An appreciation for Robert Zemeckis' 1992 dark comedy "Death Becomes Her," now available on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory.
Marie writes: the ever intrepid Sandy Khan recently sent me a link to ArtDaily where I discovered "Hollywood Unseen" - a new book of photographs featuring some of Hollywood's biggest stars, to published November 16, 2012."Gathered together for the first time, Hollywood Unseen presents photographs that seemingly show the 'ordinary lives' of tinseltown's biggest stars, including Rita Hayworth, Gary Cooper, Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe. In reality, these "candid' images were as carefully constructed and prepared as any classic portrait or scene-still. The actors and actresses were portrayed exactly as the studios wanted them to be seen, whether in swim suits or on the golf course, as golden youth or magic stars of Hollywood."You can freely view a large selection of images from the book by visiting Getty Images Gallery: Hollywood Unseen which is exhibiting them online.
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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...
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Marie writes: If you're like me, you enjoy the convenience of email while lamenting the lost romance of ink and pen on paper. For while it's possible to attach a drawing, it's not the same thing as receiving hand-drawn artwork in the mail. Especially when it's from Edward Gorey..."Edward Gorey and Peter Neumeyer met in the summer of 1968. Gorey had been contracted by Addison-Wesley to illustrate "Donald and the...", a children's story written by Neumeyer. On their first encounter, Neumeyer managed to dislocate Gorey's shoulder when he grabbed his arm to keep him from falling into the ocean. In a hospital waiting room, they pored over Gorey's drawings for the first time together, and Gorey infused the situation with much hilarity. This was the beginning of an invigorating friendship, fueled by a wealth of letters and postcards that sped between the two men through the fall of 1969."
Camille Paglia is known for being both brilliant and wacky (possibly wacko) -- often at the same time, which is probably when she's at her most inspired. A founding contributor at Salon.com (and co-star of "It's Pat: The Movie"), Paglia spoke on the phone to Salon editor Kerry Lauerman yesterday after the news of Elizabeth Taylor's death, and offered up an extraordinary tribute. I just wanted to share some of it with you. Lauerman begins by quoting something Paglia wrote about Taylor in Penthouse in 1992:
"She wields the sexual power that feminism cannot explain and has tried to destroy. Through stars like Taylor, we sense the world-disordering impact of legendary women like Delilah, Salome, and Helen of Troy. Feminism has tried to dismiss the femme fatale as a misogynist libel, a hoary cliche. But the femme fatale expresses women's ancient and eternal control of the sexual realm." Paglia takes it from there:
Exactly. At that time, you have to realize, Elizabeth Taylor was still being underestimated as an actress. No one took her seriously -- she would even make jokes about it in public. And when I wrote that piece, Meryl Streep was constantly being touted as the greatest actress who ever lived. I was in total revolt against that and launched this protest because I think that Elizabeth Taylor is actually a greater actress than Meryl Streep, despite Streep's command of a certain kind of technical skill. [...]
Oh, no. No. No. This cannot be. They're tearing down 22 Jermyn Street in London. The whole block is going. Bates' Hat Shop, Trumper's the Barber, Getti the Italian restaurant, the Jermyn Street Theater, Sergio's Cafe, the lot. Jermyn Street was my street in London. My neighborhood.
There, on a corner near the Lower Regent Street end, I found a time capsule within which the eccentricity and charm of an earlier time was still preserved. It was called the Eyrie Mansion. When I stayed there I considered myself to be living there. I always wanted to live in London, and this was the closest I ever got.
James Bond (Daniel Craig) in "Casino Royale." With every move he makes, another chance he takes. Odds are...
What accounts for the movies' fascination with gambling? That's a question I mull over in a survey of pictures (from "Gilda" to "Barry Lyndon" to "Casino" to "California Split" to "The Cooler") about the addictive alchemy of luck, chance, fate and skill at MSN Movies. Making a movie is itself a grand gamble. You never know how it's going to turn out, and the results have as much to do with circumstance as they do with talent or craftsmanship. An excerpt from "High Rollers": Gambling does not rank among the "seven deadly sins." It doesn't have to. Just about all the capital vices can be found in the psyche of the gambler, and not just in the usual suspects, greed and envy. There's also plenty of room for gluttony (overindulgence, addiction, substance abuse); wrath (rage, vindictiveness); sloth (indifference, jadedness, existential apathy); lust (licentiousness, dissolution); and, the deadliest of all sins: pride (hubris, arrogance, usually expressed in the form of cheating, or a misplaced belief in a dubious "system" designed to beat the odds).
The grandest "Casino Royale" -- the ultimate gamble -- is, of course, the game of life itself: a series of cosmic wagers in which the stakes vary wildly from day to day, bet to bet. Some people seem to go "all in" all the time, some ante up just enough to get them through each hand they're dealt, and others are perpetual folders who try to opt out of the game entirely in order to avoid risking too much.
But since the time of Oedipus the central question has always been: How much of the outcome is governed by free will and how much by predestination? The answer depends on the (rigged?) nature of the game you're playing, and whether the winners and losers are predetermined, either by some higher interventionist power (appeased by superstitious rites, such as blowing on dice or disingenuously proclaiming the need for new footwear for one's tot), or by a simple calculation of the odds that invariably favor "the house."
Although one can only play the hand one is dealt, a poker or blackjack player retains a small degree of influence over his fate, as some game variables are subject to decision-making based on statistical knowledge and experience. Those who gamble on a roll of the dice or a spin of the wheel, however, rely on pure chance. Or, as it is known in gaming circles, "luck."
The odds of winning are never better than 50-50 (red or black in roulette), which is why most gambling stories -- and gambling movies -- are either about chance, or about cheating. As in the 1946 classic film noir, "Gilda," with Glenn Ford and Rita Hayworth, these tales are of the men and women who learn to "make their own luck."
The only way to increase your luck without trickery is with skill -- by learning to read the odds based on the cards that have already been played, or by learning to read the people who play them. In Curtis Hanson's new "Lucky You," hot-headed poker player Huck Cheever (Eric Bana) has to learn how to do both if he wants to woo songstress Billie Offer (Drew Barrymore). As his father, L.C. (Robert Duvall), tells him: "You've got it backwards, kid. You play cards the way you should live life, and you live life the way you should play cards."
That's the lesson movie gamblers are always trying to learn. Everybody has a "tell" -- a little unconscious tic that reveals when they're bluffing. In David Mamet's "House of Games," renowned psychoanalyst Margaret Ford (Lindsay Crouse) thinks she understands human behavior until she is schooled by Mike (Joe Mantegna) in the ways of gamblers and con men who avoid being understood. The big gamble comes down to a matter of pride -- and the skill and intuition to fool the other players.
In the most recent "Casino Royale" film, the hubris of James Bond (Daniel Craig) costs him a high stakes game, and nearly costs him his life. Every scene in the movie involves a bet, a bluff, or a calculated risk. Whether the game is espionage, romance, the stock market, or poker, the rules are basically the same: Outwit, outplay and outlast your opponents....
Continue reading at MSN Movies...
BOULDER, Colo.--We have finally met defeat. A film has resisted our efforts to pound it into submission, Every year I join some 1000 students and townspeople here at the University of Colorado on a 5-day, 12-hour shot-by-shot trek through a film. Using the freeze-frame and slow-motion features of a DVD, we track down symbols, expose hidden messages, analyze visual strategies, expose special effects, and in general satisfy ourselves that we have extracted every fugitive scrap of meaning from the movie under discussion.
As part of its ongoing national effort to lead the nation to discover and rediscover the classics, the American Film Institute (AFI) today announced the 50 greatest American screen legends - the top 25 women and top 25 men naming Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart the number one legends among the women and men.