A mostly pleasant surprise in a year that has produced a lack of stellar animated outings.
* 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.
A look at the contenders for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress this year and how many of them play a historically-beloved role for Oscar, the mother.
An in-depth look at an ambitious retrospective at NYC's Film Society of Lincoln Center that celebrates one of cinema's greatest years.
An obituary for actress Mary Tyler Moore.
Roger Ebert's The Great Movies IV, featuring his final 62 essays on films like "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" and "Mulholland Dr," is now available for purchase.
A celebration of Brian De Palma's "Carrie" on the occasion of its 40th anniversary and a new Collector's Edition Blu-ray from Shout! Factory.
A celebration of actor Warren Oates in anticipation of an upcoming retrospective at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in NYC.
An excerpt from the May 2016 issue of Bright Wall/Dark Room about "The Man with Two Brains" and "All of Me."
Meryl Streep's tragic romance; Algorithm killed Relativity Media; David Milch stays in the game; Appreciation of "Nine Lives"; Veronica Cartwright on "Alien."
A FFC essay on Paul Schrader's 1997 darkly powerful drama Affliction.
An interview with actress Imogen Poots about her performance in the new Terrence Malick movie Knight of Cups.
FFC Gerardo Valero reports on his experience working as an extra on "Spectre."
An essay on David Cronenberg's "The Brood."
A look back at the Brian De Palma film "Dressed to Kill," celebrating its 35th anniversary with a new Criterion release.
A review of Netflix's "Bloodline" with Kyle Chandler, Ben Mendelsohn, Sissy Spacek, and Sam Shepard.
An excerpt from Faith and Spirituality in Masters of World Cinema Vol. 3.
Roger Ebert's essay on film in the 1978 edition of the Britannica publication, "The Great Ideas Today."
For the last three weeks, two films with female protagonists ("The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" and "Frozen") have been at the top of the box office. Carrie Rickey does some numbers on the history of box office numbers and films with women as protagonists.
Brian De Palma talks about his new film "Passion," his long career and seeing one of his most famous films, "Carrie," get a remake.
Peter Sobczynski ranks 27 films by Brian De Palma.
A new video essay explores how Terrence Malick's distinctive voice-overs evolved and expanded over time
"Dear Mr. Spider;I am profoundly sorry to have taken you from your home in the woods, when I was picking Himalayan Blackberries on Monday afternoon. I didn't see you fall into my bucket and which was entirely my fault; I must have bumped into your web while reaching for a berry. Needless to say, I was surprised upon returning home with my bucket full, to suddenly see you there standing on a blackberry and looking up at me." - Marie
(photo recreation of incident)
Marie writes: Gone fishing...aka: in the past 48 hrs, Movable Type was down so I couldn't work, my friend Siri came over with belated birthday presents, and I built a custom mesh screen for my kitchen window in advance of expected hot weather. So this week's Newsletter is a bit lighter than usual.
"Troops of nomads swept over the country at harvest time like a visitation of locusts, reckless young fellows, handsome, profane, licentious, given to drink, powerful but inconstant workmen, quarrelsome and difficult to manage at all times. They came in the season when work was plenty and wages high. They dressed well, in their own peculiar fashion, and made much of their freedom to come and go.
"They told of the city, and sinister and poisonous jungles all cities seemed in their stories. They were scarred with battles. They came from the far-away and unknown, and passed on to the north, mysterious as the flight of locusts, leaving the people of Sun Prairie quite as ignorant of their real names and characters as upon the first day of their coming."
-- Hamlin Garland, "Boy Life on the Prairie" (1899), epigraph for Terrence Malick's screenplay for "Days of Heaven," revised June 2, 1976
At some point in 1976, "Days of Heaven" was a screenplay that contained conventionally discrete scenes, developed exchanges of dialog and a fairly straightforward (melo-)dramatic narrative structure. Principal photography took place that year in the plains of Alberta, Canada (standing in for the Texas panhandle shortly before World War I), and the movie that emerged in 1978, after two years of editing, did away almost all of it. What the movie became -- as everyone couldn't help but notice at the time of its original release -- is a film in which the "background" (nature, the landscape) moves into the foreground and the human characters recede into macrocosmic expanses of earth and sky, and microcosmic observations of flora and fauna. And bugs.
Terrence Malick's vision is reflected in his process, whereby an enormous amount of material -- scripted and unscripted, A-roll and B-roll -- is pared down, peeled back, opened up.¹ Camera operator John Bailey, in an interview on the Criterion Blu-Ray edition of "Days of Heaven," describes how the so-called "second unit" work. The close-ups of animals or plants, or the pastoral images of trees or streams are "very, very inserty-type shots, and yet they have the same kind of dramatic impact" as the spectacular wide shots -- or, for that matter, the scenes involving the lead actors. Some complained about that at the time -- that the film was gorgeous but insufficiently developed as human drama, that characters were cyphers, that the technique was "intolerably artsy" and "artificial."²
It starts in a girl's bedroom, the camera slowly retreating in a gentle arc around the bed where the girl lovingly pets and hugs her dog. A teenager's room is a private sanctuary, and this bed (with a blanket folded at the foot for the dog -- a bed upon a bed) is her own imaginary island.
Her name is Holly (Sissy Spacek), and her story (narrated in the first person) and her voice is as flat as Texas but colored with the awkward poetic aspirations of a teenage diarist who's writing her thoughts for herself, but also partly addressing them to some future fantasy reader. She begins:
My mother died of pneumonia when I was just a kid. My father had kept their wedding cake in the freezer for ten whole years. After the funeral he gave it to the yardman... He tried to act cheerful, but he could never be consoled by the little stranger he found in his house. [Fade to black.] Then, one day, hoping to begin a new life away from the scene of all his memories, he moved us from Texas to Ft. Dupree, South Dakota.