10 items from 2011
The Renaissance Theater in Berlin has announced that actor Heinz Bennent, best known in Europe for his work on the stage, died this morning at the age of 90. His career spanned over 150 roles in more than 20 theaters and, beginning in the late 60s, on screen. He performed for Ingmar Bergman in The Serpent's Egg (1978) and From the Life of the Marionettes (1980), for François Truffaut in The Last Metro (1980; he was nominated for the César Award for Best Supporting Actor), for Volker Schlöndorff in The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum (1975) and The Tin Drum (1979; his son David played Oskar) and for Andrzej Żuławski in Possession (1981). He appeared in several European television productions as well, but as the German Press Agency emphasizes, he first love always remained the theater.
Veteran German actor Heinz Bennent died on October 12. He was 90. The Aachen-born (July 18, 1921) Bennent never became an international name despite several important roles in international films. Among those were Ingmar Bergman's Anglo-German drama The Serpent's Egg (1978), opposite Liv Ullmann and David Carradine; François Truffaut's The Last Metro (1980), which earned Bennent a Best Supporting Actor Cesar nomination; and Andrzej Zulawski's Franco-German psychological thriller Possession (1981), with Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neill. Bennent's German films include Volker Schlöndorff and Margarethe von Trotta's The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum (1975); Schlöndorff's Academy Award winning drama The Tin Drum (1979); and Ute Wieland's Im Jahr der Schildkröte (1988), which earned Bennent a Best Actor German Film Award. Heinz Bennent's children, Anne Bennent and David Bennent, are both actors. David had the lead in the World War II-set The Tin Drum, playing the boy/midget who never grows neither up nor old while »
- Andre Soares
As Terrence Malick enjoys what could be the most attention he’s attracted in three decades (or, by his measure, three films) with this year’s divisive art flick Tree Of Life, the BFI are releasing a restoration of Days Of Heaven, one of the two films that made his reputation in the 1970s, before his two-decade hiatus from the industry that lasted until 1998’s The Thin Red Line.
In Days Of Heaven, a too-brooding, too-handsome Richard Gere stars as Bill, a young worker who, after a fatal tussle with a steel mill foreman, gathers up his girlfriend Abby (Brooke Adams) and his sister Linda (Linda Manz) and abandons 1916 Chicago to harvest crops out West. Posing as siblings, the trio work for a rich, »
Photo by Tommy Lau
Sad news this morning from the San Francisco Film Society. Graham Leggat, who stepped down as Sffs executive director just last month, died yesterday after an 18-month battle with cancer. He was 51.
Announcing his resignation in July, the Sffs noted: "During the period of Leggat's leadership, the Film Society has grown from the producer of the annual 15-day San Francisco International Film Festival into a year-round cultural institution celebrating film culture in all its forms, with its staff and annual operating budget each increasing threefold from 2005 to 2011." In a farewell message, Leggat wrote, "The recent announcement of the September launch of the San Francisco Film Society | New People Cinema marks a huge milestone in our 54-year history: for the first time we have a year-round home in which to present an increasingly diverse and vital range of programs. With this crucial addition, the Film Society rightfully »
Toronto's late, lamented University Theatre
I first saw Apocalypse Now at Toronto’s exquisite University cinema on 17th August, 1979. The film opened on Wednesday 15th August as part of an inaugural three city run in New York, La, and Toronto, with tickets sold in advance as they had been in the past for ‘road show’ presentations. The University was a 1500 seat deco/nouveau single screen cinema with a beautiful facade and lobby which was equipped for 70mm projection; the 70mm presentation of Apocalypse Now was the first to utilise Dolby Stereo 70mm Six Track, and the cinema probably had to upgrade its sound system to accommodate the demands of Coppola and his sound editor Walter Murch.
I remember being very nervous as I presented my ticket as I was not 18 and the film had received an R (18 and over only) rating from the Ontario censor. Happily, my very youthful countenance »
- Ian Gilchrist
To read the newly published This Is Not the End of the Book, a conversation between Umberto Eco and Jean-Claude Carrière, is to eavesdrop on two highly erudite minds. Digressive, anecdotal and humorous, they reflect on their love of the printed word and where the destiny of the book might lie, ranging from neglected French poetry of the 16th century to a forthcoming first edition of Waiting for Godot in the revived Nahuatl language of the Aztecs. But while Eco is internationally famous for his bestselling historical novels, Carrière has a relatively low profile even in his native France. Low, that is, for someone whose career as a dramatist has encompassed collaborations with an unparalleled array of directorial talent from film and theatre, and 50 books, in addition to the 80 screenplays, »
Pixote: a Lei do Mais Fraco (Original Release Date: 5 May 1981)
Hector Babenco's Pixote is a movie about kids trying to survive in a world that doesn't seem to want to let them. Outside of a documentary short like Ciro Durán's Gamín, my guess is that era reviews didn't have much to compare Pixote to beyond Luis Buñuel's Los Olvidados or Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist. I'd also guess that not all of these comparisons were flattering. Babenco's direction here lacks the visual punch of Buñuel's, and his characters are nowhere near as well-formed as Dickens's. With any Buñuel comparison, one must contend a sophistication that, to this day, leads people to argue over how much of the work is earnest, and how much of it is ironic or parodic. (This excludes film students. I'd say film students still love to debate whether Las Hurdes is a »
- Thurston McQ
A champion of the film might respond to the last point by saying that's the point. This champion might go on to say Babenco doesn't fail to reach any sort of visual punch or character development goal because he doesn't aim for them. And it's true that Babenco would go on to show his versatility as a director with movies such as Kiss of the Spider Woman and Ironweed. Here, he has a diffent aim. His focus is on achieving what film critics usually classify as neorealism (simply put, the attempt to achieve authenticity). It might be more accurate to call Pixote neo-Naturalist (meaning it attempts to portray the authentic while also imposing a political [usually leftist] agenda), though, as the aggressiveness of its look-how-bad-things-are-on-the-streets-of-Brazil agenda blows the air of authentic neorealism is supposed to observe out the window. (I say this knowing full well how easy it is for me to »
- Thurston McQ
From the invention of horror under the Weimar republic to recent re-examinations of the second world war, German cinema has an amazingly creative history
German cinema got off to a fantastic start straight after the first world war, as the liberal atmosphere of the Weimar republic triggered an explosion across all creative disciplines. Film-makers responded by appropriating the techniques of expressionist painting and theatre, incorporating them into twisted tales of madness and terror – thereby virtually inventing what would become known as the horror film. With its angled, distorted set designs, tortured eye-rolling, and layers of dreams and visions, The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920) is generally acknowledged as a landmark of international cinema, not just Germany's own. Two years later came an equally groundbreaking film, Nosferatu – an unauthorised adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula that enshrined some of the creepiest cinema images ever recorded.
They also marked the beginning of »
- Andrew Pulver
No movie springs from a vacuum. There are always influences from past examples of the genre, from the previous work of the filmmakers and stars, even from similar films that don’t quite work. If you want to understand where a movie is coming from, take a look at where it’s coming from. In Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, the reincarnation of an ancient demigod of music casts a spell over entire nations, and promises to bring peace to the planet, if only all those teenage girls would stop rioting. This flick sprang from (among other films): • The Tin Drum (1979), the classic satire of German cinema in which a young buy quite literally refuses to grow up, and bangs on his toy drum whenever the world gets to be too much for him. • Citizen Kane (1941), Orson Welles’ masterpiece about a creative despot who makes life a living hell for all around him. »
- MaryAnn Johanson
10 items from 2011