13 items from 2015
Robert Mitchum ca. late 1940s. Robert Mitchum movies 'The Yakuza,' 'Ryan's Daughter' on TCM Today, Aug. 12, '15, Turner Classic Movies' “Summer Under the Stars” series is highlighting the career of Robert Mitchum. Two of the films being shown this evening are The Yakuza and Ryan's Daughter. The former is one of the disappointingly few TCM premieres this month. (See TCM's Robert Mitchum movie schedule further below.) Despite his film noir background, Robert Mitchum was a somewhat unusual choice to star in The Yakuza (1975), a crime thriller set in the Japanese underworld. Ryan's Daughter or no, Mitchum hadn't been a box office draw in quite some time; in the mid-'70s, one would have expected a Warner Bros. release directed by Sydney Pollack – who had recently handled the likes of Jane Fonda, Barbra Streisand, and Robert Redford – to star someone like Jack Nicholson or Al Pacino or Dustin Hoffman. »
- Andre Soares
Christopher Nolan recently announced a new project entitled Quay, a documentary short about two British stop-motion animators. Set to premiere next week, it’s a far cry from Nolan’s blockbusters in both scope and subject matter. Yet it’s clearly a personal project, with Nolan using his clout and money to promote two obscure filmmakers.
Every artist – director, star, screenwriter – has some project that they want to make above all. A deeply personal, original idea; an autobiographical story; a favored story or hero they wish to celebrate. If a filmmaker is successful or lucky enough, they get a chance to produce them. Yet sometimes the reaction isn’t what they expect.
Francis Ford Coppola started his career directing exploitation films for Roger Corman, notably the horror film Dementia 13 (1963). Then he toiled as screenwriter and occasional director, helming the musical Finian’s Rainbow (1968) and the more personal The Rain People »
- Christopher Saunders
Directed by Luigi Cozzi.
Pod-like alien spores filled with an explosive acid are brought to Earth after a mission to Mars and distributed through a South American coffee company by alien clones.
Contamination is what you get when you mash together Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Ridley Scott’s Alien, which could be a dream recipe for some but when you consider that it was directed by Italian filmmaker Luigi Cozzi (Starcrash/Hercules) and was part of a succession of Italian knock-offs of Hollywood blockbusters then the shine is considerably duller than what you may have first thought.
Beginning very much like Zombie Flesh Eaters by having a deserted boat afloat in a New York harbour, Contamination stars that film’s lead Ian McCulloch as Ian Hubbard, an astronaut who lead a mission to Mars where his »
- Gary Collinson
A condensed version of this review was published during the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.
Had it been released twenty years ago, Good Kill, a drama about military unmanned aerial vehicles from writer-director Andrew Niccol, could have made for an intriguing piece of science fiction. Ten years ago, the same combination of concept and creative would have made for an eerily prescient look at the evolution of 21st century warfare away from boots on the ground tactics, to drones in the air permanence. In 2015, though, Niccol’s not so much late to the party in making such a film, as he is the wrong man to host it. “Drones aren’t the future. They’re the right here, right f___ing now,” Bruce Greenwood’s gravelly Colonel Johns instructs at one point, which is as clear and concise a thesis on the subject as Good Kill manages to find.
- Sam Woolf
This week marks the 10th anniversary of the release of "Crash" (on May 6, 2005), an all-star movie whose controversy came not from its provocative treatment of racial issues but from its Best Picture Oscar victory a few months later, against what many critics felt was a much more deserving movie, "Brokeback Mountain."
The "Crash" vs. "Brokeback" battle is one of those lingering disputes that makes the Academy Awards so fascinating, year after year. Moviegoers and critics who revisit older movies are constantly judging the Academy's judgment. Even decades of hindsight may not always be enough to tell whether the Oscar voters of a particular year got it right or wrong. Whether it's "Birdman" vs. "Boyhood," "The King's Speech" vs. "The Social Network," "Saving Private Ryan" vs. "Shakespeare in Love" or even "An American in Paris" vs. "A Streetcar Named Desire," we're still confirming the Academy's taste or dismissing it as hopelessly off-base years later. »
- Gary Susman
Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson on the Oscars' Red Carpet Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson at the Academy Awards Eli Wallach and wife Anne Jackson are seen above arriving at the 2011 Academy Awards ceremony, held on Sunday, Feb. 27, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. The 95-year-old Wallach had received an Honorary Oscar at the Governors Awards in November 2010. See also: "Doris Day Inexplicably Snubbed by Academy," "Maureen O'Hara Honorary Oscar," "Honorary Oscars: Mary Pickford, Greta Garbo Among Rare Women Recipients," and "Hayao Miyazaki Getting Honorary Oscar." Delayed film debut The Actors Studio-trained Eli Wallach was to have made his film debut in Fred Zinnemann's Academy Award-winning 1953 blockbuster From Here to Eternity. Ultimately, however, Frank Sinatra – then a has-been following a string of box office duds – was cast for a pittance, getting beaten to a pulp by a pre-stardom Ernest Borgnine. For his bloodied efforts, Sinatra went on »
- D. Zhea
Netflix does a lot of things right. From cheap DVD’s and blu-ray’s delivered right to your door to a streaming service that is damn-near perfect (thousands of shows and movies for only $9! You seriously can’t beat it.) But the Best thing they do are their Netflix Original Series. I mean, we as a society, are this close to relying on them solely for our television needs, amiright?
They create these amazing shows and give them to us in an entire season at a time to binge watch at our leisure. Almost every month, it seems a Netflix Original Series releases a new season to stream and it has made our lives infinitely better.
Of the dozens of original series and continuations of shows, these are the top five that you should be dedicating your precious time to because seriously, they deserve it.
- Sarah Sommer
The Star Wars franchise is going strong 38 years later. But what about the artists and filmmakers who helped make the 1977 original a hit?
In theatres all over the world in 1977, audiences thrilled at the sights and sounds of Star Wars. Harking back to a bygone age of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, it also pointed forward to the coming age of ubiquitous computers and special effects-led blockbusters.
But while the triumphant fanfare of John Williams' score gave Star Wars a confident swagger, its success was far from preordained. George Lucas reworked his script time and again; studios turned his concept down; even the production was rushed and torturous.
By now, the contribution George Lucas, John Williams and Star Wars' cast made to cinema is well documented. But what about some of the other artists, technicians and fellow filmmakers who helped to make the movie such a success? Here's »
The Oscars sum up Hollywood quite tidily: The most popular people get together to find out who has been selected as being especially notable, and then everyone claps. If you're the type who likes attention - and let's face it, most who excel in Hollywood do - getting that moment onstage is a dream come true. Every now and then, however, an Oscar winner isn't present to receive his or her statuette. It's Hollywood heresy - the thought that someone would have somewhere more important to be than onstage, receiving applause. But it happens, and when it does, there's usually a good story behind it. »
- Drew Mackie, @drewgmackie
It’s It's an oft-echoed sentiment that movies are made in the cutting room, so the Academy Award for Best Film Editing is a cherished trophy indeed. First, some guild award stats: since 1963, the American Cinema Editors have correctly predicted the eventual Oscar winner 36 times (in years when the award has been split between Dramatic and Musical/Comedy Editing, the specific prize given has been noted): 1963: Harold F. Kress, “How the West Was Won” 1964: Cotton Warburton, “Mary Poppins” 1965: William Reynolds, “The Sound of Music” 1968: Frank P. Keller, “Bullitt” 1970: Hugh S. Fowler, “Patton” 1972: David Bretherton, “Cabaret” 1973: William Reynolds, “The Sting” 1975: Verna Fields, “Jaws” 1976: Richard Halsley and Scott Conrad, “Rocky” 1978: Peter Zinner, “The Deer Hunter” 1979: Alan Heim, “All That Jazz” 1980: Thelma...' »
Editor's Note: RogerEbert.com is proud to reprint Roger Ebert's 1978 entry from the Encyclopedia Britannica publication "The Great Ideas Today," part of "The Great Books of the Western World." Reprinted with permission from The Great Ideas Today ©1978 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
It's a measure of how completely the Internet has transformed communication that I need to explain, for the benefit of some younger readers, what encyclopedias were: bound editions summing up all available knowledge, delivered to one's home in handsome bound editions. The "Great Books" series zeroed in on books about history, poetry, natural science, math and other fields of study; the "Great Ideas" series was meant to tie all the ideas together, and that was the mission given to Roger when he undertook this piece about film.
Given the venue he was writing for, it's probably wisest to look at Roger's long, wide-ranging piece as a snapshot of the »
- Roger Ebert
I love movie and television soundtracks. I’ll often use a given soundtrack while I work, letting it fuel my writing. I can’t listen to music with lyrics in them; that interferes with my process. I’ll get themes, characters, even scenes or whole plots from the music. Soundtrack music is in service of the story that the film is trying to tell; it’s a part of the narrative, heightening the emotion that’s being invoked.
I have my own particular favorites. The composers usually have a large body of work but certain key works resonate within me – Jerry Goldsmith’s Chinatown and Patton, James Horner with Field of Dreams, Shaun Davey’s Waking Ned Devine, Elmer Bernstein’s To Kill A Mockingbird (has there ever been a more beautiful and evocative theme?) and, of course, The Magnificent Seven.
I’ve also been very fond of Alan Silvestri »
- John Ostrander
Moviegoers can finally enjoy a film with a genuine hero who served his country and fought in a righteous war
The New England Patriots spent this past weekend earning a spot in the Super Bowl. But many more patriots went to the movies and propelled “American Sniper” to a record-setting January box office weekend.
In doing so, they officially declared war against the likes of Michael Moore, Seth Rogen and so many liberal, peace loving, pot-smoking A-listers and Hollywood suits who, since the 1970s, have had an ambivalent, if not disdainful relationship with war movies in general, and American patriotism in particular. »
- Thane Rosenbaum
13 items from 2015
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