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HIGHLIGHTS OF ISSUE #24 (SEPTEMBER, 2012):
Major celebration of The Poseidon Adventure's 40th
anniversary with articles by David Savage, Tom Lisanti, James Radford and Chris
Poggiali. Includes many rare photos, international movie posters and interviews
with Carol Lynley and Mort Kunstler, the legendary artist who created the movie
poster. Kunstler also provides his original sketches for the ad campaign, reproduced
in this issue for the first time.
40th anniversary tribute to Deliverance. John
Exshaw visits director John Boorman at his home in Ireland for exclusive
interview about working with author James Dickey on the landmark film.
Gary Giblin takes an in-depth look at another classic film
celebrating its 40th anniversary: Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy, complete
with rare stills from sequences that the Master cut from the final version of
Matthew R. Bradley looks at one of the screen's legendary baddies, James
Bond nemesis Blofeld in both literature and cinema. The title of the
article: The Importance of Being Ernst.
Remembering Ernest Borgnine: a tribute to the legendary
Raymond Benson's ten best films of 1983.
Lee Pfeiffer pays tongue-in-cheek tribute to the 1976 B
movie cult "classic" Grizzly starring Christopher George,
Richard Jaeckel and Andrew Prine.
Gareth Owen revisits the early days of director Michael
Winner's career at Pinewood Studios.
Mark Mawston's new column Desert Island Flicks covers
underrated gems like John Frankenheimer's Seconds, Frank
Perry's The Swimmer and Don Siegel's Coogan's Bluff.
Adrian Smith titillates readers with part two of his
extensive look at the history of British sexploitation films in More Sex,
Please. We're British.
Dean Brierly's Crime Wave International covers British
classic crime movies of the 60s and 70s including Get Carter, Payroll, The
Long Good Friday, Robbery, Villain and Sitting Target.
Plus the usual reviews of the latest film books, DVDs and
HIGHLIGHTS OF ISSUE #25 INCLUDE:
James Bond at 50: Cinema Retro interviews Daniel
Craig, producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson and Skyfall director Sam
Mendesabout the screen legacy of Agent 007.
Dr. No cast and crew reunion at Pinewood Studios,
England: Gareth Owen reports
Matthew R. Bradley covers the Blofelds of screen and
literature in The Importance of Being Ernst: Part 2
Major coverage of Hammer Films events:
convention report, Hammer horror film locations then and now and coverage of the
latest Blu-ray releases.
In-depth look at the new restoration of David Lean's
masterpiece Lawrence of Arabia and exclusive interview with Sony's
Grover Crisp, the man who spearheaded the restoration process.
Best-selling author Robert Sellers provides a
fascinating look at the life and career of the ultimate "bad boy" of
British cinema, Oliver Reed.
Dean Brierly looks at the best Italian crime movies of
the 60s and 70s.
Tribute to the creator of master of British film
posters, artist Tom Chantrell.
Michael Davey interviews British sex symbol Liz
Sands of the Kalahari starring Stuart Whitman and Susannah
York: Lee Pfeiffer revisits an underrated classic adventure
Nicholas Anez pays tribute to Burt Lancaster's
controversial The Swimmer
The"B" British war film Attack on the
Iron Coast starring Lloyd Bridges- part one of Howard Hughes'
history of Oakmont Studios
Raymond Benson's top ten films of 1984
Plus the latest DVD, soundtrack and film book
HIGHLIGHTS OF ISSUE #26 INCLUDE:
Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs: Mike Siegel provides in-depth
coverage of the legendary director's controversial 1971 classic starring
Dustin Hoffman and Susan George. Includes extensive rarely seen behind the
scenes production photos and rare international ad campaigns.
Lee Pfeiffer interviews
comedy genius Mel Brooks, who reflects on his long career
in TV and feature films.
Howard Hughes examines the
1969 spaghetti Western classic The Five Man Army starring
Peter Graves, Bud Spencer and Tetsuro Tamba
Dean Brierly pays tribute to
the great French crime films of the 1960s and 1970s
David McCallum recalls the making of
Oakmont Studio's 1969 WWII film Mosquito Squadron
Cinema Retro attends the
40th anniversary cast and crew reunion of Bob Fosse's Cabaret and
gets interviews with Joel Grey, Michael York, Marisa Berenson and
Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies. Plus we cover the
"re-premiere" at New York's Ziegfeld Theatre, attended by Liza
Don R. Stradley looks at Sextette, the
bizarre cinematic swan song of Mae West
Raymond Benson's ten best
films of 1985
Gareth Owen examines the
making of the 1969 spy flick The Chairman (aka The
Most Dangerous Man in the World) starring Gregory
Dave Worrall covers the new
restoration of the Hammer horror classic Dracula (aka Horror
Remembering the brilliant,
cynical comedy of Paddy Chayefsky in The Hospital starring George
C. Scott and Diana Rigg
Plus the latest DVD,
soundtrack and film book reviews
HIGHLIGHTS OF ISSUE #27 INCLUDE:
Don L. Stradley examines the dramatic life and career of Lolita star Sue Lyon
John Exshaw's unpublished interview with screen legend Peter Cushing
Adrian Smith interviews Hugh Hudson, director of Revolution and Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes
Dean Brierly looks at classic Japanese crime movies
Stephen C. Jilks celebrates the Hammer horror flick Curse of the Werewolf
David Savage examines Liz Taylor's little-seen, late career bizarro cult movie The Driver's Seat
Howard Hughes continues his history of Oakmont Productions with Submarine X-1 starring James Caan
Paul Thomson provides in-depth coverage of the Amicus Edgar Rice Burroughs film adaptations The Land That Time Forgot, At the Earth's Core and The People That Time Forgot and reviews the long-forgotten electric rock Western Zachariah
Remember Ray Harryhausen
Raymond Benson's top ten films of 1986
Lee Pfeiffer's Take Two column looks back on The Valachi Papersstarring Charles Bronson
Burt Reynolds underrated dark comedy The End is re-evaluated by Tim Greaves
Gareth Owen's Pinewood Past column features Reach for the Sky starring Kenneth More
Plus the latest film book, soundtrack and DVD reviews.
The Cohen Media Group is a relatively new company that, over the last four years, has produced and distributed primarily highly acclaimed international art house films. The company's latest release on DVD and Blu-ray is Farewell, My Queen, director Benoit Jacquot's French-language 2012 period costume drama that centers on the outbreak of the French Revolution, as experienced by Sidonie (Lea Seydoux), a young woman who has the seemingly enviable position of being "The Queen's Reader". Her primary responsibility is to literally read books to Marie Antoinette (that's right, the nobility didn't even have to strain their eyes). Sidonie, a twenty-something country girl, is in awe of the Queen and is slavishly devoted to her needs. As played by Diane Kruger, Marie Antoinette is presented as the undeniably spoiled wife of Louis XVI, but the portrayal humanizes her. Marie Antoinette, like so many famous (or infamous) historical figures, has often been reduced to a caricature on the silver screen. In Jacquot's film, however, she is allowed to show an intelligent and softer side, as evidenced through the respect she shows Sidonie. The film, based on Chantal Thomas' 2003 novel, constrains the action to four pivotal days in French history. When we are first introduced to Sidnonie and her Queen, the palace staff is living comfortably in the lavish palace of Versailles. The story makes it quite clear that Sidonie's interest and devotion to the Queen extends beyond her duties as a household servant- she is clearly sexually attracted to her. The screenplay capitalizes on long-standing rumors that Marie Antoinette was a not-so-closeted lesbian. (Pamphlets were distributed in Paris during the day satirizing Marie's alleged participation in lesbian orgies.) Historically, this was never proven, but the rumors seem to have been inspired by her marriage to a disinterested monarch who slept in a separate bedroom and all but ignored her. Marie also undoubtedly had very close relationships with other women that helped keep the rumor-mill going. In Farwell, My Queen, Marie Antoinette comes out of the closet to Sidonie, but the girl's romantic fantasies are crushed when it is revealed that the Queen's true love is Gabrielle de Polignac (Virginie Ledoyen), a married duchess with an independent streak who has engaged in a lesbian relationship with Marie. The lives of the aristocracy and those who serve them are abruptly sent into turmoil when news arrives from Paris that the peasants have stormed the Bastille. Panic sweeps through the palace, and chaos reigns as the King's guards desert, leaving the pampered royals to fend for themselves for the first time in their lives. In the midst of the madness, King Louis (a peripheral figure in the story, but well-played by Xavier Beauvois), opts not to flee along with his "loyal" staff and agrees to go to Paris to meet the dissidents in hopes of retaining the throne. Left to her own devices, Marie Antoinette believes she is doomed and enlists Sidonie in a high-risk plan to secure the safety of Gabrielle, whose excesses have made her particularly reviled by the populace.
This is a lavish, big-budget production that brings to mind the visual splendor of Kubrick's Barry Lyndon. Romain Winding's cinematography is an inspiration, turning the opulent backdrops into cinematic "paintings". Director Jacquot defies the odds by successfully telling a female-driven story from a female point-of-view. The character of Sidonie is our protagonist, but she remains an enigma and we never do understand how a peasant girl became employed by the royal court. Her sexual obsession with the Queen is also complicated by the fact that she is clearly bi-sexual, as evidenced by an aborted sex act with a hunky palace servant. It's as though these ambiguities are intentional, designed to lead the audience to ponder what other mysteries lie behind the lead characters. Where the film excels is in the scenes that show just how abrupt life and politics changed with the storming of the Bastille. In days when communications were not instantaneous, the rumors prevailed and one can sympathize with the characters who hang on for any sliver of information that might indicate if they will share the same fate as the warden of Bastille, who was decapitated with a pen knife. The movie is about unrequited love in several relationships. The marriage between Louis XVI and Marie is one of convenience, a complete sham designed to produce heirs to the throne. The love affair between Marie and Gabrielle is distinctly tilted in the latter's favor, as evidenced by Gabrielle's immediate acceptance of Marie's offer to allow her to flee France with her husband, thus leaving the Queen to face her fate alone. The romantic desire by Sidonie to be Marie's lover is not fulfilled, as the Queen sees her only as a useful tool to help protect the woman she really loves. If there is a drawback to the movie, it's in the fact that that the ending, which finds Sidonie gamely being used as bait to smuggle Gabrielle and her husband to Switzerland, comes a bit abruptly and doesn't follow through on the fate of our heroine. Similarly, some viewers might be frustrated by the fact that the fates of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI are never explored after Sidonie leaves the palace. This is understandable, not only because the film is about a young woman, not the monarchy, and also due to the fact that, as a French production, it is assumed its intended audiences knows full well about the unspeakable fate that befell the royals. Still, it shouldn't have to be said that viewers would benefit from having at
least a modicum of knowledge about the historical references made in the
film, as this is clearly not a production designed to appeal to the Transformers crowd.
The Blu-ray release is gorgeous on every level. Extras include a post-premiere interview with Benoit Jacquot, conducted by Kent Jones of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and on-set interviews with the director and cast members. There is also a theatrical trailer that slightly exaggerates the lesbian angle, which seems to be used to market everything other than potato chips in recent years. In all, however, it's an outstanding presentation of a very worthy film that many would not otherwise have been exposed to.
Much has been stated about the glory days of European film-making having been relegated to the post-WWII period through the 1970s. However, intelligent movies such as Farewell, My Queen, which boasts excellent performances by all as well as impressive direction, prove that there are substantial talents working in the European cinema. Perhaps these films don't benefit from the kind of sensational, world-wide publicity that was accorded to the works of Fellini and Bunuel, but there is a vast array of productions that are well-worth viewing, as evidenced by this release.
This is a trying time for all labor unions. Once the backbone of the American workforce, unions could point to so many quality of life issues they negotiated for that now benefit most working Americans, from the 40 hour work week, overtime, health benefits, family leave and many other progressive policies. However, the recent trend against employing union members has now extended to the entertainment industry. Variety's music critic Jon Burlingame reports that studios are balking at using union musicians for film scores, preferring to have the music recorded overseas where musicians make more money up front but don't get residual payments. The work in L.A. for musicians is drying up fast, but ironically, the American Federation of Musicians points out that it has brought in the highest total of residuals ever last year. The problem is that the work and money is going to a smaller and smaller pool of musicians. There is a movement afoot to try to convince the AFM to offer studios an alternative to the residual programs, which would make Hollywood more competitive with overseas orchestras. There is also criticism of the studios, which take major tax incentives from the U.S. government to shoot films on American soil but use a loophole to outsource the music. For more click here