“I always freak out when I hear people opposing sensation to story-telling,” Claire Denis has said. “A great story-teller always gives you that sense of warmth or cold… [Sensation and story-telling] are not opposed … Why deprive a film of what belongs to cinema?” Perhaps more consistently than any other contemporary filmmaker, Denis’ movies work to make sensation into story-telling, and vice versa. Elliptical and fragmentary, sometimes oblique to the point of opacity, Denis’ films re-write the rule-book in terms of narrative content and characterization, her stories often emerging through an intense focus on the bodies of her actors and a moody, sensuous evocation of places and spaces. The result is a cinematic style that, in its combination of discretion and ellipsis with moments of confrontational, sometimes brutal directness, is one of the most distinctive in modern French cinema.
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Some might argue that without The Silence of the Lambs, Demme may not have made this list. Yes, he has made a surplus of outstanding films, including quite a few unjustly ignored documentaries such as The Agronomist (2003), but initially, the now 67-year-old director was most known more for his first two critical successes in the early 1980s ending up as box office duds (Handle With Care and Melvin and Howard). Despite the excellent Talking Heads doc Stop Making Sense (1984), the quirky masterpiece of Something Wild, and the Michelle Pfeiffer vehicle Married to the Mob (1988), Demme flew mostly under the radar for the rest of the Me Decade. That is, until he paired up with Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, and screenwriter Ted Tally in 1991 to create the definitive portrait of a serial killer, the film that defined the psychological thriller/horror film hybrid for modern audiences.
Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter have just announced a batch of new tour dates, including a set of East Coast appearances with the Sadies, which sounds like a dream line-up. Their latest album, Marble Son, released in early August, which we labeled as PopMatters Pick with an 8 rating. Tour dates after the jump.
Kelly McGillis signed with Paramount Studios in the mid-80s to make two features films. The first, “Witness,” was a huge hit and earned her a Golden Globe nomination. The actress had some specific ideas about what she wanted to do in the second movie but the Paramount brass had already decided: It would be about a group of young test pilots.
It wasn’t exactly the film McGillis would have picked for herself, but “Top Gun” went on to become the biggest box office draw of 1986 , taking in more than $176 million. From its driving Kenny Loggins tune “Danger Zone” to the catch phrase “I feel the need, the need for for speed,” “Top Gun” became a hit and remains as high-flying as ever.
Cukor has always been identified as an actor’s director, more specifically, a “woman’s” director. Understandable, considering that in The Women (1939), not a single man appears onscreen, and looking at the titles in his filmography indicates how frequently his movies were women-centric. Yet, such a classification demeans Cukor’s skills as a director, one who directed three men to Oscars (Jimmy Stewart, Ronald Coleman, Rex Harrison), but only two women (Ingrid Bergman, Judy Holliday). Cukor’s homosexuality and femininity have been credited with providing him a penchant for telling women’s stories, yet most every female lead in Cukor’s films had a strong male lead to play off. With films such as A Double Life, the tale of an actor’s Othello-inspired descent into madness, Cukor proved he could dive into the male psyche with equal skill.