As Above, So Below
It's that rare found-footage film with a strong premise, a memorably eccentric style, and plenty of energy to burn. It's also poorly conceived, and hard…
* 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.
The fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy brings out a lot of television, from sober docs to hammy reenactments, with conspiracy theories of all stripes.
Marie writes: the great Ray Harryhausen, the monster innovator and Visual Effects legend, passed away Tuesday May 7, 2013 in London at the age of 92. As accolades come pouring in from fans young and old, and obituaries honor his achievements, I thought club members would enjoy remembering what Harry did best.
Listen -- a billion people are throwing up. That's a rough estimate of course, but every year somebody at the Oscars says a billion people on the planet are watching the program; however many watched this year's Oscar show, they may well have felt sickened by it. It was a stomach-churning, jaw-dropping debacle, incompetently hosted and witlessly produced.
Marie writes: The late John Alton is widely regarded as being one of greatest film noir cinematographers to have ever worked in Film. He perfected many of the stylized camera and lighting techniques of the genre, including radical camera angles, wide-angle lenses, deep focus compositions, the baroque use of low-level cameras and a sharp depth of field. His groundbreaking work with director Anthony Mann on films such "TMen" and "Raw Deal" and "He Walked by Night" is considered a benchmark in the genre, with "The Big Combo" directed by Joseph H. Lewis, considered his masterpiece. John Alton also gained fame as the author of the seminal work on cinematography: "Painting with Light".
The Big Combo (1955) [click to enlarge]
August, 2012, marks the 20th anniversary of the debut of "The Larry Sanders Show," episodes of which are available on Netflix Instant, Amazon Instant, iTunes, and DVD. This is the third and final part of Edward Copeland's extensive tribute to the show, including interviews with many of those involved in creating one of the best-loved comedies in television history. Part 1 (Ten Best Episodes) is here and Part 2 (The show behind the show) is here.
A related article about Bob Odenkirk and his characters, Stevie Grant and Saul Goodman (on "Breaking Bad"), is here.
by Edward Copeland
"It was an amazing experience," said Jeffrey Tambor. "I come from the theater and it was very, very much approached like theater. It was rehearsed and Garry took a long, long time in casting and putting that particular unit together." In a phone interview, Tambor talked about how Garry Shandling and his behind-the-scenes team selected the performers to play the characters, regulars and guest stars, on "The Larry Sanders Show" when it debuted 20 years ago. Shandling chose well throughout the series' run and -- from the veteran to the novice, the theater-trained acting teacher and character actor to the comedy troupe star in his most subtle role -- they all tend to feel the way Tambor does: "It changed my career. It changed my life."
Marie writes: I love photography, especially B/W and for often finding color a distraction. Take away the color and suddenly, there's so much more to see; the subtext able to rise now and sit closer to the surface - or so it seems to me. The following photograph is included in a gallery of nine images (color and B/W) under Photography: Celebrity Portraits at the Guardian."This is one of the last photographs of Orson before he died. He loved my camera - a gigantic Deardorff - and decided he had to direct me and tell me where to put the light. So even in his last days, he was performing his directorial role perfectly, and bossing me around. Which was precious." - Michael O'Neill
Orson Welles, by Michael O'Neill, 1985
Marie writes: At first you think you're looking at a photograph. Then the penny drops, along with your jaw..."Alan Wolfson creates handmade miniature sculptures of urban environments. Complete with complex interior views and lighting effects, a major work can take several months to complete. The pieces are usually not exact representations of existing locations, but rather a combination of details from many different locations along with much of the detail from the artist's imagination. There is a narrative element to the work. Scenarios are played out through the use of inanimate objects in the scene. There are never people present, only things they have left behind; garbage, graffiti, or a tip on a diner table, all give the work a sense of motion and a storyline. Alan's miniature environments are included in art collections throughout the US and Europe." - Alan Wolfson - Miniature Urban Sculptures
"FOLLIES BURLESK" (1987)14 1/4 x 19 1/4 x 21 1/2 inches(click images to enlarge)
Marie writes: I love cinematography and worship at its altar; a great shot akin to a picture worth a thousand words. The best filmmakers know how to marry words and images. And as the industry gears up for the Golden Globes and then the Oscars, and the publicity machine starts to roll in earnest, covering the Earth with a daily blanket of freshly pressed hype, I find myself reaching past it and backwards to those who set the bar, and showed us what can be accomplished and achieved with light and a camera...
Cinematography by Robert Krasker - The Third Man (1949) (click to enlarge images)
The full-screen In Memoriam montage is linked below.
It was the best Oscar show I've ever seen, and I've seen plenty. The Academy didn't bring it in under three and a half hours, but maybe they simply couldn't, given the number of categories. What they did do was make the time seem to pass more quickly, and more entertainingly. And they finally cleared the logjam involved in merely reading the names of the nominees. By bringing out former winners to single out each of the acting nominees and praise their work, they replaced the reading of lists with a surprisingly heart-warming new approach.
I had a feeling Hugh Jackman would be a charmer as host, and he was. He didn't have a lot of gag lines, depending instead on humor in context, as when he recruited Anne Hathawy onstage for their duet. His opening "low budget" song-and-dance was amusing, and we could immediately see how the show would benefit from the reconfigured theater.
Lowe does Snow -- live!
Oh, and so much more. Here's the ideal warm-up for Sunday's Academy Awards festivities: the infamous Allan Carr-produced 1989 Oscar opening number that also features Army Archerd, Merv Griffin, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Vincent Price and Coral Browne, Cyd Charisse and Tony Martin, Dorothy Lamour, Alice Faye, Lily Tomlin, and more stars than there are east of Hobart! (Just look at the celebs in the audience trying to conceal their mortification as Snow White touches and bleats to them.) I was just pining for this the other day, and once again YouTube has delivered! This, truly, is the vision of the man behind "Grease," "Grease 2," "Can't Stop the Music" and "Where the Boys are '84" -- all of which he made before the Academy hired him to produce the Oscarcast. No matter what happens Sunday, you can bet it won't top this, although somehow this mega-production-number almost seems quaint and naive by today's standards. Almost.
I had forgotten the new "Proud Mary" lyrics they wrote for Rob to sing to Snow (whose voice is more Billie Burke than Adriana Caselotti, if you ask me):
Now you made it big in the movies Came to Hollywood, learned to play the game You became a star Miss Animated Mama Earned yourself a place in the Walk of Fame
Klieg lights keep on burnin' Cameras keep on turnin' Rollin', rollin' Keep the cameras rollin'! They just don't write 'em like that anymore...
What I wouldn't give for Ellen Degeneres to begin the show as Snow White and bring on Rob Lowe for a reprise...
(Thanks to Chris for passing this along.)
Academy Award-winning Cher in her "serious actress" Oscar ensemble.
Almost every year for the last 20 or so I've had to think seriously about that question. I mean, what is there to write about the Oscars that hasn't already been done? I had a great time with my recent piece for MSN Movies ("Your Oscar speech: How not to blow it"), but I was fully aware I wasn't the first (or even, probably, the 1,000th) to write something similar in approach.
So, let's recap the angles: We can look at it as a horserace [check] and place bets on the odds [check]; as an election or popularity contest [check]; as a poker game [check -- I did that for MSN one year, with each nominee holding a "hand" based on previous awards-season honors]; as the "Gay Super Bowl" [check]; as a fashion show [check]; as Hollywood's version of "American Idol" [check]...
Some people would probably like watching the Academy Awards broadcast better if all the nominees gave speeches and the winner was decided by who gave the best one. (Maybe Academy members could call 900 numbers to vote for their favorites or there could be an Academy-approved panel of judges: say, Halle Berry, Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Roger Moore.) I find the speeches to be generally excruciating. (But, then, I thought the best Oscars ever was the Allan "Can't Stop the Music" Carr-produced one with Rob Lowe and Snow White because it was so astoundingly grotesque that I laughed so hard I cried. The Academy has tried to deep-six all evidence of that one, and Disney even threatened to sue over the use of Snow White. C'mon, YouTube!)
Here's another idea: A former resident of Mexico wrote to me with the following proposal: In Older Mexican Award Shows, the recipient of the award was not allowed to speak. Each nominee was presented along with a few seconds of their song (or movie clip) and then the winner was named. The winner would walk on stage, accept the award, wave or blow kisses at the audience and then walk off stage. It was fantastic. The newer Mexican award shows are becoming more “Americanized” now unfortunately. Most now allow the winners to speak which just makes me long for the good old days. So I say Don’t Let Them Speak. We don’t care who you have to thank, who allowed this moment to happen, how much you love God, or how inspiring your parents were. All we care about is that you won…. And what you’re wearing. But that’s it!I kinda like that. They could stretch out the Red Carpet Walk of Shame if they want, or even require that the major nominees do interviews afterwards, with Rosie O'Donnell or Dr. Phil or Chris Matthews. Sort of like the publicity clauses in actors' contracts that stipulate they must do a certain amount of promotion in exchange for their salary on a given film: If you want an award, you're going to have to submit to a sit-down with Brit Hume or someone similarly slimy and daft (and, preferably, as humorless).
And if they need to make the show itself longer (to sell commercial time), they could make "In Memoriam" last ten minutes or so (more clips!) and do even bigger, more vapid and elaborate musical numbers -- not for the best songs, but for ALL the top nominees!
The Oscars are about the show. It's entertainment, loosely defined. Nominees, it is not about you. It's about we, the millions (not billions) who watch the satellite-cast on TV and have parties with our friends and laugh and cry and sigh and gasp and ridicule. (If we don't have to work.) That's the only approach that matters.
There is a kind of shyness, a modesty, about Francis Ford Coppola that is so surprising. Here is the director of "The Godfather," and the epic "Apocalypse Now," and the paranoid psychodrama "The Conversation," and he talks about whether he has the right to put his name above the title. Kids out of film school put their names on their first films, and here he is explaining why his movies are called "Mario Puzo's The Godfather" and "Bram Stoker's Dracula" and "John Grisham's The Rainmaker."
Jim Thompson has been dead for 15 years now, and he never got much notice when he was alive, but all of his books are in print again--with covers showing the broads with low necklines, the desperate guys with their cigarettes and three-day beards, and always in the foreground the bottle of booze.
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