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This Week In Movie History…

August 15th is a very significant date in the history of film…for two reasons. We’ll cover them here in order by date, but both are, no doubt, some of the most memorable advances in movies and storytelling.

On August 15, 1934, director Christy Cabanne (The Mummy’s Hand, Scared to Death) released the first audio-visual film adaptation of Charlotte Bronte‘s famous novel Jane Eyre. Excluding the popularity of the novel, the film was part of a series of classic-literary adaptations produced by Monogram Pictures between 1933-1934. Four classic 19th-century novels were all made into big-screen adaptations that featured sound, a new technology for the era. The novels were Oliver Twist, Black Beauty, Jane Eyre, and The Moonstone. Cabanne was well-known at the time as a silent film director, but was also beginning to indulge in sound-projects. For the movie, which only runs a total of 62 minutes, the studio recruited actors Colin Clive, best known for the role of Dr. Frankenstein in the original 1931 James Whales’ classic, and newcomer Virginia Bruce (Born to Dance, The Invisible Woman) to star as Jane Eyre. Oscar-nominated screenwriter Adele Comandini (Beyond Tomorrow, Three Smart Girls) to adapt Bronte’s novel for the film (which admittedly must have been a challenge considering Jane Eyre runs for a total of 38 chapters with 400+ pages in most publications).

Also on August 15th, but in 1979, Oscar-winning director Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather, The Conversation) released his world-renowned masterpiece, Apocalypse Now. The film is famous not only for its cinematic brilliance, but also for its whirlwind of a production Continue reading

Today In Movie History…

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Today in movie history, revered editor and sound engineer Walter Murch was born in New York City in 1943. Murch first gained momentum in the film industry working with Oscar-winner Francis Ford Coppola on his film The Rain People (1969) before going on to work with George Lucas on THX1138 (1971) and American Graffiti (1973). He then furthered his professional relationship with Coppola working on films like The Godfather Part II (1974) and The Conversation (1974), the latter which earned him his first Academy Award nomination. His first major contribution to film came on Coppola’s iconic Vietnam drama, Apocalypse Now (1979), for which he won his first Oscar. Murch used a multi-track recording system to create new sounds that invoked both physical tension and psychological drama against the back-drop of Coppola’s war epic. Murch went on to serve as both sound and picture editor for numerous films, winning double Oscars for The English Patient in 1996 for Best Editor and Best Sound Editor. His work with Coppola continued throughout his career, working on films like The Godfather Part III (1990) and Tetro (2009); he also received a double Oscar-nomination in 1990 for The Godfather Part III and Ghost with Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and Whoopi Goldberg. Continue reading

Memorable Movie Monologues…

Taking a moment to appreciate the artistry behind acting, I’d like to highlight some of the most memorable, if not noteworthy monologues ever seen on the big screen. Traditionally, a monologue is a long speech delivered by an actor of the stage or screen, during which either a climactic realization is reached or a larger audience is being addressed. I’ll begin with what I consider to be one of the greatest (if not the greatest) films ever made, Francis Ford Coppola‘s The Godfather Part II. The Godfather Part II is known as the most successful movie sequel of all time, earning a total of 11 Academy Award nominations and winning 6. Among the nominees was method-actor Lee Strasberg, who co-founded the Group Theatre in 1931 and became director of the Actors Studio in 1950. Strasberg influenced a new generation of stage actors, including up-and-coming Broadway actor Al Pacino. When Pacino broke into film with The Godfather and was brought back for Part II, he asked Coppola to cast his mentor Strasberg in the supporting cast. Strasberg took the role of mob-boss Hyman Roth, and earned one of the film’s Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actor. Continue reading

New Indie Drama ‘Swiss Army Man’ Seeing Limited Release This Friday

A new indie “dramedy” titled Swiss Army Man with Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine, Prisoners) and Daniele Radcliffe (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Victor Frankenstein) is seeing a limited theatrical release this weekend before its nationwide release on July 1st. Written and directed by filmmakers Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (My Best Friend’s Wedding/My Best Friend’s Sweating, Interesting Ball), the movie follows a man stranded in the wilderness, hopeless, when he discovers and (here’s where it gets weird) befriends a dead body and sets out on an epic journey with the corpse on his back to somehow find a way home. Critics were a bit harsh on the film when it was shown at Sundance earlier this year, but it did manage to secure the Directing Award for Kwan and Scheinert. The trailer honestly looks like the most bizarre blend of human emotion, dark comedy, and epic adventure all wrapped up into one. Dano and Radcliffe also seem to show excellent performances, especially Radcliffe, who has taken on a rather interesting variety of films since hanging up his Hogwarts robes, so if this one is playing in a theater near you this weekend, I would definitely recommend checking it out. The trailer is here on MADE…Enjoy!

Speculation Building On Who Will Replace Daniel Craig In The Next James Bond Film

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With Daniel Craig (Layer Cake, Quantum of Solace) sadly stepping down from the role, speculation continues to circle the web as to who is going to replace him as the world’s most famous spy. Although MGM had reportedly offered Craig ¬£68 million for a further two films, plus shares, inside reports have stated that Craig is simply done with the role, and is moving on. And so now must producers Barbara Broccoli (GoldenEye, The World is Not Enough) and Michael G. Wilson (For Your Eyes Only, License to Kill), along with the heads at MGM, decide on a new actor to further the franchise. The favored choice, at least according to all the rumors, is Avengers and High-Rise actor Tom Hiddleston, who has thus far denied all of the rumors, but who, I’m sure, is not completely against the idea. Another name that has come up is Aiden Turner (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Poldark), but according to a more recent report from the Daily Mail, Billy Eliot and Nymphomaniac star Jamie Bell is in actual talks with the producers to take over the role. Continue reading

‘Batman Vs Superman’ Continues To Break Box-Office Records

DC Comic‘s latest big screen endeavor, Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, from director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen), is continuing to do incredibly well at the domestic and international box office, despite the terrible reviews from critics, and a pretty decent body of fans. The film has grossed more than $420 million worldwide, but it’s not the enormous success that should have fans and studio execs worried, its what lies ahead that could be potentially hazardous. The problem is that DC and the production studios royally fucked up in terms of their plan to unveil their Justice League movies. Unlike Marvel, who succeeded in introducing all of the Avengers characters in film-worthy, individual projects, DC left Batman vs Superman, not only with the task of serving as a sequel to Man of Steel (2013), but also of introducing the other Justice League characters, including Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), the Flash (Ezra Miller), and Aquaman (Jason Momoa). Continue reading

Check Out The New Trailer For The Upcoming ‘Ghostbusters’ Remake

After months of anticipation, we finally have a new trailer for the upcoming Ghostbusters remake with actresses Melissa McCarthy (Spy, The Heat), Kristen Wiig (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Martian), Kate McKinnon (Ted 2, Sisters), and Leslie Jones (Saturday Night Live, Trainwreck). The new movie is written and directed by Paul Feig (The Office, Bridesmaids) with co-writer Katie Dippold (MADtV, Parks and Recreation), and takes place 30 years after the original films, when a new group of unlikely heros steps up to save New York from paranormal forces. Original Ghostbusters stars Bill Murray (Caddyshack, Stripes), Dan Aykroyd (The Blues Brothers, Tommy Boy), Ernie Hudson (The Crow, Miss Congeniality), Sigourney Weaver (Alien, Avatar), and Annie Potts (Pretty in Pink, Toy Story) are also expected to appear alongside the movie’s supporting cast, which includes Chris Hemsworth (Thor, The Avengers), Elizabeth Perkins (Big, Weeds), Andy Garcia (The Godfather Part 3, Ocean’s Eleven), and Michael Kenneth Williams (12 Years A Slave, Inherent Vice). The movie won’t be in theaters until this July, but the trailer is available here on MADE. Enjoy!

Character Actor Abe Vigoda Passes At The Age of 94

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Character actor Abe Vigoda passed away earlier this week at the age of 94. According to his daughter, Carol Vigoda Fuchs, the actor died peacefully and had not been suffering from any illnesses. Vigoda spent years working in the New York theater scene before he was cast as the mafia hitman Sal Tessio in Francis Ford Coppola‘s The Godfather. Following the huge success of The Godfather, and The Godfather Part II, Vigoda was cast as Detective Phil Fish in 1975 on the show Barney Miller, which ran until 1982 and earned Vigoda three Emmy Award nominations in 1976, 1977, and 1978 respectively. Ironically enough, the announcement of his death re-sparked an old controversy about whether or not the actor was still alive: a false report stating that Vigoda had died was published in 1986, igniting a controversy among movie-goers and fans as to whether or not the actor was really still alive or had actually died. A website dedicated to Google searches for ‘Is Abe Vigoda really dead?’ was updated this week to respond ‘Yes.’ Regardless of his questionable death status, Vigoda’s roles and contributions to film will be remembered by his co-stars like Al Pacino (Serpico, Heat), Robert Duvall (Apocalypse Now, The Judge), and Hal Linden (Barney Miller, Out To Sea). Abe, you will be missed!

MADE Review: The Revenant

Oscar-winning writer/director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Babel, Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is following up his fantastic work on Birdman with a new dramatic western of love, survival, and revenge titled The Revenant. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio (The Departed, The Wolf of Wall Street), Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, Lawless), Domhnall Gleeson (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Will Poulter (We’re The Millers, The Maze Runner), and Forrest Goodluck (Gaming), the film follows a frontiersman who is brutally attacked by a grizzly bear while on an expedition in the 1820s Rockies, and is left for dead by members of his team. Against all odds, he survives the attack and sets out for revenge against the men who killed his son. The story is inspired by true events that appear in the book by author Michael Punke. Inarritu and Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (Children of Men, Gravity) again deliver excellent camera work on the film, and the cinematography and the scale of the film are truly epic. Leonardo DiCaprio (as usual) delivers an outstanding performance, and equally impressive is that of Tom Hardy, who could easily get an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his performance. In showing the hardship and the struggle that DiCaprio’s character encounters in the wilderness, Inarritu also delivers an impressive display of graphic effects, including an insane mauling by a grizzly bear and a night spent in the innards of a dead horse. The only complaint I can find with the film is that it could have been 15-20 minutes shorter: the middle section of the film, while vividly entertaining, begins to feel a little long. The ending, however, is excellent, leaving the audience with a sense of closure for the story, combined with a sense of wonder surrounding the final fate of the character, a stylistic approach that is all Inarritu. I would definitely recommend seeing The Revenant when it opens in theaters this Friday, January 8, 2016.

Catch This Week’s Limited Release Features In Your Local Listings

With Star Wars: The Force Awakens opening in theaters nationwide tomorrow, you can expect movie theaters to be jam-packed this weekend with old and new generation fans alike. There are, however, a number of smaller, independent projects coming out this weekend that we like to take the time to shine the spotlight on. The first is a new war drama titled Son of Saul (originally Saul fia) from writer/director Laszlo Nemes (The Counterpart, The Gentlemen Takes His Leave), which received excellent recognition at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Taking place in the Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz, in 1944, the film follows a prisoner who attempts to find redemption by saving a boy he adopts as his son from the furnaces of the camp that he has been forced to subject many of his own people to. Starring in the film are actors Geza Rohrig, Levente Molnar (Morgen, Our Big Time), Urs Rechn (Eight Miles High, The King’s Surrender), and Todd Charmont (The Last of the Mohicans, Strangers). Next up are a couple of action-thrillers, the first in the form of the French film The Lady in the Car with the Glasses and Gun from director Joann Sfar (Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life, The Rabbi’s Cat), and the second a new action flick with Bruce Willis (Die Hard, Lucky Number Sleven) titled Extraction. Lady in the Car is an adaptation of the latest novel by S√©bastien Japrisot about a secretary who steals her bosses car to go joyriding, only to discover she is now the prime suspect in a murder case after a body turns up in the trunk of the car. Extraction is a low budget action film from director Steven C. Miller (The Aggression Scale, Under The Bed), co-starring Kellan Lutz (Twilight, The Legend of Hercules) and Gina Carano (Fast & Furious 6, Deadpool), that follows the son of a captured CIA operative who decides to initiate his own rescue mission after the government refuses to conduct a rescue operation. The last release is a new documentary Noma My Perfect Storm featuring award-winning chef Rene Redzepi, who discusses her success with her Copenhagen-based restaurant (Noma) and her personal philosophy on the culinary arts that has contributed to her success. All of these sound like they’ll be pretty promising, so if you’re looking for a nice Star Wars alternative this weekend, check your local theater listings for showtimes for these features. Enjoy!