Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Top 5 Top 5 Lists Related To, But Not Including, The Apartment



Top 5 Billy Wilder Films:

1. Double Indemnity (1944)
2. Sunset Blvd. (1950)
3. Sabrina (1954)
4. Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
5. One, Two, Three (1961)


Top 5 Jack Lemmon Films:

1. Some Like it Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)
2. Glengarry Glen Ross (James Foley, 1992)
3. It Should Happen to You (George Cukor, 1954)
4. JFK (Oliver Stone, 1991)
5. Short Cuts (Robert Altman, 1993)


Top 5 Shirley MacLaine Films:

1. Some Came Running (Vincente Minnelli, 1958)
2. The Trouble with Harry (Alfred Hitchcock, 1955)
3. Artists and Models (Frank Tashlin, 1955)
4. Postcards from the Edge (Mike Nichols, 1990)
5. Being There (Hal Ashby,1979)


Top 5 Fred MacMurray Films:

1. Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944)
2. There's Always Tomorrow (Douglas Sirk, 1956)
3. The Caine Mutiny (Edward Dmytryk, 1954)
4. The Absent-Minded Professor (Robert Stevenson, 1961)
5. The Lady is Willing (Mitchell Leisen, 1942)


Top 5 Films of 1960:

1. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock)
2. Shoot the Piano Player (Fran├žois Truffaut)
3. L'Avventura (Michelangelo Antonioni)
4. Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard)
5. Late Autumn (Yasujiro Ozu)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Links: The Apartment

Bosley Crowther raved about The Apartment in the New York Times back when it was released:

"You might not think a movie about a fellow who lends his rooms to the married executives of his office as a place for their secret love affairs would make a particularly funny or morally presentable show, especially when the young fellow uses the means to get advanced in his job.

But under the clever supervision of Billy Wilder, who helped to write the script, then produced and directed "The Apartment," which opened at the Astor and the Plaza yesterday, the idea is run into a gleeful, tender and even sentimental film. And it is kept on the side of taste and humor by the grand performance of Jack Lemmon in the principal role."

Roger Ebert agreed and named it one of his Great Movies noting in particular the timelessness of Billy Wilder's films:

"In observing that The Lost Weekend hasn't dated, I could be making a comment about Wilder's work in general. Even a lightweight romantic comedy like Sabrina (1954) holds up better than its 1990s remake, and the great Wilder pictures don't play as period pieces but look us straight in the eye. Some Like It Hot is still funny, Sunset Boulevard is still a masterful gothic character comedy, and The Apartment is still tougher and more poignant than the material might have permitted. The valuable element in Wilder is his adult sensibility; his characters can't take flight with formula plots, because they are weighted down with the trials and responsibilities of working for a living. In many movies, the characters hardly even seem to have jobs, but in The Apartment they have to be reminded that they have anything else."

Finally, here's the recent episode of the filmspotting podcast wherein they discuss The Apartment. This was part of their recent Billy Wilder marathon, which followed their Ernst Lubitsch marathon (which included a discussion of last week's Classic, The Shop Around the Corner) and a tie-in with the class on Wilder they taught this spring at the University of Chicago.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tonight!




At 7 & 9:10 PM.

Giveaways: The Lady Vanishes DVD, courtesy of Scarecrow Video and a Gift Certificate to Cinema Books, respectively.

See you there!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Top 5 Top 5 Lists Related To, But Not Including, The Shop Around the Corner


Top 5 Ernst Lubitsch Films:

1. Trouble in Paradise (1932)
2. Ninotchka (1939)
3. Heaven Can Wait (1943)
4. To Be or Not To Be (1942)
5. The Merry Widow (1934)


Top 5 James Stewart Films:

1. Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954)
2. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
3. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Frank Capra, 1939)
4. It's a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946)
5. The Philadelphia Story (George Cukor, 1940)


Top 5 Margaret Sullavan Films:

1. Three Comrades (Frank Borzage, 1938)
2. The Mortal Storm (Frank Borzage, 1940)
3. The Good Fairy (William Wyler, 1936)
4. The Shopworn Angel (HC Potter, 1938)
5. The Shining Hour (Frank Borzage, 1938)


Top 5 Original Versions of More Famous Remakes:

1. Scarface (Howard Hawks, 1932)
2. The Man Who Knew Too Much (Alfred Hitchcock, 1934)
3. Red Dust (Victor Fleming, 1932)
4. Love Affair (Leo McCarey, 1939)
5. A Star is Born (William Wellman, 1937)


Top 5 Films of 1940:

1. The Philadelphia Story
2. His Girl Friday
3. Waterloo Bridge
4. Rebecca
5. Fantasia

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Links: The Shop Around the Corner


Frank Nugent review the film for The New York Times way back in January, 1940. Nugent is better known as the screenwriter of many a John Ford film, including former Metro Classics The Searchers and The Quiet Man.

"So there it is, and a pretty kettle of bubbling brew it makes under Mr. Lubitsch's deft and tender management and with a genial company to play it gently, well this side of farce and well that side of utter seriousness. Possibly the most surprising part of it is the adaptability of the players to Mr. Lubitsch's Continental milieu whose splendid evocation is one of the nicest things of the picture."

Lubitsch.com attempts to define the "Lubitsch Touch," that elusive quality of director Ernst Lubitsch's film's that makes them quite unlike the standard screwball and musical comedies of the 30s and 40s. There are contributions from critics, readers and the director of next week's Classic, Lubitsch acolyte Billy Wilder.

""The Lubitsch Touch" is a brief description that embraces a long list of virtues: sophistication, style, subtlety, wit, charm, elegance, suavity, polished nonchalance and audacious sexual nuance." -- Richard Christiansen (Chicago Tribune)"

Dan Callahan at the Bright Lights Film Journal goes in-depth on the career of Margaret Sullavan, who starred in only 16 movies, but is nonetheless one of the greatest stars of the 30s. Here's Gore Vidal on her talent for dying on-screen:

"Margaret Sullavan was a star whose deathbed scenes were one of the great joys of the Golden Age of Movies. Sullavan never simply kicked the bucket. She made speeches, as she lay dying; and she was so incredibly noble that she made you feel like an absolute twerp for continuing to live out your petty life after she'd ridden on ahead."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tonight!



Playing at 7:00 and 9:10 pm.

Giveaways: A The Hunt for Red October DVD courtesy of Scarecrow Video and a Gift Certificate to Cinema Books.

See you there!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Top 5 Top 5 Lists Related To, But Not Including, Battleship Potemkin


Top 5 "Propaganda" Films:

1. Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)
2. A Canterbury Tale (Powell & Pressburger, 1944)
3. I Am Cuba (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1964)
4. They Were Expendable (John Ford, 1945)
5. Air Force (Howard Hawks, 1943)


Top 5 Silent Soviet Films I Haven't Seen Yet:

1. Arsenal (Alexander Dovzhenko, 1928)
2. Mother (V. I. Pudovkin, 1926)
3. Strike (Sergei Eisenstein, 1924)
4. Storm Over Asia (V. I. Pudovkin, 1929)
5. The House on Trubnaya (Boris Barnet, 1928)


Top 5 Russian Films:

1. I Am Cuba (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1964)
2. Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1968)
3. Ivan the Terrible Part 1 (Sergei Eisenstein, 1944)
4. Earth (Alexander Dovzhenko, 1930)
5. Alexander Nevsky (Sergei Eisenstein, 1938)


Top 5 Non-Soviet Silent Films:

1. Sunrise (FW Murnau, 1927)
2. The Docks of New York, Josef von Sternberg, 1928)
3. City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931)
4. The General (Buster Keaton, 1927)
5. Japanese Girls at the Harbor (Hiroshi Shimizu, 1933)


Top 5 Films of 1925:

1. The Gold Rush (Charlie Chaplin)
2. The Big Parade (King Vidor)
3. Seven Chances (Buster Keaton)
4. The Freshman (Fred Newmeyer and Sam Taylor)
5. The Phantom of the Opera (Rupert Julian)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Links: Battleship Potemkin


First we have Roger Ebert's Great Movies review of Potemkin, in which he argues for the film's ability to remain fresh despite its age and influence:

"The film once had such power that it was banned in many nations, including its native Soviet Union. Governments actually believed it could incite audiences to action. If today it seems more like a technically brilliant but simplistic ``cartoon'' (Pauline Kael's description in a favorable review), that may be because it has worn out its element of surprise--that, like the 23rd Psalm or Beethoven's Fifth, it has become so familiar we cannot perceive it for what it is.
Having said that, let me say that Potemkin, which I have seen many times and taught using a shot-by-shot approach, did come alive for me the other night, in an unexpected time and place."


For a little background on the Soviet Montage style of editing, and how it was different from the editing that came before it, check out Film Reference:

"The Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein (1898–1948) wrote that Griffith's crosscutting embodied the essential class disparity of a capitalist society. He meant that the lines of action in Griffith's editing remained separated, like the classes under capitalism. Inspired by the October Revolution, Eisenstein and other Soviet filmmakers developed in the 1910s and 1920s a more radical approach to editing than Griffith had countenanced. . . .
Eisenstein believed that editing was the foundation of film art. For Eisenstein, meaning in cinema lay not in the individual shot but only in the relationships among shots established by editing. Translating a Marxist political perspective into the language of cinema, Eisenstein referred to his editing as "dialectical montage" because it aimed to expose the essential contradictions of existence and the political order. Because conflict was essential to the political praxis of Marxism, the idea of conflict furnished the logic of Eisenstein's shot changes, which gives his silent films a rough, jagged quality. His shots do not combine smoothly, as in the continuity editing of D. W. Griffith and Hollywood cinema, but clash and bang together. Thus, his montages were eminently suited to depictions of violence, as in Strike, Potemkin, and Ten Days. In his essays Eisenstein enumerated the numerous types of conflict that he found essential to cinema. These included conflicts among graphic elements in a composition and between shots, and conflict of time and space created in the editing process and by filming with different camera speeds."


Finally, Passport to Dreams Old & New does its best to make MIke's head explode (or at least shoot him in the eye) with this essay On Dialectical Montage and Disneyland:

"Montage has been applied to early attractions in generally crude form; the art of the attraction did not, after all, reach maturity until 1967. And yet there are prescient precedents in the form of Snow White’s Adventures in 1955, where the directly linear mode of conveyance moved viewers past rapidly approaching and receding simple painted sets. The form of the attraction replicated, abstractly and then literally, Snow White’s famous flee through the forest in escaping the Huntsman. This famous and influential sequence has had a comparable influence on cinema as Eisenstein’s famous Odessa Steps in Battleship Potemkin. Snow White itself, in turn, influenced Eisenstein when he saw it in 1937 as part of his effort to get his lost project Que Viva Mexico! finished in Hollywood. The influence stretches backwards too: Walt Disney had his animators watching silent films as research, and Snow White’s frenzied twisting and turning in the forest is comparable to Lillian Gish trapped in the closet at the climax of D. W. Griffith’s Broken Blossoms."

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fall Series Announced


With our Summer series coming to an end in three weeks, we're ready to announce the lineup for the Fall. The organizing principle this time is One, Two, Three: we'll have three weeks of directorial debuts (First Films), three weeks of remakes (Second Chances) and three weeks of Love Triangles. All shows are on Wednesday nights, and all will be digitally projected. Look for flyers at your local Landmark Theatre in the next week.

One:

Oct. 06 - Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)
Oct. 13 - The Iron Giant (Brad Bird, 1999)
Oct. 20 - Reservoir Dogs (Quentin Tarantino, 1992)

Two:

Oct. 27 - Evil Dead 2 (Sam Raimi, 1987)
Nov 03 - The Thing (John Carpenter, 1982)
Nov 10 - El Dorado (Howard Hawks, 1966)

Three:

Nov 17 - The Philadelphia Story (George Cukor, 1940)
Nov 24 - Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947)
Dec. 01 - The Rules of the Game (Jean Renoir, 1939)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Top 5 Top 5 Lists Related To, But Not Including, Dazed and Confused


Top 5 Richard Linklater Films:

1. Slacker (1991)
2. Before Sunrise (1995)
3. Waking Life (2001)
4. A Scanner Darkly (2006)
5. School of Rock (2003)


Top 5 Matthew McConaughey Films:

1. Lone Star (John Sayles, 1996)
2. Tropic Thunder (Ben Stiller, 2008)
3. The Newton Boys (Richard Linklater, 1998)
4. Amistad (Steven Spielberg, 1997)
5. Contact (Robert Zemeckis, 1997)


Top 5 Parker Posey Films:

1. Kicking and Screaming (Noah Baumbach, 1995)
2. Party Girl (Daisy von Scherler Mayer, 1995)
3. Waiting for Guffman (Christopher Guest, 1996)
4. Basquiat (Julian Schnabel, 1996)
5. Superman Returns (Bryan Singer, 2007)


Top 5 High School Films:

1. Rushmore (Wes Anderson, 1998)
2. Rebel Without a Cause (Nicholas Ray, 1995)
3. Heathers (Michael Lehmann, 1989)
4. Flirting (John Duigan, 1991)
5. American Graffiti (George Lucas, 1973)


Top 5 Films of 1993:

1. Three Colors: Blue (Kzrysztof Kieslowski)
2. True Romance (Tony Scott)
3. Searching for Bobby Fischer (Steven Zaillian)
4. Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis)
5. Six Degrees of Separation (Fred Schepisi)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Links: Dazed and Confused


Janet Maslin almost, but didn't quite, miss the point in her New York Times review back in 1993:

"Dazed and Confused unfolds in a loose, natural style that suits its teen-age characters, whose collective mental state is reflected by the title. To the blaring, less-than-nostalgic music of bands like Foghat and Deep Purple and Black Oak Arkansas, these high school students drive around and contemplate the future in American Graffiti fashion. Their drifting is treated as a form of forward momentum, even though it sometimes becomes aimless and the film's improvised quality becomes overpowering. The actors bounce off one another with crazy riffs and cosmic observations, some of them unexpectedly funny. Mr. Linklater wrote Dazed and Confused as well as directing it, but not much of the film sounds tightly scripted.. . . . No film whose plot involves the quest for Aerosmith tickets can take itself too seriously. So Dazed and Confused has an enjoyably playful spirit, one that amply compensates for its lack of structure."

But Ken Eisner at Variety sure did:

"The teenage wasteland, 1976-style, of "Dazed and Confused" is smack-dab between "The Brady Bunch" and "Children of the Damned," and it's a scary, if sometimes giddily amusing, place to visit. Richard Linklater's followup to his no-budget "Slacker" is sure to attract support from urban Gen-Xers, but the pic's unrelieved nihilism -- including brutal male "bonding," rampant drug use, and f-word frenzy -- may keep it out of mall-plexes where its most appropriate auds are found. . . .One-liners and dry sight gags still abound, but the ennui-sodden formlessness of "Slacker" doesn't fly as well in this $ 6 million, smoothly lensed package, which calls for shapelier narrative and resolution.
And while London is soulful enough to make Pink's plight intriguing, his indecision about whether to sign a no-drug pledge for a hard-ass coach just doesn't carry the urgency that has driven coming-of-age studies from American Graffiti to Hangin' With the Homeboys."

Kent Jones, however and of course, gets everything right in his essay for the Criterion Collection:

"From the first shot—a pumpkin-colored GTO pulling into a high school parking lot in slow motion, curving in perfect time with the chorus of “Sweet Emotion”—my reservations dropped away. Why? Hadn’t we seen hundreds, if not thousands, of such moments, the shotgun marriage of the right song and the right period gewgaw, setting the “correct” mood? This was something else, though. Linklater has always been devoted to the little things, the tiny details that gradually accumulate and make up the big picture. He has never been one to start off with a bang. With this supposedly unassuming opener, he had found the perfect link between sound and image."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Wednesday, September 1, 2010