Diligent lists of the recurring images, events, themes, and subjects in the films of Orson Welles, George Cukor, Michael Antonioni, Jacques Tourneur, Frank Capra, John Ford, Anthony Mann, Agnès Varda, Howard Hawks, Robert Siodmak, Louis Feuillade, and many other directors.
The signature image in Little Boy, a colossal miscalculation in audience uplift, is of the title character stretching out his arms, scrunching up his face, and groaning with intense concentration. Small for his age, hence the nickname, 7-year-old Pepper Flint Busbee (Jakob Salvati) performs this ritual several times throughout the film, always when attempting to move an object with the sheer power of his belief. More often than not, it actually works: Onstage, during a magic show, he appears to slide a glass bottle across a table, Jedi-style. Later, in a far grander display of his apparent gifts, he wows a crowd of skeptics by seemingly creating an earthquake while trying to nudge a mountain. What Pepper really wants, though, is to bring his father back from the war. And so he stands on a dock and points his hands in the direction of the Pacific Ocean, defying the setting sun, focusing all his desire on one point in the distance, until…Little Boy: The Film That Goes There [more inside]
"A bottle of nerve manna, a disappearing golf ball and some rocks...it all adds up to the Hardly Boys' toughest case yet. The Hardly Boys have returned to Rangeley Lake for another relaxing summer at the Hardly Inn. Fishing, boating, tennis and their friend Chip Mason await them, but the boys soon find themselves enmeshed in a perplexing mystery that puts to the test their sleuthing skills and secret dog powers..." [more inside]
Who designed the tricorder, the flip-top communicator, the Vulcan lute, the the Romulan Bird-of-Prey? Wah Chang. Who made the Gorn and the salt vampire from M-113? Who commissioned the first 500 tribbles? Wah Chang. Who made Tarantula take to the hills? Who built the prototype for the time machine and created a monster too terrible to show on television? Who animated dinosaurs and adorned Cleopatra? Wah Chang, Wah Chang, Wah Ming Chang. [more inside]
Before Firefly, there was the television movie White Dwarf, a far-future pseudo-western scripted by Bruce "Wild Palms" Wagner. The story is essentially Kurosawa's Red Beard relocated to the tidally-locked planet of Rusta, a frontier world split between a Victorian dayside culture and a medieval nightside kingdom. Neal McDonough stars as an arrogant young Earth doctor dispatched to a Light Side clinic to complete an internship under the unorthodox Paul Winfield.
Francis Ford Coppola's first studio picture (and Fred Astaire's swan song) was a big-budget musical about a leprechaun who magically ends racism in the deep south state of "Missitucky." Look!—to 1968's Finian's Rainbow. [more inside]
Nat King Cole. Eartha Kitt. Mahalia Jackson. Pearl Bailey. Cab Calloway. Ella Fitzgerald. Billy Preston. All assembled for a single musical: the 1958 W.C. Handy biopic St. Louis Blues. [more inside]
Sponsored by Xerox and the United Nations, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, scripted by Rod Serling, scored by Henry Mancini, starring Sterling Hayden, Eva Marie Saint, and Robert Shaw, and featuring Peter Sellers as a post-apocalyptic pseudo-Randian cult leader in a spangly hat—it's A Carol for Another Christmas, the rare 1964 television special in which three ghosts teach a melancholy industrialist a Christmas lesson about the virtues of multilateral peacekeeping!
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky proposes that today’s best action directors aren’t working in Hollywood, but in direct-to-video. [more inside]
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]
Christopher Pound combines and weights lists and ratings from Project Gutenberg, Goodreads, and elsewhere to produce novel sortings of familiar data—Shakespeare's plays by popularity, for example. The most successful fiction writers at Gutenberg, and the top thousand most popular works of fiction found there. The most highly rated films of 2012 and 2011. The most popular Sci-fi and fantasy sub-genres at Goodreads. [more inside]
In the spirit of Danny Peary's definitive Cult Movies books, Scott Tobias's New Cult Canon sought to compile and review a grand roll of the offbeat oddities, midnight wonders, overlooked influencers, and otherwise cultish flicks of the last 20 odd years. The series began in 2008 with a retrospective of Donny Darko and ended today with a look at Michael Tolkin's The Rapture and the announcement of Tobias' resignation from the A.V. Club. [more inside]
Scott Eric Kaufman examines the visual rhetoric of Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, Mad Men, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, and more.
Never Too Early Movie Predictions: "Quite possibly the earliest Oscar predictions on the web. Predictions are currently being made through 2017!"
Lily, the caretaker's daughter, was literally run off her feet...Today is the feast of Epiphany, the last day of the traditional Christmas season; the day also when the Misses Morkan held that grand affair, their annual dance, in James Joyce's "The Dead." [more inside]
Horror movie blog Arbogast on Film is counting down the days of October with studies of 31 cinematic screams. Considered thus far: shrieks from The Tingler, The Pit and the Pendulum, Two on a Guillotine, Macchie Solari, The Black Cat, Monster House, The Silence of the Lambs, She Demons, The Thing, L'Amante del Vampiro, The Nesting, and Witchcraft. [more inside]
Prickly, idiosyncractic and unashamedly pro-Goldsmith, Christian Clemmensen has reviewed modern movie scores at Filmtracks since 1996.
Hearing him discuss films one day in the Lake Street Screening Room used by Chicago critics, Ebert said, "I was struck by the depth and detail of his film knowledge, and by how articulate he was." After reading his work online, Ebert was sold.Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, 24, will co-host the revival of At the Movies with Christy Lemire. [previously] [more inside]
When John Van Antwerp MacMurray was dispatched to Asia in 1925 as the American Envoy to the Republic of China, he brought a Kodak motion picture camera with him.
It was 1931. Subtitles weren't practical, dubbing had yet to catch on, but Universal Studios wanted their lavish new production of Dracula to play in Latin America. The solution? Shoot a separate film in Spanish on the night shift. [more inside]
This may only occur to the obsessive student of The Parent Trap, but once the subtleties are noticed, hints start stacking up, and a creeping sense of the mythic pervades the film...Join Chris Stangl, King of the Beanplaters, as he obsessively studies The Parent Trap, Little Shop of Horrors, Beetlejuice, Teen Wolf, the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and more.
In a nameless city deluged by a continuous rain, three rabbits live with a fearful mystery... [more inside]
Harold "Herk" Harvey, a director of educational and industrial films for the Centron Corporation, was driving through Utah when he spotted the derelict Saltair Resort squatting on a mudded lakebed. The sight charged him with ideas, and when he returned home he recruited his Centron colleages and an unknown method actress to make a psychological horror movie. The atmospheric result, shot over three weeks at locations in Kansas and Utah, was 1962's Carnival of Souls. [more inside]
What happens in the shadow, in the grey regions, also interests us – all that is elusive and fugitive, all that can be said in those beautiful half tones, or in whispers, in deep shade.Here are some short films by Stephen and Timothy, the Brothers Quay. [more inside]
American audiences remember Akira Kurosawa as the genius of the samurai epic, a past master who used the form both to revise and revive Western classics - Shakespeare with Ran and Throne of Blood, Dostoevsky with Red Beard and The Idiot, Gorky with The Lower Depths - and to give splendid and ultimately immortal life to new archetypes, as in The Seven Samurai, Rashomon, Yojimbo. But Kurosawa also made films of his own time. His masterpiece, in fact, was the quiet story of a gray Japanese bureaucrat dying in post-war Tokyo, and of his attempt to do something of lasting good before he leaves. The film is Ikiru ("To Live"; 1952). [more inside]
On Tuesday, A.V. Club critic Nathan Rabin's reassessment of the rabidly ambitious Perfume: The Story of a Murderer marked the culmination of his Year of Flops project, a reviewing marathon of 104 commercial and critical failures. Here's the index of the films, sorted into Elizabethtown-derived categories of good but luckless movies, ordinary losers, and disasters of mythic proportions. [more inside]
Sherlock Holmes on Stage & Screen is a gallery of almost every significant actor who has ever played the great detective. Among their ranks are William Gillette, who was able to build himself a castle in Connecticut with the proceeds from his Holmes portrayal; Charlton Heston, who enacted a version of The Sign of Four onstage; Jeremy Brett, the superlative television Holmes; and, of course, Basil Rathbone, the South African actor whose name became synonymous with the role.
Chris Columbus's Indiana Jones and the Monkey King and Jeb Stuart's Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men from Mars are just two rejected sequel scripts for the Indiana Jones franchise. Tom Stoppard, Steven Gaghan, Jeffrey Boam, M. Night Shyamalan, and Frank Darabont each submitted treatments and scripts of their own, but Steven Spielberg and George Lucas (or, more probably, just George Lucas) swatted down every idea until finally Jeff Nathanson's concept was greenlighted--and even that's still being reworked by David Koepp. But with Harrison Ford now older than Sean Connery was in Last Crusade and Steven Spielberg still hobbled by other commitments, it's not clear that Indiana Jones 4 won't be just another false start. The only Indy movie that looks at all certain is the one that Daniel Clowes is making.
The visual interplay of helicopters and fan blades in the opening scene of Apocalypse Now. The idiot-future soundscapes in THX-1138. The concept for the baptism montage in The Godfather. The actual cut of the "Director's Cut" of Touch of Evil. The man responsible for all of these is Walter Murch, one of the greatest film and sound editors of all time. More Inside.