Dwayne Johnson tries, but he’s surrounded by poor CGI and a terrible adaptation of yet another comic book. Ian McShane steals what little movie there…
* 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.
Nell Minow responds to our Movie Love Questionnaire.
A history and appreciation of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on the eve of the re-release of a 4k restored version for its 40th anniversary.
Female Pleasure Is the Real TV Taboo; Blue Is the Warmest Controversy; Condescending to Vincent Price; Why Journalists Should Learn to Code; an MFA writing workshop for the Bible.
Leonard Maltin talks B-movies on a panel at Comic-Con.
Marie writes: Behold a truly rare sight. London in 1924 in color. "The Open Road" was shot by an early British pioneer of film named Claude Friese-Greene and who made a series of travelogues using the colour process his father William (a noted cinematographer) had been experimenting with. The travelogues were taken between 1924 and 1926 on a motor journey between Land's End and John O'Groats. You can find more footage from The Open Road at The British Film Institute's YouTube channel for the film. You can also explore their Archives collection over here.
The Ebert Club is invites you to share this classic William Castle B-rated movie, streaming free. And please join the Club and explore an eclectic assortment of discoveries. Your subscription helps support the Newsletter, the Far-Flung Correspondents and the On-Demanders on my site. - Roger Ebert
House on Haunted Hill (1959) Directed by William Castle. Produced by William Castle. Written by Robb White. Starring Vincent Price, Carolyn Craig, Elisha Cook, Carol Ohmart, Alan Marshal and Julie Mitchum.Synopsis: House on Haunted Hill is the tale of five people invited to spend the night inside a haunted house by an eccentric millionaire, Fredrick Loren, whose throwing a "party" for his fourth wife Annabelle - with the stipulation that the power will be out and the all the doors locked at midnight; allowing no escape. Anyone who stays inside the house for the entire night, assuming they're still alive come morning, will receive $10,000 each.The five guests all arrive in separate funeral cars with a hearse leading, which he says may be empty now - but they may be in need of it later. Frederick explains the rules of the party and gives each of the guests a .45 pistol for protection. Frederick's wife tries to warn the guests that her husband is psychotic, causing them to be very suspicious of him now, especially Nora Manning who becomes convinced he's trying to kill her when she keeps seeing mysterious ghouls - including the ghost of Annabelle, who'd apparently hanged herself after being forced to attend the party....holy crap, what the hell's going on..?!
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P.S. ~ IMDb reports: "William Castle used a gimmick called 'Emergo' in theaters. When the skeleton rises from the acid vat in the film, a lighted plastic skeleton on a wire appeared from a black box next to the screen to swoop over the heads of the audience. The skeleton would then be pulled back into the box as the skeleton in the film is 'reeled in.' Many theaters soon stopped using this effect because when the local boys heard about it, they would bring slingshots to the theater; when the skeleton started its journey, they would pull out their slingshots and fire at it."
You may find it disturbing to see audiences laughing while watching "The Exorcist"(1973), but you will probably not see any problem in having some laugh with "Rosemary’s Baby" (1968). It goes without saying that they are two of the most chilling modern horror films, but, while the former unsettles us with its utmost solemnness parodied many times since it came out, the latter has a spooky sense of humor immune to parodies. How can you make an effective parody to undermine a horror film if it already has a devilish tongue slyly placed on its dark cheek?
The Ebert Club would like to present the noir film "The Lady from Shanghai" by director Orson Welles, streaming free. And to explore an even greater assortment of finds and discoveries, please join the Ebert Club. Your subscription helps support the Newsletter, the Far-Flung Correspondents and the On-Demanders on Roger's site.
"Although The Lady From Shanghai was acclaimed in Europe, it was not embraced in the U.S. until several decades later. Influential modern critics including David Kehr have subsequently declared it a masterpiece, calling it "the weirdest great movie ever made." - wikipedia
The Lady from Shanghai (1947) Directed by Orson Welles. Screenplay by Orson Welles. Based on the novel by author Sherwood King. Uncredited writers: William Castle, Charles Lederer and Fletcher Markle. Starring Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles, Everett Sloane, Ted de Corsica, Erskine Sanford, Glenn Anders, Gus Schilling and Carl Frank. With Cinematography by Charles Lawton Jr.Synopsis: Against his better judgment, Michael O'Hara signs on as a crew member of Arthur Bannister's yacht which is sailing to San Francisco. En route, they pick up a man named Grisby; Bannister's law partner. Bannister also has a wife, Rosalie, and who appears to like Michael more than her husband.After they dock in Sausalito, a strange plan is proposed by the law partner: namely; Grisby wants to fake his own murder so he can disappear without anyone trying to find him. Michael agrees to the scheme because he wants the $5000 Grisby has offered him - so he can run off with Rosalie. But when Grisby actually turns up murdered, Michael gets blamed for it. Somebody set him up, but it is not clear who or how... Note: The yacht Zaca (used in the film) was owned by actor Errol Flynn, who skippered the yacht in between takes, and who can be glimpsed in the background during a scene filmed at a cantina in Acapulco.Twelve years later, in need of money, Errol Flynn (accompanied by 17-year-old starlet Beverly Aadland) flew to Canada in order to sell his yacht to a millionaire friend; stock promoter George Caldough. Flynn suffered a heart attack and died in a West End apartment on October 9, 1959 in Vancouver. He was 50 years old.
Go here to watch "The Lady from Shanghai" on Crackle.com
Marie writes: Recently, we enjoyed some nice weather and inspired by the sunshine, I headed out with a borrowed video camera to shoot some of the nature trails up on Burnaby Mountain, not far from where I live. I invariably tell people "I live near Vancouver" as most know where that is - whereas Burnaby needs explaining. As luck would have it though, I found a great shot taken from the top of Burnaby Mountain, where you can not only see where I live now but even Washington State across the Canadian/US border...
(click image to enlarge)
Marie writes: I was browsing the 2010 National Geographic Photography Contest Galleries and came upon this amazing shot - click to enlarge!
The Birth Of Earth: Photo by Terje Sorgjerd"Getting close or getting too close? Photo taken of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano eruption that would grind most of europe air traffic. This is the scariest moment in my life, and also the most beautiful and frightening display of raw force I have ever seen." - Terje Sorgjerd
This week we'll be treated to a big advertising campaign for "Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D." I have not seen the film, but I have experienced the process.
Yes, the Scratch-n-Sniff card is back, this time advertised as Aromascope. We have come a long way since Odorama and Smell-O-Vision. Well, maybe not that long a way.
When I went to the Jeonju International Film Festival in this April, I was reminded again that the old theaters at the downtown of my hometown are gone. Most of them are now replaced by a bunch of multiplexes, and I can't say the old theaters were better than their replacements. While there were the big theaters where I could enjoy movies like "Independence Day" or "Starship Troopers," I remember too well how shabby several theaters were in early 1990s, compared to the current standard; I am happy with the comfortable seats, nice bathrooms, and agreeable viewing condition in multiplex theaters.
Marie writes: They call it "The Shard" and it's currently rising over London akin to Superman's Fortress of Solitude and dwarfing everything around it, especially St. Paul's in front. I assume those are pigeons flying over-head and not buzzards. Ie: not impressed, but that's me and why I'm glad I saw London before they started to totally ruin it.Known as the "London Bridge Tower" before they changed the name, when completed in 2012, it will be the tallest building in Europe and 45th highest in the world. It's already the second highest free-standing structure in the UK after the Emley Moor transmitting station. The Shard will stand 1,017 ft high and have 72 floors, plus another 15 radiator floors in the roof. It's been designed with an irregular triangular shape from base to top and will be covered entirely in glass. The tower was designed by Renzo Piano, the Italian architect best know for creating Paris's Pompidou Centre of modern art with Richard Rogers, and more recently the New York Times Tower. You can read an article about it at the Guardian. Here's the official website for The Shard. Photograph: Dan Kitwood.
The notion of a Christmas Show by John Waters is somehow alarming, as if the Big Bad Wolf had decided to perform as the Easter Bunny. Waters has made a career of cheerfully exploiting the transgressive and offensive. When he appears at the Harris Theater at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 14, he promises to discuss such questions as whether Santa Claus is erotic, whether it's a gay holiday, and why stars on Christmas tours always seemed to go crazy onstage when they get to Baltimore.
The Grand Poobah is still working away on his memoirs from his quiet retreat in Harbour Country, Lake Michigan and where last week, we caught glimpse of Roger's assistant Carol Iwata, visiting the soda fountain at Schlipp's Pharmacy in Sawyer for a chocolate milkshake. Leading me to wonder "exactly where is that milkshake?" See map. Smile.
"Veni. Vedi. Vici"Roger Ebert accepts the Person Of The Year award with his wife, Chaz, at the Webby Awards in New York June 14, 2010. Jimmy Fallon presenter.From the Big Poobah: Our club secretary Marie Haws, who pokes here and there more than a dentist, came up with a list of the geographical locations of Club members. Most are in the U.S. and Canada, as expected, but we also have members in 40 other nations! This reflects my website's overall readership; over the last 12 months, 25% of all visitors have been non-U.S.Foreign: Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Trinidad & Tobago, Brazil, Iceland, Ireland, Wales, England, Scotland, Sweden, Norway, Demark, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Poland, Slovenia, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Greece, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, India, China, Japan, Thailand, Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand.
View image And the Exploding Head goes to... Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd in "Knocked Up"?
I'll publish my annotated "best of" list next week, but while thinking back over the year's movies I recalled some things that seemed to me "beyond category." Or the usual categories, anyway. One way or another, they made my head feel that it might explode. So, while everybody's preoccupied with all those other awards, here are the 2007 Exploding Heads for Achievement in Movies:
Best endings: • "The Sopranos" (final episode): blackout • "No Country for Old Men": "Then I woke up." • "I'm Not There": Dylan's harmonica on "Mr. Tambourine Man" • "Superbad": Baby-steps toward adulthood, separating at the mall escalator • "Zodiac": Stare-down
Most electrifying moment: A dog. A river. "No Country for Old Men."
Best grandma: "Persepolis"
Best surrogate grandpa: Hal Holbrook, "Into the Wild"
"Arrested Development" Award for Best Throwaway Lines: • "Keep it in the oven..." -- Jason Bateman, "Juno" • "... Terrorism..." -- Michael Cera, "Superbad" (actually, Cera has so many astonishingly brilliant under-his-breath moments in "Superbad" and "Juno" it's uncanny)
Best performance by an inanimate object: (tie) The cloud (and its shadow), the candy wrapper, the blown lock housing in the motel room door, "No Country for Old Men"
Most cringe-worthy lines: • "My cooperation with the Nazis is only symbolic." -- "Youth Without Youth" • "That ain't no Etch-a-Sketch. This is one doodle that can't be undid, home skillet." -- "Juno" (the cutesy moment at the beginning when I nearly ran screaming for an exit; cutting this entire unnecessary scene would improve "Juno" immensely)
Funniest double-edged observation: "He's playing fetch... with my kids... he's treating my kids like they're dogs." -- Debbie (Leslie Mann) in "Knocked Up," watching Ben (Seth Rogen) play with her daughter, who is loving it. That's her point of view, and she's right, but she says it like it's a bad thing.
View image Ain't nothin' but the real thing, baby: Brian Dierker and Catherine Keener in "Into the Wild."
The Real Thing: "Non-actor" Brian Dierker, rubber tramp, "Into the Wild" (and, of course, his "old lady" Catherine Keener, actor extraordinaire)
Best film about the way The Industry really works since "The Big Picture": Jake Kasdan's "The TV Set." The moment I knew it was going to be exceptional (sharp, precise and, therefore, extraordinarily funny) was when the writer's choice for the lead role gives an audition that's just... underwhelming. He isn't good. He isn't terrible. He just isn't enough. Which then allows the network execs to push for the "broader" alternative ("To me, the broad is the funny"). And even he proves himself capable of being not-awful -- in rehearsal, at least...
Best political film: (tie) "12:08 East of Bucharest" and "Persepolis" -- a pair of smart, funny movies about the effects of political revolutions on individuals in (respectively) Romania and Iran.
Deadliest stare: (tie) Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), "No Country for Old Men"; Briony Tallis (Saoirse Ronan), "Atonement"
Young comedy whippersnapper stars of the year: Michael Cera (19), Ellen Page (20), Seth Rogen (25), Jonah Hill (24), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (18)
Game savers: J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney, who come to the rescue of "Juno" not a moment too soon
Best torture porn: The excruciatingly funny baptism scene with Paul Dano and Daniel Day Lewis (both of 'em overactin' up a storm -- but in a fun way), "There Will Be Blood"
Most worthless critical label: "Independent." A movie should not be viewed through its budget, financing or distribution. And in these days of studio "dependents" (Miramax, Focus Features, Paramount Vantage, Fox Searchlight, etc.), the term "indie" is frequently misleading at the very least.
Best bureaucrat: Dr. Fischer (Alberta Watson), "Away From Her"
Best negotiations: • Chigurh and the gas station owner, "No Country for Old Men" • Chigurh and the trailer park lady, "No Country for Old Men" • Chigurh and Carla Jean, "No Country for Old Men" • "4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days": The painfully protracted, ever-shifting moral balance (and exhausting power-struggle) in the hotel room, between the friend and the abortionist -- while the pregnant woman herself passive-aggressively bows out of any responsibilities for what has happened, or will happen.
"Perfume" Award for Best Portrayal of Synesthesia: "Ratatouille"
Best Supporting Crotch: Sacha Baron Cohen, "Sweeney Todd." An squirm-inducing scene-stealer that makes you long for a change of angle: Please give us an above-the-waist shot! (Did they have spandex in mid-19th century London?)
M. Nightmare Shyamalan: "Sometimes Night would close his eyes and see little oval black and white head shots of Nina Jacobson and Oren Aviv and Dick Cook floating around in his head, unwanted houseguests that would not leave. The Disney people had gotten deep inside his head, interfering with the good work the voices were supposed to do — and it would be hell to get them out." Image from a seminal Shyamalan influence: the trailer for William Castle's "The Tingler."
Critics may argue about how much talent M. Night Shyamalan has as a filmmaker. But in The Village called Hollywood (and the offices of advertising agencies hired by American Express), he's still seen as a marketable brand name. That's why some profess to be shocked, shocked that the endlessly self-promoting Shyamalan has such nasty things to say about Disney, his former studio home, in a new book, "The Man Who Heard Voices: Or, How M. Night Shyamalan Risked His Career on a Fairy Tale." According to The Guardian: The all-out critique of Disney has astonished industry insiders in Hollywood, where arguments between directors and studios are commonplace but rarely aired in public. Not so for Shyamalan's industrial-sized fallout with Disney. Early drafts of the book circulating in Hollywood are leaving many stunned at how strongly the director has turned on his old studio.
Q. The MPAA rating for "Jackass" gives the film an R for "dangerous, sometimes extremely crude stunts, language & nudity." Ignoring the "extremely crude" remark (which seems to be more of an aesthetic judgment), aren't all stunts "dangerous?" Regardless of the danger or crudity how in the hell can a movie (stop reading if you are eating) show a guy make his own yellow sno-cone (you know what I mean), consume said sno-cone and then regurgitate said sno-cone and only get an "R"--while Paul Schrader has to pixelize grainy video footage before he can get an "R" for "Auto Focus"? (Peter Sobczynski, Chicago)
Q. What is the significance of the title in the movie, "Shine?" (Grace Jablow, Palm Springs, CA.)
Fasten your seat belts: "Ridefilm" is coming. Sony IMAX announced last week it is scouting two Chicago area locations for installations that will marry movies and moving platforms to create rides that give you the sensation of hurtling through space and time.
Though I've never personally experienced the Tingler or Ghost-a-Rama, my life as a moviegoer has touched on most of the other legendary film gimmicks.
Before you spend "An Evening with John Waters" Friday at the Annoyance Theatre, here are 10 things you need to know about the filmmaker once dubbed "The Pope of Trash." 1. He believes the American cinema may have never had a finer moment than in the mid-1950s, when exploitation films tried everything to lure customers into theaters, including Smell-o-Vision, Ghost-a-Rama and the Tingler (an electrical device that emitted small shocks to selected patrons). 2. One of his heroes is William Castle, the producer who anticipated interactive movies by four decades, by allowing patrons to vote on alternate endings for his horror films. (Waters thinks Castle cheated, since the patrons always voted for the violent ending, leading to speculation that an alternate may not have existed.) 3. The secret Celebrity Room at Frederick's of Hollywood is secret for a good reason: After Waters had talked his way past store employees and finally saw inside, he found it nondescript, and without celebrities. 4. That and many other facts are contained in Crackpot: The Obsessions of John Waters, his 1986 autobiography, where he poses on the back cover with his trademark pencil mustache (which makes him look like Johnny Depp in "Ed Wood"). 5. He began in his hometown of Baltimore by making lowbudget underground films. Their titles are like a litany of promo-sleaze: "Eat Your Makeup" (1967), "Mondo Trasho" (1968), "Multiple Maniacs" (1969), "Pink Flamingos" (1972), "Female Trouble" (1974), "Desperate Living" (1977) and "Polyester" (1981). Then came his move to Hollywood financing and movies with bigger budgets and more respectability, but no less cheerful sleaze: "Hairspray" (1988), "Cry-Baby" (1990) and "Serial Mom" (1994). 6. The cast for "CryBaby" is arguably the most intriguing roll-call in the history of the movies: Depp, Patricia Hearst, Polly Bergen, Iggy Pop, Joe Dallesandro, Joey Heatherton, Willem Dafoe, Ricki Lake, Traci Lords, Troy Donahue. Susan Tyrrell, Mink Stole and David Nelson. ("This isn't a cast," I wrote at the time, "it's a pileup at the wax museum.") Waters called it his "dream cast," and after making the film said there were only two people he wanted to work with but never had: Pat Nixon and Elizabeth Taylor. 7. Waters shot "Polyester" with Smell-o-Rama cues flashing at the bottom of the screen, and issued Scratch-n-Sniff cards to ticket buyers. When the movie was pressed for laserdisc by the Criterion Collection, the release was held up while the company searched for a manufacturer of Scratch-n-Sniff cards, since the technology had fallen out of favor. 8. His first film, made in 1964, was an 8-mm. home movie named "Hag in a Black Leather Jacket." 9. The artistic inspirations for his career, he says, were the movies "High School Hellcats," "Untamed Youth" and "High School Confidential." "Blackboard Jungle" was too classy. 10. Divine, the female impersonator who starred in so many of Waters' films, was a neighbor of Waters as he was growing up. Waters made Divine famous for his outrageous eyebrows, skin-tight gowns and over-the-top camp behavior. Divine was just beginning to develop a reputation outside the midnight movie ghetto - as a long-suffering mother of a teenage girl in "Hairspray" and as a sinister criminal art collector in "Eight Million Ways to Die" - when he died unexpectedly just as his rave reviews were rolling in for "Hairspray." Waters said as "Cry-Baby" was released: "I would never be so sacrilegious as to try to replace Divine. This movie stars Johnny Depp, who many people would think is the opposite, but in a way, Depp and Divine are the same to me. They are good actors, and they are movie stars. That's all that counts. I think they would have been good friends."