A new documentary from Showtime Documentary Films, Listen To Me Marlon, will be opening in theaters nationwide this fall. As implied, the film takes a personal perspective on the life and career of 2-time Academy Award-winning actor Marlon Brando, narrated by Brando, himself, from hours of audio tapes from his personal archives. Writer/director Stevan Riley (Fire In Babylon, Everything Or Nothing) compiled Brando’s narrations along with hours of archival film footage of the actor with the help of co-writer Peter Ettedgui (Vigo: A Passion For Life, Everything Or Nothing). Brando is considered among many film historians and critics to be one of the greatest actors in history, give-or-take a few others. He is probably best known for his portrayal of the title role in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, but his dynamic talents lead him to portray a vast array of characters throughout his career in films like A Street Car Named Desire (1951), Julius Caesar (1953), and On The Water Front (1955), the latter of which earned him his first Oscar. He won his second Oscar for The Godfather in 1972 but famously refused to show-up to accept it and instead sent a young Native American woman in his place, making a political protest against the persecution of Native Americans in the United States. Nevertheless Brando went on to star in such films as Superman (1978) and Apocalypse Now (1979), imbedding himself in American culture until his death in 2004. Listen To Me Marlon first premiered earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival and is scheduled to be shown at the Film Forum on July 29th in New York City, and then 2-days later at LA’s Landmark Theater before the nationwide release in the fall. We’ll keep an eye out for an official release date.
2015 is going to be a very big year for movies. An unprecedented number of blockbuster sequels will be opening on the big screen this year, including Hot Tub Time Machine 2, Fast and Furious 7, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mad Max: Fury Road, Jurassic World, Ted 2, Terminator: Genisys, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 2, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But an equally impressive number of films will also be celebrating their 25th anniversaries this year, including several big-name films that have become cinematic classics. At the top of the list are Martin Scorsese‘s Goodfellas and Francis Ford Coppola‘s The Godfather Part III. Oscar-winner Robert DeNiro lead Scorsese’s dramatic adaptation of Nicholas Pileggi’s biographical novel of mafia hoodlums hustling in the streets of New York with co-stars Ray Liota and Joe Pesci, while Oscar-winner-to-be Al Pacino returned to reprise his role as New York crime-boss Michael Corleone in Coppola’s final installment in his epic-mafia trilogy. Diane Keaton and Talia Shire both returned for their respective roles, as well as newcomer Andy Garcia, who had been seen in Brian DePalma’s 1987 Chicago-mafia hit The Untouchables. Joe Pesci also has his name on another 1990 classic: writer John Hughes’ Home Alone, with MaCaulay Culkin and Daniel Stern. Also making the list is Tim Burton and Johnny Depp‘s dramatic-fantasy classic Edward Scissorhands, and Kevin Costner’s Academy Award-winning drama Dances With Wolves. Other classics that made 1990 a great cinematic year were releases like Warren Beatty’s comic-strip parody Dick Tracy with Madonna and Al Pacino, director Frank Marshall’s creepy-critter-thriller Arachnophobia, Stephen King‘s suspense-tale Misery with James Caan, the live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall, Whoopi Goldberg’s haunting by Patrick Swayze in Ghost, Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin in The Hunt For Red October, and finally, John McTiernan’s action-sequel Die Hard 2 and Michael J. Fox‘s final round as Marty McFly in Back To The Future Part III. Happy 25th Anniversary to all these features, and if you haven’t seen any of these movies, you should definitely add them to your Must-See list… Enjoy!
If you haven’t had a chance to go and see A Most Violent Year yet, you should be aware of what you’re walking into before you go. While the movie, itself, is really well done, and, in my opinion is a very good movie, if you’re expecting a big violent mafia flick, you’re going to be extremely disappointed. Writer/director J.C. Chandor‘s screenplay was very well written; he conveys the themes of the movie very clearly and the plot allows for a refreshing look of the hardworking American immigrant and the belief in strong family values. But as far as violence goes, the movie is definitely lacking, especially considering the title is A Most Violent Year, which really only relates to 1981 when the story takes place, one of New York City’s most violent years on record. Other than that it felt like the same story could have been put into modern times and it still would have made sense. All that aside, the acting performances by Golden Globe nominees Oscar Isaac (Robin Hood, Inside Llewyn Davis) and Jessica Chastain (The Help, Interstellar), and also that of supporting cast members Albert Brooks (Taxi Driver, Drive) and David Oyelowo (Lincoln, Selma) are outstanding, and Chandor’s filmmaking is exceptional and well deserved of recognition. So if you go in expecting more of a Coppola (The Godfather)-like movie as opposed to a Scorsese (Mean Streets, Goodfellas) or DePalma (Scarface, The Untouchables)-like movie, I think you’ll really enjoy it. Here’s the trailer one more time.
Variety recently reported that director Rupert Wyatt’s upcoming remake of the 1974 James Caan classic The Gambler has been moved up to a December 19th release date. While the initial release will be limited to certain cities and then expand nationwide on New Year’s Day, it will qualify the film for the next awards season. Mark Wahlberg will be leading the cast as Jim Bennett, a degenerate gambler who, after borrowing money from his girlfriend and mother, must save his loved ones from the gangsters he is now indebted to. The cast also features Brie Larson, Jessica Lange, and John Goodman and comes from a script written by William Monahan (The Departed, Kingdom of Heaven). James Caan, who had received an Oscar nomination for his role in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather just two years earlier, received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in 1974 for The Gambler, and both Wahlberg and Monahan received Oscar nods for their work on The Departed, so maybe this remake will do the original justice, but we’ll have to wait for December or January to find out.
The Wolf of Wall Street, the next highly anticipated collaboration between director Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, may be getting an even later release date than originally expected. Slated to hit theaters on November 15th, the film may now be being pushed back to an early release for 2014. Several factors have pushed Paramount to consider the change. The film is currently running at 180 minutes, not unusual for a Scorsese picture, but the length may be longer than the studio originally intended. There is also the question of further editing that needs to be done in order to avoid an NC-17 rating, which never ends well for the production company. Paramount actually encountered a similar problem back in 1990 when The Godfather Part 3 was originally given an NC-17 rating. Francis Ford Coppola and the producers had to go back and cut some of the more gruesome scenes in order to secure the R rating. No matter when the film is released, it’s sure to be a great one. The last collaboration between Scorsese and DiCaprio was The Departed (2006), which won the Oscar for Best Picture and earned Scorsese a Golden Globe for Best Director. It will be a bummer to have to wait to see Wolf, but I think we can all wait a few more months for Scorsese; he never disappoints!
Happy 4th of July! Generally when you think of the fourth of July you think of fireworks, cookouts and time with family and friends. So while you’re with your family and friends this Independence Day, why not check out some of these American movies that capture the patriotic events of our American history.
1. The Patriot
I know, I know, an obvious choice for this list, but this movie was made before Mel Gibson lost his mind and Heath Ledger was still with us. Though not exactly historically accurate, its still an entertaining watch, and definitely appropriately set for Independence Day.
Classic Civil War-era film starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman. Glory tells the tale of the first all-black volunteer infantry, chronicling the struggles of black soldiers who faced prejudice from both Union and Confederate forces.
3. To Kill A Mockingbird
Decades ahead of its time, To Kill A Mockingbird was one of the first major motion pictures to push for ethnic and racial equality. Based on Harper Lee’s novel about a white lawyer, Atticus Finch, who is appointed to defend a black man, Tom Robinson, accused of raping a white girl, both media challenge the presence of racism and segregation in both American culture and even within the American justice system. This is a great American classic everybody should see.
4. Forrest Gump
Tom Hanks won an Oscar for his portrayal of Forrest Gump, a man with an IQ of 75 who witnesses first-hand the tumultuous events of the American 1960s, 70s and 80s. Anyone who is a fan of Tom Hanks or good filmmaking should see this movie, if you haven’t already.
5. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Clint Eastwood makes his third appearance as “The Man with No Name” in Sergio Leone’s epic American western. Set in the years of the Civil War, the film follows Eastwood as he encounters thieves, bandits, and the Union/Confederate struggle taking place as far west as Texas. This is a long one, but possibly one of the best films ever made, direction-wise anyway. You won’t be disappointed!
6. The Grapes of Wrath
John Ford directed this classic adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novel. Set in the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s, the story recounts the tale of the Joad family, who abandon their home in Oklahoma and head out west in hopes of employment and a more promising future. Henry Fonda and Jane Darwell lead the cast in this epic tale of struggle, family, and endurance.
7. Apocalypse Now
Francis Coppola directed this story about Captain Willard, who is sent into the depths of the Vietnam struggle on a mission to assassinate an American general who has gone A-wall. The movie won Oscars for sound and cinematography and is possibly the most accurate representation of the Vietnam War and the effect it had on the men who fought it.
8. Saving Private Ryan
Steven Spielberg won the Best Director Oscar for his tale of a group of American soldiers assigned to rescue a paratrooper following the Normandy D-Day invasion. The opening sequence has gone down in cinematic history for Spielberg’s dramatic recreation of the D-Day attack and the film stands as one of Spielberg’s greatest directorial achievements.
9. Apollo 13
Tom Hanks makes this list for a third time in Ron Howard’s Apollo 13, which follows the mission of Jim Lovell, Fred Hayes and Jack Swigert as they attempt to make it back to Earth after their ship suffers major damage and disables them from landing on the moon. Ed Harris, Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon all give excellent performances as the members of the Apollo 13 crew and Houston Control, who work to bring the astronauts home safely during the seven-day ordeal. A great reflection of the space race during the Cold War era of America!
10. The Godfather, Parts I and II
This epic crime drama written by Mario Puzo and adapted to the screen by Francis Ford Coppola tells the story of the Corleone family and their rise to power in New York City and across the country, spanning the lengths of the Prohibition era 1920s all the way to the Cold War paranoia of the 1950s. Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro lead the cast of this American epic, which secured both Oscars for Best Picture 1972 and 1974.
This December will mark the 40th anniversary of Francis Coppola’s The Godfather Part 2. Both the original and sequel were based on author Mario Puzo’s acclaimed novel, but the second film continued the story of Michael Corleone’s character with a collaborative effort between author Puzo and director Coppola. The movie was an instant classic and just as popular and successful as the first film, winning the Academy Awards for Best Director, Picture, Original Score, Adapted Screenplay, Art (Set) Decoration, and a Best Supporting Actor award for Robert De Niro, who portrays the Godfather in his youthful days in the early 1900s. All Pacino was also nominated for Best Actor, and Talia Shire (who is Coppola’s sister and famous for portraying Adrien in Rocky) was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. Coppola and Puzo both returned to complete the series in 1990 with The Godfather Part 3, which also received nominations for Best Picture, Director, and Best Supporting Actor Andy Garcia.