Joel and Ethan Coen might be the two finest filmmakers working in America today. There are few directors who have captured more entertaining, accurate, or varied instances of the American experience.
Nearly all of their films center around some sort of crime or illicit behavior. Sometimes the protagonist is the perpetrator. Other times he is a victim or an unwitting bystander sucked into the chaos. Almost always though, the protagonist is a fool.
The first time I ever saw 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die sitting on a shelf in a now defunct bookstore, I immediately seized it, plopped down on the the floor and began...counting. Yes, yes, I'm a tad obsessed. Still, to find out that there are so many worthy movies out there waiting to be viewed is so exciting. I saw the mighty tome as a map leading to vast amounts of buried treasure.
It won’t come as much of a shock to anyone in the Fredericksburg area since our last Blockbuster was closed years ago, but Blockbuster is now closing all remaining stores. The age of video rental as a for-profit business is officially over. It would seem to affect the library very little. After all, we still provide DVDs to our customers, don’t we? And, yes, we will continue to add new DVDs, but the decline of Blockbuster and video rental as a business does have an impact because it changes the very nature of the product Hollywood puts out.
Wes Anderson's eighth feature-length film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, is set to premiere early next year. A writer and director of comedies since the mid-nineties, Anderson has traveled from the open roads of Texas to the top of the Himalayas and back. I personally cannot wait to see where he takes us next.
For someone who loves independent movies, it sure took me a heck of a long time to watch anything directed by John Cassavetes.
Maybe that is because I had heard how emotionally intense his films were, tapping into a vein of real life and forgoing any sense of escapism that most movies offer. Despite that hesitation, I am deeply satisfied that I took the time to watch four great films by this stalwart of early independent film, who took many menial acting jobs so he could make something great.
Shadows, Cassevetes' first film, is a defiant statement against mainstream culture, both in terms of cinema and society. It follows three African American siblings living in New York City, two of whom are trying to pass as white. The film was shot without a script, and its black and white, 16-millimeter film stock lacks the gloss of Hollywood pictures of the same year (North by Northwest or Ben-Hur for example). With its jazz score by Charles Mingus and its focus on urban youth in 1950's, Shadows is a must see for any fans of Beat writers or early independent film.
"What is your greatest ambition in life?"
"To become immortal... and then die."
When I hear the name Terry Gilliam, the first thing that I see is a gigantic pink foot...crushing everything in its path.
That is because Gilliam was the animator for Monty Python's Flying Circus, the absurdist British comedy troupe of the 1970's that has influenced everyone from Neil Gaiman to the Simpsons. The lone American of the group did surreal collages combining Renaissance paintings, nature sketches, and meat grinders to make a strange world.
When Python's reign ended, Gilliam did not stop his creating. Instead, he launched himself from the animation desk to the director's chair where things became curiouser and curiouser.
With the success of the TV series The Walking Dead, zombies are now considered one of the most popular monsters in pop culture. People who just recently became interested in zombie-related works may be surprised to learn how long zombies have existed in the public’s imagination. The following films provide plenty of thrills and chills featuring the undead:
Superman is perhaps the longest lived of the classic Golden Age superhero characters to remain in the public imagination, and, in addition to a 75-year history of comic book publication, the character has also had a long career on the silver screen. Unlike many other superheroes, Superman has an extensive history of being utilized as a film character, and his film appearances have influenced his portrayal in comic books in many fascinating ways.