11 items from 2013
By Lee Pfeiffer
"Casting By" is an extraordinary new documentary by filmmaker Tom Donahue who spent years accumulating interviews and archival materials for this look at the contributions of casting directors to the motion picture business. Most people are well aware of the important roles that composers, costume designers, editors and production designers play in the creation of movies-- but if you say "casting directors", the average person's eyes glaze over. Sounds boring, doesn't it? Donahue's film sets the record straight, pointing out that casting directors are often responsible for bringing to life some of the film industry's most memorable characters. So important is their contributions that Donohue found enthusiasm among esteemed filmmakers and actors to participate in his documentary even among those individuals who are not prone to generally giving interviews. In the film Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, John Travolta, David V. Picker, Robert Redford, »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Cinema Retro)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Extended Edition) A lot of Hobbit related content lately what with the three-minute trailer and eight new posters for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and now the extended edition of the first film which features 13 additional minutes, bringing the grand total to 182 minutes. Personally, I'm not interested, but if you are, Slashfilm has done a write up on the additional footage.
White House Down After Olympus Has Fallen, White House Down wasn't able to make much of a domestic impact, even with Hollywood's presumed new golden boy, Channing Tatum, in the lead. However, it did outgross Olympus worldwide, yet the $150 million production budget ultimately proved too much to overcome. Now it hopes to have a life on DVD and Blu-ray, but I wouldn't recommend buying it... rental at best.
- Brad Brevet
“More than ninety percent of directing a picture is the right casting,” says Martin Scorsese at the outset of Tom Donahue’s engrossing documentary “Casting By,” which will be released in theaters for an awards run November 1. And Scorsese’s not alone in his feelings -- Woody Allen, Robert Redford, Clint Eastwood and a legion of others put in face time in the film to trumpet the importance of the unsung, highly intuitive art of casting. The result is a cinephile’s treat.The film is primarily a love letter to casting director Marion Dougherty, a pioneer in her field. Dougherty came to prominence in the 1950s, when the studio system was on its way out. Going against the grain of the contract player technique, Dougherty would plumb the depths of the New York theater scene for actors to take parts on live television. This eventually segued into higher-profile TV series (“Naked City, »
- Beth Hanna
For all those Millennials who don't know who Diahann Carroll is, her appearance at Sunday night's Emmys was a welcomed nod to her place in TV history. The 78-year-old actress and singer, who joined Kerry Washington onstage to present the award for Best Supporting Actor in a drama to Bobby Cannavale, was the first African-American ever to be nominated for TV's highest honor. This when she earned an Emmy nom for Outstanding Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie for an episode of the 1963 police drama Naked City. But it was in 1969 that she scored her most memorable nomination—a Best Actress nod for her role as a nurse in Julia, a sitcom which ran on NBC from 1968 to 1971. The light-hearted »
John Travolta certainly knows the value of a having a casting director in his corner.
If not for the faith a legendary one named Lynn Stalmaster had in his talent, the enduring star might never have won the role of "Sweathog" Vinnie Barbarino in the sitcom "Welcome Back, Kotter" ... which set him on a course of fame that exploded soon afterward with the successes of such movies as "Saturday Night Fever" and "Grease." Travolta is among those paying tribute to "my beloved Lynn" (as he puts it) and others in the documentary "Casting By," which has its HBO debut Monday, Aug. 5.
"I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for Lynn and his so believing in me," Travolta recalls for Zap2it. "At age 18, I was up for the movie 'The Last Detail,' in the part Randy Quaid eventually played. Lynn was just hellbent to get me cast in that, »
One of the best anecdotes in the documentary Casting By, which premieres tonight on HBO, relates the start of Warren Beatty’s screen career on a 1957 episode of Kraft Television Theatre. We’re told that like many young actors of the time he modeled himself way too much on Marlon Brando. Then we actually see a clip, and sure enough the future movie star looks and sounds like he’s doing a comical impersonation. Fortunately, within the next five years he would find his own comfortable style and manage to break out in Hollywood in order to become one of his generation’s finest. And apparently we have casting director Marion Dougherty to thank for giving him his first shot. There are a lot of first- and second-hand stories in the film about a lot of actors and actresses’ beginnings. And a lot of rare clips to prove just how terrible or terrific they really were. There »
- Christopher Campbell
When an actor is invited to a party celebrating casting directors, he or she RSVPs an emphatic yes. And so it was that the July 29 premiere party (at the HBO screening room and later at Manhattan’s Gramercy Park Hotel) for Tom Donahue’s documentary “Casting By”—premiering on HBO Aug. 5—was a particularly star-studded affair. As people chatted and flipped through the “Casting By” issue of Backstage, bold-faced names including Martin Scorsese, Parker Posey, Zach Grenier, Stephen Lang, and Dana Delany mingled with Donahue and casting directors Joanna Colbert, Amanda Mackey, Juliet Taylor, and Ellen Lewis. Following a screening of Donahue’s film—which included a discussion with Donahue, Taylor, and moderator Scott Foundas—much of the audience trooped over to the Gramercy Terrace for cocktails inspired by some of the movies discussed in the documentary. A favorite among the crowd was the Sting, a highbrow bloody mary made »
Chicago – I may never know how “In Their Skin” came into being, but I have a pretty good theory. Screenwriter/star Josh Close was so appalled by the unapologetic bleakness of Michael Haneke’s “Funny Games” that he took it upon himself to make the exact same movie, more or less, but with a much happier ending. It’s a noble effort but every bit as pointless as Rod Lurie’s proudly non-misogynistic remake of “Straw Dogs.”
Perhaps Close was so offended by the killers’ blasé approach to offing a rich family in Haneke’s film that he wanted to illustrate how white upper class folk are every bit as prone to suffering as the rest of us. “We’re not perfect!” shouts Close at his captor, a ruthless madman hell-bent on stealing his identity. Instead of finding their home invaded by two creepy male sociopaths, the innocent trio of »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
Star Trek – and we’re talking the original 1966-69 series here – was a lousy TV show. I was 11 years old when the series debuted on NBC and I thought it was a lousy show then.
That’s why I couldn’t stand the Trekkies even back before there was a name for them. My first run-in with a pre-Trekkie Trekkie was Vincent DePalma. In seventh grade, Vincent had his mother make a sparkly Star Fleet emblem for a corduroy pullover to make it look like the uniform blouses on the show. He wore it to school which I thought was him begging to get his ass beat. He’d built a full-sized replica of the helm/navigation console from the Enterprise bridge in his basement. His father worked for Bell Telephone and had gotten him banks of light-up buttons that really worked. His dream was to eventually recreate the entire bridge in his basement. »
- Bill Mesce
In our previous Kiss piece on hidden gems of the ’70′s, reader comments confirmed this fact: observers of Kiss, fans and haters alike, are a passionate group. The comments section of that article is jammed with opinions and criticisms and the idea to produce a similar list for the ’80′s was first germinated there by a couple of different readers. This is that list.
The early ’80′s were a strange time for Kiss – Gene was off trying to become a movie star media mogul and dealing with rapid hair loss, Peter was gone, Ace was going and Paul was left minding the shop. The first two albums of the ’80′s, “Unmasked” and “Music from the Elder’ were critical and commercial failures but that was probably a blessing in disguise as it forced the band to try to claw back some credibiity with the excellent “Creatures of the Night” album. Unfortunately, »
- Reverend Rock
This week, Park Chan-wook’s Stoker made its Sundance debut for all the lucky people in Park City, Utah. And the rest of us? We get an English-language trailer.
Quite frankly, the music doesn’t fit any of the other marketing that’s gone along with this film. It’s jarring - at odds with the mood and visuals. Sometimes this approach works, like Naked City's music in Funny Games, but this time it doesn’t.
Not stoked. Up until this point everything has looked fantastic and the first reviews out of Sundance have been positive. Here's hoping this is nothing more than a small misstep.
Stoker 60-second trailer exclusive
- Sara Castillo
11 items from 2013
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