20 items from 2014
Tim Sutton's Memphis plays like a vaunted director's greatest folly. That's a compliment. Here's a film of the moments — lyric and rough-hewn, bawdy and elliptical — a great storyteller hopes might enrich a memorable story. (Or, in the case of a Heaven's Gate, bloat a weak one to bursting.) Here's all the mood and grain and urgent, instinctive, discovered-on-the-set surprises that so often get shot and cut and maybe one day added back in as home-video extras. Here's the florid mystery of the life of an impoverished southern artist, the sweat and joy of walking and whistling, of steering a bike through puddles, of listening to scabrous talk from unsettled minds. Here's everything that might illuminate a story, but none of the story itself. It's just the c »
★★★★☆Before the gloomy portent of The Deer Hunter (1978) and the majesty of Heaven's Gate (1980), Michael Cimino's debut, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974), initially appears to be an uncharacteristically modest affair. It's a melancholic work of revisionist Americana concealed beneath a handsome retrograde exterior. Though his name would later become a synonym for auteurist excess, Cimino shows some remarkable tact in the way he handles the film's myriad dualities. He grounds the picture by placing the more conventional elements at the forefront; the traditional heist thriller structure and buddy comedy dynamics imbue the film with a familiar sense of thematic certainty.
- CineVue UK
Kevin Costner is back on the big screen this week in action-thriller 3 Days to Kill. It's not a classic Costner film by any stretch (he's essentially playing Liam Neeson in Taken), but the film is arriving right in the middle of a career revival for the actor who headlined big hits two decades ago. With Man of Steel, Draft Day, Jack Ryan and 3 Days all under his belt over the last 12 months, we're experiencing something of a Costnaissance (to swipe a term coined for Matthew McConaughey).
As a screen star Costner was never blessed with dynamic range or the ability to transform himself like a Daniel Day-Lewis can, but what he can deliver is a performance of earnestness and honesty that connects with an audience. He is frequently the glue that holds a film together, a movie star with the everyman appeal of someone like James Stewart. If anything, Costner »
From critically savaged bomb and expensive disaster that pretty much bankrupted an entire studio, to reconsidered Venice Film Festival and The Criterion Collection-worthy masterpiece (at least to some revisionists), to fodder for Steven Soderbergh's editing machine, Michael Cimino's "Heaven's Gate" still causes lots of chatter today. And given the lengthy, tortured production, there are plenty of stories still to tell. And somebody who has one is Terry O'Quinn. The character actor, perhaps best known for his stint on "Lost," recently sat down with the Av Club for their great Random Roles series, and he shared his experience on "Heaven's Gate," which would turn out to be his first film role. It's pretty great stuff so we'll just let you read the excerpts below. But the short version is, he agrees the film was a mess: 'Heaven’s Gate' I remember, because it was the first movie I ever was cast in. »
- Kevin Jagernauth
Many movie lovers are still doubtful of Steven Soderbergh's pledge to retire. Sure, he said Behind The Candelabra would be his last project, but since then he's helmed a new drama series called The Knick, and released his own personal cut of Heaven's Gate online. And while he insists he won't direct the sequel to his wildly successful Magic Mike, his collaborator and former star Channing Tatum has revealed that Soderbergh will be working behind the scenes to make sure Magic Mike Xxl lives up to his legacy. In a lengthy interview with GQ, Channing Tatum spoke candidly about Steven Soderbergh and the soon-to-shoot Magic Mike Xxl, confessing that the original Magic Mike director would not only be the sequel's cinematographer, but also its camera operator and film editor. Notably, the first of these were roles Soderbergh also shouldered on Magic Mike. Soderbergh explained his own intense involvement in »
"Welles’s fundamental and lifelong story is that of a big man who gets his comeuppance. He himself was a big man who, in repeatedly filming his own downfall, displayed a kind of emotional masochism, a delight in his own humiliation, that he veritably trumpets in Othello. He films the entire play as a flashback, starting the movie with his own face in closeup: Othello, dead and being borne off for burial. The shock of self-destruction is matched only by the howl of self-pity, albeit a well-earned one—for Welles himself, soon after the world-historical artistic eruption of Citizen Kane, found his own strong and stubborn temperament fiercely countered by the plotters and the potentates of his field."
More on »
- Adam Cook
Nickelodeon gets no love. And yet its place in the popular, Biskind-approved narrative of The Decline and Fall of Everyone in the 1970s New Hollywood is a bit uncertain. It comes after the despised At Long Last Love (1975), which ought to mark the same point in Peter Bogdanovich's career as Sorcerer for Friedkin, Heaven's Gate for Cimino and especially One from the Heart for Coppola. True, critics didn't go for it, except in the sense of savaging it, and the public didn't go to it, in any sense, but it certainly didn't attract the tsunami of opprobrium that P-Bog's Cole Porter musical, sung live, brought down upon the heads of the director and his entire cast.
Like his musical, his comedy about early Hollywood (it climaxes with the premiere of Birth of a Nation) now exists in two versions, as Bogdanovich revisited the film, inserting a few deleted moments »
- David Cairns
“I acknowledge that what I have done with this film is both immoral and illegal,” reads the opening of Steven Soderbergh’s recut of the infamous cinematic disaster Heaven's Gate. The 1980 Western, directed by Deer Hunter filmmaker Michael Cimino, was a box office bomb, earning a measly $3 million on a $44 million budget. After nearly bankrupting the studio, the failure of Heaven’s Gate subsequently ruined Cimino’s career and marked the end of the loosey-goosey New Hollywood era. Soderbergh aimed to fix some of Cimino’s wrongdoings by chopping the movie in half (all 219 minutes of it), removing a few of the most prominent scenes, and moving the prologue to the end. As the Verge puts it, “the result is a film that skimps on background...
- Alison Nastasi
"On occasion, a fan can become so obsessed they turn violent toward the object of their obsession," Steven Soderbergh recently confessed, thus aligning himself with celebrity stalkers and Star Wars devotees. The object of Soderbergh's obsession was Michael Cimino's legendary 1980s flop Heaven's Gate, which he recently confessed to re-editing. He removed scenes, excised peripheral characters, shuffled the story, and shaved the 220-minute running time by 50%. That's unlikely to retrieve the movie from the top of cinema's "epic failure" pile, but it does open up enticing possibilities for "improving" some other movies.
Continue reading »
- Steve Rose
Steven Soderbergh is retired. He's won an Oscar. He has made critically loved hits like Erin Brockovich, Ocean's Eleven and Magic Mike. He went out on top. So what's he up to now? Just re-cutting one of the worst films of all time for funsies. The Verge has discovered that Steven Soderbergh has not only watched writer-director Michael Cimino's 219-minute drama about the 1890 Johnson County War, Heaven's Gate, but also that he has re-edited the lengthy, loathed feature to be less than half it's original running time. Then he uploaded his cut so you can watch it for free. Soderbergh has titled his version Heaven's Gate: The Butcher's Cut, and posted it on his blog, Extension 765. Using one of his alternate names, Mary Ann Bernard, he explains his inspiration for this project as obsession, writing: " As a dedicated cinema fan, I was obsessed with Heaven's Gate from the »
When director Steven Soderbergh ("Ocean's Eleven," "Magic Mike") announced that he fully intended on following through with his long-discussed retirement, film fanatics everywhere mourned, crying deeply into their Criterion Blu-ray box set of "Che" and wondering what would become of modern cinema.
But he hasn't exactly been resting on his laurels (if that were even possible) -- several of his older films have either been reissued in HD (like "King of the Hill") or are currently being worked on ("Kafka," finally), he's just directed an off-Broadway play in New York ("The Library," written by his frequent collaborator Scott Z. Burns) and, over on his website, he does continually weird stuff like re-editing "Psycho" and "Heaven's Gate."
But the biggest, most ambitious, and most hotly anticipated post-retirement Soderbergh joint is happening this summer: "The Knick," a limited-run Cinemax series that stars Clive Owen as a doctor working at the Knickerbocker Hospital in turn-of-the-century New York. »
- Drew Taylor
Heaven's Gate is one of the most notorious cinematic bombs of all time. A 1980 Western about an armed conflict in Wyoming between rich cattlemen and poor farmers, made for a then-astronomical $44 million, it not only destroyed the career of director Michael Cimino (a rising star on the strength of The Deer Hunter) — this marathon-length epic basically put studio United Artists out of business and ended the auteur-driven '70s golden age of Hollywood. Now director Steven Soderbergh has decided to fix it.
Mega-Flops and the Blockbuster Apocalypse
The film was »
Austrian director Michael Glawogger has tragically died at the age of 54 while shooting in Africa. For more on this brilliant director and his working method read Daniel Kasman's interview from Venice about Glawogger's last film, Whores' Glory (2011). Mubi Us is in the middle of a 30-day run of the director's Workingman's Death (2005).
"Offering streaming links to almost their entire programme, the festival can be consumed from a couch, in sporadic order and with no regard for curatorial intent, which beggars the question: Is a collection of Vimeo links really a film festival? Should this sound like an ontological foray into digital existence, apologies, but the issue is not going away; Hot Docs likewise offers a multitude of link-based screeners to accredited journalists. It is a less than »
- Adam Cook
Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate remains one of the biggest box office bombs of all time but has become more and more recognized as an achievement by many film fans and critics over the 34 years since it was released. The movie even garnered a Criterion edition which is not typically granted to bad movies. Featuring a sprawling cast that includes Kris Kristofferson, Christopher Walken, Isabelle Huppert, Jeff Bridges, John Hurt, Sam Waterston, Brad Dourif, Joseph Cotten, Geoffrey »
- Alex Maidy
Steven Soderbergh posted, under the pseudonym Mary Ann Bernard (his mother's name), an edited version of Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate on his official website, Extension 765 admitting an obsession for the film with the following reasoning for what he's done: As a dedicated cinema fan, I was obsessed with Heaven's Gate from the moment it was announced in early 1979, and unfortunately history has shown that on occasion a fan can become so obsessed they turn violent toward the object of their obsession, which is what happened to me during the holiday break of 2006. This is the result. The reason it's called the "butcher's cut" is because it runs only 108 minutes, exactly 108 minutes shorter than the recently released Criterion version. Included at the opening is a note saying, "I acknowledge that what I have done with this film is both immoral and illegal." And there is no embed so you'll have »
- Brad Brevet
As we noted in our feature, Critical Reassessment: 11 Films That Have Been Reconsidered Over Time, Michael Cimino's "Heaven's Gate" has gone from cautionary tale of budgetary excess and directorial hubris to something closing in on masterpiece status in the eyes of some critics. Indeed, a restoration, festival screenings and a Criterion Collection edition have restored the status of Cimino's film, but before all of that happened, Steven Soderbergh put his own imprint on the infamous film. Over at this Extension 365 site, the director has posted what he calls the "Butcher's Cut" of the movie that runs less than 2 hours, severely shearing away the 216 minute runtime of the movie. But we'll let the filmmaker explain his approach: As a dedicated cinema fan, I was obsessed with Heaven's Gate from the moment it was announced in early 1979, and unfortunately history has shown that on occasion a fan can become so obsessed »
- Kevin Jagernauth
'As directors gain independence from the studios, their movies invariably became longer, looser and more insufferable'
As the reviews for the $200m Transformers sequels have proved, movies are not what they cost. And yet, for many directors, freedom from financial constraint remains the ultimate goal. In 1970s "New Hollywood", critically revered film-makers such as Francis Ford Coppola had carte blanche to push the budgets of their masterworks ever skyward. That is, until Michael Cimino's 1980 uberflop Heaven's Gate, which earned just over $3m from a budget of $44m, forced studio execs to reconsider the filmmaker's divine right. A-list directors have been fighting to see a return to those heady days ever since, while passion project after passion project has gone unmade. But with Darren Aronofsky's $125m biblical epic Noah now in cinemas, the climate may finally be changing.
More accustomed to budgets a tenth the size of Noah's, »
- Charlie Lyne
Top 10 Ryan Lambie 27 Mar 2014 - 05:42
We look back at one of the most infamous film productions in history. Here are 10 stories of excess from Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate...
In 1979, director Michael Cimino was at the height of his powers. Having just won five Oscars for his finely-honed, controversial Vietnam film The Deer Hunter, Cimino suddenly found himself in the enviable position of being able to make just about any project he wanted. The film he chose to pursue was based on the Johnson County War, a moment in 19th century American history where the conflict between settlers and wealthy landowners was at its height.
United Artists, with a reputation for fostering creativity and Oscar-winning films, eagerly agreed to make what would become Heaven's Gate, and set aside a generous budget of $11.6m to make it. Anxious to have the film in cinemas by the winter of 1979, making it legible »
Odd List Ryan Lambie 4 Feb 2014 - 06:48
We head back to the 80s and 90s to look at eight famous battles between directors and studio executives over a movie's final cut...
If filmmaking is a compromise between art and commerce, then the final cut is often the point in the process where the tug-of-war between the two becomes the most intense. In their desire to make a film more profitable - often after feedback from preview screenings - studio executives will sometimes request re-edits or the shooting of additional scenes. And occasionally, when directors attempt to resist those changes for whatever reason, the resulting tension between director and studio can reach breaking point.
To illustrate the different ways these tussles over a film's final cut can play out, we're heading back to the 80s and 90s. In some instances, the films that emerged from the editing room were considered to be influential triumphs. »
Top 10 Ryan Lambie 22 Jan 2014 - 05:51
Like any awards ceremony, the Razzies can sometimes make some bizarre decisions. Here's our pick of 10 mystifying nominations...
Established in 1981, the Golden Raspberry Awards have grown from a tiny ceremony hosted in founder John Jb Wilson's living room into their own Hollywood institution. Intended as an antidote to the self-congratulation and glitz of awards season fixtures like the Oscars or the Golden Globes, the Razzies aim to single out the worst films, screenplays and performances of the preceding year, serving up an irreverent parody of Hollywood's vanity and excess.
Sometimes, the Razzie choices aren't too far off the mark. Few would argue against Battlefield Earth's 2000 win for Worst Picture, or that the impenetrably murky The Last Airbender didn't deserve the amusingly-titled award for Worst Eye-Gouging Misuse of 3D.
There have been some really worthwhile categories on occasion, too, like Worst Movie Trends of the Year, »
20 items from 2014
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