13 items from 2014
I interviewed William Friedkin back in 2012 (read part one here and part two here) and asked about the status of Sorcerer back then, knowing of the legal issues it was facing as Paramount and Universal couldn't seem to decide who owned the rights to the film. Friedkin was suing both studios in order to figure that out and hopefully get a remastered version of, what I believe is best called a "cult classic" at this point, the film released. Two years later, it finally arrives courtesy of Warner Home Video in all its tension laden madness. While Friedkin doesn't like the term, Sorcerer is a remake of French director Henri-Georges Clouzot's Wages of Fear (which itself was based on Georges Arnaud's novel), an amazing movie and one I've written about before, including my 2009 review of the Criterion Blu-ray. I can understand Friedkin's aversion to the word "remake" as »
- Brad Brevet
Jason Reitman takes a holiday from his normally sophisticated wit in this bizarrely unconvincing film
After excellent movies such as Juno and Young Adult, Jason Reitman has given us a misstep. Actually, it's more like a pratfall. Labor Day is a glossy, cloying nullity of a film, supposedly a "coming-of-age" tale, though the teen character is disconcertingly peripheral to the adult drama, and his personal development is entirely without interest.
Gattlin Griffith plays Henry, a boy who, back in the 1980s, lives with his depressed, divorced mom, Adele, played by Kate Winslet. Out shopping one day, they are effectively kidnapped by Frank (Josh Brolin), an escaped criminal. While laying low in their house, Frank does a few odd jobs, gains their trust, then morphs »
- Peter Bradshaw
Written by Niven Busch
Directed Raoul Walsh
In a small, dilapidated home in the middle of the New Mexico desert, the beautiful but worried Thor Callum (Theresa Wright) arrives to convene with her on-the-run lover Jeb Rand (Robert Mitchum). From whom or what he is fleeing is unclear at first, but he seems convinced that the conclusion to his arduous adventure is near. In the calm before the approaching storm, Jeb recounts the tale from the beginning to fill in Thor and the audience on all the details. As a child, Jeb is adopted by Thor’s mother (Judith Anderson) when the latter found him asleep and alone under a trapdoor in his home, the same place seen in the opening sequence. Unaware of how or why his family died, Jeb is haunted by mysterious visions of the eventful night through much of his life while living on »
- Edgar Chaput
If film history has shown us one thing, it’s that first impressions of movies are usually not what ultimately shapes their legacies: the original Godzilla, Fight Club, Citizen Kane, Shawshank Redemption, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Shining, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and The Night Of The Hunter are just some of the classics that had to fight for recognition from both critics and audiences before being appreciated for the major accomplishments they were. While movies come out all the time that for whatever reason don’t connect very well with audiences, 2013 was an odd year insofar as many movies with so many good qualities ended up dividing viewers.
The following five movies probably won’t ever become as revered as the movies listed in the first paragraph, and to be honest, only one or two of these are likely “great” movies by traditional definitions but all eight »
- Paul Sorrells
Whenever film lovers are asked which actor turned director they’d like to see get back behind the camera for a second film the top choice is quite frequently Charles Laughton. Unfortunately, Mr. Laughton passed away over half a century ago and won’t be following up The Night of the Hunter anytime soon. By contrast, Eddie Murphy is still alive, but no one is asking for a follow-up to Harlem Nights. One other name that frequently shows up on these lists is Bill Paxton, the beloved character actor, occasional leading man, and only performer to have been killed by a Terminator, a Predator, an Alien, and a Liberal with a knife. To be fair, even he doesn’t fit the criteria above as he’s already directed a second movie with 2005′s golf-related period film, The Greatest Game Ever Played. That movie is easily forgotten though, in part because it stars Shia Labeouf, and »
- Rob Hunter
This is rather cool! Ireland’s first banned Film Festival is to take place from Feb 9th in The Park Cinema in Clonakilty, Co. Cork in association with the Clonakilty Film Club. Film censorship as it was called back in the day, nowdays its called classification was a very different beast way back in the day, where three passionate and prolonged kisses were one of many cuts that were made to Gone with The Wind. Its a great idea and the full listings are below. The Banned Film Festival 9th-13th February All movies were once banned in Ireland but have been rerated and approved for release. Sunday 9th Gone With The Wind PG 7.00 Monday 10th Life Of Brian 15A 7.00 A Clockwork Orange 18’s 8.45 Tuesday 11th A Streetcar Named Desire PG 6.35 Wednesday 12th Casablanca G 6.35 Natural Born Killers 18’s 8.30 Thursday 13th The Great Dictator PG 7.00 The Night of The Hunter »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Vic Barry)
Martin Scorsese's comedy enjoys the third-biggest UK box-office debut for an 18-certificate film, while 12 Years a Slave holds steady in second place
• The Wolf of Wall Street attracts new complaints from disability groups
You might have thought the market was already crowded with Oscar fare. A three-hour 18-certificate comedy might be considered a distribution challenge. But Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street bulldozered past any such concerns, posting a sensational UK opening of £4.66m. That's the third-biggest debut for an 18-certificate film, behind just Hannibal (£6.40m) and Bruno (£5.00m). It's also well up on the openings of recent Scorsese films such as Hugo (£1.23m), Shutter Island (£2.25m) and The Departed (£2.30m). Previously, Scorsese's biggest opening was Gangs of New York, with £2.62m.
In the Us, The Wolf of Wall Street opened on Christmas Day (a »
- Charles Gant
Perhaps Scorsese has more of a right than anyone to make a banking epic in the mould of a crime epic – and sure enough, this is Gordon Gekko, GoodFellas-style: a sprawling, seriocomic, voiceover-tracked rise-and-fall with a morally dubious hero. Excess is the name of the game here, to the point there's actually an excess of excess; endless choreographed tableaux of cash, drugs, cars, naked women, shouting men and celebrity cameos. These regular shots of energy keep the story buzzing, even as they bloat the running time, but Scorsese is aiming for greatness here, and there's no reining him in.
Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus (18)
- Steve Rose
Catherine Shoard and Henry Barnes join Xan Brooks for our round-up of the week's big releases. This week the team wave their giant payslips in the face of Martin Scorsese's greed-is-fun financial drama The Wolf of Wall Street; trip off into the Chilean desert with Michael Cera in the sweet-natured stoner story Crystal Fairy; and hear the word of the preacher man in Charles Laughton's re-released The Night of the Hunter.
• This is the audio-only version of this week's Guardian Film Show
Xan BrooksHenry BarnesCatherine ShoardThibaut Remy »
- Xan Brooks, Henry Barnes, Catherine Shoard, Thibaut Remy
"I come not with peace, but with a sword," says Robert Mitchum's psychopathic bogus preacher, brandishing a switchblade that at moments of extreme sexual excitement and disgust will poke out of his trouser-pocket, tearing the material. His performance in Charles Laughton's The Night of the Hunter (1955) – now on re-release – is startlingly stiff-necked and straight backed, with a mannered theatrical baritone, a change from Mitchum's usual rangy coolness. Perhaps it was this unfamiliarity that contributed to the film's failure on first release, a bruising experience that helped make it Charles Laughton's sole directorial credit. In fact, this suspense thriller is a stunning piece of work, with the shadows of German expressionism and a compositional sense comparable to the work of George Stevens: it »
- Peter Bradshaw
★★★★★"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." This is the cautionary, biblical advise offered up by Lillian Gish's kindly foster mother at the outset of The Night of the Hunter (1955), Charles Laughton's seminal Depression-era thriller. Not only did this prove to be Laughton's sole directorial endeavour - more's the pity - it would also introduce audiences to Robert Mitchum's predatory preacher Harry Powell, one of cinema's most enduringly memorable antagonists. It's easy, then, to see why it's now been selected as Park Circus' latest stellar cinematic rerelease.
- CineVue UK
The murky, decrepit Deep South setting has worked as a wonderful backdrop to a series of compelling thrillers in the past couple of years, with the likes of Killer Joe, The Paperboy and Mud all playing on the sensibilities of the environment to great effect. However it is one of the originators of the sub-genre that now makes its way back into cinemas across Britain; Charles Laughton’s timeless cult classic, The Night of the Hunter.
Originally released in 1955, Robert Mitchum turns in a chilling performance as Harry Powell, a crook who lands himself a short-term prison sentence for auto theft. In his cell he meets a man who claims to have robbed a bank, leaving behind 10 thousand dollars before being condemned to the death penalty. Upon Powell’s release, he heads straight for the man’s widow (Shelley Winters), however it is her two young children, John (Billy Chapin »
- Stefan Pape
12 Years A Slave (15)
What with the acclaim, the awards buzz and the harrowing subject matter, finally seeing McQueen's slavery drama now feels like a duty. But this is an "issue movie" unlike any other, both in its deliberate formalism and its under-represented history. Along with Ejiofor's abductee, we're fully immersed in a slavery system so brutally oppressive even the expression of suffering is forbidden. McQueen gives us a study of institutionalised cruelty, the forces propping it up and its innumerable victims.
The Railway Man (15)
Middle-aged romance is rapidly derailed by events of the past in this earnest bio-drama, as Kidman spurs Scotsman Firth to revisit his Asian prisoner-of-war days, »
- Steve Rose
13 items from 2014
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