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In the history of cinema, there are few shots as technically stimulating, or as spectacularly choreographed as the opening tracking shot of Orson Welles' 1958 Film Noir masterpiece, "Touch of Evil." There are other contenders to be sure, Altman's homage to Welles' famous shot in "The Player" comes to mind. Long amazing sequences in "Magnolia" and Children of Men" stand out too, with the latter being my favorite of all. But "Touch of Evil" was first, and it's more than 3 minute continuous crane shot brilliantly serves to raise the tension as the audience anxiously watches a bomb laden car leave a parking lot to drive a short way across the Us border -- never far from lovers Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh, strolling along on what would seem a pleasant evening.
The argument could be made that taking any decent piece of music and setting it to this shot would be cool to watch, »
- Brandon Kim
Raiders. Manhattan. Suspiria. Jeff looks back at ten of the most distinctive, unforgettable opening sequences in cinema’s history…
In fishing terminology, it’s the hook. In literature, the prologue. In teacher lingo, the ‘mental set.’ Call it what you will, movies also have methods to lure in audiences within the first several minutes.
Some of these set pieces are so meticulously orchestrated and satisfying in and of themselves that they even threaten to outweigh the rest of their respective flicks. Here are ten classic opening sequences you shouldn’t be without.
Did we miss one? Then add your own in the comments below!
The Indy series is more or less Steven Spielberg’s attempt to one-up James Bond (directorially speaking), with each of the movies aping 007’s opening set pieces, while not being explicitly tied to the main narrative.
Temple Of Doom probably wins »
You will not like something about this list. In your mind, undeserving inclusions and unthinkable omissions probably abound. That is as it should be. Film, for all the scholarship, expertise and pretense that surrounds it, remains, like all art, firmly subjective. Feel free to tell us what we missed, what we misplaced, or congratulate us on a job well done, if you feel so inclined. Just remember to keep it clean, civil and respectful. With that said, these are The Moving Arts Film Journal’s 100 Greatest Movies of All Time:
#1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, Kubrick)
#2. Citizen Kane (1941, Welles)
#3. The Godfather (1972, Coppola)
#4. Andrei Rublev (1966, Tarkovsky)
#6. Casablanca (1942, Curtiz)
#7. Vertigo (1958, Hitchcock)
#9. Seven Samurai (1954, Kurosawa)
#10. The Godfather Pt. II (1974, Coppola)
#11. The Third Man (1949, Reed)
#12. The Wizard of Oz (1939, Fleming)
#13. Dr. Strangelove (1964, Kubrick)
#14. Goodfellas (1990, Scorsese)
#15. Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972, Herzog)
#16. 8½ (1963, Fellini)
#17. Singin’ In The Rain (1952, Donen, »
- Eric M. Armstrong
Yesterday on the online culture magazine The Rumpus -- a site I've contributed to in the past -- a writer by the name of Larry Fahey wrote a piece entitled "All Thumbs: Roger Ebert and the Decline of Film Criticism". The article begins with the sentence "I hate Roger Ebert," and goes on to outline how Ebert has destroyed not only film criticism, but also filmmaking, and life as we know it. Fahey begins by delineating two different kinds of critics, those who approach movies as art and those who approach them as products. Into the former category, Fahey places writers like Anthony Lane and Stanley Kauffmann. Into the latter, he places Rex Reed, Leonard Maltin, Gene Shalit, and worst of all Ebert, who is, in Fahey's estimation:
"...the kind [of critic] that sees movies as products, like cell phones or refrigerators or spatulas. These critics consider it their responsibility not to inspire debate or thought, »
- Matt Singer
1938 was a year of mistakes and misunderstandings. Many people believed in the Munich settlement, and the public thought Bringing Up Baby was stupid. The film lost around $300,000 and helped edge Katharine Hepburn closer to the category of "box-office poison". When you walk under the ladder of history, expect the whitewash to fall on you.
That's about the only mishap that doesn't hit Cary Grant's David Huxley as he bumps into Susan Vance (Hepburn). The sequence I want you to look at is the extended second meeting of this demented couple made in heaven (or is it hell?).
The encounter is an extraordinary sequence of physical comedy, one calamity adding to another until the finale where, in a crowed clubhouse of American sophisticates, David (in tatters) has to step so closely behind Susan to get away that he uses his top hat to mask the fact that her derriere is »
- David Thomson
A look at what's new on DVD today:
"Fade to Black" (2010)
Directed by Oliver Parker
Released by Image Entertainment
It looks like we'll have to update our list of actors who've played Orson Welles with this long-delayed drama from "The Importance of Being Earnest" director Parker, which stars Danny Huston as the "Touch of Evil" auteur who gets caught up in a murder mystery all his own on 1948's "Black Magic" in Italy when he finds out his name is on a hit list. Christopher Walken, Diego Luna and Paz Vega co-star.
"30 Days of Night: Dark Days" (2010)
Directed by Ben Ketai
Released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Rare for a direct-to-video sequel, original author Steve Niles returns to co-write this follow-up to the 2007 graphic novel adaptation about a vampire attack in Alaska. This time, "Lost" star Kiele Sanchez is protecting her neck, along with Diora Baird, Harold Perrineau, Rhys Coiro and Mia Kirshner, »
- Stephen Saito
He was born in 1925 when the masses were still swooning for silent icons like Rudolph Valentino. By the late 1950s he was a household name heartthrob himself if not a silent one. Still, that oft imitated Bronx accent "yonda lies the castle of my fadduh" couldn't derail his movie ascendance.
History continually teaches movie stars -- though scant few of them seem to really listen -- that what's important is not the paycheck or even necessarily a great role but working on enough top notch material with top directors to wind up in a few classics. It's one of the only ways to ensure that you are remembered, if screen immortality is indeed your goal.
Curtis, like any star, had his share of duds but history has and will continue to remember him because he appeared in a good share of classics, most notably that one-two-three-four punch of Sweet Smell of Success »
- NATHANIEL R
When we talked, I talked about me, you talked about you, when we should have talked about each other.
Soon this site will become the Godard Cast? Or better yet, The Belmondo Cast. I think I’d be all for that one. But is that really a bad thing? One of the fathers of the French New Wave coupled with one of the essential faces of French film makes way for the quintessential granddaddy of them all, Breathless. And the Criterion Collection is releasing a brand new transfer on Blu-ray and the question isn’t should you see this film. The real question is, should you buy this new Blu-ray, especially if you already have the DVD?
- James McCormick
Another good post from The Film Stage, this time highlighting a possible list of 25 of the most memorable film openings. You must go and read the post (with links!) but here are the scenes. »
- Sasha Stone
The ageing star, 93, has been in and out of hospital since breaking her hip at the couple's Beverly Hills home in July and friends, fans and family members fear she is facing her final days.
But Gabor's legacy will live on, if von Anhalt gets his way - he wants her remains to be preserved by plastination, according to Germany's Bild newspaper.
And he wants von Hagens, the man behind the controversial Body Worlds exhibitions, to perform the preservation procedure.
The German businessman says, "My wife has always dreamed that her beauty would be immortal. I would like to show the plastinated body of Zsa Zsa Gabor in the context of a scene in one of her films."
Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor was returned to the hospital after slipping into unconsciousness on Tuesday following a series of health-related setbacks since breaking her hip in July.Gabor, 93, was in "a great deal of pain" Tuesday morning and her husband, Frederick Prinz von Anhalt, found her to be "not responsive," her spokesman, John Blanchette, told Reuters.Von Anhalt called an ambulance to take his wife to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where doctors were able to stabilize her condition. No further details were available.Earlier in August, Gabor was given last rites by a priest at the same hospital.At that time, doctors wanted to perform surgery on her liver that would give her a 50-50 chance of survival, but the couple decided "she wanted to spend her final days at home," according to Blanchette. She returned to her Bel Air mansion in mid-August. »
Los Angeles - Zsa Zsa Gabor returned to the hospital on Tuesday for being "not responsive," her spokesman said, following a series of health-related setbacks since breaking her hip in July.John Blanchette, a spokesman for the 93-year-old actress, told Reuters that Gabor's husband, Frederick Prinz von Anhalt, called emergency personnel to take his wife to the University of California Los Angeles because she was "not responsive" and "doctors want her in right away."No further details were immediately available.Earlier this month, Gabor was given last rites by a priest at the same hospital.At that time, doctors wanted to perform surgery on her liver that would give her a 50-50 chance survival rate, but the couple decided "she wanted to spend her final days at home," according to Blanchette. She returned to her Bel Air mansion in mid-August.Gabor, whose string of movies, television shows and wealthy husbands dates to the 1950s, »
Bigfoot (aka: Sasquatch), the elusive North American apeman whose alleged sightings sparked a craze that swept the nation in the 1970’s, inspired a string of cheap movies that were rushed into theatres then to cash in on the fad. The Legend Of Boggy Creek (1972), Shriek Of The Mutilated (1974), Curse Of Bigfoot (1976) Sasquatch, The Legend Of Bigfoot (1977) all made a quick buck and who can forget the ‘Bigfoot and Wildboy’ TV series and the Bigfoot episode of ‘The Six Million Dolar Man’ (and c’mon, tell me Chewbacca wasn’t inspired by the big hairy guy as well) but none were as gloriously goofy as the low-rent 1970 campfest Bigfoot. A low-budget quickie loaded with Indians, biker gangs, redneck cops, and a whole family of clumsy bigfeet, Bigfoot is about ten times more entertaining than it has any right to be, but it is Not available on DVD.
- Tom Stockman
Trevor Hogg profiles the career of three time Academy Award-winning sound designer and film editor Walter Murch in the third of a five part feature... read parts one and two.
“I was interested to go back and look at the two films I edited, The Conversation  and Julia , which I had done “mechanically” – physically cutting the film itself,” mused the multi-talented Walter Murch. “I made the transition to “electronic,” – and started working on the Avid in 1995, I was curious to see if there was any difference between my mechanical and electronic styles. There wasn’t – in fact I was struck on how immediate the earlier films seemed. I would make the same editorial choices today.” The advent of computer technology in film editing has resulted in a couple of serious drawbacks for the craft. “When you actually had to make the cut physically on film, you naturally tended to think »
Celebrations are in order - it's Antonio Banderas' 50th birthday!
The star was born Jose Antonio Dominguez Banderas in Spain 50 years ago today and dreamed of being a professional soccer star until a broken foot ended his sporting dreams - and put him on the path to Tinseltown.
After launching his acting career on the Spanish stage, Banderas found fame in Hollywood with roles in hit movies including Desperado, The Mask of Zorro and the Shrek franchise, making him one of Spain's most successful exports.
Now, as Banderas reaches a new milestone, WENN takes a look back at his life with 10 fascinating facts about the birthday boy:
- Banderas' father, Jose Dominguez, was an officer with Spain's military police force, the Guardia Civil.
- The actor had a promising soccer career cut short at the age of 14 when he broke a bone in his foot. But he still follows the game, and reportedly supports Spanish teams Real Madrid and Malaga Cf.
- He has his own range of men's and women's fragrances, which he personally smell-tests before they go on sale.
- He has an honorary doctorate from Dickinson College, Pennsylvania.
- Banderas' legacy in showbiz was assured in 2005 when he joined the ranks of celebrities with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
- He has been married twice - his first union to Ana G. Leza ended in divorce, and he went on to wed actress Melanie Griffith in 1996. They have a 14-year-old daughter, Stella.
- A keen singer, Banderas recorded a duet with Britain's Michael Ball - their version of Me and My Shadow features on Ball's 2003 album A Love Story.
- He is an astute businessman - the actor owns a 50 per cent stake in the Anta Banderas winery in Spain, which specialises in red wine and rose.
- In 2008, he was given the San Sebastian International Film Festival's Lifetime Achievement Award. »
[Our thanks to Brecht Andersch for offering his notes on this revival screening.]
In 1949, a Parisian ciné-club named Objectif 49 held a festival in Biarritz dedicated to "Film Maudit", or "Accursed Cinema". A jury headed by Jean Cocteau led the proceedings with the express mission to reevaluate and redefine what was of value in cinematic art. A slate of ignored, unfairly maligned, and/or transgressive works were held up as representative of a new filmic vanguard. Films now long accepted as major works of world cinema such as Vigo's Zéro de conduite and L'Atalante, Bresson's Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne, and Visconti's Ossessione were for the first time given their due. Cinematic and sexual radicalism were endorsed by Cocteau awarding the Poetic Film Prize to Kenneth Anger's Fireworks, the first serious acknowledgment of a budding genius.
Charlton Heston plays a Norman knight in this impressive costume drama set in 11th-century France
Director Franklin J Schaffner (1920-1989) went into TV immediately after service during the second world war with the Us Navy and built a considerable reputation during New York's golden age of live TV drama before turning to the cinema with a succession of intelligent, visually striking pictures. Patton is most famous, but before that he had two happy collaborations with Charlton Heston on Planet of the Apes and the less well-known The War Lord. In the latter, a highly impressive costume drama set in 11th-century France, Heston (right) plays a Norman knight going dangerously astray when assigned to a remote garrison on the fringe of Europe, where Christianity confronts paganism. The literate script is by British novelist John Collier and Millard Kaufman (author of Bad Day at Black Rock), the music is by Jerome Moross »
- Philip French
Iconic Hollywood socialite/actress Zsa Zsa Gabor -- the Paris Hilton of her time -- is reportedly not doing well. If you believe her 9th husband, Frederic Prinze von Anhalt . But if you believe her daughter, Constance Francesca Hilton, she's doing just fine.
The Hungarian-born legend underwent hip replacement surgery Monday (July 21) after she fell out of bed Saturday and damaged her hips when trying to answer the phone at her Bel-Air home.
The surgery was successful in repairing her broken hip. But her husband tells Reuters, "The doctors want to observe her over the weekend to make sure her condition improves, but right now it is not looking good."
Following his statement, Zsa Zsa Gabor's daughter denied reports that her mother was critically ill and not responding to human contact with her own statement.
"She is not in a coma. She is not on any kind of death watch. »
Los Angeles - Classic Hollywood film diva Zsa Zsa Gabor was to undergo hip replacement surgery Monday after falling from her bed in Los Angeles. The 93-year-old broke her hip when she fell trying to answer the telephone, her husband Frederic Prinz von Anhalt told German Press Agency dpa. 'Her chances are 50-50,' said von Anhalt, 67, 'she is not so young anymore.' Gabor is best remembered for 1950s classics such as Lili and Touch of Evil, and for her several high-profile husbands including hotel magnate Conrad Hilton and Oscar-winning actor George Sanders. The actress, who has been partially paralysed »
Zsa Zsa Gabor will undergo hip replacement surgery Monday after suffering a fall last night at home, her publicist tells The Insider. The 93-year-old star was watching "Jeopardy" in her Bel Air home when she reached to answer the phone and fell out of bed, said publicist John Blanchette. An ambulance was called by Gabor's husband, Prince Frederic Von Anhalt, who says he heard his wife scream after she fell. Blanchette said several bones were broken in the fall, but he didn't provide other details of her injuries. He added that the actress remains in a Los Angeles hospital with her husband and other family members at her side. The star -- who appeared in such films as ‘Moulin Rouge,’ ‘Lili’ and ‘Touch of Evil’ -- has rarely been seen in public since a 2002 car accident which left her partially paralyzed.
[Read full story on The Insider]
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