David O. Russell out-Scorseses Martin Scorsese himself with "American Hustle," a rollicking '70s crime romp that’s ridiculously entertaining in all the best possible ways.
* 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.
Writer Peter Sobczynski responds to our Movie Love Questionnaire.
Matthew McConaughey talks about how he is dealing with the Oscar buzz around his "Dallas Buyers Club" performance.
Susan Seidelman has been making films for over 30 years. Her work includes "Desperately Seeking Susan," the pilot for "Sex and the City," and her new sports comedy "The Hot Flashes." Her story is the story of women in Hollywood: a study in creativity, courage and strength. A profile by RogerEbert.com's Christy Lemire.
As a companion piece to our reassessment of "At Long Last Love," Peter Bogdanovich recalls the film's orgins, its forgotten pleasures, and the studio-mandated tinkering that turned it into a box office bomb. He also recalls turning down an offer of help from Gene Kelly, casting Burt Reynolds, and a remarkable encounter with Roger Ebert.
Los Angeles is a behemoth or, better, an octopus, with tentacles stretching 468.67 square miles, a fact that shocked me when I moved here in 1990. That meant that it was bigger than the distance consumed by driving to and from Chicago from my hometown, Kewanee (150 miles southwest), and back again. I soon realized that one could easily live an entire lifetime in Los Angeles and never see it all. This also meant that so much was always going on, including really desirable events, many of which would most certainly be missed.
Marie writes: Intrepid club member Sandy Kahn discovered the following Danish designers "Monstrum" who make extraordinary playgrounds for children. I think they're the stuff of dreams, whatever your age. Indeed; behold the Rahbek kindergarten in Frederiksberg, Denmark, and Monstrum's first playground...
The Rocket and The Princess Tower! "Just like a set design, a playground must have an inspiring front that attracts children, and a functional backside with climbing, sliding and relaxing options. The idea of the playground is to combine a girl's mind with a boy's approach into one big common playground. The princess tower consists of three floors, and the rocket has two floors. From the top floor of the Rocket, you can slide down the 6 m long double slide together with an astronaut friend." (click to enlarge.)
To call it overwrought would be an understatement. Andrzej Żuławski's 1981 masterpiece, butchered upon its original American release and relegated to spurious video-nasty circulation, is now returning in all its hysterical glory, as a part of Brooklyn's BAMcinématek complete Żuławski retro, which will then move to Cinefamily in Los Angeles. Featuring what is arguably the bravest female performance ever put on film - namely, Isabelle Adjani's Cannes-winning turn of shamanistic intensity - the film dares its viewer to enter a trance-like state, in which genres blur and mate to yield a new level of cinematic expression.
Many of today's films seem to be made solely for financial reasons, but the case of "The Exorcist" is more complex than most. It was a tremendous financial success, the all-time box office champ for a while, but only a psychic could have predicted that people would line up to see a movie of this nature.
I was going to say, up front, that I had some mixed feelings about Nicolas Winding Refn's "Drive," but I'm not sure that "feelings" is the appropriate word. This 1980s pastiche (isn't that the "Risky Business" typeface lit up in neon pink?) is emotionally and narratively stripped down to resemble the sleek, polished surfaces of... well, muscle cars, but also movies by the likes of Walter Hill ("The Driver"), Michael Mann ("Thief"), William Friedkin ("To Live and Die in L.A."), Paul Schrader ("American Gigolo") and others. It even sports an aggressively ersatz-Tangerine Dream synth score of the kind so popular in the early 1980s, though this one also features some Euro-vocals with unfortunate English day-glo-highlighter lyrics ("a real human being and a real hero..."). Emotion, character, story -- they're not so much what "Drive" is interested in. The movie makes fetishistic use of signifiers for those things, but its most tangible concerns have (paradoxically?) to do with dreamy abstractions of color and shape and movement.
I like the red a lot. Not just the blood (which is the heart of the film, and I'll get to that in a minute), but there's so much blue (teal?) and orange and pink that when the red starts gushing in, it pumps some real excitement into what has, by that point, settled into a fairly static picture. (In some respects, I think "Drive" perversely hints at an art-house action movie -- and an erotic movie -- it never quite delivers, after a pretty [and] terrific archetypal getaway chase at the beginning, in which the Driver shows off his skills at using Los Angeles infrastructure to play hide-and-seek with cop cars and helicopters. Thank goodness, though, that it never turns into the racetrack movie it briefly threatens to become.)
So, the red: It excites the eyeballs (and signals imminent danger) in the red-and-white checkered windows at Nino's Pizza. But as I recall, it really gets going at Denny's. The nameless Driver (Ryan Gosling), a movie stuntman who also works as a mechanic and moonlights as a getaway car wheelman-for-hire, sits down with his generic romantic-interest neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan), who wears a red uniform vest as a Denny's waitress, in a booth with red light fixtures above it and a BIG plastic bottle of ketchup on the table. I don't remember what the conversation is about -- it doesn't matter, but it's probably something about her husband Standard (Oscar Isaac), who's just got out of jail and owes money to some brutal sleazebags who are threatening to physically harm him and Irene and their son Benicio (Kaden Leos), to whom Driver has also taken a shine. What I remember is the red. The film becomes pregnant with red.
Marie writes: I love illustrators best in all the world. There's something so alive about the scratch and flow of pen & ink, the original medium of cheeky and subversive wit. And so when club member Sandy Kahn submitted links for famed British illustrator Ronald Searle and in the hopes others might find him interesting too, needless to say, I was quick to pounce; for before Ralph Steadman there was Ronald Searle... "The two people who have probably had the greatest influence onmy life are Lewis Carroll and Ronald Searle."-- John LennonVisit Kingly Books' Ronald Searle Gallery to view a sordid collection of wicked covers and view sample pages therein. (click to enlarge image.) And for yet more covers, visit Ronald Searle: From Prisoner of War to Prolific Illustrator at Abe Books.
Welcome to a special Halloween edition of the Newsletter! Marie writes: the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise in Paris is considered one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world, in addition to being the final resting place of many a famous name. From Édith Piaf, Sarah Bernhardt and Chopin to Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison and Georges Méliès, the well-known sleep on the tree-lined avenues of the dead and which you can now explore in a virtual 360 degree tour...
Q. Having been a fan of the short-lived and vastly underrated animated series "The Critic," the episode "Siskel & Ebert & Jay & Alice" never ceases to make me laugh. Having also been a fan of yours, I wondered three things: 1. How did getting you and Gene Siskel on the show occur? 2. Did you have any say-so in your lines? 3. Were you a fan of the show?
Q. Why did you refer to the novel The Da Vinci Code as a "preposterous" work of fiction, yet fail to label the Bible as such? Do you honestly believe the Bible is a work of non-fiction? Aren't parts of the Bible "preposterous"? If your devotion to institutionalized religion colors your ability to write logically, perhaps you should recuse yourself from reviewing films that require an unbiased view.
CANNES, France – William Friedkin’s new horror film “Bug” begins as an ominous rumble of unease, and builds to a shriek. The last 20 minutes are searingly intense: A paranoid personality finds its mate, and they race each other into madness. For Friedkin, director of “The Exorcist,” it’s a work of headlong passion.
EXCERPT FROM INTRO: This isn't like Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" series. It's not my idea of The Best Movies Ever Made (that would be a different list, though there's some overlap here), or limited to my personal favorites or my estimation of the most important or influential films. These are the movies I just kind of figure everybody ought to have seen in order to have any sort of informed discussion about movies. They're the common cultural currency of our time, the basic cinematic texts that everyone should know, at minimum, to be somewhat "movie-literate." I hope these movies are experiences we can all assume we share.
Q. I'm someone who lived through the real story of "Remember The Titans." I was a teacher at T.C. Williams from 1967 to 1972, and was the football PA announcer. To answer the questions posed at the end of your review: There were actually three high schools in Alexandria before 1971. G.W. was the downtown school and had a 50/50 racial split, T.C. Williams had a 70/30 white/black ratio, and Hammond was pretty much all white. Herman Boone was actually the head coach at T.C. for two years before the schools merged. Yoast was the coach at Hammond. The G.W. coach was ready for retirement and did so. So while the decision to give Boone the head job was gutsy it wasn't that big a deal. The black players at T.C. weren't upset about the decision because they knew Boone knew them pretty well. The movie makes Alexandria look like Redneckville. It wasn't, although the coaching fraternity was a "Good Ole Boy Network". I cannot remember one racial incident or fight in the halls either before or after the three schools merged. I think Boone's job with the team helped make that happen. I watched the movie on Friday night with a friend who had been a junior at T.C. in 1972. We both agreed that what happened in Alexandria in 1971 wasn't that big a deal. but we loved the movie and in retrospect think that it was a hoot being a part of history. (Don Kubie, Westport, CT)
For 27 years he defended his original cut of "The Exorcist," says William Friedkin, who directed the timeless horror classic.
Q. In your review of "A Time to Kill," you wrote that it was "a skillfully-constructed morality play that pushes all the right buttons and arrives at all the right conclusions." Okay, close your eyes. Now imagine the two rapists were killed by three hundred white men with a rope. Now imagine the two rapists were black. Does it still arrive at all the right conclusions? (John Lampkins, Los Angeles)
At the very end of John Turturro's new film "Mac," after all of the credits have rolled, there is a scratchy tape recording from a telephone answering machine. "John? John?" a voice asks, and then the voice complains about the whole idea of answering machines. The voice belongs to Turturro's father, Nicholas, who died in 1988, and whose life as a construction worker and contractor inspired the film.
When he made his first movie, back in the mid-'60s, William Friedkin was such a foe of capital punishment, he took it as his subject. His documentary defended Paul Crump, a man on Death Row in Illinois. Friedkin didn't think he belonged there: "I thought he was innocent, but I remember seriously arguing with the family of his alleged victim that even if he was guilty, he shouldn't be killed - because he was now a different man than he was then."
The new thriller "Basic Instinct" is under attack from a gay coalition because all of the women in it are possibly lesbian thrill-killers. Enough is enough, the coalition says. Hollywood has been casting homosexuals in bizarre and depraved roles for so long now that maybe it's time to add a little balance to the picture.
NEW YORK -- I started too late in the film to get an exact count, but by
I. Tuesday afternoon at Le Bistro, a restaurant in Beverly HillsBEVERLY HILLS, 1972 -- Groucho Marx was wearing blue jeans, Hush Puppies, a brown sport shirt buttoned at the neck, an ancient tweed sport jacket, a cap and a pepper and salt overcoat. He peered into the gloom of Le Bistro, seeking out familiar faces, while a young lady introduced herself to me. “My name is Erin Fleming. I'm Mr. Marx's secretary."
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