The Dissolve's "Movie of the Week" on this week leading to Halloween has been The Blair Witch Project, which it describes as "the most widely despised great horror movie". They discuss the legacy of the film fifteen years after its release and the future of the genre that it helped to create: found-footage horror. And where are the people who made it these days? Heather Donahue is growing pot. Josh Leonard is still acting (Michael C. Williams less so). And the directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez seem to want to catch that same lightning in a bottle, but with very underwhelming results.
Why not just quit your job and spend all of your savings on a horror-themed road trip where you visit the real locations of some iconic scary movies. If that sounds like too much effort, well we've done a Google-based trip ourselves.
Here's what we found... [more inside]
Here's what we found... [more inside]
Halloween is almost here which to me means one thing: overanalyzing horror flicks for any feminist undertones! ... [N]o season has better metaphors for misogynistic fears and powerful female sexuality than the scary movies that permeate almost every channel and film festival throughout October.At Autostraddle, Nina suggests nine horror films she likes in the "Blossoming-Teenage-Girl-Becoming-A-Woman" sub-genre. She is far from alone in her search for interesting feminist themes in horror cinema and literature. [more inside]
I kick people out of my Alamo Drafthouse movie theaters without a refund for texting and talking. AMA. From tales of snake handlers spraying blood all over the theater, to angry patrons yelling at security guards, the Alamo Drafthouse still remains raucous after all these years. [more inside]
It was called a number of things in its fifty years of existence, but the RKO Forty Acres (which actually measured just over twenty-eight) was above all a prolific movie and television studio located in Culver City, California. It started off as a film studio during the silent era that continued prominent use in sound films including Gone With The Wind, The Magnificent Ambersons and King Kong. Later, it was widely used for television shows like Bonanza, The Adventures of Superman and, most prominently, The Andy Griffith Show. It even got used in a number of classic Star Trek episodes (and be sure to visit this site for some nice screen caps revealing Enterprise crew members walking around Mayberry). The RetroWeb has a very thorough history of the studio, complete with prodigious pictures.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the film Zulu, which depicts the Battle of Rorke's Drift (previously) in 1879. Here's a little history of the production, as well as ten things you may not know about the film and an argument that it's the best British war film ever made. Film Historian Sheldon Hall discusses the film's legacy, and Zulu leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi (who portrayed his own great grandfather in the film) reminisces about the shoot.
Figuring out some of the more obscure references in an episode of MST3k is a labor of love for some devoted fans. The folks over at The Annotated MST3k (previously) have been at it for eleven years now and have 113 episodes completely annotated. But for those who prefer their annotations in real time, you're in luck. The official YouTube channel for the show has posted two completely annotated episodes (Mitchell and Manos - The Hands of Fate) for your viewing pleasure.
In 2001, long before he helped launch the Marvel Cinematic Universe juggernaut, Jon Favreau could reasonably be described as “that guy in Swingers”. But sometime between Swingers and Iron Man, Favreau used some of his clout to create and host a new show for the Independent Film Channel. It was called "Dinner for Five". [more inside]
A New Wave of Black Filmmaking: Experimental and Black Speculative Indie Films "A brief survey of the contemporary Black independent film scene yields a long and ever-growing list of experimental and Black speculative (including horror, Afrofuturism, sci-fi, fantasy, fan fiction) short cinema, film trailers, music videos and other projects. (/The Atlanta Black Star) [more inside]
On the fiftieth anniversary of its theatrical release, Slate is taking a look back at the Cold War thriller Fail Safe (trailer), which stars Henry Fonda as a U.S. President who has to deal with a computational accident that risks nuclear war. The film was preceded at the box office by Dr. Strangelove, a film very similar in plot but drastically different in tone. Fail Safe bombed as a result of the comparison with Kubrick's masterpiece, but the story itself would have a second chance at reaching audiences come the year 2000. [more inside]
Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau speaking at UCLA 12/1/1971 (audio with rotating pictures, 45 min 25 sec) [SLYT]
Scarecrow Video (previously), also known as "the largest independent video store in the world", announced back in August that they were closing its doors. But Wait! There's More! Scarecrow also announced their plans to soon after re-open as a non-profit. And after a successful Kickstarter effort that ended two weeks ago, they have now launched the first phase of The Scarecrow Project with the "singular purpose of protecting the invaluable collection of Scarecrow Video under a four-pillared mission of preservation, access, education and community".
"Scandals of Classic Hollywood: The Long Suicide of Montgomery Clift" by Anne Helen Petersen for Vanity Fair. (Warning: graphic description of car accident in the link.) [more inside]
What's that you say? You like to read movie and music related lists on the Internet? Well here you go: The Movies' 50 Greatest Pop Music Moments from the folks at The Dissolve.
The final film in the Atlas Shrugged trilogy (previously) is now in theaters and the reaction has been a stupendous... meh. [more inside]
In 2004 Joseph Kahn directed the hyper-kinetic, poorly reviewed motorcycle action movie Torque. It was Kahn's directorial debut, and though he was tapped for (one of many) failed Neuromancer adaptations, he devoted the next six years to a largely self financed project: the horror-comedy farce Detention. Noted cultural critic Steven Shaviro discusses in this essay why Detention, despite also being reviewed negatively, is one of his favorite movies of the decade. Shaviro's review contains major spoilers for the plot, and it's probably best to go into the movie blind. A brief non-spoiler synopsis is available below the jump. [more inside]
No, the above quote is not the answer to “How many total episodes are there of the various “Law & Order” franchises?”. In actuality, those nine words conclude one of the most exciting films of the 1940’s (and the direct ancestor of Dick Wolf’s prolific franchise). Welcome to “The Naked City”. [more inside]
ROYGBIV (Single Link Vimeo, 1:28)
A self-taught special effects guru, A.S. Hamilton has crafted [simulated injuries] with chilling perfection. But his greatest big-screen challenge was bringing one of human history’s most gruesome chapters back to life.CONTENT WARNING: descriptions of violence, graphic movie set photos and stills [more inside]
Known to one generation as Bartlett in The Great Escape and to another generation as John Hammond in Jurassic Park (plus many roles in between), actor Richard Attenborough has died at the age of 90.
For over 25 years, film critic Leonard Maltin (along with a team of contributors and editors) have produced what has been the Bible of movie geeks everywhere in his annual movie guide. The 2015 edition that will be released next month will be his last. The Dissolve has offered their own eulogy. (The folks at MST3k were also fans, as evidenced to three memorable moments that pay tribute to the man, the book and his not entirely accurate rating system.)
Tony Zhou (previously) has created another great video essay on filmmaking techniques: "A brief look at texting and the internet in film" (also previously).
Menahem Golan has died at the age of 85. The name may mean very little to you at first glance, but for those of us who lived through the 1980's, he was a very big part of it. Here's an interview with the late producer and a bit more about his legacy.
The School for Postmen is a 16 minute short film from 1947 by French director and physical comedian Jacques Tati. It's being shown on The Guardian's website and is introduced by their film critic Peter Bradshaw. The film is about a postman in rural southern France trying to finish his round on time.
"DISCLAIMER TIME! 50 is a very small number. I make no claims to any of these lists being either comprehensive or some sort of objective analysis of the 'best' films directed by women. I make selections based on on what I've seen, what I like, and the position of the stars. One film per director. Ready? Let's go." [more inside]
Legendary experimental filmmaker Harun Farocki, whose films and installations critiqued institutions of power and explored complicated relationships with the image, passed away yesterday at the age of 70. [more inside]
After over a decade in development hell, George Miller's return to the Mad Max franchise, Mad Max: Fury Road, has emerged at San Diego Comic-Con with a teaser trailer. [more inside]
Jason Blum—producer of Paranormal Activity, Insidious, Sinister, The Purge, The Bay, and Oculus—participated in an interesting interview at SXSW Film 2014 about his model of producing high-quality low-budget horror films for wide release. The video is almost an hour long, but worth watching if you're interested in contemporary mainstream horror.
James Garner, star of two classic television shows ("Maverick" and "The Rockford Files") and a wide slate of films including "The Great Escape", "The Americanization of Emily" and "Victor/Victoria", has died at the age of 86.
Metafilter favorite David Cronenberg (previously, previously, previously) has lately been making short films for festival exhibition. Most are aggressively simple, with only a few actors and even fewer locations. But they're all unmistakably Cronenberg films. [more inside]
In 1968, Agnès Varda was living in Los Angeles with her husband, director Jacques Demy, who was there to begin filming his first Hollywood film, Model Shop (1969). Although initially hesitant about living in the United States, the couple quickly became caught up in the wave of dissent sweeping the country in the late 1960s. Indeed, amid the finger pointing in France about the perceived failure of the events of May ’68 to bring about revolution, many members of the French intelligentsia looked across the Atlantic for alternative models for political change. Varda became part of a growing contingent of French artists and intellectuals, including sociologists Edgar Morin and Jean-François Revel, and writer Jean Genet, who were attracted to the ways in which cultural revolt, social criticism and political contestation were intertwined in the United States. These French thinkers were attracted to the expansiveness and creativity of the American counterculture as opposed to the political deadlock that many believed was the undoing of the events surrounding May ’68. A revolt against American hegemony was taking place within the United States itself, and many leftist French thinkers were enthralled. [more inside]
Life Itself. The documentary based on Roger Ebert’s memoir, by Hoop Dreams’ director Steve James, premiered at Sundance in January and is now rolling out in theaters and on demand.
Back in March, the AV Club premiered a new feature called Iconography, which is an illustrated column by Nick Wanserski examining "pop culture's most fascinating objects". Though the updates have been very sporadic since then, here are the first three entries for your enjoyment: The golden idol from "Raiders of the Lost Ark", The spinning top from "Inception", and Link's floppy hat from "The Legend of Zelda".
We have previously discussed "Starcrash" (trailer) here on the Blue, but we have only scratched the surface. After all, we're talking about nothing less than Roger Corman's answer to "Star Wars", and even that description does not do the film justice. [more inside]
In the spirit of movie geekery as well as "if you're gonna do something, do it right", may I present The HAL Project: A fiver year project (and counting!) to faithfully recreate the computer displays in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey as a screensaver.
'This elegantly beautiful supercut on “the tactile world of Robert Bresson” by Kogonada for Criterion shows the great French director’s notoriously precise skill is applied even at the slightest hand gesture. There are no faces in this video yet the drama of these scenes is palpable.'
On May 13th, the film world was shocked and saddened by the tragic death of documentary filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul, who had won an Oscar just last year for the documentary "Searching for Sugar Man". In the month that has passed since then, more details have emerged of the months and days that led up to his suicide. The Hollywood Reporter profiles the life and death of Bendjelloul and takes a look at how sudden success can bring about even more sudden depression.
Den of Geek provides a brief survey of rotating sets in film as far back as Royal Wedding in 1951 all the way up to Inception in 2010. In the world of music video, Metallica did their own interesting... ahem, spin on it for "The Memory Remains". The television show "Glee" paid tribute to Royal Wedding with their own rotating room song and dance number. Finally, the Den of Geek article states that such effects require, "intense planning, expensive materials and an army of builders". Nonsense.
"It’s most logical to conceive of Billy Jack as a dream-movie accidentally created by a spiritually confused, LSD-addled 19-year-old who fell asleep in the early 1970s while watching a weird, humorless movie about a half-Native American/half-Caucasian warrior who does not want to fight, because he’s too good—both in the sense of being a singularly skilled one-man killing machine, and in subscribing to a higher moral and ideological cause than his bloodthirsty brothers-in-arms And yet he’s pushed by circumstances into dramatically kicking ass, over and over." Nathan Rabin takes a long look at the bizarre pair of blockbusters Billy Jack and The Trial of Billy Jack. [more inside]
The Film Society of Lincoln Center is currently presenting the first part of a near-complete retrospective of the films of the great German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, featuring 17(!) films he made between 1969 and 1974. (Part 2, featuring the films made between 1975 and his death in 1982, will take place in November 2014.) Collected below are some recent writings on RWF and these early films, posted by the Film Society and elsewhere online. [more inside]
Kyle Kallgren finishes "Shakespeare Month" on his art house movie review series "Brows Held High" (previously) with a smashing take down of Roland Emmerich's 2011 Shakespeare-was-a-fraud conspiracy thriller "Anonymous". [more inside]
Huge collection of (and commentary on) matte art from classic films that has been rescanned for HD releases. Much more on the process of creating and filming this type of setup at last month's post. (previously)
Feel as if you've watched everything on Netflix? You might find something new at Summary Bug, where a text-display glitch generates whimsical cinematic possibilities.
DESPITE ANY GOOD INTENTIONS, SOMETHING IS GOING HORRIFICALLY WRONG HERE. AND AS A RESULT, WE'RE DEALING WITH A WOLF IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING. A BRAND OF VILLAINY MASQUERADING AS HEROISM. The Film Crit Hulk on the problems with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and its approach to storytelling and character.
VOMICA is a short horror film about a British commando raid that finds an ancient evil in the crypts and tunnels of occupied France. It recently won Best Short Film prize at the 2014 H P Lovecraft film festival, and is available to watch on Vimeo—for today only—if you go here and use the password 'mayday'.
"I've watched a lot of terrible films over the years... And even by these standards, Driscoll's output is atrocious. But whereas directors like [German] Uwe Boll will happily revel in a 'worst film director ever' title, Richard has absolutely no sense of humour about it. He genuinely thinks he’s creating art." --- This is the story of British actor/director Richard Driscoll, his 2012 film "Eldorado" and how it all landed him in jail.
Back in 1995, Wayne Wang directed a film called "Smoke", which starred Harvey Keitel and William Hurt and whose story largely centered on a Brooklyn Cigar shop on the corner of 16th Street and Prospect Park West. The movie was very well received by critics and stands as one of the great films of the 1990's... but that's not the whole story. [more inside]