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To Catch a Thief

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Entries in Directors (202)

Tuesday
Jun282016

Best Shot: Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief (1955) 

To Catch a Thief (1955) is minor Hitchcock. Let's get that out of the way. But even minor works by an indisputed master can look awfully major when you stack them next to regular ol' films which is why we keep hitting Hitchcock in this series. There's a clickbait article going around (no I'm not linking) that argues that The Shallows (Blake Lively vs shark) is a better film than The Birds (Tippi Hedren vs, well, birds). Which is crazy talk but film twitter always always takes the bait.

True story: the last two films I screened were The Shallows (2016) and To Catch a Thief (1953) and I would have never thought to pair them until this silly shark vs birds kerfuffle which erupted immediately after I had just seen both of the movies. Truth bomb: The Shallows is a really good "B" movie (I don't mean grade, but yes: B) but it's awfully slight. It's just girl, shark, a few good scares, smart direction, and not much meat to chew on beyond "wow, that was kinda good." To Catch a Thief is a pretty good "A" movie (I don't mean grade) and it's somewhat slight. But here's the thing. People aren't going to be talking about The Shallows in 2070. Please note: People are still talking about Hitchcock's entire oeuvre a half-century plus later.

Even in a trifle like To Catch a Thief, which is maybe too long considering it's shy on plot and stakes, is a joy to watch for a number of reasons, the first of which is its surprisingly robust sense of humor. [More...]

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Friday
Jun102016

Posterized: Duncan Jones

Duncan Jones has had a tumultuous few years so we wanted to honor him with a quick Posterized today. In January the 45 year old filmmaker lost his father David Bowie (he's the superstar's only son). His first child is due this month. His other new baby, the long-gestating video game big screen adaptation Warcraft is getting savaged by the critics.

And yet...

It wasn't so long ago that he was getting 'Hot New Director' drooling from the media, starting off strong with the sci-fi drama Moon. His second film Source Code wasn't as ecstatically received but performed decently. Three films isn't much to go on so we shall maintain high hopes. Do you think he will rally with a fourth film and make good on that initial promise? His next sci-fi film -- he's not straying from his preferred genre -- is called Mute, and stars Alexander Skarsgård as a silent bartender and Paul Rudd as some kind of mysterious doctor.  We don't generally think of Paul Rudd as mysterious but we're willing to give it a shot. (There's some internet speculation that Sam Rockwell will reprise his Moon character -- which would be very intriguing given the ending of Moon -- since Jones has indicated that Mute takes place in the same universe.)

How many of his films have you seen?
And if you've seen the first two, are you planning to hit Warcraft despite the reviews? 

Wednesday
Jun012016

The 50 Greatest Films by Black Directors

Slate magazine has drawn up an interesting list of great black films, the twist being that they have to have been directed by a black person rather than about the black experience so out go Old Hollywood musicals like Carmen Jones or Cabin in the Sky or Oscar favorites like Sounder.  In the wake of recent conversations about Hollywood's power structures and overwhelming whiteness, Slate assembled a field of critics and filmmakers and scholars to produce the list.

Eve's Bayou

I need to get cracking on my gaps in knowledge from this list, especially because of the titles I've seen from this list several were great and the ones I didn't personally connect to were still interesting (Night Catches Us) or memorable (Eve's Bayou - I've been meaning to give that another shot now that I'm older). Unsurprisingly Spike Lee has the most titles with six. Curiously, though I've seen many Spike Lee joints (and tend to like them - I'd have included Chi-Raq on this list), I've only seen half of his titles that actually made it (gotta get to Mo' Better Blues, Crooklyn, and When the Levees Broke soon). The list is after the jump...

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Saturday
May282016

Who should direct / star in the next Bond? 

In not surprising news, Sam Mendes is moving on from the 007 franchise after Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015). Daniel Craig is probably moving on, too, but rumors about who will replace him are, as ever, premature. The names floating about this time are Idris Elba and Tom Hiddleston (wishful fan thinking, maybe, since the internet has been suggesting these two names forever) and 30 year old Jamie Bell which is an interesting idea and probably not a bad one. If chosen he'd be the youngest Bond since Sean Connery (who was 30 when he was cast for Dr. No (1962) though most subsequent Bonds have been around 40 when they started. Plus Bell is super charismatic but underused in cinema.

Though Bond films are largely regarded as producer driven and leading actor focused pictures, rather than directorial feats, the man in the chair is important. In the past the franchise has generally relied on mid level directors rather than auteurs, the two with the most success outside the franchise are Oscar winner Sam Mendes and Oscar nominee Lewis Gilbert. Once the franchise even handed the reigns to a Bond editor who graduated to the director's chair (John Glen) for his directorial debut.

Directed the Most Bond Films

  1. John Glen - 5 Bonds: For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View to a Kill, The Living Daylights, License to Kill (and he edited a few more before those); Key Picture Outside the Franchise: Not really
  2. Guy Hamilton -4 Bonds: Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die, The Man With the Golden Gun; Key Picture Outside the Franchise: Force 10 From Navarone
  3. [TIE] Terence Young - 3 Bonds: Dr No, From Russia With Love, Thunderball; Key Picture Outside the Franchise: Wait Until Dark AND Lewis Gilbert - 3 Bonds: You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker: Key Picture(s) Outside the Franchise: Alfie (Oscar Nomination), and Educating Rita
  4. [TIE] Sam Mendes - 2 Bonds: Skyfall, Spectre; Key Picture Outside the Franchise: American Beauty (Oscar win), and Road to Perdition AND Martin Campbell - 2 Bonds: GoldenEye, Casino Royale; Key Picture Outside the Franchise: The Mask of Zorro

 If you could bend producer Barbara Broccoli's ear...
What would you whisper to the woman behind the franchise who makes those final hiring decisions?  

 

Sunday
May222016

Cannes Winners 2016

Despite what was generally regarded as one of the strongest Cannes lineup in many years, George Miller's jury wasn't having the critical consensus. At all. They didn't remotely follow the "buzz" whilst handing out their honors...

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Friday
Apr292016

New Directors: Banana, Transpecos, Spa Night, and The Fits

One day I will figure out to keep up with the cinematic madness but April contained none of those days. A week ago the Nashville Film Festival wrapped and I have yet to share with you the prizes my jury bestowed! Not that you've been clamoring to read about films you've never heard of but one of the joys of film festivals is in the discoveries. Hence my great thrill to be asked to sit on the "New Directors Jury". Let's survey a handful of the competitors starting with the two winners, both of which made one step closer to theaters this week.

HONORABLE MENTION The Fits (2016)
I'm starting with this one because it's out very soon (June 3rd in NYC / June 10th in Los Angeles) and you absolutely shouldn't miss it. I'm already eager to see it again. We need directors with fresh voices and a unique gaze and we've got one in Anna Rose Helmer. The Fits follows a young girl named Toni (Royalty Hightower, pretty great) who spends her days helping her older brother with his job cleaning a boxing gym. She's fascinated by the boy rituals and the girl rituals which are happening just down the hall where a local dance squad rehearses in another gymnasium. Just when you think you've figured out the film's theme (there's certainly much to ponder in its gender dynamics) one of the dancers has a violent fit and faints and you realize Helmer has a lot more yet on her mind. There's no easy allegories here and maybe it's a little opaque but there's much to ponder in its metaphysical poetry, thoughtful camera work and editing and, above all else, its persistent fly-on-the-wall curiosity, the camera a soulful twin to Toni's ever-searching eyes. B+ (A-?)

Breaking News: The Fits got a poster (left) and a perfect moody trailer this week from Oscilloscope Pictures. 

More after the jump including an awards magnet which keeps winning festivals... 

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Friday
Apr222016

Every Dog Has Its Day: Iñárritu, 16 Years and 2 Directing Oscars Later

Eric here to discuss cinema’s currently-most-celebrated director, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. As Nathaniel has noted previously, all six of Inarritu’s feature films have gotten Oscar attention in one way or another, and of course much has been written about his being the first filmmaker since 1950 to win the Best Director Oscar two years in a row. He's also just been named to the Time 100 "Icons" List.  So there’s no better time than to look back to Inarritu’s first feature, 2000’s Amores Perros, to see where he started and where he’s landed.  

Watching Amores Perros (2000) for the first time since its initial release, I was struck by how even at the start of his career, Inarritu picked extraordinarily difficult environments to shoot in.  The logistics for Amores Perros can’t have practically been much easier than the ones we are all sick of hearing about with The Revenant.  His debut feature has him shooting all over Mexico City (inarguably one of the world’s most chaotic cities), with a colossally large group of actors, and constructing a large-scale and crucially precise car wreck sequence that pays off to all three of the film’s narratives in different ways.  Plus throw in a lot of very difficult (and legally tricky) scenes with huge groups of dogs fighting, bleeding, and getting shot.  Inarritu’s self-masochism was alive and well from the very start. [More...]

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