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Entries in Sunset Blvd (11)

Tuesday
Aug302016

Doc Corner: The Cinematic Surprise of 'The Royal Road'

Glenn here. Each Tuesday bringing you reviews of documentaries from theatres, festivals and on demand.

One of the many benefits of doing this weekly column is not just talking about the sort of documentaries that we may be discussing throughout award season, but also being able to highlight those that deserve haven’t a hope that nonetheless deserve the attention. Such is the case with Jenni Olsen’s The Royal Road, an essay film that trades in experimental and avant-garde traditions as a means to explore deeply personal topics.

Using dry yet curiously hypnotic narration, Olsen swerves between discussing Californian history, a long-distance relationship with a woman named Juliet, classic Hollywood movies, and the effects of nostalgia (the latter of which even features a voice cameo by Tony Kuschner). Her film a progression of beautifully captured California vistas of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and everywhere in between, filmed on 16mm by cinematographer Sophia Constantinou whose perfectly composed 4:3 ratio images recall the works of James Benning and offer a striking visual component that elevates the film to the status of true art. By using real film and embracing all of the dots and speckles that come with it, Constantinou’s work adopts the history of the worlds she is filming while also embracing Olson’s edict that nostalgia can be good.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jul302015

Vintage '95

The Supporting Actress Smackdown 1995 Edition arrives on Sunday so let's talk context since we haven't revisited as much of 1995 as we'd hoped to! We've only hit the Jane Austen trend, Nicole Kidman's breakout year, a Bonus Podcast on Actresses and Films to Revisit, and Dolores Claiborne. Damn, we had planned much more. But many of you will already have your own personal context for the year, which isn't true of many years of "Smackdown" events so it's fine.

In many ways, though, 1995 was a completely different world. The internet was still in its list-serve infancy. The idea of computer generated movies was a joyful novelty. And aside from Batman, superheroes were still mostly relegated to "light" TV shows. Remember Teri Hatcher in Lois & Clark ?

EW photoshoot from June 1995

Great Big Box Office Hits: 1) Toy Story... the first wholly computer generated feature film 2) Batman Forever 3) Apollo 13 4) Pocahontas 4) Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls 6) GoldenEye 7) Jumanji 8) Casper 9) Se7en 10) Die Hard: With a Vengeance

Michelle & Coolio. They had a hit film, smash video, and the year's #1 single. But zero oscar nodsOscar's Best Pictures: Braveheart (10 noms / 5 wins), Apollo 13 (9 noms / 2 wins), Babe (7 noms / 1 win), Sense & Sensibility (7 noms / 1 win), and Il Postino (5 noms / 1 win).

My theories as to what was just outside the shortlist plus more '95 goodies follow...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul152015

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "Sunset Blvd" 

For this week's special edition of Hit Me With Your Best Shot -- temporarily redubbed "Hit Me With Your Second-Best Shot" as I've declared that iconic finale off limits -- we're looking at the finest Movie About the Movies ever made. Or one of them at least. The point is it's entirely unmissable and a candidate for any sane All Time Greatest Movie list. The film never gets old or becomes irrelevant even though those are two of its best and most horrifically stared-down topics.

Billy Wilder's masterpiece (or one of them at least), immeasurably aided by inspired performances from William Holden as the screenwriter to Gloria Swanson's screen siren, is not just an acting and writing triumph. It's also a stunner in all the craft categories, particularly its Oscar-winning art direction and its cinematography by John F Seitz, a seven time nominee. His work is magnificent throughout, providing maximum pleasure to "those wonderful people out there in the dark" with his expressive lighting.

So let's get right to those (second) best shots...

A Visual Index of Sunset Blvd (1950)

(Second) Best Shot. According to these 15 movie-loving participants
Click on any image to be taken to the corresponding article
Images presented in rough order as to when they appear in the movie

My New Plaid Pants - this is not technically an entry but people, let this be a lesson to you. If you've already chosen a shot, write a sentence or two about it. The hard part is choosing after all. If you've chosen, do it. We'll link up! 

100% macabre
- Movie Motorbreath *video entry* 


'Stars are ageless.' This shot disagrees."
-I Want to Believe 

There is one entity who has never betrayed her: her 'celluloid self.'"
-The Entertainment Junkie 

Everyone, including Norma, can't help but look at Norma...
-Sorta That Guy 

This image sums up Sunset Blvd., and even more than that,  the entire psychological universe of noir... 
-Antagony & Ecstasy 

No matter how crazy Norma Desmond may be, I always find her incredibly sympathetic...
-Film Actually 


We might be entering the movie’s world through Joe Gillis’s point of view, but unlike him, we *are* here to see Norma Desmond. 
-Coco Hits NY 

It's easy to imagine she does this ever year, even without a handsome writer..."
-Awards Madness 

Already too attached to Norma and her gifts...
-Dancin Dan on Film 


If Norma Desmond is a fictionalized version of Gloria Swanson, Max Von Mayerling is a quasi-(auto)biographical portrait of Erich von Stroheim...
-Paul Outlaw 

We expect cold humiliating truth but what we get is the film's most genuinely warm moment... 
- The Film Experience 


Norma Desmond would be proud of the leading lady portraying her..."
-54 Disney Reviews 

A true star always finds the light...
-Jija Crazy Movie *first time participant*

A one-man army of servants, for her sake, steps back into his role as director once more..."
-Allison Tooey  

Please do visit each article, share, and comment. The more eyes the merrier when it comes to worshipping great stars. You haven't forgotten what a star looks like.

NEXT WEDNESDAY: 1995's [safe] starring Julianne Moore

Tuesday
Jul142015

"I'm the greatest..."

Tuesday
Jul142015

Are you ready for your closeup? 

Let this serve as a kindly reminder that you do NOT want to miss this week's special edition of  Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Sunset Blvd. (1950). The series is temporarily redubbed "hit me with your (second) best shot" as you may not use Norma Desmond's final scene, that infamous closeup... arguably the greatest final shot in the movies.

Anything else will do and there's plenty to choose from in this Billy Wilder masterpiece expressively shot by seven time Oscar nominee John F Seitz.

The movie is available on Netflix Instant Watch. Post your shot choice anytime before Wednesday night at 10 pm online (blog, tumblr, pinterest, twitter, facebook whatever) and let us know you did and we'll link up.

Can't wait to see your choices!