Category Archives: Drama

3 Plays-Turned-Movies

For some reason, I typically really like movies that are adapted from plays. So, in honor of tonight’s Tony Awards, take a look at three of my favorite recent plays-turned-movies.

Frost/Nixon

The Movie (2008)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ibxs_2nDXUc]

The Play (2007)

3 Tony nominations (including Best Play), 1 win (Best Actor, Frank Langella)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8GpdhKrIqk]

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The Film That Would Beat The Godfather

As is noted in the 170 Greatest Films section of this blog, the foundation of the 170 list is AFI’s original “100 Years … 100 Movies” list from 1997. Ten years later, the esteemed organization took another look at the greatest American films with a new, fresh perspective. Citizen Kane topped the list both times, but there were some modifications in 2007. Some films fell off the list. Some were added. Among those added was this 1972 classic, which I recently watched for the first time.

Cabaret was The Godfathers primary competition at the Oscar ceremony that honored some of the greatest films of 1972. (The Godfather ranked third on the original 1997 AFI list, and jumped to the runner-up position in 2007.) Many consider Coppola’s film to be “the perfect film,” but there were some doubts it would win the top prize at the Oscars that year. Throughout the night, Cabaret beat The Godfather in several categories. In total, Cabaret won an impressive eight statues out of its 10 nominations. The Godfather, however, took home just three out of 10 nominations. (Well, technically, only two went home since Marlon Brando refused his Best Actor award.)

Continue reading The Film That Would Beat The Godfather

In Theatres: The Tree of Life

Fresh from the Cannes Film Festival and currently in select theatres is Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life. The film received a healthy mix of boos and applause at Cannes, but acclaimed filmmaker Malick had the last laugh when his film won the coveted Palme d’Or. Malick is one of those directors you keep your eye on. He doesn’t make films that often (a good 20 years between Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line), but when he does, the epic productions usually pack a punch, usually in story and visuals.

I’ve been looking forward to The Tree of Life for a while now, as I’m a fan of Malick’s and Sean Penn’s and the film is being distributed by Fox Searchlight, my favorite distributor. The more I read about the film, the more the idea seems to fly over my head, so I’ll revert to the plot summary from Yahoo! Movies:

The impressionistic story of a Midwestern family in the 1950s following the life journey of the eldest son, Jack, through the innocence of childhood to his disillusioned adult years, as he tries to reconcile a complicated relationship with his father. Jack finds himself a lost soul in the modern world, seeking answers to the origins and meaning of life while questioning the existence of faith. Through Malick’’s signature imagery, we see how both brute nature and spiritual grace shape not only our lives as individuals and families, but all life.

Director: Terrence Malick

Screenwriter: Terrence Malick

Producers: Dede Gardner, Sarah Green, Grant Hill, Brad Pitt, Bill Pohlad

Cast: Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain, Fiona Shaw

Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi

Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Official Site: foxsearchlight.com/thetreeoflife

Runtime: 138 min.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hw3QBALWa60&feature=fvst]

Apocalypse Now Intro.

In honor of tomorrow’s apocalypse, enjoy this clip of the opening of Apocalypse Now (1979), one of the greatest films ever made.

On My DVR: Giant (1956)

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.

Coming Soon: Beautiful Boy

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

Genre: Drama

Distributor: Anchor Bay Films

Official Site: beautifulboythemovie.com

Runtime: 100 min.

Release Date: 6.3.11

On My DVR: Wings (1927)

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.