5 items from 2012
“I shot In the Heat of the Night  based on my views of black and white,” states Chicago-born cinematographer Haskell Wexler. “A lot of things I did were considered to be daring, like I put airplane landing lights into cars so that the intensity of lights were adequate to deal with colour.” The other innovative lighting techniques were used such as bouncing light off the ceiling and down onto a set like a still photographer. “I had an umbrella light which sent rays in a rounded way.” Much has been made of the way Wexler was able to light Sydney Poitier who plays a Philadelphia police detective recruited to assist a bigoted Southern sheriff (Rod Steiger) in a murder investigation while waiting for a train back home. “Rod was getting make-up and joked to Sydney, ‘All you have »
Screenwriter Larry Karaszewski ("Man on the Moon") kicks off the week for Trailers from Hell with Haskell Wexler verite classic "Medium Cool": Combining electrifying cinema-verite documentary footage shot during actual events (including the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago) with a more conventional story featuring actors, director-cameraman Haskell Wexler tried to illuminate the splintering of the American psyche at the height of the war in Vietnam. The resultant film, incongruously distributed by Gulf + Western's Paramount Pictures, both exasperates and astonishes. Some felt it trivialized serious issues, others applauded its hand-held snapshot of a tumultuous time. Originally rated what Wexler labled a "political X" by the MPAA, later downgraded to an R. »
- Trailers From Hell
Now that a number of documentaries have dealt with the 2011 Egyptian uprising at Cairo's Tahrir Square -- most prominently, the scrappy "1/2 Revolution" and broadly focused "Tahrir" -- it comes as no surprise that the events have been applied to a fictional scenario, and by no less than a prominent Egyptian filmmaker, Yousry Nasrallah ("Gate of Sun"). Ably using the turmoil at Tahrir as his backdrop, Nasrallah's "After the Battle" follows a burgeoning, ill-fated romance between two characters uniquely impacted by social upheaval. The director's use of existing events to form the movie's backbone led one colleague to compare it to Haskell Wexler's "Medium Cool," which took place at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, but the precedent applies in theory alone. Despite its admirable intentions, "After the Battle" constantly fights an uphill battle to reach its potential and never quite gets »
- Eric Kohn
By Alex Simon
Director Andrew Davis made his name with hard-hitting action blockbusters like The Fugitive, Under Siege and The Guardian, but like most filmmakers, his first effort was a small film with a modest budget and a lot of heart. Davis’ directing debut Stony Island was shot in 1977, helmed by the then 30 year-old who had made a name for himself as a cinematographer, and conceived as a love letter to the South Chicago neighborhood where he grew up. Based loosely on the story of Davis’ younger brother Richie (starring as a fictionalized version of himself), who grew up as one of the few white kids in a largely African-American neighborhood, Stony Island follows a group of young musicians who try to form an R&B group in their racially-mixed neighborhood. Featuring the film debuts of now-notable names such as Dennis Franz, Susanna Hoffs, »
- The Hollywood Interview.com
Do watch that through to the end.
By now, you'll have heard the news: "Davy Jones of the Monkees has died of an apparent heart attack at age 66," reports Andy Greene for Rolling Stone. "Jones was born in Manchester, England and started acting as a child, though he got his big break in 1965 when he joined The Monkees. The group had a hugely successful television series, and a slew of hit songs in the late 1960s. At their peak in 1967 they sold more records than the Beatles."
The Monkees followed the series, of course, with Head (1968), "arguably the most authentically psychedelic film made in 1960s Hollywood," as Chuck Stephens writes in an essay for Criterion, still one of the best pieces on the film yet written: "Head seemed at first glance to have been dreamt up by and made expressly for fun-loving dopers, a live-action Duck Amuck filled with more 'far out! »
5 items from 2012
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