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Friday, May 30, 2014
American trouble

After making a reputation in frantic comedies (highlight: Duck Soup ) and more sophisticated ones (Ruggles of Red Gap and The Awful Truth ), writer-director-producer Leo McCarey evolved an output that swings from comedy to sentiment and melodrama, even juggling tonal ambiguity within scenes. His early high point was the 1937 Love Affair, more famous as his own remake, An Affair to Remember. McCarey can be especially strong with ambiguous family dynamics in which people are embarrassed by those they love; his great example is Make Way for Tomorrow, about which Orson Welles told Peter Bogdanovich it would “make a stone cry”.


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Friday, May 30, 2014
Old time religion.

Henry King’s I’d Climb the Highest Mountain ranks with Jacques Tourneur’s Stars in My Crown and Robert Duvall’s The Apostle as a remarkable film about a Southern preacher.


It’s narrated by his new bride (Susan Hayward), recalling the trials and anecdotes of the year she spent with her parson husband (Richard Lundigan) in northern Georgia, where the film was shot on location with several local non-actors as extras. That’s why you hear moments of jarringly authentic accents amid the scattered bits of Hollywood convention, like the fact that Hayward must look freshly made-up even in childbirth.


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Friday, May 30, 2014
It's manufactured magic, the kind that Disney used to conjure up without breaking an aesthetic sweat.

It’s all there: the high cheekbones, the blood red lips, the dark flowing gown and the horned headdress. From the outside looking in, Disney has done very little with their design for the live action version of their character Maleficent. Sure, she’s no longer a pen and ink patchwork of previous villains. Instead, she’s now an international superstar, typecast for her own unique “beauty.” Where once pure evil dwelled, a more complicated heart exists. You see, the House of Mouse wants to Wicked their previous telling of Sleeping Beauty, switching mediums and making the baddie merely ‘misunderstood.’ While it sounds like a solid idea, the execution is inexcusable. The result is a movie with more cinematic personalities than an entire asylum full of patients.


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Friday, May 30, 2014
Without him, a movie like Filth would fail to find any real value whatsoever. With him, it carries on past the problems to be a somewhat worthwhile experience.

Why isn’t James McAvoy a bigger star? He’s been part of Oscar winning efforts (The Last King of Scotland), mainstream blockbusters (Wanted, X-Men: First Class) , and quirky indie efforts (The Last Station, Trance) and yet he’s still considered a bit of a B-lister. He doesn’t open a film, he’s not automatically assumed for the lead in upcoming prestige productions, and while giving great performance after great performance, he seems stuck in the same subpar career arc as Clive Owen and Jude Law (read: good looking guys—god-awful script choices). Filth, his latest effort, will be viewed as yet another foray into confused career territory. McAvoy himself is terrific in the film, giving the kind of tour de force turn that would normally land one an Oscar nod. Instead, the rest of Jon S. Baird’s adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel undermines the very power his onscreen personality is generating.


Tagged as: filth, james mcavoy
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Wednesday, May 28, 2014
At one time, Marvel was seen as taking risks in defiance of the bottom line. Those days are gone, apparently.

And it all seemed to be going so well…


It’s safe to say that no other brand has had as much unprecedented success as Marvel. Even with movies outside its strict purview, the comic book label has watched everything from X-Men to Spider-Man, and the various Avengers both gathered and solo, become the benchmark for the entire superhero genre. Sure, Christopher Nolan may have turned DC’s Batman into a legitimate dramatic character, but when it comes to what Hollywood really cares about—the bottom line—Marvel is the moneymaker to its competition’s more complex fortunes.


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