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Janelle Monae's Breakout Year

One of my favourite artists of the decade. I've had the pleasure of seeing her live twice. I would've loved to see more of her in Moonlight. Loved that role and loved seeing her. -Roger

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Maria Schrader (Stefan Zweig...)
Boo Junfeng (The Apprentice
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Entries in Edmond O'Brien (3)

Thursday
Mar122015

Women's Pictures - Ida Lupino's The Hitch-Hiker

What a difference four years make! Well, four years and three movies. The disadvantage of having only a single month to cover a director’s entire body of work is that we have to cherry pick individual films representative of overall trends. So, even though Ida Lupino spent the period between 1949 and 1953 directing three (and a half) films which would fall under the category of women’s pictures that we advocated for so strongly last week, we now have to skip forward to the next moment in her career: film noir. However, while Lupino stopped making films featuring exclusively female protagonists, she maintained her commitment to mixing truth and drama in her stylish thriller, The Hitch-Hiker.

The film opens with a title card to inform the viewer that The Hitch-Hiker is “...the true story of a man and a gun and a car.” Surprisingly, despite the Motion Picture Production Code’s prohibition of true crime stories, The Hitch-Hiker actually is based on fact: in 1951, two hunters were kidnapped by killer Billy Cook. Cook forced the two men to drive him to Baja California, where he was recognized and apprehended by Mexican police. In order to tell this tale of survival and murder, Lupino circumvented the Production Code two ways: First, by changing just enough of the facts and names to give the story plausible deniability (and added drama). Second, by hiding violence in shadow and suggestion as only film noir can.

See how well film noir survives in the desert after the jump...

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Monday
Nov032014

The Honoraries: Maureen O'Hara in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)

In "The Honoraries" we're looking at the careers of this year's Honorary Oscar recipients (O'Hara, Miyazaki, Carriere) and the Jean Hersholt winner (Belafonte). Here's Nathaniel...

Sanctuary ! Sanctuary !

You often feel like you've seen the classics, even if you haven't. Victor Hugo published "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" 183 years ago and like most enduring classics, including Hugo's other culturally imposing masterwork "Les Miserables,"  it feels familiar even if you have no first-hand experiences with it. Hunchback, like Les Miz, has been adapted several times but has actually been musicalized more often. I regret to inform that I had never seen the 1939 RKO version starring Charles Laughton and Maureen O'Hara until now so the Disney version was my only true cinematic reference point, at first forcing comparisons where I didn't want to see anyway.

The easiest comparison to shake off was Esmeralda, since Maureen O'Hara's fresh faced  breakthrough slipping through crowds and dancing in circles with her tambourine, beats Disney's Gypsy princess voiced by Demi Moore instantaneously. [More...]

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Thursday
Jun122014

Throwback Thursday FYC: 1964 Oscar Ads

The only ones I could find. We'll start with three pre and post-nomination ads aiming for the actual gold. This first for Anne Bancroft in The Pumpkin Eater is possibly just a poster but those sometimes double as FYC's when they're focused enough and this one is.

Three more ads and Oscar trivia after the jump...

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