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Carping at surprise best picture contenders is a favorite indoor sport among many Oscar mavens. (Confidently handicapping the field and getting picks wrong is their second favorite.)
Some controversies have legs that lasted decades. 1968 outrage over the muscled-out “2001: A Space Odyssey” may even be greater now that the Kubrick epic’s legendary status is sealed. Jaws still drop to discover “North by Northwest” was edged out by “The Nun’s Story” and “African Queen” was pushed aside for “Quo Vadis.”
“Huh?” moments — as in, “They named ‘Ivanhoe’ instead of ‘Singin’ in the Rain?’ ” — are legion, although that bizarre turn of events in 1952, when Robert Taylor’s medieval muddle knocked out Gene Kelly’s timeless tuner, remains a low-water mark for many veteran Oscar watchers.
- Bob Verini
This film is at its very core a success story. A very demented, gory, horrifying and darkly comical success story – one with tinges of satanic cult horror wrapped in psychological terror. The plot follows a young aspiring actress, Sarah, as she is called back to audition for a horror film that is being produced by a mysterious production company that pushes her to her limits – a dark exchange for fame and fortune.
The film works as much as comedy as it does multiple kinds of horror. The well-executed pitch of heightened reality that co-writers/directors Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer achieve allow them to play each scene for maximum thrills, scares and laughs. Even at the most grotesque moments of body horror, you can’t help but laugh in shock at what you’re witnessing. You’re laughing because you’re horrified, »
- Dylan Griffin
It's that time of year again and it's time to update the list for the second half of 2014 as Barnes & Noble has just kicked off their 50% off Criterion sale and as impossible a task as it is to cut things down to just a few titles, I have done my best to break Criterion's titles down into a few categories. Hopefully those looking for box sets, specific directors or what I think are absolute musts will find this makes things a little bit easier. Let's get to it... First Picks I was given the Zatoichi collection for Christmas last year and being a collection that holds 25 films and another disc full of supplementary material it is the absolute definition of a must buy when it comes to the Criterion Collection. It is, once again, on sale for $112.49, half off the Msrp of $224.99, and worth every penny. I spent the entire year going through it. »
- Brad Brevet
10. Deliverance (1972)
Scene: Squeal Like a Piggy
Word to the wise: just because someone plays a mighty fine banjo, it doesn’t mean he or any of his kin should be invited to your family picnic. Based on the James Dickey novel of the same name, Deliverance follows four businessmen as they decide to spend a weekend canoeing down a fictional river before it needs to be flooded. Lewis (Burt Reynolds) leads the crew as the most experienced, followed closely by Ed (Jon Voight). The two novices Bobby and Drew (Ned Beatty, Ronny Cox) also join them. So, in remote Georgia, the four men set out to take in the beauty of nature. Before setting off, they come across a group of mountain men, all of which appear to be inbred. Drew engages in a banjo duet with one of the teenagers, but he doesn’t »
- Joshua Gaul
By Anjelica Oswald
Hollywood films portraying the world — including the troubled side — of show business have garnered best picture nominations for years. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) could be a serious Oscar contender and features Michael Keaton as a former film star known for his portrayal of a superhero named Birdman. He attempts to renew his career by writing, directing and performing in a Broadway play. The film hit theaters Friday. Here are ten best picture Oscar-nominated films about show business (in chronological order):
1. The Red Shoes (1948)
The film is a tragic story about a young ballet dancer (Moira Shearer) who is forced to choose between her future dance career and the composer she falls in love with. The film was nominated for five Oscars and won two.
2. All About Eve (1950)
Anne Baxter stars as Eve, an aspiring, conniving actress who »
- Anjelica Oswald
Best British movies of all time? (Image: a young Michael Caine in 'Get Carter') Ten years ago, Get Carter, starring Michael Caine as a dangerous-looking London gangster (see photo above), was selected as the United Kingdom's very best movie of all time according to 25 British film critics polled by Total Film magazine. To say that Mike Hodges' 1971 thriller was a surprising choice would be an understatement. I mean, not a David Lean epic or an early Alfred Hitchcock thriller? What a difference ten years make. On Total Film's 2014 list, published last May, Get Carter was no. 44 among the magazine's Top 50 best British movies of all time. How could that be? Well, first of all, people would be very naive if they took such lists seriously, whether we're talking Total Film, the British Film Institute, or, to keep things British, Sight & Sound magazine. Second, whereas Total Film's 2004 list was the result of a 25-critic consensus, »
- Andre Soares
Cinematography festival to present retrospective on the innovative British film-making duo, attended by Oscar-winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker.
The film festival that celebrates cinematography, held in the Polish city of Bydgoszcz, will be attended by Powell’s wife and three-time Oscar-winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker as well as film scholars and Powell-Pressburger experts Erich Sargeant and Ian Christie.
Films of the due set to be screened at Camerimage include:
- email@example.com (Michael Rosser)
Thelma Schoonmaker was at the Venice Film Festival today to accept the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. She was also on the Lido to present a restored version of her late husband Michael Powell’s The Tales Of Hoffman. I sat down with Martin Scorsese‘s longtime Oscar-winning editor for a chat this morning overlooking a raging Adriatic Sea. Our conversation ranged from two of the most important men in her life, to the controversy surrounding The Wolf Of Wall Street, the ways digital editing is changing the business, and getting ready for Scorsese’s passion project Silence.
Schoonmaker, who first edited a Scorsese film with Who’s That Knocking At My Door in 1967, and has cut each of his movies since Raging Bull, also works with the director to see Powell’s films restored and the word spread about the helmer of such classics as The Red Shoes, The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp »
- Nancy Tartaglione
Following a campaign by leading film directors getting Hollywood studios to accept a film stock quota in order to avert closure of the beleaguered Kodak factory, the good news was relayed that a deal had been struck and the operation will remain open for the foreseeable future. Yet a permanent shift to digital is only just around the corner and with that in mind a true heavyweight of the medium (and Chair of the Film Foundation) Martin Scorsese has weighed in using a typically eloquent turn of phrase.
Anyone who has seen one of his fascinating documentaries, such as A Personal Journey Through American Movies or read about his championing of the works of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (The Red Shoes), much less watched his films themselves, will know Scorsese has been steeped in cinema from an early age. Who better to mount a short but heartfelt defence of »
- Steve Palace
Barnes & Noble has just kicked off their 50% off Criterion sale and while it's impossible to suggest titles that will suit everyone looking to beef up their collection at this perfect time of year, I will do my best to offer some suggestions. Let's get to it... My Absolute First Pick I am almost done going through this collection and it was a collection I got for Christmas under these exact circumstances. Typically priced at $224.99, you can now get this amazing set of 25 Zatoichi films for only $112. Box sets, in my opinion, are what sales like this were made for. Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman Next Ten Recommendations It isn't easy so this is a collection of just some of my favorite films (of all-time and within the collection) and a little variety, though pretty much my standard, go to Criterion first picks, especially if you are just starting out. Persona Breathless »
- Brad Brevet
One of this year's best indies Test is about a young understudy dancer in San Francisco. Though it's only made a teensy bit of money in a microscopic theatrical run (that's happening to more and more indies) at one point it climbed to the top 15 on iTunes' indie chart.
Test's dance troupe at rehearsal
It's a topic for another time perhaps but I wonder how far we are away from box office reports that include money from On Demand and iTunes now that so many films hit all three venues at once or in quick succession?
The following are unused excerpts (edited for length) from my Towleroad interview last week with Chris Mason Johnson the director. I thought they were well suited to you cinephile savvy musical-friendly nuts anyway. It's rare that we get such attentively filmed and beautiful dancing onscreen so I had to ask him about the »
- NATHANIEL R
A few movies would venture into portraying the AIDs scare amongst the homosexual community of the 1980s.
The film is set around the free-spirited San Francisco of 1985 as it follows a young dancer in a modern dance company who must deal with the fear of disease, homophobia, effeminophobia during that period. And his ultimate escapism was through the music and dance.
The dance drama was on the film festival circuit for some time and won two grand jury prizes at Outfest.
Latino-Review had an exclusive phone interview with director Chris Mason Johnson last week. We discussed about the AIDs epidemic of the 1980s, homophobia, and the changes for gay cinema through the years.
“Test” is currently in theaters »
- Gig Patta
1. The term "gaslight." The Ingrid Bergman thriller "Gaslight" -- released 70 years ago this week, on May 4, 1944, wasn't the original use of the title. There was Patrick Hamilton's 1938 play "Gas Light," retitled "Angel Street" when it came to Broadway a couple years later. And there was a British film version in 1939, starring Anton Walbrook (later the cruel impresario in "The Red Shoes") and Diana Wynyard.
Still, the glossy 1944 MGM version remains the best-known telling of the tale, with the title an apparent reference to the flickering Victorian lamps that are part of Gregory's (Charles Boyer) scheme to make wife Paula (Bergman) think she's seeing things that aren't there, thus deliberately undermining her sanity in order to have her institutionalized so that he'll be free to ransack the ancestral home to find the missing family jewels.
This version of Hamilton's tale was so popular that it made the word "gaslight"into a verb, »
- Gary Susman
Feature Ryan Lambie 30 Apr 2014 - 06:27
Five years after James Cameron's Avatar appeared in cinemas, we look back at its hype, its critical backlash, and how it holds up today...
Before 1960, director Michael Powell was one of the UK’s most respected directors, with a string of acclaimed films to his name, among them A Matter Of Life Or Death, The Red Shoes and Black Narcissus. Then Powell made Peeping Tom, and the critical backlash ruined him.
An intimate character study of a serial killer made at a time when such things were entirely out of the ordinary in British cinema, Peeping Tom was savaged by UK film critics, and it took a full decade for Powell’s film to be reappraised; the likes of Martin Scorsese and Robert Ebert championed Peeping Tom, but their admiration arrived entirely too late to save Powell’s filmmaking career, which was never the »
Director Jody Lee Lipes delivers an exhilarating third feature with “Ballet 422,” tracing the two-month creation of a new work by New York City Ballet dancer/choreographer Justin Peck. Sampling various stages of the process from initial conception through rehearsals to premiere performance, the documentary moves with the same fluidity that characterizes Peck’s choreography. Himself a noted cinematographer, Lipes captures the dancers, musicians, costumers and lighting designers from a variety of angles within the larger canvas, always suggesting kinetic movement continuing beyond the frame. A delight for balletophiles, the film reps a beautifully crafted entree into the intricacies of collective endeavor.
Lipes makes films about artists at work (“Brock Enright: Good Times Will Never Be the Same,” “NY Export: Opus Jazz,”), and “Ballet 422” focuses on the 25-year-old Peck as he conceives and shapes his third choreographed piece for Nycb, “Paz de la Jolla.” Expectations run high, given the »
- Ronnie Scheib
Martin Scorsese knows a thing or two about taking risks—there aren't many 71-year-old directors who stake their reputation on 3-hour depictions of orgiastic financial crime, or on similarly lengthy children's films about the earliest days of cinema and the internal politics of large train stations. But Marty does, so he seems a good person to ask about risk-taking in cinema, which is exactly what he does in this series of videos, dissecting briefly seven of his favourite risky directing decisions, from the very well-known—the risks Orson Welles took making “Citizen Kane”—and Scorsese's own well-established favourites, including the startling brilliance of Powell and Pressburger's “The Red Shoes,” a film whose directors Scorsese has spent much of his career boosting. But Scorsese also takes in lesser-known names. William Friese-Greene, for one, is not a name on many people's lips, but Scorsese as the consummate cinema historian knows all »
- Ben Brock
I only recently came across the posters of German artist Boris Streimann (1908-1984)—who was known to also sign his work as B. Namir—and was immediately struck by both the dynamism and the color of his work. The author of hundreds, if not thousands, of posters from the late 20s through the late 60s, Streimann loved diagonals. All of the posters I have selected— the best of his work that I could find—work off a strong diagonal line, with even his varied and very inventive title treatments (which could have been the work of another designer) often placed on an angle. On top of the sheer energy and movement of his posters, his use of color is extraordinary: brash and expressionistic like his brushwork. I especially love the multi-colored accordion in Port of Freedom, the loin cloth in Tabu, and »
- Adrian Curry
The Criterion Collection has just released a new filmmaker top ten and this time it's Martin Scorsese getting the honors and he has quite a lot to say about each. The list includes obvious titles such as The Red Shoes, 8 1/2, The Leopard, Ashes and Diamonds and others as they were all on his list of Top 12 Films of All-Time from back in 2012. Nevertheless, it remains fascinating to read his words and reasoning. For example, I find it interesting to see him placing Roberto Rossellini's Paisan at #1. So often Rome Open City is the most talked about of Rossellini's fabulous War Trilogy (read my review) and so infrequently you hear about Paisan or Germany Year Zero, the latter of which is an absolute stunner. I've never sen Jean Renoir's The River or Francesco Rosi's Salvatore Giuliano, but the rest I've viewed. I'm not a huge fan of The Leopard, »
- Brad Brevet
In the dog days of the second world war, the heart of British cinema could be found inside a three-room flat off the Marylebone Road in London. This, from 1942-1947, was the headquarters of film-makers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, and the production office for such pictures as A Matter of Life and Death, The Red Shoes and The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. In the event of air raids, the office came equipped with a set of camp beds.
Now the flat at Dorset House has been commemorated with an English Heritage blue plaque, honouring the work of Powell and Pressburger's film company, the Archers. Attending the unveiling were Powell's widow, the Oscar-winning American editor Thelma Schoonmaker, »
- Xan Brooks
Wolf of Wall Street director pays tribute to 'extraordinary' work of British film-making greats honoured by English Heritage
Following his visit to the Bafta awards, the film director attended a ceremony on Monday unveiling the English Heritage blue plaque on the duo's London office.
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger were behind some of the most celebrated British films of their era such as The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes and A Matter of Life and Death.
The plaque has been placed outside the office at Dorset House in Gloucester Place, Marylebone, which served as a base for their production company, The Archers, from 1942 to 1947.
In keeping with the austerity of those days, their office was sparsely decorated, with camp beds in case of air-raid warnings, »
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