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Ken Takakura, who first rose to stardom in the 1960s playing yakuza outlaws, but later became Hollywood’s go-to actor for made-in-Japan films, died on Nov. 10 at age 83 of malignant lymphoma. A private funeral had already been held when the Japanese media broke the story today.
The legendary actor most recently starred in “Dearest” and Zhang Yimou’s “Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles.” Western audiences best know Takakura for his roles in Ridley Scott’s “Black Rain” and 1992′s “Mr. Baseball.”
Born on Feb. 16, 1931 in Fukuoka, Japan, Takakura entered the Toei studio in 1955 after graduating from Meiji University. His breakout role was as an escaped prisoner in Teruo Ishii’s 1965 hit “Abashiri Prison,” which was loosely based on Stanley Kramer’s 1958 “The Defiant Ones.” The film spawned a long-running series, while Takakura churned out hit after hit for Toei in the remainder of the decade and beyond. Usually playing »
- Mark Schilling
By Anjelica Oswald
Originally planned to screen as a 30-minute preview at AFI Fest, Ava DuVernay’s Selma, centered on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights marches from Selma to Montgomery, premiered in its entirety and stirred up more Oscar buzz ahead of its Christmas Day release.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Stephen Farber says the film is “intelligently written, vividly shot, tightly edited and sharply acted,” and that it “represents a rare example of craftsmanship working to produce a deeply moving piece of history.” Meanwhile, Paul Webb’s screenplay and David Oyelowo’s portrayal of Dr. King have been praised. The Wrap’s James Rocchi says, “Oyelowo’s performance would be impressive enough if it merely recreated the icon we now revere as perfectly as he does through a variety of methods… But Oyelowo, and Webb’s screenplay, also give us a rich, rewarding portrait of King as a man, »
- Anjelica Oswald
We're all used to the Oscar ceremony drawing monotonous "it's too long!" complaints. Yours truly doesn't share that view. Hell, if they wanted to do 9-hour broadcasts and include all the honoraries again and give more attention to the craft categories, and never skimp on any of the four category clip reels for the actors, I'd gladly watch each additional minute. But the super long Oscar ceremony is actually not a historic consistency. The earliest Oscars were short banquets and once they started televising them in the 50s the lengths varied.
Gigi made a clean sweep with 9 Oscars but with no acting nominations. Burl Ives (The Big Country), Susan Hayward (I Want To Live!), and David Niven and Wendy Hiller (not pictured) from Separate Tables won the acting Oscars.
The shortest of all televised ceremonies was the 1958 Oscars, broadcast live on April 6th, '59. It was only 100 minutes long. Can you imagine it? »
- NATHANIEL R
Paramount’s late-breaking strategy of premiering the entire film of Selma at Tuesday night’s AFI Fest, rather than just the previously advertised 3o-minute preview, paid off in a prolonged and enthusiastic standing ovation from the packed-to-the-rafters audience at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theatre. Though director Ava DuVernay said the movie wasn’t “quite” finished with some sound mix work still to be completed (there was also no end credit roll yet), the powerful drama about the Martin Luther King Jr.-led 1965 march on Selma in support of gaining voting rights for blacks turned out to be a stirring and emotional experience for the crowd, who exited after a lively Q&A singing the movie’s praises.
Awards bloggers immediately began ecstatic tweeting suggesting Oscar nominations could be in store, particularly for DuVernay who not only would be the rare female to break into Oscar’s elusive, exclusive directing club, but also the first black woman. »
- Pete Hammond
By Anjelica Oswald
Oscar buzz continues to follow Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher after its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May and its screenings at various film festivals, including the Telluride, Toronto and New York film fests. The film is set to close AFI Fest Thursday and open in Theaters on Friday. Sony Pictures Classics will be pushing for three of its stars to land Oscar nominations: Channing Tatum and Steve Carell for lead actor and Mark Ruffalo for supporting. If the film was to score all three nominations, it would be one of 15 films to land that many actor nominations and the first film since 1991’s Bugsy.
The biographical crime drama about Benjamin Siegel, the infamous gangster known as Bugsy, landed Warren Beatty a lead actor nomination for his role as Bugsy and supporting actor nominations for Harvey Keitel and Ben Kingsley. None of the actors won. »
- Anjelica Oswald
Maureen O’Hara, now 94, took time to fondly remember the Hollywood greats from her past such as John Wayne and John Ford. Legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki said he was just happy to be in the same room as Maureen O’Hara. Masterful screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere gave a moving tribute to Hollywood’s “forgotten” writers. And Harry Belafonte, winner of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, galvanized the industry crowd by asking them to aim higher.
Yes, it was quite a night for the four honorees of the Sixth Annual Governors Awards of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Quite a night. And the Academy got this awards season off to a roaring start with this blessedly non-televised celebration of the greats in this business who may not have always been given their due. It has also become a night for major schmoozing and networking among Academy voters and the huge numbers of Oscar hopefuls. »
- Pete Hammond
Hollywood — At the 6th annual Governors Awards Saturday night, Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award recipient Harry Belafonte brought things to a sober, classy close with a lengthy speech detailing some of Hollywood's history with social rights issues. It was a pretty powerful send-off (Michael Keaton seemed particularly knocked out from my vantage point). I've included the full text of the speech (the bulk of his remarks, that is) below, as it seemed like something worth sharing. For more on the evening, be sure to read our coverage from the event. *** America has come a long way since Hollywood in 1915 gave the world the film "Birth of a Nation." By all measure, this cinematic work was considered the greatest film ever made. The power of moving pictures to impact on human behavior was never more powerfully evidenced than when after the release of this film, American citizens went on a murderous rampage. »
- Kristopher Tapley
What do actor Theodore Bikel, author Steven Pressman, who wrote the HBO Holocaust documentary Children: The Rescue Mission of Mr. and Mrs. Kraus, and Tracey Davis, daughter of Sammy Davis Jr. and May Britt, have in common? They will all three be guests at this year’s St. Louis Jewish Book Festival! More than 49 writers make up this year’s lineup including award-winning producers, novelists, bakers, historians, and humorists – there’s something for everyone but We Are Movie Geeks is most interested in these three guests because of their contributions to cinema.
The venue is the Jewish Community Center – Staenberg Family Complex – 2 Millstone Campus Drive in St. Louis
Details and ticket info can be found at the Fest’s site Here
Theodore Bikel will speak Sunday, November 2, at 7pm – Tickets are $40
It’s not mentioned in the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival press release, »
- Tom Stockman
Christopher Reeve Foundation for spinal cord and stem cell research (photo: Darryl Hannah and Christopher Reeve in 'Rear Window') (See previous post: "'Superman' Christopher Reeve and his Movies: Ten-Year Death Anniversary.") In his 1998 autobiography Still Me, Christopher Reeve recalled: "At an especially bleak moment [prior to an operation that might result in his death], the door [of his hospital room] flew open and in hurried a squat fellow with a blue scrub hat and a yellow surgical gown and glasses, speaking in a Russian accent. For the first time since the accident, I laughed. My old friend had helped me know that somehow I was going to be okay." The "old friend" was the recently deceased Robin Williams, whom Reeve had befriended while both were studying at Juillard. Eventually, Reeve became a staunch advocate for spinal cord and stem cell research, sponsoring with his wife the Christopher Reeve Foundation — later renamed the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation (and formerly known »
- Andre Soares
Drew Barrymore half-sister Jessica Barrymore found dead near San Diego (photo: Jessica Barrymore) Drew Barrymore’s half-sister Jessica Barrymore was found dead in her car early Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in National City, located between San Diego and Chula Vista in Southern California. Jessica Barrymore (née Brahma [Jessica] Blyth Barrymore) would have turned 48 on Thursday, July 31. According to a witness, Jessica Barrymore, who worked at a Petco store, was found reclined in the driver’s seat, with a drink between her legs. White pills were seen scattered on the passenger seat. Despite online rags reporting either that Drew Barrymore’s half-sister committed suicide or died from a drug overdose, the official cause of death hasn’t been announced. As per the Los Angeles Times, an autopsy will be performed in the next few days. In a statement published in the gossip magazine People, Drew Barrymore, 39, said she had "only met her [sister Jessica] briefly." Their father was John Drew Barrymore, »
- Andre Soares
Playwright and screenwriter Terence Rattigan was an indubitable influence on mid-century British cinema. He authored several of the era’s most notable titles, including The Browning Version (1951), Lean’s The Sound Barrier (1952) Olivier’s troubled The Prince and the Showgirl (1957) and Anatole Litvak’s The Deep Blue Sea (1952), which was recently remade by Terrence Davies in 2011. But it would be a 1958 American adaptation of his play, Separate Tables, from director Delbert Mann that would prove to be his most critically lauded work, nominated for seven Academy Awards, and snagging two (Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress). By today’s standards, it’s a film that feels painstakingly melodramatic. Reconsidered within the framework of Rattigan’s own impressive oeuvre, the material hasn’t aged well, and as time has gone on, its cramped exploration of sexual dysfunction now plays like a euthanized product crippled by censorship of the author’s own »
- Nicholas Bell
Trains in cinema have always made for an excitable source within the realm of the comedy, drama, mystery or suspense pertaining to the plot of a particular film. The setting for the featured trains as the driving force of entertainment serves as the heart and soul of the action for the most part.
In some cases using trains as a last minute symbolic theme for a film can generate great impact that thrives and questions the motives and urgency of the characters and storyline (i.e. the climax scene in The Defiant Ones where the salt-and-pepper escaped convicts Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier try and make a desperate dash for permanent freedom on a speeding train en route to permanent freedom). Perhaps a train could also add an extra element of action-packed excitement in a film’s conclusive ending such as the uncontrollable commuter train in Speed?
In Getting on »
- Frank Ochieng
When mixing black and white movie characters as either friends or foes on the big screen should not produce any gray areas at all. Whether amiable or adversarial the pairing of interracial tandems makes for an interesting sociological study in cinema where tension, togetherness, stereotypical profiling and mutual or reluctant acceptance makes for some captivating film fodder.
Sure, in many ways it is an overused cliched in the movies to produce racial tandems for the sake of the entertainment to allow the creative juices to overflow. In Salt and Pepper: Top 10 Black and White Movie Tandems we will take a look at various “salt and pepper” teams as they come together in the name of law and justice, hostile necessity, friendly frivolity or professional attachment to bring movie audiences a sense of adventure and curiosity in the name of comedic or dramatic license. Maybe you have your favorite cultural »
- Frank Ochieng
Joan Lorring, 1945 Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee, dead at 88: One of the earliest surviving Academy Award nominees in the acting categories, Lorring was best known for holding her own against Bette Davis in ‘The Corn Is Green’ (photo: Joan Lorring in ‘Three Strangers’) Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nominee Joan Lorring, who stole the 1945 film version of The Corn Is Green from none other than Warner Bros. reigning queen Bette Davis, died Friday, May 30, 2014, in the New York City suburb of Sleepy Hollow. So far, online obits haven’t mentioned the cause of death. Lorring, one of the earliest surviving Oscar nominees in the acting categories, was 88. Directed by Irving Rapper, who had also handled one of Bette Davis’ biggest hits, the 1942 sudsy soap opera Now, Voyager, Warners’ The Corn Is Green was a decent if uninspired film version of Emlyn Williams’ semi-autobiographical 1938 hit play about an English schoolteacher, »
- Andre Soares
I was glued to the Twitter application of my iPhone Sunday night waiting for the reactions to Bennett Miller's "Foxcatcher" to roll in as the film bowed in Competition at the Cannes Film Festival. It was interesting to watch the first wave of knee-jerks, all of them just a touch muted, I assume because Miller is not a filmmaker whose movies hit you right away. They kind of seep into you the more you spin away from them, and I got the feeling "Foxcatcher" is absolutely one such example. We were all more or less expecting something special out of Steve Carell here. From photos and that early trailer that slipped out last fall, it was clear he had undergone a transformation for the role of multimillionaire murderer John du Pont, both physically and professionally. And indeed, all indications are that it is a career-altering portrayal. Here's one juicy »
- Kristopher Tapley
Today in history, April 13th, 1964... Sidney Poitier became the first black performer in a leading role to win an Oscar for his role in Lilies Of The Field. He also holds the record for the the youngest black actor (male) to win the Best Actor Oscar, at age 37. This would be Poitier's second nomination for the award; the first being for his performance in The Defiant Ones, 5 years earlier. It would take another looooong 38 years before another black actor would win the Best Actor Oscar - Denzel Washington, in 2001, for his performance in Training Day. And coincidentally, that win made Denzel the oldest black actor to win the Best Actor Oscar, at 47 years old. That was »
- Tambay A. Obenson
Written by Brady Sullivan | Art by Amilton Santos | Published by Back Row Comics | Format: Paperback/Digital comic, 78pp
Jeffery Tiller is in jail. But he isn’t in any old jail. This jail has a top of the line security system in the form of a bracelet placed on every inmates arm. You want to escape? You won’t get far. Before you know it, you will be teleported right back into your cell. But Jeffery Tiller is smart and he wants out. Using his ‘egghead’ skills, he manages to form an escape plan, unfortunately he needs to take 5 other inmates with him for his plan to work. So with his rag tag team of murderers, arsonists and psychopaths, what follows is a science fiction adventure of epic proportions including time travel, action, dinosaurs, Romans, racism and romance.
Doing Time is a science-fiction-prison-break-adventure following a number of inmates as they »
- Richard Axtell
Mickey Rooney was earliest surviving Best Actor Oscar nominee (photo: Mickey Rooney and Spencer Tracy in ‘Boys Town’) (See previous post: “Mickey Rooney Dead at 93: MGM’s Andy Hardy Series’ Hero and Judy Garland Frequent Co-Star Had Longest Film Career Ever?”) Mickey Rooney was the earliest surviving Best Actor Academy Award nominee — Babes in Arms, 1939; The Human Comedy, 1943 — and the last surviving male acting Oscar nominee of the 1930s. Rooney lost the Best Actor Oscar to two considerably more “prestigious” — albeit less popular — stars: Robert Donat for Sam Wood’s Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939) and Paul Lukas for Herman Shumlin’s Watch on the Rhine (1943). Following Mickey Rooney’s death, there are only two acting Academy Award nominees from the ’30s still alive: two-time Best Actress winner Luise Rainer, 104 (for Robert Z. Leonard’s The Great Ziegfeld, 1936, and Sidney Franklin’s The Good Earth, 1937), and Best Supporting Actress nominee Olivia de Havilland, »
- Andre Soares
Article by Sam Moffitt
It’s tough to say goodbye to Sid Caesar. I’ve been pondering what I can possibly say about a comedy legend who has been around as long as I can remember and contributed so much to comedy, mostly on television but also many times in motion pictures.
Firstly Sid Caesar was in on the ground floor of television, his earliest programs done live in 1949 before the video switch board had even been invented. In those earliest shows the director was on the stage telling the floor managers which cameras and mikes to hook or unhook to the coax and audio cables! Consider that just for a moment!
Caesar’s wonderful book Caesar’s Hours: My Life in Comedy, with Love and Laughter, co written with Eddie Friedfeld tells all about Sid Caesar’s years in show business and the legendary live variety shows; Your Show of Shows »
- Movie Geeks
Oscar 2014 presenters range from Alfred Hitchcock heroine to ’12 Years a Slave’ producer (photo: Oscar 2014 presenter Jennifer Lawrence) Expect at least a couple of standing ovations at the 2014 Academy Awards ceremony to be held on Oscar Sunday, March 2, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Los Angeles. Oscar 2014 producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced earlier today the complete list of movie celebrities — all actors, including a handful of actor-directors / actor-producers — who will be presenters at the ceremony, to be hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, and which will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide — even in the United States, via the ABC network. (See the full list below.) Among the Oscar 2014 presenters, you’ll find a number of past Oscar winners and nominees. With a couple of exceptions, not from the very distant past, mind you, as the overwhelming majority of presenters are performers working in »
- Steve Montgomery
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