Tag Archives: thomas

New World War II Drama ‘Darkest Hour’ Brings Churchill’s Perseverance and Leadership To Modern Audiences

Despite the new World War II drama Darkest Hour now playing in theaters nationwide, “Who was Winston Churchill?” still sounds like a question you’re likely to find on one of those ‘the dumbing down of America has happened’ videos. While Churchill may not have been American, himself, his influence and importance in the events of the mid-20th Century cannot be overstated. Winston Churchill was elected Britain’s Prime Minister in 1940, a position he held throughout the remainder of World War II and again from 1951 to 1955. Before his career in politics he had worked as a writer and served as a member of the British Army. His election in 1940 came at a time when Britain’s, and indeed the future of the whole of Western Europe was uncertain. Hitler had been elected Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and, by the time of Churchill’s election, was already marching across France, pushing British forces to the shores of the English Channel, where the famous evacuation at Dunkirk took place (if you haven’t seen Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, I highly recommend it!).

With the United States still hesitant to enter the war effort in either Europe or the Pacific, the newly appointed Prime Minister was faced with the choice of either regrouping and rallying national support to continue the war effort against Nazi Germany, or agreeing to sign a peace accord with Hitler and the Axis Powers. As the United Kingdom stood at the brink of invasion, it was up to Churchill to persuade Parliament, King George VI, and the people of Britain that the war could be won and that it was worth fighting, an extremely difficult prospect considering the ever-growing influence of Nazi Germany and the reluctance of the United States to enter the war. Continue reading

Sofia Coppola And Others Win Top Prizes As 70th Cannes Film Festival Wraps

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The 70th Cannes Film Festival wrapped up this year with several big surprises. The Killing of a Sacred Deer and You Were Never Really Here both tied for the best screenplay award. Sofia Coppola became the first female director to win the Best Director award at Cannes in 56 years for The Beguiled, an adaptation of Thomas Cullinan’s Civil War novel about a wounded soldier who takes refuge among the inhabitants of a girls’ school in Virginia. Joaquin Phoenix and Diane Kruger were awarded best actor awards for their respective roles in You Were Never Really Here and In The Fade, the latter of which featured Kruger speaking in her native German. Additionally, Nicole Kidman received a special award for her appearances in four of this year’s festival entries, including The Beguiled, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, How to Talk to Girls at Parties, and Top of the Lake. Other noteworthy entries include BPM (Beats Per Minute), a drama focused around the French gay-rights movement in the early 90s that earned this year’s Grand Prix, and Ruben Östlund’s The Square, about a high-class museum curator who is forced to mingle with lower class members when he is pick-pocketed on the street. A full list of this year’s winners is provided below…. Continue reading

Today Marks 50th Anniversary of Beatle’s ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’

sgt peppers lonely hearts club band

Today (May 26th) marks the 50th anniversary celebration of The Beatle’s revolutionary album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The LP was the first released by the band following their retirement from touring after their final performance at Candlestick Park in 1966. Although The Beatles had already begun a steady transition from being a more traditional pop-rock group with albums like Rubber Soul and Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s has been hailed as their ultimate creative masterpiece, followed closely perhaps by 1969’s Abbey Road. Released at the beginning of the Summer of Love, it set a new precedent for what a rock and roll record could be. The concept behind the album began following the exhaustion the group experienced after the whirlwind of Beatlemania. Paul McCartney came to Lennon, Starr, and Harrison with an idea that they would record an all new album under an alternative persona, which would free them from the weight of being the Beatles and usher in a fresh wave of musical creativity. Sgt. Pepper’s not only ushered in a new era for the Beatles; it also marked the beginning of the psychedelic rock movement that would see new groups like The Doors, Pink Floyd, and Jefferson Airplane begin to climb the pop music charts. Now, 50 years later, Sgt. Pepper’s is known not only for its conception and importance to 60s rock (and music in general), but also for the history of its production. Continue reading

Parker’s ‘The Birth of a Nation’ Stirring Just As Much Controversy as the 1915 Original

Writer, director, and lead actor Nate Parker (The Great Debaters, Red Tails)’s The Birth of a Nation is now playing in theaters across the country, but not in the light the young filmmaker was hoping for. The film struggled to reach $7 million in domestic box office sales in its opening weekend. Several factors could have contributed to the surprising low, but the most likely cause of the low turn out is Parker’s 1999 rape allegations during his time at Penn State. Although Parker was exonerated, news that his alleged victim committed suicide in 2012 and his handling of the case back in 1999 have caused a great controversy that has women’s rights and sexual assault advocate groups shouting boycott all across the country.

While Parker’s film may be controversial in its own right, the original Birth of a Nation, which was a silent movie released in 1915, was just as controversial, if not more so. The original Birth of a Nation is remembered for its blatantly racial undertones and simultaneous impressive contributions to filmmaking. Continue reading

This Week In Film History….

In a historical week that also saw The Bridge Over the River Kwai released in 1957, Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961, director Don Siegel and actor Clint Eastwood (Dirty Harry, Escape from Alcatraz) do their first work together on Coogan’s Bluff (1968), and Lars von Trier drive the film festival circuit wild with Breaking the Waves (1996), we have to recognize one of the sole reasons that any of these accomplishments were able to happen. On October 5th, 1864, Louis Lumière was born Besançon, France. Lumiere and his brother Auguste, would grow up to provide perhaps the most significant contribution to film as both an industry, and an art form. Continue reading

Memorable Movie Moments…

Today’s Memorable Movie Moment takes us back to 1978, for the excellent cinematography in a film called Days of Heaven. Written and directed by 3x Oscar nominee Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line, The Tree of Life), Days of Heaven is an American epic that follows a young couple, Bill and Abby, during the Expansionist era in 1916. Moving from Chicago to Texas in search of work, the two become involved in a scheme to have Abby marry a wealthy farmer who is close to death in order to gain his fortune. This, of course doesn’t go according to plan and so a dramatic conflict of jealousy and deceit ensues, loosely based on a backstory that first appeared in Alexander DumasThe Three Musketeers.

Starring Richard Gere (An Officer and a Gentlemen, Pretty Woman), Brooke Adams (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Dead Zone), and Sam Shepard (Swordfish, Black Hawk Down), the film received Oscar nominations for Best Costume Design, Best Sound, and Best Music – Original Score. Although it failed to win any of these awards, Days of Heaven did receive the Oscar for Best Cinematography for Nestor Almendros. Continue reading

New Drama ‘Genius’ Now Playing In Limited Locations

A new drama called Genius, which is based on the life of editor Max Perkins, is opening in select theaters across the country this weekend. Based on the best-selling biographical novel by A. Scott Berg, the film follows Perkins’ extraordinary career working for Scribner Publishing, where he oversaw famous works by authors like Ernest Hemingway (A Farewell to Arms), F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby), and Thomas Wolfe (Look Homeward Angel), and simultaneously dealt with these authors’ personal dramas and often crippling addictions. Screenwriter John Logan (Gladiator, Spectre) adapted the script for director Michael Grandage (The Madness of King George, Bugs), who is making his directorial debut with this movie. Continue reading

New Biopic On US President Johnson Underway With Woody Harrelson

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Actor Woody Harrelson in full make-up and costume on the set of LBJ.

Principle photography is currently underway on a new biographical drama from Oscar-nominee Rob Reiner (The Princess Bride, A Few Good Men), titled LBJ. Leading the film as President Johnson is fellow Oscar-nominee Woody Harrelson (Zombieland, True Detective), with Jennifer Jason Leigh (Road To Perdition, The Machinist), C. Thomas Howell (E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, The Amazing Spider-Man), Bill Pullman (Spaceballs, Independence Day), Jeffery Donovan (Changeling, Burn Notice), and Richard Jenkins (The Indian in the Cupboard, Step Brothers). The plot is expected to range from 1959 to 1964, covering Johnson’s time in the Senate, Vice-Presidency under John F. Kennedy, and his subsequent term as President after Kennedy’s assassination, coming from a script by Joey Hartstone (Project Runway). Johnson faced several large issues during his time as President, including the beginning of the Vietnam conflict and the Civil Rights Movement. We’ll keep an eye on this one as it progresses, but as of now the film does not have an exact release date. Stay tuned.

Catch This Week’s Limited Releases Opening In Theaters This Weekend

she's that kind of funny

Indie films hardly get the public recognition they deserve outside of the circle of internationally known film festivals, or national premieres outside of New York City or Los Angeles (the recently released Mr. Holmes with Sir Ian McKellen and Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence serve as perfect examples). But that’s not to say I wouldn’t recommend seeing any of these. This week several such projects will be seeing limited releases on big screens across the country. First on the list is Grandma from writer/director Paul Weitz (About A Boy, In Good Company), which follows a young teenager, Sage, as she goes to her grandmother, Elle Reid, for help when finding herself in a tight spot. The two embark on a day-long journey of self discovery and life reflection that brings both a sense of comfort and motivation to the audience. Actresses Lily Tomlin (Nine to Five, I Heart Huckabees), Julia Garner (Martha Marcy May Marlene, The Perks of Being a Wallflower), and Oscar-winner Marcia Gay Harden (Mystic River, Into The Wild) will be leading the cast on this one. Next on the list is The Last Picture Show director Peter Bogdanovich‘s She’s Funny That Way, starring Imogen Poots (28 Weeks Later, Filth), Owen Wilson (Wedding Crashers, Midnight in Paris), Jennifer Aniston (Horrible Bosses, We’re The Millers), and Kathryn Hahn (Step Brothers, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty). Given the plot of this one revolves around a love-triangle on the set of a Broadway production in New York, I would recommend this one as a good date-night movie. Last, but not least, is another romantic comedy (you would think it’s Valentine’s Day weekend!) called Some Kind of Beautiful from director Tom Vaughn (What Happens in Vegas, Extraordinary Measures). Pierce Brosnan (GoldenEye, The Thomas Crown Affair), Salma Hayek (From Dusk Til Dawn, Desperado), Jessica Alba (Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Awake), and Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange, The Artist) lead the cast in this tale of a Cambridge poetry professor who comes to a type of midlife crises when he begins to reevaluate his life. All three selections are rated R due to some pretty heavy content, but I think they are all definitely worth seeing, so be sure to check your local theater listings for showtimes in your area, and as always…Enjoy!!

Paul Thomas Anderson To Write New Script For Robert Downey Jr.’s ‘Pinocchio’

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Warner Bros. Pictures has taken a potential new direction with their upcoming Pinocchio production with star Robert Downey Jr. (The Avengers, The Judge). Downey has been attached to the project for several years now, with various names like Ben Stiller being tossed around to direct. But now Warner Bros. is turning to Oscar-nominated filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood, The Master) to re-write the current script by Michael Mitnick with the aim at possibly directing as well. Paul Thomas Anderson writing a Pinocchio script is already pretty surprising, but given his impressive catalogue of work this may turn out to be a really great move! As far as the story goes, Downey is expected to appear as Geppetto, the woodworker who makes a boy puppet that miraculously comes to life, who sets out on a journey to reunite with his lost puppet. Nothing is confirmed yet, but let’s hope this one comes together. Stay tuned for more news.