that a mastery of technical, dramatic film construction and you find yourself in the presence of twentieth century icons. Such is the nature that surrounds this directorial duo who rose to prominence in the forties and fifties. Following hot on the heels of Black Narcissus (1947) and The Red Shoes (1948), they adapted The Tales of Hoffman (1951), based on Jacques Offenbach's fantastical opera. Building on the musical and fantastical themes of these earlier films, it arrived in an era that can be noted for its high output of musical films.
- CineVue UK
Cinderella hits UK this Friday. A traditional take on the classic fairy tale, Kenneth Branagh directs Downton Abbey‘s Lily James as the titular heroine. The film is a true live adaptation of Disney‘s iconic cartoon and features a plethora of fine actors and actresses, most of them British. Kenneth Branagh’s name on the directors chair obviously helped get a few to sign the dotted line; the film stars Richard Madden, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Derek Jacobi and Stellan Skarsgard to name but a few.
Ahead of Cinderella’s cinematic release (which feature new Frozen short film Frozen Fever) we were invited to the luxurious Claridges to attend a very special press conference. We felt just like Cinderella as we walked through the historic building. There were many questions that people were dying to ask, but we had but one – had Prince Kit not learned anything from Rob Stark’s marital choices? »
- Kat Smith
Above: French poster by Boris Grinsson for You’ll Never Get Rich (Sidney Lanfield, USA, 1941).In the new edition of Film Comment, out this week, I write about British airbrush artist Philip Castle and his iconic poster for Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. The other man behind that poster, aside from Kubrick himself, was producer, director and writer Mike Kaplan who, at the time, was Kubrick’s marketing guru.Kaplan, who has been collecting movie posters, as well as art directing them, for 35 years, is a tireless proselytizer for the art form and his latest project is a labor of love and a pure delight. Gotta Dance! The Art of the Dance Movie Poster, a book he wrote and curated, was born out of a touring exhibition of his own personal collection that he has been exhibiting around the country for the past few years. Its latest stop is »
- Adrian Curry
The Tales of Hoffmann, 1951.
An opera, Hoffmann tells of his romantic history with three beautiful women; Olympia, Giulietta and Antonia
“I have to say”, says director Michael Powell prior to working on The Tales of Hoffmann, “I didn’t know much about the opera”. That makes both of us Mr Powell. On Extended Run at the BFI this month is the Technicolor triptych-narrative, The Tales of Hoffmann. Released in 1951, this was made three years after Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s celebrated masterpiece The Red Shoes. Rather than incorporating dance into a story, Powell and Pressburger decided to adapt a full performance in its entirety, presenting an epic story of romance, lost-love and tragedy.
In the interval of a ballet, Hoffmann (Robert Rounseville) regales a crowd with talk of his previous exploits. Drunkenly holding court, »
- Simon Columb
Editor Thelma Schoonmaker, who has collected three Oscars (“The Aviator,” “Raging Bull” and “The Departed") shares with Martin Scorsese, her collaborator on 22 movies over three decades, an infectious enthusiasm for the movies she loves. Last week I got on the phone with her in Taiwan, which Ang Lee suggested to Scorsese as a location for shooting “Silence,” which is set in 17th century Japan. They’ve been shooting for almost a month. I told her that when I was working for editor Richard Corliss at Film Comment Magazine in the early 80s, British director Michael Powell submitted via mail his typed Guilty Pleasures manuscript. “Marty probably put him up to that,” Schoonmaker said. I adore Powell and his writer-producer partner Emeric Pressburger’s output in the 40s and 50s, from the stunning color masterpieces “The Red Shoes,” “Black Narcissus,” and “The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp” to the black-and-white »
- Anne Thompson
Last year proved to be an extraordinary one for feature-length documentaries about art and artists. 2014 saw the release of Tim’S Vermeer (a holdover from 2013), For No Good Reason, Jodorowsky’S Dune, all dealing with masters of pen, ink, and brush while Life, Itself explored the writing of Roger Ebert and Glen Campbell: I’LL Be Me offered an intimate portrait of the acclaimed musician. Barely two months into 2015, we’re now treated to an exceptional film which immerses us into the world of classic dance. Now, the ballet has been the backdrop for many classic dramatic films, from the fantasy world of The Red Shoes to the psychological terror of Black Swan. But there’s little back stage melodrama here. Director Jody Lee Lipes let’s us peek behind the curtain, past the tights and tutus for the sweat, strain, and stress for Ballet 422.
So, what’s with the number? »
- Jim Batts
“Made in England” is how Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger finally stamped their unworldly, otherworldly Tales of Hoffmann from 1951, an adaptation of the Jacques Offenbach opera, which is now on rerelease. It actually negated English and British cinema’s reputation for stolid realism. This is a hothouse flower of pure orchidaceous strangeness, enclosed in the studio’s artificial universe, fusing cinema, opera and ballet. It is sensual, macabre, dreamlike and enigmatic: like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In his autobiography, Powell recalls talking to a United Artists executive after the New York premiere, who said to him, wonderingly: “Micky, I wish it were possible to make films like that … ” A revealing choice of words. It was as if »
- Peter Bradshaw
Ballet adds a surreal, creepy quality to many films and tv shows. Here are 12 of the most unsettling...
Ballet is not natural. Dancers perform exhausting routines with legs and feet turned out to bizarre angles, arms held just to the point where they really start to hurt (that’s when you know you’re doing it right), backs bending to angles of 90° and more, limbs held stock still while balancing on their toes, in bodies mathematically maintained in a state that contains absolutely not an ounce of fat but can sustain two or three hours of jumping and running around.
And then the female dancers add to all this by putting their entire weight on the points of their toes, feet bruising and bleeding, nails cracking, and the male »
Arts critics tend to get a rough time of it in the movies. Even looking at this year's awards season hopefuls, Birdman casts a wonderfully scabrous Lindsay Duncan as a theatre critic who is determined to kill the hero's play, and Mr. Turner presents John Ruskin as a lisping, pretentious fop, a representation that has led some to take mild umbrage.
To look even further back, at Ratatouille's sneering Anton Ego, or Lady In The Water's film-savvy 'straw critic', or Theatre Of Blood's gleefully murderous tract, there's not a whole lot of love for critics in film. Any of this might give way to the preconception that critics, especially film critics, don't actually like films and that they're out of touch with both the filmmakers whose works they »
10 items from 2015
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