20 items from 2016
“We used to go to the movies. Now we want the movies to come to us, on our televisions, tablets and phones, as streams running into an increasingly unnavigable ocean of media. The dispersal of movie watching across technologies and contexts follows the multiplexing of movie theaters, itself a fragmenting of the single screen theater where movie love was first concentrated and consecrated. (But even in the “good old days,” movies were often only part of an evening’s entertainment that came complete with vaudeville acts and bank nights). For all this, moviegoing still means what it always meant, joining a community, forming an audience and participating in a collective dream.” –
From the UCLA Film and Television Archive’s programming notes for its current series, “Marquee Movies: Movies on Moviegoing”
Currently under way at the Billy Wilder Theater inside the Armand Hammer Museum in Westwood, the UCLA Film and Television Archive’s far-reaching and fascinating series “Marquee Movies: Movies on Moviegoing” takes sharp aim at an overview of how the movies themselves have portrayed the act of going out to see movies during these years of seismic change in the way we see them. What’s best about the collection of films curated for the series is its scope, which sweeps along from the anything-goes exhibition of the silent era, on through an examination of the opulent era of grandiose movie palaces and post-war audience predilection for exploitation pictures, and straight into an era—ours—of a certain nostalgia for the ways we used to exclusively gather in dark places to watch visions jump out at us from the big screen. (That nostalgia, as it turns out, is often colored by a rear-view perspective on the times which contextualizes it and sometimes gives it a bitter tinge.) As the program notes for the Marquee Movies series puts it, whether you’re an American moviegoer or one from France, Italy, Argentina or Taiwan, “the current sense of loss at the passing of an exhibition era takes its place in the ongoing history of cultural and industrial transformation reflected in these films.”
The series took its inaugural bow last Friday night with a rare 35mm screening of Matinee (1993), director Joe Dante and screenwriter Charlie Haas’s vividly imagined tribute to movie love during a time in Us history which lazy writers frequently like to describe as “the point when America lost its innocence” or some other such silliness. For Americans, and for a whole lot of other people the world over, those days in 1962 during what would come to be known as the Cuban Missile Crisis felt more like days when something a whole lot more tangible than “innocence” was about to be lost, what with the Us and Russia being on the brink of nuclear confrontation and all. The movie lays down this undercurrent of fear and uncertainty as the foundation which tints its main action, that of the arrival of exploitation movie impresario Laurence Woolsey (John Goodman, channeling producer and gimmick maestro William Castle) to Key West, Florida, to promote his latest shock show, Mant!, on the very weekend that American troops set to sea, ready to fire on Russian missile installments a mere 90 miles away in Cuba.
Woolsey’s hardly worried that his potential audience will be distracted the specter of annihilation; in fact, he’s energized by it, convinced that the free-floating anxiety will translate into box office dollars contributed by nervous kids and adults looking for a safe and scary good time, a disposal cinematic depository for all their worst fears. And it certainly doesn’t matter that Woolsey’s movie is a corny sci-fi absurdity-- all the better for his particular brand of enhancements. Mant!, a lovingly sculpted mash-up of 1950s hits like The Fly and Them!, benefits from “Atomo-vision,” which incorporates variants of Castle innovations like Emergo and Percepto, as well as “Rumble-rama,” a very crude precursor to Universal’s Oscar-winning Sensurround system. The movie’s Saturday afternoon screening is where Dante and Haas really let loose their tickled and twisted imaginations, with the help of Woolsey’s theatrical enhancements.
Leading up to the fearful and farcical unleashing of Mant!, Dante stages a beautifully understated sequence that moved me to tears when I saw it with my daughters last Friday night at the Billy Wilder Theater. Matinee is seen primarily through the eyes of young Gene Loomis (Simon Fenton), a military kid whose dad is among those waiting it out on nuclear-armed boats pointed in the direction of Cuba. Gene is a monster-movie nerd (and a clear stand-in for Dante, Haas and just about anybody—like me—whose primary biblical text was provided not by that fella in the burning bush but instead by Forrest J. Ackerman within the pages of Famous Monsters of Filmland), and he manages to worm his way into Woolsey’s good graces as the producer prepares the local theater to show his picture. At one point he walks down the street in the company of the larger-than-life producer, who starts talking about his inspirations and why he makes the sort of movies he does:
“A zillion years ago, a guy’s living in a cave,” Woolsey expounds. “He goes out one day—Bam! He gets chased by a mammoth. Now, he’s scared to death, but he gets away. And when it’s all over with, he feels great.”
Gene, eager to believe but also to understand, responds quizzically-- “Well, yeah, ‘cause he’s still living.”
“Yeah, but he knows he is, and he feels it,” Woolsey counters. “So he goes home, back to the cave. First thing he does, he does a drawing of a mammoth.” (At this point the brick wall which the two of them are passing becomes a blank screen onto which Woolsey conjures an animated behemoth that entrances Gene and us.) Woolsey continues:
“He thinks, ‘People are coming to see this. Let’s make it good. Let’s make the teeth real long and the eyes real mean.’ Boom! The first monster movie. That’s probably why I still do it. You make the teeth as big as you want, then you kill it off, everything’s okay, the lights come up,” Woolsey concludes, ending his illustrative fantasy with a sigh.
But that’s not all, folks. At this point, Dante cuts to a Steadicam shot as it moves into the lobby hall of that Key West theater, past posters of Hatari!, Lonely are the Brave, Six Black Horses and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?. The tracking shot continues up the stairs, letting us get a really close look at the worn, perhaps pungent carpet, most likely the same rug that was laid down when the theater opened 30 or so years earlier, into the snack bar area, then glides over to the closed swinging doors leading into the auditorium, while Woolsey continues:
“You see, the people come into your cave with the 200-year-old carpet, the guy tears your ticket in half—it’s too late to turn back now. The water fountain’s all booby-trapped and ready, the stuff laid out on the candy counter. Then you come over here to where it’s dark-- there could be anything in there—and you say, ‘Here I am. What have you got for me?’”
Forget nostalgia for a style of moviegoing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more compact, evocative and heartfelt tribute to the space in which we used to see movies than those couple of minutes in Matinee. The shot and the narration work so vividly together that I swear I could whiff the must underlying that carpet, papered over lovingly with the smell of popcorn wafting through the confined space of that tiny snack bar, just as if I was a kid again myself, wandering into the friendly confines of the Alger Theater in Lakeview, Oregon (More on that place next week.)
Dante’s movie is a romp, no doubt, but its nostalgia is a heartier variety than what we usually get, and it leaves us with an undercurrent of uneasiness that is unusual for a genre most enough content to look back through amber. Woolsey’s words resonate for every youngster who has searched for reasons to explain their attraction to the scary side of cinema and memories of the places where those images were first encountered, but in Matinee there’s another terror with which to contend, one not so easily held at bay.
Of course the real world monster of the movie— the bomb— was also, during that weekend in 1962 and in Matinee’s representation of the missile crisis, “killed off,” making “everything okay.” But Dante makes us understand that while calm has been momentarily restored, something deeper has been forever disturbed. The movie acknowledges the societal disarray which was already under way in Vietnam, and the American South, and only months away from spilling out from Dallas and onto the greater American landscape in a way so much less containable than even the radiative effects of a single cataclysmic event. That awareness leaves Matinee with a sorrowful aftertaste that is hard to shake. The movie’s last image, of our two main characters gathered on the beach, greeting helicopters that are flying home from having hovered at the precipice of nuclear destruction, is one of relief for familial unity restored—Gene is, after all, getting his dad back. But it’s also one of foreboding. Dante leaves us with an extreme close-up of a copter looming into frame, absent even the context of the sky, bearing down on us like a real-life mutant creature, an eerie bellwether of political and societal chaos yet to come as a stout companion to the movie’s general air of celebratory remembrance.
The “Marquee Movies” series has already seen Matinee (last Friday night), Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) paired with Polish director Wojciech Marczewski’s 1990 Escape from Liberty Island (last Saturday night), and Ettore Scola’s masterful Splendor (1989), which screened last Sunday night.
But there’s plenty more to come. Sunday, June 12, the archive series unveils a double bill of Lloyd Bacon’s Footlight Parade (1933) with the less well-known This Way, Please (1937), a terrific tale of a star-struck movie theater usherette with dreams of singing and dancing just like the stars she idolizes, starring Charles ‘Buddy’ Rogers, Betty Grable, Jim Jordan, Marian Jordan and the brilliantly grizzled Ned Sparks.
Wednesday, June 15, you can see Uruguay’s A Useful Life (2010), in which a movie theater manager in Montevideo faces up the fact that the days of his beloved movie theater are numbered, paired up with Luc Moullet’s droll account of the feud between the French film journals Cahiers du Cinema and Positif, entitled The Seats of the Alcazar (1989).
One of my favorites, Tsai Ming-liang’s haunting Goodbye, Dragon Inn (2003) gets a rare projection at the Wilder on Sunday, June 19, along with Lisandsro Alonzo’s Fantasma (2006), described by the archive as “a hypnotic commentary on cinematic rituals and presence.”
Saturday afternoon, June 25, “Marquee Movies” presents a rare screening of Gregory La Cava’s hilarious slapstick spoof of rural moviegoing, His Nibs (1921), paired up with what I consider, alongside Matinee and Goodbye, Dragon Inn, one of the real jewels of the series, Basil Dearden’s marvelously funny The Smallest Show on Earth (1957), all about what happens when a newlywed couple inherits a rundown cinema populated by a staff of eccentrics that include Margaret Rutherford and Peter Sellers. (More on that one next week.)
(Each program also features a variety of moviegoing-oriented shorts, trailers and other surprises. Click the individual links for details and show times.)
(Next week: My review of The Smallest Show on Earth and a remembrance of my own hometown movie theater, which closed in 2015.)
- Dennis Cozzalio
Following up his Oscar win earlier this year for Quentin Tarantino‘s The Hateful Eight, the legendary composer Ennio Morricone seems to be as busy as ever. Ahead of his 88th birthday this fall, he’s currently on tour and on the same day that we’ll hear his new score for Terrence Malick‘s Voyage of Time, he’s set to release a new album.
The composer has signed a new record deal with Decca Records and the first album to be released is Morricone 60, which celebrates his six decades of work. Featuring a selection of new recordings with Czech National Symphony Orchestra, it includes themes from his Sergio Leone films, The Mission, Cinema Paradiso, and more, as well as his recent Oscar-winning work.
“After the success of The Hateful Eight score, I’m delighted to be returning to Decca with my own record deal – an extraordinary moment in my 60th professional anniversary year, »
- Jordan Raup
With the conversion to digital cinema nearly complete worldwide, will 35mm still live on somewhere? This documentary is proof that yes, a love for film and 35mm projection will live on forever, even in the most remote places in the world where it's hard to even get electricity. The Cinema Travelers is a documentary made by directors Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya and it profiles a traveling cinema in India, which shows up in desolate places of the country with very basic projection rigs to show classic films to swarms of people. It is absolutely wonderful to discover, capturing so spectacularly the joy and wonder that movies bring to people of all ages. It evokes the same emotions as Cinema Paradiso, but this is all real life. I genuinely adore this documentary and it's a must see for anyone/everyone who loves 35mm and the power of cinema. Which is hopefully everyone reading this. »
- Alex Billington
If the cinema is magic, then the nomadic projectionists and technicians of “The Cinema Travelers” are its Oz-like wizards, roaming the rural Indian countryside delivering films via their “Traveling Talkie” road-shows. It’s a vocation steeped in tradition and rooted in faith in the medium’s rapturous powers. And as illustrated by Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya’s intimate, poignant documentary, it’s also one that’s undergoing a seismic transformation thanks to the emergence of the digital age. Recalling Giuseppe Tornatore’s 1988 Oscar winner “Cinema Paradiso” in its effusive love of 20th-century celluloid splendor, this five-years-in-the-making film should entice theatrical-loving cinephiles after its debut in the Cannes Classics sidebar of the world’s preeminent film fest.
Mohammed and his crew earn a paltry living hauling an enormous tent and equally mammoth 35mm projector to dusty small-town fairs, where their movies are a coveted attraction for those situated far from modern multiplexes. »
- Nick Schager
With editors and cinematographers chiming in on the best examples of their craft in cinema history, it’s now time for directors to have a say. To celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Directors Guild of America, they’ve conducted a poll for their members when it comes to the 80 greatest directorial achievements in feature films since the organization’s founding in 1936. With 2,189 members participating, the top pick went to Francis Ford Coppola for The Godfather, one of three films from the director making the top 10.
Even with films from nonmembers being eligible, the male-dominated, America-centric choices are a bit shameful (Kathryn Bigelow is the only female director on the list, and the first foreign film doesn’t show up until number 26), but not necessarily surprising when one looks at the make-up of its membership. As with any list, there’s bound to be disagreements (Birdman besting The Bicycle Thief, »
- Jordan Raup
Following the announcement last week that Ana de Armas (Knock Knock) was added to the cast of the Blade Runner sequel, it’s now been revealed that Dutch actress Sylvia Hoeks (The Girl and Death, Overspel, The Best Offer) has joined the film’s ranks in a leading role:
Press Release: Dutch actress Sylvia Hoeks has been tapped for a leading role alongside Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Robin Wright, Ana de Armas and Dave Bautista in Alcon Entertainment’s sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 masterpiece Blade Runner, it was announced by Alcon co-founders and co-ceo’s Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson.
Denis Villeneuve (Sicario, Prisoners) is directing. Principal photography is scheduled to begin July 2016. The film will be released by Warner Bros. in North America and Sony Pictures Releasing International will distribute in all media for all overseas territories.
Netherlands-born film, stage and television actress Hoeks has starred in numerous »
- Derek Anderson
Dutch actress Sylvia Hoeks has joined the cast of Alcon Entertainment’s Blade Runner sequel. Denis Villeneuve is directing the untitled follow-up to Ridley Scott’s 1982 pic. Harrison Ford is reprising his role as Rick Deckard. Along with Hoeks, whose role was not disclosed, he’ll be joined by Ryan Gosling, Robin Wright, Ana de Armas and Dave Bautista. Hoeks starred in 2013’s The Best Offer, alongside Geoffrey Rush and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso)… »
The deal was symbolically signed by Tornatore and Zhang Qiang of Apg at the end of a forum on co-productions Sunday on the first full day of the Beijing International Film Festival. Among the witnesses to the signing was Miao Xiaotian, VP of China Film Co-production Corporation.
“The deal is an agreement in principal (without a specific project that is yet agreed),” Tornatore told Variety. He said that it will likely happen within the next two to three years and be a majority Chinese-financed picture.
It was unclear whether the film will use the bilateral co-production treaty between Italy and China that was signed in 2014. The first film that used the treaty was Cristiano Bortone’s “Coffee.”
Tornatore, who has other credits including “Malena, »
- Patrick Frater
While one might think a new movie from the director behind "Cinema Paradiso" and "Malèna" might garner more attention, or at least some kind of film-festival appearance, "The Correspondence," the latest from Giuseppe Tornatore, has already quietly been released in a handful of overseas territories. It's continuing to roll out, and a new international trailer for it has landed. Read More: Review: Giuseppe Tornatore's Campy & Overcooked 'The Best Offer' Starring Geoffrey Rush & Jim Sturgess Jeremy Irons and Olga Kurylenko star in the movie, which boasts a pretty high-wire premise. The story follows a university student/stuntwoman who is reeling from the death of her stunt double, and finds solace in the arms of her astrophysics lecturer. Well, it's definitely original, and not only that, the movie has a score from Ennio Morricone. There's no U.S. distributor yet for "The Correspondence," so no word on when it will land. »
- Kevin Jagernauth
Mark, Aaron, and Tim are seduced by plastics. We explore what turned out to be a pivotal film in Hollywood history. The Graduate paved the way for many films to come, from casting lead actors, film structure, cinematography, and to the use of music in film. We explore the complexities of Ben’s relationships, speculate about the ending, and flesh out the time period in which the film was made.
About the film:
One of the most beloved American films of all time, The Graduate earned Mike Nichols a best director Oscar, brought the music of Simon & Garfunkel to a wider audience, and introduced the world to a young actor named Dustin Hoffman. Benjamin Braddock (Hoffman) has just finished college and is already lost in a sea of confusion and barely contained angst when he becomes sexually involved with a friend of his parents’, the indomitable Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft »
- Aaron West
Netflix and HBO Now aren't the only places to see great shows and movies in April! Hulu has so many titles coming, including the season finales for a bunch of your favorite shows. Ferris Bueller's Day Off and My Best Friend's Wedding will also be available, among several other vintage films. Check out the full list below, and get a load of Netflix and HBO Go's new picks, too! Available April 1 Shades of Blue, season one finale You, Me & the Apocalypse, season one finale Barbershop, complete season one Alfie American Loser Amistad And You Thought Your Parents Were Weird! Arctic Tale The Arrival Away From Her Bad Boys II Bananas Basic Instinct 2 The Bear Bloodsucking Bastards Brighton Rock Carlos Chelsea Walls Cinema Paradiso Count Yorga, Vampire Cube Cube 2: Hypercube Cube Zero Dead Heat Dead Man The Dead Zone Death Wish Deuces Wild Donnie Brasco Dr. T. and the »
- Maggie Pehanick
The career of Italian composer Ennio Morricone, who on Feb. 26 will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, has few — if any — parallels in the history of film music.
The composer for “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” “The Mission,” “The Untouchables,” “Cinema Paradiso” and an estimated 375 other feature films (not to mention another 90 or so TV projects) is perhaps the most prolific in Western cinema.
He is also among the most respected. Filmmakers from Terrence Malick to John Boorman, Mike Nichols to Barry Levinson, Roman Polanski to Bernardo Bertolucci, Roland Joffe to Brian De Palma, have sought him out to contribute to their films.
Reached at his home in Rome, he says via interpreter, that receiving the star is “a great accolade,” adding, “I can only anticipate how I’m going to feel when I’m there in L.A.”
It’s just the latest honor for the 87-year-old maestro. »
- Jon Burlingame
Exclusive: Upcoming theatrical slate includes supernatural thriller Anguish, political drama The Idealist and comedy Men And Chicken starring Mads Mikkelsen.
UK distributor Arrow Films has forged a new partnership with Munro Films to handle sales for its slate of upcoming theatrical releases.
Munro will look at further opportunities in promoting Arrow Films’ catalogue titles for bookings, including outdoor event screenings, with library titles such as Withnail & I, Bicycle Thieves, Cinema Paradiso and The Long Good Friday. Munro will also explore 35mm screenings on cult titles such as the recent Dario Argento horror re-release Deep Red
Arrow recently acquired theatrical rights to a slate of new titles including possession-thriller Anguish, Danish political thriller The Idealist and dark comedy Men and Chicken, starring Mads Mikkelsen and Søren Malling.
Alex Agran, MD »
- email@example.com (Michael Rosser)
Ennio Morricone accepts an Honorary Academy Award during the 79th Annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, CA, on Sunday, February 25, 2007.
The Weinstein Company has released a 7-minute video from the actual recording session of L’Ultima Diligenza per Red Rock (versione integrale) from The Hateful Eight.
In The Hateful Eight, set six or eight or twelve years after the Civil War, a stagecoach hurtles through the wintry Wyoming landscape. The passengers, bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) and his fugitive Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), race towards the town of Red Rock where Ruth, known in these parts as “The Hangman,” will bring Domergue to justice. Along the road, they encounter two strangers: Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), a black former union soldier turned infamous bounty hunter, »
- Michelle McCue
Directed by Divya Khosla Kumar
The one thing that can be said about Divya Khosla Kumar’s film with certainty is that it sure beats watching the phoney romance in this week’s other romantic release Fitoor. Though honesty of intent may not per se be a virtue worth pursuing, it gives Sanam Re a headstart over the other film which struggles to keep its head above the water.
Sanam Re stays afloat, thanks to the film’s message on how love can take a couple through the most unexpected places. Hence, Sameer Arya’s camera picks on some of the most scenic spots in the world to hone the hues of love, heighten the romance, as the lead pair goes through various sections seasons and phases in life to create a graph for the lovers time together and apart.
Sanjeev Dutta’s »
- Subhash K Jha
Minister hails shake-up which could bring “60% more finance” to industry; Sorrentino, Bertolucci, Benigni embrace the changes.
The Italian government has unveiled long-awaited film finance reform which promise to shake-up the local production, distribution and exhibition sectors.
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, together with culture minister Dario Franceschini, late last week announced a new annual fund of $435m (€400m) for the Italian film industry.
According to the announcement, the Cinema Fund and a raft of tax breaks and subsidies will take effect from 2017.
“Each year, 12% of Vat tax revenue gained from companies exploiting film content – including TV broadcasters, internet service providers, phone operators and film distributors – will feed into a fund amounting to no less than €400m,” explained Franceschini following a meeting with top Italian industry figures including film-makers Bernardo Bertolucci (Last Tango In Paris), Giuseppe Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso), Paolo Sorrentino (The Great Beauty) and Roberto Benigni (Life Is Beautiful).
He added: “This is not a corrective intervention, but a »
Rome – In the latest intersection of fashion and film, Italian retailer Bulgari has announced they will contribute financing to upcoming Ennio Morricone documentary “The Glance of Music,” which is being directed by Giuseppe Tornatore.
Morricone, who is 87, has more than 500 movie credits to this name including scores for Sergio Leone’s so-called “Dollars Trilogy” – “A Fistful of Dollars,” “For a Few Dollars More,” and “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. He recently won the Golden Globe and Critics Choice awards for his score for Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight,” also nominated for an Oscar.
Earlier this month at the Golden Globes ceremony in Beverly Hills, Tarantino accepted the award on behalf of Morricone. The maestro will now receive the prize in person on January 30 during a special Golden Globes ceremony at the Bulgari flagship store in Rome. Hollywood Foreign Press Association prexy Lorenzo Soria is making the trek »
- Nick Vivarelli
Giuseppe Tornatore’s new film “Correspondence,” in which lovers Olga Kurylenko and Jeremy Irons communicate largely via Skype and text messages, marks the Oscar-winning director’s third English-language film after “The Legend of 1900” and, more recently, art world thriller “The Best Offer,” which did stellar biz at the Italian box office in 2013 and sold widely around the world. This atmospheric digital-age romancer, which goes on release in Italy today (Jan. 14), also marks Tornatore’s enth collaboration with composer Ennio Morricone, whose first score for him was “Cinema Paradiso.” Tornatore spoke with Variety about the challenges of making movies in English, the pleasures of working with Morricone, and his plans for a high-profile docu about the 87-year-old maestro who scooped a Golden Globe for scoring Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” and is nominated for an Oscar.
What prompted you to want to make a movie about love and transcendence in the digital age? »
- Nick Vivarelli
With a legacy of iconic work, there isn’t a composer today that has left as much of an impact as Ennio Morricone. The Italian maestro defined the sound of the western with his work on Sergio Leone classics, collaborated with such great directors as Terrence Malick, Gillo Pontecorvo, Bernardo Bertolucci, John Carpenter, Brian De Palma, and most recently, delivered an excellent score for Quentin Tarantino‘s The Hateful Eight.
He’s now rightfully the subject of a new feature-length documentary titled The Glance of Music, which is directed by Giuseppe Tornatore, a collaborator with Morricone since Cinema Paradiso. Today brings the fairly lengthly first trailer for the film, which finds Morricone sharing a Leone anecdote and dropping some brilliant insights, notably, “A film is what we see or hear but music represents the unsaid and the unseen.”
Said to be “coming soon,” check out the trailer below, along with »
- Jordan Raup
Everyone who works with Ennio Morricone calls him "Maestro." It's a title that's both deferential and affectionate for the prolific, 87-year-old composer. Since the late Fifties, he has written some 500 movie scores, including such celebrated and iconic contributions to soundtracks such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, The Mission and Cinema Paradiso. His music has inspired a wide swath of artists from Metallica to Celine Dion, as well as filmmakers from Sergio Leone to Bernardo Bertolucci. But despite this, he has received few film awards in the U. »
20 items from 2016
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