To watch John G. Avildsen's 1970 film now is to revel in movie mischief unrepeatable, wrapped in political soothsaying that still stings.
Robert Drew is not a household word, but he should be; all modern documentary cinema comes from 1960s innovations by him and his collaborators.
Sheila writes: BAFTA-award winning "Pitch Black Heist" is a 13-minute film directed and written by John Maclean, starring Michael Fassbender and Liam Cunningham (reunited after their 28-minute one-take scene in Steve McQueen's 2008 film "Hunger"). Here, they play two criminals hired to crack a safe. The only catch is that they must do their work in the dark: any light at all will trigger the alarm. Elegantly filmed in black-and-white, it's a taut fun little thriller with a twist ending. In case the video doesn't work here, you can also view it at Cinephilia and Beyond.
Why not fold documentaries into my list of the "Best Films of 2011?" After all, a movie is a movie, right? Yes, and some years I've thrown them all into the same mixture. But all of these year-end Best lists serve one useful purpose: They tell you about good movies you may not have seen or heard about. The more films on my list that aren't on yours, the better job I've done.
That's particularly true were you to depend on the "short list" released by the Academy's Documentary Branch of 15 films they deem eligible for nomination. The branch has been through turmoil in the past and its procedures were "reformed" at one point. But this year it has made a particularly scandalous sin of
The reviews of "Salt," re-teaming Angelina Jolie with director Phillip Noyce, fell into two distinct camps: those that treated it as an action/espionage thriller, and those that saw it as something rarer: an old-fashioned star vehicle. Of course it's both, but (as I said in my second paragraph) I think it's even more fascinating as an examination and appreciation of Jolie's persona, on- and off-screen.
Kathleen Murphy observed that Noyce "has turned 'Salt' into a movie about being a movie star, about gorgeous Angelina Jolie dressing up and down, working up a sweat, displaying her exotic self for our voyeuristic pleasure...."
Psychologists say that depression is rage turned inward. Stand-up comedy, on the other hand, is rage turned back outward again. (I believe George Carlin had a routine about the use of violent metaphors directed at the audience in comedy: "Knock 'em dead!" "I killed!") In the documentary "Heckler" (now on Showtime and DVD) comedian Jamie Kennedy, as himself, plays both roles with ferocious intensity. The movie is his revenge fantasy against anyone who has ever heckled him on stage, or written a negative review... or, perhaps, slighted him in on the playground or at a party or over the phone or online.
"Heckler" (I accidentally called it "Harangue" just now) is an 80-minute howl of fury and anguish in which Kennedy and a host of other well-known and not-well-known showbiz people tell oft-told tales of triumphant comebacks and humiliating disasters, freely venting their spleens at those who have spoken unkindly of them. At first the bile is aimed at hecklers in club audiences (with some particularly nasty invective for loudmouthed drunken women), then it shifts to "critics" -- broadly defined as anybody who says something negative about a figure whose work appears before a paying public. Some of the critics are actually interested in analysis; some are just insult comics who are using the Internet as their open mic. It gets pretty ugly, but it's fascinating -- because the comics, the critics and the hecklers are so much alike that it's no wonder each finds the others so infuriating.
To understand the special gift of John Frankenheimer, it is better to start with his stories instead of his movies. Yes, he made some of the most distinctive films of his time (and began and ended as one of the most gifted directors of drama on television) but the films were mostly serious, and Frankenheimer was a very funny man.
PARK CITY, Utah -- "Girlfight," Karyn Kusama's story of a tough Brooklyn girl who wants to be a boxer, and "You Can Count on Me," Kenneth Lonergan's story of an orphaned brother and sister who uneasily get to know each other as adults, shared the grand jury prize for best dramatic film here Saturday at the Sundance Film Festival. In addition, Lonergan won the Waldo Salt screenwriting award, and Kusama was picked as best director.
The movies are 100 years old in 1997, and the Pulitzer Prizes are 70. This would be a good time for them to get together. In addition to the journalism categories, Pulitzers are awarded in the areas of music, drama and literature - but they never have been given to the movies, where they might actually have a greater influence.