Turner Classic Film Fest: A history of violence

I know, pretty dark headline for  a post about a really fun, glamor heavy film fest. All the more so because, at least for me, TCM  Fest is the kind of event that  can put you in a kind of steel bubble which the daily news can barely pierce. If another Cuban Missile Crisis happened during Comic-Con, what would happen? Maybe if it ended differently this time.

Indeed, even a momentous event  like the death of Osama Bin Laden could just barely penetrate TCM’s  mix of Hollywood fantasy and scholarship. For me, the news first came as I overheard another filmgoer during an intermission of “West Side Story,” which I had popped in on just to see how good the 70mm print was, say to another. “No, he’s really dead.” I figured it was another classic film star gone forever. George Chakiris, who played Sharks leader Bernardo, had introduced the screening, but how were Jets Richard Beymer and Russ Tamblyn doing?

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Some final thoughts about the TCM Classic Film Festival

It’s time for me to take a moment to reflect a bit on what I learned from my rather hectic but definitely fun and enlightening time at the TCM Fest.  As previously reported here and everywhere else, it turned out to be a fairly roaring success and is promised to be repeated next year in Hollywood.  Because of time constraints and because I wasn’t able to enjoy the truly titanic number of films seen by, say, a Dennis Cozzalio — currently working on a detailed and sure to be great summary of the event — I’m going to limit myself to a few random observations covering material I have not mentioned in prior TCM-centric posts. (Here, here, and here.) Naturally, it’ll still turn out to be much longer than I originally intended.

HCM-55-Grauman's-Chinese-Theater-(2)

Borgnine, Donen, Rainer

As someone with parents in their eighties and nineties, I’ve become especially interested lately in the way things work for people of a certain age. So it was with some some special interest that I listened to the words of 100 year-old thirties star Luise Rainer, 93 year-old star character actor Ernest Borgnine (“Marty,” “The Wild Bunch”), and 86 year-old directing great and one-time boy genius, Stanley Donen — best known for co-directing “Singin’ in the Rain” and other MGM musical classics with Gene Kelly but also an outstanding director in his own right of both musicals and “straight” films.

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A capery, spy-ey, hobbity, clashy, ghosty midweek movie news

A sprained ankle and other unexciting matters sidelined me yestereday, but now I can use my imposed semi-immobility for bloggy purposes.

* THR is claiming an exclusive that a date has finally been set for the two-part Peter Jackson/Guillermo del Toro collaboration, “The Hobbit.” (That’s with an assist from the late J.R.R. Tolkien, of course.) There was some apparent confusion earlier in the day, but it now looks like the two films will be released in Christmas of 2012 and 2013. That’s a year off from the original plan for the LOTR follow-up/prequel (though LOTR is technically the sequel here). Though this article doesn’t mention it, at least part of the problem was widely supposed to be the decline and fall of MGM.

* I’m not at all sure how the “poison pill” actually works but it appears that a decision by authorities up in British Columbia — which is, like, part of an entirely different country than ours and everything — will make it easier for Carl Icahn to attempt his hostile takeover of Lionsgate.

* Does anybody really want a “Clash of the Titans” sequel? Well, we’re getting one anyhow.

Clash of the Titans

* Bill Murray is apparently bound and determined to be the proverbial turd in the “Ghostbusters 3” punchbowl. It wasn’t a punch I had my heart set on, in any case, much as I liked the first one.

* Just the day before yesterday I was part of a press round-table with the affable, stylish French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (“Amelie,” “City of Lost Children”). Someone brought up his adapatation of the acclaimed, fantastical Booker Prize-winning novel, The Life of Pi, a project which the vagaries of movie-making had apparently forced him to give up on. Today, Anne Thompson brings word that it appears that the project has been picked up by another strong directorial hand, Ang Lee.  And, guess what, it’ll be 3-D. Lee’s one of the movies’ great humanists still working, so I’m sure the film won’t be overwhelmed by effects.

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Your TCM Fest ultra-quick box office report.

It TCM Fest‘s closing day and I’m determined to see “The Magnificent Ambersons,” “The Good Earth” (with an appearance by centenarian film legend Luise Rainer), and the new, new, new “Metropolis” but today’s box office estimates are bit too interesting to ignore completely.

The short version is that, as per the mighty Box Office Mojo chart, “How to Train Your Dragon” won the weekend box office with just over $15 million. “The Back-Up Plan,” a comedy vehicle for Jennifer Lopez, opened with a rather lame $12.25 million which should please our own David Medsker, who hated, hated, hated it. Graphic-novel based action fest “The Losers” made only $9.6 million, but seeing as it’s budget was $30 million less than the J-Lo film, it’s actually doing a lot bettter despite grossing less.

Date Night” is hanging in there very nicely in its third week. Like, “Dragon” it defeated both newcomers and came in at the #2 spot, earning $10.6 million for an accumulation nearing $65 million, $10 million more than its budget. Familiar and reliable comedy faces still mean something at the box office if the movie makes people laugh. Expect to see more family films and wide-audience PG-13 comedies and a bit less ultra-violence.

And that leads us to Matthew Vaughn, a director who has a lot less luck than talent and smarts, is no doubt thanking his reasonably lucky stars for keeping the budget on “Kick-Ass” reasonable.  The controversial black-comedy action flick dropped by 52%, roughly average for genre films that aren’t setting the world on fire. Still, the total gross is actually already $4 million above the $30 million budget. Assuming  the budget number is correct and what I can only imagine will be a long and healthy life on home video, he’s actually done rather well even as a something of a disappointment. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Oh, and I guess I should see “Kick-Ass” myself before it leaves theaters. I always seem to catch Vaughn’s films after they’re declared failures and find myself really liking them. I guess I like underdogs.

  

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