Lois Weber was an important early American film-maker who pushed the boundaries of film-making so she could better tell the stories she wanted to tell. Several of her early silent films are on youtube: Suspense (1913; ~10 minutes) (she directs herself, experiments with the split-screen view and unusual and effective camera angles including shots from above and using the car's side mirror); Hypocrites (1915; ~4 minutes) (featuring dual roles, nudity, and a strong use of techniques like multiple exposures and complex editing - as well as a strong moral message); and Where Are My Children (1916, ~1 hour, 10 minutes) (a complex and controversial film even then about birth control (pro) and abortion (anti)). [more inside]
How, against all odds, Time Bandits got made. Somehow in the face of a universe that seems dead set against it Terry Gilliam continues making movies today, the latest being Zero Theorem.
Loved by some but often ignored, passed on by Spielberg, peppered with famous poker player cameos, the boldly painted, logorrheic portrait of real gambling life, California Split might be the quintessential Altman film. [more inside]
For the duration of the Toronto International Film Festival, TIFF has posted the short films they're screening this year on Youtube. You can watch them all, but if you only watch one, check out Noah, which is not safe for work and which I thought was pretty great.
The Movie Math Quiz: Can you figure out which movies are being described by these mathematical equations?
The trailer to the "Robocop" remake was released yesterday, and as expected there was a lot of grumbling from fans. There is one significant change that the film shares with another recent remake of a brutal action film ("Total Recall"): The switch from an "R" rating to a "PG-13". Next year will be the 30th anniversary of the "PG-13" rating, so it's worth considering (especially for those of us whose memories go back that far) what the rating has wrought in cinema (previously).
The Story of Film: An Odyssey is a documentary in 15 parts which documents the evolution of the medium from first steps of silent film to the present day multi-national blockbuster (trailer). This amazing work is currently available on Netflix, but will also be playing on TCM starting this month (full schedule available at the bottom of this link).
“Something Terrible Has Happened Here”: The Crazy Story Of How “Clue” Went From Forgotten Flop To Cult Triumph. (previously)
“One day, we looked around and realized that almost no one is making tokusatsu anymore,” said Shinji Higuchi, one of a handful of Japanese directors who still have experience in the genre, having directed three movies in the 1990s featuring the giant fire-breathing turtle Gamera. “We don’t want this technique to just quietly disappear without at least recognizing how indebted we are to it.” - The last days of the rubber-suit monsters.
Fragments of a hologram rose: Re-seeing Blade Runner - Tears in rain Memories of missing words, stories and concepts; All-seeing eye Entering picture space with the Esper; The city and the city The architecture of Los Angeles, 2019; Painting the future Syd Mead’s production art; Spinner and gun Tools of the job
One of the 20th century's most prolific and well regarded authors of crime fiction, Elmore Leonard, has died at the age of 87, following a stroke two weeks ago. Leonard's novels and short stories were frequently adapted to movies and television, with particular acclaim in the cases of Get Shorty, Out of Sight, Jackie Brown, and Justified.
"Harrison Ford Angrily Points At Stuff" Supercut, courtesy of Conan O'Brien.
If you rented VHS horror and sci-fi in the late eighties and early nineties, then you’ll recognize the name of Charles Band. [more inside]
Comic artist Chris Weston unilaterally declares it Kurt Russell week and produces a triptych of posters for Escape from New York, The Thing and Big Trouble in little China. These are just the roughs.
"The restless protagonists of these films never have wake up to the reality that crop-dusters simply can't fly faster than sleek racing aircraft. Instead, it's the naysaying authority figures who need to be enlightened about the importance of never giving up on your dreams, no matter how irrational, improbable, or disruptive to the larger community." (Atlantic article)
Damon Lindelof uses the story of American folk hero John Henry as an illustrative example of the market pressures on blockbuster screenwriting.
By employing directors with backgrounds in drama, the studios hope action-heavy films will be infused with greater depth. The catch, however, is that drama directors are usually inexperienced at, and thus incapable of, properly handling [the] material that is the film's main selling point .... "The Wolverine" is the latest example of this burgeoning trend. To name just a few examples from the past couple of years, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" (dir: Gavin Hood), "Quantum of Solace" (dir: Mark Forster), "Skyfall" (dir: Sam Mendes) ... were all brought to the screen by filmmakers whose careers were predicated on dramas or comedies, not action. That fad remains in full effect this summer .... While no studio exec would dare hand over an Oscar-hopeful drama to Michael Bay, the opposite model—Hey, Marc Forster directed "Finding Neverland," so he's obviously the ideal candidate for a Bond film!—now reigns supreme.Nick Schager writes about action films helmed by a director who is not an action director.
John Boorman's Lord Of The Rings "Perhaps the most provocative change occurs in Lothlorien where, before gazing into Galadriel’s mirror, Frodo must become intimate with her."
Metafilter's own Anil Dash defends talking in movies. Metafilter's own Jesse Thorn agrees, and extends the point to the world of menswear blogging.
When Hollywood turned to talkies, it created a not-quite-British, not-quite-American style of speaking that has all but disappeared.
Scandals of Classic Hollywood: The Ecstasy of Hedy Lamarr - Science! Fascists! Orgasms! Libel! Escapes From Literal Castles! (SoCH previously and Anne Helen Petersen previously)
As Harvey Weinstein decides American audiences aren't smart enough for Snowpiercer, Daily Grindhouse writer Ric Meyers takes a poke at The Weinstein Company's troubled history with Asian Cinema.
With the Discovery Channel facing criticism, disgust, and outrage over its choice to feature a fake "documentary" to kick off its popular "Shark Week" programming series, we should not forget another selachimorphic disaster from 26 years ago: Jaws 4: The Revenge, which has the dubious distinction of a perfect 0% "fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes. The troupe at the bad movie podcast "How Did This Get Made?" (previously) skewered the film in an episode last year, but this week they just may have found the answer to their show's titular question by locating and interviewing the now-retired director of the film, Joseph Sargent. "We all lost sight of the absurdity of the premise," recollects Mr. Sargent, "which is that the shark is getting even."
As much as Metafilter loves Jim Henson's Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, neither of those films would be half as powerful without the work of Brian and Wendy Froud. [more inside]
"High school was a lot like the Civil War: it lasted four years, you were defined by what you wore, and I lost 1 in 10 of my friends to gangrene."
Daria: The Live-Action Movie, starring Aubrey Plaza. [more inside]
Daria: The Live-Action Movie, starring Aubrey Plaza. [more inside]
At the dawn of the millennium, Japanese society has suffered a severe economic collapse, leading to widespread youth apathy and 800,000 students boycotting school. Adult society sought to reassert their authority by passing the Millennium Education Reform Act, otherwise known as the BR Act. - a look at Kinji Fukasaku's Battle Royale.
In 2010, six friends sat down to watch all four Rambo movies in one day. Inspired, they realized how f&%king awesome it would be if Rambo were to fight his doppelganger Rocky. They plotted the movie in five minutes, split up the writing chores, and each wrote a section, without any of them reading the others' work. This is that story. (Not the story of how they wrote it, but the actual script they wrote, Rocky Vs Rambo)
18 years ago yesterday, on July 19, 1995, Clueless was released in theaters. Directed by Amy Heckerling and based on Jane Austen's novel Emma, it became known for its fashion and quote-ability, and has an 81% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. [more inside]
Why Every Hollywood Movie Seems Exactly The Same. - A look at the book that's become Hollywood's new bible.
District 9 director Neil Blomkamp talks to WIRED about Elysium, District 10, Halo, his desire to buy a skyscraper and almost casting Eminem or Ninja from Die Antwood in Elysium's Matt Damon role.
"A quarter of a century ago this week, John McTiernan’s action masterpiece Die Hard was released into theaters, and it's not an understatement to say that we're still reeling from the impact .... For the past few months, I’ve been watching and/or rewatching almost every major action movie made since then in an attempt to come up with the best ones. The good news is that a lot of awesome action movies have been made over the past 25 years. The bad news? Not all of your favorites will be on this list." [more inside]
In the mood for some ginormous LEGO dioramas from beloved films? Of course you are! Besides the usual suspects of Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and Batman, there are some equally impressive projects to be found based on Logan's Run, The Fifth Element, 300, Mothra, and even The Wizard of Oz.
Every Pixar movie is connected. I explain how, and possibly why. Several months ago, I watched a fun-filled video on Cracked.com that introduced the idea (at least to me) that all of the Pixar movies actually exist within the same universe. Since then, I’ve obsessed over this concept, working to complete what I call “The Pixar Theory,” a working narrative that ties all of the Pixar movies into one cohesive timeline with a main theme.
The World Ends with a Handshake: Unraveling the Apocalypse of 'Southland Tales' A writer meets Richard Kelly, writer/director of Donnie Darko, and talks about his flop Southland Tales and its enduring cult of fans.
Gene Wilder sat down with Robert Osborne at 92Y on June 12 for a rare public appearance. He spoke about the Willy Wonka remake, working with Richard Pryor and Mel Brooks, Gilda Radner, Young Frankenstein, and more. SLYT
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.
"I know I'm an interesting woman when I look at myself on the screen. And I know that if I met myself at a party I would never talk to that character because she doesn't fullfill pyhysically the demands that we're brought up to think women have to have in order for us to ask them out." -- Dustin Hoffman talks about Tootsie and what the movie meant to him personally. Bonus commentary by Jack Lemmon, Robin Williams and Sydney Pollack. Bonus bonus: Siskel and Ebert review Tootsie.
The utter failure of the Lone Ranger movie - the 1981 one, that is.