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Archive for the ‘Cinema’ Category

citylightsFrom The Nation archives, reviews of a dozen vintage films reflecting “the hardships and aspirations of Americans in the first Great Depression”:

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05foote-480Horton Foote, who chronicled a wistful American odyssey through the 20th century in plays and films mostly set in a small town in Texas and who left a literary legacy as one of the country’s foremost storytellers, died on Wednesday in Hartford. He was 92 and lived in Pacific Palisades, Calif., and Wharton, Tex.

“Mr. Foote died after a brief illness, his daughter Hallie Foote said. He had recently been living in Hartford while adapting his nine-play “Orphans’ Home Cycle” into a three-part production that will be staged next fall at the Hartford Stage Company and the Signature Theater in New York. In a body of work for which he won the Pulitzer Prize and two Academy Awards, Mr. Foote was known as a writer’s writer, an author who never abandoned his vision even when Broadway and Hollywood temporarily turned their backs on him.

“In screenplays for movies like “Tender Mercies,” “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Trip to Bountiful,” and in plays like “The Young Man From Atlanta” and “The Carpetbagger’s Children,” Mr. Foote depicted the way ordinary people shoulder the ordinary burdens of life, finding drama in the resilience by which they carry on in the face of change, economic hardship, disappointment, loss and death.” (more @ NY Times)

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dark-knightOn the eve of the Academy Awards announcements, the National Review has released its list of the “25 best conservative movies of the last 25 years.” The list, chosen from nominees submitted by National Review readers, includes, among others, The Lives of Others, The IncrediblesJuno, Forrest Gump, Ghostbusters, The Dark Knight and Gran Torino, films conservatives enjoy because “they are great movies that offer compelling messages about freedom, families, patriotism, traditions, and more.”

w-movie(via National Review Online)

[As for the rest of us, there’s always W.]

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dvd“Because of widely available broadband access and a new wave of streaming sites, it has become surprisingly easy to watch pirated video online — a troubling development for entertainment executives and copyright lawyers.”

(via NY Times)

[Earlier this week, for the first time, I watched a pirated movie, a DVD copy of a current-run Academy Award-nominated film apparently reproduced from an advance review video (during an early scene, for a few seconds, a message appeared on the bottom of the screen warning against reproduction or distribution of the video). I must admit to having had some misgivings about watching the DVD, yet what I mostly thought about was how commonplace it is to find for sale legally in bookstores, uncorrected proofs or review copies of new books sold to the stores by editors and reviewers, often in advance of the books’ release. Review copies of new books, not intended for resale, are so ubiquitous in New York City that it has become hard for me to justify paying full price for new titles.]

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oscar-statue

“Is it the seamlessly blended amber and caramel colors, the slowly gliding camera work? Or is it the sentiments that fall like flakes of wet snow into the dialogue? Many elements join to make the beautifully crafted “Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” with a running time of two hours and forty-seven minutes, the best picture in years for a postprandial rest (popcorn division). As you may have noticed, 2008 was not a great year for movies. There was nothing comparable to the hair-raising “There Will Be Blood,” or the ravishing “Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” or the sinister “No Country for Old Men,” from 2007. Even so, a nod for best picture could have gone to more deserving movies, such as Jonathan Demme’s “Rachel Getting Married,” which settles down into a revelatory examination of a family’s anguish and joy; or “Happy-Go-Lucky,” Mike Leigh’s startling look at the power and the limits of goodness; or even the animated masterpiece “WALL-E,” with its vision of the end of industrial civilization and its ironic salvation in an anodyne space station decorated in cruise-liner moderne. The total of thirteen nominations for “Benjamin Button” has to be some sort of scandal. “Citizen Kane” received nine nominations, “The Godfather: Part II” eleven, and this movie, so smooth and mellow that it seems to have been dipped in bourbon aging since the Civil War, is nowhere close to those two. In fact, of the five nominees for best picture—“Milk,” “Frost/Nixon,” “The Reader,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” and “Benjamin Button”—only “Milk,” a bio-pic with a thrilling sense of history and lots of jokes and sex, has the aesthetic life and human vitality that warrant its nomination.” (via The New Yorker)

[I have never considered David Denby, the longtime movie critic for “The New Yorker” magazine, a curmudgeon, yet my response to his complaints about this year’s Oscar nominees for “Best Picture” is a keen, albeit spiteful, desire to see them all before the winner is announced. Pass the popcorn.]

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