7 items from 2016
We celebrate a century of huge and expensive film sets, from historical epics to sprawling fantasies and sci-fi action movies...
The advent of cinema saw the art of set design gradually spread its wings from the relative confines of the theatre. As movies established their own language and became ever more ambitious in the early part of the 20th century, so set designers were called on to create increasingly expansive and more detailed backdrops.
As the list of movies below proves, the construction of huge sets has been a major part of cinema for the past century. And with scale comes expense, as the recreation of ancient landmarks, futuristic cities or doomed ocean liners takes hundreds of artists, designers and crafty types months of labour to plan and construct. Often, these sets are on the screen for a few scant minutes before they're torn down and largely »
As I was driving home from talking to Joel and Ethan Coen about their latest film, I called my parents, laughing about the way the film folds Hollywood truth into Hollywood fiction. I mentioned that the Loretta Young story was an obvious inspiration for one thread of the film, and my parents seemed confused by the reference. They knew who Loretta Young was, no doubt, but they had never heard the defining story of her personal life because back when Young was still an active movie star, my parents were part of the audience who were protected from the truth to help keep those movie star images squeaky-clean. Eddie Mannix, played by Josh Brolin, is officially listed as the Head of Physical Production for Capitol Studios, but what he really does is handle problems. He's a fixer. And there was an actual Eddie Mannix who worked for MGM. If you remember Hollywoodland, »
- Drew McWeeny
If there’s such a thing as poker-faced exuberance, you can feel it in every loving, teasing frame of Joel and Ethan Coen’s “Hail, Caesar!,” an inside-showbiz lark that regards the 1950s studio system with the utmost skepticism even as it becomes an expression of movie love at its purest. Starring Josh Brolin as a hard-working industry “fixer” tasked with keeping big-budget productions on track and wayward stars in line, this gorgeously crafted romp through the backlots and Malibu enclaves of Hollywood’s Golden Age tosses off plenty of eccentric comedy and musical razzle-dazzle before taking on richer, more ruminative dimensions, ultimately landing on the funny-sad question of whether life is but a dream factory. Although it boasts enough marquee names and splashy, crowdpleasing angles to deliver good returns for Universal, this is as strange and singular an offering as anything the Coens have ever done, and as such its more thoughtful, »
- Justin Chang
'Ben-Hur' 1959 with Stephen Boyd and Charlton Heston: TCM's '31 Days of Oscar.' '31 Days of Oscar': 'Lawrence of Arabia' and 'Ben-Hur' are in, Paramount stars are out Today, Feb. 1, '16, Turner Classic Movies is kicking off the 21st edition of its “31 Days of Oscar.” While the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is being vociferously reviled for its “lack of diversity” – more on that appallingly myopic, self-serving, and double-standard-embracing furore in an upcoming post – TCM is celebrating nearly nine decades of the Academy Awards. That's the good news. The disappointing news is that if you're expecting to find rare Paramount, Universal, or Fox/20th Century Fox entries in the mix, you're out of luck. So, missing from the TCM schedule are, among others: Best Actress nominees Ruth Chatterton in Sarah and Son, Nancy Carroll in The Devil's Holiday, Claudette Colbert in Private Worlds. Unofficial Best Actor »
- Andre Soares
Ernst Lubitsch: The movies' lost 'Touch.' Ernst Lubitsch movies on TCM: Classics of a bygone era Ernst Lubitsch and William Cameron Menzies were Turner Classic Movies' “stars” on Jan. 28, '16. (This is a fully revised and expanded version of a post published on that day.) Lubitsch had the morning/afternoon, with seven films; Menzies had the evening/night, also with seven features. (TCM's Ernst Lubitsch schedule can be found further below.) The forgotten 'Touch' As a sign of the times, Ernst Lubitsch is hardly ever mentioned whenever “connoisseurs” (between quotes) discuss Hollywood movies of the studio era. But why? Well, probably because The Lubitsch Touch is considered passé at a time when the sledgehammer approach to filmmaking is deemed “fresh,” “innovative,” “cool,” and “daring” – as if a crass lack of subtlety in storytelling were anything new. Minus the multimillion-dollar budgets, the explicit violence and gore, and the overbearing smugness passing for hipness, »
- Andre Soares
Everyone who works with Ennio Morricone calls him "Maestro." It's a title that's both deferential and affectionate for the prolific, 87-year-old composer. Since the late Fifties, he has written some 500 movie scores, including such celebrated and iconic contributions to soundtracks such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, The Mission and Cinema Paradiso. His music has inspired a wide swath of artists from Metallica to Celine Dion, as well as filmmakers from Sergio Leone to Bernardo Bertolucci. But despite this, he has received few film awards in the U. »
Inexcusably self-indulgent. Tarantino gratifies his enormous self-love and his amusement at his own genius at the expense of all else. I’m “biast” (pro): loved Tarantino’s last two films…
I’m “biast” (con): …but really hate some of his films, too
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
Damn. So after the marvels of Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino has swung back to the Kill Bill style of filmmaking, which I described in my review of Basterds as a cinematic “circle jerk in which he and his fans get off on one another and how clever they all are to be such rapacious film geeks.” With the inexcusably self-indulgent The Hateful Eight, Tarantino has returned to the gratification of his enormous self-love and his amusement at his own genius at the expense of all else.
There are no characters to like in Eight. »
- MaryAnn Johanson
7 items from 2016
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