Archives for September 2011

Movie Trailer: Anonymous

Check out this trailer:

Personally, I am a quite intrigued. While I am a fan of many works of Shakespeare, I do not proclaim to be a Shakespearean expert. The scholastic merit of the argument posited in the movie is something that I am only vaguely familiar with – in so much as I have read theories concerning the authentic authorship of Shakespeare’s work.

As for the specific structure of the plot, I defer to the film’s official site. For those in a non-navgating mood, here is an amended version of the plot, as summed up by Wikipedia:

In Elizabethan England, political intrigue abounds between the Tudors and the Cecils for the successor to Queen Elizabeth I (portrayed by Vanessa Redgrave). The film, Anonymous, follows the involvement of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans), as not only the incestuous lover of Queen Elizabeth, but also as the true author of the works of William Shakespeare (Rafe Spall).

As you can see, this film features a stellar cast. Rhys Ifans is almost unrecognizable in this trailer.

At the head of this project is Roland Emmerich, who is more recognized for big-budget summer films such as Independence Day, 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow. So it will be interesting to see what he is able to achieve with a story that does not require booms and crashes to keep its audience engaged.

Tell me what you think about this film? Are you a Shakespeare fan?

Anonymous comes to theaters on October 28th.

Favorite Films Set in Vienna

In my previous installment in which I list my favorite movies in locations I will soon be traveling to, I ran off a few films that are based in Berlin.

The next city on my cinematic ‘Grand Tour’ is Vienna (Wien). This city presented a bit of challenge for me. In the end I could only come up with three films. Lucky enough for me I have previously mentioned each of these three films in other posts. If you click on the link of the title, you will see my related blog entry.

And now, in no particular order, are my top 3:

  1. Before Sunrise
  2. The Third Man
  3. Letter From An Unknown Woman 
Did I miss anything? Please submit your suggestions in the Comments field below.

 

 

Tuesday’s Overlooked Film: Boomerang! (1947)

A long time ago in what seems a different life, I wrote a review of this early Elia Kazan picture. If I am able to locate it I will update this week’s post to include it.

In the meantime, I did not want the opportunity to pass without extolling its virtues:

  • It is one of the best of those true life, “ripped from the headlines,” documentary styled noir-ish dramas from the 1940s.
  • It features one of my favorite actors of the period, Dana Andrews.
  • It has a courtroom drama sequence that will literally leave you at the edge of your seat.

As previously stated, this film is based on a true story of a 1920s case in suburban Connecticut; however for narrative purposes the film is moved up the present day 1940s. One evening, a beloved priest is killed in cold blood. Suspects are thin on the ground, which does not bode well for the local political leaders. As a result, a large scale manhunt takes place, eventually leading to the apprehension and extradition of disaffected war veteran John Waldron (played by Arthur Kennedy).

What looks like an open an shut case (thanks to Waldron’s confession – the result of sleep-deprivation delirium), leaves Dana Andrews’ Henry L. Harvey with doubts. In classic bucking against the system fashion, Harvey begins to look back at the people, places and events surrounding the investigation to deconstruct what exactly happens. It is this information that he presents to the judge and audience (not going to give away the ending :)).

The documentary-styled elements are always a draw for me when looking at crime dramas of this decade. The drama of the narrative blends seamlessly with the more overarching documentarian aspects of the film.

With respect to the acting, as I have already stated, Dana Andrews delivers. But he is bolstered by an equally stellar supporting cast which includes Arthur Kennedy, Lee J. Cobb, Jane Wyatt, and an always reliable Sam Levene.

So if you like films such as my previously-mentioned The Naked City, I suggest you find this film and watch it.

Also be sure to visit Todd Mason’s blog for more overlooked titles.


Source (for plot synopsis): TCM Movie Database

Bad Poster, Cool Movie (Part Two of Two)

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned a few “bad” movies that had really cool posters. For the second installment of this feature – you may have guessed – I decided to make the polar opposite observation. Now I am taking a look at posters that are an assault on the eyes, but the film itself was quite enjoyable.

To get things going, here are a couple of films that meet the criteria for me:

      

I am especially intrigued by the poster for The King’s Speech. Helena Bonham-Carter and Geoffrey Rush seem to be in a period comedy of manners (think Noel Coward), while Colin Firth is in an entirely different movie. As for Star Trek IV, it is simply an 80’s nightmare. As for X-Men First Class it looks like someone was on a deadline and had to produce something really, really quick.

These designers could probably take a lesson from Simon C. Page.

While we are on the subject of movie poster artwork, I thought I would show you a quite lovely poster about a film I know very little (must less seen):

But I digress …. What awful posters can you think of which do not accurately represent the quality / your enjoyment of the motion picture they are charged with promoting?

Cool Poster, Bad Movie (Part One of Two )

Well BAD is a harsh word. Let’s put another way – let’s say the movie did not live up to the coolness of the poster. Critical derision and/or poor box office receipts proved that all the effort was time and money not well spent by the respective Marketing departments.

To start, here are a few of my personal picks:

    

I love the simplicity and the messaging that these teaser posters have. Unfortunately, the films did not live up to the hype for me.

So what are some of your picks?


Look out in the coming days for a follow up to this post.

On My Radar: Ophelia Lovibond

This may be a shot in the dark, but I am going to be watching this young actress’ career over the course of the next couple of years. Her “years active” on her film IMDB Profile state that she has been acting since she was about 15 years old. So that would make her a veteran of sorts.

But a closer examination shows that a great bulk of her big and small screen credits have taken place only since 2009, nearly three years ago.

I first noticed her as a featured actress in Series II of the Masterpiece Mystery program Inspector Lewis, in which she played a wheelchair-bound lovelorn young adult. She has also featured in a few British film productions ranging from the John Lennon biopic Nowhere Boy to the hyper-stylized estrogen-fueled caper/thriller, 4.3.2.1. I have seen the latter and can say she is probably one of the best things about the film. Lovibond also appeared in the ‘guns and geezers’ tale London Boulevard starring Colin Farrell and Keira Knightley.

She has since appeared to start to make a transition to Hollywood with appearances in No Strings Attached and Mr. Popper’s Penguins. Sure these films will probably not anyone’s Top 10 lists for 2011 but for an up and comer, in my opinion these are smart move – don’t dive into the pool for immediate stardom, methodically build up your CV and keep working at your craft.

The work seems to be paying off; 2012 looks like it will be a productive year – a couple of films and a TV series (Titanic: Blood and Steel whose cast includes Derek Jacobi, Chris Noth and Neve Campbell) are currently the pipeline.

It looks like Ms. Lovibond has a lot of things going on. Here’s hoping her career goes from strength to strength.


 Sources: The Internet Movie Database (imdb.com), Wikipedia

Tuesday’s Overlooked Film: Hot Fuzz (2007)

Fans of Edgar Wright will recognize his name from works such as:

  • Shaun of the Dead
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
  • and the television series, Spaced.

Here he is with frequent collaborators Simon Pegg and Nick Frost for the 2007 black comedy Hot Fuzz. It is essentially a send-up of the buddy cop genre.

Nicholas Angel (Pegg) is a police officer with the Metropolitan Police of London. He is a “super-cop,” which oddly enough does not sit well with his supervisors (there is such a thing as being TOO good).  As a result, he is sent off to the sleepy English village of Sanford, where it is supposed that he will not have to worry about any criminal activity. In Sanford he is partnered with Danny Butterman (Nick Frost) who is in awe of his new partner’s big city prowess. The other members of the Sanford Police force (headed by Jim Broadbent as Frank Butterman, Danny’s father) are not as impressed by the big-city import.

The rest of Sanford’s citizenry welcome Nicholas with varying degrees of acceptance. The town’s characters are an interesting lot to say the least. Of particular significance especially at the beginning of Nicholas’ investigations is Simon Skinner (the wonderful Timothy Dalton) manager of a local grocery store.

All is quite until a series of suspicious deaths draw the attention of Angel.  He soon discovers that while the crime rate (and murders) are nil, Sanford has a high number of deaths by accident or suicide in its records. After some snooping around he discovers an appalling secret about “The Village of the Year.”

As a measure of how much I liked this film, I cannot tell you how many times I have watched it and continuously laughed at what I saw. The surprise cameos (see how many you can count) are well worth the price of admission.

For the uninitiated, one thing that I bring to a potential viewer’s attention is the fact that there is a great deal of bloody violence in the film despite its overall comedic tone.

Personally this was my first complete entree into world of Edgar Wright. Since then I have watched bits of “Spaced” and not all of Shaun of the Dead. On the strength of this outing I plan on completing the above and to sink my teeth into Scott Pilgrim vs The World.

Programming Notice – TCM Presents the Work of Merchant-Ivory Productions

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Merchant-Ivory productions, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is holding a month-long tribute, airing movies every Thursday night for the month of September. Unfortunately I was unable to watch the first night of movies (9/8) because I was attending a wedding but I am determined to go all in starting tonight.

The lineup for this evening’s programming is:

  • Remains of the Day, The (1993) – currently on
  • Howards End (1992)
  • A Room With a View (1985)
  • Maurice (1987)

The directing/producing team of James Ivory and Ismail Merchant. Their trademark is a collection of films that are understated adaptations of novels. Often these films were written for the screen by long time collaborator Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.

Easily my favorite of the bunch is A Room With a View with Howards End and Remains of the Day. I do however easily concede that these films are not for everyone. For some, the pacing and restraint shown in several of their films can leave one feeling a bit overanxious for something more active to appear on screen. For me the strength of the performances more than makes up

Consult the TCM Program Guide for a full layout of the schedule.

Tuesday’s Overlooked Film: from the iluvcinema “Vault”

This week I decided to do a little something different for my “overlooked entry.” Over the past few years, I have made it a goal of mine with this site, to talk about or highlight films that I love and that I feel are somewhat under-appreciated. This obviously fits in with the whole overlooked aspect of this Tuesday feature.

As a result, this week I have decided to go into my own archives and dig pick a few films that I have mentioned in the past that I would like to mention again.

Fish Tank (2010): directed by Andrea Arnold (Red Road, forthcoming Wuthering Heights adaptation) and starring recent Venice Film Festival winner Michael Fassbender.
Heavenly Creatures (1994): featuring the ever-awesome Kate Winslet in her feature film debut.
Shooting Dogs [AKA Beyond the Gates (2007)]: Came out around the same time as Hotel Rwandaa, therefore little seen. Which is a shame – it is still a moving heartbreaking story. Directed by Michael Caton Jones
Children of Men (2006): Easily one of my favorite films of the last 5, heck 10 years.
Never Let Me Go (2010/2011): Another one of those films that came in under the radar last year/this year. It is now on rotation on pay cable. Catch it if you can.
Appaloosa (2010): Delivers what is advertised on the tin; simply a nuts and bolts western.
My Last Five Girlfriends (2009): A very imaginative take on a man’s journey through the relationship maze.
Muriel’s Wedding (1994): The linked post was not directly related to Muriel’s Wedding but it does mention it. This is another one of those films I could watch over and over again.
Wait Until Dark (1967): A surprisingly thrilling film. Featuring Audrey Hepburn and Alan Arkin.
The Snake Pit (1948): Possibly Olivia deHaviland’s best work

 

For more overlooked films as well as reading an insightful blog in general, be sure to visit Todd Mason’s blog, Sweet Freedom.

What Do You Think? (Video Disks)

Going up in flames?

About 10 years ago, I could not imagine a world without video disks of movies. Over several years I had amassed a vast collection of movies (lost cost) on DVD. Then along comes BluRay. GEEZ, now I have to start replacing all of my favorite DVDs into this new, high-definition format.

What’s a girl to do? 

Well over the past several years, what has happened is not what I expected to happen – I have not replaced that many of my DVDs; in fact my DVD purchasing has very nearly ground to a screeching halt. Why?

After giving this question some thought I have come up with the following reasons:

  1. Most of my movies in my DVD collection were not shot in the high-definition format thereby making purchasing them in HD a moot point.
  2. Economics – as I have gotten older, the economics of purchasing movies is no longer as feasible as it once was. My discretionary income is now divvied up into other categories.
  3. Death of bricks and mortar – let’s face it – the “see me, by me” retail model really does have an impact on your decision to purchase merchandise.
  4. (more importantly) I have discovered various alternative means of acquiring my video content. Whether it is via streaming, digital downloading or a host of other products and services made available, I just have not been purchasing or ordering video disks of movies in any form lately.
I wonder if this is an overall trend or just something that I am experiencing? I know anecdotally that DVD/BluRay sales are not exactly where the movie industry wants them to be, but I have not looked up the hard numbers to support this claim. Have any of you seen the data?
In addition I have the following questions for my audience:
  • Have your DVD/BluRay purchase patterns changed drastically over the past several years?
  • What is your principle means of acquiring copies or gaining access to your favorites movies nowadays?
  • What do you think is the future of purchasing hard copies of your favorite movies?