This just in from the Mostly Unobserved Anniversaries Department — yesterday marked 20 years since the release of Manhattan Murder Mystery, Woody Allen’s cracklingly entertaining 1993 reunion with Diane Keaton. But that film also marked the film debut of one Zach Braff, who (circle of life) will star in Allen’s forthcoming Broadway musical adaptation of Bullets Over Broadway. Braff is just one of the many actors who got an early break in a Woody Allen movie; it’s a rite of passage for a young actor, and everyone from Sylvester Stallone to Julia Louis-Dreyfus to Larry David to Henry Cavill turned up in Allen films early in their careers. Here are some of the best appearances by actors in Woody movies, before they were famous: … Read More
From Taxi Driver to Raging Bull to GoodFellas, few filmmakers have turned out as many influential movies as the great Martin Scorsese — and, come to find out, he’s also inspired plenty of artists from other disciplines. This weekend, San Francisco’s Spoke Art Gallery is presenting Scorsese: An Art Show Tribute, and since they’re honoring the quintessential New York artist, they’ve come east for the occasion. The show, running this weekend only at Chelsea’s Bold Hype Gallery, features work from over 75 painters, sculptors, and screen print artists. But if you can’t make it, don’t worry; Spoke Art has shared a few highlights from the show, including a couple of Flavorwire exclusives. Check them out after the jump. … Read More
Our favorite of this week’s new theatrical releases is Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Lorene Scafaria’s end-of-the-world comedy that deftly transcends what could have been a one-joke premise, turning instead unexpectedly poignant and moving. The key to that transition is the surprisingly effective romantic subplot between stars Steve Carell and Keira Knightley — and yes, we were as skeptical as you when that element of the picture began to reveal itself. But this is one of those cases where seemingly mismatched stars pair up well on-screen. Others haven’t been quite so lucky. After the jump, we remember a few of the cinema’s less believable movie couples. … Read More
This week’s must-see DVD for film fans is Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel, Alex Stapleton’s wickedly enjoyable documentary profile of Roger Corman, the B-movie master whose exploitation movies launched half the moviemakers and movie stars of the ’70s. One of the film’s highlights is Jack Nicholson’s remembrances of his first movie roles, including his debut performance in The Little Shop of Horrors (which Corman shot in all of two days). Nicholson’s story got us thinking about other stars and their first movie roles, so we put together this quick video essay with a peek at some other famous film debuts. Check out our latest video essay after the jump. … Read More
Shame, a candid and powerful look at sexual addiction from director Steve McQueen (no, another Steve McQueen) is out in limited release tomorrow, and as we reported last month, it’s going out with the NC-17 rating—no children under 17 admitted, under any circumstances. The rating, many have surmised, is due to the film’s copious male nudity, and that’s how the American ratings system works: all the naked ladies you want, but the erect male member= automatic NC-17.
The rating was initiated by the MPAA back in 1990, and was intended to be an alternative to the porn-stained (if you’ll pardon the pun) X rating; NC-17 movies, like Henry & June (the inaugural film to carry the rating), Bad Lieutenant, The Dreamers, and Lust, Caution would be for adults, by adults. But it quickly became the kiss of death for filmmakers and distributors. Just as with the X rating before it, newspapers and television outlets wouldn’t carry ads for NC-17 films, while larger theatrical chains and home video outlets refused to carry them. Smaller films would take the mark or (as Kids and Happiness did) go out unrated, while the editing process for big releases became something of a con game: if a film was rated NC-17, the distributor would make the trims necessary for an R-rating, enjoy the publicity, and then restore the cut material for the inevitable “unrated” DVD release (frequently carried by the very chains that refused to stock NC-17 films). By the late 1990s, studios wouldn’t even bother with the first step, cranking out unrated versions of raunchy comedies and adult thrillers as a standard step in their home video release plans.
While the politics of who gets an R and who doesn’t are shady at best (check out the terrific documentary This Film is Not Yet Rated), we can’t help but wonder about what would have happened if the NC-17 could have been what its creators wanted it to be. Fox Searchlight’s decision to release Shame with the scarlet letters/numbers has prompted another round of “will the NC-17 finally become respectable?” questions (answer: dubious), but what if that question weren’t necessary, because the NC-17 had never been stigmatized? Had that been the case, we might have seen the uncut movies we’ve assembled after the jump. … Read More
If you flipped to FX last Thursday night, the TV screen probably looked more like TLC’s Toddlers & Tiaras than It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The episode, appropriately titled, “Frank Reynolds’ Little Beauties,” saw Danny DeVito’s attempts to host a children’s beauty pageant without appearing like a pedophile. As per usual, all hell broke loose and the Paddy’s gang came out on the bottom, but not before Sweet Dee relived her childhood beauty queen dreams. To continue this Always Sunny trend of pageantry reminiscence, we’ve gathered some celebrities with real-life pasts of sashes and crowns. Check ‘em out after the jump. … Read More
Nicolas Roeg’s 1973 film Don’t Look Now is an intense and effective psychological thriller, acclaimed at the time of its release and only more respected with with each passing year. It has also been the topic of a long-standing controversy: a key sex sequence between stars Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie was rumored to be, well, not quite simulated.
At long last, we’ve got a credible source confirming the story: Peter Bart, the Variety editor and film commentator, was a Paramount executive during the film’s production, and claims in his new book, Infamous Players: A Tale of Movies, the Mob, (and Sex), that he visited the set on the day that the scene in question was shot. While watching, he writes, “it was clear to me they were no longer simply acting: they were fucking on camera.” Sutherland has denied the writer’s claim, but if Bart is telling the truth, then Don’t Look Now would presumably mark the first occasion of unsimulated sexual intercourse in a mainstream motion picture. With that belated honor bestowed, let’s take a NSFW look at some of the other boundary-breaking sex scenes of cinema. … Read More
To say that author Lydia Millet’s first book of short stories (after six novels) is merely a tome about human and animal relationships would be a blatant understatement, too Cesar’s Way. In Love in Infant Monkeys the animal and human (er, super human in the case of Madonna in the opening story, “Sexing the Pheasant”) hierarchy is leveled, with each influencing the other’s life, decisions, and emotions. After the jump Millet, who lives in Tucson, Arizona, discusses her lions, tigers, and bears… oh… Read More