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There’s a clip from Billy Wilder’s great 1951 noir “Ace in the Hole” used about halfway through Dave Janetta’s new documentary “Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere” that sums up the appeal of these kinds of lurid true-crime stories pretty darn well. “Bad news is the best news,” says Kirk Douglas’ sneering, cynical newsman. “Because good news is no news.” It’s an appropriate quote in the case of Janetta’s film, which turns out to be about two stories. On the surface, it’s another sensational, can-you-believe-this-is-fucking-real mystery set in the type of small, woodsy town where a man’s worth is measured in his word and his handshake. With the shots of beautiful industrial rot, sleepy small-town inertia and lumber (lots of lumber) that open 'Love and Terror,' we already sense the uncanny influence of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s game-changing “Twin Peaks. »
- Nicholas Laskin
Nightcrawler and Gone Girl both present portraits of a preying, narrative-distorting media, whether staked out on the lawn or hunting down a homicide for the 11 o'clock news. While the films differ greatly and have other thoughts in their heads, both show the behind-the-scenes pursuit of that old mantra: "If it bleeds, it leads."
The tart, shadowy The Sweet Smell of Success relished the sordid power play between a big-time columnist and a desperate press agent. Michael Mann's "60 Minutes" whistle-blower tale The Insider captured the looming threat of corporate interference. And of course, nothing has skewered the brainless local news host like Will Ferrell andAdam McKay's Anchorman movies. »
- Cineplex.com and contributors
You could be kind and suggest that the term "nightcrawler" refers simply to a person who owns the midnight hours, sort of like a night-owl. But in Dan Gilroy's directorial debut, the title refers to the the cold-blooded vultures who chase the bloodiest crime scenes in order to capture the gore on video for television news. They truly are worms that wiggle to the surface at night, and the wormiest of all is Jake Gyllenhaal's Lou Bloom. Part Rupert Pupkin, part Weegee, Lou finds his true calling with a camera and police scanner, and he quickly becomes Rene Russo »
- Jeff Labrecque
The movie journalist is always caught up in scandal, gossip and invasions of privacy. Though plenty of movies have been made about authors, poets, and other writers, the physical act of writing and editing rarely makes it into Hollywood journalism. Thankfully, the more sensational aspects of media have made for scathing satire and commentary, loathsome anti-heroes, and pulpy, investigative reporting that the camera loves.
This week’s Nightcrawler features Jake Gyllenhaal as a crime journalist in L.A., but he’s more Travis Bickle than Anderson Cooper. Even other films released this year have fit the template of being more about something else than actually about journalism, from a theater critic in Birdman trying to destroy Riggan Thompson’s career to Jeremy Renner in Kill the Messenger about how noble voices get squashed.
The best movies about journalism are more than the newsroom politics, so in honor of Nightcrawler’s release, »
- Brian Welk
While the City Sleeps: Gyllenhaal Gets His Money Shot in Gilroy’s Debut
You’ll be hard pressed to find a more enjoyably witty criticism of modern exploitative media tactics taken to a new extreme than Dan Gilroy’s viciously adept directorial debut, Nightcrawler. Humanity’s morbid curiosity with the grisly, disturbing, and depraved happenings in the world around us has long tainted the art of journalism and mass media, and has thus been depicted for ages already in the cinema. Gilroy’s film owes as much to Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole (1951) as it does Sidney Lumet’s Network (1976), upping the action ante with the growing Gilroy stamp (his brother directed Michael Clayton and the last Bourne film). And yet, it’s an excitingly well written dark hearted treatise with a vitriolic little statement all its own, a glorious new love letter to the seedy underside of Los Angeles, »
- Nicholas Bell
Here's a fun fact about Bill Hader you might not know: he's a major film buff. Yep, the "Saturday Night Live" veteran likes his Criterion Collection movies as much as the next cinephile. His knowledge rolls pretty deep, and now he's sharing his love of cinema in a unique way. Inside the book "Poking A Dead Frog: Conversations With Today’s Top Comedy Writers" by Mike Sacks, Hader provides his list of 200 movies every comedy writer should see. Yes, you'll see the usual staples from folks like Woody Allen, the Marx Brothers, Mel Brooks, and Charlie Chaplin, but there are some nice, not so obvious picks too. Billy Wilder's scathing "Ace In The Hole" notches a spot, as do Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut" and Robert Altman's "Nashville." So now the big question: how many have you seen? Here's all 200, let us know in the comments section. »
- Kevin Jagernauth
Jane Fonda movies on TCM: ‘The China Syndrome,’ ‘Klute,’ and Jean-Luc Godard drama ‘Tout Va Bien’ among highlights (photo: Jane Fonda in ‘Klute’) Turner Classic Movies’ 2014 "Summer Under the Stars" kicked off earlier today, August 1, with a day-long series of Jane Fonda movies. Still reviled by American right-wingers because of her 1972 trip to North Vietnam while the United States was at war with that country — she was photographed seated on an anti-aircraft battery — but admired by others for her liberal views, anti-war activism, and human rights advocacy, the two-time Best Actress Academy Award winner has enjoyed a highly eclectic film career, eventually becoming a rarity among rarities: Jane Fonda is the child of a film star (Henry Fonda) who not only became a film star in her own right, but who went on to become an even bigger screen legend than her famous parent. (See also: Jane Fonda “Summer Under »
- Andre Soares
Jersey Show: Eastwood Plays It Safe with Broadway Adaptation
While it earns a great deal of credibility due to the retention of several notable cast members that originated their roles on Broadway, Clint Eastwood’s cinematic treatment of musical Jersey Boys plays it safe in nearly every possible regard. Hardly the musical extravaganza those unfamiliar with the source material may be expecting, it is neither a very clearly nuanced effort at relating anything in depth about Franki Valli and his Four Seasons. Instead, it’s more like a blandly realized version of what one would expect to see on stage, with a screenplay that does little to enhance anything beyond moderately digestible clichés (something quite surprising to note when one of the co-writers is Marshall Brickman, who penned Woody Allen’s Annie Hall and Manhattan).
- Nicholas Bell
Directed by Billy Wilder
Ace in the Hole is a quintessential Billy Wilder movie. Though largely ignored upon its initial release, this 1951 feature bears all the hallmarks one associates with Wilder’s best work: cynicism, humor, terrific performances, sharp dialogue, and impeccable direction. Here, to keep within the theme of the title, we get it all in spades.
The recently released Criterion Blu-ray of the film likewise boasts an abundant assortment of features. There is of course the new restoration, which looks great, as well as a commentary track with scholar Neil Sinyard, a brief afterword by Spike Lee, and interviews with Kirk Douglas and cowriter Walter Newman. The insert booklet, with essays by filmmaker Guy Maddin and critic Molly Haskell, is cleverly assembled as a foldout mock newspaper. And the documentary, Portrait of a “60% Perfect Man”: Billy Wilder, »
- Jeremy Carr
A resounding flop upon its release, which saw it recut and rereleased as The Big Carnival without any greater success, Criterion remasters Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole for Blu-ray with a beautifully packaged presentation. A darkly prophetic nightmare concerning the carnivalesque power of the media, the 1951 feature is decades ahead of its time, and received a resoundingly sour reception upon initial release. Hot off the success from his 1950 hit, Sunset Boulevard, it would take the box office return of 1953’s Stalag 17 to recuperate Wilder’s studio graces.
Alternating between cocksure aggression and derisive self-loathing, smarmy journalist Chuck Tatum (Kirk Douglas) struts into the office of Albuquerque’s local newspaper where he proceeds to demean a Native American employee and a ridicule the secretary fior her framed and self-embroidered mantra, “Tell the Truth.” It’s immediately clear that Tatum considers the local paper something akin to a cess »
- Nicholas Bell
Yesterday was Mother's Day, and while most of us sent flowers or took our Moms to brunch, Eminem used the special day to issue a very public apology, directed by none other than Spike Lee. The rapper dropped the video (via Pitchfork) for "Headlights," the latest jam off his recent Marshall Mathers LP 2. And it's an about-face for the hip-hop artist, who uses the track to apologize (in a rather shouty fashion) to his mom for rising to fame by ripping her to shreds on countless other songs and records. But it's worth a look, with the Pov promo shot on location in Eminem's native Detroit. Meanwhile, with The Criterion Collection dropping Billy Wilder's searing "Ace In The Hole" on Blu-ray last week, the boutique label gave fans a tease of the bonus features by putting Spike Lee's video afterword about the movie online. It finds the filmmaker »
- Kevin Jagernauth
If you're a fan of classic cinema and contemporary filmmaking alike, then chances are you're more than familiar with The Criterion Collection, a DVD and Blu-ray distributor that releases polished editions of cinema masterpieces with a slew of exclusive extras in an effort to preserve some of the most important film achievements, Each month, Criterion releases 4-7 new Blu-ray editions of classics that might otherwise never get such treatment.This month, those films include: Howard Hawks's John Wayne western, Red River; Abbas Kiarostami's Like Someone in Love; Stuart Cooper's WWII drama Overlord; Billy Wilder's newspaper drama Ace in the Hole, starring Kirk Douglas; and an update of the always whimsical Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.
For full details on all these releases and their extras, read on.
- Lex Walker
Moviefone's Top DVD of the Week
What's It About? Everyone's favorite teen Pi Veronica Mars is all grown up. She's living in NYC with Piz and just about to snag a plum lawyer gig when she's called back to Neptune to help out her ex Logan. In typical Logan fashion, he's in legal hot water - this time around, he's accused of murdering his girlfriend. Oh, it's also their high school reunion. Fun times!
Why We're In: Okay, if you're a diehard Marshmallow, chances are you're already getting a copy of the movie from Kickstarter. But, hey, while you wait for them to be sent out, why not snag an extra copy or two?
Moviefone's Top Blu-ray of the Week
"Ace in the Hole" (Criterion)
What's It About? Kirk Douglas stars as a ruthless reporter scheming to keep his latest scoop in the headlines. A classic film noir, »
- Jenni Miller
Some movies, no matter how old they are, never age a day. Their situations and themes remain as relevant now as when they were first released. Watching them today, they reflect and comment on our present in ways they couldn’t possibly have anticipated. Every month we’re going to pick a movie from the past that does just that, and explore what it has to say about the here and now. Today, Billy Wilder’s entertainingly cynical 1951 film, Ace in the Hole, gets a gorgeous Blu-Ray treatment from Criterion, and it’s a perfect movie to start this column with. In it, a down-on-his-luck reporter, Chuck Tatum (Kirk Douglas) stumbles upon a story about a man, Leo (Richard Benedict), trapped in a mountain tunnel. Tatum decides to sensationalize, exploit, and manipulate Leo’s misfortune into a media frenzy to help resurrect his career. While the kind of print journalism we see in Wilder’s film may »
- Alexander Huls
Ace in the Hole (Criterion Collection) I've only seen Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole once before and it's as relevant now as it was when it was made as Kirk Douglas plays a reporter who ends up in Albuquerque and finds himself at the center of the story of a lifetime and he milks it for every headline he can. It's essentially a perfect example of today's Internet journalism.
Blazing Saddles: 40th Anniversary Edition One of the best comedies you're ever going to see and Warner Home Video is giving it the 40th Anniversary treatment and unless I'm mistaken the only new feature is a new interview with Mel Brooks looking back on the film and its effect on cinema.
- Brad Brevet
★★★★☆Kirk Douglas fans have been spoiled recently with not only a theatrical rerelease of Stanley Kubrick's 1957 war drama Paths of Glory but also this week the Masters of Cinema reissue of Billy Wilder's newshound satire Ace in the Hole (1951), in which the Hollywood icon also takes centre stage. A delicious and morally dubious tale of self-serving skulduggery in the New Mexico desert, Douglas dominates proceedings as a slippery paper man forced into exile in Albuquerque after finding himself blacklisted from seemingly every major news outlet on the East and West coast. Sharp, at times dark, and extremely funny throughout, Ace in the Hole remains Wilder's 'ace up the sleeve'. »
- CineVue UK
Released in 1951, Ace in the Hole marked a pivotal moment in the career of its writer-director, Billy Wilder, for a number of different reasons. His scathing attack on the media was Wilder's first film after breaking his long-term writing partnership with Charles Brackett, which over 12 years had garnered two Best Screenplay Oscars (for The Lost Weekend and Sunset Blvd.), three more Oscar nominations and a string of commercial hits. Ace in the Hole also marked Wilder's first credit as producer as well as writer and director. More importantly, it also proved to be his first flop, breaking a string of box office successes dating back to 1939's Ninotchka. However, in the ensuing decades the film has been the subject of much re-assessment and...
[Read the whole post on twitchfilm.com...]
Directed by Billy Wilder
The past few weeks have been good for Humphrey Bogart on Blu-ray. The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and The African Queen were recently rereleased and assembled for the Best of Bogart Collection, and now, Sabrina, one of the legendary star’s final films, has received its first American appearance on the format. Perhaps more importantly, if total number of titles available on Blu-ray is the basis for judgment, Sabrina also marks one of disappointingly few Billy Wilder titles available in the remastered form. That the film also stars the radiant Audrey Hepburn and the remarkably versatile William Holden confirms that the release is worth commending.
- Jeremy Carr
Blu-ray & DVD Release Date: May 4, 2014
Price: Blu-ray/DVD Combo $39.95
Kirk Douglas (Paths of Glory) gives the fiercest performance of his career as Chuck Tatum, an amoral newspaper reporter who washes up in dead-end Albuquerque, happens upon the scoop of a lifetime, and will do anything to keep getting the lurid headlines.
Also starring Jan Sterling and Bob Arthur, Wilder’s follow-up to his ominously alluring Sunset Boulevard is an even darker vision, a no-holds-barred exposé of the American media’s appetite for sensation that has gotten only more relevant with time.
Criterion’s Blu-ray/DVD Combo edition of the movie contains the following features, the bulk of them ported over from »
Criterion Collection has added a list of films -- a mix of classics, indies and contemporaries -- that are scheduled for a May release. With the John Wayne and Montgomery western "Red River" as a special highlight, Criterion also revealed the following films that makeup their lineup (Descriptions provided by Criterion Collection). "Ace in the Hole" (1951) Director: Billy Wilder Billy Wilder’s "Ace in the Hole" is one of the most scathing indictments of American culture ever produced by a Hollywood filmmaker. Kirk Douglas ("Spartacus") gives the fiercest performance of his career as Chuck Tatum, an amoral newspaper reporter who washes up in dead-end Albuquerque, happens upon the scoop of a lifetime, and will do anything to keep getting the lurid headlines. Wilder’s follow-up to "Sunset Boulevard" is an even darker vision, a no-holds-barred exposé of the American media’s appetite for sensation that has gotten only more relevant with time. »
- Eric Eidelstein
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