Archive for category: Essays

Why ‘Goldfinger’ at 50 remains the definitive James Bond movie

17 September, 2014 (08:24) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays, Science Fiction | By: Sean Axmaker

Goldfinger was the third Bond feature but the first Bond blockbuster, an instant smash hit that turned the series into a phenomenon. Fifty years after its Sept. 17, 1964 London premiere, which was overrun by fans fighting to get into the theater, it remains the definitive big-screen incarnation of the world’s most famous secret agent. […]

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‘Horses of God': The Making of a Martyr

10 September, 2014 (08:14) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays | By: Sean Axmaker

There’s not one reason why a young boy can turn into a suicide bomber. There are many of them. —Nabil Ayouch, director of Horses of God, in a 2014 interview with Dan Lybarger In 2003, just a couple of years after the Twin Towers attack, twelve suicide bombers blew up multiple targets in Casablanca. The bombers […]

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Rediscovery: Orson Welles’ ‘Too Much Johnson’

21 August, 2014 (08:19) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays, Orson Welles, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

Ladies and gentlemen, presenting the slapstick stylings of Orson Welles, the boy wonder of Broadway! Not exactly how we think of Welles, is it? We know he had a rich career both on radio and on the New York stage before he made Citizen Kane, but the few comedies he made were far outnumbered by […]

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‘We Are Mari Pepa': New Life for the Coming-of-Age Genre

18 August, 2014 (11:00) | by Jay Kuehner, Essays | By: Jay Kuehner

Deceptively sumptuous given its scruffy punk milieu, We Are Mari Pepa (Somos Mari Pepa) breathes unexpected life into the naturally jaded (but hormone-riddled) body of youth/skate/band/buddy flicks. Samuel Kishi Leopo’s debut is utterly faithful in its depiction of the torpor and hope that doggedly accompanies teenagers everywhere, while limning a distinctly Mexican portrait of Jalisciense […]

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Who are the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’?

1 August, 2014 (17:28) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays | By: Sean Axmaker

So you know Captain America and Thor and Spider-Man and all those cool mutants from The X-Men. But just who are these Guardians of the Galaxy, as in the stars of the new film opening Friday? Some interstellar Avengers spin-off? Rejects from a Star Wars sequel? Are they even superheroes? Marvel Comics is taking a […]

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Sex in Cinema: Surprises from the Archives

24 July, 2014 (17:46) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays | By: Sean Axmaker

How much sex can you handle? We were overwhelmed by just how much we found in our odyssey to create a Sex in Cinema infographic for Fandor. Who knew the rich history of sex in the cinema that went all the way back to the first short films shown to audiences? Okay, a little context […]

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Mad Rooms: Shot Composition in Two Films of Bernard Girard

21 July, 2014 (07:12) | by Robert C. Cumbow, Essays | By: Sean Axmaker

[Originally published in Movietone News 46, December 1975] MAD ROOMS Shot Composition in Two Films of Bernard Girard -Main Title- For nearly three decades, Bernard Girard has been one of the invisible men of the American cinema. Briefly lionized for his independent feature A Public Affair (1962) and hesitantly applauded for Dead Heat on a […]

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Fab film at 50: ‘A Hard Day’s Night’

7 July, 2014 (08:41) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays, Musicals | By: Sean Axmaker

The rock movie was never the same after A Hard Day’s Night opened 50 years ago, on July 6, 1964. The Beatles black-and-white comedy, which is being re-released in theaters for the anniversary, immediately became the cheekiest, wittiest, most inventive film in the then-fledgling rock and roll movie genre. Before A Hard Day’s Night, there […]

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Hal Hartley Explores New Voices in ‘My America’

6 July, 2014 (09:36) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

In 2012, Baltimore’s Center Stage, the State Theater of Maryland, celebrated its fiftieth anniversary by soliciting scores of American playwrights, both established veterans and emerging voices, to answer the question “What is my America?” with a short monologue. Fifty pieces were ultimately commissioned and director Hal Hartley filmed them all for Center Stage. Twenty-one of these […]

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Seattle International Film Festival at Forty

7 June, 2014 (17:30) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays, Film Festivals | By: Sean Axmaker

It’s #SIFForty! The 2014 Seattle International Film Festival is the 40th edition, at least by the numerical count (SIFF jumped from the “Twelfth Annual” in 1987 to the “Fourteenth Annual” in 1988, skipping Lucky Thirteen just like a high rise, but when you survive this long, who really sweats the details?). It holds the claim to the biggest […]

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Weird Tales, True Confession

7 June, 2014 (09:47) | by Kathleen Murphy, Essays, Film Reviews | By: Kathleen Murphy

Love, Death, and the Imagination in Dan Ireland’s The Whole Wide World This appreciation was written for Film Comment magazine in 1996. Reflecting fond memories of SIFF film-going, this review also expressed my delight in discovering The Whole Wide World, a terrific movie by Dan Ireland, one of the founders of SIFF and an old […]

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The Devil Went Down to Majagual: ‘The Wind Journeys’

30 May, 2014 (16:47) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays | By: Sean Axmaker

“Is that really the devil’s accordion?” Ignacio Carillo (Marciano Martinez) is a legendary juglar, a wandering troubadour, in his circuit of in the hills and plains and back-country villages of Northern Colombia. His accordion is just as notorious. Two black horns jut out of the instrument, like a bull under the command of a musical […]

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‘Lessons of Darkness': Burning Questions

24 May, 2014 (07:02) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays, Werner Herzog | By: Sean Axmaker

I “A planet in our solar system. Wide mountains ranges, clouds, a land shrouded in mist.” The landscape of Lessons of Darkness at first glance looks like the desert counterpart to the Carpathian Mountains of Werner Herzog‘s Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht, a land shrouded in myth as much as in mist. But those initial ethereal […]

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The Haunted Palace: Alain Resnais’ ‘Last Year at Marienbad’

19 May, 2014 (18:59) | by Kathleen Murphy, Essays, Film Reviews | By: Kathleen Murphy

The couple face each other in an old-fashioned railway car set up in a 19th-century amusement park, the girl (Joan Fontaine) a sweet-faced blonde for whom he’s clearly the moon and the stars. The young man (Louis Jourdan) in elegant evening clothes is all charm, genuine enough for the moment, a roué enchanted by fresh […]

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Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round: David Lynch’s ‘Wild at Heart’

16 May, 2014 (17:33) | by Kathleen Murphy, Essays, Film Reviews | By: Kathleen Murphy

[Originally published in Film Comment, November-December 1990] Back in the days when James Dean was only half a decade dead and Elvis Presley as many years famous, my best friend and I twice played hookey from high school to see Sidney Lumet’s The Fugitive Kind. On screen in brooding black and white, Tennessee Williams’ surreal […]

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