Like Ficarra and Requa’s 2011 comedy Crazy Stupid Love, Focus begins promisingly and bops along enjoyably for a while, only to run out of steam…
"'Life Itself' to be Released on July 4, 2014." Steve James's Sundance hit is heading for theaters this summer. Related: Kristin Thompson shares her thoughts on the film in her wonderful wrap-up of Ebertfest 2014 co-authored with David Bordwell. See also: My own in-depth Ebertfest journal on Indie-Outlook.com.
“Acclaimed director Steve James (‘Hoop Dreams’) and executive producers Martin Scorsese (‘The Departed’) and Steve Zaillian (‘Moneyball’) present LIFE ITSELF, a documentary film that recounts the inspiring and entertaining life of world-renowned film critic and social commentator Roger Ebert – a story that is by turns personal, funny, painful, and transcendent. Based on his bestselling memoir of the same name, LIFE ITSELF, explores the legacy of Roger Ebert’s life, from his Pulitzer Prize-winning film criticism at the Chicago Sun-Times to becoming one of the most influential cultural voices in America.”
"Say Goodbye to One of NYC's Last Beloved Video Stores": Michael Musto of TheBlot.com interviews Alan Sklar, manager of Alan's Alley Video.
“It was inevitable, but it’s still tragic. Alan’s Alley Video — one of the last remaining video stores in NYC — has a ‘For Lease’ sign in the window, as the landlord is seeking a higher-paying tenant. The 25-year-old Chelsea landmark (207 9thAvenue), which serves old videos as well as DVDs of new releases, is the brainchild of Alan Sklar, who has served a community of film lovers looking for things that aren’t quite so obvious and available. (A friend of mine recently curated my home with the entire Ken Russell collection thanks to Alan’s. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Roger Daltrey do a Texas two-step as Franz Liszt.) A victim of both rising rents and technology changing the way people get their movies, Alan’s is a gem, down to the winding shelves and the imperious cat who stares you down as you search them. And the store always gave you several nights with the film, and without even the bother of a membership (just a credit card and ID).”
"'Death Occurred Last Night' a troubling piece for the giallo canon": Zach Lewis of Sound on Sight discusses Duccio Tessari's curious 1970 effort, now available on Blu-ray.
"As a feature relatively hidden from mainstream film culture, 'Death Occurred Last Night'’s only critical talk belongs to the hardcore giallo enthusiasts. Debate over whether the film fits into the strict classifications of giallo or perhaps the less-enthused poliziotteschi take prominence in these discussions, with something of a consensus drawn as 'probably neither.' These insights from impassioned people looking through the lens of subgenre offer an interesting dissection that would escape those new to the club. That is, by evaluating the film purely in the context of it entering the genre canon, one must take its failures in the context of being campy, and therefore enjoyable in its own right. However, if outside the giallo realm, these camp elements are harder to defend and leave the film in a much messier position, despite having positive qualities outside giallo criteria. Raro Video’s release of 'Death Occurred Last Night' occupies a middle territory—too self-serious and straightforward to be a giallo while tenuously grasping at its shoddy giallo-like roots in its individual shots."
"Tea Time with James Gray": The director of "Two Lovers" and the upcoming Marion Cotillard drama, "The Immigrant," chats with Film Comment about everything from Hitchcock to rock drummers.
"I think 'The Man Who Knew Too Much' is a masterpiece—the remake. It’s an incredible movie and I know you’re going to think I’m a moron but I’m gonna make a pronouncement, are you ready? [Another dramatic pause] Doris Day is incredible in that film. There’s a scene where Jimmy Stewart has to tell her that Hank has been kidnapped and he’s not telling her. She’s like [in Doris Day voice] 'Where’s Hank?' [now as Jimmy Stewart] 'Oh aahh I’ll tell you about Hank.' And there’s this case that he has, he opens it up, and there’s a hypodermic needle and he takes a sedative. He gives her a pill, and he says 'Just take it,' and she says 'What’s that?' and she’s wonderful. Her reaction is incredible. I love that film."
"IndieLisboa 2014": Slant Magazine's Michael Pattison highlights several enticing titles at Lisbon's international film festival.
“In Miguel Valverde and Nuno Sena, IndieLisboa has two expert co-directors whose curatorial acumen has allowed the festival to negotiate the unpredictable tides of a fiscally fraught Europe. For the 11th edition, Valverde and Sena's tellingly small programming team once again delivered a lineup whose emphasis was on quality control and individuality. In addition to its international competition (won by Sundance-winner ‘To Kill a Man’), IndieLisboa features several other programming strands as well as a comprehensive, high-quality shorts program. After two years in the financial wilderness, the festival's "Independent Hero" retrospective also returned, dedicated this time around to Claire Simon. It's a shame a festival so dedicated to traditional ideas of cinephilia doesn't in its current situation attract more international press; this critic was one of only four attending from outside of Portugal.”
Jonathan Rosenbaum lists his picks for the Top Ten Best Jazz films, including Howard Hawks's 1944 classic, "To Have and Have Not."
Last year, William Forsche uploaded excerpts of audio recorded during a 1977 screening of "Star Wars" to YouTube. The audience audibly cheers when Han Solo swoops in to save the day and when the Death Star explodes. Enjoy this nostalgia trip while reading Anthony Breznican's essay, "Harrison Ford and Han Solo bury the lightsaber" for Entertainment Weekly.
Captain's log: eight fifth graders, one adult, one James Cameron movie.
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...
As we mourn Abrams’ macho Star Trek obliteration, it’s a good time to revisit that most Star Trek-ian of accomplishme...
On how Clint Eastwood's "American Sniper" examines evil.