14 items from 2014
The first few pages of Frank Miller's script for the shelved Batman: Year One have a disturbed Bruce Wayne waking up from chronic nightmares, some nameless prostitutes being slapped around by their pimp, and Jim Gordon putting a gun in his mouth.
You can see why Warner Bros didn't ultimately go for the project, which was to be helmed by Darren Aronofsky and would have rewritten the Bat mythology even more radically than Miller already had in his comic book arc of the same name.
"Our take was to infuse the Batman franchise with a dose of reality," Aronofsky has said, citing The French Connection and Taxi Driver among his influences. "We tried to ask that eternal question, 'What does it take for a real man to put on tights and fight crime?'" It's an approach not far from the one ultimately taken by Christopher Nolan in Batman Begins, »
Earlier this month -- I've been bogged down with Emmy galleries for 10 days -- Fox hosted what the network called a "Tastemakers" screening of the new drama pilot "Gotham." Basically, that means "reporters and some talent" got to see the "Gotham" pilot at events in New York and La. I've already tweeted this and I'll go into more depth when I start my Take Me To The Pilots series next week, but I like the "Gotham" pilot. I have no clue what the show looks like by the eighth or ninth episode and I fear the five or six seasons of delayed gratification, but I think it's a well-made pilot and most of the stars -- particularly Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue and, in a minor surprise, Jada Pinkett Smith -- are quite solid. A lot of the credit has to go to pilot director Danny Cannon, who worked with series »
- Daniel Fienberg
“My mom is a storekeeper and my stepdad is a barman,” states French filmmaker Yann Danh who was 10 years old when he first became aware of the cinema. “Watching movies became almost compulsive; I used to watch three or four a day such as Once Upon a Time in America , Terminator , Evil Dead , 2001 , Serpico , Touch of Evil , Once Upon a Time in the West , Taxi Driver , and Bruce Lee movies.” The plan was to pursue a career in the video game industry changed at the age of 16. “After making my first short film [in high school], I knew cinema was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.” Every film project has been educational. “I learned how to make a shot list, »
- Trevor Hogg
It's a shock to go back and watch "Midnight Cowboy" 45 years after its debut (on May 25, 1969) and see how raw and otherworldly it looks. After all, the X-rated Best Picture Oscar-winner has been so thoroughly assimilated into American pop culture that even kiddie entertainments like the Muppets have copied from it.
The tale of the unlikely friendship between naïve Texas gigolo Joe Buck (Jon Voight) and frail Bronx con man Enrico "Ratso" Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman), "Midnight Cowboy" was initially considered so risqué that it's the only X-rated movie ever to win the Academy's top prize (though after it won, the ratings board reconsidered and gave the film an R). Still, the film featured two lead performances and a few individual scenes that were so iconic that homages (and parodies) have popped up virtually everywhere. (Most often imitated is the scene where Ratso, limping across a busy Manhattan street, is nearly »
- Gary Susman
courtesy of flickeringmyth.com
50. Dancer in the Dark (2000)
Directed by Lars von Trier
Signature Song: “I’ve Seen It All” (http://youtu.be/d9zFt6M_GLo)
Who says people in a musical have to be able to sing? The list starts with a film directed by the director of Melancholia, Antichrist, and the recent Nymphomaniac films. Starring Björk, Dancer in the Dark takes place in the fantasy world of Selma, an immigrant from the Czeck Republic living in a blue-collar town in the United States. She lives on the property of a local police officer named Bill (David Morse) and his wife. She finds herself the object of a shy co-worker’s affection (Peter Stormare), but doesn’t entirely reciprocate, partly because she knows that she is slowly going blind. Terrified that her disease is hereditary and her son most certainly will get it, she works long hours at the factory, »
- Joshua Gaul
As Bob Zmuda tells it, screenwriter Norman Wexler used to tote a briefcase full of thousands of dollars to pay off the many people that he pissed off each day. Zmuda — the comedian, writer, tall-tale dispenser, and longtime wrangler of Andy Kaufman — dished his best Wexler story on Marc Maron's Wtf podcast in 2012. Annoyed at the service in a bakery where he had tried to purchase a jelly doughnut, Wexler, the writer of Serpico and Saturday Night Fever, purportedly began tossing cash around to buy everything else in the joint: the pastries, then the ingredients, then the fixtures, and finally the clothes of the employees, to be doffed right then and there.
It's a hilar »
Blood Simple: Canet’s English Language Debut an Enjoyably Prostrate Epic
For his English language debut, actor/director Guillaume Canet arrives with Blood Ties, a remake of Rivals, a 2008 French film of which he was the star, from director Jacques Maillot. While it’s original running time has been cut by about half an hour after a premiere at Cannes (aligning it with its predecessor’s running time), the film is undeniably a slow burn. Set in 1974 vintage heavy Brooklyn, Canet’s film has drawn mostly unfavorable comparison to the works of Sidney Lumet and Martin Scorsese that were actually made in the era. While it’s not on par with similar masterworks it evokes (maybe more of a Harold Robbins version of Lumet), it does manage to be an engrossing faux saga, nonetheless, despite a handful of foibles that work against its success.
After serving a 12 year prison »
- Nicholas Bell
Feature James Clayton 7 Mar 2014 - 06:08
The Grand Budapest Hotel is directed by Nadia Cavalcanti. Actually it's not. That was a lie and Nadia Cavalcanti is a made-up person. Still, I'll say it again because if you say things enough times they eventually become tangibly real in your own physical world (it's a bit like Beetlejuice). The Grand Budapest Hotel is directed by Nadia Cavalcanti. How does that make you feel?
Of course, you're probably aware that, in truth, The Grand Budapest Hotel is written, co-produced and directed by Wes Anderson (full name, Wesley Wales Anderson). Now, how does that make you feel? Personally, I'm feeling very happy about this because I'm a Wes Anderson fan and I really like all his movies. In all likelihood The Grand Budapest Hotel is going to »
(Sidney Lumet, 1973; Eureka!, 18)
An enduringly entertaining thriller, Serpico is important in three related contexts. First, it belongs to a remarkable cycle of police pictures made in the turbulent last years of the Vietnam war. Influenced by the success of Patton and its ambivalent appeal to Vietnam hawks and doves, Hollywood jumped off the youth bandwagon and on to the police paddy wagon with pictures about maverick cops fighting a lonely battle on America's lawless streets.
The most controversial were films on the right – The French Connection and Dirty Harry. The most amenable to liberals was this true story of the quietly idealistic Frank Serpico, an Italian-American hippy type, bearded and hairy, who first attempts to find a modus vivendi in the endemically corrupt New York police before blowing the whistle and nearly paying with his life. One of the grittiest, least romantic movies ever shot in New York, it's incisively edited by Dede Allen, »
- Philip French
This year’s Best Actor race is shaping up to be one of the greatest of all time. And by greatest, I mean both the most competitive and also the most outstanding, in the sense that each nominee is excellent — hypothetical winners in almost any other year. They also reflect the depth of superb male performances in 2013. Consider: Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips), Robert Redford (All Is Lost), Joaquin Phoneix (Her), Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis), and Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station) all missed the cut.
EW’s Owen Gleiberman recently analyzed this year’s Best Actor race, calling it the most “fiercely, »
- Jeff Labrecque
Al Pacino is one of the few actors in the world today who can legitimately lay claim to being amongst the best. The list of films is ferocious taking in true classics such as the first two Godfather films, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Scarface and Glengarry Glen Ross. Even those slightly lower down the list are still better than most firing on all cylinders with great films such as Insomnia, Donnie Brasco and Carlito’s Way. He is a true modern great.
Recently, though, similar to his old sparring partner Robert De Niro, he has made some awful films too. Why this is is hard to work out but he consciously decided to appear in Jack and Jill, Gigli and S1m0ne. Oh, and that Sky TV advert. My God. That Sky TV advert.
Through it all though, he has a true legacy of great films and even though »
- Hugh Firth
Simon Columb continues our Al Pacino Retrospective with Serpico...
Al Pacino has been a target for many during his career. Serpico begins as full-bearded Frank Serpico (Pacino) is wheeled on a stretcher through bustling corridors, blood over his body, in the same manner as Carlito Brigante in Brian DePalma’s Carlito’s Way. Clearly DePalma owes a debt to Sidney Lumet in this open tribute. It’s an ambiguous start as cop-killin’ ain’t cool on the streets of New York.
But, unlike Brigante’s retiring gangster, Frank Serpico is a cop who’s joined the force with the intention to rid crime from the streets. His morals and idealism lands him in hot water with the New York Police Department as he refuses to join their corrupt, penny-pinching crew. Over time, he builds a ground-breaking court case, dubbed the Knapp Commission. Based on a true story, Serpico is written »
- Gary Collinson
Blow The Bloody Doors Off | Al Pacino Season | We Love Wes! | Takeover Film Festival, Glasgow Youth Film Festival
Blow The Bloody Doors Off, London
His was the bespectacled face of swinging London to be sure, but Michael Caine's movies also inspired some of the era's greatest scores. This event, hosted by Phill Jupitus, replays highlights from four of those classic soundtracks, live, for the first time in history: Sonny Rollins's Alfie, John Barry's The Ipcress File, Quincy Jones's The Italian Job and, getting special attention, Roy Budd's Get Carter. The band includes members of Polar Bear, Madness and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and movie clips on screen will complete the nostalgia trip.
Barbican Hall, EC2, Thu
Al Pacino Season, London
To his critics, Pacino is basically Pacino whatever role he's playing, despite all that "method" stuff. But even if you admit that, most actors would »
- Steve Rose
From Ealing to Poirot by way of The Wicker Man, the Studiocanal back catalogue is filled to the brim with classic films that serve our home entertainment adventures of discovery and rediscovery. Now with the release of The Poirot Collection that brings together the three feature films of Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile and Evil Under the Sun, a glorious Blu-Ray warmth is offered to the crime aficionado during these winter months.
One of the icons of detective literature and television, Hercule Poirot first emerged from the imagination of the English writer Agatha Christie, before Albert Finney, Peter Ustinov and David Suchet introduced her creation to the screen. Between them they have imbued Poirot with a Shakespearean presence; each interpretation an individual joy to watch, »
- Gary Collinson
14 items from 2014
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