Monday, March 30, 2015

A Bit of Magic: The 1971 Retro Hollmann Awards, Part Two

The honors for the films of 1971 continue! Yesterday, the big winners were Fiddler on the Roof, The Devils, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, and Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion. All but one of those titles return today...but not necessarily as winners!


5. The Anderson Tapes
Dennis Maitland, production sound
Al Gramaglia, sound mixer
Jack Fitzstephens, sound editor
Why do footsteps always seem different in Sidney Lumet's films? They scuff and shuffle, clip and clop. And of course, we mustn't forget the conversations we hear, whether in person, over headphones, or through the hiss of secret recordings played back for our benefit.

2. The Boy Friend
Maurice Askew, sound recordist
Brian Simmons, sound mixer
At times blending a scratchy vinyl recording with the voices of the on-screen ensemble, changing it up from polished and perfect to the sometimes-lost acoustics of the rundown theatre, and never missing a step -- quite literally, especially during the tap numbers.

1. Fiddler on the Roof
David Hildyard, sound mixer
Gordon K. McCallum, sound re-recording mixer
Les Wiggins, sound editor
Perfect. From the butcher chopping in time to "Tradition" to all atmosphere dropping out during the "Chava Ballet Sequence", from the subtle scrapings of the bottle dancers' feet to the soundtrack being overwhelmed by fire and pounding music. Grounds the musical in reality.

3. The French Connection
Chris Newman/Theodore Soderberg, sound
It's all about that chase sequence between a car and a city train, with the right amount of squeals, shrieks, screams, moans (from heart attacks), and so on. I'm also a big fan of the sequence where the cops are taking a suspicious car apart -- rejoice in the RIP RIP RIP!

4. El Topo
Gonzalo Gavira, sound effects
Lilia Lupercio, sound editor
Every little noise is exact, from the bullets to the crunching of the sand beneath a boot. The cacophony of the village at the end, the echoes of the cave of the misfits, the gutting final slaughter.

Visual Effects, Director, Supporting Actress and more, after the jump...

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Mayhem, Music, Murder: The 1971 Retro Hollmann Awards, Part One

After so much waiting, here it finally is -- the Retro Hollmann Awards of 1971! Seventy (70) films were screened for 1971, and as always, some desirables were missed, some surprises were discovered, and some duds, unfortunately, slipped through the cracks. But here's the full list:

 The Abominable Dr. Phibes
The Anderson Tapes

The Andromeda Strain


Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Billy Jack
Black Jesus

Bless the Beasts & Children

Blood Mania

The Boy Friend
Brewster McCloud
Carnal Knowledge
Cat O’Nine Tails
A Clockwork Orange
Cold Turkey
The Conformist
Death in Venice
The Devils
Diamonds Are Forever
Dirty Harry
Drive, He Said
Escape from the Planet of the Apes
Fiddler on the Roof
The French Connection
The Garden of the Finzi Continis
Get Carter
The Go-Between
Harold and Maude
The Hospital
The House That Dripped Blood
Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion
Jennifer on My Mind
Johnny Got His Gun
The Last Picture Show

The Lickerish Quartet
The Love Machine

Making It

Le Mans
Mary, Queen of Scots
McCabe & Mrs. Miller

The Music Lovers

Nicholas and Alexandra

Play Misty for Me
Pretty Maids All in a Row
Simon, King of the Witches
Sometimes a Great Notion
Straw Dogs
Summer of ’42
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song
Taking Off
They Might Be Giants

El Topo
The Trojan Women
Two-Lane Blacktop

Wake in Fright

Werewolves on Wheels

What’s the Matter with Helen?
When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth
Who Is Harry Kellerman, and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

For the next three days, I will be naming my perceived best in all 18 categories, two of which (Makeup, Ensemble) did not have an Oscar equivalent that year. Some nominees match the Academy's, while some categories have been completely overhauled. They are all, however, unmistakably Me.

And we start with the Editors!  

2. The Anderson Tapes
Joanne Burke
Standout scene: the entire heist that takes up the final third of the film, cutting back and forth between the tenants of each floor as they are rounded up by Anderson's crew; the crew itself gathering the objects of desire; the several areas of surveillance; and the slowly mobilized law enforcement.

5. The Devils
Michael Bradsell
Standout scene: If this was purely the director's cut, I'd say the sequence where the nuns rape a towering, crucified Jesus statue, intercut with Frather Grandier holding a quiet, personal Mass in nature, is legendary for a reason. But let us not forget the final sequence, as the village of Loudon watches an execution with varying degreess of satisfaction and horror.

1. Fiddler on the Roof
Antony Gibbs/Robert Lawrence
No standout scene -- for it is all so perfectly edited, from "Tradition" through to the finale -- the Bottle Dance, the pogrom, the Chava ballet, "Anatevka", the dream sequence....perfection.

4. Get Carter
John Trumper
Standout scene: Carter beats the shit out of some thugs, using their car. It's great.

3. Klute
Carl Lerner
Standout scene: Any of the therapy sessions, cut back and forth between Bree and the doctor at the perfect moments. Bree's final encounter with a deranged murderer, including listening to a recording of her deceased friend, is a gutting, terrifying scene as well.

Makeup, Cinematography, Score, and more -- below the jump.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Casting Coup: Nicholas and Alexandra

Best Picture
Best Actress - Janet Suzman
Best Cinematography - Freddie Young
Best Original Score - Richard Rodney Bennett
Best Art Direction-Set Decoration - John Box/Ernest Archer/Jack Maxsted/Gil Parrondo/Vernon Dixon (WON)
Best Costume Design - Yvonne Blake/Antonio Castillo (WON)

And so we come to this.

Nicholas and Alexandra is a handsomely-mounted, old-fashioned epic bio from the producer of Lawrence of Arabia. I admire much of it -- the production value, most of the performances, the way the screenplay tries to tell the full story of the Revolution. It's a movie I might like to revisit -- though I will say Janet Suzman is not the most exciting actress to watch, and the film tends to drag in its attempts to justify a three-hour-plus length.

You know what I love most, though? As always? The all-star cast! And here, I hoped to repeat that same magic for our final Casting Coup of 1971.

Some of the biographical elements of the real people may seem a bit muddled, as I wrote first my memory of their characters, then checked them out on Wikipedia -- and discovered that some of their roles in the film may have been a wee tweaked. So, scholars of Russian history, do not scoff too loudly. After all, this is about the cast.

Who you can see after the jump.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Casting Coup: The Last Picture Show

Best Picture
Best Director - Peter Bogdanovich
Best Supporting Actor - Jeff Bridges
Best Supporting Actor - Ben Johnson (WON)
Best Supporting Actress - Ellen Burstyn
Best Supporting Actress - Cloris Leachman (WON)
Best Adapted Screenplay - Peter Bogdanovich/Larry McMurtry
Best Cinematography - Robert Surtees

I love The Last Picture Show, another film I didn't see until I took on the 1971 Retrospective. It is so damn beautiful -- beautifully-written, beautifully-shot, beautifully-acted. Roger Ebert ranked it among his Great Movies, saying, "It is about a town with no reason to exist, and people with no reason to live there."

But oh, what people! A perfect ensemble just ripe for the casting -- and really, I expect that this film, along with The Big Chill, will eventually be remade. And if it happened today, who might we see?

This guarantees to be the 2014 Academy Award Nominee-iest cast of the bunch...check it out after the jump.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Casting Coup: The French Connection

Best Picture (WON)
Best Director - William Friedkin (WON)
Best Actor - Gene Hackman (WON)
Best Supporting Actor - Roy Scheider
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium - Ernest Tidyman (WON)
Best Cinematography - Owen Roizman
Best Film Editing - Gerald B. Greenberg (WON)
Best Sound - Theodore Soderberg / Christopher Newman

One of the reasons why I chose 1971 as my Retrospective year is this film -- I'd never seen it before, despite having heard a lot about it, and even reading William Friedkin's memoir where he discusses the making of it in detail. Obviously, that's been amended, and I can confidently say that the film is, indeed, pretty damn great.

And not that dated, either in execution or subject matter. Therefore, it's perfect fodder for a re-imagining -- indeed, the French side of the tale will be told this Summer in the film, The Connection starring Academy Award Winner Jean Dujardin. Which is a coincidence, because...well, why not read on?

Monday, March 9, 2015

25 Films in 2015 I'm Rawther Excited About

Well, it's time for my annual OMG SO EXCITED list of films I'm excited about! This one is coming especially, unfortunately late -- I had it written up and everything, neglected to post it, and now I've had to go and replace two of the films on the original list -- Chappie and The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel -- with other flicks.


That's all right. We'll make do. Incidentally, I saw Chappie and The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel this weekend, and was a fan of both. Contrary to what I've been reading, I think the last act is actually what made Chappie so fascinating. As for Second Best, I must say it surpasses its own titular ranking -- not to say it's better than the first one (which was nominated, ahem, for three Hollmann Awards), but I certainly think it's equal!

So what else does 2015 have in store for us?

Honorable Mentions: Black Mass, Bridge of SpiesDope, The Founder (2016?), The Free State of Jones (2016?), Magic Mike XXLMr. Holmes, Silence (2016?), Trainwreck

25. Pan
Dir: Joe Wright
Wri: Jason Fuchs
Release: July 24
To play off of an obnoxious hashtag, #InWrightWeTrust. Yes, yes, I admit that I was part of that brigade of hand-wringers shouting "problematic" at the Rooney Mara casting, but I tell you who's got me intrigued: Hugh Jackman. What's going on there?

24. Spotlight
Dir: Thomas McCarthy
Wri: Thomas McCarthy/Joshua Singer
Inspired by the Boston Globe's Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation into the sex abuse scandals of the Catholic Church in Massachusetts. It sells itself.

23. Mad Max: Fury Road

Dir: George Miller
Wri: Brendan McCarthy/George Miller/Nick Lathouris
Release: May 15
Sometimes, it's the pitch. Sometimes it's the cast. Sometimes, it's the mind-blowing trailer. This one is the third option, though you know I love me some Charlize Theron (Hollmann Award Winner for Best Actress, Young Adult). Is it just kooky enough to work? Should I watch the first three Mad Max films?

22. Cinderella

Dir: Kenneth Branagh
Wri: Chris Weitz
Release: March 13
I quite liked Maleficent, and think Kenneth Branagh is becoming quite a solid studio hack -- Thor was great, and even if I don't remember Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, I tell you what I don't remember: hating it. But let's be real: everyone's coming just to see Cate Blanchett be bitchy in gowns.

21. Irrational Man

Dir/Wri: Woody Allen
Release: July 24
The annual Woody Allen Slot.

The top 20...after the jump

Friday, March 6, 2015

Casting Coup: Fiddler on the Roof

Best Picture
Best Director - Norman Jewison
Best Actor - Topol
Best Supporting Actor - Leonard Frey
Best Cinematography - Oswald Morris (WON)
Best Art Direction-Set Decoration - Robert F. Boyle / Michael Stringer / Peter Lamont
Best Sound - Gordon K. McCallum / David Hildyard (WON)
Best Music, Scoring Adaptation and Original Song Score - John Williams (WON)

I have written at length about Fiddler on the Roof -- I trust I do not need to reiterate how deeply I adore the film. So trying to follow it up with a re-casting is...well, it's not easy. I don't think this is a better cast than the original, but I certainly think it's a fine one, worth considering. Especially Golde, Lazar Wolf, and Fruma-Sarah.

But why not see for yourself, after the jump? And again -- I've used at least one Academy Award nominee from this year (which was, by the way, a completely Gentile lineup)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Casting Coup: A Clockwork Orange

I am not one of those people that immediately objects to a remake. I always want to see where it's gonna go, what it's going to do with the material, if it's going to have a neat new spin or follow things beat for beat. But I grew up in the theatre, where everyone got to play the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz at least once, each serving a different director's vision, each following their own instincts.

And so it is that I have Casting Coup Tuesdays (now basically Casting Coup Weeks), where I reimagine the cinema as Broadway, and cast a Revival -- easier to do with something like Fiddler on the Roof, which started as a stage play. But this week I'm tackling all five of the Best Picture nominees from 1971, which means taking on the task of re-casting classics like The French Connection, The Last Picture Show, and today's gem...

Best Picture
Best Director - Stanley Kubrick
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium - Stanley Kubrick
Best Film Editing - Bill Butler

The story of an impossibly violent teenage hoodlum in the near future whose crimes eventually catch up to him, landing him in jail; he attempts to get out early by undergoing an experimental behavior modification treatment called Ludovico's Technique. The film, and the novel before it, wants to talk about free will, governmental control, fascism -- all that good stuff. Kubrick's film ends on a distasteful note of Alex embracing his true, horrible nature, but at least he's exercising his free will. This excises the final chapter of Anthony Burgess's original novel, which has a little more hope for innate goodness, but which Kubrick felt wasn't true to the tone of the rest of the novel. I can see that.

A note before we begin -- when I originally planned this Casting Coup Week, it was to go along with my 2014/1971 connections. Thusly, each cast features one or more Academy Award-nominated actors from this year.

Let's get to it, shall we? After the jump, mind.