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Scott Reviews Josef von Sternberg’s The Saga of Anatahan [Masters of Cinema Blu-ray Review]

Film culture moves awfully fast sometimes. I had never even heard of The Saga of Anatahan when the New Beverly here in Los Angeles showed it (under the title Ana-ta-han) about a year and a half ago on 16mm. It being Josef von Sternberg’s final feature, it was paired with another not-on-dvd title of his, The King Steps Out (1936). Now here we are, Anatahan has toured in a full restoration and is now available on Blu-ray for all to see. The somewhat-superior The King Steps Out has not yet had its day, sadly, but I’m glad for any von Sternberg on Blu in general, and for the chance to revisit and further consider this sincerely odd film.

Von Sternberg was born to a Jewish family in Vienna, emigrated to the United States when he was seven, then back to Vienna three years later, and back to the United States three years after that.
See full article at CriterionCast »

Review: Alfred Hitchcock's "The Paradine Case" (1947) Starring Gregory Peck; Kino Lorber Blu-ray Special Edition

  • CinemaRetro
By Jeremy Carr

Alfred Hitchcock may have directed The Paradine Case, the 1947 adaptation of Robert Smythe Hichens’ 1933 novel, but the film is most clearly a David O. Selznick production. It was his coveted property, he wrote the screenplay (with contributions from Alma Reville, James Bridie, and an uncredited Ben Hecht), and the movie itself discloses far more of its producer’s temperament than it does its director’s. The Paradine Case was, in fact, the last film made by the British-born master as part of his seven-year contract with Selznick, and by most accounts, Hitchcock’s heart just wasn’t in it. Unfortunately, it shows.

But this is no slipshod motion picture. Selznick spared no expense—the completed film cost almost as much as Gone with the Wind—and the entire project is built on quality and class. Set in London, in “the recent past,” The Paradine Case stars an
See full article at CinemaRetro »

Marlene Dietrich Retrospective Screening at the Metrograph in NYC

Marlene Dietrich in “Shanghai Express”: mptvimages.com/IMDb

If you’re a fan of actress, camp icon, and anti-fascist Marlene Dietrich or want to learn more about her, you’re in luck. The Metrograph theater in New York City is hosting “Marlene,” a retrospective featuring 19 of Dietrich’s films. The festivities kicked off May 23 and will continue until July 8.

Marie Magdalene “Marlene” Dietrich was born in Berlin in 1901. Dietrich began her career as a vaudeville performer in Weimar Germany. She moved to Hollywood and eventually became a revered film actress, “bisexual sex symbol, willful camp icon, [and] paragon of feminine glamour” — “comfortable in top hat and tails, ballgown, or gorilla suit.” But the actress did not forget about what was happening back home in Germany; Dietrich became involved in the fight against fascism during WWII. She “used her likeness to fundraise for Jewish refugees escaping Nazi Germany and performed on Uso tours, earning her the Metal of Freedom and Légion d’honneur by the French government,” the press release details. Dietrich died in 1992 at the age of 90.

The “Marlene” retrospective will feature Dietrich’s seven films with director Josef von Sternberg: “The Blue Angel,” “Morocco,” “Blonde Venus,” “Dishonored,” “Shanghai Express,” “The Devil Is A Woman,” and “The Scarlet Empress.” The actress’ collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock (“Stage Fright”), Orson Welles (“Touch of Evil”), and Billy Wilder (“A Foreign Affair”) are among the other films screening at the Metrograph. A documentary about Dietrich, Maximilian Schell’s “Marlene,” will also screen. All of the films, besides “Marlene,” will be shown in 35mm.

Head over to The Metrograph’s site for showtimes and more information. The featured films and their synopses are below, courtesy of the Metrograph.

Angel

1937 / 91min / 35mm

Director: Ernst Lubitsch

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Herbert Marshall, Melvyn Douglas

While English statesman Herbert Marshall worries over international affairs, his glamorous wife (Dietrich) concerns herself with, well, international affairs, beginning a tryst with a dashing stranger (Melvyn Douglas) who she only allows to know her as “Angel.” Dietrich’s last film on her Paramount contract is a spry, surprising love triangle, one of the least-known of Lubitsch’s essential works from his Midas touch period.

Blonde Venus

1932 / 93min / 35mm

Director: Josef Von Sternberg

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Herbert Marshall, Cary Grant

A.k.a “The One with the Gorilla Suit,” which Dietrich dons to perform her big number “Hot Voodoo.” It’s all for a good cause: she’s an ex-nightclub chanteuse who’s gone back to work to pay for husband Herbert Marshall’s radium poisoning treatments, though she later allows herself to become the plaything of Cary Grant’s dashing young millionaire, earning only contempt for her sacrifice.

Der Blaue Engel

1930 / 106min / 35mm

Director: Josef Von Sternberg

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Emil Jannings, Kurt Gerron, Rosa Valetti

Mild-mannered, uptight schoolteacher Emil Jannings lives a faultlessly law-abiding, by-the-book existence, but it’s all over when he gets a glimpse of Dietrich’s nightclub chanteuse Lola-Lola, and is immediately ready to ruin himself for her amusement. The first collaboration between Dietrich and von Sternberg made her an international star, and linked her forever to her seductive, world-weary delivery of the song “Falling in Love Again.” We’re showing the German-language version, preceded by a four-minute-long Dietrich screen test.

Desire

1936 / 95min / 35mm

Director: Frank Borzage

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper, John Halliday, William Frawley

Dietrich and Gary Cooper reunite in this delightful urbane comedy by Borzage, a master of romantic delirium, here working somewhat after the style of producer Ernst Lubitsch. La Dietrich’s stylish jewel thief stashes a clutch of pearls in the pocket of an upstanding American businessman, and while trying to get back the goods she can’t help but notice the big lug isn’t half bad-looking. An excuse to recall the following lines from the 1936 Times review: “Lubitsch, the Gay Emancipator, has freed Dietrich from von Sternberg’s artistic bondage.” Those were the days.

Destry Rides Again

1939 / 94min / 35mm

Director: George Marshall

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, James Stewart, Mischa Auer, Charles Winninger

Jimmy Stewart, still in his rangy, impossibly-good-looking phase, is a marshal who sets out to clean up the wide-open town of Bottleneck without firing a shot in this charming Western musical comedy. The local roughnecks present him one kind of challenge; Dietrich’s saloon singer Frenchy, belting out her rowdy standard “The Boys in the Back Room,” quite another.

The Devil Is A Woman

1935 / 80min / 35mm

Director: Josef Von Sternberg

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Lionel Atwill, Edward Everett Horton

Dietrich and von Sternberg’s final collaboration, and an apotheosis of sorts. In Spain in the early years of the 20th century, Lionel Atwill’s loyal suitor Pasqualito and the revolutionary Cesar Romero are teased into a frenzy by legendary coquette Concha (Guess who?). The coolly scrolling camera and baroque compositions are courtesy of an uncredited Lucien Ballard and Von Sternberg himself, doing double duty as cinematographer.

Dishonored

1931 / 91min / 35mm

Director: Josef Von Sternberg

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Victor McLaglen

Dietrich plays X-27, a Mata Hari-esque spy for the Austrian Secret Service tasked with using a bevy of costume changes (Russian peasant, feathered helmet, leather jumpsuit) to gather information on the Russians during World War I. Outrageous plotting, high chiaroscuro style, and the star’s earthy sensuality mark this unforgettable pre-code treasure, beloved by Godard and Fassbinder both. Says Victor McLaglen: “the more you cheat and the more you lie, the more exciting you become.”

A Foreign Affair

1948 / 116min / 35mm

Director: Billy Wilder

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Jean Arthur, John Lund, Millard Mitchell

Against the backdrop of a ruined postwar Berlin, another conflict is just heating up, as Dietrich’s cabaret singer with rumored Nazi ties vies with Jean Arthur’s Iowa congresswoman-on-a-fact-finding-mission for the affection of American officer John Lund. Wilder’s penultimate collaboration with co-writer Charles Brackett is a black comic delight full of crackling, piquant dialogue, and Dietrich’s knowing slow-burn has never been better.

Judgment At Nuremberg

1961 / 186min / 35mm

Director: Stanley Kramer

Cast: Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Maximilian Schell, Judy Garland, Montgomery Clift, William Shatner

Dietrich’s last truly substantial screen appearance came as part of the ensemble for Kramer’s courtroom drama, playing the widow of a German general executed by the Allies who’s befriended by investigating judge Spencer Tracy in this fictionalized retelling of the events of a 1947 military tribunal addressing war crimes by civilians under the Third Reich. Rounding out the all-star cast are Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Judy Garland, William Shatner, and Maximilian Schell, who would win the Academy Award for Best Actor, and later directed a portrait of Dietrich.

The Lady Is Willing

1942 / 92min / 35mm

Director: Mitchell Leisen

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Fred MacMurray, Aline MacMahon, Stanley Ridges

Leisen, considered a comic talent on-par with Lubitsch during the screwball era, lends characteristic sparkle to this mid-career attempt at reconfiguring Dietrich’s very 1930s star persona to fit the needs of the 1940s women’s picture; here she plays a glamor-gal diva whose life changes when she discovers a baby on Eighth Avenue and decides to adopt, passing through melodramatic coincidences and a vale of tears before falling into the arms of Fred MacMurray.

Lola

1981 / 113min / 35mm

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Cast: Barbara Sukowa, Armin Mueller-stahl, Mario Adorf, Matthias Fuchs

Dietrich had for all purposes retired from the screen by the time that Fassbinder began his frontal assault on West German popular culture, but her image and her unlikely combination of cool irony and torrid emotion left a profound mark on his films. Lola, the candy-colored, late-1950s-set capstone of his “Brd Trilogy” in particular draws heavily from The Blue Angel, with bordello singer Barbara Sukowa torn between Mario Adorf’s sugar daddy and Armin Mueller-Stahl’s incoming building commissioner in boomtown Coburg.

Marlene

1984 / 94min / Digital

Director: Maximilian Schell

More than twenty years after Schell had co-starred with Dietrich in Judgment at Nuremberg, during which period she’d retired to a life of very private seclusion, he tried to get her to participate in a documentary about her life. She finally gave in — sort of. Dietrich offered only her memories and her famous voice, refusing to appear on camera, but necessity became a boon to the resulting film, a sort of guided tour of Dietrich’s life and work, which simultaneously reveals much and deepens her mystery.

Morocco

1930 / 92min / 35mm

Director: Josef Von Sternberg

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper, Adolphe Menjou

After The Blue Angel, shot in Germany, was a hit, von Sternberg was given full run of the Paramount backlot, where he would conjure up all manner of exotic destinations out of thin air. First stop: North Africa, where French legionnaire Gary Cooper competes with sugar daddy Adolphe Menjou for the favors of Dietrich’s cabaret star Amy Jolly, who in one scene famously rocks a men’s tailcoat and plants a smooch on a female fan.

Rancho Notorious

1952 / 89min / 35mm

Director: Fritz Lang

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Arthur Kennedy, Mel Ferrer, William Frawley

Teutons Lang and Dietrich team up in a Technicolor wild west of deliberate, garish artifice in this singularly claustrophobic oater, in which a revenge-mad Burt Kennedy goes looking for his fiancée’s killers at a hideaway inn run by Dietrich, and discovers dangerous, unbidden desires instead. As the chant of the film’s recurring, persecutorial Brechtian ballad goes: “Hate, murder, and revenge.”

The Scarlet Empress

1934 / 104min / 35mm

Director: Josef Von Sternberg

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, John Lodge, Sam Jaffe, Louise Dresser

Have ever a screen persona and a historical personage found such a hand-in-glove-fit as did Dietrich and Empress Catherine the Great of Russia? While the Motion Picture Production Code was preparing to chasten American movies, Dietrich and von Sternberg got together to throw one last lavish S & M orgy, a flamboyant film of 18th century palace intrigues and ludicrously lapidary décor.

Shanghai Express

1932 / 82min / 35mm

Director: Josef Von Sternberg

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Clive Brook, Anna May Wong

“It took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lily,” proclaims Marlene Dietrich with the disdain of an empress, though in fact she’s a high-class courtesan, re-encountering former lover Clive Brook on an express train rolling through civil war-wracked China. The fourth of Dietrich and von Sternberg’s collaborations is a riot of delirious chinoiserie artifice and sculpted shadowplay — Dietrich’s co-star Anna May Wong was never again shot so caressingly.

The Song Of Songs

1933 / 90min / 35mm

Director: Rouben Mamoulian

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Brian Aherne, Lionel Atwill

So often the instrument of corruption, Mamoulian’s film allows Dietrich to be the corrupted one, playing a country girl, Lily, who comes to big-city Berlin and quickly becomes the model and muse of sculptor Brian Aherne. Lionel Atwill’s preening decadent Baron von Merzbach admires Lily’s nude form in marble, and decides to bring the original home with him, where she slips into the role of the cynical sophisticate, though her heart remains with the artist.

Stage Fright

1950 / 110min / 35mm

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Jane Wyman, Michael Wilding, Richard Todd, Alastair Sim

Hitchcock’s last film in his native England until 1972’s Frenzy is an audaciously-structured thriller, making use of an extended flashback and a whiplash narrative about-face. Acting student Jane Wyman tries to save beau Robert Todd from taking the fall for a murder committed by stage star Dietrich, who shows her hypnotic charm in a show-stopper performance of “I’m the Laziest Gal in Town.”

Touch Of Evil

1958 / 95min / 35mm

Director: Orson Welles

Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Orson Welles

It’s not the size of the part, but what you do with it. Playing a brothel keeper in a seedy border town in Welles’s magnificently baroque late noir, Dietrich only has a clutch of lines, but they’re the ones you remember, whether her famous requiem for crooked cop Hank Quinlan, or her reading of his “fortune”: “Your future’s all used up.” Bold and self-evidently brilliant, you could use Touch of Evil to explain the concept of great cinema to a visiting Martian.

Marlene Dietrich Retrospective Screening at the Metrograph in NYC was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

The Saga of Anatahan

Take one fiercely individual auteur fed up with the Hollywood game, put him in Kyoto with a full Japanese film company, and the result is a picture critics have been trying to figure out ever since. It’s a realistic story told in a highly artificial visual style, in un-subtitled Japanese. And its writer-director intended it to play for American audiences.

The Saga of Anatahan

Blu-ray

Kino Lorber

1953 / B&W / 1:37 flat Academy / 91 min. / Anatahan, Ana-ta-han / Street Date April 25, 2017 / available through Kino Lorber / 29.95 Starring: Akemi Negishi, Tadashi Suganuma, Kisaburo Sawamura, Shoji Nakayama, Jun Fujikawa, Hiroshi Kondo, Shozo Miyashita, Tsuruemon Bando, Kikuji Onoe, Rokuriro Kineya, Daijiro Tamura, Chizuru Kitagawa, Takeshi Suzuki, Shiro Amikura.

Cinematography: Josef von Sternberg, Kozo Okazaki

Film Editor: Mitsuzo Miyata

Original Music: Akira Ifukube

Special Effects: Eiji Tsuburaya

Written by Josef von Sternberg from the novel by Michiro Maruyama & Younghill Kang

Produced by Kazuo Takimura

Directed by Josef von Sternberg
See full article at Trailers from Hell »

Witness the Evolution of Cinematography with Compilation of Oscar Winners

This past weekend, the American Society of Cinematographers awarded Greig Fraser for his contribution to Lion as last year’s greatest accomplishment in the field. Of course, his achievement was just a small sampling of the fantastic work from directors of photography, but it did give us a stronger hint at what may be the winner on Oscar night. Ahead of the ceremony, we have a new video compilation that honors all the past winners in the category at the Academy Awards

Created by Burger Fiction, it spans the stunning silent landmark Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans all the way up to the end of Emmanuel Lubezki‘s three-peat win for The Revenant. Aside from the advancements in color and aspect ration, it’s a thrill to see some of cinema’s most iconic shots side-by-side. However, the best way to experience the evolution of the craft is by
See full article at The Film Stage »

AFM: ‘Adventurers’ Heads Im Global’s Expanded China Sales Slate

Having recently enjoyed a substantial injection of Chinese capital, Im Global is upping its Chinese film sales credentials.

The company has picked up global rights to Chinese romantic comedy adventure film “The Adventurers” and is unveiling it for sales at the American Film Market.

The film stars Jean Reno, Andy Lau, and “The Assassin” star Shu Qi under the direction of Shu’s husband, Stephen Fung.

Currently in post-production after shooting in Asia and Europe, the film tells the story of a thief (Lau) who steals two pieces of valuable jewelry during the Cannes Film Festival. Shu’s character is used as bait by detective (Reno) to lure the thief to Macau.

It is produced by Terence Chang, who spent over a decade in Hollywood as John Woo’s production partner, with Gravity Pictures, a production and distribution company that is on of the portfolio companies of Li Ruigang’s China Media Capital.
See full article at Variety - Film News »

The Forgotten: Edmond T. Gréville's "Secret Lives" (1937)

  • MUBI
Brigitte Horney is not much remembered today, despite a long, distinguished career (films for Siodmak, Wegener, Fanck, the Nazi Baron Munchausen). Tarantino's name-checking of her during the pub games of Inglourious Basterds is probably her one star moment. Maybe the porn star name doesn't help: if Emil Jannings had been christened Emil Bigballs, he might not enjoy the status he currently has.Horney did not confine her activities to Germany: Secret Lives is a version of the Mata Hari history/legend produced in Britain with a French director, the versatile, some would say hacky, Edmond T. Gréville, whose most famous British creation was the 1960 camp classic Beat Girl (John Barry score; Gillian Hills; Christopher Lee; Oliver Reed; striptease and juvenile delinquency). But his '30s and '40s work, mostly in France, was generally slick and stylish.As a flagrant roman à clef treatment of the career of a celebrated seductress,
See full article at MUBI »

Marlene Dietrich's new talkie - archive, 18 March 1932

18 March 1932: The star shows herself unique in Hollywood by being majestically beautiful

London, Thursday.

Von Sternberg has evidently taken the criticisms of his first two American films for Marlene Dietrich to heart. In “Shanghai Express,” which fills the bill at the Carlton to-morrow, he has a story containing more action than usual. There are bandits, rebels, murders, and hold-ups. There is also the slow sifting over of frustrated emotions which a Dietrich film appears to demand.

But the increase of physical action really reveals how little interested in it Von Sternberg is, and he does not allow himself time to follow the emotional consequences which would justify him in slurring the more dramatic aspects of his scenario.

Continue reading...
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

It’s official, the best Oscar year ever is… – watch Jump Cut #4

This week’s Jump Cut is all about determining the best year ever in cinema.

“But how can you figure that out?!” you shout at whatever device you’re reading this on. “Film is too subjective an art form for you to make overarching statements like that!”

That’s a very good point, but you’re overlooking two things: 1) the Oscar best picture nominations, and 2) film ratings on the Internet Movie Database. Both obviously have degrees of subjectivity, but that’s levelled off somewhat with each institution’s sheer number of voters or raters.

So, to work out what year was the best ever for cinema, we’ve taken all the films nominated for each year’s Best Picture Oscar, and then worked out their average IMDb rating. I’ll just point out that these were the ratings as of the week of the 88th Academy Awards on 22nd February
See full article at Flickeringmyth »

Everything Steven Soderbergh Watched and Read in 2015

Displaying a transparency that few filmmakers of his fame and / or caliber would even bother with, Steven Soderbergh has, for a couple of years, been keen on releasing lists of what he watched and read during the previous twelve months. If you’re at all interested in this sort of thing — and why not? what else are you even doing with your day? — the 2015 selection should be of strong interest, this being a time when he was fully enmeshed in the world of creating television.

He’s clearly observing the medium with a close eye, be it what’s on air or what his friends (specifically David Fincher and his stillborn projects) show him, and how that might relate to his apparent love of 48 Hours Mystery or approach to a comparatively light slate of cinematic assignments — specifically: it seems odd that the last time he watched Magic Mike Xxl, a
See full article at The Film Stage »

The Captive City | Blu-ray Review

Two obscure Robert Wise titles reach Blu-ray release this month, both direct follow-ups to some of the auteur’s more iconic works. First up is 1962’s Two for the Seesaw, a romantic drama headlined by Robert Mitchum and Shirley MacLaine following the famed 1961 title West Side Story. But the decade prior would fine Wise unveiling one of his most stilted efforts, The Captive City (1952), a sort-of noir procedural which followed his sci-fi social commentary The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). Providing John Forsythe with his first starring role (a performer who would find his most famous roles decades later on television, as Blake Carrington in “Dynasty,” and of course, the famous voice in “Charlie’s Angels”), it has to be one of the most unenthusiastic renderings of organized crime ever committed to celluloid. A scrappy journalist defies the mob ruled police force and a slick Mafia boss in a tired
See full article at IONCINEMA.com »

The Newsstand – Episode 50 – Criterion’s January and February 2016 Line-up

This month on the Newsstand, Ryan is joined by David Blakeslee to discuss the January and February (2016) Criterion Collection line-ups, as well as the latest in Criterion rumors, news, packaging, and more.

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Contact us with any feedback.

Shownotes Topics January Line-up February Line-up Latest newsletter tease (Paris nous appartient, Only Angels Have Wings) Manchurian Candidate Clouds Of Sils Maria Chimes At Midnight (Wex Arts Cinema Revival) Kieslowski films on Fandor Barnes & Noble Sale Criterion Blogathon Liv Ullmann, Angela Landsbury, and John Waters spotted at Criterion on Instagram 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days tease Shanghai Express Episode Links The Complete Lady Snowblood Lady Snowblood (1973) Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance (1974) The American Friend (1977) Bitter Rice (1949) Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) Gilda (1946) The Emigrants/The New Land The New Land (1972) The Emigrants (1971) The Kid (1921) The Graduate (1967) I Knew Her Well (1965) Paris Belongs to Us Only Angels Have Wings Liv Ullmann 4 Months,
See full article at CriterionCast »

Scratching our heads at the BBC's top 100 American Movies of All-Time

  • Hitfix
Scratching our heads at the BBC's top 100 American Movies of All-Time
First off, let's make one thing clear. We're not scratching our heads at Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing" making the BBC's 100 greatest American films. That movie, of which an image accompanies this post, not only made the list, but ranked appropriately at no. 25. It's the rest of the selections that have us scratching and, yes, shaking our heads in disbelief. A wonderful page view driver, these sorts of lists make great fodder for passionate movie fans no matter what their age or part of the world they hail from. There is nothing more entertaining than watching two critics from opposite ends of the globe try to debate whether "The Dark Knight" should have been nominated for best picture or make a list like this. Even in this age of short form content where Vines, Shapchats and Instagram videos have captured viewers attention, movies will continue to inspire because
See full article at Hitfix »

Our Daily Bread #7

  • MUBI
Louis Feuillade’s Fantômas opens with a series of disguises, image overlays revealing to us Fantomas’ various personas.Often used by silent filmmakers attempting to conjure the supernatural, they conjure the abstract instead:“It’s a visual medium”–John Ford“[Erich von] Stroheim asked me personally to take on the assignment (after the studio removed him from the film), and I did so without any protest on his part…”– Josef von Sternberg***We move from dissolves to hard cuts:Later in The Wedding March:Counterpoints:And beyond:We call for help, mere seconds later our cries our answered: “We’ve got a trial ahead of us.”Time is meaningless: there is no difference between past and present.Impressionism becomes Expressionism:But we keep being reborn:Love exists:Love unites us all, re-engages us with the world:We cease being individuals:And become a collective--We become a crowd:None of us are alone:*** Sources:Fantômas (Louis Feuillade, 1913)India Matri Bhumi (Roberto Rossellini,
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Anna May Wong Biopic Planned at Fundamental Films

Shanghai-based Fundamental Films is developing “Dragon Lady” about Anna May Wong, the first Chinese-American movie star.

Producers have approached Chinese actress-singer Fan Bingbing for the lead role. Jonathan Keasey and Brant Boivin are writing the script.

Wong rose to fame with her role in 1924’s “Thief of Bagdad” with Douglas Fairbanks, but her career was plagued by offers to play negative stereotypes of Chinese females and was limited by American anti-miscegenation laws that prevented her from sharing an on-screen kiss with a person of another race. She appeared in “Daughter of the Dragon,” “Daughter of Shanghai,” and, with Marlene Dietrich, in Josef von Sternberg’s “Shanghai Express.”

Wong grew up in a poor neighborhood in downtown Los Angeles. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and is depicted in the the Four Ladies of Hollywood statues at La Brea and Sunset along with Dolores del Río,
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Who Should Play Garbo and Dietrich?

Who Should Play Garbo and Dietrich?
So it looks like indie-minded producer Megan Ellison of Annapurna Pictures, who backed upcoming Cannes entry "Foxcatcher" as well as such Oscar contenders as "The Master," "American Hustle" and "Her," is now developing her first TV series to be sold to the networks. Set during Hollywood's Golden Age, the drama focuses on Nordic beauties Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich, who were known for their androgynous mystery. “The Swedish Sphinx” and “The Blonde Venus” could be both glamorous and alluring--and get away with wearing pants. Thus, much like one-time roommates Cary Grant and Randolph Scott, rumors swirled surrounded them. Based at MGM, Greta Garbo ("Grand Hotel," "Ninotchka," "Queen Christina") never starred in a movie with Paramount's reigning diva Dietrich ("Shanghai Express," "Morocco," "Catherine the Great"), and the two so-called studio rivals claimed to have never met. (Back in Europe, they reportedly each enjoyed an affair with elegant aristocrat Mercedes de...
See full article at Thompson on Hollywood »

Radiant at Bam: "The Films of Dietrich and von Sternberg"

Radiant at Bam:
In Marlene Dietrich's ABC, the actress's marvelous book of bon mots and observations for any and every occasion, under the heading "Josef von Sternberg" you'll find just one simple line: "The man I wanted to please most." Among women who think for themselves, or even just claim to, the idea of wanting to please a man is highly unfashionable. But what if Dietrich hadn't? There would be no Amy Jolly in a white tuxedo, wooing French foreign legionnaire Gary Cooper with a posy in Morocco; no Shanghai Lily in Shanghai Express, counting — or losing count of — the number of men who helped her earn that nickname; no Agent X-27 in Dishonored, ever so glamorously clutching her black Persian cat as she readies herself for the journey to...
See full article at Village Voice »

The Best of the 2014 Berlin Film Festival

The Best of the 2014 Berlin Film Festival
Scott Foundas: Well, Peter, another film festival draws to a close. It seems we were only just at Sundance, and now Berlin is but a memory. Time goes by so quickly…why, it’s almost like being one of the characters in Richard Linklater’s widely admired “Boyhood,” who age a dozen years in the course of two-and-a-half-hours of screen time. On the other hand, in Berlin’s Greek competition film, “Stratos,” a relatively short amount of time passes for the characters, but the movie itself creeps along so slowly that watching it calls to mind the title of a far better Greek film by the late master Theo Angelopoulos: “Eternity and a Day.”

Meanwhile, over in the parallel festival section known as the Forum, the international press finally got its long-overdue chance to see Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s terrific “Snowpiercer,” which opened in Korea last summer
See full article at Variety - Film News »

The Noteworthy: Hoberman & The Times, Miyazaki Manga, Dante's "Explorers"

  • MUBI
News.

Starting this week, filmmaker, editor, critic and Notebook contributor Gina Telaroli will be seeing the premiere of her exquisite short feature Traveling Light, "a small-scale silent (aesthetically “silent”, but with a dense sound mix) charting a trip among friends from New York to Pittsburgh carefully constructed as a string of tiny moments" (Christopher Small), around the world in a variety of venues. The most ambitious on the ground presentation will be at New York's Anthology Film Archives, in whose series "Closely Watched Trains" Traveling Light is showing alongside such other brilliant train cinema as Shanghai Express, Emperor of the North, and The Narrow Margin. For those not in New York, stay tuned for news of the film's online premiere.

As Dave Kehr prepares to take on his new position as Adjunct Curator at MoMA, it has been announced that J. Hoberman will be taking over his video column in
See full article at MUBI »

Berlin Fest, MoMA Plan Retro Focused on Use of Light in Film

Berlin Fest, MoMA Plan Retro Focused on Use of Light in Film
The Retrospective section of the Berlin Film Festival will focus on the use of light in movie-making, the event said Thursday. The section will be curated by Deutsche Kinemathek in partnership with the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where the movies will also play.

The fest said that the line-up will allow auds to discover lighting styles from a variety of genres and periods of film history.

“We admire films such as Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Rashomon,’ but for the most part we don’t know the names of the cameramen and lighting technicians who, in a team with the director, create these superb worlds of light and shadow for us. In 2014, the Retrospective will illuminate these works,” said Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick.

The Retro will look at how the films of F.W. Murnau and Josef von Sternberg, with pics like “The Docks of New York” in 1928, and “Shanghai Express
See full article at Variety - Film News »
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