The Last Picture Show

Bogdanovich Last Picture Show

“I thought you might want to go to the picture show. Miss Mosey is having to close it. Tonight’s the last night.” – Sonny Crawford (Timothy Bottoms)

How is it that nobody has done a modern version of The Last Picture Show? I realize that Peter Bogdanovich’s 1971 film, based on the novel by Larry McMurtry, is about much more than Miss Mosey having to close down the movie theater due to dwindling business and the rise of television, but let’s face it: the death of the Royal Theater in a small town, circa 1952, serves as a larger emblem of the many chapters in life that open and close for the characters of Anarene, Texas. It does so in ways that are understandable for anyone going through adolescence, their mid-life, and even death. Still: so much is implied by the four simple words of the title that it’s no surprise the book caught the eye of someone like Bogdanovich.

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Biting the Hand That Feeds You: Movies About the Movies In the 1950s

movieskelly

Episode 6 of The Story of Film: An Odyssey airs tonight and tomorrow night on TCM. Titled, “1953-1957-The Swollen Story: World Cinema Bursting at the Seams,” this episode continues the exploration of Hollywood and world cinema of the 1950s that was begun in Episode 5. In regard to Hollywood, the career of musical director Stanley Donen and the impact of McCarthyism were discussed last week, while James Dean and the era’s glossy melodramas are briefly mentioned tonight, along with On the Waterfront. While musicals, McCarthyism, melodramas, and Marlon’s Method do characterize Hollywood cinema in the 1950s, the decade represented so much more for the American film industry.

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O Lucky U.S.!

One of many references in O LUCKY MAN! to A CLOCKWORK ORANGE.

Last night Alex Cox and I sat down for a private screening of O Lucky Man! (Lindsay Anderson, 1973). Alex had met both Anderson and Malcolm McDowell back in the seventies, and had even presented Anderson with a script for a film that never got made (Scousers). At one point Alex, who had not seen O Lucky Man! in a very long time, couldn’t help but blurt out that “it’s even better than I remember!” Alex was also surprised by how certain sequences in the film had clearly influenced his own Highway Patrolman (1991), and we both marveled at how, despite being almost 40 years old, the film retained all its original power and packed a prescient edge. O Lucky Man! is even more relevant now to the U.S. because at the time of its release it was chronicling the nervous collapse of English society from an engineering country to a service country. It’s the same spasm that now grips the U.S. psyche. [...MORE]

Secrets Hidden in the Films of Stanley Kubrick

Room 237 (2012) is a documentary by Rodney Ascher that delves into several different theories that might lurk behind the infamous door of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980). Anyone who watches The Shining at face value alone will walk away having seen a horror film about an alcoholic and abusive writer who is haunted by ghosts until he goes mad. But when you take into consideration the fact that Kubrick was reading a lot of Freud in preparation for shooting The Shining, and that he was also deep into Jungian concepts about the duality of man, suddenly The Shining takes on other meanings as well, all of which are aided by Kubrick’s fastidious nature and his love for symmetry. These complexities are all well documented in the impressive tome released by Taschen titled The Stanley Kubrick Archives. Room 237 does not go down these well trod paths of analysis, but rather goes off the beaten path and down five completely different rabbit-holes. [...MORE]

Movies About the Movies

The highly anticipated Hitchcock opens the AFI Film Festival on November 1. Based on the book Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, the drama interprets the behind-the-scenes production of one of the 20th century’s most influential films. I have not seen a trailer for the film, but based on the publicity stills, the makeup on star Anthony Hopkins results in an uncanny likeness of Hitchcock. Writer-director Sacha Gervasi (Anvil: The Story of Anvil; scriptwriter for The Terminal) lacks a sufficient track record to predict the quality of the drama, but Hopkins is sure to offer an interesting interpretation of the Master of Suspense. In addition to Hitchcock, a film called The Girl, which focuses on the director’s relationship with Tippi Hedren, is in the works. Toby Jones stars as Hitchcock, and Sienna Miller costars as Hedren.

Hitchcock and The Girl belong to that genre generally described as “movies about the movies,” a category irresistible to most film lovers. In doing research for this blog article, I was surprised at the diversity of the films that fall into this genre. There are biopics about beloved actors (Man of a Thousand Faces; The Story of Will Rogers); biopics that examine the adverse effect of Hollywood on the individual, particularly the star system and publicity machine (Frances; Harlow); dark exposes of those industry insiders corrupted by fame and power (Sunset Boulevard; A Star Is Born; The Bad and the Beautiful; Hollywoodland); and comic musings about the nature or history of Hollywood filmmaking (Sherlock, Jr.; Singin’ in the Rain).

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