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“It's exactly what you think it is—a tornado full of sharks”

The rise of video-on-demand services like Netflix and dedicated cable-TV channels has created a new industry in low-budget B-movies; meet Asylum Films, an outfit in California following in the footsteps of historical B-movie auteurs like Roger Corman, Menahem Golan and Uwe Boll, with films with titles like Sharknado, Transmorphers, Sex Pot and Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies. Asylum's new B-movies are made quickly and cheaply to ride the coattails of the big studios' fads, filling gaps in the market for more films about, say, adorable puppies, alien battleships or apocalypses. The films are made to a strict formula, are played entirely seriously, with no hint of irony or knowingness, and are designed primarily to pad out rental lists and appeal to recommendation engines, though the producers point out that often mainstream Hollywood fare is often no less hackneyed and formulaic. (Previously...)
posted by acb on Jul 12, 2013 - 118 comments

The Dissolve

Music review site Pitchfork has branched out. Today marks the debut of The Dissolve, which will be dedicated to film. With talent acquired from Slate, NPR and the AV Club, the website is starting with a high pedigree.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI on Jul 10, 2013 - 77 comments

"And tell me, how long have you been combin' your hair with a wrench?"

Though it became an epic flop and forced Francis Ford Coppola to declare bankruptcy, the 1982 musical One From the Heart (previously) did produce one hell of a soundtrack featuring the unlikely collaboration between Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle. Here's the story of how it all came together. [more inside]
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI on Jul 8, 2013 - 15 comments

They're Hip. They're Young. They're 32 years Old!

While it's widely known that US television likes to hire actors in thier 20s to play characters in thier teens, have you ever wondered what actors playing teenagers actually looked like as teenagers? Actual Teen Vs Adult Teen has you covered.
posted by The Whelk on Jul 8, 2013 - 78 comments

There never was a golden ratio

There are many subjects that will get people mad on the internet, but in cinephile circles, the reddest flag is aspect ratio. Ever since the bad old practice of pan and scan was abandoned, DVD and Blu-Ray releases have tried to echo the widescreen aspect ratio that a film was released in, but that's often very hard to get right. Most recently, the Blu-Ray reissue of Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon resulted in prolonged arguing and triumphant research. How did things get so confused? Filmmaker John Hess is here to explain, with an extensive and excellent history of aspect ratios.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard on Jul 5, 2013 - 91 comments

The Anna Nicole Smith Story as performed by muppets, maybe

With the TV premiere of Mary Harron's Anna Nicole Smith biopic fast approaching, The Hairpin wonders what other indie/art house filmmakers would do with the same subject.
posted by The Whelk on Jun 28, 2013 - 16 comments

Come get a snack.

Craft Truck is a filmmaker website and home of the web series Through the Lens, a regular series of interviews with leading cinematographers. [more inside]
posted by hamandcheese on Jun 28, 2013 - 3 comments

[disposable]

"If I had to conduct an experiment that would give an insight into neorealism, I'd build a time machine and travel to Italy, circa 1952. I'd ask Vittorio De Sica to make a film using Hollywood actors like Montgomery Clift and Jennifer Jones. I'd then team De Sica up with a Hollywood producer, the kind that liked to impose his will and sensibility onto a film—someone like David O Selznick. In bringing these two worlds of cinema together, I'd hope for a clash of sensibilities so great that it would result in two cuts of the same film, one by De Sica and the other by Selznick. I would run these two films side by side and examine each cut, and in the difference I would find something to say about the essence of neorealism."
Sight & Sound magazine's excellent video essay 'What is neorealism?' compares Terminal Station to Indiscretion of an American Wife.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED on Jun 25, 2013 - 4 comments

Orson, you're behaving like an asshole.

In the early eighties, Orson Welles was a fixture at L.A.’s Ma Maison, where Wolfgang Puck was the chef before he moved on to Spago. Nearing 70, and 40-plus years removed from Citizen Kane, which he made when he was just 25, Welles was fat and famously difficult, no longer a viable star but still a sort of Hollywood royalty—a very certain sort. The younger director Henry Jaglom was one of many aspiring auteurs who admired him but possibly the only one who taped their conversations. These took place in 1983 over lunch at the restaurant.
posted by The Whelk on Jun 25, 2013 - 67 comments

Riffing on a whole other level

Rifftrax (previous and previously and previouslier) hilariously carries on the tradition of MST3k. And though the premise is much the same as before, the Rifftrax folks have added something new: MP3 Commentaries. Instead of confining themselves to public domain and titles whose rights are easy to procure, they do commentaries on hollywood blockbusters in audio form only. People then can sync them up to their own DVDs of these films and sit back to experience riffing on the likes of Nicholas Cage instead of John Agar. This is great for home viewing, but what about their live shows? Then someone came up with an idea. [more inside]
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI on Jun 24, 2013 - 65 comments

They had me at "1980 something space guy"

Today saw the release of the first trailer for The LEGO Movie, and there are some interesting things to note about it. [more inside]
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI on Jun 19, 2013 - 79 comments

You don’t mess with the Cabbage Patch Elvis

When it comes to unappealing couples that have been featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, Arch Hall Jr. and Marilyn Manning are near the top of the heap. Their appearance in Eegah provided rich fodder for Joel and the bots. And yet, only one year after the release of Eegah, Hall and Manning would find themselves together again in radically different roles. [more inside]
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI on Jun 17, 2013 - 15 comments

Sadly, there is no information on "A Fish Called Wanda".

No Animals Were Harmed is the Film and Television unit of the American Humane Association. Their website provides details on the different kinds of certifications films and television shows earn and how they go about earning it. You can browse recent films (such as Life of Pi and Django Unchained) or page through their archive (which includes everything from Fellowship of the Ring to Rushmore to… (cough)Apocalypse Now).
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI on Jun 12, 2013 - 37 comments

Peter Sellers documentary 1969

Will The Real Mr Sellers Please Stand Up - a rare ~50min film narrated by Spike Milligan and made during the filming of 'The Magic Christian'*via Cinephilia and Beyond. [NSFW - some nudity] [more inside]
posted by peacay on Jun 11, 2013 - 12 comments

The Crime Epics of Louis Feuillade

The Vampires, a secret federation of thieves and killers, rule the Paris underworld through intimidation, murder, and a certain diabolic je ne sais quoi. After the headless body of the police inspector in charge of the Vampire investigation turns up in a swamp, dauntless reporter Philipe Guérande steps up his efforts to bring the gang to justice. But is he equal to the schemes of the protean Grand Vampire and his lieutenant, the cat burglar, assassin, and sometime torch singer called Irma Vep? And can anyone hope to prevail against the rogue criminal Moréno and the unearthly power of his gaze?
Les Vampires (1915-1916), Louis Feuillade's six and a half hour film serial, still communicates the nerve, pace, and delirium that inspired Lang, Hitchcock, Assayas and Maddin. Here are all ten episodes of this "supreme delight of cinema." Three more of Feuillade's best serials wait below the cut. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on May 31, 2013 - 12 comments

But does the dog die?

Do you turn off Old Yeller before the end so you can pretend that he lived a long and happy life? Did a cute pet on a movie poster make you think it would be a fun comedy but it turned out to be a pet-with-a-terminal-illness tearjerker instead? Are you unable to enjoy the human body count in a horror movie because you're wondering whether the dog's going to kick the bucket? Have you ever Googled "Does the [dog/cat/horse/Klingon targ] die in [movie title]?" If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then welcome - DoestheDogDie.com is here for you! [more inside]
posted by jedicus on May 29, 2013 - 142 comments

Hollywood icon John McTiernan is 1 month into a 12 month prison sentence

A very sad tale of one of the most respected action movie directors in cinema history.
posted by shimmerbug on May 28, 2013 - 108 comments

Persistence of Vision: Reading the Language of Cinema

2013 Jefferson Lecture with Martin Scorsese (text) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on May 9, 2013 - 3 comments

Britain's Greatest Living Movie Analyst?

Philip French, Observer Film Reviewer and possibly Britain's Greatest Living Movie Analyst puts down his pencil after 50 years. A living repository of cinematic knowledge, French's ethos is "You should assume your reader is intelligent, but not necessarily as well-informed, since they spend their days doing something else for a living." He will retire from August. [more inside]
posted by biffa on May 4, 2013 - 10 comments

Selections from the BFI's collection of early cinema

The British Film Institute's YouTube channels offer a staggering amount (previously) of content on historical cinema, shorts, and discussion. Some short selections from the early and silent period of note - The Sick Kitten (1903) - How Percy Won The Beauty Competition (1909) - Tilly The Tomboy Visits The Poor (1910) - Suffragette Riot In Trafalgar Square (1913) - The Fugitive Futurist, in which a man on the run shows a device that can see far into the future (1924) - Vaudevillian legend Billy Merson Singing 'Desdemona'. Widely considered Britain's first sound film - (1927) Charley In New Town - part of an animated series from the Central Office, this one explaining the need for "New Towns." (1948) - Growing Girls, a filmstrip guide to puberty for young women (1951).
posted by The Whelk on May 2, 2013 - 5 comments

Re-Surfacing

In the archives of Cinema Canada (1962-1989), articles about the relationship of Canadian cinema to American genre films, the Canadianization of popular comedy, and "what is 'Canadian film'?" stand out as typical--even commonplace, given their context. They also happen to suggest an interesting mix of obscure and popular films to watch. [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on Apr 27, 2013 - 23 comments

Steadicam Inventor Honored

American cinematographer Garrett Brown to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for the invention of the Steadicam (previously).
posted by switcheroo on Apr 26, 2013 - 8 comments

Leo just kept ingesting sweet crap

Dan Goodbaum edits together selected excerpts from Elvis Mitchell's interview with Quentin Tarantino about the role of food as a indicator of power in his movies (full interview here). Grantland's 20 Best Tarantino Food Scenes
posted by The Whelk on Apr 21, 2013 - 13 comments

I'll be back

A 'Back-to-the-Camera Shot' supercut, in which a character stands (usually) centre frame, gazing out onto an epic landscape. All film titles are listed, with timecodes, in the 'about' section. [SLYT]
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED on Apr 11, 2013 - 18 comments

I said Goddamn!!!

Gorgeous Portraits of Movie Characters & Classic Shots by Massimo Carnevale [slimgur]
posted by cthuljew on Apr 4, 2013 - 41 comments

"Thank you for being the best readers any film critic could ask for."

Roger Ebert has announced that he has had a recurrence of cancer and will be taking a partial hiatus from reviewing while he undergoes treatment. Ebert, who lost the ability to speak and eat to cancer in 2006, filed a career-record 306 reviews in 2012. The news comes as Ebert plans to revamp his website and is considering a Kickstarter campaign to bring back his iconic show At the Movies. A documentary about Ebert directed by Steve James and executive produced by Martin Scorsese is currently in production.
posted by alexoscar on Apr 3, 2013 - 212 comments

I feel that cinema should be like a box of surprises, like a magic box

RIP Jesús 'Jess' Franco, the prolific Spanish horror and exploitation writer and director of films such as Vampyros Lesbos and The Awful Dr. Orloff who was once condemned by the Vatican as one of the most dangerous filmmakers in the world. [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Apr 2, 2013 - 19 comments

Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker!

"Everybody Wants to Kill Bruce" - One action sequence compiled from 39 movies. NSFW. Via.
posted by brundlefly on Mar 27, 2013 - 45 comments

Kubrick's condensed NYC

Follow Tom Cruise as he navigates his way around Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut Greenwich Village set [more inside]
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Mar 25, 2013 - 29 comments

Using the F-word in PG-13/12A movies

Den of Geek looks at the MPAA rule that a PG-13 movie can contain only one utterance of the word "fuck".
posted by reenum on Mar 24, 2013 - 57 comments

Spring Break forever. Spring Break forever. Spring Break forever. Spring

Harmony Korine's new film Spring Breakers [trailer] is "an outrage and an abomination. It’s also some kind of masterpiece." Or maybe it's swill, or just plain old racist. In any event, the movie looks gorgeous, courtesy of cinematographer Benoît Debie, best known for his work on his work on Gaspar Noe's Irreversible and Enter the Void. Actress Ashley Benson thinks the sex scenes were beautiful: "It wasn't raunchy. It was telling a story." Actor Gucci Mane, meanwhile, fell asleep during his sex scene. Korine showed up on Reddit to answer questions, but his responses were somewhat incoherent.
posted by Rory Marinich on Mar 23, 2013 - 115 comments

"He breaks off, cackling."

Christopher Doyle, cinematographer for Wong Kar-Wai's most acclaimed works (and dozens of other movies), calls Life of Pi's Academy Award an "insult to cinematography" in a recent interview. He elaborated: "What a total fucking piece of shit." (Part 1 of the same interview, more informative but less entertaining) [NSFW film posters and language]
posted by BlackLeotardFront on Mar 14, 2013 - 47 comments

Projectors de cinema infantil

Here is a little collection of crude but oddly charming Spanish and French animation, originally created for children's hand-cranked film projectors, from 1932 to 1952. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Mar 10, 2013 - 2 comments

We, The Aliens.

In Defense Of Spielberg's War Of The Worlds
posted by The Whelk on Feb 19, 2013 - 197 comments

The Lafcadio Hearn of Our Time

Donald Richie, American author, journalist, critic and expert on Japan, dies at 88.
Smilingly excluded here in Japan, politely stigmatised, I can from my angle attempt only objectivity, since my subjective self will not fit the space I am allotted . . . how fortunate I am to occupy this niche with its lateral view. In America I would be denied this place. I would live on the flat surface of a plain. In Japan, from where I am sitting, the light falls just right – I can see the peaks and valleys, the crags and crevasses.
-- from The Japan Journals, 1947-2004
[more inside]
posted by Ice Cream Socialist on Feb 19, 2013 - 23 comments

Schmucks with Underwoods

Vanity fair on the rise and fall and possible rise again of the spec script.
posted by Artw on Feb 11, 2013 - 44 comments

"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to violence."

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! - a look at Russ Meyer's finest film. (possibly NSFW)
posted by Artw on Feb 10, 2013 - 16 comments

Screenwriters on screenwriting

The Q&A With Jeff Goldsmith is an irregularly released podcast where Mr. Goldsmith interviews, at length (each episode runs an hour or more), working Hollywood and foreign screenwriters. The most recent episode is a panel conversation with the year's Oscar-nominated screenwriters. You can listen to the podcasts on his site or subscribe in iTunes or on Android.

Goldsmith is also the publisher of the terrific screenwriting magazine Backstory--currently only available for the iPad but coming (eventually) to the web and Android. You can download the first issue (which is wonderful, and contains full length scripts along with the interviews and stories) for free.
posted by dobbs on Feb 7, 2013 - 5 comments

Fritz Lang's Die Nibelungen

At a time when the Lord of the Rings didn't exist as a film or a book trilogy, Fritz Lang created the 5-hour-long film Die Nibelungen (The Nibelungs, 1924), based on the 13th-century poem Die Nibelungenlied (The Song of the Nibelungs). A short clip of Siegfried slaying the dragon was used as a trailer for the restored edition of the film. [more inside]
posted by ersatz on Feb 3, 2013 - 28 comments

Bowie: "Get your own pig!"

"There are reasons why this film is obscure. It is, in the most charitable possible evaluation, a mess: Bowie has described it as "my 32 Elvis films rolled into one." And yet life on that ever-dwindling island of not-on-region-one DVD films is a harsh fate for any film and particularly for this one, which is at least as interesting as its cast suggests and a good deal more. You don't need to dig out the VHS player to watch Mick Jagger run an agency of gigolos in The Man From Elysian Fields—you shouldn't have to do so to watch Bowie play one. " David Bowie's Lost 70s-era Weimar Berlin Movie: Just a Gigalo.
posted by The Whelk on Feb 2, 2013 - 17 comments

"My hatred for Japanese cinema includes absolutely all of it."

"Japanese cinema’s preeminent taboo buster, Nagisa Oshima directed, between 1959 and 1999, more than twenty groundbreaking features. For Oshima, film was a form of activism, a way of shaking up the status quo. Uninterested in the traditional Japanese cinema of such popular filmmakers as Kurosawa, Ozu, and Naruse, Oshima focused not on classical themes of good and evil or domesticity but on outcasts, gangsters, murderers, rapists, sexual deviants, and the politically marginalized." The great Japanese director Nagisa Oshima passed away at the age of 80 last week. Appreciations from the Guardian, Slate, Fandor, Telegraph, NY Times, AV Club, and a few in-depth articles over at Senses of Cinema and Film Comment.
posted by HumanComplex on Jan 25, 2013 - 11 comments

One shot is what it's all about

Of the final scene in The Deer Hunter, Ebert wrote: I won't tell you how it arrives at that particular moment (the unfolding of the final passages should occur to you as events in life) but I do want to observe that the lyrics of "God Bless America" have never before seemed to me to contain such an infinity of possible meanings, some tragic, some unspeakably sad, some few still defiantly hopeful.
The song was first written in 1918, and 20 years later it was introduced by Kate Smith as a patriotic “Peace Song”.
Here’s some trivia about the Deer Hunter, and a bio of the amazing Irving Berlin
posted by growabrain on Dec 28, 2012 - 36 comments

Indian Movie Posters

India's hand drawn movie posters are artistic, hilarious, and full of pastel colors.
posted by reenum on Dec 24, 2012 - 10 comments

Regular expressions against IMDb

replace heart with butt
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 on Dec 20, 2012 - 293 comments

Banquet on wheels

The intro scene to 'Midnight in Paris' (2011. SLYT)
posted by growabrain on Dec 17, 2012 - 70 comments

The Coen Brothers's "Raising Arizona"

Raising Arizona is notable among the Coen Brothers’ filmography for seamlessly fusing the ravishing grimness of their drama with the slapstick antics of their comedy. ... [It] is an intensely bittersweet film. That it is admittedly hilarious distracts from this sorrow, but it doesn’t dampen it. If not the absolute best by the Coens, it’s certainly their most charming. - Michael Nordine [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen on Dec 11, 2012 - 112 comments

Space Oddity

The Man who Fell to Earth was Nicholas Roeg's Sci-fi classic featuring a fragile cocaine addicted David Bowie, between his Thin White Duke days and his Berlin trilogy, as a homesick alien falling into despair. Years later Duncan Jones - AKA Zowie Bowie, subject of a sentimental song on Hunky Dory - would make a Sci-Fi film of his own with similar themes of isolation.
posted by Artw on Dec 10, 2012 - 28 comments

Peter Jackson's "Braindead"

Between Peter Jackson’s penchant for cartoonish unserious gore and Bob McCarron’s off-screen makeup effects manipulations, Braindead achieves something that approaches inspired genius in the heretofore unknown artform of human carnage. The film is filled with moments of joyous slapstick tableaux... And then there is that moment where Braindead finally breaks through to achieve a transcendentally surreal glory of excess where Tim Balme wades into battle against the zombies armed with a lawnmower, drenching an entire room in showers of blood. (Braindead holds the record for the greatest amount of artificial blood ever used in a film). The film is a work of perverse genius. - Richard Scheib
posted by Egg Shen on Dec 8, 2012 - 41 comments

Behold!

On the screen of the Romantic Motor-Vu drive-in theater on 33rd South in Salt Lake City, Charlton Heston, as Moses in the The Ten Commandments, throws his arms wide before what appears to be a congregation of cars at prayer. Originally published on December 22, 1958 in Life Magazine.
More from J.R. Eyerman: Behind the Scenes of a Stanley Kubrick 's Spartacus'.
(Previously on M-F)
posted by growabrain on Dec 8, 2012 - 5 comments

Put simply, the opening credits to Hostage have no business looking as good as they do.

The Onion AV club looks at 13 movie opening title sequences that are far better than the movies they're attached to.
posted by The Whelk on Nov 26, 2012 - 60 comments

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