It’s back. The franchise few were asking for, now dubbed The Divergent Series, has returned with part two of its underwhelming narrative, a little something called Insurgent. Apparently, Hollywood has fixated on the idea that every up and coming starlet, be she an Oscar winner (Jennifer Lawrence) or mere nominee (Shailene Woodley) deserves a Young Adult vehicle of her very own. In the case of this failing attempt, the expectations met with actuality, and both agreed to call a truce.
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If Sergio Leone’s first installment in the “Dollar Trilogy”, A Fistful of Dollars (1964), defined the future of the spaghetti western genre, his second installment, For a Few Dollars More (1965), guaranteed the genre’s future. It not only competed the vision that the first film started, but it also surpassed it at the box-office. In fact, out of all his masterpieces, For a Few Dollars More is Leone’s highest grossing film in the Italian market. Plus, in spite of its mediocre reviews from the confused American critics, it took in $5 million on its initial US release, a large sum for an international flick at the time.
He never won an Oscar. His only nomination came in 1974, for one of several films focusing on a notorious conceptual artist and his sometimes baffling works. Yet with his passing at age 88 last week, Albert Maysles leaves behind a legacy worthy of the artform’s founding. Embracing the French concept of cinéma vérité, the late great documentary director and his equally gifted brother developed their “direct cinema” technique, playing fly-on-the-wall as personalities and events played out before them.
There was no agenda, no voice-over narration to provide a specific point of view. The Maysles let their subjects speak for themselves, and in doing so they uncovered information a formal interview would never provide.
Because Laura rose from the dead and defied McPherson’s orders by speaking again to Carpenter, he labels her as a typical femme fatale: “Dames are always pulling a switch on you”.
Steve Pick: Here we turn our attention to the 1944 film entitled Laura, clearly named long before anybody ever thought about how difficult it might be to perform a Google search on something with such common nomenclature. This Otto Preminger joint was noir before there was noir, with all the shadows, camera angles, tough-talking semi-disinterested detectives, sex, and complicated crimes that would make the post-war movies so much fun to watch. But unlike the later films, Laura takes place entirely in a world of well-to-do society people, where money is never a problem. Despite the title character’s job in advertising, she lives in an apartment that requires inherited money to pay for the exquisite furnishings. She has a maid, who almost steals the show in her big set-piece of inquisition, despite being surrounded by some big time scene-stealers.
We’re two weeks past the 2015 Oscars and already most movie lovers have forgotten who won Best Picture (it was Birdman, by the way), who got robbed (it was a tie between Michael Keaton and non-nominee The LEGO Movie) and perhaps, even the name of the host (it was Neil Patrick Harris, FYI). Now, as the festival circuit starts introducing new titles into the pre-pre-pre Awards Season lookout for 2016, it’s time to reflect on a sad, singular fact: the Academy Awards is on life support and, if something doesn’t change soon, it may become nothing more than a novelty in the near future.
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