Oliver Stone – South of the Border [+Extras] (2009)

VXWPA9 Oliver Stone   South of the Border [+Extras] (2009)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Oliver Stone   South of the Border [+Extras] (2009)

synopsis

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is a hero in Latin America for his willingness to stand up to the United States (both the government and the private sector) and his desire to use the nation’s petroleum resources as a tool to bring a better way of life to the working class under his rule. But Chavez’s policies have made him many enemies in North America, and in the American news media (especially conservative outlets such as Fox News), Chavez has been demonized for his rejection of U.S. policy, his pro-socialist stance, and his openly combative stance toward George W. Bush. Are either of these extremes an accurate portrait of the real Hugo Chavez? Filmmaker Oliver Stone presents a portrait of Chavez the politician and Chavez the man in his documentary South of the Border, which is built around a series of in-depth interviews Stone conducted with the Venezuelan president. Stone also includes interviews with a number of other major Latin American leaders, among them Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner, Brazil’s Lula da Silva, and Cuba’s Raul Castro. South of the Border was an official selection at the 2009 Venice International Film Festival.- by Mark Deming Continue reading

Howard Zieff – Slither (1973)

1jteta Howard Zieff   Slither (1973)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Howard Zieff   Slither (1973)

Plot Synopsis - by Hal Erickson

In Slither, James Caan plays Dick Kanipsia, a recently paroled car thief whose plans to go straight are interrupted when his best pal Harry Moss (Richard B. Schull) is shot and killed. As he lies dying, Moss advises Kanipsia to seek out fellow crook Barry Fenaka (Peter Boyle), who knows where a huge amount of money stolen by Moss is hidden. Aware that he himself is a marked man, Kanipsia has to play it cool en route to Fenaka. This proves difficult when his erstwhile travelling companion, dopehead Kitty Kopetzky Sally Kellerman, robs a roadside diner in his presence. Since nothing is ever quite what it appears to be in Slither, perhaps we shouldn’t tell you any more. This truly serpentine tale served as the feature-film directorial debut of Howard Zieff, the former TV-commercial helmsman responsible for the famous Spicy Meatball ad.
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Nicholas Ray – Johnny Guitar (1954)

8jQ6tr Nicholas Ray   Johnny Guitar (1954)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Nicholas Ray   Johnny Guitar (1954)

Synopsis: from Olive Films

This one-of-a-kind western stars Joan Crawford as a saloon owner battling the local townspeople headed by Emma (Mercedes McCambridge), the local sexually repressed, lynch-happy female rancher out to frame her for a string of robberies. The title character played by Sterling Hayden is a guitar-strumming drifter with a dark past who was once in love with Crawford and has been offered a job in her saloon. Nicholas Ray’s epic western is considered on the most original westerns of all time – the women are far tougher than the men and some saw in the film a bizarre allegory for the McCarthy era Red Scare. In addition to the stars, Johnny Guitar is well stocked with great supporting players, including Ernest Borgnine, Scott Brady, Ward Bond, Paul Fix, Royal Dano and John Carradine. Classic score title song written by Peggy Lee and the film’s composer Victor Young and sung by Peggy Lee. Continue reading

Jacques Demy – Model Shop (1969)

WyQNuM Jacques Demy   Model Shop (1969)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Jacques Demy   Model Shop (1969)

synopsis

George (Gary Lockwood) is a disillusioned 26-year-old who has just quit his stifling job. He lives in Los Angeles with an aspiring young actress named Gloria (Alexandra Hay), who is none too pleased with his recent unemployment. Hanging over his head is the constant threat of repossession of his car and the virtual certainty that he will be drafted into the army. He sees a beautiful woman in a big car and follows her to her home in the Hollywood hills. A rock-star friend loans him money for a car and he follows the mystery woman to a photography shop. Lola (Anouk Aimée) is an older French model who poses for photographs to pay the bills. After he takes pictures of her, he begins to fall in love with the woman. Gloria discovers the pictures and throws George out of the house. He returns to the model and the two have conversation over drinks before ending up in bed together. Lola wishes to return home to be with her young son and is reluctant to get involved in a relationship. George’s relationship with Gloria ends when she leaves him over her failure to understand his motivations. He resigns himself to the fact he will be drafted and probably end up dead in a Vietnam rice paddy in this story of a young man in search of the greater meaning of life.
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Jack Smight – The Illustrated Man (1969)

PRVEcZ Jack Smight   The Illustrated Man (1969)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Jack Smight   The Illustrated Man (1969)

The Illustrated Man is a 1969 American science fiction film directed by Jack Smight and starring Rod Steiger. The film is based on three short stories from the 1951 collection The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury: “The Veldt”, “The Long Rain”, and “The Last Night of the World”.

The Illustrated Man comprises three science fiction short stories from Ray Bradbury’s collection of the same name. Howard B. Kreitsek wrote the screenplay that encompassed the stories “The Veldt”, “The Long Rain”, and “The Last Night of the World”, Jack Smight directed the film. Bradbury was not consulted for the adaptation.[1] The author sold story rights to the film in December 1967 for $85,000, but he did not sell the film rights. Since the collection included eighteen short stories, Smight chose three stories and used the carnival sideshow freak who appeared in the collection’s prologue and epilogue as the film’s primary narrative. As the freak, the director cast Rod Steiger, whom he had known since the 1950s. Continue reading

Peter Yates – Breaking Away (1979)

5FNQOa Peter Yates   Breaking Away (1979)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Peter Yates   Breaking Away (1979)

synopsis

Dennis Christopher stars as a recent high school graduate in Bloomington, Indiana, who is caught with his friends — Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern, Jackie Earle Haley — coasting between high school and deciding what to do with the rest of their lives. The four friends are snobbishly looked down upon by the college students of the town as “cutters,” since they were born in Bloomington and their parents worked in the local limestone quarries that built the university. Dennis Christopher’s character Dave wants to be a champion bicycle racer and he idolizes the Italian racing team — so much so that he speaks, thinks, and acts Italian, all to his father’s (Paul Dooley) forlorn exasperation. Dave falls for a college girl (Robyn Douglass), but is ashamed to admit he is a cutter and poses as an Italian exchange student to impress her. Dave is particularly excited when his heroes — the Italian racers — come to town for a race. But they are even more snobbish than the college students and rely on dirty tricks to keep Dave from winning a race against them. After that ordeal, Dave throws away his false identity and convinces his friends to enter the university’s “Little 500″ bicycle race against the college students. This light-hearted and heartwarming tale was a surprising word-of-mouth success at the box-office and won several awards, including an Academy Award for “Best Screenplay.”
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Steve James – Life Itself (2014)

l9J4z8 Steve James   Life Itself (2014)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152 Steve James   Life Itself (2014)

Late in this documentary about film critic Roger Ebert, the subject himself e-mails director Steve James from the hospital to insist that a difficult conversation with his wife Chaz be captured for the movie. After all, he writes, “This is not only your film.”

The correspondence underscores how this filmic profile is also a kind of a self-portrait by Ebert. It shares a title with the critic’s 2011 memoir, passages of which are lifted to narrate his rise from precocious tabloid reviewer to unlikely celebrity to national treasure. And while it’s too candid about Ebert’s ego, petulance, and late-career critical softening to be called hagiography, that very frankness does harmonize with the critic’s own eleventh-hour turn toward full and fearless disclosure. He came out as alcoholic in 2009, used his blog to inform readers of his health issues (which rendered him unable to speak in 2006), and here thrills to James’s documenting of his most painful medical ordeals.
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pixel Steve James   Life Itself (2014)