Maps to the Stars
David Cronenberg's film of Bruce Wagner's Hollywood satire-nightmare turns ludicrous situations into operatic tragedy.
* This filmography is not intended to be a comprehensive list of this artist’s work. Instead it reflects the films this person has been involved with that have been reviewed on this site.
Rocket Raccoon makes a comeback; Why Some Movies Shouldn't Be Explained; Fear of a Minority Superhero; Christian Indies of 2014; Profane response to net neutrality.
Highlights from the 2014 Comic-Con, including "Mad Max: Fury Road," "The Book of Life," "The Boxtrolls," "Hitman: Agent 47," and more.
FX launches three dramas in the next three weeks—"Tyrant," "The Bridge," "The Strain"—with mixed results.
Alejandro Jodorowsky says Hollywood is killing cinema; Why you should read Stefan Zweig; What the death of home pages means for the future of news; Bordwell on screenwriting; The rules of cinematic foreplay.
Hollywood is actually regressing on Latino issues. As the industry continues to make progress in its depiction of black America, what we need now is a Spanish Harlem Renaissance.
Michael Mirasol muses on "Pacific Rim" and the strange antagonism to the film, and on its relationship to its inspirations.
Robert K. Elder made a splash a few years ago with his book "The Film That Changed My Life," a collection of interviews with directors about a single film that influenced their career. Now he's back with "
Marie writes: Now this is really neat. It made TIME's top 25 best blogs for 2012 and with good reason. Behold artist and photographer Gustaf Mantel's Tumblr blog "If we don't, remember me" - a collection of animated GIFs based on classic films. Only part of the image moves and in a single loop; they're sometimes called cinemagraphs. The results can be surprisingly moving. They also can't be embedded so you have to watch them on his blog. I already picked my favorite. :-)
After duds "Jimmy P." and "Grand Central," the Coen brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis" saves the day for Barbara Scharres.
Dedicated to all those who lost family members prematurely, and to two students -- one struggling with addiction, and the other who lost her father.
This is grief. The silence that comes with a loved one's death is like no normal silence. It is in our culture that we respond to this stillness with stillness upon stillness. We try to think of death as that leap into some great beyond, perhaps finally letting our loved one's fluorescent inner radiance free. In the process, those loved ones take with them the air from within our lungs. So, in coping, we respond to their perceived new freedom by restricting ourselves with strict boundaries. And, as we cope with loss, we find relief in reunions. Time begins to jump around as we sit in the moment in front of us, leaping between moments in the past, frightened by the cloud in the future. The reunions open old happy memories that help turn that searing, salty burn of the tears into a blankety warmth. But, in our culture, the reunions often end quickly, leaving us alone in the darkness, unable to sleep. This is grief. And, this is what I observed in the first half hour of Susanne Bier's soft-spoken "Things we Lost in the Fire" (2007).
Marie writes: Next door, across a long narrow drive and beyond the row of cedar hedges which run parallel to it, there resides an elementary school dating back to 1965, along with an assortment of newer playground equipment rendered in bright, solid primary colors...I'm sure you know the sort I mean...
This prickly film haunts me. I am now older than James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Jimi Hendrix, and Malcolm X. I am at that age where the infinite world of my childhood bedroom is now replaced by a complicated mass of interwoven needs, wants, and concerns. The soundtrack of my youth is a summer of wind blowing through fragile leaves, with katydids buzzing along. The rattling taps of rain on our roof has now given way to the plastic clicking of this keyboard and various other mechanical monsters. Under it all is an ongoing hiss of noise. I also sometimes fall into that trap of looking at today through the telescope of an idealized yesterday; that outlook is a slick valley that is difficult to climb out of and easy to slide back into. Jack Nicholson in Sean Penn's"The Pledge" (2001) is likewise watching the world change. More than that, he is watching his world slip away from him.
Yes, but is it Art? Marcell Duchamp's famous "Fountain" aka urinal
Have you ever been hit so hard that you've been left in a permanent daze? I'm speaking of a defining event that, in a matter of moments, changes everything for you, permanently. Maybe it's a collision. Maybe a life event like a tragedy or a divorce. You're at the epicenter of the calamity. The destruction hits you right between the eyes. And while you make sense of what hit you, if you ever do, your loved ones bear the brunt of the hurricane that you become. Like a set of ripples, it realigns everything you do. Peter Weir's "Fearless" 1993 shows us the effect of a plane crash, and tells us that when we get hit with such cataclysms, no single way resolves the trauma.
• "The Outer Limits" (original series) is available on Netflix (DVD), Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video. • "In Cold Blood" is available on Netflix (DVD and Blu-ray) and Amazon Instant Video. • "Cool Hand Luke" is available on Netflix (DVD and Blu-ray) and Amazon Instant Video. • "American Beauty" is available on Netflix (DVD and Blu-ray) and Amazon Instant Video. • "Road to Perdition" is available on Netflix (DVD and Blu-ray).
by Jeff Shannon Eyes Wide Open: A Single Artist's Vision
Ask anyone who's devoted their life to the study and appreciation of movies and they can probably tell you exactly when they were "bitten by the movie bug," that moment of personal epiphany that sparked an all-consuming passion for what is arguably the greatest, most powerful medium of artistic expression.
In my case, it was Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" that literally changed my life. That's an influential milestone I share with many cinephiles who came of age in the 1950s and '60s, especially those "movie brats" (among them James Cameron, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg) who were drawn to imaginative visions of the future. Because I'd spent most of my childhood outdoors or casually enjoying Disney films and other kid-friendly fare, I didn't see Kubrick's visionary masterpiece until it played a return engagement at Seattle's glorious Cinerama Theater, in 1971, when I was nine years old.
(With its huge, curved Cinerama screen, the Cinerama is still the only theater in Seattle capable of showing "2001" as Kubrick intended. It exclusively hosted the film's original 77-week Seattle run beginning in April 1968, and the fully restored 70-millimeter print of "2001" had its world premiere there, appropriately enough, in 2001, two years after the aging cinema was purchased and beautifully renovated by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. It's now one of only three theaters in the world -- along with the Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles and the Pictureville Cinema in Bradford England -- equipped to exhibit three-panel Cinerama, requiring three synchronized projectors for the only seven films created in the three-strip Cinerama process, including 1956's "This Is Cinerama" and 1962's "How the West Was Won." Starting this week [Sept. 30th] and running through mid-October, Seattle's Cinerama is hosting a "70mm Festival" of 15 films, including "2001," that originally premiered there.)
Like no other film before it, "2001" opened my eyes to the power of a single artist's vision and led me to understand the supremacy of a great director. I didn't know it then, but I'd discovered the basis of auteur theory, and while it would be foolish to deny that film is (to echo that award-acceptance cliché) the most collaborative of all art forms, it's no contradiction to embrace the Kubrick quote that greets all visitors to kubrickfilms.com, Warner Bros.' authorized Kubrick website: "One man writes a novel. One man writes a symphony. It is essential for one man to make a film." (Disregard "man"; Kubrick would've been the first to include female filmmakers in his statement.)
If there's one thing that's consistently omitted from most Disney fairy tale adaptations, it's abject horror. They certainly make up for it by giving us terrific villains (Maleficent still haunts me), but a lot of the foul and gory details are left out.
Fairy tales aren't meant to be enchanting; they're supposed to be cautionary, terrifying even. Stories with female protagonists--like Cinderella and especially Snow White--reflect aging housewives' fears of being usurped by younger, stronger, fertile women.
Ever since David Thomson's "A Biographical Dictionary of Film" was published in 1975, browsers have said that they love to hate Thomson's contrarian arguments -- against John Ford or Frank Capra, Coppola or Kubrick, for example.¹ Fans and critics can cite favorite passages of resonant beauty, mystifyingly vague and dismissive summary judgements, and entire entries in which the man appears to have gone off his rocker. And that's the fun of it.
To be fair, Thomson broke faith with (or has been suffering a crisis of faith in) American movies at least far back as "Overexposures: The Crisis in American Filmmaking" (1981), and he's been writing about his crisis ever since. To put it in a sentence that could serve as the ending of one of his entries: I am willing to believe that he loves (or once loved) movies even if he doesn't like them very much. (Wait -- how does he conclude the Katharine Hepburn piece? "She loved movies, while disapproving of them.")
When I encountered the first edition of this book, the year I entered college, I immediately fell in love with it because it was not a standard reference. It was personal, cranky, eloquent, pretentious, pithy, petty, ambitious... It was, as I think Thomson himself suggested in the foreword to the first or second edition (this is the fifth), more accurately titled "An Autobiographical Dictionary of Film." Many times over the years I have implored my employers or partners to license digital rights to Thomson's book so that it could augment and be integrated with other movie databases and references (at Cinemania, FilmPix, Reel.com, RogerEbert.com)... but we've never done it. What, they would ask, is the "value-add"? (Really. Some people used to talk that way.) As a reference, its coverage is too spotty (Ephraim Katz's Film Encyclopedia is much more comprehensive but also has loads of incomplete filmographies), as criticism it's wildly idiosyncratic (nothing wrong with that) and as biography it's whimsically selective and uneven, leaving as many holes as it fills.
Chicago's biggest annual cinema event boasts 150 films from 50 countries this year. The Chicago International Film Festival opens its 46th season Thursday night as the city's longest-running showcase of dramas, documentaries and shorts.
The Grand Poobah writes: I saw this stag in the Michigan woods near our country place, where I am still working on my memoir. (click to enlarge)
Something strange happened to me while watching the recent Benicio del Toro movie "The Wolfman." I suddenly realized I wasn't being scared in the very least. Nada. Like Dr. Chilton once said referring to Hannibal Lecter in "Silence of the Lambs" "my pulse never got above 80".
Despite the movie's constant and frantic attempts to scare the audience with surprising and loud growls, with beheadings and half-eaten corpses, nothing worked, I've a hard time understanding why.
Is it my attitude towards the genre?
The Oscar nominees have been announced, now cinephiles everywhere have begun nitpicking amongst the nominations. Some will note those that should have and shouldn't have been nominated, but one almost criminal omission from the Best Animated Film category was the absence of PONYO, Hayao Miyazaki's latest work for Studio Ghibli.
In terms of filmmaking mastery, one can mention the name Miyazaki in the same breath as Spielberg or Scorsese. His works are beloved by animators, audiences, and critics around the world.
As I always like to say, "Everybody Loves Lieblingsfilme." I know I do, which is why I made this list of my 22 favorite films of the '00s. No, that is not entirely true. I made the list because the estimable Milan Pavlovic, editor of the German Filmzeitschrift Steadycam (and for whom I wrote this profile of Barbara Baxley's Lady Pearl in Robert Altman's "Nashville") asked me to.
He asked others, too, and the aggregate findings will be published in a future issue of Steadycam. The important thing to remember here is that these are favorite films. Sure, everything on my list is also an accomplished work of art, but these are the movies I love, that have had the most personal impact on me, that I have found most moving and exhilarating, that have permanently ingrained themselves into my psyche -- whether they're anybody else's idea of the "best of the decade" or not:
Now updated with links to my previous noodlings, where available:
1) "No Country for Old Men" (Coens, 2007) 2) "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" (Jones, 2005) 3) "Caché" (Haneke, 2005) [Opening Shot] 4) "Zodiac" (Fincher, 2007) [Opening Shot] See also: Hurdy Gurdys and Aqua Velvas, The "Dirty Harry" Scene, Three Kinds of Violence. 5) "A Serious Man" (Coens, 2009) 6) "Mulholland Dr." (Lynch, 2001) 7) "Brokeback Mountain" (Lee, 2005) 8) "Pan's Labyrinth" (Del Toro, 2006) 9) "Birth" (Glazer, 2004) 10) "24 Hour Party People" (Winterbottom, 2002)
Matt Zoller Seitz (aka InsomniacDad) pays due tribute to to the "Critics of the '00s": David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, at IFC Blog.
Why? Well, because they've written some of the most influential and illuminating film books (and textbooks) of our age, educating a generation of up-and-coming moviemakers and moviegoers? Because their work, in print and on their essential blog ("Observations on film art") is simultaneously rigorous and readable, scholarly and accessible? Because their enthusiasm for cinema is unparalleled? Because they look at film as film, examining the images themselves and not just treating the medium as pop-culture detritus or literature with pictures?
Well, yes, all of the above and more. MZS puts it most eloquently in his introduction:
Film criticism as we know it tends to fall into a handful of time-worn categories: an expression of one's personality, politics and taste, with traces of social critique and memoir (Pauline Kael, James Agee); or a kind of performance art on the page, using individual films, actors or filmmakers as springboards for sustained riffs on art and life (Manny Farber); or a scholarly attempt to draw connections between films and film movements, rank filmmakers by aesthetic significance and put works in historical context (Andrew Sarris).
Q. You wrote: "It's like the dilemma of the 10 hot dogs and eight buns: You can never come out even at the end." Well, of course you can come out even: Four packs of wienies and five packs of buns yields 40 hot dogs.
At MSN Movies, Richard T. Jameson and Kathleen Murphy continue their tradition of conjuring indelible cinematic moments of the previous year -- made all the more indelible by their luminous descriptions of them. A few samples, from some terrific movies, and some not-so-terrific ones:
• In "The Edge of Heaven," a brown ribbon of road glowing under the last shrinking patch of blue in a lowering, end-of-day sky ...
• "In Bruges": The twinkle and the glower: First views of the "Belgian s---hole" by, respectively, Ken (Brendan Gleeson) and Ray (Colin Farrell) ...
• In "Revolutionary Road," April stands in milky light with her back to us, gazing out her picture window as blood pools at her feet. Hats off to Douglas Sirk . ...
• As a hospital explodes in the background, a nurse sporting an obscene mask of white, black and red greasepaint totters in the street, gazing into the camera as though daring us not to get off on the way the Joker plays in "The Dark Knight" ...
• "I was a guard!" -- the courtroom profession that instantly defines the literal and moral limits of Hanna Schmitz's (Kate Winslet) imagination, and perhaps a nation's, in "The Reader" ...
• In "Che," the most romanticized revolutionary ever (Benicio Del Toro) staggers up a steep wooded hillside, wheezing with asthma. ...
• A scene of pastoral skinny-dipping suddenly turns cold and black with the threat of death, and in "Tell No One," nothing afterward is as it seems. ...
• Wendy (the superb Michelle Williams) gazes helplessly from the backseat of a cop car as her tethered golden Lab recedes from view -- the first in a cascade of losses in "Wendy and Lucy."...
• "The Happening": Mark Wahlberg delivering a monologue to a houseplant, just in case ...
• "Let the Right One In": At snowy evening, a man making his way home passes out of a tunnel, and the dark little creature Eli drops on him as if from above the screen itself. ...
• "Burn After Reading": Chad Feldheimer's last grin (Brad Pitt, sublime) ...
Many more here.
Care to contribute some of your favorite movie-moments from the past year?