By now, it’s no secret among genre aficionados and admirers of Hong Kong cinema that Lau Kar-leung (1934-2013) was among the world’s finest practitioners of the martial arts film and, by extension, of the action film more broadly. Lau, a filmmaker of considerable artistic stature in his home country, is one of the more well-known filmmakers associated with Shaw Brothers, the prolific Hong Kong studio best known today for its production of the early films of the Chinese filmmaker King Hu. The belated embrace that Lau has received in the United States can perhaps be chalked up to the lamentable unavailability of his work in proper home video releases for many years (most of his films were tossed off in poorly executed pan-and-scan versions), but it is likely also due to their their status as “low brow” kung fu movies. (more…)
Rosalind Russell’s career was somewhat different than other starlets of her era. Getting her start in her mid-20s, later than other women actors of her generation, Russell’s star persona was strongly associated with the “career woman.” When she starred in Auntie Mame (dir. Morton DaCosta, 1958), she was 51 years old, age-appropriate for the role, and yet it was uncommon in the 1950s for a middle-aged woman to take the sole lead, with younger actors relegated to the sidelines. (more…)
One of the things that the notorious film and theater artist Rainer Werner Fassbinder was famous for was his productivity. He created dozens of feature films, several for television, at least three miniseries, and wrote 24 plays. Fassbinder had the type of career where an 8-hour miniseries such as Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day (1972) isn’t regarded as a career-making triumph, but as something ripe for rediscovery because it is a part of a vivid body of work unlike any other in film history.
It can be difficult to argue for a definitive film or magnum opus from such a productive career. Some would argue for the famous Ali: Feat Eats the Soul (1974) or his relatively late-career breakout hit The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979). But if you want to watch something as sprawling, strange, and downright compelling as his career, you have to make time for Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980). (more…)
Every month A Place for Film will bring you a selection of films from our group of regular bloggers. Even though these films aren’t currently being screened at the IU Cinema, this series will reflect the varied programming that can be found at the Cinema, as well as demonstrate the eclectic tastes of the bloggers. Each contributor has picked one film that they saw this month that they couldn’t wait to share with others. Keep reading to find out what discoveries these cinephiles have made, as well as some of the old friends they’ve revisited. (more…)
At twelve noon in Broadway, New York, Harry S. Young, billed the “human fly,” began climbing the side of the Martinique Hotel in 1923. Thousands of people gathered at Greely Square just below the hotel to watch the spectacle, including his wife. After climbing up ten stories Young slipped and fell to his death. The phrase “Safety Last” was painted on the back of his shirt. It was part of a publicity stunt for Harold Lloyd’s new film, Safety Last! (1923). Young was hired by Pathé, the film’s production company, and paid fifty dollars for the stunt.
This publicity stunt, though tragic, only fueled the runaway success of Safety Last!, which follows a sales clerk (Lloyd) trying to get a promotion to impress his girlfriend (Mildred Davis) by concocting a publicity stunt where a human fly climbs his company’s building. Things inevitably go wrong and Lloyd ends up having to climb the building himself while overcoming increasingly nerve-wracking and hilarious obstacles on his way to the top. In fact, it was another such feat of daring by a real human fly that inspired Lloyd to create the film. (more…)
Guest post by David Brent Johnson.
Sun Ra, the bandleader and cosmic traveler whose earthly name was Herman “Sonny” Blount, graced this planet with his presence for just over 79 years. Born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1914, he spent his most formative years in Chicago in the 1940s and ’50s, working as an arranger for swing-era icon Fletcher Henderson’s band, then starting his own ensemble that came to be known as the Arkestra. In a radio show that I did about Sun Ra’s Chicago years, I described him as a “musical wizard, staging shows with dancers, wild lighting, musicians dressed in space costumes, sermons on far-ranging topics, and music that drew on hardbop, big-band, and free jazz, with chanting, electronic keyboards, shrieking saxophones, and a wide array of unusual musical effects that resulted in what he called ‘cosmo dramas.’” I cannot think of a better term than “cosmo drama” to describe Sun Ra’s 1972 movie Space is the Place. (more…)