Missing person tropes were a familiar staple of the mystery genre long before cinema, but movies have without a doubt become the ultimate medium for the thrill of a character suddenly going MIA. We love vanishing acts in all their different forms: they appeal to the amateur sleuth in us, intrigue our most childlike sense of wonder, and sometimes just freak us out — especially when they seem to defy reason. Cinema, much like sleight of hand, is all about spectacle, and creating the spectacle of disappearance requires certain elements of suspense, surprise, and above all else, a feeling of uneasiness. We’ve made a list of ten of the most classic, unsettling vanishing acts on film that are sure to keep you guessing. … Read More
If you think typeface isn’t an important element comprising a film’s aesthetic and conveying its story, you’re deeply mistaken. Don’t believe it? Try watching this video of mismatched fonts used in famous movie title sequences and see if there’s a difference. Typeface design has played a crucial role in cinema from the very beginning, when silent films relied on intertitle fonts that were both stylistically memorable and easy to read. Today, there’s an entire industry dedicated to movie title design, and typography plays a crucial role. But rather than tailor their typefaces to explicitly depict a film’s content graphically or pictorially (as many of Hollywood’s big blockbuster producers like Spielberg or Disney are wont to do), some directors prefer to make a more understated use of type design that reflects their artistic vision. Here’s a list of some of the most iconic love affairs between bold directors and the fonts that we can’t imagine seeing their movies without. … Read More
Not that we need another excuse to daydream our digital day away, but thanks to travel writer Francisca Mattéoli’s new book Escape Hotel Stories: Retreat and Refuge in Nature, we have one that’s valid. Combining two of our favorite escapist pleasures — travel and really good books — the stunning tome available this month from the great curator of culture, Assouline, explores environmentally sensitive retreats around the world through the lens of literature and art.
After previewing the stunning travel book, we thought we’d share some of the goodness with you, dear readers, by paying a virtual visit to a few of the author’s top destinations. From a village of fifteen tents on land that shares an ancient history with Bruce Chatwin’s poetic account of the Australian outback’s aboriginal Dreamtime mythology in The Songlines to a converted limestone refinery on the Swedish island of Gotland and The Magic Lantern, the autobiography of its most famous neighbor, Ingmar Bergman, to a luxurious hideaway in Big Sur, California and longtime resident, Henry Miller’s masterpiece, Tropic of Cancer, click through to check out our favorite pairings from Escape Hotel Stories. For more wonderful pairings and an in-depth look at each retreat, head over to Assouline’s online book boutique and order your copy today. Tell us about your favorite holiday reading material in the comments below! … Read More
Whether you’re reading a book or watching a film, audiences and bookworms want to be pulled into the story’s world, immersed in the life of its characters, and get a keen sense of the setting where the action is taking place. Skilled writers can ignite that connection almost instantly, and as the Guardian shared over the weekend, the literary world is full of fine examples where the first lines in fiction have been enrapturing readers for decades. Cinema is no different, and we wanted to search for the most unforgettable movie openers. These oft-quotable opening lines have acted as a foreshadowing device, added instant drama, and allowed us to understand the inner workings of different characters’ minds. We could have spent all day reciting first lines from our favorite films, but we narrowed our picks down and left you the opportunity to share your own past the break. … Read More
Today at Flavorpill, we discovered science’s plan to clone woolly mammoths. We discussed 15 things we’ll miss about Man Vs. Wild. We read Ingmar Bergman’s account of his conversation with Charlie Chaplin. We enjoyed a new TED lecture that combines educators and animators — this one is from Adam Savage of … Read More
Among the piles of albums released in the past few weeks, there’s one that we at Flavorpill can all agree is excellent: Zola Jesus’s Conatus. We simply can’t get enough of, or say enough about, the dark, dreamy, powerful music created by Zola’s Nika Roza Danilova. Wise beyond her 22 years, Danilova’s primary non-musical areas of interest are film and philosophy (and, apparently, the intersection of the two), and it shows on the record. Songs on Conatus don’t play so much as unfold in an epic, cinematic way, from the opening clatter of “Swords” to the woozy swoon that explodes into dark celebration on “In Your Nature.” By the time “Collapse” ends the record, Danilova has masterfully painted a dark, macabre theater piece with sound.
After reading the song-by-song commentary on Conatus Danilova provided to The Guardian and finding out what she’s been reading lately, we wondered: in making a record with such a filmic feel, what movies served as inspiration? Now, we have the answer: in a Flavorpill exclusive, Nika Danilova lists ten films that contributed to the creation of Conatus. … Read More
Ingmar Bergman was what you might call a filmmaker’s filmmaker, earning the adulation of his colleagues around the world — most famously Woody Allen, who went through an entire Bergman-influenced “serious” period, producing movies like Interiors. Stanley Kubrick, it turns out, was also a big fan. In 1960, the same year Spartacus premiered, a 31-year-old Kubrick wrote a letter praising Bergman (who had already made Wild Strawberries and The Seventh Seal by then) as “unsurpassed by anyone in the creation of mood and atmosphere, the subtlety of performance, the avoidance of the obvious, the truthfullness and completeness of characterization.” See Kubrick’s typewritten letter to Bergman, on Universal-International Pictures stationery, after the jump, and click over to Letters of Note for the transcription. … Read More
You may not know the name Gunnar Fischer, but if you’re a film buff, chances are you’ve appreciated his work. The cinematographer, who died in Stockholm this week at 100, was Ingmar Bergman’s director of photography between 1948 and 1960 — meaning he was behind the camera for some of Bergman’s best movies, including Smiles of a Summer Night, Wild Strawberries, and The Seventh Seal. As Movieline points out, Fischer is less widely praised than Bergman’s next cinematographer, Sven Nykvist. But Fischer’s often shadowy, psychologically rich images deserve to be celebrated. In his honor, we’ve collected some of our favorite stills from his collaboration with Bergman. … Read More
In the process of covering the Tribeca Film Festival and the kick-off of the summer movie season, we didn’t really get to weigh in on that already notorious British survey concerning lying about the movies you’ve seen. It is, we should note, a pretty inexplicable list — not because people lie about this stuff (“What’s that? My favorite Antonioni film? Well, really, who can pick a favorite?”- Me), but because people apparently lie about seeing these films. The Shawshank Redemption? I didn’t realize it was possible to have cable television and never see The Shawshank Redemption; they must not have TNT over there. Dirty Dancing? Is there some sort of thick Freudian subtext that renders that movie impenetrable, and scares off potential viewers? (The answer: no, it remains the tale of Baby not getting put in the corner.) The films on this list are, for the most part, accessible popular entertainments; The Great Escape is a thrilling jailbreak caper, GoodFellas is a cracklingly fast-paced gangster picture, Citizen Kane sparkles with screwball dialogue and inventive narrative trickery. And The Godfather? Who can’t make it through The Godfather?
The point is, these are not the kind of dense, cinematic-obligation-filling works that New York Times writer Dan Kois is referencing in his “Eating Your Cultural Vegetables” essay (which came out around the same time as the British survey). Some critics and viewers, he writes, “love the experience of watching movies that I find myself simply enduring in order to get to the good part — i.e., not the part where you’re watching the real-time birth of a Kazakh lamb, but the rest of your life, when you have watched it and you get to talk about it and write about it and remember it.” The tragedy of the British list was that there were so many genuinely great movies on it, and those would-be viewers were really missing something by skipping them. On the other hand, there are plenty of movies that it’s perfectly fine to lie about — pictures that, as Kois points out, are more of an obligation and a chore to get through, because they are iconic or important or influential. We’ve compiled our own list of those films after the jump. … Read More
With all of the positive critical buzz, we can’t wait for this weekend’s release of Christopher Nolan’s mind-bender Inception, which promises to be a dream-fueled film that blurs all distinctions between reality and what happens inside the mind. Inspired, we’ve decided to explore one of the most interesting cinematic conventions: the dream sequence. Dreams, unrestrained by any visual logic, tend to be where movies are at their most creative, and these classic clips exemplify that point. They range from funny, to cryptic to just plain scary and over the top. Which one’s your favorite? … Read More