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Yes Not Maybe So: Bombshell

" I am not liking this trend of portraits of terrible women, like Meghan and Phyliss Schafly, unless it's camp." - Jane

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Sunday
Aug182019

Five Underrated Edward Norton Performances for his 50th

by Abe Fried-Tanzer

Norton directs and co-stars with Bruce Willis in "Motherless Brooklyn"If you had asked me fifteen years ago who my favorite actor was, I surely would have said Edward Norton, though I’m not sure he’s worked enough since then to continue to hold that status. (My other choice of the time, Kevin Spacey, also bears reevaluation... for other reasons). With Edward Norton turning 50 today paired with the recent announcement that Norton’s Motherless Brooklyn, which he wrote and directed and stars in, will be closing out this year’s New York Film Festival, it’s the perfect time to take a look back at his career.

His feature film debut in 1996 in Primal Fear demonstrated an incredible ability to shift back and forth between different personas, earning him an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of an altar boy on trial for a brutal murder. Two years later, he scored a second Oscar bid for a more staggering and gradual shift in worldview as a reformed neo-Nazi trying to prevent his younger brother from going down the same path in American History X. It took sixteen years for Norton to return to the Oscar lineup, this time in Best Picture winner Birdman as an actor who, by many accounts, is closest to what Norton is actually like on set, with a penchant for attempting to exert control even if he’s not actually the one in charge... 

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Tuesday
Aug062019

De Laurentiis pt 2: The '60s epics of Dinocittà

This week at TFE we're celebrating the centennial of one of cinema’s most prolific and legendary producers, Dino De Laurentiis.  Here's Tim Brayton...

Yesterday, Eric took us on a tour of the first phase of Dino De Laurentiis's one-of-a-kind career as a producer, the era when he and Carlo Ponti helped usher a number of major works of late Neorealism into the world, introducing the first wave of international art cinema masterpieces. We now arrive at the 1960s, when De Laurenteiis was emboldened by those early successes to indulge himself in the first of his many flights of staggering, ill-advised ambition. Near the start of the decade, De Laurentiis opened a movie studio on the outskirts of Rome, an enormous playground for moviemaking nicknamed Dinocittà (after the famous Cinecittà, then and now the heart of the Italian film industry).

The Dinocittà experiment perfectly describes De Laurentiis's singular personality. A visionary producer can tell what is going to be popular in the future, and thus can jump in on trends at the moment of their inception. The hacks who make up the bulk of commercial producers know what was popular a year ago, and thus crank out movies that feel like uninspired cash-grabs and knock-offs. De Laurentiis had the gift and curse of knowing what's popular right this instant, and so his biggest swings – and too often, his biggest misses – came out just barely on the back side of the historical moment when they could live up to his extravagant hopes...

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Tuesday
Aug062019

10th Anniversary: Julie & Julia is an 'Over & Over'

by Ginny O'Keefe

BONJOUR! It’s now been 10 years since Amy Adams (with a bad wig) and Meryl Streep (with platforms to make her look 6’2”) starred as the title characters in the delicious Nora Ephron film, Julie and Julia. The film follows New Yorker Julie Powell in 2002, challenging herself to make every recipe in Julia Child’s famous cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” while simultaneously chronicling Child’s start of her cooking profession in 1950’s France. I saw this film for the first time in theatres when it premiered back in August 2009 and thank God I had a large popcorn and Buncha Crunch by my side because otherwise I would’ve died of starvation.

Without a doubt, this is my favorite food film ever. It lets a legend and a regular person share the spotlight while paralleling each other through their obsession and love of good French food. This film inspired an interest in the culinary arts for this then 14-year-old me. I decided to make more food for myself (instead of just relying on my mom)...

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Monday
Aug052019

De Laurentiis pt 1: "Bitter Rice" and the Fellini Years

This week at TFE we're celebrating the centennial of one of cinema’s most prolific and legendary producers, Dino De Laurentiis.  We’ll start with three of his key influential early films. Here's Eric Blume...

Bitter Rice was De Laurentiis breakthrough international hit. He married its star

De Laurentiis, born outside of Naples, set up his own company in 1946 when he was just 27 years old. He produced four smaller films before making a huge splash onto the international scene with 1949’s Bitter Rice, a film currently available through the Criterion Collection.  Bitter Rice serves up an arresting and hypnotic blend of melodrama, sexuality, and social commentary. The film is set in northern Italy during a typical spring where hundreds of poor women travel to the rice fields to work to the bone for forty days.  There are workers with a legal contract and then the “illegals” who come in hopes of getting an opportunity. Within this sociopolitical context, our story finds two thieves (Doris Dowling and Victoria Gassman) hiding amongst the farm, intertwined in love stories with an impulsive young peasant girl (Silvana Mangano) and a soldier from the nearby station (Raf Vallone)... 

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Wednesday
Jul172019

Doc Corner: 50th Anniversary of the moon landing inspires multiple documentaries

By Glenn Dunks

It’s amazing to think that there can still be so much previously unseen footage from the biggest television event in history, and yet here we are at the 50th anniversary of the moon landing with a bus-load of new documentaries claiming new takes, new interviews and, yes, new footage. Don’t ask me what exactly is new to us, though. I watched three such films within days of each other and I, at times, felt like I was going nuts: the subject of one is a talking head in another who happens to be in different footage in the other movie, which is probably just a different angle to footage a few feet to the left in the first movie!

And on top of that, if you’ve watched even just one or two other works about the American space program – whether that be documentaries like For All Mankind, or dramatic features like Apollo 13 – then you will already be familiar with a lot, not to mention the moon landing itself. It’s exhausting. I even saw another moon landing documentary on the tele while I was at the gym the other night. And then there is the six-hour PBS documentary that I, quite frankly, just don’t know if I have the patience for after this triple-play. The three films I have watched all do have something in them that is ultimately worth the time. Especially if you’re in a particularly lunar mood on this landmark date. The best of the three, the most cinematic and effectively rousing, is Todd Douglas Williams’ Apollo 11

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Wednesday
Jul172019

Soundtracking: (500) Days of Summer

by Chris Feil

Ten years removed, looking back at (500) Days of Summer is not unlike looking back at an old relationship. It’s a movie about earned perspective that in turn some of us look at much differently than when the film first wooed audiences. It’s like a strange artifact from a bygone time. Remember when we thought Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel would be huge? Remember when its love story was more widely considered a coming of age story instead of a “dude, grow up!” movie.

The film itself captures a nostalgia for something than never existed, embodying the kind of young male mindset that wants to will a great love into existence without having to see the real person. But the element that works best to reveal a film that has that perspective in mind, one of the things that also made (500) Days of Summer a movie Of The Moment, is its catchy soundtrack. Remember Feist?

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