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In 1992, Abel Ferrara made a very dark, very depressing movie called Bad Lieutenant. In it, Harvey Keitel played a morally bankrupt police officer who seeks redemption by investigating the rape of a nun who refuses to bring charges against her assailant, turning the Bad Lieutenant into the Mad Lieutenant. The film did nothing at the box office, and is remembered mostly because it is the motion picture in which Keitel shows off his penis. There was at the time no great demand for Keitel – a fine actor, but never a matinee idol – to show off his penis, even though it was a very splendid penis indeed, nor has there been any grassroots groundswell of support for this sort of thing afterwards.
Not so long ago, »
- Joe Queenan
In the first part of this essay, I made a case for one 21st-century remake (Zack Snyder’s Dawn Of The Dead) as a standout, and now we come to the best horror movie of the new century, Dennis Iliadis’ brilliant revisiting of The Last House On The Left. The engine driving this movie is the most powerful the genre has to offer: fear of the Homicidal Other. There have been hundreds—perhaps even thousands—of these in the long history of the fright film, and most have the same underlying premise: You meet the Homicidal Other either as karmic retribution for doing something wrong (think of Janet Leigh in Psycho, who never would have been showering at the Bates Motel if she hadn’t embezzled a bunch of money from the Phoenix business where she worked) or—this is worse—because you just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Stephen King)
I just read a review of what sounds like a fascinating new book by film historian David Thomson, called The Moment of Psycho: How Alfred Hitchcock Taught America to Love Murder. Thomson explores the far-reaching cinematic influence of this seminal film, a legacy that he argues lingers on today in the increasingly cool depiction of violence in movies and the growing disconnect between filmic images of gore and its actual emotional content. The famous, much-studied shower scene with its gouts of crimson (shot in black-and-white, no less) broke new ground in the way it aestheticized violence. Today, we routinely watch buckets of fake blood merrily exploding every which way in movies, on TV and the internet, all in the name of a quick adrenaline burst, a dark laugh, a gruesome visual. What's missing is the emotional, psychological and even cultural »
- Susan Kim
Low cinematic genres – (as Clover, Williams and Robin Wood and others) have often pointed out – often handle explosive social material that mainstream cinema is reluctant to touch. — Joan Hawkins (1)
Can you make a film about the aftermath of incest and child abuse and its effect on three generations of women in the same family? Would this film contain an inherited ghost running through the narrative that could represent repressed feelings of colonial guilt on another level? Could this film prick the conscience of a nation that might be shuddering in silence for all its past sins? Would you get funding for this film from an Australian funding agency if you didn't have a track record? Would this very serious film fill cinemas, especially Australian ones? Could you get international profile actors to star in your film? Or would Australian film actors like Gracie Otto, »
I'm not sure if "Adaptation" is emblematic of the American-film '00s -- I'm afraid that the real culprit might be one blockbuster or another, exemplifying at this stage our fears instead of our hopes -- but it's certainly an endlessly resonating high-water mark, a mirror-hall launch that Godard could've loved, and which preemptively folded all commentary about it, positive or negative, into its self-knowing structure. Director Spike Jonze never dropped the ball, and Nicolas Cage was surpassingly brilliant, but it's Charlie Kaufman's bomb test, successful enough to establish him, in a stroke, as the most original and fecund screenwriting talent this country has seen since, possibly, ever.
A kind of perpetual motion machine, Kaufman's screenplay might be the most subversive filmmaking act in Hollywood since 1960, when Alfred Hitchcock turned the star of "Psycho" into bathtub carrion only 40-odd minutes into the film, essentially leaving it protagonist-free and the »
- Michael Atkinson
Following in my ongoing, loving analysis of one of my all time favorite films Fright Night (see my original, personal essay here and my interview with musc supervisor David Chackler here), I present part one of a lengthy conversation I had with Fn's creator, writer/director Tom Holland.
Holland spent the early part of his professional life as an actor under the name Tom Fielding. starring in soap opera's, various TV programs and - my favorite - director Jacques Demy's Model Shop. Then, into the 1970's the struggling thesp decided to take back his given surname and pursue a career as a screenwriter.
His breakthrough theatrical release was Phillipe Mora's bizarre exploitation shocker The Beast Within, a picture that nailed the psychosexual tone of Holland's words but opted to veer into more visceral, bladder FX driven shlock. He followed that with the ultra violent screenplay for Mark Lester's cult classic Class Of 1984. »
- email@example.com (Chris Alexander)
Chemistry was the key in concocting director Kathryn Bigelow's explosive thriller "The Hurt Locker," says casting director Mark Bennett. Mark Boal's story, built out of his experiences as an embedded journalist in Iraq, focuses on the last weeks of a three-man Army bomb-disposal squad's tour in Iraq, as Sgt. J.T. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Spc. Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) contend with the tactics of their impulsive new team leader, Staff Sgt. William James (Jeremy Renner)."You always want to cast each actor with the rest of the cast in mind, but particularly with this, it was just the three of them onscreen so much that, strangely, it was kind of like casting a love story," notes Bennett. "If one of them had fallen out, it was possible that the other ones wouldn't make sense."Renner was first on board. Bigelow "just recognized that he was perfect," says Bennett, »
What can you say about a 50-year old movie? If it's by Alfred Hitchcock, and it's a classic of suspense, humor, and style, and it's influenced both the best series on television, Mad Men, and the ongoing Bond franchise, quite a lot. There are a few spoilers here, incidentally, in case you've never seen it. A few weeks ago, the 50th anniversary edition of North by Northwest was released on DVD and Blu-Ray. I don't know that it's Hitchcock's best movie (that's probably Vertigo) or his most influential movie (that's probably Psycho), but it may be his most enjoyable. The picture looks and sounds wonderful, better than ever, from its famed Saul Bass linear abstraction titles giving way to a New York skyscraper and the teeming bustle of the advertising mecca of Madison Avenue to the witty closing shot of the »
- William Bradley
One of the most visually stunning, action packed, clever and suspenseful of all Alfred Hitchcock movies, his 1959 masterpiece North By Northwest finally gets the Blu-ray treatment it deserves. Featuring a terrific remastering with lots of great supplemental material and beautiful packaging the movie really shines and Warner Bros. has clearly pulled out all the tops to bring this classic film to a new generation of audiences.
Just in case you’re not familiar with this Hitchcock masterpiece, it stars Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason and a young Martin Landau in a story featuring one of Hitchcock’s signature conceits: the wrong man. Grant’s Roger Thornhill, mistaken for superspy George Kaplan by a group of sinister agents led by James Mason’s Phillip Vandamm, is taken to a county house, forceably intoxicated and almost murdered. He barely manages to escape with his life, mostly due to his high »
- Chris Ullrich
Image Entertainment announced recently that it has acquired North American rights to the classic horror/suspense TV series Thriller, hosted by Boris Karloff. The company plans a deluxe DVD boxed set for release in 2010.
Widely acknowledged as one of the great genre shows (Stephen King once called it the best in American TV history), Thriller ran from 1960-62 and featured, among its 67 episodes, adaptations of stories by the likes of Edgar Allan Poe, Psycho’s Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson, Robert E. Howard and others. Guest stars included William Shatner, John Carradine, Robert Vaughn, Leslie Nielsen, Elizabeth Montgomery, Ursula Andress and many more. The entire series will be remastered for the disc package, which will also include audio commentaries for many of the episodes, interviews and other extras currently being developed. Stay tuned for further details on the specific contents and release date.
Image also has Freeway Killer coming on DVD »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael Gingold)
Chicago – It is as difficult for me to write critically about “North by Northwest” as it would be for someone to discuss their first love. The films of Hitchcock are, without question, why I do what I do and my only concern, as they start to be released on Blu-Ray, is that they won’t live up to the bar set by the package put together for first Hitch movie on the next-gen format - “North by Northwest”.
Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0
What more could possibly be written about “North by Northwest”? As co-star Martin Landau recently told me, it played to him like a “greatest hits” of Hitchcock’s career to that point. This is Alfred Hitchcock at the top of his game playing with themes that had been a part of his career since silent film. Released in between “Vertigo” and “Psycho,” “North by Northwest” is one of the most »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
Directed by: Richard Kelly
Running Time: 1 hr 55 mins
Release Date: November 6, 2009
Plot: A financially desperate couple (Diaz, Marsden) is randomly presented with a box – inside the box is a simple red button. However, there is a catch – if they press the button, they will be awarded one million dollars. At the same time, someone in the world that they don’t know will be killed.
Who’S It For? Like the title object’s existence, The Box is a film made for the curious: those curious to see how the Donnie Darko director does with a mainstream budget, or those curious to see how the film should be placed in a list of this year’s bad-funny movies. Fans of psychological thrillers might want to take a gander, but at their own risk.
Expectations: Imagine a trailer that has »
- Nick Allen
AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie QuotesGone with the Wind (1939)
The Godfather (1972)
“I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.” —Marlon Brando as Don Corleone.
On the Waterfront (1954)
“You don’t understand! »
Undertones: Volume 7 It's the time of the year again where folks' minds turn to the macabre and the ghoulish; where death is celebrated rather than feared and of course, when dusty copies of horror films are taken off the shelf to terrify and amuse. So, in honor of the Halloween season it would seem only right that this installment of Undertones concern itself with the scores of horror films or, more specifically, those that emerged during a particularly groundbreaking and ultra-violent decade of cinema - the 1970s. Many of the horror films of the 1970s did not involve supernatural beings such as vampires, werewolves and swamp things, but the terrors of home and society at large. The menacing figures of films such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Hooper, 1974) and Halloween (Carpenter, 1978) may have worn crazy masks and looked decidedly 'un-human' but the messages these films posited concerned themselves with that of »
Although Halloween has come and gone, the Fsr universe of readers and contributors alike have hardly satiated their horror fix, so this week’s Culture Warrior presents three movies that were major game-changers for the genre. 1960 saw the horror film, and filmgoing at large, change dramatically and permanently. Long gone was the horror of the literary monster that characterized 1930s Universal classics personified by Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, and the dawn of a new decade in turn also said goodbye to the 1950s B-movie creature features. In 1960 horror switched its gaze to a far more terrifying direction: inward. Horror now focused on the horrific capacities of the human being, on the grotesque monster potentially inside all of us. No longer would horror be relegated to B-movie status, instead enabled with the capacity, through depiction of psychological trauma and inner monstrosity, for a unique kind of profundity that other genres couldn’t even come close to. Three »
- Landon Palmer
This is a no-brainer, right? Everyone loves Hitchcock. But it was not always so. The great director, whose North by Northwest comes out on a new, 50th Anniversary DVD and Blu-Ray on Tuesday, was once considered a populist panderer with little artistic value in his work. Even if you were a film critic, it was not the done thing to explore the mood and structure of a film. And even the rare critic that did that, such as Manny Farber or James Agee, tended not to go crazy over Hitchcock's work. (He was too popular and supposedly did not need defending.) At the time, it was more important in film to have a strong moral message, or to impress audiences with size and scale. Hitchcock worked in the lowest genres, telling stories about creeps and murderers and kidnappers, none of which had any benefit to society. Yes, Hitchcock was nominated for Best Director five times, »
- Jeffrey M. Anderson
Top Ten Movie Screamers: 10 to 6 5 – Janet Leigh in Psycho (1960) I don’t recall myself recoiling in horror while watching Janet Leigh’s shower scene in Psycho, but I do recall quite vividly one night long ago when I was showering at an acquaintance’s place and imagined myself facing the same fate as Leigh’s unlucky bank teller. So, I guess that sequence did leave a lasting impression on me. (Needless to say, I was out of that acquaintance’s shower stall and all dried up in a matter of seconds.) 4 – Fay Wray in King Kong (1933), Doctor X (1932), and The Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) Fay Wray has to be here. To her belongs the title of [...] »
- Andre Soares
Doctor X directed by Michael Curtiz (top); Janet Leigh in Psycho (bottom) Halloween Time. So, here’s my list of the Top Ten Movie Screamers of All Time. Well, at least the Top Ten Movie Screamers of All Time That I Can Think of Right Now. You won’t find any new movies here because I tend to avoid most recent horror movies — partly because most of the recent ones I’ve seen are total crap; partly because there’s enough horror in the world out there and I see no need for me to go looking for more at the movies. Also, most of the screaming newcomers don’t have the vocal flair of their predecessors. Even Naomi Watts, a really good actress, pales next to [...] »
- Andre Soares
Quick, what’s the scariest horror film score out there? I’m sure a couple of no-brainers came to mind, and a few of you probably thought of something wholly original. Thanks to the Cinemagic channel on Sirius Xm, we have an official list to choose from. There are a few shocking inclusions, and a couple of omissions, one that I, myself, deem glaring.
See for yourself:
Omen, The Jerry Goldsmith 6
Thing, The Ennio Morricone 8
Exorcist, The Pendereki 9
Fog, The John Carpenter 10
Rosemary’s Baby Christopher Komeda 11
Suspira Goblin 15
Changeling, The Rick Williams 17
Dawn of the Dead Assorted 18
Haunted Palace, The Ronald Stein 19
Amityville Horror, The Lalo Schifrin 20
Creepshow John »
This month, Shock readers were asked to participate in Sirius Xm Radio's "Halloween Horror Score Chopdown" on Cinemagic. After gathering submissions, the show's team started rolling them out on Sirius Monday. If you haven't been tuning in, here's the complete list of soundtracks that made the cut. What do you think? Halloween John Carpenter 1 Psycho Bernard Herrmann 2 The Shining Wendy Carlos/Assorted 3 Jaws John Williams 4 Alien Jerry Goldsmith 5 Omen, The Jerry Goldsmith 6 Bride of Frankenstein Franz Waxman 7 Thing, The Ennio Morricone 8 Exorcist, The Pendereki 9 Fog, The John Carpenter 10 Rosemary's Baby Christopher Komeda 11 Hellraiser Christopher Young 12 Friday the 13th Harry Manfredini 13 A Nightmare on Elm Street Charles Bernstein 14 »
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