15 items from 2016
By Tim Greaves
(The following reviews pertain to the UK Region 2 releases)
When I'm in the right mood I adore bit of film noir. I admire the diversity of its storytelling, I love every facet, from the hardboiled private eyes, duplicitous dames and characters that seldom turn out to be what they first appear, to the alleyways bathed in inky shadows, ramshackle apartments and half-lit street corners they inhabit. How can you not get drawn in by the sheer delight of Edward G Robinson playing a second rate psychic trying to convince the authorities he can see the future in The Night Has a Thousand Eyes? Or amnesiac John Hodiak on a mission to discover his own identity, in the process getting embroiled in a 3-year-old murder case and the search for a missing $2 million in Somewhere in the Night? Yes, indeed, there's nothing quite like a hearty serving of »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Cinema Retro)
Alfred Hitchcock long had a fascination with the fine line between wishing someone dead and doing the deed (“Rope,” “Strangers On A Train“) and that vibe gets a workout in the ’50s-set “A Kind Of Murder.” Directed by Andy Goddard, starring Patrick Wilson, Jessica Biel, Haley Bennett, Vincent Kartheiser, and Eddie Marsan, and based on […]
- Kevin Jagernauth
Hot off the back of The Conjuring 2, Vera Farmiga is saddling up to co-star alongside action hero du jour Liam Neeson in Lionsgate and StudioCanal’s thriller The Commuter. News of Farmiga’s casting arrives via Deadline, the same outlet that also revealed that the film would mark the fourth collaboration between Neeson and director Jaume Collet-Serra. After kicking ass for the filmmaker in Unknown, Run All Night, and Non-Stop, Neeson’s still game for more.
As for Farmiga, she previously worked with the helmer on Orphan, and now finds herself in just as intriguing a predicament for The Commuter. She plays a “mysterious woman” who approaches Liam Neeson’s character on board a commuter train and proposes an “enticing opportunity” for him that has potentially dire circumstances should he accept.
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Off the bat it shares more than a passing similarity to Alfred Hitchcock »
- Gem Seddon
“It kind of freed me from a lot of criticisms people have from my other films,” Whit Stillman told us at Sundance earlier this year, speaking about adapting Jane Austen‘s epistolary novel Lady Susan, which became Love & Friendship. “Things can work really well and not be entirely realistic and often they can be better than realism. We love the old James Bond films. They weren’t realistic, but they’re delightful. And the great 30s films. The Awful Truth with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. It’s not realistic; it’s just perfect.”
To celebrate Stillman’s latest feature becoming his most successful yet at the box office, we’re highlighting his 10 favorite films, from a ballot submitted for the most recent Sight & Sound poll. Along with the aforementioned Leo McCarey classic, he includes romantic touchstones from Preston Sturges, Ernst Lubitsh, and François Truffaut. As for his favorite Alfred Hitchcock, he fittingly picks perhaps one of the best scripts he directed, and one not mentioned often enough.
We’ve covered many directors’ favorites, but this is one that perhaps best reflects the style and tone of an artist’s filmography. Check it out below, followed by our discussion of his latest film, if you missed it.
Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (Preston Sturges)
See more directors’ favorite films.
- Jordan Raup
Michael Grandage presents Jude Law, Nicole Kidman and Laura Linney Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze Michael Grandage directed Nicole Kidman in Anna Ziegler's Photograph 51 last year at the Noël Coward Theatre, London, and told me he hopes to bring the production to Broadway in 2017. He also directed Jude Law in Hamlet at the Donmar Warehouse and on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre.
Michael Grandage on Wolfe as Caliban: 'He is talking about internally' Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze His directorial debut feature Genius begins with shoes that might make you think of Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers On A Train. Screenplay by John Logan, based on A Scott Berg's book, the friendship and collaboration between Charles Scribner’s Sons editor Maxwell Perkins (Colin Firth) and his discovery, writer Thomas Wolfe (Jude Law), is explored.
Wolfe's problem is that he can't stop writing, like a feverish Rainer Werner Fassbinder of the page, he burns himself out. »
- Anne-Katrin Titze
Team Experience is at the Tribeca Film Festival. Here's Jason on "A Kind of Murder" and "Always Shine"
I know it's blasphemy in these parts to speak ill of Mad Men (cue 90% of you automatically clicking away in disgust) but I could never really get into it because it felt too slavishly obsessed with 60s posturing - I love Mid-Century Design as much as the next Eero Saarinen disciple but I couldn't ever see the forest for the tulip chairs. That said, the new Patricia Highsmith adaptation A Kind of Murder (from the 1954 book The Blunderer, kind of a suburban copycat criss-cross of Strangers on a Train) makes Mad Men seem positively restrained in its period affectations - how you manage to turn a walking talking charm like Patrick Wilson into a walking talking turtleneck I'll never figure.
The turtlenecks! The martini glasses! The heavy salmon drapes and stone fireplaces! »
Crime doesn’t pay, and in “A Kind of Murder,” neither does fantasizing about it. Adapting acclaimed suspense author Patricia Highsmith’s 1954 novel “The Blunderer,” director Andy Goddard and screenwriter Susan Boyd chart the doom that befalls a couple of men whose spouses, in quick succession, turn up dead at the same out-of-the-way Northeast rest stop. While thrills are mitigated by convoluted plotting and suspect character behavior, the film’s uniquely bleak twist on classic noir conventions is enlivening. Its theatrical fate is limited, yet finding subsequent cult-following favor with genre aficionados isn’t beyond a reasonable doubt.
Highsmith’s novel is reminiscent of her debut smash “Strangers on a Train,” in that it details the intersection of two men with murder on their minds. Rare bookstore owner Kimmel (Eddie Marsan) is a reserved loner whose wife has recently been slain at roadside diner Harry’s Rainbow Grill. Detective Lawrence »
- Nick Schager
Patricia Highsmith’s novels have been the go-to for complex, urbane thrillers since Alfred Hitchcock made the first Strangers on a Train adaptation in 1951. A Kind of Murder is the latest in the Highsmith subgenre – it’s based on the novel The Blunderer from 1954, and directed by Andy Goddard from a screenplay by Susan Boyd.
The film tells the story of Walter Stackhouse (Patrick Wilson), a successful architect living in the suburbs of New York City with his real-estate agent wife Clara (Jessica Biel). But, as with all Highsmith’s works, things are not well in the paradise of American suburbia. Clara is a neurotic with overtones of paranoia and her unwillingness to seek help has set her husband on edge and her marriage on the rocks.
Then comes the news of a murder of a woman at a roadside café near Saratoga Springs, with the husband Kimmel (Eddie Marsan) as the prime suspect. »
- Lauren Humphries-Brooks
Cannes — James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli has been appointed vice president for film at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
The news follows the recent appointment of Greg Dyke as BAFTA’s vice president for television. Broccoli will join Dyke in co-chairing BAFTA’s council, supporting the academy’s president, Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, and assuming an ambassadorial role for the charity.
Previous vice presidents for film have been Duncan Kenworthy (2009-2015) and David Puttnam (1995-2004). BAFTA can appoint up to three vice presidents, one in each of the three sectors of film, television and games, who can serve a term of up to six years.
Broccoli said: “I am passionate about BAFTA’s role in educating, inspiring and celebrating generations of British filmmakers. I am therefore honored to accept the role of BAFTA’s vice president for film.”
- Leo Barraclough
Manuel here. Patricia Highsmith is definitely back in vogue. We'll obviously credit Carol (based on her Price of Salt novel) but the ample filmography her books have begat should remind us that she's been the type of author whose works seem ready-made for the screen. While there's still no new word on whether that Gillian Flynn/David Fincher Strangers on a Train remake is still in the works, we now have another Highsmith property to get excited about.
Well, perhaps "new" is too strong a word. [More...]
- Manuel Betancourt
It’s safe to say most filmmakers today have learned something from Alfred Hitchcock, if not been directly influence. The master filmmaker's resumé speaks for itself — “Rear Window,” “Psycho,” “Rebecca,” “Notorious,” “Strangers on a Train,” “Rope,” “The Birds,” “North by Northwest,” “Shadow of a Doubt” and “Dial M for Murder” — and his remarkable grasp on technical prowess in achieving big screen spectacle has been rarely matched. And among the things Hitchcock knew best about filmmaking was how to stage a scene, as broken down and analyzed by Nerdwriter1 in his latest video, “How Alfred Hitchcock Blocks A Scene.” Read More: Watch: 7-Minute Video Essay Explores Ensemble Staging In Bong Joon-Ho's 'Memories Of Murder' Taking a closer look at an early scene in “Vertigo” — the 1958 picture some cinephiles would argue is not only Hitchcock’s greatest work, but also quite possibly the best film of all-time — the nine-minute »
- Will Ashton
What's it all about, Alfie? The master of suspense goes in an unusual direction with this murder mystery with a Catholic background. And foreground. Actually, it's a regular guidebook for proper priest deportment, and it's so complex that we wonder if Hitchcock himself had a full grip on it. Montgomery Clift is extremely good atop a top-rank cast that includes Anne Baxter and Karl Malden. Rated less exciting by audiences, this is really one of Hitch's best. I Confess Blu-ray Warner Archive Collection 1953 / B&W / 1:37 flat Academy / 94 min. / Street Date February 16, 2016 / available through the WBshop / 17.95 Starring Montgomery Clift, Anne Baxter, Karl Malden, Brian Aherne, Roger Dann, Dolly Haas, Charles Andre, O.E. Hasse. Cinematography Robert Burks Art Direction Edward S. Haworth Film Editor Rudi Fehr Original Music Dimitri Tiomkin Written by George Tabori, William Archibald from a play by Paul Anthelme Produced and Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson »
- Glenn Erickson
Wim Wenders goes neo-noir in this wonderfully moody character-driven crime tale. Soulful art framer Bruno Ganz is the patsy in a murder scheme, but Dennis Hopper's sociopath / villain has a change of heart and befriends him. This modern classic looks great and features movie directors Nicholas Ray and Samuel Fuller in major guest roles. The American Friend Blu-ray The Criterion Collection 793 1977 / Color / 1:66 widescreen / 127 min. / Der Amerikanische Freund / available through The Criterion Collection / Street Date January 12, 2016 / 39.95 Starring Dennis Hopper, Bruno Ganz, Lisa Kreuzer, Gérard Blain, Nicholas Ray, Samuel Fuller. Cinematography Robby Müller Art Direction Heidi & Toni Lüdi Film Editor Peter Przygodda Original Music Jürgen Knieper Written by Wim Wenders from the novel Ripley's Game by Patricia Highsmith Produced by Renée Gundelach, Wim Wenders Directed by Wim Wenders
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
Fourteen years ago Anchor Bay released a Wim Wenders DVD collection with excellent extras provided by the director himself. »
- Glenn Erickson
Author Patricia Highsmith is most well-known for her six Tom Ripley novels (currently heading for the small screen), and many of her works have been made into movies, from Alfred Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train" to Anthony Minghella's 1999 "The Talented Mr. Ripley." When Phyllis Nagy was working as a researcher at the New York Times when she was in her early 20s, she was assigned to accompany Highsmith on a walking tour of the Greenwood Cemetery. They became friends, and thus Nagy came to know the novelist, who lived in Switzerland, in the last ten years of her life. They corresponded, and when Nagy moved to London a few years later, they saw each other more often. Highsmith suggested that Nagy, who was establishing her career as a playwright ("Butterfly Kiss"), should adapt one of her books. "I’d heard her talk about how much she hated all of her adaptations, »
- Anne Thompson
Wim Wenders pays loving homage to rough-and-tumble Hollywood film noir with The American Friend, a loose adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel Ripley’s Game. Dennis Hopper oozes quirky menace as an amoral American art dealer who entangles a terminally ill German everyman, played by Bruno Ganz, in a seedy criminal underworld as revenge for a personal slight—but when the two become embroiled in an ever-deepening murder plot, they form an unlikely bond. Filmed on location in Hamburg and Paris, with some scenes shot in grimy, late-seventies New York City, Wenders’s international breakout is a stripped-down crime story that mixes West German and American film flavors, and it features cameos by filmmakers Jean Eustache, Samuel Fuller, and Nicholas Ray.
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Throughout the year, Press Notes will collect various links to reviews »
- Ryan Gallagher
15 items from 2016
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