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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

TV Review: Houdini (2014)

by Tony Dayoub

Houdini begins with master escape artist Harry Houdini (Adrien Brody) in chains, plunging into a frozen river from St. Louis's Eads Bridge. It's a representative flashpoint the miniseries will go back to at the end of its first half and at the start of its second. In between, Uli Edel's miniseries scrutinizes the enigmatic Houdini's personal life more than previous projects. Using the framework of a relatively obscure book, Houdini: A Mind in Chains - A Psychoanalytic Portrait, it tries to explain some of what actually motivated the man.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Richard Attenborough

by Tony Dayoub

...the cost of promoting movies, the advertising and promotion of a movie, the budget is almost as large as the cost of the movie. And these huge blockbusters that you see have tens and hundreds of millions of pounds and dollars spent promoting them. And if you don't have something which they believe will reach an enormous audience, then they won't go for it.
- Sir Richard Attenborough, actor-director and a potent behind-the-scenes force in bringing less marketable British films to the forefront

As expected, Variety has posted a couple of nice tributes to Sir Richard Attenborough, an important British film industry figure. But for those Americans who only know him as POW leader Roger Bartlett in The Great Escape, kind old industrialist John Hammond of the Jurassic Park films, or the director of 1982's Gandhi, let me offer a couple of suggestions that might enlarge your appreciation of the actor-director.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Courtesy of SLIFR: Professor Dewey Finn's Ostentatiously Odd, Scholastically Scattershot Back-to-School (of Rock?) Movie Quiz

by Tony Dayoub

And now for another elucidating exam by that spectacular cinephile, Dennis Cozzalio, up since August 15th at his wonderful blog, Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule. Visit his site to post your answers. My answers appear after the jump.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Movie Review: Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)

by Tony Dayoub

Less dense than its already thin predecessor, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For feels like a vast improvement nonetheless. Almost a decade ago, Sin City seemed almost revolutionary in the way it capitalized on then innovative digital technology that allowed directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller to shoot their movie on virtual, green-screen sets. Based on Miller's own graphic novel series, the film carried a certain irony. It was a black-and-white film noir homage with a stripped down, DIY sensibility despite hosting a cast of hip actors and utilizing cutting edge filmmaking techniques.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Movie Review: Calvary (2014)

by Tony Dayoub

Both film noir and philosophical exploration of the current state of Catholicism, Calvary is curiously resonant in spite of, or maybe because of, its fusion of widely discordant elements. Reflecting its fractured nature, Calvary could be said to work as either a black comedy or a grim drama, a character study with a definitive central performance by Brendan Gleeson as Father James or an ensemble piece featuring the eclectic cast of oddballs that make up his congregation. Whatever the case, it is quite powerful in all respects, setting out to delineate the beleaguered priest and his not so loyal flock through a passion story of a sort, propelled by an arresting opening scene.