Archives for April 2013

Tuesday’s Overlooked Film: The Tall Target

This week’s ‘overlooked’ pick is the first (of certainly several) shout outs from the 2013 TCM Film Festival. The movie is 1951’s The Tall Target directed by Anthony Mann and starring Dick Powell.

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Powell is a New York City-based a police officer, hell bent stop the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in Baltimore as he makes the train journey from Pennsylvania to his inauguration in Washington, DC.

Now I will readily admit (as I also discussed with another film-goer), that when I read the program description in the festival guide, I was not sure if this was some sort of contemporary, for the time hard-boiled crime thriller (Powell was in it after all) that happened to be anachronistic, given the “tall target” of the title. But soon in I realized that was not the case. Thanks in part to another WONDERFUL introduction by film historian Donald Bogle, we find out that this film is based in part on historical folklore that allegedly took place on the eve of Lincoln’s swearing-in.

There are quite a few twists and turns to this one so I will leave it up to you to enjoy for yourself.

Also starring in supporting roles are Adolphe Menjou and Ruby Dee, a young slave who has more moxie than one initially would think.

Check out Todd Mason’s site, Sweet Freedom for more overlooked, forgotten or otherwise under-appreciated cinematic gems.

Pacific Rim: WonderCon Footage


ILC’s Take:I don’t know what to make of this film. It is Guillermo Del Toro so it certainly has some degree of goodwill going for it. But it may not be for me.
Thoughts? Share comments below.
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And Now Maybe Some R&R ….

…. actually, who am I kidding?

Folks it has been a busy couple of weeks for me and in the coming days I will try my best to recap (with photos) my coast to coast film festival going.

Until then I just wanted to take a quick minute to thank both the Tribeca Film Festival and the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival for each putting son some great shows!

Hope you enjoy my coverage.
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TCM Film Fest Updates (Via Twitter)

As I prepare to hang out on the #LeftCoast, I thought you might like to check out what is already taking place in Hollywood ahead of the TCM Film Festival!
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Tuesday’s Overlooked Film: Mother and Child (2009)

I am writing this on a Saturday because I want to make sure that I get everything down. Rarely, I mean RARELY do I venture to the land of Lifetime – Television for Women (I have my reasons). But very interesting sight of Samuel L. Jackson and Naomi Watts in bed TOGETHER made me stop in my tracks.

What I watched over the course of the next couple of hours was honest and well-performed (if not a bit melodramatic in some movements, but all is ultimately forgiven) – and also this week’s ‘overlooked’ film – 2009’s Mother and Child.

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Written and directed by Rodrigo Garcia, it should surprise no one how the intersecting lives narrative works. Here, the central theme is (as indicated by the title) are the various women’s relationship to motherhood.

  • Karen (Naomi Watts) is an ambitious, determined woman who faces a daunting decision that causes her to face the demons of the past.
  • Elizabeth (Annette Bening) never quite got over the fact that subsequent to falling pregnant aged 14, there was something missing in her life. Now 38 years later, will she have a chance at redemption?
  • Lucy (Kerry Washington), is unable to have a child of her own but is willing to move heaven and earth to right this wrong.

From the main cast down to the supporting players (Shareeka Epps, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Cherry Jones, David Morse) this film is so well played that I stayed on Lifetime (even watching a preview of The Client List) until the film’s conclusion.

 

Be sure to check out other overlooked titles at Sweet Freedom!

 

The TIME 100: The World of Film Representin’ Again!

The 2013 TIME 100 List is out and again the world of cinema is represented quite well. While I may not agree with ALL of the selections, but they are worth the notice nonetheless; where appropriate, I labeled the category of where they were slotted, otherwise they were identified as Artists. Here are some of the honorees:

 

tumblr_mlg74dNCFz1qcy1c2o1_500Daniel Day-Lewis, Actor, 55 (in the “Icons” section)

Jennifer Lawrence, Actor, 22

Steven Spielberg, Director, 66

Mindy Kaling, Comedian, 33

Bryan Cranston, Actor, 57

Aamir Khan, Actor/Activist, 48

Lena Dunham, Actor, 26 (in the “Icons” section)

Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Actress, 34 (in the “Icons” section)

Justin Timberlake, Musician/Actor, 32 (in the “Icons” section)

Ted Sarandos, Netflix chief content officer, 48 (in “Titans” section)

Jimmy Fallon, Talk Show Host, 38

Shonda Rimes, Storyteller, 43 (in “Titans” Section)

 

What do you think? Hit me in the comments below.

It’s a Trailer-polooza!

I have not written about this for a while, because frankly I have not given much mind to trailers as of late. But that it over here and now. Below are a series of posters (mostly for blockbusters) and my take on them.

 

Man of Steel (June 14)

ILC’s Take: I dunno, don’t get me wrong … this looks fabulous and be certain Henry Cavill is definitely an ILC favorite (I am detecting a pattern here) but I am no way near as hyped for this one as my gut tells me I should be. I guess we will have to wait and see.

 

The Hangover 3 (May 24th)

ILC’s Take: Could only manage seeing the first once, never saw the second one so chances are the third will be a miss for me. Clearly I missed the meaning on this film series.

 

Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17th)

ILC’s Take: Geez. There are so many I just picked the last one. Good thing too – features ILC favorite #BenedictCumberbatch. As for the trailer, looks epic, just hope it is not too earnest; part of what made the 1st installment such a joy was that in the midst of the heavy space stuff going on, there was a wink and a nod to the original television series.

 

Iron Man 3 (May 3rd)

ILC’s Take: Did I really need to watch this trailer? I was going to see this no matter what. I will not use the term epic (learned my lesson in 2012 – Prometheus anyone?). So I will just sit back and enjoy the view.

 

Kick Ass 2 (August 16th)

ILC’s Take: I can probably take it or leave it but it looks like it has some funny moments.

 

Carrie (October 18th)

ILC’s Take: The done gone and messed with the wrong chick. Maybe will catch this one on video.

 

The Great Gatsby (May 10th)

ILC’s Take: I AM HERE FOR ALL OF IT. Good or bad, I am seeing this bad boy in the cinema!

Share your thoughts about these (or any other ones) below in the Comments section.

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Tribeca 2013 Preview: 3 to See

Well folks. The Tribeca Film Festival, is open for business today! While I will not be attending any live events until Friday, ahead of the official start, I had the pleasure of squeezing in a couple of pre-festival screenings.

Here are some films I feel are worth a look.

 

BYZANTIUM (2012)

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Byzantium marks director Neil Jordan’s second foray into the vampire genre; the first being the slightly disappointing 1994 feature Interview with a Vampire. Here, many of the standard Gothic elements that did work in Interview remain, the slight alterations to the standard vampire folklore combined with a decidedly modern edge make this one worth watching.

Clara (Gemma Aterton) and her ‘sister’ Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan) find themselves seeking shelter in a seaside resort town and take up with an unsuspecting man (Daniel Mays) in his rundown hotel. As the narrative unfolds, we learn more about their past and what has brought them to this point.

The film is also an examination of how each woman come to terms with the curse of being undead and what that means for their humanity, or whatever remains of it.

Byzantium also stars Sam Riley, Jonny Lee Miller and Caleb Landry Jones.

 

THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST (2012)

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Mira Nair’s directs this adaptation of the novel by Mishin Hamid about a young Pakistani professor Changez Khan (Riz Ahmed), Princeton-educated and seemingly on the fast-track to realizing the American Dream. This comes to an abrupt halt in the wake of the September 11th attacks. Feeling alienation and under suspicion, he returns to Pakistan and through no will of his own becomes both a leader to his students and a target of interest for the American government.

The film also stars Liev Schreiber, Kiefer Sutherland and Kate Hudson.

 

BEFORE MIDNIGHT (2013)

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Before Midnight is by all accounts the third and final installment to the love story that began 18 years ago during a chance encounter on a Vienna-bound train. It is poignant look at Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy), as they approach middle age together. Like the previous chapters of their story, much of the story is a reflective piece that yes, has the risk of falling victim to what some may consider “navel gazing,” but here, it is delivered with such freshness by the leads that you are along the ride. Also like the previous films, the setting serves as a major backdrop to the story – this time, we are transported to a dreamy Grecian landscape.

Before Midnight is, like the other films, directed by Richard Linklater.

Tuesday’s Overlooked: Dodsworth (1936)

This week I decided to change things up a little instead of choosing a traditional overlooked film, I would like to focus today’s post on a film that I have overlooked until recently.

It is the 1936 film Dodsworth, directed by filmmaker William Wyler with a screenplay adapted from the Sinclair Lewis novel and play (by Sidney Howard) of the same name.

For some reason I had in my mind that this film would be a taxing, cumbersome exercise to get through. The reality was far from that – Dodsworth is a cleverly written, expertly provocative look at a disintegrating marriage, among other things.

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Sam Dodsworth (Walter Huston), automotive titan, is selling up and retiring from the business. At the urging of his wife Fran (Ruth Chatterton), they soon pack their bags and set sail for Europe. It is evident early on, that this seemingly happy couple have divergent interests, especially on the part of Fran, who is obviously bored with her husband’s perceived lack of refinement. For his part, Sam tries in vain to hold the relationship together, even as he crosses paths with divorcee Edith Cortright (Mary Astor was never lovelier).

The writing is sharp and nuanced and the performances were expertly delivered:

Ruth Chatterton shines as the wayward wife who is seeking a thrill anyway and with anyone who she can. She is, in my opinion, a rather opportunistic, loathsome creature trying to hold onto her youth (via any available man). However her time has long passed and she comes off looking absolutely ridiculous. This frivolous and reckless behavior bears fruit in the final act – Fran gets her comeuppance at the hands of scene-stealing Maria Ouspenskaya, in her role of Baroness Von Obersdorf, whose son is Fran’s latest Continental conquest; as I stated in my tweet from the evening viewing:

As I stated during the #TCMParty tweeting event, Walter Huston is an actor that I know his renown for his talents and has featured in a couple of films (at least) that I like, including The Devil and Daniel Webster and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, but in terms of giving him his full props as an outstanding stage and screen actor. In this film, he plays the ups and downs (and downs) of his character convincingly and with aplomb.

Rounding out the standout performances for me is Mary Astor. Absent is the hard-boiled noir dame of my cinematic imagination to be replaced by a totally empathetic, soft, warm woman who you cannot help (like Sam Dodsworth) be drawn to her.

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I watched the film with my fellow #TCMPartiers Sunday night and had a blast! Thanks to all of my twitter buddies that encouraged me to continue to watch along (even if I am a bit bleary-eyed the following morning).

Be sure to check out other “overlooked” or forgotten titles on Todd Mason’s blog, Sweet Freedom.

The Central Park Five (2012)

 

As a child bought up in the greater New York City area during the 1980s, I was privy to the highly charged racial politics of that era. It seemed like every week, there was a media account of a crime that had a racial dynamic – they involved people such as Bernie Goetz, Eleanor Bumpurs, and Michael Stewart; to this day, this moment in New York history continues to fascinate me. Although I was in the ‘burbs, the climate generated from cases such as the subject of this post, the Ken Burns directed documentary, The Central Park Five (based on the book written by his daughter, Sarah) reverberated and left a lasting impression on me, which to this day – even in the midst of a revitalized and thriving city, dampens my spirits. For readers who may not know too much detail about NYC during this time, let me put my perspective in the simplest of terms: as a child, I was not too keen on venturing out into the city.  No one place encapsulated my fear more than Central Park, the scene of this particular crime. I remember when a friend of the family went to the park in 1983 to see Diana Ross perform; I was so worried for her personal safety. But I digress.

 

For the details of the case in particular, I refer you to case history on the Innocence Project website. This case also brought the term wilding into the common vernacular. Unfortunately for the young men, the media scrutiny that accompanied the trial did not see its way to the re-examination of their case. The film illuminates many details that I was unaware of at the time, often told from the perspective of each of the Central Park Five and reporters, etc. who were covering the stories of the time. While watching the film, I felt equal parts anger, abject sadness (had the tears to prove it), and joy and exultation.

 

As a fan of Burns’ other works, the pace and tone was definitely a departure of form, but that does not make the storytelling any less effective. It just proves that Burns is one of the finer authors of the many facets to the American experience.

 

During my screening back in February at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, a question and answer session was held with two of the five exonerated men (Raymond Santana and Yusef Salaam). It was at points heartbreaking but ultimately, like the documentary itself, an inspiring display of what persistence and grace can deliver. I especially appreciated the care and consideration given not only to their plight, but also to the plight of the victim, then and now.

 

While the film received a cinematic release in late 2012, it is now available on video and TOMORROW it will premier on PBS at 9PM EST! So check your local public television station for more broadcast details.

 

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