Posted by keelsetter on March 31, 2013
I know Harry Harrison for his collaborative work with Wally Wood on EC Comics (circa 1948), his work on the revived Flash Gordon scripts (’58 – ’68), the first of 12 Stainless Steel Rat novels (published 1961), his contributions to The Saint TV series (Harrison did ghost-work for Leslie Charteris on the 1964 novel Vendetta for the Saint, later adapted as episodes in ’69), and – of course – I’ve seen Soylent Green (1973), based on his ’66 novel Make Room! Make Room! All of which is tip of the iceberg stuff for a very prolific career which includes Bill, the Galactic Hero, a science-fiction satire novel he published in 1965 and which was later followed up with six sequels. I only recently became familiar with Bill thanks to the efforts by director Alex Cox to adapt this work for the big screen. Last week, Alex launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the film – and, yes, I can say “film” because Alex plans on shooting part of the action on B&W 35mm. Below are some questions Alex was kind enough to answer regarding his planned film adaption for Bill, the Galactic Hero: READ MORE
Posted by Susan Doll on February 25, 2013
Last week, one of my favorite actors, Sam Rockwell, appeared on campus at Ringling College of Art and Design as part the Studio Lab Series. The Lab Series, in association with the digital filmmaking program, brings guests from the entertainment industry to campus so that students can interact directly with working actors, directors, and cinematographers, among others. Rockwell’s visit kicked off the fourth year of the Ringling Lab Series, which included a screening of one of the actor’s best films, Moon, and a Q&A afterward.
I became a Sam Rockwell fan after I saw him in several films in a short period of time. I first noticed him in the underrated comedy Galaxy Quest. Shortly after, I caught him in a movie on cable titled Box of Moonlight, followed by The Green Mile. I was impressed with the diversity of his characters in three different genres and the fact that he was at home in quirky indie movies as well as polished studio features. I can honestly say that I have enjoyed Rockwell’s performance in every film I have seen him in, even when I did not think much of the film itself. Last week, I didn’t know what to expect from Rockwell as he greeted the audience after Moon. Given his penchant for offbeat psycho characters, such as his recent turn in Seven Psychopaths, it briefly crossed my mind that he might be a flake. Instead, he came across as an actor who is passionate about his work and who approaches every role like an artist.
Posted by davidkalat on February 16, 2013
Set your timers for this coming Tuesday (or set your time machine in case you’re reading this after Tuesday), because TCM will be showing the movie that gave this blog its name: George Pal’s production of The Time Machine, in which Rod Taylor falls in love with Yvette Mimieux in the distant future while savage Morlocks hunt the passive Eloi.
Unlike the obscure movies I try to focus my attention on here, this one’s a familiar staple, a warm comforting blanket of a movie. But for various reasons I’ve had The Time Machine on my mind lately, so I’m indulging in the happy coincidence.
Posted by davidkalat on January 5, 2013
The late 1970s and early 1980s were lousy with disaster flicks, a sub-genre to which Virus unquestionably belongs. Apocalypse thrillers have always been in vogue, but they do tend to shift in tone with the cultural zeitgeist. But there was something about the Cold War era that gave rise to some wonderful end-of-the-world movies the likes of which we don’t really encounter anymore. The bizarre illogic of the Cold War was somehow more conducive to nightmare poetry: two superpowers armed with enough firepower to destroy life on Earth countless times over, where in order to preserve the peace they each must threaten total war. The only thing keeping those nukes in their holsters was the promise of Mutually Assured Destruction (quite appropriately, MAD). Edward Albee couldn’t have thunk up any better.
And Virus, mind you, is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s a rip-snorting good movie that packs in not just one apocalypse, but two.
Posted by davidkalat on December 22, 2012
If you are reading this, then the world didn’t end. I never put any stock in that whole Mayan calendar silliness–if I had, I wouldn’t have spent any time writing this. And so it is with absolute confidence in the continuation of the world that I am writing this, marking the non-pocalypse by paying tribute to some of my favorite end-of-the-world movies.
Let’s start by noting that in most cases, what we really mean by end of the world movies are not movies about the literal destruction of the planet. Every once in a while you get a Beneath the Planet of the Apes, where the world is actually blown to smithereens, but those are the exceptions. The real point is to explore the end of the world as we know it, that is, the end of civilization.
In my mind, you can divide these movies into three sub-categories, and I’ll offer an example of each.
Posted by R. Emmet Sweeney on November 13, 2012
From the multiplicity of locations to place a camera, the director and his collaborators have to settle on one. This decision, born of practical training and on-set instinct, can turn a routine shot into an extraordinary one. Three recent Blu-Ray releases display the talents of the canniest of decision makers: Otto Preminger’s Bonjour Tristesse (1958), John Carpenter’s They Live (1988) and Robert Aldrich’s Twilight’s Last Gleaming (1977). Preminger and Carpenter are naturals in the CinemaScope sized frame, both alternating between B&W and color to emphasize their images’ deceptive surfaces. Aldrich uses the boxier 1.85 ratio, but chops it up into split-screens which convey a dizzying information overload that accompanies the creeping surveillance state of that film’s USA.
Posted by Susan Doll on October 22, 2012
What’s better than listening to a behind-the-scenes DVD commentary and discovering something new about a favorite film? It’s listening to a live commentary while watching the film on a big screen! Last week, I attended a “sound-down” of the sci-fi blockbuster Inception presented by cinematographer Wally Pfister. A sound-down is exactly what the term implies: The film is screened with the sound so low that it cannot be heard while a person of note—in this case, Pfister—provides an expert commentary. A sound-down offers an opportunity to fully understand the art behind the illusion that is Hollywood movie-making without destroying the magic.
A free event open to all film students and movie-lovers, the sound-down of Inception ended a week of workshops, master classes, and screenings at Ringling College of Art and Design in which Pfister generously gave his time and expertise to the students. Located in my new hometown of Sarasota, Florida, Ringling is the college where I now teach film and art history to a talented student body of future illustrators, fine artists, animators, and filmmakers. I was lucky to squeeze into a class in which Pfister provided an insider’s view of production design by explaining the interrelationship between the director, the production designer, and the cinematographer. Informal yet informative, Pfister painted a clear picture of the process of production, emphasizing that story needs to drive the choice of visual techniques—not the other way around.
Posted by R. Emmet Sweeney on September 18, 2012
It was a banner weekend for Paul Andersons, as Paul Thomas Anderson and Paul W.S. Anderson topped the specialty and worldwide box office. As PTA’s vaultingly ambitious The Master has understandably dominated the cultural conversation, I wanted to create some space to discuss the ever-workmanlike W.S. One of the few directors to fully embrace 3D, creating dazzling depth effects on half the budget of most Hollywood spectaculars, he’s an endlessly resourceful stylist. Despite this, W.S. has long been one of the worst reviewed directors in the United States. One of his staunchest defenders has been New York Times film critic Dave Kehr, so I went to see Resident Evil: Retribution 3D (rated 30% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes) with him at the Regal Union Square in Manhattan. Afterward we sat down and had an informal chat about Paul W.S. Anderson’s work and career. [Warning: Spoilers Ahead]
Posted by Kimberly Lindbergs on September 6, 2012
I spent Labor Day sick in bed. I was feverish, sore and incredibly cranky due to having my weekend plans derailed by a bad cold. On Monday night I began to feel slightly better after binging on Nyquil and chicken soup so I curled up on the couch and turned on the TV. While searching for something to watch I stumbled on the A&E television adaptation of Robin Cook’s 1977 medical thriller Coma.
The new A&E two-part series was directed by Mikael Salomon and produced by Ridley Scott along with his recently deceased brother, Tony. It was a surprisingly entertaining as well as an occasionally batty television movie that featured a solid cast of aging professionals including Ellen Burstyn, James Woods, Geena Davis and Richard Dreyfuss. After its conclusion on Tuesday night I decided to revisit Michael Crichton‘s original 1978 film adaptation of COMA starring Genevieve Bujold, Richard Widmark, Michael Douglas and Rip Torn. I hadn’t seen it in decades so I wasn’t sure what to expect but I had fond memories of the movie. I’m happy to report that Crichton‘s film didn’t disappoint and I actually found COMA even more effective than I had remembered it.
Posted by keelsetter on August 12, 2012
The art house film calendar that I program goes to press in two days and, although I’m still waiting for some confirmations, I’m sharing the rough-draft with TCM readers, along with some brief thoughts regarding the choices made.
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