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Monday
Oct072019

Remembering "Ed Wood" on its 25th

Ed Wood opened nationwide on this very day, 25 years ago. 

by Anna

There’s an admirable irony in that a biopic on the worst director of all time ended up being one of the best-reviewed movies of 1994. The added fact that it ended up being largely ignored by mainstream audiences at the time seems almost fitting. As the second of Burton and Depp’s repeat collaborations, it further set the precedent for all their future collaborations exploring the odd man (in every sense of the term) amid everyday life. But instead of the Frankenstein pastiche that defined their previous film, this one is about someone who has endless stories to tell… even though he doesn’t have the talent to tell them.

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Wednesday
Sep182019

10th Anniversary of Jennifer's Body 

By Spencer Coile 

Jennifer’s Body was never meant to find mainstream success. A film about women, made by women, and starring women - a campy flick about a possessed teenage girl who kills men after she seduces them, no less - was somehow expected to fulfill every man’s fantasy. At long last, we would finally witness Megan Fox naked on-screen. Rejoice, for she would also be kissing her co-star, Amanda Seyfried, for our enjoyment. Indeed, the male gaze was directed firmly at Jennifer’s Body, waiting to see if it would disappoint.  

And sure enough, it did. Critics were quick to call it empty and vapid, hardly anyone bothered to see it, and Jennifer’s Body was quickly forgotten. But is any of this surprising? Despite their undeniable cultural cache in 2009, both Megan Fox and screenwriter Diablo Cody were experiencing an ongoing backlash that reeked of sexism. And quite plainly: many weren’t ready to see, let alone enjoy, a film about male fear controlled entirely by female sexuality. 

But perhaps for those same reasons, Jennifer’s Body is claiming the cult status it was always destined to have. 

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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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