This trailer is for a curious film-object I managed to catch during its World Premiere at Hot Docs in May. Kind of a found footage film, kind of a ‘constructed collage,’ and very much a fake narrative. Filmmaker Dean Fleischer-Camp took hours and hours of public uploaded You Tube video from an American family, and re-edited as a feature film, Fraud which considers the dark, disturbing side of credit, consumerism, and the American Dream. The execution is not without its flaws, but it deserves a serious consideration because of the way that it further pushes out the documentary-form, and even more significantly, the experience of watching Fraud is beyond fascinating. Check out the trailer below.
Check out these links:
What If 2016 Is Actually The Year That Saves Cinema?
Martin Scorsese’s list of 39 essential foreign films
R.I.P. DVD Commentaries: 1997-2016(ish)
Some of the creepiest makeup of the silent era
Ignore the critics! Ten ‘rotten’ movies you should totally watch anyway
Bringing ordinary things to life with my phone
Use your mouse to move video around at any time.
Greetings, salutations, and warmest regards. Messrs. Fitzhalfyard and d’Almirall, and the Lady Laura Fitzhalfyard most cordially implore your attention for a faint touch of amusement and diversion to tickle your nerves with a most engrossing discourse regarding the televised play of Pride & Prejudice.
Amounting to something of a cultural phenomenon, the series skillfully blends roguish schemes; titillating wit; timeless characters; and masterful direction with nary a tarried moment. For which, one must say it is remembered with the uttermost fondness, but also as well for its sterling cast; among its ranks Alison Steadman, David Bamber, Cristin Bonham-Carter, Lucy Briers, Polly Maberly, Julia Sawalha, and M. Fitzhalfyard’s particular favourite, Benjamin Whitrow. Leading them all, naturally, are the exquisite Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth.
So please take respite, repose, and recline. We dare say that it will be among the most efficacious indulgences of the season.
Melancholic pop song. Check. Lots of hyper-cut violence. Check. Mystery box promise. Check. We really have to have a conversation on how to cut trailers. I do not mean to single out the first full trailer for the live-action remake of classic anime, Ghost In The Shell, because hey, it looks pretty good in a noirish cyberpunk fashion. (And hey, there is Beat Takeshi in a small appearance!) But I an tell you that if we keep advertising blockbusters this way, it is its own kind of fatigue.
For the uninitiated, in 1995, long before The Matrix was put into production by Joel Silver and The Wachowski Brothers, Japanese wunderkind, Mamoru Oshii and a large team of traditional animators adapted the 1988 Manga into an influential-in-its-own-right post-Blade Runner cyberpunk masterpiece. It also broke just as ‘anime’ was coming into vogue in America (spawning that awful term, Japanimation, may it never be spoken out loud again!) which garnered it a pretty wide North American theatrical release, which was rare both then an now. Meanwhile, in Japan it has since spawned one major (and quite opaque) cinematic sequel, several (more accessible) OVA spin-offs, as well as TV shows, books, et cetera.
Rupert Sanders (Snow White And The Huntsman) is finishing up on the often delayed American remake, see the trailer below, starring Scarlett Johansson as the iconic synthetic police woman, “The Major” who works with the counter-cyberterrorist organization in mid 21st century urban Japan.
During production, this has bred its own kind of controversy (#OscarSoWhite) in recasting an Asian character — in spite of being an android in an animated franchise — as a white girl. Currently, the landscape around this picture is fraught with peril; perhaps not as much as the recent Ghostbusters remake, but still plenty. The producers have attempted to dodge the issue by stating that the film is not set in Japan, but rather post-national urban setting where all races are represented. Personally, I am more interested if Sanders and his three screenwriters (two male, one female) screenwriters can bring the intelligence, style and wit to the picture, and not make it so forgettably ‘vanilla’ like his previous CGI-laden Snow White movie.
Nevertheless, if you have not had the pleasure of the 1995 version, I recommend finding it, even as I tentatively look forward to what this new version might possibly be. The imagery sure is striking, and much like the western, I’m always a little please to see cyberpunk poke its head into the world of big studio pictures.
One last thing, it appears that the poster designers are fans of Aeon Flux, a bio-cyberpunk, female driven blockbuster from 2005, that was itself a remake of a violent animated series. Unfortunately the Charlize Theron film was not very successful at the box office at the time; but, in my humble opinion, is nevertheless a pretty solid (and currently overlooked) entry in the genre.
Director: Robert Aldrich
Screenplay: Ronald M. Cohen, Edward Huebsch
Based on a Novel by: Walter Wager
Starring: Burt Lancaster, Charles Durning, Paul Winfield, Richard Widmark, Burt Young, Gerald S. O’Loughlin, Roscoe Lee Browne, Melvyn Douglas, Joseph Cotten
Country: USA, West Germany
Running Time: 144 min
BBFC Certificate: 15
I loved the last Robert Aldrich film I reviewed, The Flight of the Phoenix, and I’m a fan of some of his other classics, such as Kiss Me Deadly and The Dirty Dozen, so it didn’t take much to convince me to review one of his last films, 1977’s Twilight’s Last Gleaming. It wasn’t particularly successful when originally released and has hardly grown to be a classic, but it has picked up favour along the way, enough at least for Eureka to add it to their Masters of Cinema roster.
Twilight’s Last Gleaming is a thriller which sees a former USAF general, Lawrence Dell (Burt Lancaster), head a team of escaped convicts on a mission to take control of a nuclear silo housing 9 warheads. They quickly succeed (helped by Dell’s inside knowledge) and put America to ransom, making an unusual demand. On top of the standard large amount of cash and flight out of the country, Dell wants the president to release eye-opening information about America’s involvement in the Vietnam war to the general public. He feels the people must know what happened and will press the ‘big red button’ if they aren’t told. Unfortunately, the President (Charles Durning), or at least his staff, aren’t happy about releasing the incriminating document as it will likely cause utter chaos. Nuclear armageddon is hardly an improvement on this though, so the President is stuck between a rock and a hard place, particularly since he is as horrified by the revelations as the public might be, due to not being in power during the war. As time ticks away and several tactics are attempted to talk Dell and his team out of it or physically stop them, we draw ever closer to a climax that can’t possibly end well.
And the waking nightmare that is 2016 just keep on trucking with the evil bastard that is cancer tucked safely under its wing. On November 11th, the ghouls have taken from us one Robert Vaughn.
Probably for most reading this, Vaughn was a welcome character actor that poked his head into everything throughout their lives. As a child, I remember Vaughn showing up constantly as a “hey! It’s that guy” in countless television episodes and law commercials throughout the 80s. The slightly older among us may remember him fondly as Napoleon Solo in the hit spy thriller television show, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”.
Ask my dad and he’ll probably tell you that Vaughn was one of the original Magnificent Seven. Personally, when I think Robert Vaughn, I’ll always remember him for his role as a weather-altering billionaire and devilishly fun villain, Ross Webster, in 1983’s Superman III.
Robert Vaughn will be missed, but luckily there’s a ton of content to revisit or visit for the first time. Here he is talking with Gene Shalit about playing a villain. Rest in peace sir.
Director: Brian De Palma
Screenplay: Robert J. Avrech, Brian De Palma
Starring: Craig Wasson, Melanie Griffith, Gregg Henry, Deborah Shelton
Running Time: 114 min
BBFC Certificate: 18
With the recent documentary De Palma and labels like Arrow re-releasing some of the director’s earlier work on Blu-Ray over the past few years, it seems like there’s a lot of love for Brian De Palma going around. The films he made since the turn of the millennium haven’t exactly set the world on fire, but he made enough great thrillers and cult classics in his heyday that it would be foolish to dismiss him. I must admit there are far too many of his films that I’ve not seen, but I’m a big fan of some of his most well known titles, such as Carrie and The Untouchables (although I haven’t seen the latter for a long time). So I was particularly interested in reviewing Powerhouse Films’ new Dual Format release of Body Double, aided by the fact the film had been recommended to me by a fellow film blogger.
Body Double sees the not-particularly-successful actor Jake Scully (Craig Wasson) come home early from set one day (after a panic attack due to claustrophobia) to find his wife having sex with another man. He’s devastated of course, but the incident also causes a practical problem in that he has nowhere to stay (the house was in her name). An actor acquaintance Sam Bouchard (Gregg Henry) takes pity on him and lets him house-sit a luxury apartment he was watching for another friend. The apartment is first rate, but Sam shows Jake something that makes it extra-special – it has the perfect view (with the assistance of a telescope) into a neighbouring apartment housing Gloria (Deborah Shelton), an incredibly attractive young woman who performs a semi-naked erotic dance at the same time every night.
Jake soon becomes obsessed with Gloria and when he spots a suspicious looking character also spying on her and a late night visitor abusing her, he follows Gloria to make sure she’s safe, as well as to find an explanation for her unusual behaviour and unpleasant company. To give too much away following this would be spoiling the fun, but the film takes some drastic twists and turns through its just-under two-hour running time.
One of the iconic moments in Jeff Nichols’ very quiet film on race and the law, Loving, is when the central (and eponymous) married couple are photographed by a Life Magazine photographer. It is a wonderful moment in the film, and somehow it was not used in the original poster for the film. However, this alternate one sheet, from designer Manu, riffs wonderfully on black and white photography (and race for that matter), comfort and intimacy.
We have quite the treat for you this week with Shane Black’s THE NICE GUYS! Elvis Kunesh and Jennifer Garnet Filo guest star and give us their take on the 70s action comedy. Lots to get to in this big episode so don’t wait.
As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!
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Director: Ettore Scola
Screenplay: Ruggero Maccari, Ettore Scola, Maurizio Costanzo
Starring: Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, John Vernon
Country: Italy, Canada
Running Time: 106 min
BBFC Certificate: 12
CultFilms’ second release heralding their entry into the boutique home entertainment label scene, after Two Women, is A Special Day. Another Italian award-winner starring Sophia Loren, yet otherwise quite a different film, A Special Day is a 1977 period drama directed by Ettore Scola. I must admit I hadn’t heard of it before being offered a screener to review, but looking the film up, it seemed to have received fantastic reviews and was deemed strong enough to be included as part of the Criterion Collection, so I figured it must be worth a shot.
A Special Day, as the title suggests, is set over one day in Rome in 1938 – the day Adolph Hitler arrived in the city on his visit to Italy, which was still a fascist dictatorship at the time (and WWII was yet to kick off), so the German dictator was hugely popular in the country. After a newsreel introduction setting the historical scene, we are introduced to Antonietta (Loren) and her family. The tired housewife has six children and an ungrateful husband (John Vernon), who are all preparing to join the huge parade in honour of Hitler’s visit to the city. They all rush out the small apartment, along with most of the inhabitants of the block of flats, leaving Antonietta to tidy up after them and trawl through her usual list of household chores. When the family’s pet bird escapes out the window and lands outside a neighbouring apartment though, Antonietta heads over there to try and catch the bird, seeing that the inhabitant has also stayed at home during the celebrations.
The neighbour is Gabriele (Marcello Mastroianni), a persecuted ex-radio presenter who is contemplating suicide. Antonietta’s arrival brightens his mood though and he tries to keep her from leaving him alone. She’s reluctant at first, nervous about what the neighbours would think of her fraternising with a man other than her husband, but soon warms to him, glad to be distracted from the drudgery of her day to day life. As the two get to know each other better we discover an important difference of opinion as well as a revelation as to why Gabriele is so troubled