In my critique of the 90th annual Academy Awards ceremony, I criticized the Academy and host Jimmy Kimmel for wasting valuable air time on an elaborat (and unfunny) comedy sketch that deprived viewers from seeing some of the honorees who had received Oscars earlier at a ceremony hosted by the Academy's Governors. Among them was one of the world's finest and most enduring actors- Donald Sutherland, who surprisingly never received a nomination despite giving movie lovers a rich selection of characterizations ranging from those found in screwball comedies to intense dramas. Sutherland delivered a humorous, classy and gracious acceptance speech that viewers never got to see. However, we found this clip of his entire speech that was made available by the Academy. In fairness, the Academy argues that by giving their honorary awards away from the main ceremony, it allows the recipients to speak at length and not be bound by artificial time demands. That's a valid point. However, our guess is that most of the honorees would happily deliver shorter speeches in order to have their moment of glory shared with viewers around the globe.
"There's got to be a morning after" went the strains of the Oscar-winning song from the 1972 film "The Poseidon Adventure" and that somber warning always pertains to coverage of the Oscar events show itself. After last year's abysmal event that saw awful comedy bits, offensive omissions of major stars from the memorial tribute and the historic snafu in which the wrong film was initially announced for Best Picture, there was no where to go but up. Much of the success or failure of these shows rests on the back of the host. I thought it was going to be a mistake to bring back Jimmy Kimmel, as I was generally unimpressed with his performance last year. However, the second time was the charm- or almost. (More on that later). In general, this year's telecast was more tightly structured and moved at a faster clip even though it still ran about three-and-a-half hours. Helping matters was the fact that there was an exciting and highly diverse selection of films competing in the key categories and they boasted some brilliant performances by an eclectic array of actors. Gone are the days when viewers had to suffer through the mandatory opening musical production number, which was generally measured in terms of how misguided it proved to be. Kimmel started off with a witty dialogue that was surprisingly and refreshingly light on the political barbs in spite of the fact that the White House had just gone through a couple of miserable weeks that had brought out a surrealistic number of self-imposed scandals and crises.I had thought there would be so many quips about this that I expected to see President Trump's name listed among the key contributors to the show. (There were, however, some deep digs at Harvey Weinstein, who does not have a political base that can be offended.) However, I was relieved that Kimmel kept himself in check because I'm among those that think major awards shows should try to stick with the subject at hand: the work and the personalities involved in creating it. With Kimmel having decided to follow the old adage and "Leave the messages to Western Union", it fell upon others to promote diversity and equality. Great efforts were made in both areas with Best Actress winner Frances McDormand movingly calling for all female nominees to stand up. It was a moment that illustrated how fast and furiously Hollywood is moving to finally provide opportunities to females in the industry. Similarly, there were many minority artists on stage as presenters, performers and winners. I was glad to see triple-threat Jordan Peele, the director, writer and producer of the ingeniously quirky "Get Out", become the first African American to win the Best Original Screenplay award.
The awards dispensed during the show all went to worthy winners, though I would have liked to have seen "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" take home the Best Picture prize. Gary Oldman and Frances McDormand were popular, if predictable, winners based on their superb performances. "The Shape of Water" took Best Picture, as did its director Guillermo del Toro. The elaborate presentations for Best Song just emphasized the strengths and weaknesses of each of the nominees in this category, as the songs themselves ranged from pleasant to dreadful, which is often the norm. The show was moving along swimmingly until Jimmy Kimmel took viewers and participants on a major, ill-advised detour just as he had last year by introducing an elaborate gag in which people in an adjoining movie theater were used as unknowing props when Kimmel brought an array of celebrities from the Oscars ceremony next door to surprise them. Incredibly, it was a variation of the same awful shtick he pulled off the previous year. There's something rather condescending about bringing in a boatload of rich people to dispense candy and hot dogs to the grateful masses. It's like watching benevolent nobles toss some trinkets to their loyal serfs. Worse, the gag ate up valuable air time that could have been used for more appropriate purposes. Earlier in the show Kimmel made a snide remark about showing some of those honored with Oscars being dismissed with "blink-and-you-miss-them" clips from a ceremony that had been held previously. He correctly needled the Academy for pointing out that these artists and technicians, who would have once been allowed on stage at the "real" event, were now excluded. But his hypocrisy was revealed when he launched his dopey sight gag later. If you think I'm being a grump then ask yourself if it was more appropriate to spend time showing Kimmel and company tossing food to audience members or have the opportunity to see and hear Donald Sutherland accepting the Governor's Award for lifetime achievement.
The segment that honors artists who passed away in the last year should also be retired. Although sensitively presented and well-edited, the number of inexcusable exclusions is now almost downright offensive. Yes, it's great to honor those who make the cut (I counted three personal friends in the montage of artists who have left us in the last year), but if you can't extend the segment for even another few minutes in order to include other worthy honorees, then let's just eliminate it altogether. (The Academy does provide a more comprehensive tribute on their web site. Click here to view).
Cinema Retro's Mark Mawston takes you on the red carpet for the 2018 BAFTA Awards at the Royal Albert Hall in London with some up close and personal photos of the celebs. (All photos copyright Mark Mawston. All rights reserved).
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive at the festivities.
"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" took the top honors for Best Film and Best British Film at last nights BAFTA awards. The film also won best original screenplay for writer/director Martin McDonagh. Frances McDormand was awarded Best Actress and Sam Rockwell received Best Supporting Actor. Allison Janey won Best Supporting Actress for "I, Tonya". Gary Oldman, the odds-on favorite, won Best Actor for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in "Darkest Hour". Guillermo del Toro received Best Director for "The Shape of Water". For complete list of winners, click here. For coverage of the ceremony, click here.
Attention, Cinerama fans! The Museum of Modern Art in New York City will present a lecture about the history of the format on Sunday, January 21. Here is the official press release:
Cinerama was a screening system created on Long Island
and introduced to audiences on Broadway in the 1940s; its unparalleled success
launched the widescreen revolution of the 1950s. The Cinerama, Inc., digital
restoration team of David Strohmaier and Randy Gitsch will discuss the history
of the Cinerama and the Cinemiracle process, including its motion pictures, and
the unique problems they faced in restoring their three-strip format legacy
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from the Classicflix.com:
For one night only, fans of classic film noir will be
able to watch a free streaming World Premiere of the recently restored
thriller T-Men (1947) on Friday, November 24, hosted by ClassicFlix.
Anthony Mann's breakout film will be part of the home video label’s “Black and
White Friday,” which will be streaming the film in high definition on
their YouTube channel from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM PT*.
The ground-breaking film recently made its Blu-ray™ debut
after undergoing major restoration. The T-Men Special Edition
Blu-ray is loaded with bonus features and a 24-page booklet. During the
screening ClassicFlix will be hosting a giveaway of T-Men Special Edition via
their Twitter page, in addition to a special low-price
offering for fans who wish to buy the Blu-ray. Instructions on how to
participate in the giveaway will be posted in the YouTube comment section of
the stream that night.
Other recent releases from ClassicFlix include He
Walked by Night Special Edition, Crime of Passion and Fritz
Lang's You Only Live Once, all of which have received critical
acclaim for the quality of the restorations and unearthed bonus material.
*Content will only be available in the U.S.
Praise for T-Men Special Edition
"ClassicFlix’s Special Edition Blu-ray of T-Men is a
Glenn Erickson, CineSavant
“Absolutely recommended! A must-own for Noir
Gary Tooze, DVDBeaver
"Would that all black and white noirs from the 1940s
were blessed with such pristine and spectacular transfers! The grayscale is so
extraordinary that words can’t really do it justice..."
Matt Hough, HomeTheaterForum
"This is another great looking restoration and
transfer from ClassicFlix."
Jeffrey Kauffman, Blu-ray.com
About the Film:
When the trail goes cold on a counterfeit ring in Los
Angeles, Treasury agents Dennis O’Brien (Dennis O’Keefe) and Tony Genaro
(Alfred Ryder) are called upon to infiltrate the shadowy and dangerous
underworld of organized crime. Their only lead takes them to Detroit where they
convince mob kingpin Carlo Vantucci of their criminal pedigree and start piling
up clues to tie the Vantucci mob to the “tough, tight outfit” in L.A.
O’Brien and Genaro finally get a break when they learn a
former Detroit hood – The Schemer (Wallace Ford) – is on the outs with the
syndicate and has been demoted to pushing the fake paper in Los Angeles. Not
wasting a second, O’Brien heads to L.A. and tracks down his cigar-smoking
target, quickly duping the counterfeiter into being introduced to the
“higher-ups”. But the deeper O’Brien penetrates the organization, the more
harrowing the mission becomes for him and fellow T-Man Genaro, with their every
move being scrutinized and carrying the risk of deadly exposure.
A major box office success upon its release, T-Men holds
a special place in film noir canon not only as director Anthony Mann’s breakout
film, but as the initial pairing of the filmmaker and cinematographer John
Alton. Like none before them, their combination of highly stylized camera
set-ups, along with the brilliant uses of light and shadows, created the gritty
realism and visual tension that made their crime thrillers popular with critics
and movie patrons alike.
With a story by Virginia Kellogg (White Heat) and a screenplay
by John C. Higgins (Raw Deal), T-Men also features Charles McGraw,
Jane Randolph and, in a brief but key scene, June Lockhart.
· Audio Commentary by
biographer & producer Alan K. Rode
· Into the Darkness:
Mann, Alton and T-Men - Featurette with cinematographer Richard Crudo,
film critic & author Todd McCarthy, writer and film historian Julie Kirgo,
film historian & director Courtney Joyner and biographer & producer
Alan K. Rode
· A Director’s
Daughter: Nina Mann Remembers - An Interview with Nina Mann
· PLUS: A 24-page
booklet with an essay by author Max Alvarez (Author of The Crime Films of
Anthony Mann) featuring stills, posters and other production material
· The mono soundtrack
has been restored and is uncompressed (Blu-ray only)
Founded as an online retailer in 2007, ClassicFlix
launched its own home video label in early 2017 with a focus on restoring and
releasing long neglected classic films from the 1930s - 1950s on Blu-ray and
For more information about T-Men Special Edition and
other ClassicFlix releases please visit ClassicFlix.com.
On December 1, James Cameron's "Titanic" will be reissued to 87 AMC theaters across America to commemorate the film's twentieth anniversary. The movie has been enhanced by being remastered in the Dolby Vision process. Cameron issued a statement saying “This is beyond 3D, beyond 70mm, it’s beyond anything
you’ve seen before. The image leaps off the screen as bright and
vibrant as life itself. This is the way all movies should be seen and without a
doubt, ‘Titanic’ has NEVER looked better.” For more click here.
The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra will present two live accompaniment presentations of "An American in Paris" on November 25 at the Performing Arts Center in Newark and on November 26 at the State Theatre in New Brunswick. Here is the official description:
"Fall in love with Paris all over again! Watch this 1951
classic film, starring Gene Kelly as a former American GI who falls for
Parisian Leslie Caron, on the big screen while the NJSO plays the score live.
Memorable songs of George and Ira Gershwin—including “Embraceable You,” “Nice
Work If You Can Get It,” “I Got Rhythm,” “’S Wonderful” and “Our Love is Here
to Stay”—plus captivating dancing from the two charismatic stars will
deliver an unforgettable experience for movie lovers!"
After each performance, conductor Constantine Kitsopoulos will hold a discussion about the art of playing live to a film presentation.
For lovers of classic cinema as well as classic music, the recent emergence of presenting screenings of films accompanied by live orchestras has proven to be manna from Heaven. This was particularly true last week at Lincoln Center's David Geffen Hall when the New York Philharmonic, under the direction of David Newman, presented a big screen showing of "Star Wars: A New Hope" with the Philharmonic providing live accompaniment of John Williams' legendary score. To call the resulting event thrilling would be an understatement. The atmosphere in the hall was unusual for a Philharmonic event, as concert producer Betsey Tumarkin thought outside the box and allowed the Philharmonic to go funky. The hall clearly embraced and catered to the fan movement, which allowed attendees the opportunity to pose for photos with characters from the film. It was an amusing sight, with uppercrust patrons walking about with Martinis intermingling with families with young children who were thrilled to meeting Darth Vader and some of those evil storm troopers. Additionally, self-described "Star Wars" geeks proudly wore their own costumes to the event, making an interesting contrast to those attired more traditionally for a Lincoln Center concert. The resulting detente between both aspects of the audience was due to their common respect for the music of John Williams. Even conductor Newman, an esteemed film composer in his own right, got into the action following four-- yes, four-encore appearances demanded by the thundering ovations - by wielding a light sabre from the podium. I must shamefully admit that I only saw "Star Wars" once, when it opened theatrically in 1977, though I did revisit portions of it back in the dark days of VHS to fact-check a book I was co-authoring with Michael Lewis, "The Films of Harrison Ford". Thus, when the Cinema Retro was invited to attend and review the opening night of the concert series, this became the ultimate offer I couldn't refuse. Perhaps my distance from the film served me well on this particular night because, while I certainly remembered the most iconic aspects of the movie and those classic lines of dialogue, I was able to enjoy the many wonderful nuances of the story and the performances as if for the first time, including the homage to John Ford's "The Searchers" when Luke finds his home destroyed and his family brutally murdered. It was also delightful to see British acting icons Alec Guinness and Peter Cushing evoking applause from contemporary audiences when they first appeared on the screen.
Attendees got into the spirit of things by warming up to dastardly villains.
The version of the film that was screened was the "Special Edition" from 1997. It was especially created for concert events, as it had the dialogue in sub-titles for those instances in which the overwhelming sound of the orchestra drowned out some of the soundtrack. There was an intermission mid-way through the screening, presumably to give the musicians a break, but also to ensure that there was a race to the souvenir stands where attendees could buy exclusive "Star Wars" concert merchandise. In the program created for the event, John Williams states "These live performances allow audiences to hear these scores in a new way. The performance by a live symphony orchestra enables audiences to hear a lot of music that can go unnoticed in the cinema." As for the challenge such events present to musicians, Williams says ""The orchestra must play pretty relentlessly for two hours or more. It is very intense for the brass, particularly in many of the battle sequences that can be 15 or 20 minutes long." Horn player Leelanee Sterrett is quoted as saying, "The brass parts are very prominent in almost all the famous themes you think of: The Imperial March, Princess Leia's Theme, the Throne Room. We have a really important role to play in the storytelling." Of Williams' score, David Newman says "It was so groundbreaking. It completely changed film music".
Sales of concert merchandise were out of this world.
Perhaps the greatest tribute to visionary mind of George Lucas comes from John Williams himself: "(He) created something that seems to be timeless. You'd have to look back to Walt Disney or even Dickens to find a comparison to the longevity enjoyed by the fabulous characters George has conjured. Darth Vader, Yoda and Luke Skywalker are very much still with us and will continue to be for decades to come. Forty years is now looking like a very short time."
(The New York Philharmonic will next present "The Empire Strikes Back" on September 26, 27 and 28; "Return of the Jedi" on October 4 and 5 and "The Force Awakens" on October 6 and 7. Click here for information and tickets.
"Thunderball" co-stars Martine Beswick and Luciana Paluzzi.
Hammer and "Live and Let Die" actress Madeleine Smith.
BY MARK MAWSTON
The London Film Convention, organized by
Thomas Bowington was quite literally a Who’s Who of heroes and villains from
the small and silver screen. The actual Who came in the shape of a Dr. himself
in the guise of Sylvester McCoy, along with Who assistants Katy Manning who played Jo and
Bernard Cribbins from both the Amicus film version and the TV version. There was also a
rare appearance from Garial Woolf. The other key cult British film genres-the Carry On films, James Bond and Hammer horror- were all represented too, with many of the star
guests appearing in all three: from the Carry On Films we had Fenella Fielding,
Anita Harris and Amanda Barrie, from Hammer and Bond we had Maddie Smith,
Valerie Leon, Martine Beswick, Eunice Gayson, John Wyman, Deborah Moore, Jan
Williams, Shane Rimmer, Robert Watts, Golden Girl Shirley Eaton and a rare
appearance from Luciana Paluzzi.
We also had the Star Wars and action films
represented by Vic Armstrong, Wolf Kahler, Jack Klaff, Virginia Hey and many others.
All in all, a fabulous day for the fan and the collector alike with many of the
attendee’s purchasing back copies of Cinema Retro to be signed by the guests! (All photos copyright Mark Mawston. All rights reserved.)
Wolf Kahler- still recovering from looking inside the Lost Ark of the Covenant!
The First Lady of Bond, Eunice Gayson.
Anita Harris & Amanda Barri
Carry On’s Fenella Fielding
Famed Producer & Production Manager from Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Bond Robert Watts with Who assistant Katie Manning.
James Bond's "Golden Girl" Shirley Eaton.
Bernard Cribbins plays ventriloquist to Sylvester McCoy.
CINEMA RETRO HAS RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING PRESS RELEASE:
12, 2017 - New York, NY – At this year’s 15th edition of the New
York City Horror Film Festival, broad-ranged character actor Brad Dourif,
beloved to fright fans as the voice of killer doll Chucky, will receive the event’s
Lifetime Achievement Award on Saturday, Oct. 28. The prestigious trophy honors Mr.
Dourif for his long-ranging contributions to horror cinema, and the actor will
accept in person.
Dourif began his career on the stage where he was eventually noticed by Milos
Forman and cast as Billy Bibbit in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST, a role
which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He has
brought his craft to classic genre films including the John Carpenter-scripted EYES
OF LAURA MARS; David Lynch’s DUNE and BLUE VELVET; and William Peter Blatty’s THE
EXORCIST III. Dourif gained further renown for voicing Chucky in the CHILD’S PLAY
franchise, the latest film of which, CULT OF CHUCKY, debuts this fall.
features and 31 short films make up this year’s festival, which opens Thurs Oct.
26, with a range of films including New York premieres of Mitchell Altieri’s THE
NIGHT WATCHMEN; Norbert Keil’s REPLACE starring Barbara Crampton; Benjamin
Arfmann’s DISMISSED starring Dylan Sprouse; Richard Stringham’s CLOSE CALLS;
and Mathieu Turi’s HOSTILE starring Javier (IT) Botet; and the North American
premiere of Michael Mongillo’s ghost story DIANE.
festival runs October 26–29, at Cinépolis Cinemas, 260 West 23rd Street.,
at the corner of 8th Avenue and 23rd Street in the heart
of New York’s Chelsea district, just one block over from the famed Chelsea
Hotel, once home to Sid Vicious, Andy Warhol, Patti Smith, Jim Morrison, Bob
Dylan, and Arthur C. Clarke.
NYC Horror Film Festival was born in 2002 by filmmaker Michael J. Hein as a
venue for newer independent horror filmmaking. After Michael’s passing in 2011,
the festival created the Michael J. Hein Achievement Award to celebrate the
hard work and perseverance of creators in the field. George Romero was the
first recipient of the festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award, followed by other
classic scaremeisters including Rob Zombie, Roger Corman, Frank Henenlotter,
Robert Englund, Stuart Gordon, and the beloved late Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper,
Angus Scrimm, and Herschell Gordon Lewis.
The full schedule for the New York City Horror Film Festival is here:
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
World Premiere of STAR
WARS FILM CONCERT SERIES
To Feature Iconic
Scores Performed Live to Film
Complete Scores Conducted by David Newman September 15–October 7, 2017
NEW YORK COMIC CON To
Feature RETURN OF THE JEDI and
THE FORCE AWAKENS as
Part of NYCC PRESENTS
“STAR WARS: MUSIC FOR
With Conductor and
Film Score Composer David Newman Moderated by Mark Travis
Part of FREE INSIGHTS
AT THE ATRIUM
September 12, 2017
Presents “Star Wars Film Concert Series Fan Zone” At Each Concert:
Meet-and-Greet with Star Wars Characters, Specialty Drinks,
Booth, Commemorative Merchandise, and More
The New York
Philharmonic will present the World Premiere of Star Wars Film Concert Series, September 15–October 7, 2017,
featuring screenings of four complete films from the saga — A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return
of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens —
with Oscar®-winning composer John Williams’s musical scores performed live to
film. The concerts will be led by acclaimed conductor David Newman.
New York Philharmonic has partnered with New
York Comic Con to feature the Star
Wars Film Concert Series presentation of Return of the Jedi (October 4–5) and The Force Awakens (October 6–7) as part of NYCC Presents — a
series of concerts, live podcasts, comedy acts, and more that brings New York
Comic Con to various venues throughout New York City.
Newman, who is also a film score composer, will discuss John Williams’s
compositional techniques, leitmotifs, and musical philosophy at “Star
Wars: Music for a Galaxy,” a free Insights
at the Atrium event, Tuesday, September 12. Mark Travis — the
New York Philharmonic’s Associate Director, Media Production, and resident Star Wars aficionado — will moderate.
The event takes place at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center
(Columbus Avenue at 62nd Street).
concert attendees are invited to take part in the Philharmonic’s “Star
Wars Film Concert Series Fan Zone” at David Geffen Hall, before and
after each performance as well as during intermission. Ticket holders will have
the opportunity to meet R2D2, Stormtroopers, and other Star Wars characters from costumed fan groups; in addition, they
can take photos in an event-themed photo booth. A commemorative program and
other merchandise will be available for purchase and a specialty cocktail
called the Cantina Margarita (and its non-alcoholic version) will also be
available. Those planning to attend are encouraged to come in costume and share
their Fan Zone experience on social media using
On April 29 the Tribeca Film Festival hosted an historic reunion between director Francis Ford Coppola and cast members from "The Godfather" and "The Godfather Part II". Significantly, the event was held at the nation's crown jewel of theaters, Radio City Music Hall. Joining Coppola were James Caan, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, Talia Shire, James Caan, Al Pacino and Diane Keaton. The sold out venue first saw back-to-back screenings of the first two "Godfather" films, which were rapturously received by fans who applauded loudly at the introduction of certain beloved characters as well as classic lines of dialogue. (The audience predictably went wild when the scene arrived of Michael and Kay attending the Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall.) Since neither film had ever been shown in the Music Hall, it was especially pleasing for retro movie lovers to experience them in Gotham's famed venue. Upon the final credits of "The Godfather Part II" ending, Coppola and the cast members took the stage for a discussion moderated by director Taylor Hackford. The "Godfather" alumni clearly relished seeing each other after so many years. Coppola was the father figure among the group and most of the comments about the making of the film were appropriately recalled by him. Coppola related how Paramount was skeptical about his abilities to bring the bestselling novel to the screen. At one point early in the production he was alerted that he was to be fired from the $6 million production. The studio brass didn't like the initial footage he had shot, specifically the scene in which Don Corleone rejects a business proposal from Sollozzo to join him in the drug trade. Coppola frantically arranged to reshoot the footage over the weekend and managed to avoid getting fired the following Monday. Coppola credited producer Al Ruddy and Paramount mogul Robert Evans for standing by him as allies, even though he admitted that the mercurial Evans caused him endless agita. Al Pacino related he was also in the studio's crosshairs. Unimpressed with his performance as Michael, he was due to be fired. Coppola came to his rescue by prioritizing the scene in which Michael Corleone shoots Sollozzo and corrupt police captain McCluskey in a restaurant. Coppola presumed that Pacino would carry off the scene brilliantly. He was proven to be correct when Pacino was retained on the film. Talia Shire, sister of Francis Ford Coppola, related how she desperately wanted to play the role of Michael's vulnerable and fragile sister Connie. Coppola actually made her screen test for the part and still felt she was all wrong for it because he envisioned a homely actress in the role. Coppola and the cast member recalled Marlon Brando being in an exceptionally good mood during production perhaps because he saw the film as his lifeline to a career comeback after a decade of boxoffice disappointments. (Brando was represented by a photograph placed prominently on stage among his cinematic "family".) Caan recalled practical jokes played by Brando on the set and Duvall remembered Brando leading male cast members in a mooning contest during filming of the wedding scene. Keaton acknowledged that she had only recently watched the film for the first time in decades because she felt her character never fit in with the all-Italian cast and that she was particularly bothered by her voice in the film. Coppola also revealed how Lenny Montana, who played hitman Luca Brasi, could not remember his lines and delivered them in a halting fashion. To get around the obstacle, he quickly wrote a scene showing the dim-witted Luca rehearsing his "thank you speech" to Don Corleone as though it was a difficult homework assignment. It was a brilliant improvisation that got Montana off the hook and made his brief presence in the film even more memorable. Coppola also paid tribute to the many artists from the films who are no longer with us and specifically praised Al Letieri for his performance as Solazzo.
Special campaign poster designed for the event.
If there was a weak link in the memorable discussions on stage it was Taylor Hackford as moderator. Hackford was understandably enthused about his role but he forgot the golden rule that interviewers should follow: remember that the audience is there to hear the guests, not the interviewer. Hackford seemed to be winging it instead of having carefully prepared questions and often ate up valuable time by giving long personal observations before getting to the point. He also had no rhyme or reason when it came to allocating the questions. Understandably, he went to Coppola more than anyone else but some cast members were treated almost as stage props. Duvall was rarely called upon to make a point, Shire told some good tales in the beginning but was barely heard from again and, to the consternation of audience members this writer spoke to afterward, De Niro was virtually ignored throughout the entire 90 minute discussion. It was only at the very end that Hackford seemed to remember that De Niro was sitting right next to him and the iconic star was given a single question before the evening came to a conclusion. Consequently there was very little discussion of "The Godfather Part II" and no mention at all was made of "The Godfather Part III". Hackford also wasted a good deal of time discussing trivial aspects of the production such as Coppola having the last minute idea of placing a cat on Don Corleone's lap in the first scene of the film, a minor point of interest that Hackford discussed ad nauseum. To his credit, however, Hackford realized the historic nature of the occasion and made it clear he would blow past the imposed timetable and continue the discussions for as long as possible. Consequently, those lucky enough to be in attendance certainly got their money's worth.
In all, "The Godfather" reunion was a superb, full day of entertainment, even if it tested the endurance of everyone's rear ends (the entire event lasted almost nine hours!). Kudos to the Tribeca Film Festival and Robert De Niro for making it a possible and giving classic movie lovers an offer they couldn't refuse.
(To read Star Ledger film critic Stephen Whitty's take on the event, click here).
The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra will provide live musical accompaniment for a screening of "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets". The concert takes place at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark on October 28. Click here for details.
Include a Raffle for Free Star Wars Concert Tickets,
Giveaway of Star Wars Merchandise to Attendees in Costume,
Performances by Members of the Philharmonic’s Brass Section,
Meet-and-Greet with Star Wars Characters
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
New York Philharmonic is celebrating Star Wars Day by giving Star
Wars fans who come to the David Geffen Hall Box Office early access to
tickets for the Star Wars Film Concert Series on May 4, 2017, at
10:00 a.m., before tickets go on sale widely to the public online at noon.
Fans who arrive by 9:30 a.m. will be entered in a raffle to win a pair of free
tickets to the Star Wars concert of their choice. Three winners will
be announced at 10:00 a.m. The first 20 Star Wars fans to arrive in
costume will receive official Star Wars merchandise and collectible
vinyl. In addition, fans waiting in line will be entertained by members of the
New York Philharmonic’s brass section performing music from the Star Wars movies,
and will have a chance to meet R2D2, Kylo Ren, stormtroopers, and other Star
Wars characters from costumed fan groups. Those planning to attend are
encouraged to spread the word on social media using #nypstarwars.
New York Philharmonic will present the World Premiere of the Star
Wars Film Concert Series, September 15–October 7,
2017, featuring screenings of the complete films A New Hope, The
Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens with
Oscar-winning composer John Williams’s musical scores performed live to the
films. The concerts will be led by acclaimed conductor David Newman.
the release of the first Star Wars movie nearly 40 years ago,
the Star Wars saga has had a seismic impact on both cinema and
culture, inspiring audiences around the world with its mythic storytelling,
captivating characters, groundbreaking special effects, and iconic musical
scores composed by Williams. Fans will be able to experience the scope and
grandeur of these beloved Star Wars films in a live symphonic concert
experience, as the Star Wars Film Concert Series premieres from
September 15 through October 7 at David Geffen Hall in New York City. Legendary
composer Williams is well known for scoring all seven of the Star Wars saga
films, beginning with 1977’s A New Hope, for which he earned an
Academy Award for Best Original Score. His scores for The Empire Strikes Back,
Return of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens each were nominated
for Oscars for Best Original Score.
has won five Academy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, seven British Academy
Film Awards, and 22 Grammy Awards. With 50 Academy Award nominations, Williams
is the Academy’s most nominated living person and the second most-nominated
individual in history, after Walt Disney. In 2005 the American Film Institute
selected Williams’s score to 1977’s Star Wars as the greatest
American film score of all time. The soundtrack to Star Wars also was
preserved by the Library of Congress in the National Recording Registry, for
being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” Williams was
inducted into the Hollywood Bowl’s Hall of Fame in 2000, and he received the
Kennedy Center Honors in 2004, the National Medal of Arts in 2009, and the AFI
Life Achievement Award in 2016. Williams has composed the scores for eight of
the top 20 highest-grossing films at the U.S. box office (adjusted for
Wars Film Concert Series is produced under license by Disney Concerts in
association with 20th Century Fox and Warner/Chappell Music.
Some enterprising fans of Patrick McGoohan's landmark television series "The Prisoner" intend to celebrate the show's 50th anniversary with a multi-day convention that will be held in Seattle on September 29-October 1, 2017. You may not get to meet Number One but you will have plenty of activities including screenings, lectures, appearances by actors who were in the show, musical performances, cocktail parties and theatrical re-enactments. For more details and ticket info click here. "Be seeing you!"
In the most notorious snafu in Oscars history, the wrong film- "La La Land"- was announced by presenters Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty (reunited for the 50th anniversary of "Bonnie and Clyde") as the winner of the Best Picture. However, within minutes, the triumphant producers had to hand the award over to the makers of "Moonlight", which was the official winner. Beatty and Dunaway were not to blame- they had been handed the envelope for Best Actress, which had just been given to Emma Stone for "La La Land". Confused, Dunaway announced the winner was "La La Land". The debacle left a group of incredulous people on stage even while the producers of "La La Land" graciously handed over the award to the "Moonlight" team. The finale looked like a scene from "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World".
The ceremony itself was over-produced and over-long with Jimmy Kimmel as less-than-satisfactory host. He turned the entire event into a cheap comedy segment from one of his late-night shows with cringe-inducing bits that were both elaborate and unfunny. They ranged from literally parachuting donuts onto the audience to bringing in a busload of incredulous tourists into the auditorium. The latter was a one-minute joke stretched to interminable lengths as we watched the tourists ask the stars for autographs! Meanwhile, political punditry was predictably in vogue with many snipes at President Trump, whose obsession for media attention is considered a mental illness by opponents and an amusing eccentricity by his supporters, If Kimmel and company really wanted to get under the president's skin, they would have refrained from mentioning his name at all. Besides, nobody tunes into the show for political advice. There was an offensive comedy segment in which stars read actual offensive Tweets about themselves. More ridiculous was the segment that paid tribute to artists we lost over the last year. As usual, there were bizarre exclusions including director Guy Hamilton and Oscar nominee Robert Vaughn, to name just two. Meanwhile, the segment featured countless people the public never even heard of. With all the time wasted on comedy skits, couldn't they have extended this segment another couple of minutes to include more artists? The Best Song nominees were mostly duds and the banter between presenters was dreadful. On the up side there were some genuinely inspiring acceptance speeches and it was great to see so many films about people of color being honored. It had been a very fine year for movies but this Oscar telecast was one of the worst. The only upside is that during the Best Picture confusion, Kimmel was heard to promise that he won't be back as host. Let's hope it's a promise that is kept.
The annual British Academy of Film and Television Arts has presented its awards for the year 2016. For a full list of nominees and winners click here. Cinema Retro's London photographer Mark Mawston was there to cover all the action on the red carpet. Here is a selection of some of his photos. (All photographs copyright Mark Mawston. All rights reserved.)
It looks like the big Hollywood musical is back from the cinematic graveyard as "La La Land" swept the Golden Globes with a record number of seven wins including Best Picture (Musical or Comedy), Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay. Click here for more. Click here for complete list of winners and nominees.
One of the great joys any retro movie lover can experience is to view a screening of a classic film with a world-class orchestra playing the musical score as live accompaniment. Many acclaimed orchestras are now doing just that and delighting movie lovers across the globe. Among the most impressive performances, not surprisingly, are those presented by the New York Philharmonic, which has a very popular film-related series that is as diversified as it is irresistible. On May 19, the the NYP presented a superb tribute to Charlie Chaplin with a screening of his 1931 masterpiece, "City Lights". Conductor Timothy Brock informed that audience that by 1931 silent film was already dead. The new era of sound was all the rage but Chaplin's clout and popularity were such that he could still find financing for his films despite his insistence that they would be shot and presented as silent movies. Clearly the beloved Little Tramp would have seemed out of place in the new era. Chaplin not only wrote, starred in and directed the film but he also composed it's marvelous score. Brock was approached by Chaplin's estate to see if he could reconstruct the original score based on Chaplin's original notes. Over the decades, the score had been bastardized into many variations performed by countless orchestras and musicians around the world. The task took over a year but the effort was worth it. A sold-out audience at David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center applauded wildly throughout. The evening was a triumph not only for Brock and the orchestra but also for Chaplin's legacy.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
Film hisotiran Bruce Crawford's 38th salute to classic
cinema and a 60th anniversary
tribute to Cecil B. DeMille's classic epic The Ten
Commandments will be Friday May 27th, at 7pm at the Joslyn Art Museums'
Witherspoon Hall theater 2200 Dodge St Omaha Nebraska.
Special guests, Miss Holly Heston, daughter of screen legend
and star of the film, Charlton Heston and actress Kathy Garver who portrayed
young Rachel in the film. Kathy is best known as Cissy from the classic TV
series Family Affair. Artist Nicolosi will have a United States Post Office
Commemorative Envelope honoring the film and Charlton Heston and the legendary
director of the film, Cecil B DeMille, unveiled at the event.
Tickets on sale May 4th at all Omaha only Hy Vee stores
customer service counters
A rare 35mm revival screening of Bernardo Bertolucci's
1979 controversial drama LA LUNA, organized and hosted by Cinema Retro
columnist David Savage and co-sponsored by Iconic Linx, brought near-sellout crowds to Anthology Film Archives
in Manhattan last Monday night, April 25th, including the family of the late
Jill Clayburgh (1944-2010) star of the film.
Organized both as a belated tribute to Clayburgh and an
attempt, as described by Savage, to bring the neglected film back into popular
and critical consciousness, the screening was a family affair for the beloved
Clayburgh-Rabe family, bringing together Jill's husband, famed playwright David
Rabe, their actress daughter Lily Rabe (star of the forthcoming "Miss
Stevens") and their actor son Michael Rabe. Matthew Barry, Jill
Clayburgh's co-star and son in the film, now 53 and a casting director, flew in
from Los Angeles to attend the screening and panel discussion that followed,
moderated by Savage.
They were joined by David Rabe, who was in Italy during most of the filming and
had many interesting anecdotes to share, including the fact that Bertolucci,
incredibly, broke both arms in a disastrous fall during the making of the film
and was put in casts on both arms, forcing a two-week halt in production.
Matthew Barry admitted that his acting career did not take off as he had hoped
after the release of the film, but did not appear to be looking back in
bitterness. His stories and memories of making the film brought laughter from
the crowd and communicated a lifelong love of his co-star "mother"
Jill Clayburgh, Bertolucci, character actor Franco Citti (in one of the film's
most memorable cameo appearances), and Tomas Millian, who played his real
father in the film. In the film's final scene, Milian slaps his son's face with
an unmistakable force. Unfortunately, Matthew told the audience, the director
instructed him to do it successively harder and harder in numerous takes.
David Savage and actor Matthew Barry.
Perhaps most surprising was the personal video greeting
from the director himself that preceded the screening, which brought a gasp of
delighted surprise from the audience. "There is something very unfair
about you all being able to see my face, but I cannot see yours," he said
from his living room in Rome, looking like more of a beloved grandfather figure
than a reclusive auteur. He seemed touched at the return to New York of
"La Luna," which was not greeted enthusiastically when it premiered in
1979, adding that he particularly wished he could see his young star Matthew
Barry's face as it looked now. He also saluted the rising prominence of Lily
Rabe, confirming that he's heard great things about her as an actress.
Concluding by wishing the audience, "buona visione" (literally
"happy watching"), the greeting nicely framed the film itself,
projected from a flawless 35mm print on exceptional loan from Twentieth Century
Fox Archive. The print's quality showed off the artistry of cinematographer Vittorio
Storaro -- a frequent Bertolucci collaborator and three-time Oscar winner.
Finding the print, Savage told the audience in opening remarks, took him nearly
The film was available on home video only back in the VHS
days, and has never been on DVD in the States. However, that may change later
in 2016 or early 2017 as an American home video label, wishing to remain
anonymous at present, says it has purchased the packaged media rights to the
film for the US market, and will be bringing out a Blu-ray/DVD. Further details
to come as they are made available.- Lee Pfeiffer
The Metrograph is a two-story, rather flat and
rectangular building located at 7 Ludlow Street. The theater is sandwiched inconspicuously
between a funeral parlor and an iron works foundry, a couple of blocks east of
the Canal Street entrance to the Manhattan Bridge. It’s here, where the Lower East Side meets -
or perhaps blurs - with the border of Chinatown, New York City’s cineastes will find the borough’s
brightest new twinplex – one specializing exclusively in indie, art house, and repertory
programming. Since it’s opening in March
2016, the theater has already screened an intriguing variety of shorts, foreign
films, retrospectives, and silents.
The Metrograph’s primary theater is a 175 seat room on
the ground floor, with a second more intimate screening room of fifty seats perched
on the second level. A glass window
partition allows curious filmgoers a rare peak into a projection room outfitted
with two 35mm and one DCP projectors. The second level also features the “Commissary,” a comfortable space
with a small bar and assortment of tables and couches where patrons and artists
are not only welcomed, but encouraged, to congregate before and after screenings
to discuss films and their own creative work. I was told by one Metrograph associate that the theater’s vision to completely
transform this loft space into a small café is approximately three weeks
away. The northernmost corner of the
room that overlooks Ludlow Street has been reserved as a book-selling stall
that will exclusively feature filmmaking-related texts and journals. (Click here to visit theater web site.)
On the weekend of April 8-10, the Metrograph partnered
with Subway Cinema (the 501(c) (3) non-profit that has steered the New York
Asian Film Festival since 2002) to host the sixth annual “Old School Kung-Fu
Fest.” This year’s series of wild martial
art extravaganzas was programmed to celebrate the legacy of Golden Harvest
Productions, the Hong Kong based-studio founded by rogue producer Raymond Chow and
Leonard Ho following their break with the Shaw Brothers. It was through a series of Bruce Lee films
released through Golden Harvest that martial arts-action films would make their
first successful inroads into western markets. Lee, justifiably disappointed by his treatment in Hollywood and relegated
to sidekick and second-fiddle parts, moved to Hong Kong where he would star in no
fewer than four Golden Harvest productions from 1971 through 1973. (Lee’s fifth and final film for the company, the
posthumously released Game of Death (1978)
was cobbled together from bits of footage left behind following his tragic
death at age 32).
Though only Lee’s seminal Enter the Dragon (1973) would be screened over the course of this
weekend’s festival – to a sold-out audience, of course - the “Little Dragon’s” long
shadow remains omnipresent throughout. As might be expected at any celebration of cinematic martial arts mayhem,
the program would feature eight films – seven screened from 35mm elements, one
(The Prodigal Son) via DCP – that arguably
constitute some of the finest work of Lee’s contemporaries, protégés and pretenders.
The film I was most anxious to revisit – for the first
time in nearly forty years - was Brian Trenchard-Smith’s The Man From Hong Kong (1975) (aka The Dragon Flies), featuring Jimmy Wang Yu (“The One-Armed
Swordsman”) and one-shot James Bond George Lazenby. Having brashly walked away from the role of Bond
following his single-turn in On Her
Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), the former model-turned-actor had anxiously
found subsequent film work mostly unavailable. He reportedly financed a good portion of his first post-007 motion
picture, Cy Endfield’s Universal Soldier
(1971), out of his own pocket. In 1972,
Lazenby would accept an offer to appear in the grim and disturbing Italian
Giallo Chi L’ha Vista Morire? (Who Saw Her Die?). As director Aldo Lara would later recall in a
supplemental interview accompanying the film’s DVD release:
Lazenby had already played the role of James Bond and acquired a certain
international fame. This was useful for
the producers… He had deep issues with (Cubby) Broccoli and the entire James
Bond organization… In the end, he didn’t make a lira. He was going to the casinos, staying in big
hotels, and nothing was free. At the end
he was shown the bills and everything had been deducted from his pay… he had
made nothing. His only dream was to
return to his homeland of Australia, buy a boat and sail off alone. He was happy that [this film] would earn him
the money to buy the boat. He was very
available and very nice, but he disappeared after this.”
Well, not entirely. Near broke and recently married with a child on the way, Lazenby was
wandering around London’s Leicester Square where, on a whim, he caught a
late-night screening of Bruce Lee’s Fists
of Fury (aka The Big Boss, 1971). Though sensing a window of opportunity had
opened, the actor hadn’t done his homework particularly well. Lazenby booked a flight to Singapore, only to
discover Hong Kong was Lee’s actual base of operation. He caught a second flight to Hong Kong and, following
a brief meeting with the powerful but uninterested Shaw Brothers, found his way
to Raymond Chow’s office. Though Chow also
seemed indifferent to Lazenby’s unannounced visit, the producer did have the
presence of mind to call down to Lee (“James Bond is here to see you. Can I send him down?”). Though Lee’s answer was a curt “No,” an hour
later the martial arts star emerged from his screening-room session. He asked the down-and-out Australian if he’d
care to share a luncheon with Chow and himself. Midway through that meal – and to Raymond Chow’s sputtering surprise –
Lee coolly instructed his business partner to write out a check in the amount
of $10,000. “I want George to come back
here and do a movie with me, [Game of
Death] and I know he’ll come back if he’s got my money.”
Though he had already begun work on Game of Death, production was temporarily suspended when Golden
Harvest teamed with Warner Bros. for the international breakthrough Enter the Dragon. We’ll never know exactly what role Lee had in
mind for the former James Bond since, on July 20, 1973 and only four days following
their first meeting, Lee was found dead. The executives at Golden Harvest were
devastated. Not only had they lost a
friend and essential creative partner, they now inherited the liability of having
George Lazenby on the company payroll. The
company’s chagrin wasn’t personal. The
truth of the matter was their newly signed leading man was Hong Kong box-office
dead weight: he had absolutely no
kung-fu training and couldn’t speak a word of Mandarin.
Tired of hanging around Hong Kong waiting for something
to be offered in the weeks following Lee’s passing, Lazenby returned home. In January 1974 the actor announced to
reporters that he was offered a role in The
Golden Needles of Ecstasy to be shot “in both Hong Kong and Los
Angeles.” The plot was to involve
ecstasy-producing acupuncture needles of solid gold that “are “So precious […] people in the Orient will do anything to acquire
them.” Though that film actually would see
the light of day – as the disastrous Golden
Needles – Joe Don Baker and Jim Kelly had been assigned the lead male roles
and Lazenby was, once again, left out in the cold.
Remember the old days when unpredictable occurrences seemed to predictably occur at the Oscars ceremony? There was the nude streaker who failed to unravel the ever-unflappable David Niven. There were the political activist winners who used the forum to grandstand for their favorite causes. This included Vanessa Redgrave's pro-Palestinian, anti-Zionist remarks during her acceptance speech, Marlon Brando sending a surrogate to reject his "Godfather" Oscar in protest of Hollywood's treatment of Native Americans, "Patton" winner George C. Scott refusing to show up at all in protest of the competitive nature of awards shows, the producers of the anti-Vietnam War documentary "Hearts and Minds" taking solace that that the nation was about to be "liberated" by a brutal communist regime, which caused another stir when Frank Sinatra was pushed on stage at Bob Hope's urging to read a hastily-scribbled denouncement of the remark. The Oscars haven't been as relevant or fun since, though I've been among the dwindling ranks of critics who often defend the entertainment value of the show even as its become ever more chic to diss the telecast as increasingly irrelevant. The Oscars have always been flawed, to be sure, and so have the ceremonies but they have also provided a lot of moments that were fun and sometimes poignant. (If you doubt me, just watch the marvelous segment of Charlie Chaplin returning from blacklist exile to receive a lifetime achievement Oscar in 1972 in the clip below.)
This year's Oscar awards ceremony didn't need spontaneous moments to cause controversy. We knew going in that the elephant in the room would have to be addressed: the on-going criticism in some quarters that the Academy is racist because there were no black nominees this year. This is total nonsense, of course, as has been pointed out by numerous distinguished African-American members of the Academy. Yes, Oscar was lily white this year and last year as well but it certainly wasn't due to an orchestrated attempt to bar people of color from being nominees. Since the 1960s, the Academy has overseen a long, sometimes torturous road toward removing the kinds of prejudicial barriers that not only had traditionally characterized the awards but the Hollywood studio system as a whole. It was a big deal when Hattie McDaniel won for "Gone With the Wind" and Sidney Poitier became the second black actor to win a full quarter of a century later for "Lilies of the Field". Since then the Academy has mirrored the changes in society to the point where no one thinks its particularly newsworthy to report on the skin color of any winner. Still, some folks got their knickers twisted about the all-white field of nominees this year. Host Chris Rock was lobbied to cancel his gig as host of the event, 'lest he be labeled an Uncle Tom. (To his credit, Rock ignored the implied threat.) A few other prominent people made a big deal about boycotting the ceremony. Chief among them, Will Smith, whose absence seemed less a statement of principal than simply pouting over the fact that he didn't get his expected nomination for "Concussion". (Smith conveniently seems to have forgotten that the Academy had previously nominated him twice.) Smith was joined by the ever-angry Spike Lee, despite the fact that his career was launched by winning a student Academy Award. He had also been nominated for two regular Oscars and only this very year accepted an honorary Oscar for his entire career. He showed up to accept that at a pre-broadcast ceremony, all the while denouncing the Academy as engaging in racist behavior. Talk about wanting your cake and eating it, too. Lee pointed out that this is the second straight year that the Oscars nominees were all white. "We can't act?! WTF!!", he asked rhetorically. That's hardly the case. Remember way back to 2014 when the Academy earned praise for its awarding of three Oscars ( and a total of nine nominations) to "12 Years a Slave"? Lee and Smith would somehow have you believe that the Academy members suddenly became racist since then and conspired to deprive black artists from getting nominations. The sad truth is that there is a scarcity of black talent behind the cameras and the major African-American actors often don't appear in films that are Oscar-worthy. That's not to diminish the value of the actors or the films. They are simply gearing their movies to the expectations of their audiences, which is what actors have done since the beginning of time. Chris Rock emphasized this point with an amusing "man-on-the-street" segment in which everyday black moviegoers were interviewed about their opinions of the films nominated this year for Best Picture. None of the people interviewed saw them and some hadn't even heard of any. The lack of interest among younger black people to pursue movie-making careers does deprive the industry of hearing and seeing alternative viewpoints from a cinematic perspective. But what is the solution proposed by Lee and Smith- to force young people to attend film school whether they like it or not?
Last night's ceremony started off well with a witty and expertly delivered monologue by Chris Rock. He gently tweaked the Academy by acknowledging the controversy but then, like a person who can't resist telling a good joke until the point of boredom, he kept revisiting the racism angle throughout the evening with very mixed results. To be sure Rock was himself caught between a rock and a hard place. He had to thread the needle between not appearing to be insulting to the Academy that was paying him a king's ransom to host the show, without alienating his core base of fans. To the degree he succeeded will be determined in the days to come. (Personally, I'm getting weary of major awards shows hiring hosts who have the intention of trashing the very awards the show is about. Enough already.) Suffice it to say Rock was in the ultimate "no win" situation. However, his insistence on not burying the race debate undermined other elements of the show. Adding to the absurdity of the racism accusations was a speech about diversity that was delivered by Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy, who, not incidentally, is an African-American. I don't know of many racist organizations that elect a minority female to be their representative. In any event, the Academy went so overboard in presenting black artists on stage that the whole thing threatened to back-fire. Presumably, the intention was to provide a not-so-subtle rebuke of Smith and Lee's charges by having some of the most respected African-Americans in the industry today show their implied support of the Academy by appearing on the show. After all, does anyone really think living legends like Morgan Freeman or Quincy Jones would lend their presence to a racist ceremony? However, most viewers probably simply regarded this as politically correct pandering to the critics. Indeed, Sacha Baron Cohen, in amusing ""Ali G" character mode made reference to the "token" white presenters. Since the vast majority of people who watch the Oscars are older and white, you could almost hear the comments in homes across the nation: "I hate racism but for God's sake stop cramming all this diversity stuff into the Oscars." Agree or disagree, I've already heard from people who think the Academy, in the immortal words of Louis B. Mayer, should "Leave the messages to Western Union".
Chris: Between a Rock and a hard place.
The main purpose of the ceremony is to celebrate great film-making but the constant references to race threatened to overshadow the individual achievements of the artists. The show ambled on to the customary 3 1/2 hour running time. As usual there were highs and lows. What follows are my random thoughts on various aspects of the show:
It always bothers me that honorary awards to living legends are reduced to a few seconds of film clips from a pre-show dinner. This is supposedly done to allow the telecast to move quickly. However, it also deprives viewers of magical moments such as the Chaplin award shown in the clip above. This year we learned that Debbie Reynolds received an honorary Oscar yet we got to see virtually none of it. Yet there was time for such bizarre segments as "SNL"-like comedy skits, a protracted and unfunny extended gag in which Girl Scouts went into the audience to sell cookies (!)and an appearance by Vice-President Joe Biden (to a rapturous ovation) to denounce sexual harassment on college campuses. Huh? While I don't want to see anyone suffer harassment of any kind anywhere, this was out of place on the Oscars and only justified on the dotted line reasoning that the subject matter was covered in the Oscar-nominated documentary "The Hunting Ground". Sorry- it would have been more appropriate to see Debbie Reynolds in the twilight of her years accepting accolades from her peers.
It was a night of surprises. Alejandro Inarritu, who won the Oscar last year for directing "Birdman", scored a rare back-to-back win for "The Revenant". However, this was also a rare case in which the Best Picture ("Spotlight") was directed by someone other than the Best Director winner. You had to feel for Sylvester Stallone, who was the sentimental favorite for Supporting Actor for "Creed". He lost in a surprise upset to the brilliant Mark Rylance for "Bridge of Spies" that reminded me of a similar situation many years ago when Burt Reynolds was supposed to win in the same category for "Boogie Nights" only to be by-passed by the Fickle Finger of Fate. Let's hope Stallone at least keeps his renewed respect in the industry by not making the mistake Reynolds made and delving back into awful projects in search of a fast, fat pay check. Another big surprise was the fact that "Mad Max: Fury Road" won the most Oscars, six in total, all in the technical categories. A lot of establishment types are still mystified about the critical acclaim this film received and how it ended up with a Best Picture nod. Suffice it to say, it's an acquired taste.
There was a definite political aspect to the show, all of it left wing. As usual some winners used their speeches to sermonize about everything from race relations to the threat of global warming. (They should pass out violins to these people.) At some point I thought I could hear Rush Limbaugh's head explode, though the telecast will give right wing commentators plenty of meat on the bone for their annual dissection of the awards as a thinly-disguised Democratic political event. Having said that, there were precious few Donald Trump jokes. Perhaps he's doing more damage to himself than any writers could.
Style and glamour outdistanced the embarrassing fashion statements. Many of the ladies looked sensational, though I will admit to being vulnerable in terms of overlooking certain fashion mistakes if the necklines plunge deep enough. It's enough to justify the admonishments of Major Hawthorne, played by Terry-Thomas in "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World", who chastises Americans for their "positively infantile pre-occupation with bosoms!" The men looked equally classy and elegant with the Bond-revived white tuxedo making a major comeback. Host Chris Rock wore one and looked terrific. The biggest faux pas in terms of fashion, quite predictably came from the Oscar winner for Best Costume Design, Jenny Beavan, who won for "Mad Max: Fury Road". She decided to replicate the grunge look of the film by wearing a cheap leather jacket but she came off looking like a character from the "Star Wars" cantina sequence.
Actress/model Kate Upton symbolized the female strategy for attire: "If you've got it, flaunt it!"
An emotional highlight was the Best Score Oscar given to one of the few living legends in the field, the great Ennio Morricone for his score for "The Hateful Eight". Morricone's presence only reiterated just how diminished the field of impressive film composers is today. Sure, there are a handful of reliable names but no one like Morricone, John Barry, Dimitri Tiomkin, Elmer Bernstein or Jerry Goldsmith. That's partly the fault of an industry that regards composers not as valuable members of the production team, as it had in the past, but as necessary evils. Therefore composers are often brought in very late to create scores on ridiculously short deadlines.
The in memorial montage to talents lost in the last year is always a moving highlight, and this year was no exception. However, as usual there were some inexcusable snubs of revered people. The most glaring I noticed was John Guillermin, who directed such major hits as "The Towering Inferno", "King Kong" (1976 version), "Death on the Nile", "Skyjacked" and many others. No mention of beloved character actor Abe Vigoda, either. Yet, there was room in the montage for a host of people who worked in the weeds of show business in terms of public awareness. (Apparently even dead people in Hollywood need press agents.) These omissions cause great backlashes every year but the Academy soldiers on making the same mistakes, thus giving credence to conspiracy theorists who believe that inclusion in the montage is based more on personal relationships than achievements.
Most of the speeches by winners were unremarkable. Popular winner for Best Actor Leonardo DiCaprio was a class act, as was Mark Rylance. When the winners droned on too long, the orchestra fired up Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" to intimidate them into shutting up. It seemed to have little-to-no effect. Maybe next year a helicopter attack can accompany the music to persuade them to get off stage.
Best speech of the night was by presenter Louis C.K. who pointed out that the most deserving nominees were those in the category for Best Documentary (short). He said that these were true artists, driven by a passion for story-telling and filmmaking and that none of them will probably make anything like a living wage in the course of these noble endeavors.
Every year there is at least one presenter who engages in trashy behavior in order to bolster their image as somebody on the "cutting edge". This year it was foul-mouthed "comedienne" Sarah Silverman, who has about as much to do with the contemporary film industry as Fatty Arbuckle. Silverman, with her trademark deadpan Morticia Adams demeanor, strode on stage to introduce a performance of the nominated song "Writing's On the Wall" from "Spectre". She used the opportunity to disparage the long-running franchise and, in doing so, diminished the introduction of the song's writer and performer, Sam Smith. The Bond producers and Smith got the last laugh when the song won the award but one has to wonder why Silverman was chosen to introduce a segment that insulted the nominees? Surely there were composers and singers who would have been honored to have the gig. Instead, they went with a woman whose film credits include something titled "Cops, Cum, Dicks and Flying". Whoever brought her on board should be fired- or worse, made to watch back-to-back screenings of "Copes, Cum, Dicks and Flying".
Speaking of the Best Song category, Smith's Bond number was no classic by 007 standards but it was certainly a lot better than some worst songs in the series (think "Die Another Day" and the wretched "Quantum Of Solace"). It was also light years better than the other nominated songs that were performed including "Til It Happens to You", a dreadful concoction about sexual abuse from "The Hunting Ground" written and performed by Lady Gaga. It may have been written with the best of intentions (abuse victims were present on stage) but that didn't make hearing it any more bearable. Similarly, the song "Earned It" from "50 Shades of Grey" was also terrible. The film is about people who enjoy sado-masochism. After listening to this number I felt that I had been drafted into the ranks of masochists. By the way, two of the nominated songs weren't even performed at all, proving that star power is the primary factor in terms of deciding who the "Cool Kids" are in terms of having their work exposed to millions of viewers. Who gets to tell the nominees of the other two songs that their work doesn't merit being performed? (Click here to view the song performances).
Speaking of Bondian references, it was nice to hear those classic 007 themes played as the show entered each commercial break. Also great that they included Burt Bacharach's superb main theme for the 1967 spoof version of "Casino Royale".
I was happy to see "Spotlight" nab the Best Picture award primarily because it reiterates the valuable and often thankless role that investigative reporters play in democratic societies. Sadly we live in an age where such writing skills and dogged determination are deemed expendable by people who rarely pick up newspapers any more.
Well, that's about it for my take on our old friend Oscar this year. Click here for full list of winners. To weigh in on your own opinions, please visit the Cinema Retro Facebook page.
Cinema Retro's "Man About London" Mark Mawston covers the "A" list events for our site- including last evenings BAFTA awards. Here are some of his outstanding shots from the red carpet. (All photos copyright Mark Mawston. All rights reserved.) Mark has photographed some of the legends of rock 'n roll. Visit Mark's web site by clicking here.
Yesterday the British Academy of Film and Television Arts held their annual awards ceremony, attracting acclaimed actors and filmmakers from around the globe for the festivities in London. Big winners were "The Revenant", "Brooklyn", Leonardo DiCaprio, Brie Larson and Alejandro G. Inarritu. For full list of winners, click here.
Sentimental favorite Syvester Stallone brought home the award for Best Supporting Actor for his acclaimed performance in "Creed".
Major winners in last night's Golden Globe awards included Leonardo DiCaprio, Brie Larson, Matt Damon, Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Winselt and director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, whose film "The Revenant" won for Best Motion Picture Drama. "The Martian" won for Best Comedy/Musical, which left a lot of people scratching their heads. Denzel Washington received a lifetime achievement award and legendary composer Ennio Morricone won for Best Score for his work on Quentin Tarantino's "The Hateful Eight". Sam Smith's theme song for the latest James Bond movie, "Writing's on the Wall" from "Spectre", won for Best Song. For a complete list of winners, click here. The tradition of host (Ricky Gervais), winners and presenters trying to look hip and relevant by incorporating profanity into their appearances remained firmly in place. For Washington Post TV critic Hank Stuever's dissection of the telecast, click here.
On December 5 and 6 the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra performed live orchestral accompaniment to the popular 1990 holiday film "Home Alone" at the New Jersey Center for the Performing Arts in Newark and the State Theatre in New Brunswick on respective days. There is a very definite trend by major international orchestras to incorporate cinema in special performances such as these. It's a trend we at Cinema Retro obviously welcome. Not only do these shows allow audiences to relish the thrill of hearing a live orchestra but it also exposes many people to the merits of worthy movies that they may not have been familiar with. We attended this afternoon's performance at the State Theatre. It was preceded by the NJSO's welcome practice of encouraging audience members to show up an hour early for a sing-a-long session that is held in the second floor lobby area. Here, pianist Rob Keiser hosted some rousing renditions of traditional Christmas carols. When the orchestra, under the direction of Constantine Kitsopoulos, took the stage and began to play in synch with the film, there was tremendous applause upon hearing the NJSO's rendition of the legendary 20th Century Fox fanfare that accompanies the studio's logo. The performance was flawless and made one fantasize about what it must have been like to be in the original recording sessions. "Home Alone" might seem a rather bizarre choice for a live accompaniment. However, composer John Williams' score is delightful throughout and the final credits feature traditional Christmas standards that gave the NJSO an opportunity to end the concert on a truly uplifting note. The film itself was shown as a digital restoration with a built-in intermission. I had not seen "Home Alone" since it originally opened in 1990 and I was impressed at how well its attributes have withstood the test of time. Younger members of the audience still howl in laughter at the antics of Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, the latter two as the inept house-breakers who get more than they bargained for from a precocious 8 year-old.
For more about the NJSO and a listing of future events, click here.
you’re above a certain age, Sylvester Stallone is more than an icon, he is an
inspiration. The real-life backstory of Rocky is just as mesmerizing as the
film itself, as a struggling actor refused to sell his script unless he was
able to star as The Italian Stallion. The rest of his history is also ours.
through the private preview in Manhattan was a tour through my own
recollections, as well as Stallone’s filmography. Over 750 props, costumes and personal items
will be offered. Boxing gloves, trunks,
robes, and the original handwritten script are up for sale, as well as the ball
Rocky plays with as he walked through the streets of Philadelphia.
field jacket, machete and Bowie knife, as well as a set of costumes, prop
armour and gun from Judge Dredd are on the block. You
can also buy pieces ranging from Freddy Heflin’s bloodstained peace officer
uniform from Copland, to Stanley Rosiello’s gang jacket from The Lords of
Flatbush, to Angelo “Snaps” Provolone’s three piece suit from Oscar.
up is Deke DaSilva’s flight suit from one of my all-time favorites, 1981’s
Nighthawks, where Stallone and Billy Dee Williams play undercover New York City
Detectives tasked to the Federal government to fight terrorist Wulfgar (Rutger
Hauer in his first American starring role) long before 9/11, with a great tense
climactic scene atop New York’s Roosevelt Island Tramway.
auction will be held in Los Angeles on December 18-20. Visit HA.com/Stallone, or call 866-825-3243866-825-3243 FREE
for more information.
Perhaps it is only fitting that area meteorologists would
forewarn ominously that the Mahoning Drive-in Theater’s “Christopher Lee
Tribute” might take place on a cold and dark and stormy night. After all, it was the villainous film legacy
of the actor – who passed away at age 93 on June 7th of this year – to have frightened
generations of moviegoers in such a bleakly nightmarish rain-soaked setting. As it happened, while the shivery autumnal
chill on Saturday night was undeniable, there was – happily - nary a sprinkle
of precipitation to obscure one’s windshield view of the drive-in’s massive
The Mahoning Drive-in, located amidst the Pocono Mountains
surrounding Lehighton, Pennsylvania, is – quite frankly – an anomaly amongst the
anomalies of surviving drive-in theaters. Whilst most remaining drive-ins have been forced to move cautiously and expensively
to digital projection systems or else suffer their screens going dark, the
Mahoning has survived this past year through a series of weekend-only 35mm
retro-film screenings. The Mahoning has
undoubtedly provided some great repertory movie-going fun this past summer; only
time will tell if the theater’s unorthodox business model is sustainable.
I was pleased to learn that the Mahoning had set aside
a night’s programming to commemorate the legacy of the great Christopher Lee,
the saturnine and elegant British actor who appeared in innumerable films over
a career lasting near seven-decades. I
admit to some bafflement when first seeing the handbill advertising the evening’s
selection of films: “Hercules in the
Haunted World,””Horror Express,” and “Psycho Circus.” It was an odd sort of tribute program as it
would not feature a single popularly acclaimed classic from the honoree’s deep back
catalog. Instead, the program was
seemingly drawn from a triad of second (and perhaps third) tier-efforts celebrated
only among the cognoscenti. I made my peace
with the program when I recognized two of the three films scheduled would likely
rarely – if ever – be presented from original 35mm elements anywhere in the world
in the year 2015.
In any event, the more celebrated legacy of Christopher
Lee was amply exemplified throughout the evening with a series of vintage
trailers. The crew at the Mahoning
promised a cavalcade of Lee-related trailers between features and they
delivered handsomely. There were the
requisite Hammer trailers, of course: “Horror of Dracula,” “Dracula Has Risen from the Grave,” “Scream of
Fear,” “Rasputin, the Mad Monk,” “The Devil-Ship Pirates,” and “She,” as well
as such combo-bill late-night drive-in madness as “Dracula: Prince of Darkness/”Plague of the
Zombies” and “Scars of Dracula/Horror of Frankenstein.” Lee’s non-Hammer horror film work was
represented with a pair of trailers featuring Tigon’s “The Creeping Flesh” and
A.I.P’’s “The Oblong Box.” Perhaps more
enjoyable, if only as a kitschy reminder that there were some mind-numbing
clunkers as well, were the trailers for “The Return of Captain Invincible”
(1983) and “Arabian Adventure” (1979).
The night’s features kicked off with a gorgeous 35mm Technicolor
print of Mario Bava’s handsomely mounted “Hercules in the Haunted World.” Originally released in Italy in 1961 as
“Ercole al Centro Della Terra,” the film was belatedly marketed to
English-speaking countries as “Hercules against the Vampires” or under other similar
but variant titles. This opportunistic marketing
strategy – no matter how false – was designed, no doubt, to ride the gold
sovereign lined coattail pockets of Lee’s mid-60s popularity as the reigning
Count Dracula of the Hammer film series. In a tacked-on preamble to the U.S. version of the film (released in 1963),
Lee’s character, King Lycos, is even described on the film’s soundtrack as a
“diabolical vampire” which he, most certainly is not… or, at least, not in the
more accepted use of the term.
The storyline itself is essentially a paint-by-numbers swords-and-sandals
epic with the usual mythological trappings and supernatural overtones, but is
rescued from the ordinary by Bava’s eerie visualization of the subterranean
underworld. Hercules (played by the
British bodybuilder Reg Park) must travel to Hades, the God Pluto’s grim
“Kingdom of the Dead,” to rescue his true love, the Princess Deianira. Bava’s ghastly underworld is soberly realized
with blue-green tinted labyrinth passageways of swirling mists, of knotty limbs
and thorny vines that hang spookily from dead trees, and of subterranean lakes
of fiery lava. Lee strikes a suitably menacing
figure as the scheming and sadistic King Lycos, though his performance is partly
handicapped by the fact that the actor’s voice is dubbed throughout. One cannot help but mourn the absence of the villainous
gravitas of Lee’s inflected speaking voice. (Click here to order this film from Amazon)
The night’s second feature, “Horror Express (1972)” was
the anchor to the evening’s triptych program. Likely the film most familiar to U.S.
enthusiasts due to it being in near constant rotation on “Chiller Theater” type-programming
in the 1970s and 1980s, this soon-to-be-neglected Spanish-British co-production
eventually fell into public domain status and became a staple of every
low-budget VHS and DVD collector’s set.
Following several minutes of exposition in the
snow-capped mountains of Manchuria’s Hangchow Province, the remainder of the
film is set in the claustrophobic confines of the Trans-Siberian Express. Lee plays Professor Alexander Saxton, a stern
and humorless – but nonetheless prominent – anthropologist who believes he’s
discovered the “remarkable fossil” of the proverbial Missing Link. Things take a turn for the worse when a
curious fellow scientist (Peter Cushing), intrigued by his rival colleague’s secretiveness,
bribes an ill-fated coachman to take a peek inside the heavily chained and padlocked
crate. This proves to be unfortunate as
the fossil, which proves to be not as extinct as one might wish, is released. The creature proceeds to lumber freely around
the train carriage, terrifying and absorbing the brains of his fellow
passengers. (Click here to order this film from Amazon).
The evening’s final film was “Psycho Circus” (alternate
British title “Circus of Fear”) one of a number of Anglo-German co-productions ministered
by Harry Alan Towers which featured Lee as the marquee star in the years
1965-1970. Tower and Lee enjoyed a
measure of box-office success bringing Sax Rohmer’s notorious (and extremely
politically incorrect) super-villain “Fu Manchu” to the big screen. Though Towers’s series of “Fu Manchu” films
with Lee, admittedly, varied widely in quality, they remain enjoyable popcorn
programmers to this very day. For this
film they looked to the novelist Edgar Wallace for inspiration. There were two versions of Wallace’s “Circus
of Fear” (the original 1966 British title): a longer color German version
directed by Werner Jacobs and an English version helmed by John Moxey of “City
of the Dead” and “The Night Stalker” fame.
Jerry Lewis and Martin Scorsese collaborated on the classic film "The King of Comedy". Now Scorsese will moderate an evening with Lewis at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens on Tuesday, October 6. Here is the official description:
With Martin Scorsese and Jerry
Lewis in person Co-presented with the Comedy Hall of Fame
A true Renaissance man, well recognized as one of the greatest comedians
in the history of the field, Jerry Lewis helped define so much of comedy’s
vast language as a stand-up performer, actor, producer and writer. Perhaps
his greatest innovation was as a filmmaker. Taken together, movies such asThe Bellboy, The Ladies Man, The
Errand Boy, The Nutty Professor, The Patsy,and The Family Jewels form a breathtaking virtual dictionary of every aspect of what is
important and essential to the language of comedic film. His films would
help forge the cradle of modern comedies as a separate movement in film, and
his seminal book,The
Total Film-maker(culled from almost 500 hours
of lectures) offers an essential primer for the fledging comedic filmmaker.
This unforgettable evening will be moderated by Martin Scorsese and will
include clips from Jerry Lewis's films.
The ninth annual Drive-in Super Monster Rama was staged
– as is traditional - on the weekend following Labor Day at the Riverside
Drive-in, Vandergrift, Pennsylvania.Inaugurated in 2007, this fiendish gathering of monster-movie insomniacs
is tailored to those who cherish the classic horror films of the 1960s and
1970s.It’s a thoughtfully programmed and
purposely retro affair; fans get to experience (or re-experience) their
favorites as they might have when the movies were new – in the witching hour setting
of an authentic neighborhood drive-in theater.
With each passing year the Monster Rama grows steadily
in attendance and flourishes in reputation.In 2013 the annual gathering spawned a mid-spring sister event, the
April Ghoul’s Drive-in Monster Rama.Co-sponsored from inception by George Reis (of the preeminent cult/horror/exploitation
film review website DVD Drive-in) and
Todd Ament, the proprietor and projectionist of the Riverside, both weekend
events feature eight full-length feature films (almost exclusively from 35mm
elements) as well as a dizzying array of vintage trailers, cartoons, shorts,
and refreshment stand advertisements.
The September event is proudly the more old-school of
the two and this year’s offerings might have been the best yet.On Friday night, September 11, with the
weather as near-perfect as one could expect for the season, there was a four-film
celebration of American International Picture’s Edgar Allan Poe-film cycle.From 1960 through 1964, director-producer
Roger Corman filmed no fewer than eight adaptations of Poe’s work, a remarkable
series of visionary and literate motion pictures that brought together such on-screen
talent as Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Ray Milland, Barbara Steele, Jack
Nicholson, Hazel Court and Basil Rathbone.Of course, it’s without argument that the uncontested big-ticket star of
the enterprise was the legendary Vincent Price.The elegant actor with the menacing but sonorous voice would feature in no
fewer than seven of the eight Poe films.
Though it’s been nearly twenty-two years since his
passing, Vincent Price remains an obvious favorite amongst Monster Rama
attendees. The films of this master of the macabre have been well represented
at the September event; Price remains the only actor to have at least one – and
often several – back catalog films screened at every gathering since launch.So it was to everyone’s delight - and no
one’s surprise - that Price would be the featured player in all four of
Friday’s films: The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), The Masque of the Read Death (1963), Tomb of Ligeia (1964), and
The Haunted Palace (1963).
Roger Corman’s celebrated cycle of Poe adaptations are,
well… exactly that, adaptations.The films are only occasionally literal
re-creations of the original source material; mostly they’re brilliant cinematic
re-imaginings inspired by the author’s body of macabre work.As a child seeing the films for the first
time - in ten minute intervals sandwiched between drain-cleaner commercials on
the 4:30 movie - I was disappointed in them.Surely these were costume melodramas and not genuine horror films.Where were
Today, as an adult with a half-century’s accumulation
of weariness and wisdom, I’ve come to understand that Corman, in the best tradition
of Poe, identified the wellspring of terror as something internal.The short stories, novelettes, and poetry that
ebbed from the pen of this vanguard of American mystery writing is imbued with
a grotesquery that is almost always more psychological than spectral.Corman’s great directorial gift was his canny
ability to visually convey the crippling psychological inner-torment of both
victim and protagonist.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
July 28th, 2015. Actor-turned-filmmaker Michael Lee Stever, (Super Force, Broadway; The Golden Age) and revered stage actress
and Academy Award nominee Piper Laurie (The
Hustler, Twin Peaks, Carrie) recently joined Scares That Care founder Joe Ripple and his
entire team in Williamsburg, Virginia for the second annual Scares That Care Weekend film festival and
Scares That Care is changing
the face of the American film festival, and you can bet things are starting to
heat up in a major way. With hundreds of film festivals and genre events
scattered from coast to coast, it's not unreasonable to maintain that the
'festival scene' could use a serious cage shaking and Scares That Care is doing
just that. To date they are one of the only festivals in the United
States that are donating all net proceeds to the families of their 2015 Campaign. Additionally, with this
year’s convention, the Heritage Humane Society
will have a booth setup to collect money and items for the animals under
their care. A gauntlet hopefully more festivals, and horror conventions might
be inspired to pick up.
All of this because Joe
Ripple, a retired police detective, was motivated to find a way to raise money
for families experiencing medical hardship after witnessing first hand the
financial and emotional struggle his partner faced when his 4-year-old-daughter
was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.
Beloved actress and horror
icon Piper Laurie was on hand for a
screening of Michael Stever's 2012
documentary short film, 'Resurrecting Carrie.' The doc
features Laurie herself as well as a host of other industry professionals who
share thoughts on how Stephen King's classic novel, Brian DePalma's legendary
film, and Dean Pitchford and Michael Gore's cult hit musical influenced,
inspired and helped steer their paths. A
fascinating Q&A with Stever and Laurie followed immediately after the
Laurie (born Rosetta Jacobs)
has become one of the most celebrated, respected actors of our time and is the
recipient of numerous awards. Originally a product of the early studio contract
player system, she finally broke free from stringent, limiting contractual
obligations and has proudly helmed a career that has spawned countless iconic
roles on stage, in film and on television. In 2012 she published her much
anticipated personal memoir, 'Learning To Live Out Loud' which has
garnered raves for its insightful eloquence, wit and blistering candor.
Michael Lee Stever has
worked steadily in the business for nearly thirty years. First as an actor,
singer and dancer and now as full time filmmaker, cameraman, editor and writer.
His first foray into indie film was as UPM on the critically acclaimed
documentary, 'Broadway; The Golden Age.'
He's since produced a handful of engaging documentaries all focusing on
various facets of the thriller/horror genre; 'Saturday Nightmares; The Ultimate
Horror Expo,'featuring George Romero, Tom Savini & Adrienne
Broberg's Guide To Thespians, Sociopaths & Scream Queens'
featuring Elijah Wood, and most recently'Heather's Freddy Cut Nightmare' featuring
iconic 'Nightmare On Elm Street'
heroine, Heather Langencamp.
Other celebs that appeared
at this year's Scares That Care were David Naughton, (American Werewolf in London) Kim Coates, (Sons of Anarchy) Sid Haig, (Jackie
Brown) Larry Drake, (Dark man)
Ginger Lynn, (The Devil’s Rejects)
and many more.
Piper Laurie and Michael Stever.
Be sure and visit www.scaresthatcareweekend.com to get tickets
and learn more about the convention. Visit www.scaresthatcare.org
to learn more about the charity itself.
For press inquiries and interview requests with
Stever, Laurie or 'Scares That Care' founder Joe Ripple, contact Stever
or via cell @ 917 407-8250
Wednesday night, Hollywood took a step back in time and it was a beautiful
thing.Italy’s most glamorous export,
the lovely Sophia Loren, made a rare visit to screen two of her films to an
adoring crowd at the Dolby Theater.The
movie legend was greeted with a standing ovation when she walked out in a
shimmering gown, escorted by director Rob Marshall who was clearly in awe of
the star he cast in Nine, her last Hollywood
film.Settling into two plush seats
separated by a mountain of roses, Marshall introduced her as “A woman with a
heart as big as all of Italy.”Loren
opened up about her life, career and leading men in a 45 minute Q&A,
punctuated by frequent laughter and some poignant moments when she remembered how
movies offered an escape from the misery of post-WWII Italy.
came across as the most humble of stars – illustrated the moment she stepped
onstage when a fan approached from the audience and began speaking directly to
her! Loren told the audience she felt
she “owed” her fans so much and that she never forgot where she came from, “…
Naples and the war and terrible things.” Marshall deftly got the program back on track and Loren was off, talking
about starting off as an extra in Quo
Vadis, connecting with director Vittorio De Sica who cast her in a number
of films which made her a huge star in Italy – attracting the attention of
Hollywood (and a 1962 Best Actress Oscar for her role in Two Women, making her the first actress to win for a foreign
age 80, Loren showed the style, charm and humor that captivated audiences for
over five decades. When Marshall queried
her about her leading men, she remembered Cary Grant (her Houseboat co-star) as being “a special person” and Daniel Day
Lewis, who worked with her on Nine,
as “one of the best alive”. Marlon
Brando’s name elicited a dramatic pause – which had the audience laughing. She related how Brando pulled a diva move on
the first day of production of A Countess
From Hong Kong, showing up hours late to the set. The film’s writer/director, the legendary
Charlie Chaplin had some strong words with Brando and from that point on he
behaved. She also enjoyed making It Started In Naples with Clark Gable,
but remembered he had a watch that would ring at exactly 5 PM every day and
then he’d leave. Done. No late hours for him!
(Photos copyright Mark Cerulli. All rights reserved.)
Marshall also brought up the world-famous photo of Loren ogling Jayne
Mansfield’s generous cleavage. Loren’s
rationale? “I thought everything was
gonna fall out.”
of Loren’s two sons, Edoardo Ponti, came out to introduce The Human Voice, a 26-minute short he directed and co-wrote, based
on the 1930 Jean Cocteau play. Ponti’s version features his mother in virtually
every scene, delivering a rambling, heartfelt monologue to an unseen lover
about to marry another woman. This tour
de force would be daunting for a young star, but for a woman on the cusp of
80? Loren crushed it, as they say,
exhibiting a wide range of emotion from desperation to giddy delight, proving
her acting chops are still gloriously intact. Ponti noted that, “In an age when we idolize the wrong person, tonight
it’s the right person.” The crowd
short was followed by a restored print of Loren’s 1964 film, Marriage Italian Style, directed by
fellow Napolitano, Vittorio De Sica. Loren’s performance earned her a 1965 Oscar nomination for Best
Actress. The film was also nominated for
an Academy Award as Best Foreign Language Film in 1966.
more than three hours of film and conversation, Ms. Loren wisely skipped the
after-party, no doubt preferring to get her beauty sleep. Who can blame her? Molte Grazie!
July 16th 2014, Cinema Retro’s Eddy Friedfeld moderated a tribute to
the late Sid Caesar with Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner and Billy Crystal at The Paley
Center in Beverly Hills, which Rotten Tomatoes called “funny, touching, and
illuminating.” The two hour program had
Brooks and Reiner sharing stories and recollections of their time onstage and
in the fabled Writers Room of Your Show of Shows and Caesars Hour, and Crystal
sharing how Caesar influenced him to become a comedian, including a step by
step recollection of how he created the legendary Fernando character. For full coverage on the Rotten Tomatoes web site, click here
Cinema Retro's Matt Field and Dave Worrall on the red carpet.
By Matthew Field
headlined an exclusive red carpet event at the Odeon Leicester Square in
London, to mark the 50th anniversary of Zulu – the 1964 epic about
the historic 1879 battle at Rorke’s Drift.
Arriving at the cinema, the Prince told Suzannah Endfield Olivier, the
daughter of the film's director Cy Endfield, that Zulu was one of his favourite
films. 'I watch this film every single year before Christmas time,' he said. 'Maybe
once. Maybe twice.'
Matt and Dave with Cinema Retro contributor Paul Adsacks.
Inside and ahead of the film, guests were treated to a screening of rare
behind the scenes footage shot on location in South Africa in 1964. Cinema
Retro’s Dr. Sheldon Hall, gave the 2,000 strong audience a running commentary
to the black and white footage. Film critic Mark Kermode and Historian Dan Snow
both addressed the audience giving the film a cultural and historical context.
Dave and Matt with Welsh Guards.
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who played King Cetshwayo the leader of the
Zulus in the film, was also in attendance. He said in a short recorded piece to
camera “My portrayal of King Cetshwayo, my maternal great-grandfather, was not
only a privilege, but almost inevitable once the idea was conceived. Cy
Endfield and Sir Stanley Baker came to see me at KwaPhindangene to request my
assistance in enlisting the thousands of extras for the Zulu regiments and the
part of King Cetshwayo. But when Endfield saw me, he was struck by the family
resemblance, and persuaded me to play the role myself.”
The Choir of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards performed Men of
Harlech on stage before a specially filmed message from Michael Caine. The
event benefited three very worthy charities - Walking With The Wounded, The
David Rattray Memorial Trust and Sentebale.
Zulu actor Dickie Owen and Henry Coleman a historian of the film who supplied rare footage. Henry also runs a Zulu web site that can be accessed by clicking here.
Finally the audience enjoyed the gorgeous 50th anniversary
digitally restored print of the film. As the lights came up, we began talking
to an elderly gentleman sitting next to us, only to discover, he was in fact 88 year old actor Dickie Owen, who played
Corporal Schiess in the film. In all, a memorable commemoration of a very
memorable British film classic.
Lorcan Otway, owner of the legendary New York theater, starts off the festivities.
Actress Arlene Dahl ("Journey to the Center of the Earth") introduces Alan Cumming.
Alan prepares to be "immortalized" in cement for the theater's walk of fame.
On Monday night, Cinema Retro was invited to attend a private party in honor of actor Alan Cumming at New York's legendary and quirky Theatre 80 St. Marks on St. Marks Place. The venue has its own mini "walk of fame" that dates back many decades. The Theatre/bar also houses the Museum of the American Gangster, as it once had a sordid history that included a gangland rubout. Alan Cumming graciously signed the cement block, having been introduced by the theater's owner Lorcan Otway and actress Arlene Dahl. After the party, everyone thundered to the famed bar, where plenty of good brews and live Irish music (and Irish whiskey) rounded out the evening. (Alan Cumming is currently reprising his Tony Award-winning role in Cabaret on Broadway.)
If you are in New York and would like to visit Theatre 80 St. Marks, click here for info.
(All photos copyright Cinema Retro. All rights reserved.)
There are precious few things in life that reach the status of absolute perfection. Off-hand I can think of three:
1. A top notch Cuban cigar.
2. A wee-small hours meal in a New Jersey White Castle.
3. Any performance by the New York Philharmonic.
Last night, I had the opportunity to cover the latter for Cinema Retro, as the Philharmonic, under the direction of the esteemed conductor David Newman, presented a magnificent tribute to the music of the Pixar animated film classics. The event took place at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City and was the latest production in the legendary orchestra's tie-ins to major motion pictures. Last year, I reported on the Philharmonic's similar celebration of the films of Alfred Hitchcock. (Click here for coverage) However, the Pixar event was even more impressive. My one gripe with the Hitchcock event was that the film clips included dialogue which distracted from the fact that a live orchestra was providing the background music. Obviously those concerns were shared by others because the clips used in the Pixar tribute were silent, thus allowing the full impact of the magical music scores to be appreciated.
David Newman addressed the packed auditorium prior to the concert and gave some fascinating insights into his family's long ties with film compositions. His father, Alfred Newman, was one of the most acclaimed movie composers of all time, having been accorded an astonishing 45 Oscar nominations and 9 wins. David is a noted film composer in his own right, his brother Thomas has been nominated for 12 Oscars and cousin Randy Newman has been nominated for 16 Oscars and won twice. It's doubtful there will ever be such a family legacy again in the course of motion picture history. David Newman's enthusiasm for the event was evident. He put his heart and soul into the performance. Drenched with sweat but clearly brimming with family pride, he provided an encore of Randy Newman's classic "You've Got a Friend in Me" from the original "Toy Story". It brought down the house. Kudos also to the editing team that so painstakingly put together the film clip montages that perfectly accompanied the scores. In all, there were selections from "Toy Story", "Finding Nemo", "Ratatouille", "A Bug's Life", "WALL-E", "Toy Story 2", "Cars", "Up", "The Incredibles", "Monsters, Inc.", "Cars 2", "Toy Story 3", "Brave" and "Monsters University". All but five of these scores were written by Randy or Thomas Newman. Four of the remaining scores were written by Michael Giacchino, with the score for the Scottish-themed "Brave" composed by Patrick Doyle. (There was a bagpiper brought out on stage to perform with the Philharmonic for themes from this film.)
We've written frequently about the fact that most contemporary movies lack memorable film scores. Composers are treated today like necessary evils rather than valued contributors to the finished movie. Often, they are brought on board after the movie has been completed and given an abbreviated time table to knock out a score. Compare that to the old days when composers were viewed as integral members of the production team who were often scoring sequences while the movie was still in production. The Pixar films still provide high profile presentations of major composer's work. Hearing these superb scores played by one of the world's greatest orchestras was a truly thrilling experience. Even more pleasing was the fact that there were many children in attendance. What better way could there be to illustrate to a young person the the contributions of musical scores to films?
The concerts opened last night and run tonight and tomorrow, May 3. Do not hesitate to attend if you possibly can. (Click here for ticket info)
Now I have to get those two other "perfect" things in life, so I'll have to track down a Cuban cigar while I head off to a White Castle here in Jersey.
BIGGEST SELLING ORCHESTRAL SOUNDTRACK OF ALL TIME PRESENTED LIVE FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME BY OSCAR AND GRAMMY AWARD WINNING COMPOSER JAMES HORNER.
TITANIC LIVE- WORLD PREMIERE
ROYAL ALBERT HALL
27 APRIL 2015
TICKETS ON SALE NOW!
London, 21 March; Avex Classics International and the Royal Albert Hall today announce one of the major music events of 2015, the world premiere presentation of Titanic Live at the iconic London venue on 27th April 2015.
James Horner’s epic score will be brought to life like never before, with the composer himself conducting a 90-piece orchestra, choir and Celtic musicians whilst the film is projected on a vast HD screen. Titanic Live promises to be the live cinematic event of the year, re-creating the uniquely familiar soundtrack which will forever be a part of cinematic history.Horner has composed for over 100 motion pictures, frequently collaborating with directors such as James Cameron and Ron Howard. Other scores include Avatar (the only film to surpass Titanic in box office sales), Braveheart, Aliens, Apollo 13, Star Trek II and more recently, The Amazing Spiderman.
The 1997 blockbuster Titanic, written and produced by James Cameron, became one of the most prolific movies of all time, grossing over $2 billion at the box office and winning 11 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director and more importantly, Best Original Song and Dramatic Score.Audiences worldwide echoed Hollywood’s appreciation of Horner’s musical score as the CD release became the best-selling orchestral soundtrack in history. Moreover, its lead single, “My Heart Will Go On” performed by Celine Dion was the biggest selling single of 1998, winning Record Of The Year at the 1999 Grammy ® Awards.
James Horner commented: “I am very flattered, and delighted to have been invited to perform the score of Titanic live with orchestra. Usually, putting the music into a film is a highly technical process that the audience never gets a chance to see. By performing the music live with the film, you, the audience, will experience the magic of seeing the live musicians, literally playing the music score as the film runs.”
“There are so many wonderfully talented people that perform the music of film scores, so it is a great honour for me to have the opportunity to share the experience, the musicians’ performances, all the ‘behind the scenes’ magic, with an audience."
Maggie O’Herlihy, Head of Europe and the Americas, Avex Classics International commented: “We are thrilled to announce the world premiere of Titanic Live at the Royal Albert Hall. When Titanic’s epic score takes centre stage, audiences will be able to immerse themselves in the hauntingly beautiful sound-world James Horner crafted like never before.”
Jasper Hope, Chief Operating Officer at the venue, said: “The Royal Albert Hall’s unique connection to the Titanic continues with the world premiere of Titanic Live.
“It was on this stage that the Titanic Band Memorial Concert took place in 1912, held to commemorate the eight heroic musicians who played on as the doomed ocean liner went down. A century later, the Royal Albert Hall was the venue for the world premiere of Titanic 3D. On that unforgettable evening, James Horner took the baton to conduct a 20-minute suite from his score – the most popular orchestral soundtrack of all time – the emotion and romance of the music sending shivers down the spine of everyone in the auditorium.We are delighted that James will now return to conduct the world premiere performance of Titanic Live, with his incredible score performed live and in full for the first time to accompany a high definition screening of the blockbuster film.”
Presented by the Royal Albert Hall and Avex Classics International, a branch of Japan’s leading entertainment business, the Avex Group, Titanic Live marks the start of a series of bespoke live events offering new and innovative ways to experience classical music.
Further worldwide dates for Titanic Live will also be announced shortly.
It's getting harder to indulge in the annual ritual of eviscerating the Oscar ceremonies as boring and ineptly staged. As Cinema Retro readers may know, in recent years I have been among the few critics who have defended the staging of most of the telecasts. They certainly are lengthy but, with the exception of one or two ceremonies, most have been creatively staged and well-paced. Last evening's presentation of the 86th annual Oscar awards held true to that trend. Host Ellen DeGeneres, returning after a seven year absence, was genuinely funny and kept the action rolling at a brisk clip even though the show went a half-hour over its allocated three hour time slot. DeGeneres also worked surprisingly clean with the only tasteless joke made at the expense of a virtually unrecognizable Liza Minnelli. DeGeneres infused the often stuffy ceremonies with a sense of -dare I say it?- gayety. Her mood was infectious with the crowd and it became immediately apparent that even the losers were having a hell of a great time. If DeGeneres overdid any angle, it was working the audience- literally. She spent so much time running amidst the star-packed audience that it began to resemble an old "Stump the Band" segment on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. Some of this schtick worked better than others but DeGeneres' gamble on having pizzas delivered to the cavernous auditorium went over very well. Good thing, too...it was a risky gag that, if it had not been successful, the result would have been cringe-inducing. Similarly, DeGeneres put together an impromptu star-packed "selfie" of superstars that resulted in her meeting her goal of making this the most "Tweeted" photo ever.The ceremony was rather awkwardly built around an ill-defined theme of screen heroes. This resulted in a padded running time as montages of clips of famous screen heroes were shown. They were fun to watch but the segments were rather pointless as we watched disjointed examples of cinematic bravery that ranged from The Terminator to Atticus Fitch, James Bond and Batman.
The ceremony continued to the trend of having major stars show up to support the Oscars. Some years ago, it was considered chic not to attend. But last night featured a powerhouse lineup that included most of the nominees as well as genuine legends like Robert De Niro, Harrison Ford and even Kim Novak, who emerged from self-imposed exile. It was also great to see a true icon, Sidney Poiter (frail, but dignified), on stage fifty years after his ground-breaking Oscar win for Lilies of the Field. Bette Midler, looking better than ever, rendered a wonderful rendition of The Wind Beneath My Wings following the always-moving memorial film clip montage of all the great artists we have lost in the last year. Pink appeared on stage to sing a lovely version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow in tribute to the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz. It was a beautifully staged segment that was made all the more poignant by the presence in the audience of Judy Garland's daughters. The four Best Song nominees were well-staged including a soulful performance by U-2 that couldn't quite compensate for the fact that most of the songs were merely pleasant, but hardly memorable. A seemingly ageless Jim Carrey did a dead-on imitation of nominee Bruce Dern in the 1972 film The Cowboys. Sally Field made a presentation and looked wonderfully elegant. The Oscar winner's speeches seemed classier and more heartfelt this year. Jared Leto, winner of Supporting Actor for Dallas Buyers Club, gave a very moving speech that seemed to set a trend in which several Oscar winners took pains to thank their moms, a nice gesture that was enhanced by the fact that some of those moms were in the audience. Lupita Nyongo'o's speech showed sheer, sincere exuberance at having won, in contrast to some of the more pretentious "surprise" moments shown by some winners in previous years. Cate Blanchett's win for Blue Jasmine was well-deserved but her heartfelt speech droned on so long that one thought she would acknowledge every person in the Sydney phone book. John Ridley, winner for Best Adapted Screenplay for 12 Years a Slave, was quite moving in thanking a mentor who gave him solid advice throughout his years as a screenwriter. Matthew McConaughey reined in his eccentric behavior and gave a rambling but still inspiring acceptance speech after winning Best Actor for his triumphant performance in Dallas Buyers Club.
As for the prizes themselves, virtually all were justified. Surprises were few and included Spike Jonez winning for Best Original Screenplay for the little-seen comedy Her and Alfonso Curaon winning Best Director for Gravity but seeing his film lose Best Picture to 12 Years a Slave. American Hustle became the third film in Oscar history (along with Gangs of New York and the remake of True Grit) to score ten nominations only to end up being shut out.
In all, a solid evening of classy entertainment...and here's hoping Ms. DeGeneres is up for hosting next year.
The La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts will present "An Evening with Jerry Lewis" on March 15. The comedy legend will appear on stage for two performances on that date. Click here for more details and to view film clips of the show.
Cinema Retro's London photographer Mark Mawston is always on the "A" list when it comes to covering top entertainment events. Mark provides these remarkable candid photos from the BAFTA red carpet arrivals.
(All photos copyright Mark Mawston. All rights reserved. For more about Mark's work, visit www.markmawston.com)
American Hustlers Christian Bale, David O. Russell and Bradley Cooper.