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  • Music Box Memories: A Legendary Theatre Celebrates 90 Years
    por Brian Tallerico el día agosto 22, 2019 a las 3:37 PM

    The “theatrical experience” has become a hot-button issue in the last decade as more and more people watch movies in ways that don’t often include an actual movie screen. An executive at a theatre chain last year told me that the concern of his industry is finding new ways to get people back to the theater, including bells and whistles like in-theater dining and comfy blankets. The conversation may have hurt the chains, but it seems to have inspired even stronger loyalty to the beloved movie houses of the United States, the places that have been institutions of the theatrical experience for decades. In fact, one such palace of cinema turns 90 this week. The Music Box Theatre in Chicago remains not just a beloved landmark of its city but a vital organ in the body of the entire film industry. It’s more than just a movie theatre. It’s something that keeps the lifeblood of film passion in pumping in Chicago and beyond. I’m one of the producers of the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has called the Music Box home every Spring for the last six years. In that position, I have been lucky enough to host several special guests for our festival, and one of my favorite feelings every year is that crackle in the air when a director or star sees the 700-seat house in which their movie is about to play. Dozens of them have said something along the lines of “this is what I always wanted,” often in hushed, awed tones. These people work for years on their passion projects, and what’s so special about the Music Box is that it doesn’t treat that passion like disposable content. It unites the passion of the creator with the admiration of a loyal, film-loving cineaste. It’s a place, not unlike a church, that brings people together for something that feels like more than mere entertainment. What often gets lost in the debate over dining and blankets is the actual art of film. You feel that history and love of movies in every step you take at the Music Box. Here’s hoping they do it for another 90 years. We asked some of our Chicago-based writers to share some thoughts of their own on Music Box, intercut with official anniversary tribute videos from the theatre, including comments by Werner Herzog, John McNaughton, Chaz Ebert, Michael Shannon, Joe Swanberg, and many more. PATRICK MCGAVIN: It’s true, as somebody I once interviewed said, people go to see films, and not theaters. That formulation largely refers to people who see four or five movies a year—not a week. In my case, it hardly requires an anniversary, like the splendid 90th being celebrated this month by the Music Box Theatre, to be cast under its captive and enthralling spell. Any serious or just thrill-seeking moviegoer in Chicago has no doubt spent a day, a night, or in my case, a virtual lifetime there. We all have our own nostalgia, and mine is for the large and beautiful ornate theaters that first captured my imagination half a century ago. A gorgeous Art Deco theater built in 1929, the Music Box is a living history. I feel deeply privileged to be part of their world, as a watcher, a critic, cultural journalist and occasional private contractor. (Full disclosure, I have written on and off for more than a decade occasional reviews for their quarterly and now bi-monthly film programs, for which I received a very modest fee.) The truth is I’d have done those pieces for free. Funny enough, the earliest theaters I haunted as a kid were of the grindhouse sort. The Music Box entered my consciousness as an undergraduate at Columbia College in Chicago. The grindhouse nature of the theater, when it was showing “Egyptian porn,” according to Chris Carlo, who ran the theater for many years with his partner, Bob Chaney, had just passed. Chris and Bob took over and were helped immeasurably by the brilliant curatorial programming of Sandy Chaney (no relation to Bob) and his eventual replacement, Brian Andreotti. By 1989, the theater was the premier exhibition space for art house, revival and foreign language films. They were also the primary North Side venue for the Chicago International Film Festival for many years. (I have fond memories of the night Michael Moore, in an impromptu fundraiser, implored patrons to kick in so the theater could install refurbished seats.) It was at the Music Box I saw my first or second Tarkovsky film, most of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s magisterial “The Decalogue,” the five John Cassavetes’s masterpieces that he owned: “Shadows,” “Faces,” “Woman Under the Influence,” “Killing of a Chinese Bookie,” and “Opening Night,” a knockout 50th anniversary print of “Citizen Kane,” and that was just from the late fall of 1989 to the spring of 1991. The first two apartments I lived in following my graduation from college were walking distance to the theater, and it ostensibly became my second home. In the new lounge and cafe bar adjacent the theater, there are framed reproductions and posters from the theater’s repertory period. This is like Proust’s Madeleine. Every time I look at those double-features, most of it auteurist programming, and I am powerfully reminded of the weeks I saw five, six or seven movies there in a given stretch. As much as I love and cherish what the theater represents, I miss those days terribly. Now the Music Box is a colossus, culturally and historically. In these fractured times, of the digital interruption and the rise of streaming, the theater has remained not just relevant but on the cutting edge, with its idiosyncratic and brilliant programming. They are what no other theater in Chicago has achieved, like its annual 70mm film festival. In 2005, when Chris and Bob decided to get out of the business and return the running of the theater to owner Bill Schopf, I wrote about it for Crain’s Chicago Business. As part of the piece, I interviewed Alderman Tom Tunney (a cousin of the great actress Robin Tunney), and he rightly pointed out that the Music Box almost single-handedly transformed Southport Avenue from a somewhat dilapidated and shopworn area into the economic juggernaut it is today. I also wrote a story for Crain’s when Bill Schopf decided to expand and open a theatrical division. I heard a lot of negative comments, on and off the record, about the hubris. Music Box Films has made its mark. Some of the special 90th anniversary programming is dedicated to celebrating the works and filmmakers they have championed on the distribution side. What a great story, and how thrilled I am to have been there for part of the ride. COLLIN SOUTER: For one week every year—in May, for the Chicago Critics Film Festival—I get to call the Music Box Theater my home away from home. While I could create a long list of CCFF-related memories for the six years we’ve been there (like doing Q&As, hosting midnight shows, meeting my girlfriend), I will try to make a quick list of memories unrelated to the yearly event, starting with my early days of attending this movie lover’s palace: --1992. Seeing an animation showcase which introduced me to Aardman (“Creature Comforts”) and seeing the first ever “Ren & Stimpy” cartoon --1993. Multiple midnight shows of Peter Jackson’s “Dead-Alive,” at the time, the “goriest film of all time” and a wild crowd-pleaser. I don’t think I’d heard an audience react like that before. --1996. While my friends went to see the midnight show of “Wigstock,” I decided to go on my own to check out a film called “The City Of Lost Children.” --1999. Midnight shows of “Babe: PIg in the City” weeks after Gene Siskel died (his favorite film of 1998). --2000. A Joe Dante retrospective. Watching “Gremlins 2” with Dante sitting behind me laughing with delight at his own film remains one of my most cherished movie memories. --2008. The only time I ever slept over at the Music Box for one of their 24-hour horror movie marathons, which culminated in the 10am showing of Brian DePalma’s “Carrie.” --2014. Finally seeing “Stop Making Sense” the way it was meant to be seen: In a theater full of people on their feet dancing. --70mm highlights include “Tron,” “Streets of Fire,” Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” and of course, “Lawrence of Arabia” and “2001.” Happy 90th, Music Box! Thank you for these cherished memories and so many more. Can’t wait for the big 100! DONALD LIEBENSON: Once upon a time in Chicago, repertory theaters showing vintage classic films on a daily basis, dotted the landscape. But now, the Clark Theater is gone, The Biograph Theater; gone. The 3-Penny Cinema; gone. The Playboy Theater; gone. You get the idea. But the Music Box lives! Not only lives, but thrives. My first apartment in Chicago was situated just three doors down and the Music Box became a second home. At that time, they programmed thematically-linked double features; the stuff that movie dreams are made of, to coin a phrase: “Casablanca” and “Play It Again, Sam”; “Allegro Non Troppo” and Warner Bros. cartoons; “Bedazzled” and “Dr. Strangelove.” All of these films, of course, are now available in a download instant, but you miss being en thrall to a big screen and the communal experience of sharing indelible movie moments with like-minded audiences (you won’t catch Music Box patrons checking their phones during a movie!). And the Music Box itself is a large part of the experience, an authentic Chicago movie palace that is living proof that you can go home again. Happy 90th birthday, Music Box. I hope in 90 years, you’re still showing Eddie Cantor double-features. MATT FAGERHOLM: Both of my most cherished memories at Chicago's greatest moviegoing venue, the Music Box Theatre, involve my dad's favorite actor, James Stewart. The sacrifices that Stewart's character, George Bailey, makes in Frank Capra's 1946 holiday perennial, "It's a Wonderful Life," resonate on a deeper level for my family with every passing year. My father has spent every day following his retirement as the primary caregiver for my mother stricken with Multiple Sclerosis, and like Bailey, he has been saved time and again by the community of friends and relatives whose lives he has touched.  We still watch Capra's film together every Christmas Eve, and the ending never ceases to make us weep, yet no screening of the film can compare with the one we saw many years ago at the Music Box's annual Christmas Double Bill. The audience was as emotionally invested in every frame as we were, and it was such a thrill to join them in cheering on Bailey as he battled Mr. Potter's strikingly Trumpian corruption. We'd all attend this screening every year if my mom were in better health, but it is a memory that we will forever cherish. I'll also never forget the time Farley Granger arrived in person for a double bill of his classic collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock. First up was 1951's crowd-pleaser, "Strangers on a Train," with its climactic set-piece on an out-of-control merry-go-round that had the audience on their feet applauding. Then Granger apologized to the audience for the film they were about to see, 1948's "Rope," the deliberately claustrophobic thriller that Hitchcock himself had dismissed as a failed experiment. I had always found it to be a criminally underrated masterwork, with its innovative use of long takes mirroring the sociopathic nature of its central duo (played by Granger and John Dall) modeled after Leopold and Loeb.  As their revered professor, Stewart brought down the house with his hilariously macabre asides, and the moral awakening that his character gradually undergoes results in a final confrontation both haunting and cathartic. When Granger returned onstage for his second Q&A, numerous audience members assured him that there was no need for an apology, and that the picture was exceedingly better than he may have long believed. The actor appeared visibly moved by the response, as did his longtime partner, who joined him for the book signing afterward. I have never felt more warmth shared between viewers, artists and the cinema itself than I do at the Music Box, and that's why I'll never stop coming back for more. OMER MOZAFFER: Chicago has had its iconic movie theaters. The Music Box outlasted them all. I watched the latest Amitabh Bachchan angry-young-man movies at the Arie Crown Theater. Soon, VHS gave us an access to Bollywood we could not have imagined. Now, it is likely that your local suburban theater screens a small selection of those movies. I watched titanic aliens on the giant screen at McClurg Court, though the common modern multiplex has a better screen. I discovered early Coens and Iranian filmmakers at the Fine Arts Theatre, which has vanished into memory. I performed in a play at Facets, and watched movies that no other theater carried. DOC Films at the University of Chicago screens everything, according to its student-selected themes. The Siskel Center joined the scene, providing its own share of alternatives, including the best of new Black cinema. The Music Box Theatre, however, persists through all the changes in the industry. At first glance, it is hard to identify its niche, but it is very clear. The first movie I watched there in the 1990s was the ninety-minutes-of-trying-not-to-blink of "Baraka." You can watch Tarantino at any theater, but there you can watch it in 70mm. You can watch all movies on your laptop, but there you can watch them on celluloid in an ornate auditorium. In the same day, you can watch Spielberg's magic wand, sing with Julie Andrews, learn from Osman Sembene, laugh with Buster Keaton, and groan with Agnieszka Holland. What is its niche? This is not the Whole Foods of movies. This is not an antiques roadshow. It is not auteur cinema. Someone at the Music Box is not there to consume product pretending it is art. They are there to share in this universal language not limited by, yet not avoiding the constraints of genre or box office. Rather, they are there to immerse themselves in curated imaginations. What is its niche? It is "auteur cinefile." PETER SOBCZYNSKI:I have to admit that I do not specifically recall the very first time that I visited the Music Box—I think it may have been a double bill of “The Killer” and “Akira” back in the early 90s—but what I can say is that from the time I first stepped through the doors and entered the auditorium designed to suggest an open-air palazzo, complete with stars twinkling above in the “sky,” I immediately felt as if I was at home. (If they ever turn up a photo of the audience taken back in 1921, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see myself in it.) Over the years, I have been inside any number of movie theaters and there are indeed a number of them—the esteemed Virginia Theatre in Champaign, the huge Woodfield 1 and 2 screens that used to be the go-to place for the big blockbusters back in my beardless youth, the charmingly funky and still active Catlow in Barrington—that continue to hold a special place in this cineaste’s heart. However, the Music Box stands head and shoulders above them all—it is, when all is said and done, the platonic ideal of film exhibition and a reminder of the degree to which the circumstances under which we see movies contributes to our love of them. As you may have heard, the modern moviegoing experience oftentimes leaves a lot to be desired. Sure, you can get recliner seats in a number of places now and the soda machine in the lobby does offer up dozens and dozens of flavor combinations. However, it is the items that you don’t get at the typical multiplex that make the Music Box so special. The place is 90 years old and has an ambiance that can only be acquired with the passage of time—you can feel the spirits of the movies that have screened there over the years as well as those who have come to bear witness to them during that time. (As for the actual ghost that supposedly resides there, I will leave that for you to explore on your own.) As for the presentation of those films, they can show films in practically every format up to and including 70MM and they have people who know what they are doing up in that projection booth. Very rare is the time when something goes wrong and when it does, the staff is on it in a heartbeat. Put it this way—this is not a place where you will often hear the phrase “That is how it is supposed to be” when things are out of whack. Then there are the movies. Good Lord, the movies. I cannot begin to recount all the movies I have seen there over the years, ranging from the classics that have turned up in their weekend matinees to the eclectic mix of foreign and independent titles that now make up the bulk of their programming to the weirdness that can be readily found in their eclectic late night programming on the weekends. (For single-handedly carrying on the tradition of the midnight movie, the place should be duly enshrined.) So many screenings from over the years stand out—taking my late father to see “Patton” in 70MM, going out at midnight to celebrate my birthday with a viewing of the Tony Curtis schlock classic “The Manitou,” watching “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” while somewhat hung over and being absolutely terrified by something that I had obviously seen numerous times before. This was where I saw such favorites as “Suspira,” “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” and “Myra Breckenridge” for the first time. I remember being the only person to turn up for a midnight screening of “The Three Stooges Meet Hercules” and the show still going on anyway. Just this year alone, they have screened—in 35MM no less—the likes of Robert Altman’s “OC and Stiggs” and the extra-gory cut of “Tammy and the T-Rex” and in the next few days, they will be showing an all-night Dolly Parton mini-festival (including “Rhinestone”) and “Old Boyfriends,” the undeservedly obscure first and only feature directing credit for Joan Tewksbury. The people are a blast as well—a significant mention coming from me since I have never been much of a people person. The staff is top-notch—they have always been great people, they know their stuff, they genuinely care about what they are doing and when you ask for extra butter on your popcorn, they do it and them some. The crowds are also great. These are people who, for the most part, do not exhibit the appalling tendencies that can be found among far too many multiplex dwellers. They also have a genuine love of film to such an extent that it genuinely does feel like a community. I remember one time when I went to go see a midnight show of John Boorman’s legendarily weird sci-fi cult epic “Zardoz.” About 20 minutes or so into the movie, the film breaks, the lights go up and we are informed that it will be fixed and back on within a few minutes. Did the audience complain? Did they demand refunds? Did they stomp out into the dark? No—they essentially transformed into a discussion group to try to grasp and understand what they had just seen. And as one of the people who helps out with the annual Chicago Critics Film Festival, I am thrilled that we have been able to make the theater our home since 2014 and help share in its long and illustrious history. So happy 90th, Music Box. In the world of film, you are a true anomaly. This is not just a theater by any means. This is moviegoing heaven in its purest form—even if the film one is attending turns out to be not particularly good, the simple experience of being there, absorbing its history and marveling that such a place still exists and thrives is enough to restore one’s faith that there is a future to the collective moviegoing experience after all. Now all they have to do is stay around for at least another 90 years or so. This is important because I have already informed that when I eventually shuffle off this mortal coil, some of my ashes are to make their resting place within its walls—ideally, they will be dropped from the projection booth during the Stargate sequence of “2001,” a film that has turned up there so often that the theater went so far as to commission their very own 70MM print. Besides, a place that great can always use an extra ghost, right? &nbs […]

  • Home Entertainment Guide: August 22, 2019
    por Brian Tallerico el día agosto 22, 2019 a las 3:09 PM

    10 NEW TO AMAZON PRIME "12 Angry Men""12 Monkeys""300""American Gigolo""Battle Royale""The Brothers Bloom""Die Another Day""Dumb and Dumber""High Tension""It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" 3 NEW TO HULU "The Beach Bum""Dogman""The Pianist" 1 NEW TO NETFLIX "Gangs of New York" 4 NEW TO BLU-RAY/DVD "Amazing Grace" It took decades for one of the most infamous concert films of all time to finally be available on the home market, but its arrival comes with a bit of disappointment. The Opening Night film of this year's Ebertfest, and the second highest-grossing documentary of 2019 so far (after "Pavarotti") is barely getting a release at all on the home market. There's no Blu-ray release, and the DVD that is being issued is completely barren of special features. The story behind the long journey to get "Amazing Grace" to any kind of screen would make for a fascinating documentary or commentary track. Perhaps the continued bad blood around this film - Franklin herself notoriously said she didn't want it released - led the studio to avoid bonus material altogether but this feels like a missed opportunity to reclaim the legacy of a great film. As for the movie itself, it belongs on the top tier of concert films, a movie that captures the raw emotion and immediacy of one of the best performers of all time.  Buy it here  Special FeaturesNone "Avengers: Endgame" Maybe you've heard of it? Is anyone else fascinated by the turnaround on even the biggest movies of all time nowadays? For films like "Titanic" and "Avatar," it took months of theatrical play to get to the top, which delayed their DVD releases substantially when compared to their release date. Here's the biggest movie of all time on the home market only four months after it was in theaters. Everyone likely already has an opinion about "Endgame" already, but you may be wondering if it still plays well at home away from all the spectacle. The good news is that it does. This is still one of the stronger MCU movies, especially coming on the heels of the disappointing "Infinity War," and the home release is simply loaded with special features, including deleted scenes and a commentary.  Buy it here  Special FeaturesRemembering Stan Lee Setting The Tone: Casting Robert Downey Jr. A Man Out of Time: Creating Captain America Black Widow: Whatever It Takes The Russo Brothers: Journey to Endgame The Women of the MCU Bro Thor Six Deleted Scenes Gag Reel Visionary Intro Audio Commentary "Magnificent Obsession" (Criterion) While the main draw here is the sumptuous 1954 version of Lloyd C. Douglas novel starring Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson, the first thing you should know is that Criterion also includes the entire 1935 adaptation of the same novel, the one starring Irene Dunne and Robert Taylor. The Sirk version is superior, but it's a testament to Criterion's craft that an entire film can be called a special feature. As for the movie, Wyman was Oscar-nominated for her work as a woman caught in a very Sirkian cycle of fate involving a rich playboy, played by Hudson. Both performers are marvelous, but it's the way Sirk embraces the melodrama of the piece that makes it sing. It may not be on his top tier ("All That Heaven Allows," one of my favorite films of all time would reunite Sirk, Wyman, and Hudson just the next year), but it's still a marvelous soap opera, and it's been lovingly restored in a way that doesn't make it look overly polished. Also cool are interviews from when Criterion released this on DVD with filmmakers Allison Anders and Kathryn Bigelow about how much they love Sirk. Who doesn't, really? Buy it here  Special FeaturesHigh-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-rayAudio commentary from 2008 featuring film scholar Thomas DohertyMagnificent Obsession, John M. Stahl’s 1935 adaptation of the same novel, newly restoredFrom UFA to Hollywood: Douglas Sirk Remembers (1991), a documentary by Eckhart SchmidtInterview from 2009 with screenwriter Robert BleesInterviews from 2008 with filmmakers Allison Anders and Kathryn Bigelow, in which they pay tribute to director Douglas SirkTrailerPLUS: An essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien "Shadow" Zhang Yimou has had a fascinating career. For a time in the '90s, he was an arthouse darling with films like "Raise the Red Lantern" and "To Live." He unexpectedly became a director of blockbusters in the '00s with his wildly acclaimed and beloved "House of Flying Daggers" and "Hero," which made over $175 million worldwide. The '10s have been more unpredictable, with the Matt Damon vehicle "The Great Wall" being critically derided but making over $330 million worldwide. What's so fascinating about "Shadow" is how much one can see all of these Zhang Yimou visions embedded in just one film. There are elements of dark character drama like his early works but also some of the most stunning action choreography of his entire career. It's such a confidently made piece of work, a film that starts a little slowly but builds to something that feels as dramatic as Shakespeare. Call it "Bard Fu." Yeah, you know you want to see that.  Buy it here  Special FeaturesOriginal Mandarin and English audio tracksThe Making of Shadow - FeaturetteBehind the Scenes of Shadow - FeaturetteOriginal Trailers […]

  • Angel Has Fallen
    por Simon Abrams el día agosto 22, 2019 a las 3:08 PM

    The sleepy, dopey action bonanza “Angel Has Fallen” is disappointing, and not just for the reasons you might expect. Being the second sequel to “Olympus Has Fallen,” “Angel Has Fallen” doesn’t even have a high bar to clear. “Olympus Has Fallen” was a by-the-numbers revenge-fantasy about ruthless North Koreans and emasculated, savior-thirsty Americans that’s mostly distinguished by its considerable displays of over-the-top violence. Basically, America is graphically imperiled for the sake of confirming a slogan coined by then-interim President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman): “As a nation, we are never stronger than when we are tested.” “Olympus Has Fallen” is, at the very least, a credible survivalist wet dream. In that movie, America is (temporarily) made great again, but only after the Washington Monument is toppled, the President is tied up, and the Secretary of Defense is punched in the face and kicked in the belly, right before she’s dragged across the floor as she defiantly screams the Pledge of Allegiance. To defeat the North Koreans, Banning does what no officially sanctioned US agents can: he kills a bunch of bad guys without any remorse or reprisal, like the North Korean hostage that he shoots in the head, just to spook the other North Korean agent he has tied up (“Your friend seemed like a funny guy”). “Olympus Has Fallen” isn’t a good movie, but I couldn’t stop watching it. By contrast: I couldn’t wait to stop watching “Angel Has Fallen,” an indifferently assembled cash-in shot with way too many shaky, unfocused close-ups which seem designed to re-assure viewers of this otherwise bland drama’s surface-deep intensity. Being a timid lament about contemporary American trust issues (the Russians are to blame, but almost incidentally), “Angel Has Fallen” sics Banning—now rickety from concussion-induced migraines and insomnia—on a group of disloyal American mercenaries led by, well, you’ll figure that part out soon enough. The makers of “Angel Has Fallen” don’t seem to care as much about their characters (or patriotic ass-whoopings) like their predecessors did. Instead, we get a few tentative signs of introspection from Banning—he’s sick, has a family to protect, and an estranged dad, too!—that are immediately glossed over for the sake of pumping up a few flat set pieces that hail from the Tony Scott School of Frenzied Action Filmmaking, only they’re not as dynamic or good-looking as Scott’s jittery photography. If you’re going to be mean-spirited and exploitative, at least do it convincingly. The makers of “Angel Has Fallen” struggle most when they have to make Banning look like a rebel who also knows that he must inevitably “ride a desk” to retirement. Their version of Banning is more like John McClane in “A Good Day to Die Hard” than in “Die Hard 2: Die Harder.” He complains (and periodically shows symptoms) of the action-movie equivalent of PTSD, but never succumbs to those ailments, especially not when he needs to cut through handcuffs, light up a phalanx of armed mercs, or run away strategically. This is apparently what life is like for a trained ex-soldier: a sad, vague awareness of your own mortality that’s mostly off-set by shoot-outs, drone attacks, and improvised explosions that confirm your megalomaniacal sense of self-worth. After all, Banning’s got an important job to do: protect Trumbull, a steadfast leader who vows to never rush our nation into war, but also wants us to be ready in case it’s ever Boom Boom Go Time. Banning’s moral righteousness sharply contrasts with the movie’s immoral, Russia-colluding baddies, all of whom sell out their country because they miss going to war and also really like money. I’d care more about Banning and his values if his creators had invested more care into their movie’s action scenes, dialogue, characterizations, and basic plot. The editing and sound design is fine enough, but that’s about it. Close-ups of Butler's and Freeman’s blotchy-but-determined faces only hammer home the movie’s general please-like-me desperation, as do action scenes that over-stress smoke, gunfire flashes, and flying debris instead of choreography, visual coherence, or human personality. Even the scenes where Banning’s dad (no spoilers!) blows up some faceless goons somehow feel perfunctory and underwhelming. These key moments, like any scene featuring great character actors like Tim Blake Nelson and Lance Reddick, are raced through with negligible conviction and even less inspiration. If this type of no-brow entertainment is your thing, you may find something to like in “Angel Has Fallen,” but that doesn’t mean you need what these guys are reselling. […]

  • Ain't I a Woman: Sojourner Truth Takes Her Rightful Place in History Among the Statues in Central Park
    por Chaz Ebert el día agosto 21, 2019 a las 2:41 PM

    It's as if we heard Sojourner Truth's plaintive call from the grave, "Ain't I a woman?" A longtime heroine of mine, she has somehow been relegated to a "hidden figure" status in contemporary history. She was a suffragette, abolitionist, speaker, mother, consultant to presidents, leader of a land ownership movement and is one of the most iconic characters in human history. And yet, until recently, there were no plans to include her in a Central Park statue honoring champions of women's rights.  A significant step was recently taken to add Sojourner to the first-ever statue of women suffragettes in New York City. Sculptor Meredith Bergmann, working with the non-profit organization Monumental Women Statue Fund originally envisioned her statue to include American suffragettes Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. This decision was rightly criticized for its failure to feature the African American activists who fought for women’s right to vote, women such as Ida B. Wells, Mary Church-Terrell and of course, Sojourner Truth.  “It is not only that it is not enough,” feminist leader Gloria Steinem told The New York Times back in January, noting that Anthony and Stanton look as if they “are standing on the names of these other women. […] I do think we cannot have a statue of two white women representing the vote for all women.” “Even though we are making progress, I am sure my grandmother Sojourner Truth would be displeased to see that women are still fighting as hard as they did 100 years ago to gain the respect that they so rightfully deserve,” stated Cory McLiechey, a direct descendent of Sojourner Truth. “With the centennial of the amendment to the constitution that gave women the right to vote approaching next year, we still need to do more for women and minorities.”  On August 12th, the group announced that the statue would be altered to include Sojourner Truth standing alongside Stanton and Anthony. Only five statues in New York City are dedicated to real women, whereas 145 immortalize male historical figures. Sojourner Truth will be the first female historical figure to be immortalized as a statue in Central Park. This revision of the monument's design is a crucial one in leveling the playing field for women of color. To coincide with the bicentennial of Susan B. Anthony’s birth, the completed statue is set to be unveiled in Central Park on August 26th, 2020. “It’s amazing and fitting that both the state and city will recognize Sojourner’s place in New York history,” said Burl McLiechey, the 6th generation grandson of Sojourner Truth, who resides near her final resting place in Battle Creek, Michigan. “I found out that I was a descendant of Sojourner’s when I was 8 years old. I’ve been trying to spread the word about her strength and wisdom ever since.”  Courtesy of airline Norwegian. Sojourner Truth is such a seminal figure in history, that even Norway selected her to be the first American female and first black icon to be featured as a “tailfin hero” for their commercial planes (pictured above). In 2009, the first year of Barack Obama's presidency, she became the first black woman honored with a bust in the U.S. Capitol, sculpted by Artis Lane, and on display in Emancipation Hall of the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is an advocate for a second Sojourner monument soon to be unveiled that will be located at the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park along the Empire State Trail in Ulster County, Sojourner’s home county.  “When the two new statues are complete, there will be three public statues honoring Sojourner Truth in New York State,” affirmed filmmaker Lateef Calloway, referring to the current New York statue of Sojourner in Port Ewen, near her birthplace, which was sculpted by Trina Greene and dedicated in 2013. “I recently visited the Ulster County statue that shows Sojourner, then called Isabella Baumfree, as a slave girl of 11 carrying a jug bound for the local tavern. It’s a touching statue of the young girl. Now we need to see Sojourner as a strong adult on her way to making positive inroads for women, people of color and other disenfranchised groups.” I am currently collaborating with Lateef Calloway, who will be producing and directing an upcoming TV series chronicling Sojourner’s story of inspiration and courage for a wide audience. Gloria Steinem will be serving alongside me as a co-producer on the project.  Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post. “When I was in school, we didn’t learn about Sojourner so I’m trying to rectify that for young people and all generations who’ve missed out on her amazing story,” Calloway explained. “So many people need to know about her. Once I interviewed residents of the Sojourner Truth Housing Project in Detroit. I asked residents, ‘do you know who Sojourner Truth was?’, and nobody knew. We need to spread Sojourner’s messages of hope, peace and civil rights far and wide”. The TV series will show the strength of Sojourner as an influential African American woman of the 1800s. The fact that there were strong female leaders in the post-Civil War era is under-represented in our culture. Sojourner was well-known and respected, especially among the more famous Suffragettes, high-level politicians, including President Lincoln, and civil rights activists of the era.  “Our team is extremely honored to be able to tell Sojourner Truth’s story, in collaboration with her descendants. It’s a perfect time to honor her,” says Calloway.  There were also plans by the US Treasury to put Sojourner Truth on the ten-dollar bill, along with other suffragettes, next year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, but that design has been shelved indefinitely. Let's hope this decision will be overturned in the near future. […]

  • Andrew Davis and The Fugitive Return To Chicago
    por Peter Sobczynski el día agosto 21, 2019 a las 12:34 PM

    The Music Box Theatre, Chicago’s most venerated institution dedicated to the increasingly rarefied world of quality cinematic presentation, is marking the 90th anniversary of its opening with a week of films designed to commemorate the intriguing programming that has made the place such a favorite amongst movie fans, ranging from a Maurice Chevalier vehicle (“Innocents of Paris”) that is also celebrating the big 9-0 to an all-night Dolly Parton retrospective. (Yes, the immortal “Rhinestone” is included.) Of course, it stands to reason that one of these events would focus on a film that was actually made in the city where the theatre has been running since Herbert Hoover was president.  However, of all the movies shot within the city limits over the years, which one would have the honor of representing the area in all of its glory. As is par for the course for the crack programmers at the theatre, they have made the wise choice by selecting “The Fugitive,” the enormously successful and Oscar-winning screen version of the famous television series, and bringing in its director, Chicago native Andrew Davis, to do a Q&A afterwards. Not only is it an enormously entertaining film in its own right—one that looks and plays as well today, if not more so, as it did when it was originally released in 1993—but it stands as one of the best and most distinctive representations of Chicago to ever hit the big screen. In the odd and unlikely event that you are reading these words and have somehow not seen “The Fugitive” as of yet (and if this is the case, you are advised to stop reading this article and watch it right this instant), perhaps a brief recap of the plot is in order. Like the television series, it tells the story of Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford), a wealthy and respected surgeon who returns home one night to see his beloved wife being murdered by a one-armed assailant who manages to escape before the police arrive. Not believing his story, the cops arrest Kimble and he is quickly convicted of murder and sentenced to death.  When the prison transport bus he is riding on is involved in a spectacular wreck involving a train, he is able to escape and eventually makes it back to Chicago, where he takes it upon himself to try to solve his wife’s murder and clear his name while constantly struggling to stay one step ahead of the law. Just as dogged in his pursuit of Kimble is Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones), a U.S. Marshal who leads his team of investigators though “every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, outhouse and doghouse” on the trail of his quarry. Gerard is not interested in Kimble’s guilt or innocence—only in bringing him back into custody (when Kimble insists that he didn’t kill his wife, Gerard, in the film’s most famous lines, tersely responds “I don’t care.”)—but as he continues to pursue Kimble, he finds himself slowly becoming convinced that the doctor may indeed be innocent after all. Since I am assuming that anyone still reading this is familiar with “The Fugitive,” I suppose that I don’t really have to spend too much time trying to sell its considerable merits. I do not have to talk about how it remains one of the few truly successful TV-to-film transfers because the screenwriters were far more interested in creating a compelling narrative—a classic example of the wrong-man-on-the-run storyline that Alfred Hitchcock himself would have been proud of—than in merely exploiting a familiar title and story idea in the laziest manner imaginable. I do not have to discuss that one of the reasons that it continues to hold up so well more than a quarter-century after its initial release is because of the wise decision to focus more on the human element.  Unlike a lot of action movie heroes, we genuinely find ourselves interested for Kimble and rooting for him to get to the bottom of the inevitable conspiracy. Hell, we even find ourselves rooting for Gerard in a way as well—he is, after all, just trying to do his job in a fair and dispassionate manner. I certainly do not have to tell you about the incredibly staged and executed action set pieces—the most famous being the still-astonishing train crash and Kimble’s desperate leap for freedom from atop a dam into the river below—that stand as a testament to the glory of practical effects just as the industry was about to make the shift to CGI. Finally, nothing needs to be said about the collection of great performances on display here—not just the ones from Ford (who does some of the best work of his career here) and Jones (who won a much-deserved Supporting Actor Oscar for his work), but from a virtual Murderer’s Row of killer supporting players including the likes of Joe Pantoliano, Julianne Moore, Jeroen Krabbe, Daniel Roebuck, L. Scott Caldwell, Jane Lynch and Andreas Katsulas.  What I would like to highlight, however, is the brilliant way in which the film makes use of its Chicago locations throughout. Since the city began allowing more productions to shoot in the wake of the passing of Mayor Richard J. Daley (who, the story goes, was allegedly so incensed by an episode of the TV show “M Squad” that showed a Chicago cop taking a bribe that he refused to allow anything else to film in town) in 1976, many films have set up shop in the Second City. In a lot of cases, these films go out of their way to showcase the city at its best, providing picture-postcard visuals so pristine that even your most fearful relative in the burbs might contemplate a day trip. Those are fine but as a lifelong Chicagoan and a lifelong film buff, I prefer the ones that provide a more down-to-earth and realistic depiction of the city and its neighborhoods.  To that extent, “The Fugitive” is one of the very best because it captures the feel of the city in a way that few other films have. (I would also include “The Blues Brothers,” “The Fury,” “Mad Dog and Glory” and “Princess Cyd” on that list.) Yes, the film includes any number of spectacular shots of locales like the Hilton Chicago and the Picasso statue standing in Daley Plaza. On the other hand, it also takes us on a tour of the back alleys, basement apartments and funky neighborhoods that don’t often make the cut and which help keep the story on a more grounded and realistic level that only helps to enhance the story. Even better is the great sequence in which Kimble tries to escape Gerard by darting into the St. Patrick’s Day parade for cover. Instead of the elaborately choreographed set-piece one might expect, it turns out that the scene was a largely improvised affair that was shot as the actual parade was going on, with Ford and Jones weaving through an actual crowd of participants, giving it a documentary-like feel that really sticks with you. Andrew Davis is a filmmaker who has done a lot of strong work over the years—his filmography even boasts perhaps the only two Steven Seagal vehicles that are actually worth watching (“Above the Law” and "Under Siege")—but his best films have tended to be the ones that he has done on his home turf. He made his debut with “Stony Island” (1978), a charming story about a young man who joins forces with his friends to form a band that was one of the first films to emerge in the post-Daley era (it was shooting when he passed and even includes footage of his funeral). “Code of Silence” (1985) was an enormously effective action thriller featuring Chuck Norris battling corrupt cops that features a great fight scene atop a moving Brown Line L train car.  Although his 1989 thriller “The Package” took place in locations all over the world, nearly all of it was filmed in Chicago and indeed, locals can have fun watching it and seeing what nearby sights have been chosen to represent those in places like Washington and Germany. “Chain Reaction” (1996) found Keanu Reeves and Rachel Weisz being pursued by bad guys in an extended chase that includes the Michigan Avenue bridge and a fictional location that is the Museum of Science and Industry at one point and the Field Museum at the next. In all of his Chicago films, especially “The Fugitive,” you never catch him using a location just because it looks appealing. In his film, the city itself is a character just as colorful and distinct as those played by the actors and even if you aren’t familiar with the city, you can tell at an instant that you are in the hands of someone who is and who knows how to make it come alive on the screen. The Music Box could not have picked a better movie than "The Fugitive" to represent the city of Chicago as part of its anniversary celebration. Like the theatre itself, it may have a few years on it at this point but it has lost none of its excitement or eccentric charm. If you have seen "The Fugitive" before, it not only holds up beautifully but on practically every level, it puts the current CGI-heavy blockbusters to shame by showing that it is possible to make an action film that is actually intelligently conceived and executed and not just a bunch of randomly connected set-pieces. If you have never seen it before, this is the perfect opportunity to finally experience it—a classic film in a classic theatre.  “The Fugitive” will be screening at the Music Box Theatre on Friday, August 23, at 7:00 PM as part of the week-long Music Box 90th Anniversary celebration. In addition, director Andrew Davis is scheduled to appear for a Q&A after the screening. For tickets and the complete anniversary line-up, click here. […]

  • American Factory
    por Peter Sobczynski el día agosto 21, 2019 a las 12:34 PM

    In 2008, a General Motors automobile factory in Dayton, Ohio was shut down—another victim of the cratering economy. Among the witnesses to its final hours were documentarians Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, who not only filmed outside of the plant and interviewed a number of the now-displaced workers buy also supplied some of those employees with tiny camcorders to capture footage of the final cars rolling off the assembly line. (The resulting short, “The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant” [2009] would go on to be nominated for an Oscar.) As it turns out, that was not quite the end of the story for the plant—a few years later, it was purchased and reopened in an effort to bring manufacturing jobs back to the area again. It sounds like the happiest of endings but, as Bognar and Reichert’s latest film, “American Factory,” demonstrates in an ultimately striking manner, that did not quite prove to be the case. The factory was purchased in 2014 by Cao Dewang, a Chinese billionaire who chose to reopen the plant as the US outlet for Fuyao, his automobile glass-making company. As conceived by Dewang (known in his company as Chairman Cao), the plan would be to hire up to 2,000 workers and augment them with about 200 additional workers brought over from China to help with retraining. In announcing his plans for the factory, Cao talks about how he hopes to change how Americans view the Chinese and demonstrate that they could work together in harmony after all. Is this really possible? To try to cover the cultural gap, we see the newly transplanted Chinese workers undergoing training sessions to help them better interact with their American counterparts—they seem amazed, for example, that Americans are allowed to dress more casually and can even joke out loud about their President. As for the American workers, a number of whom had worked at GM, some may have their doubts but most are willing to overlook that in exchange for a steady paycheck, even it is half of what they were making a few years earlier at GM. At first, it seems like things might actually work out, especially as each side's prejudices start to recede. The trouble is that there are innate differences between the Chinese and American attitudes toward work that simply cannot be overlooked. As Dewang belatedly discovers, the approach that made Fuyao effective in China—in which workers are seen more as cogs in a machine than as individuals, overtime and working on weekends is considered mandatory and safety regulations and protocols are not strictly observed—will not work here. To try to bridge the gap, some American managers are brought over to China to observe how their system works, but attempts to implement what they've witnessed don't go over well. As Dewang is driven to frustration by the plant’s underperformance, the workers—upset by the stagnant wages and uptick in workplace injuries—begin to contemplate joining with the United Auto Workers, a move that Dewang vows will lead to him closing up shop for good. As in their past films, Bognar and Reichert employ a quieter approach to the material that lets it unfold without telling you how to feel. That being said, the first half feels a little on the soft side, as some scenes play almost like a spin-off of “The Office” and others seem to go out of their way to show everyone in the best possible light. But once the focus begins to shift from the culture clash to the fight over an upcoming vote on unionization—with Cao paying “consultants” over a million dollars to lecture workers at length on the horrors of unions and then telling them that “you have a voice”—the film begins to toughen considerably as it shows how pro-union workers are being targeted by management for daring to speak out. Although the specific story that “American Factory” may not ultimately be a happy one for many, it is nevertheless a stirring testament to the importance of the labor movement in this country and how it remains as important as ever even as the face of industry changes irrevocably. Because it is the first film to be released by Higher Ground, the production company formed by Barack and Michelle Obama that signed a highly publicized deal with Netflix, “American Factory” will no doubt find an audience far larger than the typical documentary focusing on the contemporary labor movement. It provides a snapshot of the struggle between labor and management that is both timeless and distinctly of its time. Even more surprisingly, it does so in a manner that is often engaging and entertaining, considering the subject matter. You can almost imagine Bogna and Reichert returning to the plant again in a few more years to complete their trilogy. Then again, considering the implications for the near future found in the final scenes, maybe not. […]

  • The Story of Richard Williams and His Unfinished Fairy Tale, The Thief and the Cobbler
    por Simon Abrams el día agosto 20, 2019 a las 4:09 PM

    "What have I got if I haven't got those awards? I've got nothing; I've got the building and the staff that's in it. And an unmade picture." –Richard Williams, in “Richard Williams: The Thief Who Never Gave Up” A photo of Canadian-British animator and three-time Oscar-winner Richard Williams might perfectly illustrate the term “scenius,” a neologism coined by music pioneer Brian Eno that repositions art as the product of multiple (and not singular) related creative geniuses: “Scenius stands for the intelligence and the intuition of a whole cultural scene. It is the communal form of the concept of the genius.” Williams has often been hailed for the “persistence of vision” (also the title of a 2012 documentary about Williams) that he needed to continue working, for decades, on “The Thief and the Cobbler,” a gorgeous animated fairy tale (based on Persian and Ottoman paintings and fables by Sufi folk hero Nasreddin Hodja) that was sadly never completed. But Williams, who died of cancer this weekend, was also significantly aided in his quest to make animation “grow up” by old-school cartoonists like Art Babbitt (an influential former Disney animator who got on the studio's shit list after he joined the animators' strike of 1941); Emery Hawkins (who re-designed Woody Woodpecker in the mid-1940s); and Grim Natwick (Fleischer Studios animator most famous for his work on Betty Boop).  Williams had previously learned from and worked with most of these artists (all dead) on projects like his BAFTA-winning 1971 TV version of “A Christmas Carol” (executive produced by “Loonie Tunes” God Chuck Jones, who recommended Williams for the job); the 1977 feature “Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical”; and the Oscar-winning 1988 live-action/animated hybrid “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” Williams’ career and work is not, in that sense, the result of solitary ingenuity, but of collective imagination.  Born in 1933, Williams first saw and was taken in by “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” when he was five years old; that film’s Evil Queen antagonist was animated by Babbitt, his future colleague. At 16, Williams had a personal epiphany after looking at a series of Rembrandt paintings: “I suddenly understood what all this art stuff was all about” he recalls in a 1982 made-for-TV documentary called “Richard Williams: The Thief Who Never Gave Up.” For Williams, there wasn’t a huge difference between what Rembrandt did with oil paintings and what cartoonists could do with cel animation: “if you were Rembrandt today, you wouldn't be able to resist animation.” Williams was a renowned perfectionist: his formative use of perspective was matched by his meticulous attention to detail and general preference for animating “on the twos” (ie: 12 frames per second) or even “on the ones” (24 frames per second); most of Williams’s peers cut corners (and frames) by animating on the threes, four, or fives. Williams, working on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” was also a pioneer in his use of multi-layered image-compositing (now mostly done digitally), as realized by Industrial Light and Magic (for more on that process, check out Cartoon Brew’s interview with Ed Jones, the supervisor of optical photography for “Roger Rabbit”).  Williams was also a pragmatist: he became an award-winning commercial artist in order to finance “The Thief and the Cobbler,” a project that he started developing in 1968. Richard Williams Animation, Williams’s London animation studio, would go on to win hundreds of awards after making thousands of animated advertisements, many of which can be seen on the expansive TheThiefArchive YouTube channel (as well as the animated sequences he produced for several live-action films’ opening credits, including “Return of the Pink Panther” and “Casino Royale”). Williams hated the modern “art world” (“I couldn't stand the idea of doing paintings for rich industrialists' wives"), but was convinced, after a 1963 conversation with British filmmaker Clive Donner, that he should apply as much sincerity and ingenuity as he could to his commercial work. You can also see Williams commiserating with his animators in “The Thief Who Never Gave Up,” when he recommends that they not spread themselves too thin: "If [the clients] won't give us the time, you have to drop the quality [of your work]. You just drop it. And drop it again." "The Thief and the Cobbler" Williams obviously did not take his own advice during the 24-plus-years-long production of “The Thief and the Cobbler,” which was seized from him in 1992 by Warner Brothers and a completion bond company, who would later re-sell the film’s raw materials to Miramax, who eventually released a drastically simplified version of the film under the title of “Arabian Knight.” That year, Williams also had to lay off a couple dozen of his own animators and shut down Richard Williams Animation.  The Miramax cut was praised by Jake Eberts, who represented Allied Films, a British production company that invested $10 million in “The Thief and the Cobbler.” According to Eberts, Williams “could never finish a scene,” citing how much attention he paid to the unnamed Thief, a character who, like Tack the Cobbler, was mute (Williams often likened them to Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy). Alexander Williams, Richard’s son and a contributing animator on “The Thief and the Cobbler,” argued that Miramax’s changes were drastic and untrue to his father’s vision, highlighting the unnecessary dialogue they gave to some characters whose mouths didn’t noticeably move (Incidentally: Richard Williams was, for a while, reluctant to speak about the Miramax cut). Still: Eberts, in a 1995 interview with The Austin American-Statesman’s Robert Welkos, maintains that Miramax “made extremely good changes.” To be fair, “The Thief and the Cobbler” was the most extravagant project that Williams undertook. It was also, in many ways, the culmination of his training and imagination: the film’s first ten minutes of footage took 14 years to complete and cost about 1.5 million British pounds to produce (adjusting for inflation, that’s about $31 million today). In 1982, Williams estimated that he needed 10 million more pounds to complete his project. But several well-documented obstacles prevented Williams from achieving his goal, as film critic Bilge Ebiri recalls in an essential piece for Drugstore Culture:  “In 1978, a Saudi Arabian Prince expressed interest in helping bankroll the production, but backed away after Williams ran wildly over-budget and behind schedule completing a ten-minute sequence to show prospective partners. In the mid-1980s, 'Star Wars' producer Gary Kurtz became involved, and Williams met Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis, who were looking for an animator to help them with Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”  Zemeckis and Spielberg’s project inarguably revitalized Williams’s passion project, but “The Thief and the Cobbler” is also a continuation of Williams’ earlier short films. You can see Williams’s characteristic preoccupation with the divided self—the greedy, galvanizing Thief is just as essential to the story’s action as the kind-hearted, but inept Cobbler—in earlier shorts like “Love Me, Love Me, Love Me,” an anti-“moral tale” from 1962 that concludes with a shaggy dog punchline: “When it comes to love, no one really has it good, especially stuffed alligators named Charlie.”  You can also see the thematic and stylistic seeds that would fully blossom in the “The Thief and the Cobbler” in Williams’ “The Little Island,” an Oscar-winning 1958 short about three men who each carry one thought in their respective heads: truth, beauty, and goodness. That cartoon establishes a perennial Williams concern: humanity’s irreconcilable spiritual imbalance, represented by his three main characters’ absurd, intractable, and borderline fascistic devotion to their ideals. That theme recurs in “A Lecture on Man,” a 1962 animated collage that combines hand-drawn animation and found photographs—a recurring feature in Williams’ commercial work—that illustrate man’s incomplete nature since, in the short, men either lack the heart or the brains to care for themselves.  You can also see Williams’s fingerprints all over the animated sequences from “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” a feature that Williams initially found difficult to conceive. Still, Williams signed onto the project after extensive discussions with director Robert Zemeckis and a 45-second animation test of Roger Rabbit falling down a flight of stairs. Williams’ use of fluid camera-work to film the cel animation—a process that created a lot of extra work for Williams’ animators—was the key to his creative success, not to mention a five-step process of image-compositing that led Williams and his team to say the film was made in “two-and-a-half-D.” The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Steven Rea, in a 1988 article, smartly broke down Williams and his team’s process as follows:  (1) a story-board sketch of the scene; (2) the live-action shoot (with puppeteers and technicians manipulating props that would ultimately be ‘held’ by the Toons); (3) a rough line drawing done on a photostat blowup of the live-action frame; (4) a hand-painted cel drawing, which was then shot on its own frame; (5) a cel that was then added to the live-action frame, with elements of light and shadow to render the animation three-dimensional. Williams’s fastidious approach was essential to the success of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” one of the top-grossing films in 1988 and a major catalyst for the decade-long Disney Renaissance that began in 1989. That same year: 560 lots of animation cels from “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”—ranging in initial cost from $400-20,000—were sold at auction at Sotheby’s; the sales of these cels helped to finance new buildings and infrastructure at Disney’s Burbank studio, including two domes shaped like Mickey Mouse’s ears.  Ironically, Disney’s resurgence indirectly killed “The Thief and the Cobbler”: the concurrent production of “Aladdin” led Warner Brothers to pull their support from Williams’s project, leaving its completion to a bond company that, in 1992, seized Williams’s film. California-based animator Fred Calvert was then given the thankless job of completing the film and, while Calvert ultimately gave the job to a group of Korean animators, he was reluctant to be involved in any capacity. In 1995, Calvert told Welkos that “I really didn't want to do it[…]but if I didn't do it, it would have been given off to the lowest bidder. I took it as a way to try and preserve something and at least get the thing on the screen and let it be seen.'' Calvert’s cut (which took an extra 18 months to complete) was a musical in the vein of recent Disney hits like “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast.” The most complete director-approved version of “The Thief and the Cobbler” is the “A Moment in Time” edit that premiered in 2013 and preserved by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (in “The Art Babbitt Collection”). You can also find a copy of this edit in Disney’s “Animation Research Library.” There’s also a riveting fan edit of the film, called the “Recobbled” cut, that was completed by Williams expert Garrett Gilchrist. Gilchrist’s version can be found on YouTube; it’s the most comprehensive edit of the film to date. Watching Gilchrist’s version of “The Thief and the Cobbler” after Williams’s death is an overwhelming experience. So much care was put into this film and so much invisible work that nobody but Williams, his fellow animators, or peers will fully appreciate. Still, it’s hard not to wonder what Williams would have done had he been able to complete scenes like the one where the Thief walks an impossibly high tight-rope.  “The Thief and the Cobbler” is the apex of Williams’ career and as close as he came to making animation grow up. Its “Duck Amuck”-style conclusion—the Thief grabs hold of the film surrounding him, pockets it, and skulks off into the far distance—is also a bittersweet, but fittingly abrupt high note for Williams’s career to end on. Some stories don’t have a happy ending: they’re just adopted and refashioned by other imperfect geniuses. […]

  • On Jacqueline Audry's Newly Restored Lost Queer Cinema Classic, Olivia
    por Beatrice Loayza el día agosto 20, 2019 a las 3:57 PM

    In the blind spot between avant-garde pioneer Germaine Dulac and the Mother of the New Wave, Agnes Varda—there was Jacqueline Audry. Though certainly not the only post-war French female filmmaker, she was the only one working with any regularity, achieving decent success in the French box office with her resplendently decorated tales of feminine transgression and gender subversion adjusted for mid-century tastes. Beginning with her 1945 debut, "The Misfortunes of Sophie," Audry directed 16 films by the time she stopped working in the late ‘60s. She was at the height of her powers in the ‘50s, a winning (and losing) streak that paralleled Hollywood’s own woman filmmaker of choice, Ida Lupino. Considering recent efforts to cure cultural amnesia of Lupino’s legacy, you can imagine how history has treated Audry.  In an era when few women got the chance to be behind the camera, Audry’s womanhood worked against her, and also affected how she’s been (or not been) remembered. The long shadow cast by the French New Wave didn’t help, in part because her work embodied precisely the novel adaptation-reliant “cinema of quality” that Francois Truffaut denounced in one of his infamous written kick-offs to the movement. As a result, most of Audry’s work is both in desperate need of restoration and extremely difficult to find, particularly for English speakers in need of subtitles. But fear not: A new 4K restoration of Audry’s 19th century lesbian romance, "Olivia" (1950), will be making the rounds in select venues nationwide; a rare opportunity to see not only one of the most celebrated films in her oeuvre, but a very early piece of queer cinema history.  Before World War II, Audry worked as a script supervisor before graduating to an assistant director position for filmmakers such as Jean Dellanoy, G.W. Pabst, and—perhaps her greatest influence—Max Ophüls. Her work, which always took female characters as its focus, emphasized dialogue, production value, and lush period aesthetics, creating a sense of spectacle and melodrama, and often nostalgically took place in the pre-war Belle Époque. "Olivia," based on the racy semi-autobiographical novel by Dorothy Bussy, is one such 19th century callback, tracing the tentative love triangles and sublimated sexual urges of an all-girls boarding school in the French countryside.  "Olivia" Olivia (Marie-Claire Olivia) arrives at her new home by carriage, marveling at the foliage, the privilege of a private bedroom, and the expansive grounds where students are at liberty to frolic and explore. Having come from a strict religious finishing school, the coy Olivia is taken with the school’s feminine graces, its pleasing decor, its curriculum of Greek tragedy, Victor Hugo, and El Cid. Being the new girl also comes with the spotlight. Her fellow pupils want so desperately to befriend her, and Miss Cara (Simone Simon, "Cat People"), a gothic fainting woman-sort often taken with a mysterious illness, sees in Olivia the opportunity for a new admirer. Instead, and to Cara’s outrage, Olivia sets her eyes on the stately, sensual Miss Julie (Edwige Feuillère), whose silken voice and teasing gaze has already won her a number of devotees. In fact, the school is divided among the “Carists” and “Julists,” though it's clear Julie has the upper-hand in this instructress cold war over the hearts of the student body. Olivia, encouraged by Julie’s gestures of intimacy, falls deeply, desperately in love with the older woman.  Well before and after "Olivia," the exclusively feminine space of the all-girls boarding school has been a site in literature and film that manifests transgressive female desire. The German film by Leontine Sagan, "Girls in Uniform" (1931), about a recently orphaned young woman who grows romantically attached to her teacher, is one of the first of its kind, and an obvious reference point for Audry. A decade after "Olivia," William Wyler’s "The Children's Hour" (1961), starring Aubrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine as two teachers whose friendship is interpreted as romance by a bitter pupil, tickled Hollywood’s sensibilities upon its release, though both Wyler and Sagan’s films, unlike Audry’s, situate lesbianism as cause for scandal and ruin.  While Audry’s adaptation certainly toned down the novel’s more overt sexuality, "Olivia" remains wildly ahead of its time by coding the school as a utopic space of female erotic expression and performance: Cara and Julie behave like past lovers going through a stormy separation; the math teacher, Madame Dubois, is distinguished by her voracious appetite; a school-wide “ball” sees some of the young women dressed in drag to assume the male role opposite their dance partners. Significantly, Olivia is never punished with tragic moral payback for her yearning over Miss Julie, and while the extremity of her emotions is acknowledged and understood by those around her, she’s never deemed an outcast or punished for them.  Jacqueline Audry Born in September 1908 to an aristocratic family (her great uncle, Gaston Doumergue, served as President, and later Prime Minister of France), Audry enjoyed an elite education in the finest schools in Paris. But she despised academia, and set her sights on the blooming world of cinema instead. Audry’s classical sensibilities—likely indebted to her upbringing—and her cineastic education working alongside costume-loving traditionalists such as Ophüls, heavily informed her work. While it was exactly this style that the New Wavers abhorred, Audry’s refined, nostalgic sense of taste packaged her often scandalous stories as socially-acceptable “women’s films,” wolves in sheep’s clothing that seemingly lacked the real-world impact of their masculine counterparts.  This pigeonholing of Audry’s work, though it granted her leeway in some regard, was also an inhibition to her creative impulses. In Le Cinéma des femmes, Paule Lejeune writes of Audry’s struggles to find funding for an adaptation of Stendhal’s definitively masculine portrait of 19th century France, "The Red and the Black." Indeed, the film never came to fruition because no one wanted a woman’s interpretation of such an iconic French text. Audry was relegated to making the sorts of films that men found beneath them in artistic value—melodramas, adaptations of novels by women. But Audry would spend her entire career actively fighting against these essentialist notions of gender, by portraying female characters that subverted the assumed power dynamics and expectations of their sex.  As Brigitte Rollet wrote in her 2015 biography: “Her entire career can be read as an illustration that another notion of the masculine and the feminine is possible and conceivable.”* ("Olivia"'s homoerotic cat and mouse game exemplifies this.) Audry’s biggest hit, "Gigi" (1949), adapted from the novel by Colette and remade as a musical by Vincent Minelli in ‘58, is reminiscent of "Lolita" in its portrayal of pedophilic love. Only the teenage Gigi (played by a rambunctious Daniélle Delorme) was intentionally raised by her two female caretakers to become a demimondaine, i.e. a professional mistress, putting her in a strategic position to contend against her tentative (and much older) love interest, the playboy Gaston. In "La Garçonne" (1957), Andrée Debar is a slick playgirl who sleeps with whoever, and however many men she wants, without the scourge of romantic attachment. And in "Le Secret du chevalier d'Eon" (1960), a man desperate to access his inheritance from his father, who stipulates he and his wife must produce a male heir, disguises his daughter, Genevieve (Debar again), as a boy—an act she maintains from childhood onwards into adulthood.  Audry’s work challenged social constructs dictating how a woman should behave and desire, in part motivated by how she was treated within the industry (most media coverage of her at the time was singularly, exhaustingly fixated on how she, herself, was an exception to the norm, rather than paying serious attention to the quality of her work). But so too was she inspired by the company she kept among feminist intellectuals at the time—Colette, Simone de Beauvoir, and other women working in the film industry. Her sister, Colette Audry, served as a scriptwriter for many of her films, and she often enlisted the help of women editors, producers, and designers as well.  Too often do we look back at cinema history as a straight line of progress from the misogyny of half a century ago to the high-profile calls for inclusion riders of today. But the truth is often obscured by a cultural memory that habitually forgets the triumphs of innovative female film artists like Audry, who resisted the patriarchy while maneuvering their way up its ladders.  *Translated from the French by B. Loayza […]

  • Bright Wall/Dark Room August 2019: A Treadmill to Nowhere By Julia Selinger
    por The Editors el día agosto 20, 2019 a las 2:04 PM

    We are pleased to offer an excerpt from the August issue of the online magazine, Bright Wall/Dark Room. The theme for this month is "Long Nights," and also features new pieces on "Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood," "Russian Doll," "After Hours," "The World's End," "The Crow," "The Warriors," "The Sisters Brothers," "Only Lovers Left Alive," "Miracle Mile" and more. You can read our previous excerpts from the magazine by clicking here. To subscribe to Bright Wall/Dark Room, or look at their most recent essays, click here. Is there a title card more damning than “Based upon the Parker Brothers’ Board Game?” There have only been a handful of movies based on board games—a medium that has failed to capture the zeitgeist as well as, say, comic books—and all have been critical failures. Ouija (less a board game than a slumber party shit-stirrer) was panned by critics, and not even Rihanna could save Battleship, based on the Milton Bradley joint. Clue, released in 1985, was the very first board game-based movie, a notion that was considered at best silly, at worst crass, and—ultimately and undeniably—a flop. The Jonathan Lynn-directed film grossed only $14.6 million at the box office, with an estimated budget of about $15 million. Critics were also unimpressed by the murder mystery comedy: The New York Times’ Janet Maslin found Clue devoid of “genuine wit,” and Roger Ebert, though more generous with his 2-out-of-4-stars review, lamented the “very, very thin” screenplay. On its serpentine, unlikely path from game night to the silver screen, Clue roped in five potential screenwriters (among whom were, unbelievably, Tom Stoppard, Anthony Perkins, and Stephen Sondheim) before landing Lynn, an English actor and TV writer. Executive producer John Landis only had a loose outline for Lynn to flesh out: six strangers, each identified by a color-designated alias—Colonel Mustard (Martin Mull), Mrs. White (Madeline Kahn), Mr. Green (Michael McKean), Mrs. Peacock (Eileen Brennan), Miss Scarlet (Lesley Ann Warren), and Professor Plum (Christopher Lloyd)—are invited to a dinner party at a Baroque mansion. When their supposed host and long-time blackmailer Mr. Boddy (Lee Ving) is murdered, the guests and Wadsworth the butler (Tim Curry) must determine who the murderer is before the police arrive. As the story developed, more bodies piled up and motives became murkier. The threads of a dinner party gone awry were stitched together until they became a knotty, convoluted yarn, with talk of fusion bombs and war profiteering and state department secrecy. To make things more complicated, Landis requested that the film have multiple endings with a bevy of potential killers, each one’s tactics and motives able to seamlessly mesh with the film’s first 80-some-odd minutes. When Clue was released, theaters were assigned ending A, B, or C. Landis envisioned that audiences would flock back to theaters to see the endings they had missed. Instead, the rollout was deemed gimmicky and polarized critics. Ebert called the idea “ingenious” if only the movie were good enough to inspire rewatchings. “With Clue,” he wrote, “one ending is more than enough.” Gene Siskel scathingly suggested that the mystery would benefit from three different middle sections instead. He wrote in the Chicago Tribune, “Clue offers a few big laughs early on followed by a lot of characters running around on a treadmill to nowhere.” But what if we reconsider the treadmill? Siskel’s primary criticism is that Clue is an exercise in futility, a whodunit with enough answers to render the question obsolete. Even the film’s very premise is something of a punchline. When Wadsworth shouts the literal rules of the game— “That’s what we’re trying to find out. We’re trying to find out who killed him, and where, and with what”—he is subsequently clocked in the head by a falling candlestick. In that moment it’s not the answer that matters, but the mounting mania and undercutting silliness of it all. What if, Clue seems to ask, futility isn’t an Achilles’ heel? What if it’s the point? The result is a film that honors its source material and transcends its limitations. Not only an homage to the game, Lynn and Landis’ adaptation is simultaneously a murder mystery, a screwball comedy, and a Cold War farce. Clue begins in true “dark and stormy night” fashion; on a rainy New England evening in 1954, six strangers, brought together by identical cryptic invitations, make their way to the eerie Hill House mansion. Clue, being first and foremost a game about murder, necessarily creates an atmosphere of suspicion and finger-pointing. Even before anyone has been killed, the main characters seem to have nothing but disdain for one another; they shoot each other dirty looks (especially at the accident-prone Mr. Green, who’s spilling champagne and shark fin soup left and right) and resent any nascent nosiness about their personal and professional lives. One can’t help but link the tense, paranoid environment to the Cold War-era setting. In the film’s opening moments, the cook is watching the Army-McCarthy hearings on TV as she prepares dinner. The rest of the film is peppered with references to the political subtext of the era, whether it’s allusions to the arms race or a phone call from J. Edgar Hoover (“He’s on everybody else’s [phone], why shouldn’t he be on mine?”) Much like the Cold War policies of the time, the farcical hijinks in Clue are largely caused by the dissemination and withholding of information. First, there are the secrets based upon which Mr. Boddy is blackmailing the guests: Colonel Mustard is a war profiteer; Mrs. White is the (strongly implied to be) mariticidal widow of a nuclear physicist; Mr. Green is a closeted homosexual working for the state department; Mrs. Peacock accepts bribes on behalf of her senator husband; Professor Plum is a philandering psychiatrist working for the World Health Organization; and Miss Scarlet operates an escort service in Washington. In keeping with the times, Mr. Boddy’s reason for blackmail is pure holier-than-thou patriotism. Wadsworth explains, “He believed that you were all thoroughly un-American.” Then there are the additional victims to contend with, all killed by an unknown assailant as the night unfolds—the cook, Yvette (Colleen Camp) the maid, a passing motorist, a police officer, and a singing telegram girl. Each of them is connected in some way to the six guests. It’s only at the end(s) of the film that we learn who knows who and why. It’s a lot of information to swallow and, ultimately, none of it really matters. Across all three endings, the government secrets are moot, summed up only by a recurring coda: “Communism is just a red herring.” Instead it’s the deliberately, deliriously confusing plot points that are the real punchline. “Now there’s one thing I don’t understand,” a guest says in every ending, as Wadsworth is summarizing the events of the evening. Then, the punchy, all too relatable retort: “One thing?” As is to be expected in a proper murder mystery, we don’t solve the whodunit until the end of Clue,when Tim Curry breathlessly recreates the night’s entire sequence of events. There is, however, a slow build to the butler’s dizzying performance. The film begins much more solemnly, with an ominous, not yet bouncy score and foreboding weather. The dour atmosphere is quickly interrupted by the film’s first joke: Wadsworth steps in dog shit. It’s a cheap gag, but it nonetheless sets the tone for the film. As the guests gather in the library to sip champagne in formal attire, each crinkles his or her nose at the offending odor. It marks the beginning of an evening in which all propriety collapses. From the onset of the movie, it’s clear that Clue wears its screwball influences on its sleeve. The characters banter at a breakneck speed, with Lynn reportedly having made the cast watch Howard Hawks’ His Girl Friday to prepare. Over the film’s 96 minutes, though, Clue proves to be just as indebted to slapstick. It’s about 30 minutes in, just after the death of Mr. Boddy, that the mounting hysteria sets in. Frenzied physical comedy takes over as the guests move at a faster clip, squeezing past each other and through pieces of furniture, testing the constrictions of their formalwear. Mr. Green anxiously slaps Mrs. Peacock, who thinks she’s been poisoned (the infamous, sniveling line: “I had to stop her from screaming”). The six partygoers eventually decide to break off into pairs and search the house for a killer who isn’t there, convinced that an anonymous intruder is responsible for the murder. Indeed, much of the film’s middle is an exercise in futility; only Wadsworth seems able to make heads or tails of the rising body count, as well as the compendium of secrets and potential motives. As for the rest of the guests, they seem to be filling time between murders, making empty speculations and providing opportunities for silliness to escalate. The only thing each has in common is their own entrenched denial. Not only is each member of the group certain of their innocence, but, by extension, their own perceived sanctimony, despite having owned up to blackmailable offenses. As the night wears on, the guests become more and more frantic and physical, running around the house, colliding into one another, and slapdashedly doling out whiskey; gone are the dainty pours and conventional decorum from dinnertime. While there’s a considerable uptick in physicality among the guests, there’s also an increasing sense of banality, creating a humorous contrast between flailing bodies and jaded attitudes. When the final three victims are killed within a matter of minutes, their deaths are met with more exhaustion than terror. Upon discovering Yvette, who’s been strangled with a rope on the billiards table, the partygoers look on with blank stares, their eyes glazed over by the night’s inevitable, trite bloodlust. The six strangers, now bound by a “safety in numbers” philosophy, pile corpses into the lounge like bags of laundry, dryly remarking that they’re all present and accounted for. It’s only when the final death toll reaches six that Wadsworth soberly admits, “This is getting serious.” Critics dismissed this “running around” portion of the film, but the guests’ manic aimlessness grows so ridiculous as to become more satisfying than the whodunit’s grab-bag of conclusions. Indeed, what’s made Clue a cult favorite isn’t the arbitrary culprit reveal. Rather, it is the jarring joy of seeing formalwear-clad party guests slapping each other and dragging one another up staircases and over sofas. More memorable still is the crackling dialogue, straddling the line between saucy and silly, even when the subject matter turns morbid. Matters of life and death are debated with the verbal ping-ponging of a high stakes Abbott & Costello bit, whether questioning if “no there is or no there isn’t” another person in the house, or if there really is another bullet left in the revolver. In a way, the film’s multiple-ending format is the purest expression of its game night source material. We don’t play board games to rush to the end, nor to experience the same result every time. It’s about the noise we create in between. Clue, for all its zany physicality and jabbing exchanges, honors the game’s multiplicity of outcomes. When the movie’s guests are seated for dinner, Wadsworth paraphrases Tennyson, unknowingly (and morbidly) summarizing the film’s celebration of well-meaning if ultimately meaningless action: “Ours is not to question why, ours is to do and die.&rdquo […]

  • Ready or Not
    por Scout Tafoya el día agosto 20, 2019 a las 2:04 PM

    On August 10th, Universal Pictures cancelled the release of the Blumhouse production “The Hunt,” directed by Craig Zobel. The script for the film, about rich people who hunt poor people for sport, leaked and Trump supporters missed its subtext, calling it an invitation for blue state liberals to come after conservatives with guns. The problems with this are too numerous to explain in the preface to a film review but suffice it to say Universal made a bad call. By keeping the film from the public they’ve left it to our imagination exactly how anti-Trump the film is or isn’t. What they’ve also done is set a dangerous precedent. If Republicans decide a movie is unfair (and a goodly sum of major studio product is politically to the left by default these days) all The President need do is tweet about it and that film will be shelved. We can all be grateful then that no one had a hard look at “Ready Or Not,” a film implicitly as radical as "The Hunt." Which is to say neither film is going to change the way anyone votes, but they both posit a game in which the rich hunt the poor. “Ready or Not” doesn’t wear its anti-capitalist bias proudly but you’d have to be blind to miss it. Grace (Samara Weaving) loves Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien) so much that she’s tolerated the hoops through which his family have made her jump: Alcoholic wastrel Daniel (Adam Brody) hitting on her, mother Becky (Andie MacDowell) being somewhat cagey about her approval, sister Emilie (Melanie Scrofano) not even showing up in time for the ceremony, father Tony (Henry Czerny) outright voicing his displeasure at the girl’s status and aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni) staring daggers at her from the moment they met. They’re a bizarre bunch but Grace sees the light at the end of the tunnel now that they’ve all congregated at the Le Domas manor for the nuptials. With the ceremony out of the way, Grace starts to relax, but then Aunt Helene shows up unannounced in Alex’s bedroom to remind him that there’s one more ritual before the two can live happily ever after. Alex neglected to mention that every time someone enters the Le Domas dominion, they have to play a game. The Le Domas family name is in the world of the film, meant to be as ubiquitous as Parker Brothers or Milton Bradley. They’re world renowned for their board and card games, so Grace takes the little moonlit challenge as a quirk because of their chosen industry. However when Tony explains the origin of the family fortune, how it was only after Great Grandfather Le Domas had chance encounter with a traveler that he made his millions, and Grace pulls "Hide And Seek" from the box of games, the entire family has a collective intake of breath and it’s clear something is off. Grace hides in a dumbwaiter for as long as she cares to, missing the sight of the entire Le Domas family arming themselves to the teeth before they begin to look for her. It’s only when Emilie accidentally kills one of the family’s three maids that Grace fully understands that this isn’t just a game. It can be easy to overstate the case of a movie like “Ready or Not.” It’s replete with ‘badass’ images of Grace in her wedding dress wearing post-"Kill Bill" swagger heading to do battle with the batty Le Domas progeny, covered in blood, sporting a bandolier, a half-baked quip, and a ripped wedding dress. It’s filled with easy jokes about the insanity of the rich and the callousness with which they take to their task of hunting and killing a woman on the grounds of their mansion. It’s got cavalier work from Brody, MacDowell (who struggles a little with the tone), and Kristian Bruun as Emeilie’s jackass husband, but they should all be funnier and they should all have been given a little more to chew. Czerny and Weaving are the only ones who fully seize every second of their screen time, showcasing the full bodied comedy and crazy eyed horror this might have been.  At its heart, this film cries out to be The Most Dangerous Game by way of “Schitt’s Creek,” but it doesn’t appear to know what it takes to be a satire. It knows the sight of rich people with medieval weaponry hunting a woman means “something” but they haven’t worked out the details. “The ammunition’s just for show,” says a butler to Weaving as she points a gun at him midway through the carnage. The same is true of the film’s political machinery. “Ready or Not” quite plainly didn’t ask to be the other movie about human beings hunting each other for sport, but as Wesley Morris once wrote, a moment picks a movie more than the reverse. It’s quite plainly in Weaving’s corner, but it doesn’t have much to offer her. Even the final line has a kind of cheap seats Joe Eszterhas anti-poetry that has nothing to do with the conflict and is more about scoring a laugh as the audience heads to the parking lot.  On a technical level, the digital photography is too murky to become the fake Lars von Trier movie that directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (who also go by the name Radio Silence) appear to be aiming for. MacDowell in particular is betrayed by the harsh light and muddled photography. She’s one of the most radiant women in the American cinema and is treated to harsh lighting and garish post-production colorization, to say nothing of an unflattering hairstyle. A little confidence in and respect for a game cast would have gone a long way.  However, and it’s a big however, the film is charismatic and thrilling enough to bypass its shortcomings. Weaving makes for a very likable hero, with a broad comedic appeal, an every-girl clumsiness and sarcastic rejoinder for everything. In a better world, she’d be headlining comedies already. She makes for a likable action hero precisely because she knows and shows that the clothes don’t fit her. In her tattered wedding dress, she fights for her life against everyone from her young nephews to the butler. Every wound she receive shows her that the backwards morality by which the rich live is so deeply ingrained that no amount of pleading could right the course. It’s also her first clue that not even her beloved Alex will be able to get her out of this jam. She’s not just fighting people, she’s fighting tradition and the idea of family.  Weaving’s expressiveness lends her plight instant pathos and Brody, who’s been one of America’s best character actors for over a decade, slowly pulling back from the rest of the clan, plays nicely against the bug-eyed fervor of the rest of the Le Domas’ brood. By the time the games come to an end, “Ready or Not" has ceased to be about the rich and the poor. It’s about a girl trying to survive a violent ordeal, which is potent enough for the moment you’re watching the film, but in a climate in which politics can pull a film from a release schedule, now is not the time to hide.&nbs […]

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