Friday, August 12, 2016

Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words

Last night a man at dinner said to me, ‘You’ll never be an actress. You’re too tall’.” Ingrid Bergman wrote this in her diary in 1939. “I thought, he knows nothing about me.” Shortly after this disclosure in Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words, we see footage from her first screen test for David O Selznik. The young actress sits on a couch, looking relaxed as she glances around and smiles, and then she composes herself and stares directly into the camera, delivering a piercing gaze that has a heart-stopping impact. If the man who sat next to her at dinner had seen this footage, he would have been forced to immediately eat his words. She was clearly born to be a movie star.

Read the rest of my review at Little White Lies

Monday, August 08, 2016

Todd Solondz in The Skinny


What do filmmakers draw satisfaction from when they look back over their careers? The impact of their films? The awards they have won? The careers they have launched? For Todd Solondz, the answer is somewhat different: “I'm the author of the only studio movie ever to be released with a big red box in it. I take pride in that!” We are discussing his 2001 film Storytelling, in which a rough, interracial sex scene had to be covered up to appease the Motion Picture Association of America, and Solondz recalls this censorship battle with some glee.

“I actually felt bad for the Europeans because they didn't get to see the version with the red box,” he tells The Skinny. “You know, it came out around 9/11 when they were cutting pictures of the World Trade Centre out of movies, and they asked me if I would remove mine. I said I wouldn't but I would put a big red box over that too – but with movies like mine, that costs money and nobody wants to throw more money at removing shots.”

Read the rest of my interview at The Skinny

Monday, July 25, 2016

Silents Is Golden: The Complete Buster Keaton Shorts

“Have you ever been in a movie, Buster?” he asked.

When I told him I hadn’t, Roscoe said, “Why don’t you come over to the Colony Studios tomorrow morning? I’m starting a new picture there. You could try doing a bit in it. You might enjoy working in pictures.”

“I’d like to try it,” I told him.

– Buster Keaton: My Wonderful World of Slapstick

It didn’t take long for Buster Keaton to fall head over heels for the movies. He met Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle on the set of his two-reeler The Butcher Boy in 1916, and the next day he was making his debut in front of the cameras. He enters The Butcher Boy as a customer hoping to buy some molasses, an attempt that ends in a predictably sticky mess, and he later engages in flour-chucking fight and a chase around a school for girls (with Roscoe in drag). Keaton didn’t make much of an impact on audiences in this first appearance – in fact, Variety’s review neglected to mention him even as they found time to praise his canine co-star Luke – but many of the traits we associate with him were already in place. The dumbfounded expression, the astonishing athleticism, the porkpie hat. A star was born.

Read the rest of my article at Mostly Film

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Il Cinema Ritrovato 2016

What makes a classic? Why do some films establish unassailable reputations as great works of cinema, while other films with just as many virtues slip through the cracks of time and are forgotten? At this year’s Il Cinema Ritrovato festival in Bologna, a number of acknowledged masterpieces from the canon were screened – films such as Singin’ in the Rain, Modern Times, The Godfather, A Streetcar Named Desire and McCabe & Mrs Miller – but the thrill of a festival like this lies in uncovering hidden gems and being surprised by a film that you had no great expectations for, or in some cases had never even heard of. There were plenty of such revelations this year, and we unearthed a few films that really do deserve to have their names listed among the greats.

For example, take the strange case of Only Yesterday. The opening credits of John M. Stahl’s 1933 film suggest that it was adapted from a book by Frederick Lewis Allen, but it quickly transpires that the source material is actually Stefan Zweig’s Letter from an Unknown Woman, and Universal in fact quietly secured the rights to Zweig’s novella just two weeks before the film’s release. Of course, that story was filmed beautifully in 1948 by Max Ophüls, a film that is justifiably renowned as a masterpiece, but it’s hard to see why there is such a disparity between the reputations of these two pictures.

Read the rest of my article at Mostly Film

Friday, June 24, 2016

Remainder

Essentially, you’ve got to forget it ever happened,” the solicitor tells his client. “Put it behind you and start a new life, on your terms, with incredible resources.” That’s easier said than done. Tom (Tom Sturridge) has just received an £8.5 million payout as compensation for being severely injured in a freak accident – but how can a man move forward with his life when both his body and mind still bear such fresh scars?

As he hobbles around his small flat, fragments of memories keep flashing into Tom’s ruptured brain, giving him a reason to exploit his sudden and unexpected wealth. He finds a location that matches the home in his mind’s eye and hires actors to play roles within it, hoping that some kind of Proustian spark – the smell of liver? The sound of a piano? – will reconnect him with his former self.

Read the rest of my review at Little White Lies