Tag Archives: Hollywood

Today’s AFI Movie Club Selection

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Today’s AFI Movie Club selection received a Best Picture Academy-award-winning Oscar and is based on the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney.

From writer/director Barry Jenkins, MOONLIGHT was also honored in 2016 with an AFI AWARD, recognizing it as one of the year’s most outstanding achievements in the art of the moving image – with the official rationale stating that, “MOONLIGHT illuminates the peerless power of cinema to inspire empathy for others and embrace a greater understanding of ourselves. Barry Jenkins’ poetic tour de force presents a deeply emotional triptych — the journey of boy to man searching for connection amidst the labyrinth of societal boundaries. An extraordinary ensemble lights the way in this sublime realization of a world where the question ‘Who is you?’ echoes in the pain of dreams deferred and the strength of an inner truth.”

Available to watch on Kanopy, Hoopla, Fubu Tv, and Showtime. Highly recommended viewing!

Until next time, I’ll see you at the movies!

TCM Announces 2022 Classic Film Festival Tributes Bruce Dern, Piper Laurie, and Floyd Norman

Posted by Larry Gleeson

TCM Announces 2022 Classic Film Festival Tributes
Bruce Dern, Piper Laurie, and Floyd Norman to be honored

Additional Screenings Announced for 2022 TCMFF in Hollywood, April 21-24, 2022

[l to r. Bruce Dern, Piper Laurie, Floyd Norman. Photo courtesy of TCM]

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) today announced it will honor Academy Award-nominated actor Bruce Dern, Academy Award-nominated actress Piper Laurie, and animator and story director Floyd Norman during the 13th annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood April 21 – 24, 2022. Festival passes for the annual event are currently on sale.

Each year the TCM Classic Film Festival pays tribute to a select group of individuals whose work in Hollywood has left a lasting impact on film. Throughout his prolific career, Dern earned critical praise and his first Academy Award ® nomination for his performance in Coming Home (1978) and another nomination for his performance in Nebraska (2013), both of which will be screened at the Festival. Laurie has worked with some of the most iconic directors and stars of classic Hollywood while making a name for herself in Has Anybody Seen My Gal? (1952) and her Academy Award ® nominated turn in The Hustler (1961). Laurie will introduce both films at the Festival. Having bolstered his career through a lasting partnership with Walt Disney Studios, Norman worked as an animator on several Disney classics including The Jungle Book (1967) which will play at the El Capitan Theatre during the Festival.

One of the Festival’s many fan-favorite events includes the poolside screenings presented by Citi, the Official Card of the Festival, at the historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. This year is no exception with cult favorites like Soylent Green (1973), which is set in 2022, with actress Leigh Taylor-Young in attendance; a 40th-anniversary screening of Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982); and the Elvis classic Blue Hawaii (1961) being featured.

Other screenings during the TCM Classic Film Festival include a midnight screening of Polyester (1981) with Odorama; the film noir I, The Jury (1953) in its original 3-D format; and a special presentation of the silent film 7th Heaven (1927), accompanied in person by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.

TCM recently updated the health protocols and safety measures for the event. Get the latest guidelines here: tcm.com/festival.



About the 2022 TCM Classic Film Festival

Movie lovers from around the globe will descend upon Hollywood for the 13th edition of the TCM Classic Film Festival. The 2022 Festival is set to take place from Thursday, April 21 – to Sunday, April 24, 2022. Over four packed days and nights, attendees will be treated to an extensive lineup of great movies, appearances by legendary stars and filmmakers, fascinating presentations and panel discussions, special events, and more.

TCM Primetime host Ben Mankiewicz will serve as the official host of the TCM Classic Film Festival. The Festival’s official hotel and central gathering point will be The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, which has a longstanding role in movie history and was the site of the first Academy Awards® ceremony. The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel will also offer special rates for Festival attendees. Screenings and events during the Festival will be held at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX®, the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres, the Hollywood Legion Theater at Post 43, and the El Capitan Theatre. For the latest news and information, follow us on social at #TCMFF.

This year’s theme is “All Together Now: Back to the Big Screen.” In 2022, reunite with fellow fans, the movies, the memories, the stars, and the glamour. It’s all back live and in person, just as it should be, and where it all began in Hollywood. From high school reunions to homecomings, TCM will celebrate milestones from the past as we look forward to making new memories together.


About Bruce Dern

Two-time Oscar nominee Bruce Dern’s tremendous career is made up of playing both modern-day heroes and legendary villains.  Through decades of lauded performances, Dern has acquired the reputation of being one of the most talented and prolific actors of his generation.

A celebrated stage actor, Dern was trained by famed director Elia Kazan at the legendary The Actor’s Studio and made his film debut in Kazan’s “Wild River” in 1960.  In the ’60s, Dern also found success as a distinguished television actor.  He appeared  regularly in contemporary Western TV series, as well as on “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.”  Mr. Hitchcock was such a fan of Dern’s that he cast him in “Marnie” and “Family Plot” (Hitchcock’s final film).

Also during the 60s, Dern went on to work with director Roger Corman and appeared in several of his classic and decade-defining films including “Wild Angels.” He also received critical success during that time for films such as “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” and “Drive, He Said.”  Dern goes down in history for his role as Long Hair in “The Cowboys,” in which he became the only man ever to kill John Wayne on screen.

Dern went on to star in such classic films like “The King of Marvin Gardens” with Jack Nicholson and Ellen Burstyn as well as playing Tom Buchanan in “The Great Gatsby” (for which he received a Golden Globe nomination).  It was his brilliant and powerful performance in Hal Ashby’s “Coming Home” that earned him both an Academy Award and Golden Globe nomination.

Dern has starred in over 100 films in his career, including: “Silent Running,” “The Haunting,” “Last Man Standing,” “The Hateful Eight,” “Our Souls at Night,” “The Peanut Butter Falcon,” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

In 2013, Dern earned his second Academy Award nomination for his heralded role in Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska.” That role also garnered him the Best Actor Award from the Cannes Film Festival and the National Board of Review.  He was also nominated for a BAFTA, Golden Globe, Independent Spirit Award, Broadcast Film Critics Association Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award. Dern was also nominated for an Emmy in 2011 for his portrayal of polygamist patriarch Frank Harlow in HBO’s hit drama “Big Love.”

In 2010, Dern received the prestigious Hollywood Walk of Fame star along with his ex-wife Diane Ladd & daughter Laura Dern, the only family in history to receive their Stars in one ceremony.


About Piper Laurie

Piper Laurie was born Rosetta Jacobs in Detroit, Michigan, to parents of Russian and Polish ancestry. Piper had been studying acting with Benno and Betomi Schnider for three years when she auditioned for Universal Studios, who signed her to a long-term contract. They made more than 20 films starring the teenage girl opposite such actors as Tony Curtis, Rock Hudson, and Tyrone Power. Disgusted with the lack of serious roles, Laurie finally broke her lucrative Hollywood contract, moved to New York, lived on a budget, worked on live television and in theater, and within two years changed her life and her career.

Piper Laurie is a three-time Oscar nominee. She was nominated by BAFTA, as well as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, for Best Foreign Actress and Best Actress in a Leading Role, respectively, for her performance in The Hustler (1961) with Paul Newman. She stopped working for 15 years after The Hustler to devote her energies to the Civil Rights movement and to the Vietnam War, feeling acting was less important. When she accepted work again, she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in the original Carrie (1976) with Sissy Spacek and again as Best Supporting Actress in Children of a Lesser God (1986) with Marlee Matlin. Laurie won the Golden Globe for her role in the David Lynch cult favorite Twin Peaks and was nominated for an Emmy for both Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress in Twin Peaks. She has been nominated 12 times for an Emmy, including one for the original and celebrated live broadcast of The Days of Wine and Roses with Cliff Robertson and directed by John Frankenheimer, as well as for her comedic performance in Frasier. She won the Emmy for Promise opposite James Woods and James Garner. She was Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year, and she also received an SFECA award for her performance as Dolly in the film The Grass Harp (1995).

In 2010, she played an ancient grandma who learns to smoke a bong in the feature film Hesher, with Joseph Gordon Levitt and Natalie Portman. Most recently she has appeared as Grandma Verna Wershe in White Boy Rick (2018), starring Matthew McConaughey, and as Rose Muller in Snapshots (2018) directed by Melanie Mayron.

In 2013, she made her musical stage debut in A Little Night Music as the glamorous Madame Armfeldt.

Ms. Laurie performed on Broadway in the Tony-nominated Lincoln Center production of Mornings at Seven directed by Dan Sullivan at the Lyceum Theatre. She also appeared on Broadway in the 20th Anniversary production of The Glass Menagerie at the Brooks Atkinson, in which she played Laura, with Maureen Stapleton as Amanda.

Off-Broadway, she has appeared in Molly Kazan’s Rosemary and the Alligators and Larry Kramer’s The Destiny of Me. She toured in a one-person play about Zelda Fitzgerald, written by Bill Luce. In 2010, she directed Jim Brochu in his one-man show Zero Hour, for which he received the Drama Desk Award for best solo performance on or off-Broadway, playing Zero Mostel.

Piper Laurie is divorced from Wall Street Journal’s movie critic, Pulitzer Prize-winner Joe Morgenstern. Their daughter lives in Oregon. Laurie’s autobiography Learning to Live Out Loud was published by Crown in 2011 to rave reviews and is now available as an audiobook on Audible.com.


About Floyd Norman

Disney Legend Floyd Norman is an American animator, storyman, and beloved “troublemaker” whose 65+ year career represents creative perseverance.  Born in Santa Barbara in 1935, Norman began his career in high school as an assistant to Bill Woggon on Archie Comic’s Katy Keene.  After honing his artistic skills at ArtCenter College of Design in Los Angeles, Norman was hired by the Walt Disney Company in 1956.  He would become the first African American artist to work at Disney long-term.

At 20 years old, he received daily masterclasses from Walt’s leading animators – the Nine Old Men.  After completing his work as an assistant inbetweener on Sleeping Beauty (1959), Norman was drafted into the military to serve in the Korean War.  After his tour of duty, Norman would return to Disney to work on 101 Dalmatians (1961), The Sword in the Stone (1963), and Mary Poppins (1964).  Simultaneously, Norman was placing pointed gag drawings around the Disney campus that satirized and poked fun at the company’s executives.  Walt Disney saw them and recognized Norman’s brilliance for visual storytelling.  Walt handpicked Norman to join The Jungle Book (1967) Story Department.  Norman would play a vital role in the design and creation of the “Trust in Me” sequence, among others.

In 1966, upon Walt Disney’s death, Norman would take a leap of faith and leave Disney to start Vignette Films, Inc., a first-of-its-kind production company creating stories about African American history-makers for U.S. schools.  Norman and Vignette Films also created animation for Sesame Street (1969,1970), Hey, Hey, Hey, It’s Fat Albert (1969), and the main titles for Soul Train (1971), among other one-of-a-kind projects.  Even with those successes, Vignette Films was viewed by the industry as a “Black company” which unfairly limited their client roster and led to their closing in the early 1970s, at which time Norman returned to Disney to work on Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971) and Robin Hood (1973). Around the same time, Saturday morning cartoons were becoming a cultural phenomenon and Norman found the creative opportunity at Hanna-Barbera writing for classics like Scooby-DooJosie and the Pussy Cats, and Captain Caveman, among others.

In the 1980s, Norman would join Disney Publishing where he wrote and illustrated a number of Disney children’s books, as well as the daily Mickey Strip.  In the mid 1990s, Norman returned to Disney Animation to work in the Story Departments of The Hunchback Notre Dame (1996) and Mulan (1998).  But an invite to the Bay area in the late 1990s would become a career highlight.  Norman was now working with John Lasseter and Steve Jobs at Pixar on Toy Story 2 (1999) and Monsters Inc. (2001) as a storyboard artist.

In 2007, the Disney company recognized Norman’s contributions to the organization by honoring him as a Disney Legend.  In 2013, Norman added to his writing resume by writing his autobiography Animated Life:  A Lifetime of Tips, Tricks, Techniques and Stories from a Disney Legend.  In 2016, his storied career became the focal point of the feature documentary Floyd Norman:  An Animated Life which was broadcast across North America as part of the 2020 TCM Classic Film Festival and is currently streaming on The Criterion Channel.

Today, at 86, Norman continues to illustrate and consult, taking on diverse creative roles in and outside of Disney.  In 2020, he notably returned to Sesame Street to create a new animation for the 50th season.  In 2021, Floyd was sought out by NBA superstar Stephen Curry to create original storyboards depicting his 3-point record-breaker. Norman’s illustrations helped raise nearly $4 million for Curry’s Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation.  In 2022, Norman is being inducted into the Society of Illustrator’s Hall of Fame, among other honors.  He is currently creating a new book about the Disney legacy, among other creative projects.

Floyd Norman continues to do what he loves with the passion of a man in his 20s – proof that age is just a number.

(Press release courtesy of Taryn Jacobs, Warner Media)


Larry Gleeson poses in front of TCM Past at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. (Photo cr. HollywoodGlee)


Streaming And The Shifting Dynamics Of 21st Century Indie Film Distribution

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Justine Harrison

Ten years ago, MANCHESTER BY THE SEA would have been a Miramax or Paramount Vintage picture. Now? It’s being distributed by a company that began as an online bookseller.

The history of Hollywood is a long and winding one. Over the course of its existence, it has been everything from a series of content factories to an accessory for giant multinationalscreen-shot-2016-11-30-at-3-40-24-pm hybrid companies. It has been through numerous cycles of boom and bust. It has given us both The Terminator and Terminator: Genisys (or as I prefer to call it, Terminator: Spylling Arror). And, as with any institution that exists for an extensive period of time, Hollywood’s methodologies have grown and changed. Low budget genre pictures are no longer made by the dozens on a production assembly line. Directors and actors work job to job, rather than on contracts built around a set number of films. The general structure and tone of blockbusters has changed time and again. And, just as the methods of producing films and the type of films that get made have changed, so too have the methods of getting them out into the world.

When Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea opens in theaters this week, it will be the latest offering from Amazon Films, the film distribution branch of the online bookseller screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-3-42-49-pmturned general internet juggernaut. It will receive both a theatrical and a home media release, but ultimately those are loss leaders for its eventual premiere on Amazon Prime’s streaming service. It will join Chi-Raq, Wiener Dog, The Neon Demon, The Handmaiden and others as part of a sales pitch to its potential audience. That pitch goes something like this – “We have distinctive films by distinctive filmmakers, and if you subscribe to our service, you will have access to them through what is currently being sold as the most accessible way to watch movies and television.” Netflix does something similar with its own original content, although they generally give more promotional focus to their serialized content as opposed to their standalone films. Streaming is still a relatively recent factor in the state of non-blockbuster film distribution, and it has major implications for film as a whole that are still being worked out. But on a purely business level, it is easy to understand why distribution for smaller films has turned so sharply towards streaming in the past few years. Through streaming, Netflix, Amazon and their peers in distribution are making a move that their predecessors could not.

Many of the biggest independent and semi-independent film distributors from the last century have either folded or been dramatically transformed. Miramax and New Line, arguably the biggest and most powerful of these mini-major studios, are now much smaller companies. The Weinstein brothers left Miramax in the 2000s to form The Weinstein Company, and Disney ultimately chose to sell the company off. Its film library, which includes every one of Quentin Tarantino’s pictures up to Kill Bill, is now distributed by former rival Lionsgate. New Line has similarly lost much of the influence it once had, and it now exists as a subsidiary of Warner Brothers. Warner Independent Pictures (Before Sunset, A Scanner Darkly)and Paramount Vantage (No Country for Old Men, Nebraska) have been completely shut down. These companies and subdivisions lived and died on their ability to sell and spread comparatively small, specific movies as comparatively small, specific movies. New Line made its name with A Nightmare on Elm Street and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchises, both of which were huge hits in comparison to their budgets. Miramax sold itself as a haven for filmmakers championed as auteurs – Tarantino, Kevin Smith and their peers. Paramount Vantage distributed the Coens after a string of unsuccessful movies, and Warner Independent Pictures backed Richard Linklater on two of his more ambitious projects (his first return to Jesse and Céline, ten years after Before Sunrise and a cell-shaded adaptation of Phillip K. Dick’s quietly dystopian drug war story, featuring a post-rehab pre-Iron Man Robert Downey, Jr.). While some of these movies have become blockbusters, none of them (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles aside, and even with the success of the cartoon, New Line could not put Disney money behind their adaptation) could initially have been sold as such. So they narrowed their focus, and tailored their products to a specific audience that they could reach. When they overplayed their hand, or the audience moved on, they failed.


Streaming enables the targeting of a more specific audience than ever before, for both good and ill. Amazon can play specifically to folks who want to see Manchester by the Sea or The Neon Demon and guarantee that they will have an audience, but it will be just as easy for a movie to get lost in the endless backrows, particularly if it is only pointed out to a specific audience. It’s why I’m glad Amazon has been making a push to get their movies into theaters, and why simultaneously I want them to push harder. They’ve distributed some really amazing movies, and I want those movies to have a life beyond an ad saying that they are now streaming on Amazon Prime.

(Source: http://www.birthmoviesdeath.com)

LA LA LAND to Receive the Vanguard Award at Palm Springs

Palm Springs, CA (November 21, 2016) – The 28th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) will present the film La La Land with the Vanguard Award at its annual Film Awards Gala.  The award is presented to the film’s cast and director recognizing its outstanding creative ensemble. Cast members Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone and director/writer Damien Chazelle are expected to attend. The Film Awards Gala, hosted by Mart Hart, will be held Monday, January 2 at the Palm Springs Convention Center. The Festival runs January 2-16.

“Director and writer Damien Chazelle delivers a resonant cinematic masterpiece with La La Land,” said Festival Chairman Harold Matzner. “This visually stunning film pays tribute to classic Hollywood musicals with a contemporary love story driven by pitch-perfect performances by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.  It is our honor to present the Vanguard Award to La La Land.”

La La Land Director/Writer Damien Chazelle  (Photo courtesy of ASCA Images/Biennale Cinema di Venezia)

Written and directed by Academy Award® nominee Damien Chazelle, La La Land, from Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment label, tells the story of an aspiring actress, Mia (Emma Stone), and a dedicated jazz musician, Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), both struggling to make ends meet in a city known for crushing hopes and breaking hearts. Set in modern-day Los Angeles, this original musical about everyday life explores the joy and pain of pursuing your dreams.


About The Palm Springs International Film Festival
The Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) is one of the largest film festivals in North America, welcoming 135,000 attendees last year for its lineup of new and celebrated international features and documentaries. The Festival is also known for its annual Film Awards Gala, an upscale black-tie event attended by 2,500, honoring the best achievements of the filmic year by a celebrated list of talents who, in recent years, have included Ben Affleck, Javier Bardem, Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Bradley Cooper, George Clooney, Daniel Day-Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks, Matthew McConaughey, Julianne Moore, Brad Pitt, Eddie Redmayne, Julia Roberts, David O. Russell, Meryl Streep, and Reese Witherspoon.

For more information, call 760-322-2930 or 800-898-7256 or visit www.psfilmfest.org.

Steven Wilson / Lauren Peteroy
B|W|R Public Relations
steven.wilson@bwr-pr.com / lauren.peteroy@bwr-pr.com

David Lee
Palm Springs International Film Society




Pakistani cinemas will screen Iranian and Turkish films to fill void

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Written by Munnazzah Raza

As the ban on Indian content persists, Pakistani cinema owners and film distributors hope to bring about a change in the cinema experience for audiences by screening IranianFilm distribution , Turkish and hopefully Chinese and South Korean films.

Film distribution company IMGC’s Chairman Shaikh Amjad Rashid and Mohsin Yaseen of Cinepax management speak with Images on screening foreign films in Pakistan.

“It’s in the initial states right now. We’ve decided to screen films from Iran and Turkey to fill the gap of Indian films,” says Rashid.

“Yes. We are looking at different options from around the world to fill the gap, as Turkish dramas had a good following in Pakistan, we feel their movies will have a good impact too. Currently, we only play films from Hollywood, Bollywood and Pakistan,” echoes Mohsin Yaseen of Cinepax (Karachi) management.

The hit Turkish drama ‘Ishq e Mamnoon’ went viral in Pakistan and girls couldn’t stop gushing over Behlül.

This move comes because local productions aren’t enough to sustain Pakistani cinemas.

Says Yaseen, “Hollywood has a set number of releases around the year and these films have a certain market following. Bollywood has a huge market following but due to the political scenario there will always be uncertainty. Pakistani movies are coming in but they are limited in quantity, and are not enough to run 52 weeks of cinema business in a year. And Iranian films have good international repute, some Iranian directors have won international awards as well.”

However, both agree that this won’t necessarily be a permanent move. The chairman explains: “If the ban on Indian films is lifted, this will fizzle out because they (Iranian and Turkish films) will not yield a profitable response; they’re very different from Pakistani culture.”

Although Turkish dramas like Ishq e Mamnoon, Fatima Gull and Mera Sultan went viral in Pakistan, it’s costly to buy their rights. But Yaseen hopes that Turkish films will be just as popular as these TV dramas.

The reason being Indian films don’t have a language barrier and our culture closely mirrors theirs. Additionally, the Pakistani audience is more receptive to Indian artists because they are popular here and are frequently seen in TV commercials, he explains.

“Iranian artists are new (to our audience), even I don’t know who their top actor or actress is,” says Rashid. “However, this experiment can be done and it can be said that there is potential by placing one or two films.”

Although Turkish dramas like Ishq e Mamnoon, Fatima Gull and Mera Sultan went viral in Pakistan, Rashid explains that they stopped playing here because it became costly to buy the rights. Plus, the traction died down.screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-7-40-56-am

“We had some advantage through Turkish dramas but there’s a difference in TV audience and the cinema audience,” he explains. “It’s about paying money to go watch a show, as opposed to sitting at home and watching one which is available on cable.”

Yaseen, on the other hand, is hopeful that the films will be as successful as the Turkish shows. “This formula worked on TV content. We are experimenting on a similar pattern as we have seen few screeners of the films and they are amazing and I’m sure our audience will like these movies as well.

On screening foreign films, IMGC aims create a trade system with Iran and Turkey and also bring China on board. “There should be a barter system. In new markets we should do a barter system, Pakistani films should also be screened there,” says the chairman.

Rashid discloses that a Pak-China film is in the works penned by Amjad Islam, which will be directed by Shehzad Rafique.

He adds, “South Korea is making exceptional movies nowadays, and we should explore China (as a market), even if 5% are released there it’ll be profitable. When Pakistani films were released in China they did really well and were screening for years.”

Although China is a viable option, as it is the second largest market after the U.S., there are a few considerations to note. For example, only 20% of foreign films are allowed to be screened in Chinese cinemas, the rest are all local productions.


“When the Indian PM went to China he took an Indian film distributor with him to sign a film agreement with them. It’s unfortunate that when Pakistani officials go they don’t take anybody from the film industry or try to get the agreements signed,” says Rashid.

However, efforts are being made on both fronts to strengthen ties with China. He discloses that a Pak-China film is in the works penned by Amjad Islam, which will soon be directed by Shehzad Rafique. They’re planning on taking two actresses; one from Pakistan and one from China. The working title of which is Rishta Hai Pyaar Ka and shooting will begin after winter.

Both, Yaseen and Rashid agree that it will take a long period of time till people become comfortable with the idea of foreign films. As of now, the foreign films which will be screened have not been finalised.

(Source: http://www.images.dawn.com)

FILM CAPSULE: Singin’ In The Rain (Donen, Kelly, 1952): USA

Viewed during the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Reviewed by Larry Gleeson.

Singin’ In The Rain, is a Hollywood gem created under auspicious beginnings as the writers, Green and Comden, pushed themselves through the night to come up with a musical recycling some of the great tunes of yesteryear. One can’t help but wonder!

singin-in-the-rain-7438_1The musical film contains toe-tapping tunes and choreographed dancing that are a pleasure to experience. The version I watched was in color and the colors were vivid and bright and complemented the tone of the film.

In addition, the musical had a significant industry milestone contained within as the transition from silent to talkies was showcased in a lighthearted, laughable, and fun manner as we see a camera hidden in a phone booth, a microphone placed in flower pot and the outcomes of such attempts as preview audiences laugh and guffaw at the attempts to synchronize and balance the recorded voices.

Even the film’s climax brings laughter as the audience witnesses platinum blondesingin-in-the-rain-ending bombshell, Lina Lamont, played to a tee by Jean Hagen, a prim a-donna of the worst sort, who has connived, bullied and blackmailed co-stars and executives alike in making her way to the top, being brought down as the curtain is raised showcasing a new rising star, Kathy, played by the effervescent Debbie Reynolds. The audience sees Kathy singing and Lamont’s contemptuous attempt at lip synching. When confronted Lamont speaks and the audience roars with laughter at her high-pitched Brooklyn accent.

The theme of contempt isn’t just introduced at the end. It’s evident from the opening as Don, played by Gene Kelly, overwhelms a reporter as he details his rise to stardom with his partner Cosmo, played by Donald O’Connor, with “Dignity. Always Dignity.” Yet, the truth is the two struggled and scraped and clawed their way to the top working in pool halls, slapstick vaudeville sketches and even burlesque. Not one to be left out, Kathy gets in on the contempt as she tells Don she’s a serious actor and then we see her jumping out of a birthday cake.


Meanwhile the studio is sending out press releases stating Don and Lina are a romantic couple. Hilarity ensues as Lina believes the press releases and is in hot pursuit of her man Don. And, studio executive Simpson, played by Millard Mitchell insists talkies will never catch on. Most everything gets turned this side of Tuesday as Don and Kathy become romantically involved, Lina finally gets what’s coming to her (although one can’t help but sympathize with such a nitwit), talkies catch on and sound get synchronized onto the film as it’s shot, and the project is a success.

Definitely a feel-good film from start to finish. I highly recommend this film the any cinephile as it’s a Hollywood treasure in respect to the industry at large and also because of the superb dancing and singing performances. Furthermore, I strongly encourage  those interested viewers to watch this film on the big screen as it’s characters are larger than life.

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jackie Chan to play in Russian-Chinese film on Gogol story

Russia and China are currently working on a film project under the tentative title Viy 2: Journey to China, the press service of the producer of the film, Gleb Fetisov, said.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan and Jason Flemyng are said to be involved in the project.

“The filming with Schwarzenegger is held in China. There is another Hollywood star taking part in the making of Viy 2 – Jackie Chan,” RIA Novosti quoted the producer’s press service.

The Chinese side sees the Viy 2: Journey to China as a potential blockbuster and hope to collect hundreds of millions of dollars in the local box office.

British actor Jason Flemyng (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch) will play the main role of British explorer Jonathan Green. In the film, Mr. Green receives an order from tsar Peter I to produce maps of the Far East of Russia and finds himself in China.

The premiere of “Viy 2” is scheduled for early 2017.


“Viy” is a horror novella by the Russian writer Nikolai Gogol that he published in 1835. The title of the story is also the name of the demonic creature.

“Viy” the motion picture was made in 1967 in the Soviet Union and became one of the leaders of Soviet film distribution in 1968 (32.6 million viewers). The 1967 motion picture became the USSR’s only horror film.

(Source: Pravda.Ru)


FILM CAPSULE: The Central Park Five (Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, 2012): USA

Reviewed by Larry Gleeson Viewed at the AFI Fest 2012 at Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, Calif.

In 1989, five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem are arrested and  convicted of raping a white woman jogging in New York City’s Central Park. They are incarcerated in prison ranging between 6 and 13 years  before a serial rapist confesses to one of the erroneously convicted that he alone had committed the crime, leading to the  convictions of those erroneously imprisoned being overturned. Set against a backdrop of a decaying city beset by violence and racial tension during the mid 80’s crack cocaine boom, The Central Park Five,  tells the story of crime, a miscarriage of justice, the push by the police for confessions, a sensationalized media frenzy clamoring for emotionally charged stories and a public pushed to the brink with the common place Central Park “wildings’ occurring each weekend , and the five lives upended by the police department, the prosecutor’s office and the New York City Mayor’s Office. The five youths admitted they were in the park that evening committing other crimes.

The film is directed by legendary documentarian Ken Burns and his newcomer daughter Sarah Burns, who is the driving force behind the making of the film as she wrote her college thesis on the five falsely accused teens. Extensive use of archival footage combined with photos and current seated interviews provide an authenticity to the storytelling. At times it’s difficult to fathom how these young men were coerced into confessing. Yet, the Burns’ take the viewer on an “inch by inch” journey culminating in the release of the Central Park Five from their respective incarcerations. The question propagated being: was justice carried out? The obvious answer is not for these five young men. Other questions come to mind when these men are shown present day as they are finding it challenging to live life on life’s terms.

In a Q & A following the film (three of the Central Park Five were present and participated in a panel along with Ken and Sarah Burns), a civil suit against the prosecutor’s office and the police department came to light. The lawsuit is now nine years old and depositions haven’t even begun. The general consensus being that two to three more years will pass before the depositions are completed. Then, and only then, will the case be heard.

Yesterday’s headline news again reported a female jogger being approached by another group of five  young, teen-age men around 8:30 P/M in the northern part of New York City’s Central Park seeking the woman to provide them with kisses. The woman rebuffed the advances and police officers claim one of the teens touched her genital/groin area and purportedly ran off. The Central Park Five, is a very provocative film revolving around the issue of what constitutes justice and what collateral damage occurs in carrying out a Machiavellian “the end justifies the means” brand of justice.


China launches art house film circuit

China has gotten its first circuit of cinemas specializing in the exhibition of art-house films. The long-awaited move involves a coalition of public and private companies. This creates a third distribution channel for specialist and award-winning titles in China, which have struggled to enter the market through the existing quota system.

The network is formally headed by Beijing-based China Film Archive. Other members include Huaxia Film Distribution, Wanda Cinemas, Lumiere Pavilions, and online ticketing firm Beijing Weying Technology, giving it an initial footprint in 31 towns and cities.

It will see its first release handled in November. CFA is expected to curate a series of thematic strands, but each cinema is free to choose its own program within that.

“We have 100 cinemas that are already part of the network with 400 more being added. Each cinema is committed to screening three art-house films per day in at least ten prime time slots per week,” said Sun Xianghui, director of China Film Archive.

There is expected to be an accent on premium and award-winning titles. That emphasis is understood to be part of the reason that the circuit may be able to show films that are not imported as part of the commercially-driven, revenue-sharing quotas and then released by the state-owned distributors China Film Corp and Huaxia.

Auteur director Jia Zhangke’s newly launched Fabula Entertainment is also part of the network.


Beijing based auteur director Jia Zhangke (Photo credit: NY Times.com)

“We will have a small committee. This committee is composed of film scholars, film historians and curators, who will determine which films meet our requirements for the entire circuit. So it is not just for Chinese young directors. We also want to introduce international filmmakers to Chinese audiences. It is a bilateral communication,” said film director Jia Zhangke.

The move is part of a long-gestating initiative by the Chinese government to increase diversity in the China film market, which is dominated by mainstream Hollywood and Chinese titles.

(Source: http://www.cctv.com)

AFI FEST 2016 Cinema’s Legacy Lineup

AFI FEST 2016 presented by Audi has announced its annual Cinema Legacy’s lineup. This section highlights classic movies and, this year, is comprised of nine iconic titles from film history, including Orson Welles’ masterpiece CITIZEN KANE (1941), along with films featuring the three female film trailblazers adorning this year’s festival key art: CARMEN JONES (1954), starring Dorothy Dandridge; THE HITCH-HIKER (1953), directed by Ida Lupino; and PICCADILLY (1929), starring Anna May Wong. Additionally, the Cinema’s Legacy section will present AFI Conservatory alumna Julie Dash’s (Class of 1974) groundbreaking DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST (1991).


CARMEN JONES – Dorothy Dandridge stars in the title role that made her the first African-American woman to be nominated for a Best Actress Oscar®. DIR Otto Preminger. SCR Harry Kleiner. CAST Harry Belafonte, Dorothy Dandridge, Pearl Bailey, Olga James, Joe Adams, Brock Peters, Roy Glenn, Nick Stewart, Diahann Carroll. USA

CITIZEN KANE – Orson Welles’ classic — number one on AFI’s list of the greatest films of all time — follows the tragic life of newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane. DIR Orson Welles. SCRS Herman J. Mankiewicz, Orson Welles. CAST Joseph Cotten, Orson Welles, Linda Winters, Agnes Moorehead, Ruth Warrick, Ray Collins, Erskine Sanford, Everett Sloane, William Alland, Paul Stewart, George Coulouris. USA

DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST – Filmmaker Julie Dash (AFI Class of 1974) weaves lush imagery and a poetic narrative in this tale of three generations of African-American slave descendants on a journey to the North. DIR Julie Dash. SCR Julie Dash. CAST Adisa Anderson, Barbara-O, Cheryl Lynn Bruce, Cora Lee Day, Geraldine Dunston, Vertamae Grosvenor, Tommy Hicks, Kaycee Moore. USA

FLIRTING WITH DISASTER – In David O. Russell’s sophomore feature, Ben Stiller, Téa Leoni and Patricia Arquette play an oddball trio careening across America. DIR David O. Russell. SCR David O. Russell. CAST Ben Stiller, Patricia Arquette, Téa Leoni, Mary Tyler Moore, George Segal, Alan Alda, Lily Tomlin, Richard Jenkins, Josh Brolin. USA

THE HITCH-HIKER – A deranged hitchhiker takes two all-American Everymen as hostages in this gripping film noir classic. DIR Ida Lupino. SCR Ida Lupino, Collier Young, Robert Joseph. CAST Edmond O’Brien, Frank Lovejoy, William Talman, José Torvay, Sam Hayes, Wendell Niles, Jean Del Val, Clark Howat. USA

IL SORPASSO – A classic road trip comedy meets the most fabulous of odd couple pairings in Dino Risi’s IL SORPASSO, considered the holy grail of commedia all’italiana. DIR Dino Risi. SCRS Dino Risi, Ettore Scola, Ruggero Maccari. CAST Vittotio Gassman, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Catherine Spaak, Claudio Gora, Luciana Angiolillo. Italy

MIFUNE, THE LAST SAMURAI – This thoughtful, elegant documentary on Japanese cinema’s greatest actor, Toshiro Mifune, is a cinephile’s dream. DIR Steven Okazaki. SCRS Steven Okazaki, Stuart Galbraith IV. FEAT Keanu Reeves, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Kyôko Kagawa, Toshio Tshuchiya. Japan

PICCADILLY – Anna May Wong, the first Chinese-American movie star, is astonishing as a dishwasher promoted to the headlining act at outré London club Piccadilly. DIR Ewald André Dupont. Presented with live DJ accompaniment from Ms. 45s. SCR Arnold Bennett. CAST Gilda Gray, Anna May Wong, Jameson Thomas, King Ho-Chang, Cyril Ritchard, Charles Laughton. UK

SPEEDY – Special engagement of the silent film classic, presented with original live music accompaniment by DJ Z-Trip. The great Harold Lloyd stars in the title role as a man who hilariously tries to save the last horse-drawn streetcar in an increasingly modern New York City. DIR Ted Wilde. SCRS John Grey, Lex Neal, Howard Rogers, Jay Howe, Albert De Mond. CAST Harold Lloyd, Ann Christy, Bert Woodruff, Babe Ruth, Brooks Benedict. USA

Tickets to Cinema’s Legacy screenings will be available on AFI.com beginning November 1.


(Source: http://www.blog.afi.com)