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Wizard of Oz Original Script Pages to be Auctioned

Posted on November 12, 2018 at 8:00 am

Copyright MGM 1939

Profiles in History is auctioning off some of Hollywood’s greatest treasures, including handwritten pages from the original script for “The Wizard of Oz,” by Noel Langley.   The full catalogue has an astonishing collection of Hollywood memorabilia, including:

Greta Garbo Adrian-designed coronation cape from Queen Christina.
Irving Thalberg’s “Best Picture” Academy Award from Mutiny on the Bounty.
Groucho Marx “S. Quentin Quale” tailcoat worn in Go West.
Margaret Hamilton “Wicked Witch of the West” witch’s hat from The Wizard of Oz.
Charlie Chaplin “Hynkel” military dress uniform jacket from The Great Dictator.
Lady Oona Chaplin vintage couture Christian Dior “Palmyre” evening gown & shoes worn on opening night of A King in New York.
Clark Gable “Mike Brannan” miniature effects race car from To Please a Lady.
Gloria Swanson “Norma Desmond” evening jacket and “Best Actress” Golden Globe from Sunset Boulevard.
Hero Nautilus crewman “baldy style” dive helmet from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
Screen used “Lawgiver” statue from Dr. Zaius’ office in The Planet of the Apes.
Sean Connery “James Bond 007” signature suit from You Only Live Twice.
Barbra Streisand “Dolly Levi” costume from Hello, Dolly!
William Shatner “Captain Kirk” Starfleet tunic with insignia and rank braid from Star Trek: The Original Series.
Type-2 Phaser pistol from Star Trek: The Original Series.
Mark Hamill “Luke Skywalker” production used lightsaber from the first Star Wars from the collection of set decorator Roger Christian.
Screen used Stormtrooper helmet from Star Wars: The Force Awakens signed by Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and other cast members, with Lucasfilm letter of authenticity.
Sigourney Weaver “Ripley” signature combat costume ensemble from Aliens.
Original Sylvester Stallone “Rambo” survival knives from First Blood and Rambo: First Blood Part II.
Robin Wright “Princess Buttercup” signature red dress from The Princess Bride.
Arnold Schwarzenegger “Terminator” hero modified Winchester shotgun from Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
Hero metal rocket pack and costume ensemble from The Rocketeer with Disney documentation.

To quote Humphrey Bogart in “The Maltese Falcon,” “This is the stuff that dreams are made of.” Place your bids!

Critics Choice Documentary Awards 2018

Posted on November 11, 2018 at 9:55 am

As a very proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, I am delighted to announce this year’s documentary film awards. This was an extraordinary year for documentary films and I wish we could have given out a dozen more prizes. But it was a genuine honor to be able to pay tribute to these outstanding films.

Best Documentary: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Best Limited Documentary Series: The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling

Best Ongoing Documentary Series: Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown

Best Director: Morgan Neville for Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Best First Time Director: TIE: Bing Liu for Minding the Gap, and Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster for Science Fair

Best Political Documentary: RBG

Best Sports Documentary: Free Solo

Best Music Documentary: Quincy

Most Innovative Documentary: Free Solo

Best Cinematography: Free Solo

Best Editing: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

11/11/1918-11/11/2018 — Movies about WWI for Veterans Day

Posted on November 11, 2018 at 12:03 am

As we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of The Great War, later dubbed World War I, it is time to remember the heroes, the sacrifices, the world-changing geopolitics that resulted.

Some of the best movies about or set in WWI.

Copyright Warner Brothers 1941

Sergeant York Gary Cooper won an Oscar for his portrayal of WWI hero Alvin York, the pacifist from the hills of Tennessee who carried out one of the most extraordinary missions in military history using lessons from his life on a farm. He captured 132 men by himself, still a record for a single soldier. In addition to the exciting story of his heroism in war, this is also the thoughtful story of his spiritual journey. He is a pacifist, opposed to fighting of any kind. By thinking of what he is doing as saving lives, he is able to find the inspiration and resolve for this historic achievement.

Wonder Woman Gal Gadot and Chris Pine star in this DC superhero origin story set during WWI. Yes, it is fiction and fantasy, but the plot line about poison gas is based in reality.

War Horse A horse named Joey goes him back and forth between the British and the German forces and, for a short idyllic time, a respite with a frail but brave little French girl and her affectionate Grandfather. The horse can switch sides in a way that a human cannot, and the movie makes clear the difference between the soldiers who are taken prisoner and shot and the animals who are inherently neutral and thus commoditized. The brutality of war affects the human characters differently as we see in their responses to the animal.

Copyright 1951 United Artists

Paths of Glory Stanley Kubrick’s anti-war film is the story of a French general who orders his troops on a suicide mission. General Mireau (George MacReady) is willing to sacrifice his men to enhance his own reputation. Against his better judgment, Colonel Dax (Kirk Douglas) leads the charge. After the defeat, Mireau blames the men and demands that three soldiers be randomly selected to be executed as an example to rest of the troops. This powerful, fact-based absurdity-of-war film was banned outright in France for several years.

Oh What a Lovely War John Lennon stars in this WWI-set musical satire that was a commentary on all wars, especially the Vietnam conflict.

Flyboys Airplanes and movies were brand new technology and there have been more WWI air battles on film than there were in real life. This is the story of Americans who became the first American fighter pilots, volunteering in France before the US entered the war.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web

Posted on November 8, 2018 at 5:48 pm

B-
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for violence, language and some sexual content/nudity
Profanity: Strong language
Nudity/ Sex: Sexual situations and some nudity
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking, smoking, drugs
Violence/ Scariness: Extended peril and violence, explosions, guns, fights, torture, parent killed in front of child, domestic and child abuse, incest, very graphic and disturbing images, characters injured and killed, suicide
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: November 9, 2018

Copyright 2018 Columbia Pictures
Remember in “League of Their Own” when Tom Hanks said, “There’s no crying in baseball?” Well, there’s no crying in Lisbeth Salander movies, or there should not be. As imagined by the late Swedish journalist and author Steig Larsson, Lisbeth Salander is a pierced, tattooed, bisexual, motorcycle-riding, 21st century Sherlock Holmes, cerebral, relentless, on the side of justice, and with a mastery of logic, observation, and detail that borders on a superpower. And good in a fight.

“The Girl in the Spider’s Web” is the first film based on the authorized continuation of the series by Larsson’s family, and here she is played by “The Crown’s” Claire Foy, following Noomi Rapace (in the Swedish movie trilogy) and Rooney Mara (in the David Fincher English-language film based on the first book in the series). There’s a subtle difference in the title of the book that reflects a shift in tone. The first book’s title is descriptive: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, followed by The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, both references to risks taken by Salander, with the implication that it was intentional. The Girl in the Spider’s Web is not about a choice she made or a dare she braved. There’s no action verb here. There’s no choice to adorn her body with a symbol of strength and fire. This title suggests a girl who has been placed in danger. Salenger as a damsel in distress? I don’t think so.

And then, like those last seasons of “Bewitched,” when they had really run out of ideas, the movie presents us with a sister we knew nothing about who apparently has been just waiting through three books to show up. We get a flashback of the two girls playing chess with, yes, a spider crawling on one of the pieces, before some very, very nasty stuff begins to happen with the girls’ father, who we already know from the earlier books was a very, very, very evil guy.

We go to these movies to see Lisbeth Salander hack, be invincibly tough, and right wrongs. She hacks into the US National Security Agency mainframe and downloads their most dangerous file. In a brief prelude she goes after a domestic abuser and we learn that she has been avenging other abused women. And she repeatedly takes a licking and keeps on ticking. But here the McGuffin is a computer program that can access and activate any nuclear weapons in the world, created for NSA (Stephen Merchant) who now regrets it and wants it destroyed. So he asks Salander for her help, bringing his young son along (Christopher Convery), just to ramp up the threat element. Salander gets the file, to the considerable consternation of NSA’s Edwin Needham (Lakeith Stanfield), who goes uses his considerable computing power to track down Salander, in a race with some very, very bad guys who want the file, too.

So, it’s your basic run with a gun stuff, ably staged if nothing particularly gripping, until the crying. Salander’s friend (and Larsson stand-in) Mikael Blomkvist (Sverrir Gudnason) appears briefly for no particular reason. Foy does fine with Salanger’s thousand yard stare but the script lets her down by trying to have her be vulnerable and tough at the same time. Tbey’ve taken one of the most arresting characters in recent fiction and made her into just another sad girl. And they’ve taken what began as a superior series of action films and turned it into just another night-at-the-multiplex, sequel-heavy formula movie. If Salanger is caught in a spider’s web, it’s not the blah blah about the secret computer file, it’s the blah blah of the filmmakers.

Parents should know that this film has very intense and graphic peril and violence, disturbing images, characters injured and killed, death of a parent, torture, guns, explosions, severe spouse and child abuse, sexual abuse, very strong language, drinking, smoking and drugs.

Family discussion: What should Lisbeth have done for her sister? Why did they make different choices?

If you like this, try: the Swedish “Girl With a Dragon Tattoo” trilogy

What Movie Makes You Feel Better?

Posted on November 4, 2018 at 8:00 am

The New York Times asked some of the stars of the big fall movies what movies they like to watch when they’re feeling down. Two of them picked “The Lion King” but for different reasons. Interestingly, most picked movies that meant a lot to them when they were kids, suggesting that it is partly about the content of the film but partly about taking them back in time that they find comforting. Perhaps the most surprising answer — and my favorite, though I’d never find that movie cheering — is from Tim Blake Nelson, who picks the documentary about underground comix legend R. Crumb. Nelson, who is a writer as well as an actor, expresses so beautifully what moves him about the film and about Crumb’s life.

In spite of a family whose level of dysfunction honestly cannot be described in words — making the film all the more essential — and a welter of his own debilitating social issues, R. Crumb remains resolutely true to who and what he is. His resilience and perseverance result in drawings as lacerating as Daumier’s, as distinct as Toulouse-Lautrec’s, and as beautifully, tragically human as Schiele’s — mostly in the milieu of underground countercultural cartoons and illustrations. The movie ultimately provides great hope in its depiction of an artist who simply won’t compromise, and who furnishes a way of seeing the culture that has impacted popular aesthetics to this day. As sad as it is, this makes “Crumb” one of the more strangely uplifting films I can name.