A “Peeping Tom” returns

This is not the first time I’ve posted about the great thriller Michael Powell made with writer and famed WWII cryptographer Leo Marks. Released the very same year as “Psycho,” “Peeping Tom” was also about a serial killer, but was much more stylized and shot in eye-filling Eastmancolor. It featured, I believe, not a single drop of onscreen blood. Yet, it more or less permanently disabled the career of one of the greatest directors of all time.

Below the often thoughtful but highly tendentious BBC film critic, Mark Kermode, is on his absolute best behavior as he provides terrific interviews with Powell’s widow, famed film editor Thelma Schoonmaker, and her boss/colleague and #1 Powell fan and friend, Martin Scorsese, as they try to explain just what made, and makes, “Peeping Tom” so powerful and relevant today.

The irony of the completely opposite post-serial-killer movie fates of Alfred Hitchcock and Powell, who were of roughly the same generation and peers in the English film industry at one point, never fails to stun me. I’m also endlessly impressed by the fact that there was a time and a place where movie critics could not only destroy a film, they could end a career. I wonder how “Peeping Tom” would have been received if it came out in North America first.

You can see the even more excellent complete 22 minute interview with Martin Scorsese over at The Guardian which, among other topics includes some discussion of the upcoming “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” and Scorsese’s thoughts on shooting the film in 3D. As for, “Peeping Tom,” let’s hope, that restoration hits the States before too long.

  

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You want a violent movie trailer? I’ve got two.

I’m still a bit busy and distracted by various matters including the ongoing Los Angeles Film Fest and last night’s L.A. premiere of “Animal Kingdom,” an ultra-neo-noir Aussie crime drama/suspense film that’s a bit dour for my taste but which boasts some outstanding performances and characterization, and a dynamite third act that my mind is still reeling from. Nevertheless, I’ve got a couple of trailers here that promise some fairly provocative manners of death dealing of the more frivolous and, perhaps, fun variety. We’ll start with the Red Band trailer for “Predators” for the wanton monster bloodshed and destruction you demand and the F-word you expect. H/t Den of Geek.

Via Cinemablend, and on a somewhat higher plane — because how can the sight of Dame Helen Mirren wielding a machine and blowing shit up not be on a very high plane indeed — comes the non-superhero comic book adaptation “RED,” as in “Retired, extremely dangerous.” Yep, it’s the action movie first-wave baby boomers have all been waiting for. It’s also got Morgan Freeman, the beautiful Mary Louise Parker, an excessively MK-Ultra‘d John Malkovich, and some other bald dude from the eighties.

Did you know that a quite young Helen Mirren might have been the first actress to appear nude in a mainstream studio film, 1969’s “Age of Consent,” directed by Michael Powell? I just felt like mentioning that.

  

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Okay, so it’s not a major TV series finale…

…And there’s absolutely no doubt that the most important documentary to debut at this year’s just wrapped Cannes Film Festival was Charles Ferguson’s Wall Street/Washington expose, “Inside Job.” Nevertheless, this film geek can’t resist running the trailer for what sounds like a perfectly great documentary about one of the greatest men to ever hold the title “Cameraman.”

What can you say about the man who shot several of the most dazzling, visually groundbreaking films every made, including the ultimate ballet film, “The Red Shoes” and whose resume also includes “Rambo: First Blood 2”?

David Hudson had the scoop and gets a mega h/t for the trailer on this. Just a little bit more of the work of Jack Cardiff after the flip.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

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Midnight movie news

Well, depending on how long this takes.

* The Oscar voting deadline passed today and the big story ’round the town was on the punishment meted out to producer Nicolas Chartier, whose over-aggressive e-screeds against “Avatar,” and in favor of his own, “The Hurt Locker.” He’s banished from the ceremony. Still, as Nikki Finke reports, don’t feel too bad for him, if you feel bad at all, and I’m not sure why you should.

Wouldn’t it be nice — and naive — to think that stuff like this actually affected no one’s vote, in any direction?

* I like Tim Burton‘s work and dislike Timur Bekmambetov’s films, but the two nevertheless insist on working together to produce “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter” based on the book by the author of the also soon to be filmed “Pride and Prejudice with Zombies.” The reportedly erratic but extremely talented writer-director David O. Russell, who infamously got into a scuffle with George Clooney over the treatment of extras while making 1999’s “Three Kings,” is “circling,” Mike Fleming says.

* Hef on Bogie. And, when you think about the Playboy mansions, almost everybody really does come to Hef’s, or wants to, anyway.

Joseph Gordon-Leavitt* James McAvoy leaves a “cancer comedy” for mysterious reasons and Joseph Gordon-Levitt jumps on board, reports THR‘s Gregg Kilday. McAvoy’s pretty good, but that still might be an improvement.

* Martin Scorsese is so busy these days I get tired just reading about him. Oh, and that gangster film with De Niro is starting to take shape, alongside at least three documentaries about Fran Lebowitz, George Harrison, and the history of British cinema, including much, I’m sure, about his old friend and mentor/influence, Michael Powell — the greatest director even many cinephiles barely know. Oh, and elsewhere he discusses the possibility of making films “like ‘Precious‘” in 3-D. I see his point about how the technology could theoretically be used to enhance intimate stories. I guess. Maybe.

* I meant to mention this days ago, but this lawsuit over the fictional destruction of the “Christ the Redeemer” statue in “2012” is based on the fact that the statue is covered by copyright — something one usually doesn’t think about for iconic statuary. In any case, I really just wanted an excuse to quote Matthew Belloni‘s opening to the story:

With apologies to the Coen brothers, Columbia Pictures is learning the hard way not to f— with the Jesus….

  

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Monday night at the movies

* We’ve been pretty enthusiastic here about both trailers for “The Wolfman.” Still, there’s been some disconcerting news about the promising looking remake of the 1941 Universal monster classic. Composer Danny Elfman, who has a terrific way with slightly over-the-top genre material going back to his earliest work with Tim Burton on “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure,” has left the project due to “scheduling conflicts.” Word that a score has actually been composed makes it seem even a bit odder. It’s true that there’s a lot more to scoring a film than composing the music, but there is more than one way to deal with that short of dumping a largely finished score if all there really is is a time problem, I’d guess.

More worrisome is Elfman’s replacement, Paul Haslinger, whose resume includes the rock scores for two of the “Underworld” films Paul W.S. Anderson’s “Death Race.” To be fair, Haslinger was a member of synth group Tangerine Dream from 1986 to 1992 and participated in the scores to films like “Near Dark.” However, I’m usually of the opinion that a period picture requires a period sound and the vague Euro-synth of the “Underworld” music does not inspire me. Hopefully, he’ll go for more of an orchestral sound.

Even more worrisome still, Renn Brown over at CHUD makes a strong case that this is a generally troubled production. At the same time, movie history is filled with troubled productions that turned out great and fun-to-make films that turned out to be horrible-to-watch. We’ll see when we see.

* New York film critic David Ansen will be artistic director of the Los Angeles Film Festival (LAFF), writes Anne Thompson.

* Alex Ben Block declares Peter Jackson producer of the year. His methods and approach sound almost Pixar-like in his openness to collaboration. It’s a complicated method: hire good people and listen to them.

* Apparently, Jackson lost all a bunch of weight a few years back simply by swearing off junk food while maintaining a punishing work scheduled during the making of “King Kong,” and he’s kept it off since. Good for him. Judging from the picture in today’s Variety, however, Winona Ryder might consider a regime that includes the occasional milkshake and order of chili cheese fries. Okay, none of our business and, in any case,  the role she is “circling” in Darren Aronofsky’s all-star oddball thriller, “Black Swan,” calls for her to play a veteran dancer, but, my god, those protuberant cheek bones. Part of me just wants her to mainline my mom’s brisket or something.

As for the movie itself, what I’m hearing reminds of just a little bit of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s “The Red Shoes,” and not just because of the ballet setting. There’s also the underlying psychoses.

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