Currently on my DVR is the 1956 classic Giant. This is the story of a wealthy land owner and cattle rancher and his spoiled Virginian bride, and the conflicts that arise at home in Texas regarding race, class, and changing traditions (paraphrased from Yahoo! Movies). The film is as big as its title implies—and just as epic as the story and runtime is the cast. Hollywood heavyweight filmmaker George Stevens directed a monstrous cast that reads as a who’s who in classic Hollywood, including Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Mercedes McCambridge, and Dennis Hopper.
This film sits comfortably on my 170 list and is also one of just three films to star Dean before his untimely death the previous year, in 1955. Giant earned 10 Oscar nominations and one win, for Stevens’s direction. Among the nominations were Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and honors for Hudson and McCambridge for their leading and supporting performances, respectively. Dean also received a nomination for his leading performance—his second posthumous nomination (the other being for 1955’s East of Eden, which is also on my 170 list).
Director: George Stevens
Screenwriters: Fred Guiol, Ivan Moffat
Producers: Henry Ginsberg, George Stevens
Cast: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Carroll Baker, Jane Withers, Chill Wills, Mercedes McCambridge, Dennis Hopper, Sal Mineo
Genres: Drama, Epic, Romance, Western
Distributor: Kino International
Runtime: 201 min.
How could I call this a film blog and make no mention of the currently running Festival de Cannes, unarguably the most important festival of them all? Although I’d love to report directly from the south of France, I’m not. (Some day!) But here are 10 films I’d try to see if I were there …
(All images and synopses are courtesy of festival-cannes.com.)
Hollywood, 1927. George Valentin is a silent movie superstar. The advent of the talkies will sound the death knell for his career and see him fall into oblivion. For young extra Peppy Miller, it seems the sky’s the limit—major movie stardom awaits.
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Screenwriter: Michel Hazanavicius
Cast: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller, Missi Pyle
Michael Sheen and Maria Bello play Bill and Kate, a married couple that learns its son committed a mass shooting at his university before taking his own life. The two struggle through the grief and confusion as the media spill into their lives. Beautiful Boy is the winner of the 2010 Toronto Film Festival International Critics’ Award.
Upon reading the synopsis and watching the trailer, this chilling film is reminiscent of last year’s Rabbit Hole (John Cameron Mitchell) with threads of 2005’s American Gun (Aric Avelino) interwoven. Both Beautiful Boy and Rabbit Hole explore a couple’s relationship as it struggles over the death of a son. In Beautiful Boy, however, the stakes are higher, as that son is also responsible for taking the lives of several others, which is a subplot in the heavy-handed message film American Gun.
This film’s got “Oscar performances” written all over it for both Sheen and Bello, two highly underrated actors who have been aching for and deserving of that spotlight.
Director: Shawn Ku
Screenwriters: Michael Armbruster, Shawn Ku
Producers: Lee Clay, Eric Gozlan
Cast: Michael Sheen, Maria Bello, Alan Tudyk, Moon Bloodgood, Kyle Gallner, Meat Loaf
Distributor: Anchor Bay Films
Official Site: beautifulboythemovie.com
Runtime: 100 min.
Release Date: 6.3.11
(Re-posted from adweek.com, by Tim Nudd.)
We’ve combed through the last 30 years of movie marketing and selected our 66 favorite film taglines from that period. The cut-off of 1980 means we’ve left out what many consider the greatest movie tagline ever—”In space, no one can hear you scream” (Alien, 1979)—but there’s plenty here to chew on. Berate us in comments for everything we left out.
1. The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)
“The longer you wait, the harder it gets.”
2. Alien vs. Predator (2004)
“Whoever wins, we lose.”
3. Alien3 (1992)
“The bitch is back.”
I’ve been volunteering with the Tribeca Film Festival for the past three years. I started off in 2009 as a “key volunteer,” working 14 shifts in 11 days (the entire length of the festival). Working in the Screenings department, I worked inside by scanning tickets and outside by managing rush lines and answering questions. It was a great year and definitely broke up the monotony of my unfortunate unemployment at the time. In 2010 and this year, I was only available to volunteer during the festival’s closing weekends. Typically, I’m not a huge fan of closing weekend. The energy is mostly gone. Everyone’s seen the films. The hype is dead. Nonetheless, I love volunteering with Tribeca and plan to continue doing so, though, ideally, I would be attending the festival in the future as a filmmaker or industry professional. Continue reading 10th Annual Tribeca Film Festival Cuts to Black
Currently on my DVR is the 1927 classic Wings. It’s the story of two men—one rich and one middle class—who share a common interest in the same woman as they become fighter pilots during World War I. Starring one of the biggest actresses of the time, Clara Bow plays a woman whose affections for one of the pilots are largely unnoticed. A 25-year-old Gary Cooper appears in this classic.
Wings earned the distinction of being the very first Best Picture Oscar winner. It’s also the only silent film to win the award. During that very first Oscar ceremony in 1929, the film beat out The Racket and 7th Heaven for the Outstanding Picture honor. It also went on to win for its “engineering effects,” a category that only existed that first year.
Director: William Wellman
Screenwriters: John Monk Saunders, Hope Loring, Louis D. Lighton
Producers: B.P. Schulberg, Lucien Hubbard (uncredited)
Cast: Clara Bow, Charles “Buddy” Rogers, Richard Arlen, Jobyna Ralston
Genres: Drama, Romance, War
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Runtime: 139 min.
Buck is the winner of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award—Documentary. Below is the official poster and synopsis.
“Your horse is a mirror to your soul, and sometimes you may not like what you see. Sometimes, you will.” So says Buck Brannaman, a true American cowboy and sage on horseback who travels the country for nine grueling months a year helping horses with people problems.
Buck, a richly textured and visually stunning film, follows Brannaman from his abusive childhood to his phenomenally successful approach to horses. A real-life “horse whisperer,” he eschews the violence of his upbringing and teaches people to communicate with their horses through leadership and sensitivity, not punishment. Buck possesses near magical abilities as he dramatically transforms horses—and people—with his understanding, compassion, and respect. In this film, the animal-human relationship becomes a metaphor for facing the daily challenges of life. A truly American story about an unsung hero, Buck is about an ordinary man who has made an extraordinary life despite tremendous odds.
Director: Cindy Meehl
Producers: Julie Goldman, Andrea Meditch
Cast: Buck Brannaman, Robert Redford, Dan Gunter
Distributor: IFC Films
Official Site: buckthefilm.com
Runtime: 88 min.
Release Date: 7.17.11
Morgan Spurlock, the Oscar-nominated director of Super Size Me (2004), brings his latest film to the big screen—a documentary about the commercialization of movies. This is of particular interest to me because I’ve long been interested in how advertising and film merge, having written my undergraduate thesis on product placement in film and working in the advertising industry (day job).
In POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Spurlock takes a comedic look at how advertising influences film, and he does it by breaking down the fourth wall to show how this very film succumbs to the influence (and paycheck) of marketers. The film opened on April 22 by Sony Pictures Classics.
Director: Morgan Spurlock
Screenwriters: Morgan Spurlock, Jeremy Chillnick
Producers: Jeremy Chillnick, Keith Calder, Jessica Wu, Morgan Spurlock
Cast: Morgan Spurlock
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Official Site: sonyclassics.com/greatestmovie
Runtime: 90 min.
Check out this great animated short, “Alma,” written and directed by Rodrigo Blaas. The filmmaker has animated several Pixar films, including Up, WALL-E, Cars, Finding Nemo, and others. “Alma” is his directorial debut. The film won the Best Animation award at the 2009 L.A. Shorts Fest. In what I can best describe as a beautiful nightmare, this film would make Tim Burton proud. (Thanks, Janice!)