14 items from 2015
Norma Desmond has a lot to answer for. The image of the fading silent film star as a deluded recluse, living in gothic isolation, is seductive but far from reality.
Many silent film actors went back to work in the talkie era, while others retired, having begun working in the 1900s or 1910s. Some moved behind the scenes or revived their careers on stage or TV, or made memorable returns to the big screen in later life – think Lillian Gish cocking her rifle in The Night of the Hunter. Many Hollywood stars lost their fortunes in the Wall Street crash of 1929; others turned to unprofitable business ventures or to drink and drugs. But few lived as the heroine of Billy Wilder’s brilliant Sunset Boulevard does, »
- Pamela Hutchinson
Henry Selick, director of stop-motion classics Disney’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and Laika’s “Coraline,” is developing a new stop-motion feature with Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key based on an original story by Selick.
“‘Wendell and Wild’ is a comedy about two scheming demon brothers who must face their arch-nemesis, the demon-dusting nun Sister Helly, and her two acolytes, the goth teens Kat and Raoul,” says Selick.
Selick, Key and Peele are currently discussing the creative details, says Key & Peele’s manager Joel Zadak of Principato-Young. “It is not set up yet with a buyer, but the entire team is passionate about the direction,” he says.
Key and Peele are no strangers to animated projects, with both having done various voices on Fox’s “Bob’s Burgers” among other projects. Key will be voicing a character in the upcoming animated feature based on the game “Angry Birds” and he »
- Terry Flores
Special Mention: Shock Corridor
Written and directed by Samuel Fuller
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Shock Corridor stars Peter Breck as Johnny Barrett, an ambitious reporter who wants to expose a killer hiding out at the local insane asylum. In order to solve the case, he must pretend to be insane so they have him committed. Once in the asylum, Barrett sets to work, interrogating the other patients and keeping a close eye on the staff. But it’s difficult to remain a sane man living in an insane place, and the closer Barrett gets to the truth, the closer he gets to insanity.
Shock Corridor is best described as an anti-establishment drama that at times is surprisingly quite funny despite the dark material. The film deals with some timely issues of the era, specifically the atom bomb, anti-communism, and racism. It features everything from a raving female love-crazed nympho ward, »
- Ricky Fernandes
These days, the American movie going public is quite accustomed to seeing major motion picture based on a prior television series, as well as the opposite movement from big to small screen. But back in 1956, this wasn’t quite as common an adaptation, which may explain the lack of enthusiasm surrounding Foreign Intrigue, a beautifully photographed film directed by Sheldon Reynolds based on his successful television series of the same name, which aired 1951 to 1955. As retooled with matinee idol Robert Mitchum, the film’s rather schizophrenic narrative jumps freely between being a colorfully lush romantic European entanglement and espionage tinged noir narrative.
On the way to visit his enigmatic and mysterious employer, press agent Dave Bishop (Mitchum) finds his boss collapsed and barely breathing. The man expires in his arms, and it’s ruled his death was the cause of a heart attack. Or was it? Immediately, Bishop informs his »
- Nicholas Bell
BBC Culture has this week unveiled a new list of the top 100 American films, as voted for by a pool of international film critics from across the globe. The format of the poll was that any film that would make the list had to have recieved funding from a Us source, and the directors of the films did not need to be from the USA, nor did the films voted for need to be filmed in the Us.
Critics were asked to submit their top 10 lists, which would try to find the top 100 American films that while “not necessarily the most important, but the greatest on an emotional level”. The list, as you may have guessed, is very different to the lists curated by say the BFI or AFI over the years, so there are certainly a few surprises on here, with Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave (2013), Terrence Malick »
- Scott J. Davis
First off, let's make one thing clear. We're not scratching our heads at Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing" making the BBC's 100 greatest American films. That movie, of which an image accompanies this post, not only made the list, but ranked appropriately at no. 25. It's the rest of the selections that have us scratching and, yes, shaking our heads in disbelief. A wonderful page view driver, these sorts of lists make great fodder for passionate movie fans no matter what their age or part of the world they hail from. There is nothing more entertaining than watching two critics from opposite ends of the globe try to debate whether "The Dark Knight" should have been nominated for best picture or make a list like this. Even in this age of short form content where Vines, Shapchats and Instagram videos have captured viewers attention, movies will continue to inspire because »
- Gregory Ellwood
Leave it to the Brits to compile a list of the best American films of all-time. BBC Culture has published a list of what it calls "The 100 Greatest American Films", as selected by 62 international film critics in order to "get a global perspective on American film." As BBC Culture notes, the critics polled represent a combination of broadcasters, book authors and reviewers at various newspapers and magazines across the world. As for what makes an American filmc "Any movie that received funding from a U.S. source," BBC Culture's publication states, which is to say the terminology was quite loose, but the list contains a majority of the staples you'd expect to see. Citizen Kane -- what elsec -- comes in at #1, and in typical fashion The Godfather follows at #2. Vertigo, which in 2012 topped Sight & Sound's list of the greatest films of all-time, comes in at #3 on BBC Culture's list. »
- Jordan Benesh
Every now and then a major publication or news organisation comes up with a top fifty or one hundred films of all time list - a list which always stirs up debate, discussion and often interesting arguments about the justifications of the list's inclusions, ordering and notable exclusions.
Today it's the turn of BBC Culture who consulted sixty-two international film critics including print reviews, bloggers, broadcasters and film academics to come up with what they consider the one-hundred greatest American films of all time. To qualify, the film had to be made by a U.S. studio or mostly funded by American money.
Usually when a list of this type is done it is by institutes or publications within the United States asking American critics their favourites. This time it's non-American critics born outside the culture what they think are the best representations of that culture. Specifically they were asked »
- Garth Franklin
“So one thing from another rises ever; and in fee-simple life is given to none, but unto all mere usufruct.” – Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, Book III
The above quote was once used by great Italian documentarian Franco Piavoli to open his masterful 1982 film, The Blue Planet. In that instance, it is deftly applied to the fragility of mother nature; her various granting and reclaiming of life, but can just as easily be applied to the figures followed by Roberto Minervini, an Italian based in the United States whose acclaimed Texas Trilogy – The Passage, Low Tide and Stop the Pounding Heart – was followed up at Cannes this year by The Other Side, which shifts the director’s gaze slightly eastward to the state of Louisiana. One must assume that Minervini, despite blazing his own trail that has led him through the Philippines and Spain en route to America’s Southern states, »
- Nicholas Page
Over the course of film history, we've seen plenty of long-time actors step behind the camera to take up their directorial ambitions. Clint Eastwood did it. Mel Gibson did it. George Clooney did it. What do these three have in commonc Well, for starters, they are all men, so there's that. Further, they are all white, but more on that later. More to the point of the article, these men all eased into their directorial careers by starring in their respective debuts, using their presence on screen to help market their talents off it. And with his feature directorial effort The Water Diviner, which hits limited theaters this week, Russell Crowe is just the most recent addition to a growing list of actors who have decided to try their hand behind the camera. Like Eastwood, Gibson, and Clooney before him, the Best Actor winner stars in his first feature as director, »
- Jordan Benesh
The first time I saw Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now was October 2008, as I was watching a slew of films in an effort to put together a list of my top ten scariest films. In the end, I came up with six, Don't Look Now wasn't one of them. I mention this because I initially watched this movie under the impression it was tremendously frightening. I had never seen it before, but everything I read about it spoke to how terrifying it was. I didn't find it frightening in the least, not then and not now. However, revisiting it with this new Criterion Blu-ray release gave me a chance to watch it with different eyes and I found myself appreciating it a bit more. Granted, I still can't bring myself to say I'm an overall fan of the picture, but watching it without the expectation it will be something it isn't, »
- Brad Brevet
I got around to a lot more movies this week, beginning with last Sunday evening where I caught Die Hard and Die Hard with a Vengeance on Encore. I know everyone pretty much loves Die Hard, but I'm not sure I don't love With a Vengeance a little more, I just love Samuel L. Jackson in that movie and Jeremy Irons is a perfect villain. Things took a bit of a dip when I went to the theater to watch The Boy Next Door, but I quickly resolved that with It Happened One Night, which became my latest Best Movies entry. Then I got a hankering to watch Strangers on a Train after it was recently announced David Fincher, Ben Affleck and Gillian Flynn were looking to put together a remake. I was also thinking it might become Best Movies entry #9, but after watching it and Robert Walker's performance »
- Brad Brevet
Conventional wisdom may have it that sheep are dumbest of all livestock, but the woolly ones’ wits get a collective sharpening in “Shaun the Sheep Movie,” a sweet-natured but cleverly off-kilter feature-length debut for Aardman Animations’ plucky farmyard hero. Retaining the gentle, non-verbal comedy and daffy sight gags of the popular stop-motion TV series — itself a loose spinoff from Aardman’s cherished “Wallace and Gromit” franchise — while assigning Shaun and his flock an urban escapade more expansive than their usual short-form gambols, the film should reward small fry and parents jaded by more synthetic kiddie toons. Hot off the runaway success of “Paddington” in Blighty, Studiocanal won’t quite match those numbers with its latest family treat, but should emerge with a healthy three bags full.
Originally introduced 20 years ago in the Oscar-winning “Wallace and Gromit” outing “A Close Shave,” diminutive sheep Shaun has since headlined more than 100 miniature adventures »
- Guy Lodge
From the pool party dive in Boogie Nights inspired by Mikhail Kalatozov’s I Am Cuba to the steering wheel scene in Hard Eight that so deftly recalls Alfred Hitchcock’s Saboteur, playing spot the reference with Paul Thomas Anderson is always fun. It is through these moments that we can fully appreciate the voracious depth at which one man is embroiled in his art; forever the immersed student despite his steady rise to master, yet with a constant, gleeful wish to share with us an unconditional love for the cinema – something that we can all identify with.
Of all Paul Thomas Anderson’s creations, one continues to standout as a jarring anomaly: that being Punch-Drunk Love, which does away with many of the recurring narrative themes (fathers and sons, abandonment, etc.) that can be traced throughout his work, and instead challenges the conventions of the romance genre – though, with »
- Nicholas Page
14 items from 2015
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