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Entries in Directors (111)

Wednesday
Oct312012

Oscar Horrors: Looking into PSYCHO

Here lies… a film no other man could have made – Psycho.

Matt here! Alfred Hitchcock directed Psycho just after he made Vertigo and North by Northwest, two gigantic Technicolor productions for Paramount. Imagine the pitch he made – Shoestring budget, black & white, killing off Janet Leigh after 40 minutes, main character’s a schizophrenic taxidermist motel-owner. He shot it in a few months on the Paramount lot using a television crew, paying for everything himself.

The rest is history. After spending roughly $800,000, it has grossed over $50 million and had enormous cultural impact. Recently, it placed 34th in Sight & Sound’s “Greatest Films of All-Time” critics poll. In 1960, it was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Director. One single bathroom sequence revolutionized expectations for audiences, filmmakers, and censors. What business does a true-blue, low-budget horror flick have in the pantheon of cinematic art?

While Psycho may not be Hitchcock’s greatest film, it is the apex of his directorial control, his auteurist posture. More...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct152012

LFF: Wadjda, A Miracle Debut

David here with words on a milestone in film history showing at the 56th BFI London Film Festival.

Waad Mohammad as 'Wadjda'

Miracles do happen. Haifaa Al-Mansour’s debut feature Wadjda is one of them. The first film to be shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, where movie theatres are illegal, Wadjda is also the first film ever made by a Saudi woman. As the film shows, gender equality is still non-existent in Saudi Arabia – Reem Abdullah’s working mother relies on a driver to ferry her to work every day and Wadjda (Waad Mohammad) is omitted from her father’s family tree. Despite these socio-political outrages, Wadjda is never aggressive or dogmatic about getting any agenda across to its audience. Focusing its energies on the “spunky” young heroine of the title, Wadjda stitches the injustice and sexism that’s at the heart of Saudi Arabian society into the larger canvas of Wadjda’s rebellious spirit and complex engagement with religion. [Continue...]

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Thursday
Oct042012

Oscar.... 'he goes a little mad sometimes'

Let's talk Hitchcock and Oscar. I'm in the process of updating every Oscar chart -- tis the season! -- and I think I'm just going to give Hitchcock the benefit of the doubt. No one has seen it but if they're rushing to complete it having moved it from 2013 to now, Fox Searchlight must feel they really have something (best case scenario) or that the competition or their other films are weak (worst case scenario). New photos just emerged from People Magazine of which these of Alfred Hitchcock (Sir Anthony Hopkins) and Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson) are excerpted below.

The "Scoop" page ripped from People makes the movie look a little cheapzy (that's cheap + cheesy) but that could just be People's formatting influence for broad appeal. I'm giving the film the benefit of the doubt and expecting an Oscar hit. You?

BEST PICTURE & BEST DIRECTOR
Fully updated charts with shakeups and some new text. Gains for Hitchcock and Life of Pi as The Master and Lincoln are in danger of fading and Hyde Park on Hudson disappears altogether.

Where do you think my "order" is spot on and which films would you flip? Do you think the Directing Oscar is Ben Affleck's to lose even if Argo doesn't win Best Picture?

 

Thursday
Aug092012

TIFF Lineup: Female Directors & Prestige Adaptations

 Paolo here. We should probably give in and see what this year's Toronto International Film Festival has to offer! Toronto marks the unofficial start of awards season, inflating or deflating much hyped movies and performances. Speaking of which, the locals can experience the star power of actual would be contenders.  Within the space of ten days, TIFF gives its paying audience access to a year's worth of art house cinema - these movies will be trickling out in limited release for at least a year to come.

Fine reasons to be excited but I have more personal reasons, too. 


Reason no. 1 They're bringing back some classics.
They're under the Cinematheque programme, spotlightling restorations like Dial M for Murder in 3D, Loin du Vietnam - a collaborative anti-war project involving a handful on 1960's auteurs like Godard, Agnes Varda, William Klein Alain Resnais and (RIP) Chris Marker. There's also Roberto Rosselini's Stromboli and Roman Polanski's Tess, the latter being an adapation of a Thomas Hardy novel that I've been reading the past month or so. Which brings me to reasons two, three and four... after the jump.

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Monday
Jul162012

Burning Questions: The Best of Bonus Features

Hey everybody. Michael C here to rifle through your video collections like a guy at a garage sale.

All of us probably have enough material residing in the bonus features of our DVD collections to fill a respectable film studies course for a semester or two.

The first time I was introduced to a bonus feature was a double VHS box set of Scream with a second cassette featuring a Wes Craven commentary. Since then, like most cinephiles, I’ve spent countless hours wading through commentaries, behind the scenes featurettes, deleted scenes, and other supplemental material, much of it interesting, some of it entertaining, a good chunk of it filler.

Since so many of us have amassed movies collections over the years to rival the Library of Congress, it stands to reasons there should be some gems buried in there. So it is with genuine curiosity that I put this question to the floor: Which Bluray/DVD extra features do you treasure for their own sake, apart from the films to which they are attached?


The bonus feature I most often return to is Magnolia Diary: the documentary chronicling the creation of PT Anderson’s ’99 opus of dysfunctional parents, children and frogs.

Behind the scenes cinematic chronicles are a sub-genre of documentaries that have produced masterpieces such as Heart of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse and Burden of Dreams. Magnolia Diary doesn’t quite belong in that distinguished company but I would easily rank it the equal of Lost in La Mancha, the doc recording the painful death of Terry Gilliam’s long-in-the-works Don Quixote movie.

What sets it apart from the thousands of other making of docs is the stunning amount of access, going so far as to wander through the orchestra during the recording of the score. There are numerous moments where we eavesdrop on the most sensitive moments in the process, as when Anderson runs lines with Melinda Dillon and Philip Baker Hall for their dramatic confrontation.

It plays like a documentary companion to Making Movies, Sidney Lumet’s essential book on the filmmaking process. It's packed with goodies like Julianne Moore explaining how she pitched her performance to the operatic tone of the script, or the director and Philip Seymour Hoffman having a friendly argument about just how much actorly "business" he adds to the simplest of actions. There is much ado about transforming the climactic plague of frogs from a screenwriter's flight of fancy to a filmable reality.

So that is my favorite bonus feature. What’s yours? Is there a commentary you return to often? Let's hear about it in the comments.

You can follow Michael C. on Twitter at @SeriousFilm or read his blog Serious Film.

Friday
Jul132012

Linkfall

Acme Databank amazing $60 silkscreen print celebrating Pixar's Brave
Film School Rejects has a fine gallery of Comic Con posters while we're on the topic of fine illustration work 
Chicago Reader interesting piece on what Steven Soderbergh's recent movies tell us about him

My New Plaid Pants Do Dump or Marry: RocknRolla Edition 
Jimmy Fallon Pee Wee Herman's Dark Knight Rises
Hollywood a Magic Mike drinking game designed to give you alcohol poisoning
Empire first look at Ben Whishaw as Q in Skyfall
The Advocate True Blood's Stephen Moyer on his fangbanger gay fans:

I’ve been asked to bite in West Hollywood. If the person looks clean and wholesome, I might oblige.

!!!

Tweet o' the Day
I'm giving to Patton Oswalt for his Gwyneth Paltrow ribbing. You could hand him this prize every day because the Young Adult star is so funny.


Friday
Jul062012

Linkz, the Eight and Powerful

IndieWire a conversation about Steven Soderbergh, Oliver Stone and the auteur theory
Vulture "Now that you've seen Magic Mike..." on anticipation mania in movie culture. 
The Daily Beast on Anderson Cooper's coming out. I forgot to congratulate him. Well done. 
The Film Experience remember when we did A Face in the Crowd as part of the Best Shot series? That was such a good one. I was horrified that the movie was barely mentioned in Andy Griffith's obits (RIP) 

Tom's World
BlackBook did you know that Christian Bale used Tom Cruise as inspiration for his Patrick Bateman American Psycho performance. 
Gallery of the Absurd thanks TomKat for years of illustrative inspiration - big gallery o funny
Guardian on the TomKat divorce and Cruise's box office appeal
Forbes names Tom Cruise king of the box office again. He's #1 in money-making actors for the past year with DiCaprio, Adam Sandler, The Rock, Stiller, Sacha Baron Cohen, Depp, Will Smith, Wahlberg and the Twilight boys rounding out the top dozen.

Finally... heres' the first teaser photo from 2013's Oz, The Great and Powerful. What'cha think?

No star names appear but it'll be James Franco as the Wizard, Mila Kunis as The Wicked With and Michelle Williams as Glinda. Will you be following that yellow brick road or have you had it with the reimaginings?