What is Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’sThe Red Shoes really about? A fairytale within a fairytale, the commitment of artistry, a story about the jealousies and passions that arise when you see a talent like no other… It’s hard to tie down the different threads in the movie, but the central theme from the opening scene to the final curtain is ambition. The ambition to rise to the top, to be a name everyone recognizes, and to receive all of the fame and the success that comes from being the star of a show. It’s no wonder so many filmmakers (Scorsese, Spielberg, Brian DePalma, and Francis Ford Coppola) love this film — it’s made for and about young artists with dreams. And even if you don’t identify as an artist you can’t help but exit a screening of this film craving that same ambition, love, and devotion towards a field or an art form as the characters you saw onscreen. You could say the characters’ desires are infectious; they bleed through the screen, and even though my current rewatching of this was at least my fifth, I feel just as affected as if it were my first. (more…)
One of my favorite things to do as a cinema enthusiast is to watch how a director grows over time. I love seeing a director take situations they had mentioned or tentatively explored in earlier films and expand upon them in their later work. If you look closely, you can see them learning and taking another step closer on the path to becoming who they’re destined to be. That’s why I love watching the scene in Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) where Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant) tells Elaine Harper (Priscilla Lane) all the reasons he won’t marry her before changing his mind, because it’s clearly a dry run for the famous scene where George Bailey (James Stewart) angrily tells Mary Hatch (Donna Reed) why he won’t marry her before tearfully embracing her in It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). It’s also why I love the scene in The American Soldier (1970), an early film by polymath Rainer Werner Fassbinder, where a maid (Margarethe von Trotta) delivers a monologue that tells what would become the story of his later famous film Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974). This is also why I love comparing two films directed by Francis Ford Coppola from the early stage of his career: Dementia 13 (1963) and The Conversation (1974). (more…)
Every month, A Place for Film brings 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 reflects the varied programming that can be found at the Cinema and demonstrates 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.
Full transparency: all Blu-rays reviewed were provided by Imprint Films and Fun City Editions.
Welcome to this month’s second installment of “Physical Media Isn’t Dead, It Just Smells Funny,” where we will be completing the balance of April’s frankly unique and welcomingly diverse crop of Blu-ray titles. For the remainder of the month we’ll take a look at two war titles from Imprint Films from two controversial Old Hollywood figures: Samuel Fuller’s muscular, misguided, albeit well-intentioned film China Gate and the unforgettable sole directorial effort from HUAC pariah Dalton Trumbo, Johnny Got His Gun. Fun City Editions, meanwhile, delivers another fascinating gem of ’70s cynicism and sorrow in the form of Born to Win featuring excellent performances from Karen Black and George Segal.
It’s a tumultuous and torn-up month about broken people in broken situations but as we enter spring and glimmers of hope begin to bud like the flowers we pass everyday on the sidewalk, rain and tears are great cleansers for the sunnier days ahead. (more…)
An underrated gem in the filmography of Douglas Sirk, Has Anybody Seen My Gal is a 1920s-set comedy that proves the director was adept at more than just tearjerkers. Read on to see what makes this film so special and why it is absolutely worth seeking out.
It was Rock Hudson and Douglas Sirk’s first film together
Although you might not have heard of Has Anybody Seen My Gal before, it is actually rather important because it was the first time Sirk worked with perhaps his most significant collaborator, the man he would share a nine-film partnership with, Rock Hudson. (more…)
What does it mean when a film is “handmade”?
If we’re talking about experimental film, the term “handmade” usually refers to techniques like direct animation, processing film at home instead of sending it to a lab, or otherwise directly manipulating your negative or film print (bleaching, dying, etc.).
Naomi Uman engages in all these techniques. Her most well-known film is probably Removed (1999), which involves direct animation of found footage. Uman took pieces of a 1970s German porn film and bleached out the nude female figures, frame-by-frame, with nail polish remover. The women perform pleasure in ghosted images, frustrating the original intent of the pornography. (more…)