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"Cooley High" ought to be remembered as a cinema milestone, and its writer and director remembered as pioneers.
Released 40 years ago this week (on June 25, 1975), it ought to be celebrated for its vast influence on movies, TV, and music. As a young-men-coming-of-age movie, it deserves to be mentioned alongside Fellini's "I Vitelloni," George Lucas's "American Graffiti," Barry Levinson's "Diner," and John Singleton's "Boyz N the Hood." And yet, the film and its creators have been largely forgotten, lost to history.
The story behind "Cooley High" is even more dramatic than the comedy-drama that unspooled on the screen. It's the story of Kenneth Williams, who, like protagonist Preach, left Chicago's Cabrini-Green projects with dreams of becoming a Hollywood screenwriter. Having dropped out of high school, he hitchhiked from the Windy City to Hollywood with $5 in his pocket and no connections, and for a while he supported himself selling drugs. »
- Gary Susman
With Jurassic World now officially the fastest movie to reach the $1 billion mark (in just thirteen days!), it seems as though the world has gone back to 1993 and dino-mania is running wild once again.
To celebrate the success of the movie, we’ve looked back through the history books to bring you five things you may not know about the Jurassic Park franchise.
Harrison Ford has always had a great working relationship with Steven Spielberg and his partner in crime George Lucas. Not only was he the star of Spielberg’s ode to adventure serials of the 1930s and 40s, Raiders of the Lost Ark and its subsequent Indiana Jones sequels, but he was also featured in American Graffiti and the Star Wars trilogy, the products of George Lucas. »
- Luke Owen
You can tell a lot about a generation by their coming of age movies. Rebel Without A Cause, American Graffiti, The Breakfast Club, Clueless, Mean Girls; films like these have become symbols of their respective times. This current decade already has a few contenders for that title (Boyhood, for example) but writer/director Max Joseph is definitely hoping to capture […]
- Germain Lussier
George Lucas didn't just create the "Star Wars" universe. The filmmaker, who turns 71 on May 14, pretty much created the cinematic universe we live in now, the ones whose cornerstones include the Thx sound system at your multiplex, the Pixar movies that have dominated animation for the past 20 years, and the Industrial Light & Magic special-effects house, whose aesthetic has ruled the Hollywood blockbuster for nearly four decades. He's the pioneer of the effects-driven action spectacle and the conversion from celluloid to digital, the two trends that, for better and worse, have defined Hollywood's output for nearly 20 years.
As ubiquitous as Lucas and his creations loom in our cinematic dreamscapes, there's still a lot that most people don't know about him, from how he got his start to the famous folks who mentored him or were mentored by him, from the size of his fortune to what he plans to do now »
- Gary Susman
It was August, 2005. I knocked on the double door at the Four Seasons. It opened almost immediately. "Hi, I'm Nic," he said, hand outstretched. Nicolas Cage wasn't who I expected him to be. Like all actors, he was smaller and trimmer in person than he appeared on-screen. Neatly dressed in an Armani suit, Cage also displayed none of the manic fervor in real life as had become his signature on-screen. He was thoughtful, well-spoken and incredibly literate in all seven arts. It's an infrequent experience that you leave an interview feeling you've just met someone that you could hang out with regularly, but I got that with Nic Cage, in spades. He was endlessly fascinating, but also kind of a regular guy. Another of my favorite chats I count myself lucky to have been part of.
Nicolas Cage: Lord Of The Nerds
It’s an inevitable »
- The Hollywood Interview.com
All week our writers will debate: Which was the greatest film year of the past half century. Click here for a complete list of our essays. It’s perhaps a little quaint to choose a year that I wasn’t even alive during to represent the best year of cinema. I was not there to observe how any of these films conversed with the culture around them when they were first screened. So, although I am choosing the glorious year of 1973, I am choosing not just due to a perusal of top ten lists that year—but because the films that were released that year greatly influenced how I engage with movies now, in 2015. Films speak to more than just the audiences that watch them—they speak to each other. Filmmakers inspire each other. Allusions are made. A patchwork begins. These are the movies of our lives. Having grown up with cinema in the 90s, »
- Brian Formo
All week long our writers will debate: Which was the greatest film year of the past half century. Click here for a complete list of our essays. How to decide in the grand scheme of things which film year stands above all others? History gives us no clear methodology to unravel this thorny but extremely important question. Is it the year with the highest average score of movies? So a year that averages out to a B + might be the winner over a field strewn with B’s, despite a few A +’s. Or do a few masterpieces lift up a year so far that whatever else happened beyond those three or four films is of no consequence? Both measures are worthy, and the winner by either of those would certainly be a year not to be sneezed at. But I contend the only true measure of a year’s »
- Richard Rushfield
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
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 »
Forty years after its theatrical release, Michael Schultz’s poignant early title Cooley High (1975) comes to Blu-ray. A prominent figure in film in the 70s and 80s thanks to iconic titles like the progressive Car Wash (1976), martial arts film The Last Dragon (1986), and the excellent 1977 Richard Pryor film Which Way is Up? (a remake of Wertmuller’s The Seduction of Mimi), Schultz tends to get left out of deserving discussions as concerns black filmmakers.
References to this 60s period piece concerning a group of friends growing up in the Chicago housing projects is often referred to as the black American Graffiti, a thankless distinction, to be sure. Operating outside of the Blaxploitation paradigm, Schultz and screenwriter Eric Monte (apparently portions of this are autobiographical) simply recreate a certain period wherein two friends learn hard lessons as they grow to realize the cruelty of the world around them. Less dramatic than »
- Nicholas Bell
That’s one of the takeaways from the April 17 Tribeca Talk at the Tribeca Film Festival, which paired Lucas with fanboy extraordinaire Stephen Colbert. Among the tidbits: Lucas made “American Graffiti” on a dare, Steven Spielberg was one of the only early believers in “Star Wars” and — in a table-turning moment that saw Lucas doing the interviewing — Colbert doesn’t want to be the guy to take over from Jon Stewart.
Because Lucas is a bigscreen guy, he said he’s holding off on watching the new trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” until he can watch on it on something other than a phone or a computer. He mentioned the possibility of streaming it to his own bigscreen.
“I hope it’s successful. »
- Gordon Cox
Written and Directed by Sandy Wilson
Sandy Wilson’s My American Cousin is an endearing, semi-autobiographical tale centering on one golden summer in a precocious girl’s life. In 1959 British Columbia, 12-year-old Sandy (Margaret Langrick) lives on a gloriously scenic ranch populated with her family and a group of friends who help out on her father’s cherry orchard. It’s an idyllic setting, but the terminally bored pre-teen is histrionically unimpressed.
“Nothing Ever Happens!” she scrawls in her journal.
But excitement unexpectedly arrives when Sandy’s 17-year-old American cousin Butch (John Wildman) pulls up in a dazzling, red Cadillac convertible. With duck-tail hair, pressed blue jeans, and a pack of cigarettes wrapped in the sleeve of his white t-shirt, he is a walking James Dean clone, which is especially exotic in a town whose theater has yet to play Rebel Without A Cause.
- A.R. Wilson
It’s almost impossible to think about the last forty years of cinema without taking into consideration the massive effect that George Lucas has on audiences and venues alike. His films remain some of the most popular of all time, his post-production facilities have helped shaped works that span from blockbuster studio extravaganzas to award-winning independents, and his championing of new processes for the creation, exhibition and preservation of cinematic works is unparalleled in the history of the medium.
Now, for the first time ever, the original six Star Wars films will be available as the Star Wars Digital Movie Collection for digital download complete with bonus content for each movie. You can pre-order digital versions of Star Wars now in the Cineplex Store and experience Star Wars again in preparation for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
- Jason Gorber
It may be popular to hate on George Lucas, but there is a very good reason for that. The man came storming out of the gate with three great films, Thx 1138, American Graffiti and Star Wars, the latter of which of course spawned a mammoth franchise which he dictated the course of (though he didn’t direct The Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi). After that, he didn’t direct a single movie for another 22 years.
The hype around 1999’s Star Wars prequel The Phantom Menace was immense, and as everyone knows, the movie just didn’t live up to the hype: filmmaking had changed a lot over those two decades, and Lucas’ appropriation of new technology didn’t serve an underwritten script well at all.
Lucas proved with his prequel trilogy the problem with enormous success: if you make enough money, nobody is going to »
- Jack Pooley
Richard Rush’s 1970 film Getting Straight, which stars Elliott Gould and Candice Bergen, it’s 45th anniversary this year. The Royale Laemmle Theater in Los Angeles will be holding a special one-night-only showing of the 124-minute film on Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at 7:30 pm. Director Rush and star Gould are scheduled to both be on hand for the screening.
From the press release:
Getting Straight (1970)
A Vietnam vet and former social radical is conflicted by his desire to become a teacher and his sympathy with anti-establishment student protests.
The Royale Laemmle is located at 11523 Santa Monica Blvd., West Los Angeles, CA 90025. Phone number is (310) 478 – 3836.
Click here for tickets. »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Cinema Retro)
“Cries And Sisters”
One of the late, great Ingmar Bergman’s skills as a filmmaker was to write and direct memorable roles for women. He was one of the few directors, such as Ford or Altman or Allen, who repeatedly relied on a “stock company” of actors throughout his career. While there were many wonderful male actors who worked for Bergman (Max von Sydow, Erland Josephson, Gunnar Björnstrand), we generally remember the women—Liv Ullmann, Harriet Andersson, Ingrid Thulin, Eva Dahlbeck, Bibi Andersson, among many—for baring their souls on screen in Bergman’s challenging, difficult works that always elevated the art of film to breathtaking levels.
Cries and Whispers is an excellent example of the power of the female actor. It’s essentially a four-woman chamber piece, taking place in the late 1800s in Sweden, about three sisters and a servant, their relationships to each other, »
- email@example.com (Cinema Retro)
The Tribeca Film Festival announced this week that audiences will have an opportunity to hear panel and one-on-one conversations with some of the industry’s most critically and commercially successful filmmakers, artists, and executives during this year’s Tribeca Talks series including Christopher Nolan with Bennett Miller, George Lucas with Stephen Colbert, Cary Fukunaga with James Schamus, Brad Bird with Janeane Garofalo, Harvey Weinstein, Gus Van Sant, Courtney Love, Catherine Martin, and Christiane Amanpour.
Unique programs in the 2015 series include the Tribeca Talks: Directors Series sponsored by Warner Bros. Pictures where an acclaimed director participates in an intimate one-on-one conversation, Tribeca Talks: Master Class conversations focusing on a specific sector of the filmmaking process, Tribeca Talks: Script & Screen hosted by Barnes & Noble which explores topics related to screenwriting, as well as the previously announced special Tribeca/Espn Sports Film Festival Conversations which presents conversations relating to sports and competition in film, »
- Sacha Hall
The Academy Award winning actor and star of "American Graffiti," "Jaws" and "The Goodbye Girl" attended the Belgrade International Film Festival as one of its guests of honor. Among the event's many changes and novelties that include several brand new competition programs, the festival has created the Victor Lifetime Achievement Award and Dreyfuss was the first recipient of this brand new recognition. In honor of the achievement, the festival not only screened seven of his most important films such as the above-mentioned three -- as well as "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead," "Dillinger," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "Postcards from the Edge" and "Down and Out in Beverly Hills" in the recently inaugurated new building of the renowned Yugoslav Film Archives -- but the institution also recognized the actor’s invaluable body of work by honoring him with its famed Golden Seal. Read More: »
- Tara Karajica
In a scene straight out of one of his own movies, Harrison Ford narrowly escaped death the other day when his World War II-era plane crashed into a Los Angeles golf course. Against all odds, he survived the impact with relatively minor injuries and should be in fighting shape when it comes time to promote the next Star Wars movie and film the upcoming sequel to Blade Runner.
Now we have a question for you: What is Harrison Ford's single greatest movie? Feel free to vote for a classic »
“I just love listening to Wolfman. My Mom won’t let me at home. Because he’s a Negro. I think he’s terrific!”
American Graffiti will screen in 35mm at Webster University’s Moore Auditorium Friday February 20th at 7:30pm. The screening will be introduced by Webster University Professor Joe Schuster.
American Graffiti (1973) was only George Lucas’ second major film as a director (though he was already plenty experienced at filmmaking) and it is an extraordinary movie that has aged wonderfully. American Graffiti chronicles one long night in the lives of some recent high school graduates in a north California in 1962. But it’s not just a look at the teenage ritual of cruising. »
- Tom Stockman
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