A special edition of Thumbnails spotlighting coverage of National Hispanic Heritage Month.
A celebration of director David Lynch's filmography in anticipation of an upcoming retrospective at the IFC Center in New York.
Arthur Penn, whose "Bonnie and Clyde" was a watershed in American film, died Tuesday night at 88. Gentle, much loved and widely gifted, he began life in poverty and turned World War Two acting experience in the Army into a career that led to directing in the earliest days of television and included much work on Broadway.
Q. You asked if readers raised on color had any thoughts on the B&W issue. I was born in 1971, and the worlds of television and cinema were fully in color. I grew up "hating" black and white, and dismissed it as something that was only used because there was no better option. In my teenage years, I saw two films that used black and white when color was readily available, and it worked exceptionally well: Woody Allen's "Manhattan," and David Lynch's "Eraserhead." These films convinced me that black and white is beautiful, and can help in the creation of mood and theme (although Lynch might have done "Eraserhead" in B&W for financial reasons).
When Sherman McCoy, the hero of Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities, took the wrong exit ramp into the Bronx, the result was a merciless flaying of New York's rich and famous. When Mel Brooks, the director of "Life Stinks," took the wrong exit ramp into downtown Los Angeles, the result was a warmhearted comedy about the homeless.
TORONTO -- Shirley MacLaine hadn't made a film for almost five years, not since she won the Oscar for "Terms of Endearment," and so when the role of the old piano teacher came along, maybe her first thought was to take a pass. She would have to play old and look old, and be just as stubborn at the end of the movie as she was at the beginning. Was this trip necessary?
"I'd say 'Silent Movie' is my best film by far," Mel Brooks was saying, "and, let's face it, the others were pretty good. This is the funniest, the hardest to accomplish, the best. But we could not get the crew to laugh! There we were, knocking ourselves out to be funny, and behind the camera, not a snicker. This was a veteran crew. After 50 years of making sound movies, they were afraid if they made a noise it would spoil the shot. Fer chrissakes, fellas, I said, there's not even a microphone. Laugh a little! Yuk it up!"
It's said that Winston Churchill himself asked Carl Foreman to make a movie out of Churchill's "My Early Life." The great man made his request after seeing Foreman's "The Guns of Navarone." Now it may seem strange that the foremost statesman of his time would want his autobiography produced by a man who had just made a straightforward action picture. But then again, maybe not. We live in a time when people tend to do more or less the same thing all of their lives. Churchill did not. He had several careers before he settled into his final role as the World's Greatest Statesman. He spent quite a bit of his life, in fact, being an Eminent Failure. More than once, he committed what looked like political suicide. And his early life was filled with more action than thought. "You are my greatest disappointment," Lord Randolph Churchill rumbles at his son, somewhere around the middle of Foreman's "Young Winston." "I cannot imagine what will become of you." The audience is supposed to dig each other in the ribs at this moment, I suppose; our knowledge of how Churchill really turned out is what gives his early story such a nice irony. But Foreman, who wrote and produced, and his director, Richard Attenborough, don't work the irony too hard. "Young Winston," opening Wednesday at the U.A. Cinema One in Oakbrook, has been conceived as part history, part autobiography and two parts swashbuckling adventure.