RIP Farley Granger

Sheesh, March has been a bad month for losing cinema legends. Farley Granger died today. He was one of the stars of Alfred Hitchcock's STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (pictured here, on the right). RIP Farley!


Malcolm McDowell

Malcolm McDowell, now and (then), as Alex in Stanley Kubrick's A CLOCKWORK ORANGE


Hitchcock on Surprise vs. Suspense

In his discussions with Francois Truffaut, found in the book Hitchcock, at one point Hitchcock talks about the differences between surprise and suspense, which I think shows his complete grasp of how an audience watches and reacts to film:

"There is a distinct difference between 'suspense' and 'surprise', and yet many pictures continually confuse the two. I'll explain what I mean.

"We are now having a very innocent little chat. Let us suppose that there is a bomb underneath this table between us. Nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, 'Boom!' There is an explosion. The public is surprised, but prior to this surprise, it has seen an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence. Now, let us take a suspense situation. The bomb is underneath the table, and the public knows it, probably because they have seen the anarchist place it there. The public is aware that the bomb is going to explode at one o'clock and there is a clock in the d├ęcor. The public can see that it is a quarter to one. In these conditions this same innocuous conversation becomes fascinating because the public is participating in the scene.

"The audience is longing to warn the characters on the screen: 'You shouldn't be talking about such trivial matters. There's a bomb underneath you and it's about to explode!'

"In the first case we have given the public fifteen seconds of surprise at the moment of the explosion. In the second case we have provided them with fifteen minutes of suspense. The conclusion is that whenever possible the public must be informed. Except when the surprise is a twist, that is, when the unexpected ending is, in itself, the highlight of the story."

No wonder they call him master of suspense!


Bill Hader's Top 10 Criterion discs

I've always thought that comedic acting is the hardest (not that I'm an actor at all). If you can succeed at comedy you can do anything. That being said, I think comedic actors are really undervalued, and SNL's Bill Hader is (sadly?) a great example. I think he is hilarious, and I definitely don't think he receives the respect that he is due. So just to give him some depth, here are his picks for Top 10 (actually 20) Criterion discs. I've seen a handful of them, but it is always nice to have someone famous recommend movies that had an impact on them. I look forward to seeing some of these!

Bill Hader's Top 10 list

and also:

Bill Hader exploring Criterion's closet



Terrence Malicks's THE TREE OF THE LIFE is finally coming out this year! Starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn has been in production since 2007 and has what seems to be a very laboured post-production and release undertaking. Anyways the trailer and poster are finally out and it looks fascinating! Malick is known for his beautiful, patient, and oneiric style, and this looks to be no different! If you have enjoyed his past films (BADLANDS, DAYS OF HEAVEN, THE THIN RED LINE, THE NEW WORLD) I expect you will not be disappointed! Take a look at the haunting trailer:


Ebert on Bogart

Roger Ebert is such an incredible writer. His writing is so lucid and complete, and you can really sense his passion for film. This is one of my favorite things I have ever read on Humphrey Bogart, found in Ebert's review of 1946's THE BIG SLEEP, a favorite movie of mine, as well as an essential film noir. These two paragraphs are the best description I've read about the Bogart/Bacall chemistry and nicely define what I enjoy about watching Bogart.

"Bogart himself made personal style into an art form. What else did he have? He wasn't particularly handsome, he wore a rug, he wasn't tall ("I try to be," he tells Vickers), and he always seemed to act within a certain range. Yet no other movie actor is more likely to be remembered a century from now. And the fascinating subtext in "The Big Sleep" is that in Bacall he found his match.

"You can see it in his eyes: Sure, he's in love, but there's something else, too. He was going through a messy breakup with his wife, Mayo, when they shot the picture. He was drinking so heavily he didn't turn up some days, and Hawks had to shoot around him. He saw this coltish 20-year-old not only as his love but perhaps as his salvation. That's the undercurrent. It may not have been fun to live through, but it creates a kind of joyous, desperate tension on the screen. And since the whole idea of film noir was to live through unspeakable experiences and keep your cool, this was the right screenplay for this time in his life."

-Roger Ebert, excerpt from his review of The Big Sleep.

I also really enjoy that last line, "the whole idea of film noir was to live through unspeakable experiences and keep your cool." It is such a wonderful description of noir.

SUPER 8 (2011)

Okay. SUPER 8. Directed by JJ Abrams of Star Trek (the recent movie) fame, as well as CLOVERFIELD and the TV series Lost, which I never saw. And executively produced by Steven Spielberg. This looks SO good to me! In the old Spielberg sense. JJ Abrams the new Spielberg? We shall see. It is possible. It does help that Spielbergo seems to be sort of mentoring Abrams. Very exciting. This trailer invokes an older, more classical Hollywood blockbuster era. It feels very ET to me. Anyways, mark my words, this will be a HUGE movie this summer. I can't wait until June 10!



RUBBER (2011)

This movie looks awesome! I love a good cult movie that takes itself seriously. I think this looks amazing. And music from Mr. Oizo. I look forward to seeing this!


RIP Jane Russell

I just learned that, sadly, my favorite brunette from GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES, Jane Russell, passed away yesterday at the age of 89. RIP Ms. Russell. Here is an earlier photo-post I did of Ms. Russell.