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Exclusive: DreamWorks has acquired The Travelers, the latest thriller by New York Times best-selling author Chris Pavone. Picture Company partners Andrew Rona and Alex Heineman will produce. To be published in March, the book is a Hitchcockian thriller with shades of Mr. And Mrs. Smith and North By Northwest. Will Rhodes is a Gotham-based journalist who unknowingly works for a spy agency posing as a luxury travel magazine called Travelers. After meeting a mysterious and… »
Brian De Palma has become the directorial litmus test of cinephiles everywhere. To supporters, he stands as a startling visual genius with a penchant for set pieces and lurid subject matter. To naysayers, he remains a lowbrow imitator who spends his studio budgets chasing the ghosts of Alfred Hitchcock and Jean-Luc Godard. Great director or high class hack? Inconsistent misogynist or Master of the Macabre? Much like his fractured narratives, the answer is never an easy one to attain.
Both sides provide ample support for their case. De Palma’s resume is riddled with enough hollow imitations (Sisters , Raising Cain ) and bloated commercial flops (The Bonfire of the Vanities , The Black Dahlia ) to sink any director. But even in misfires such as these, an undeniable attention to detail remains.
The split screen cover-up of Sisters or the heartbreaking screen tests of The Black Dahlia are breathtaking in scope and execution, »
- Danilo Castro
Directed by Terrence Young
50 years later, and with twenty-three “official” entries, From Russia With Love represents the very best of the Bond franchise. Skyfall is the closest to be considered, at best – almost equal to what was achieved in ’64 – but From Russia With Love is still unparalleled. Although it is the second in the series, and although it feels like no Bond film that followed, it is the film that solidifies all the Bond elements into a formula – a template that carries on, even today.
Spectre’s Persian-stroking nemesis/mastermind Ernest Blofeld makes his first appearance and so does Desmond Llewelyn’s gadget-friendly Q (starting a run that continued until his death in 1999). Screenwriters Richard Maibaum and Johanna Harwood return, as does director and editor Terence Young and Peter Hunt. John Barry supplies the fine score by utilizing Monte Norman’s theme, »
- Ricky da Conceição
1: Dr No – Opening Title Sequence
The schizophrenic title sequence introduces John Barry’s famous James Bond theme, but instead of transitioning into the now traditional pop song (which uses the title as a lyric), random portions of two calypso songs were used instead. This was also of course the first of Maurice Binder’s many fantastic title sequences, and while some of the standard conventions are absent (such as the silhouetted nude bodies floating about), we still do get the lines of white dots sliding across the screen before transforming into a gun barrel, through which Bob Simmons fires his gun. From then it’s on to a procession of primary colours and shapes and an Atari-like animated sequence. All in all, this remains one of the most distinctive opening title sequences of the series.
(Watch the clip here)
There’s little doubt »
- Ricky da Conceição
The Bond franchise which has been with us so long, has become so deeply entrenched in popular culture, that we often forget what it was that first distinguished the Bonds a half-century ago. Skyfall might be one of the best of the Bonds, and even, arguably, one of the best big-budget big-action flicks to come along in quite a while, but it’s not alone. The annual box office is – and has been, for quite some time – dominated by big, action-packed blockbusters of one sort of another. The Bonds aren’t even the only action-driven spy flicks (Mr. James Bond, I’d like you to meet Mr. Jason Bourne and Mr. Ethan Hunt).
That’s not to take anything away from the superb entertainment Skyfall is, or the sentimentally treasured place the Bonds hold. It’s only to say that where there was once just the one, there are now many. »
- Bill Mesce
When a film franchise lasts for more than five decades, it’s bound to gather a few unrealized projects along the way, and the James Bond series is no exception. Over the years, actors as varied as Michael Caine, Dick Van Dyke, Clint Eastwood and Liam Neeson have come close to playing the suave Agent 007, leaving fans to speculate on the vastly different directions the series might have gone in had they been cast.
Similarly, rejected theme songs from Johnny Cash, Blondie and Alice Cooper, along with discarded titles like “From a View to a Kill” (shortened by one word upon release) and “Licence Revoked” (changed when test audiences responded poorly to it) suggest an alternate history for the cinematic super spy. Even more curious, however, are the following four films which, to varying degrees, came close to actual production.
While A-list directors like Steven Spielberg »
- Matthew Chernov
While Steven Spielberg's Bridge Of Spies, which had its (world premiere was at the New York Film Festival) and stars Tom Hanks, Amy Ryan, Alan Alda, Mark Rylance, Billy Magnussen and Eve Hewson, is showing on three screens tonight, there will be a Meadowland conversation with Olivia Wilde and director/cinematographer Reed Morano, moderated by Anne-Katrin Titze following the 7:40pm screening.
Hitchcocktober, a series of Alfred Hitchcock films that includes North By Northwest, Rope, Psycho, The Man Who Knew Too Much and Strangers On A Train is also going on this month at Village East Cinema.
- Anne-Katrin Titze
Directed by Kent Jones
In 1962, Francois Truffaut, one of the glittering leading lights of the French nouvelle vague sat down for a fortnight of intricate and comprehensive interviews with master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock at his offices in sun-blessed Hollywood. Contrary to his current position as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, in this period Hitch was critically considered as merely an adept showman, a fine purveyor of whimsical thrillers, and a household name due to his popular TV crime and mystery serials. Since then, his work has been autopsied and analysed at a level arguably unmatched by any other auteur, and he is now considered one of the great psychological and semiotic cartographers of cinematic space and culture, with his 1958 picture Vertigo recently promoted to the pedestal of greatest film of all time. Flattered by the »
This Sunday, actress Diane Baker will appear at Film Forum in New York to discuss her 50-plus year career in film and television with film historian Foster Hirsch. On Monday at 8:00pm she will again be at Film Forum to introduce a screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1964 film Marnie.
Still just in her mid-twenties, actress Diane Baker found herself one morning in the unfamiliar surroundings of Alma and Alfred Hitchcock’s Brentwood kitchen. They ate peaches around the kitchen table and discussed director Hitchcock’s next picture – Marnie. “I was offered the part without reading the script,” Baker told me on the phone from an apparently sunny San Francisco. “I just happily accepted. Whatever it was, I was going to do it.” But looking back who can blame her? This was, of course, the director whose five previous films had been The Birds, Psycho, North by Northwest, Vertigo and The Wrong Man, »
- James Knight
Face-off: Kent Jones Unpacks The Bible Of Auteur Interviews
It’s kind of odd to think that the Cohen Media Group picked up Kent Jones’ slickly produced bonus featuresque cinematic rumination on the monumental bible of film interviews, Hitchcock/Truffaut, being that nearly everyone interviewed in the film has had a film or more released by Janus Films’ homevid branch The Criterion Collection (with the only two exceptions being James Gray and Kiyoshi Kurosawa). Even Jones has appeared in Criterion in various capacities, either on screen as interviewee, in print as a critic or behind the scenes on the Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project release. But, regardless who’s releasing this hot little commodity, it’s a guaranteed cinephilic sugar rush.
Martin Scorsese, Wes Anderson, David Fincher, Olivier Assayas, Paul Schrader, Peter Bogdanovich, Paul Schrader, Arnaud Desplechin and Richard Linklater round out the all-star lineup of interviewees who openly »
- Jordan M. Smith
In the 2010 documentary Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy, Wes Craven predicts that when he dies his obituaries will say “Probably best known for inventing Freddy Krueger.” When he passed away last Sunday the New York Times headline read “Wes Craven, Whose Slasher Films Terrified Millions, Dies at 76,” but the second paragraph of his obit did say, “perhaps Mr. Craven’s most famous creation was the serial killer Freddy Krueger, played by Robert Englund, who, with his razor-blade glove, haunted the dreams of high school students in ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ and its sequels.”Though he had been making films for 12 years, starting with the Bergman-inspired Last House on the Left in 1972—not to mention a few years of making porn films before that—it was A Nightmare on Elm Street, a little indie horror film that he both wrote and directed, that made Wes Craven’s fortune. »
- Adrian Curry
There’s a moment in Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation — Tom Cruise career-saver, franchise Mvp and the summer's best non-Imperator Furiosa action blockbuster — where the CIA director refers to the film's relentless hero as "the living manifestation of destiny." As a government official talking about an unpredictable agent, the line is patently (if knowingly) ridiculous. As Alec Baldwin talking about Tom Cruise, the dialogue sounds right on the money. That phrase could be dropped into the first sentence of his biography and nobody would think twice.
When the superstar first stepped »
Ahead of American Ultra's arrival in UK cinemas, here's our pick of the 25 finest, sneakiest secret agents in film...
Operatives. Spies. Moles. Infiltrators. Secret agents go by many names. In fact, Britain's national security agency doesn't even call them agents - they're covert human intelligence sources, or simply “officers".
Whatever we choose to call them, secret agents lead necessarily furtive and obscure lives - so obscure that most of what we know about them is defined by what we've seen and read in books and movies.
During the Cold War, the image of the secret agent as a well-groomed sophisticate in a suit proliferated all over the world, and even in the high-tech landscape of the 21st century, that image still stands - just look at such movies as Kingsman: The Secret Service, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and, of course, the Bond franchise. But secret agents can come in many other guises, »
'Sinister 2' poster. 'American Ultra,' 'Hitman: Agent 47' and 'Sinister 2': Weekend box office bombs American Ultra, Hitman: Agent 47, and Sinister 2 are the new entries at the North American box office this weekend, Aug. 21-23, '15. All three of them are expected to underperform – with American Ultra having a particularly disastrous bow, especially for a movie starring Best Actor Oscar nominee Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) and former Twilight star Kristen Stewart. Whether you blame it on a glut of movies targeting the same audience, a lack of major box office draws, or poor reviews, only one of the debutantes is expected to score more than $10 million at U.S. and Canadian theaters by Sunday evening. 'Sinister 2' According to early estimates found at Deadline.com, Ciarán Foy's Sinister 2 will lead the pack of newcomers with »
- Zac Gille
Spies at work in North By Northwest
He was the lead film critic at the Daily Express and spent an extensive period in Hollywood working for the New York Sun before moving on to work with MI6, but newly released files in the National Archive have revealed that Cedric Belfrage was a spy. Over the course of three years he passed secret documents to the Soviet Union, but he was never prosecuted - partly because MI5 couldn't prove he had intended harm, and partly because of fears that his popularity could lead to more people sympathising with the other side.
Belfrage, who died in 1990, said that he had always sympathsed with the poor and had been uncomfortable about the wealth inequality he saw in Hollywood. He was deported from the Us in 1955 after Joseph McCarthy's House Un-American Activities Committee found that he had once been a secret member of the Communist Party. »
- Jennie Kermode
'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.' 2015: Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer. 'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.' movie is a domestic box office bomb: Will it be saved by international filmgoers? Directed by Sherlock Holmes' Guy Ritchie and toplining Man of Steel star Henry Cavill and The Lone Ranger costar Armie Hammer, the Warner Bros. release The Man from U.N.C.L.E. has been a domestic box office disaster, performing about 25 percent below – already quite modest – expectations. (See also: “'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.' Movie: Bigger Box Office Flop Than Expected.”) This past weekend, the $80 million-budget The Man from U.N.C.L.E. collected a meager $13.42 million from 3,638 North American theaters, averaging $3,689 per site. After five days out, the big-screen reboot of the popular 1960s television series starring Robert Vaughn and David McCallum has taken in a mere $16.77 million. For comparison's sake: »
- Zac Gille
Shootouts and fist-fights are no longer a young man’s game. Hollywood is rebranding ageing actors as action heroes – but it still discards older women
Male careers in the movies have always been longer than female ones, but until recently there was only one real route to on-screen immortality – to the certified, gold-standard agelessness of, say, Cary Grant. (In North By Northwest, Grant, then 55, not only appeared opposite a woman 20 years younger than him, Eva Marie Saint, his screen mother was played by someone only seven years his senior.) The key principle is suavity: the refusal to break a sweat; sophistication with the faintest hint of self‑mockery; the actor letting us know that he is old enough to know how silly this all is.
There are still disciples following that path up the mountain to the sunny uplands of longevity – perhaps we should think of this as Mount Rushmore »
- Adam Mars-Jones
'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.' with Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer. 'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.' box office: Bigger domestic flop than expected? Before I address the box office debacle of Warner Bros.' The Man from U.N.C.L.E., I'd like remark upon the fact that 2015 has been a notable year at the North American box office. That's when the dinosaurs of Jurassic World smashed Hulk and his fellow Halloween-costumed Marvel superheroes of Avengers: Age of Ultron. And smashed them good: $636.73 million vs. $457.52 million. (See also: 'Jurassic World' beating 'The Avengers' worldwide and domestically?) At least in part for sentimental (or just downright morbid) reasons – Paul Walker's death in a car accident in late 2013 – Furious 7 has become by far the highest-grossing The Fast and the Furious movie in the U.S. and Canada: $351.03 million. (Shades of Heath Ledger's unexpected death »
- Zac Gille
'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.' with Henry Cavill. 'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.' box office: Hollywood's third domestic bomb in a row Right on the heels of Chris Columbus-Adam Sandler's Pixels and Josh Trank's Fantastic Four comes The Man from U.N.C.L.E., a big screen adaptation of the 1960s television series, directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Man of Steel hero Henry Cavill and The Lone Ranger costar Armie Hammer. (See updated follow-up post: “'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.' Movie Box Office: Bigger Bomb Than Expected.”) Budgeted at a reported $88 million, to date Pixels has collected a mere $61.11 million in North America. Overseas things are a little better: an estimated $73.6 million as of Aug. 9, for a worldwide total of approx. $134.71 million. Sounds profitable? Well, not yet. First of all, let's not forget that distributor »
- Zac Gille
Provocative Dutch director Alex van Warmerdam puts a contract out on his own life, so to speak, in “Schneider vs. Bax,” a darkly comedic broad-daylight thriller in which two for-hire hitmen are simultaneously tasked with taking one another out. No stranger to acting in his own films, van Warmerdam casts himself as Ramon Bax, a disheveled sitting duck whose substance-abuse problem could do him in before his rival even arrives, while Tom Dewispelaere plays Schneider, who approaches the assignment like a pro, optimistic that if all goes well he’ll be home in time for a birthday dinner with his two young daughters.
A relatively straightforward genre exercise compared with last year’s Cannes-competing “Borgman,” “Schneider vs. Bax” (which has already opened in its native Netherlands, where it did arthouse business rather than action-movie numbers) likely wouldn’t have interested festivals or foreign distribs if not for the career-rekindling acclaim his previous feature attracted. »
- Peter Debruge
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