Further details about Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel emerged this week, and we couldn’t be more excited. The plot summary promises a film about “a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars and his friendship with a young employee who becomes his trusted protégé. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting, the battle for an enormous family fortune and the slow and then sudden upheavals that transformed Europe during the first half of the 20th century.” The movie won’t hit theaters till 2014; to tide you over until then, we’ve compiled a selection of films Anderson has named as inspirations, along with a few related picks of our… Read More
“RETIREMENT IS FOR SISSIES!” roar the posters for The Last Stand (seriously? “Sissies?” In 2012? But I digress…), the first starring role for Arnold Schwarzenegger since stepping away from the silver screen for a, shall we say, problematic stint in the California governor’s mansion. Its mid-January release date doesn’t exactly scream box-office or critical confidence, but who knows; Mr. Schwarzenegger has been underestimated before, and usually comes out ahead. Either way it goes, we thought it would be interesting to run down some of the other big-name actors who hit rough or absent patches and tried to work their way back into the spotlight with a well placed role; after the jump we’ll take a look at five comeback vehicles that took, and five that didn’t quite get the job done. … Read More
A fascinating little movie that you not have heard of hit DVD and Blu-ray this week—its debut in either format. A New Leaf was the debut directorial effort of Elaine May, half of the comedy team Nichols and May (with Mike Nichols, who would go on to direct The Graduate, Silkwood, The Birdcage, and many others). She wrote, directed, and co-starred with Walter Matthau; a notorious perfectionist, she went over schedule on the picture, and when she finally turned it over to Paramount, it ran a full three hours. Studio head Robert Evans recut the film, softening its darkly comic tone and shortening it to 102 minutes. (It was an arbiter of things to come; though she had no difficulties with her second film, The Heartbreak Kid, she went over budget and over schedule on Micky & Nicky and the notorious boondoggle Ishtar, her final directorial effort to date.) May tried to both stop the film’s release and have her name removed, to no avail. It’s a pretty great movie, odd and funny, with peculiarly winning performances by May and Matthau; the disappointment is that the new video release has none of those deleted scenes, which studios frequently tossed or lost in the days before bonus features and director’s cuts.
Our longing for the original, extended cut of A New Leaf got us thinking about other films whose longer versions have either vanished or been suppressed. After the jump, we’ve gathered up what we know about ten of them; add your own in the comments, won’t you? … Read More
As part of its year-long commemoration of 100 years making movies, Universal is releasing Jaws in a terrific new Blu-ray edition today, to which we say: about time. For us, Jaws is one of those special movies that, no matter how many times you see it, never gets old; it’s not just that it’s a great movie (though it is), since there are plenty of great movies that don’t scream out for repeat viewings. (Dancer in the Dark was one of our favorite films of 2000, for example, but we can’t imagine subjecting ourselves to it again.) It’s that there are certain movies that only grow richer with return visits, or whose pleasures seem inexplicable inured to the diminishing glow of repetition. After the jump, some thoughts on Jaws and a few other movies that we just can’t stop watching. … Read More
Dark Shadows opens this week, whether we like it or not, but it does give us cause to pause for numerical consideration. No, we’re not talking about the amount of time since Tim Burton’s last film that was based on an original idea — that would be seven years, since Corpse Bride. Before that, you have to go clear back to 1990′s Edward Scissorhands, which was also (coincidentally enough) his first time working with Dark Shadows star Johnny Depp. Dark Shadows marks their eighth collaboration, which got us thinking about some of our favorite (and most productive, with a minimum of four pairings) actor/director teams. After the jump, we’ve compiled a dozen of the best from movie history; add your own in the comments, won’t you? … Read More
Along with being a legendary director, Billy Wilder may be the best screenwriter of all time. Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend, Ace in the Hole, Some Like It Hot, Sabrina, The Apartment – all his scripts. So, when Wilder gives writing advice, you listen. Lists of Note has excerpted from Cameron Crowe’s Conversations with Wilder the Hollywood giant’s ten tips for screenwriters. They may be simple, but tidbits like “Develop a clean line of action for your leading character” and “If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is with the first act” give great insight into Wilder’s success. Aspiring scribes, take note — the entire list is after the jump. … Read More
Last weekend, two new films opened by famous filmmakers who are, to varying degrees, getting the hell out of the film business. Haywire director Steven Soderbergh has been teasing his early retirement for months now; it’s somewhat comical, actually, the way he keeps adding in projects that he wants to do before his self-imposed exile. George Lucas, who spent decades getting Red Tails made, told The New York Times that he was retiring, at least from the business of making blockbuster films (maybe).
Soderbergh is 49. Lucas is 67. Making movies doesn’t have a mandatory retirement age, like fighting fires or flying planes. But should it? … Read More
Ah, New Year’s Eve — that special night of the year where we put so pressure on ourselves to have a great time, have a great time, HAVE A GREAT TIME that we end up, inevitably, having a really lousy time. (Don’t pretend like it’s just me.) Part of our self-imposed pressure to enjoy ourselves on the last night of the year is, we contend, the fault of movies, which often present the evening as an occasion for joyous celebration, thoughtful reflection, and new beginnings (often with a new object of affection). But some films also recognize the nightmare of New Year’s Eve, and dramatize that. We’ve assembled a few examples of each after the jump, and humbly present ten on-screen New Year’s Eves that we find memorable — for reasons both good and bad. All will make fine New Year’s Eve viewing — and are far better than New Year’s Eve. … Read More
1. The Library of Congress has selected 25 movies to be added to the National Registry in 2011. Among the diverse choices are Bambi, John Cassavetes‘ Faces, Robert Rodriguez‘s El Mariachi, Billy Wilder‘s The Lost Weekend, The Silence of the Lambs, Stand and Deliver… and, um, Forrest Gump. [via LA Times]
2. In a… Read More
Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve done a fair amount of second-guessing with regards to the Academy Awards — revisiting the worst films they’ve nominated, the best films they didn’t nominate, and the great filmmakers they ignored. But, in all fairness, the little gold guy sometimes manages to hand over the statue to the film that most deserves it. So, in the interest of hoping for the best come Sunday night, join us for a look back at ten times when Oscar got it right. … Read More