Two New Remakes With a Twist: Splash and Rocketeer

Posted on August 1, 2016 at 3:53 pm

More remakes! Two Disney films are getting remakes and both have gender twists. I’ve always had a lot of affection for Disney’s Rocketeer, with Billy Campbell, Timothy Dalton, Alan Arkin, and Jennifer Connelly. It was not a hit when it was released, but it is stylish and smart and exciting. I’m not the only one who considers it delightful.

Disney has announced a remake, but this time the title character will be black and female. And there’s a gender switch in the other remake as well. In a new version of Splash, Channing Tatum will play the mer-man, and Jillian Bell will be in the Tom Hanks role.

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In Production Remake

New on DVD: Orry-Kelly Documentary “Women He’s Undressed”

Posted on August 1, 2016 at 3:23 pm

The greatest hat in the history of movies is the one worn by Ingrid Bergman at the end of “Casablanca.” The second greatest hat in the history of movies is the one worn by Bette Davis in “Now Voyager.” Both, along with iconic gowns like Marilyn Monroe’s almost-bare dresses in “Some Like it Hot” and “Auntie Mame’s” over-the-top fashion forward couture and many, many more were designed by a man known as Orry-Kelly, a three-time Oscar winner who ran the costume department at Warner Brothers and dressed everyone from Bette Davis and Greta Garbo to Natalie Wood and Jane Fonda.

A new documentary about Orry-Kelly called Women He’s Undressed is now available on DVD and streaming.

Director Gillian Armstrong, like Orry-Kelly an Australian, has made a movie with a lot of style and brio. I was not wild about the re-enactments and too much time is spent on whether a particular male icon was one of his lovers, but the interviews with stars, friends, and costume designers are fascinating and of course the costumes themselves are extraordinary because in addition to being beautiful (when called for in the story) they are critical to the creation of character, mood, and narrative.  This is a must for all fans of classic movies, design, and a great story.



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Behind the Scenes Film History Movie History New on DVD/Blu-Ray Understanding Media and Pop Culture

Broadcast Film Critics Announce New Critics Choice Awards for Documentaries

Posted on August 1, 2016 at 1:38 pm

I am delighted that the Broadcast Film Critics Association, of which I am a proud member, has established a new set of awards for documentaries, with the first to be awarded on November 3, 2016. This is a category that has been long overdue for more recognition than one category each year. Awards will include:

Best Documentary Feature Film (Theatrical Premiere)
Best Documentary Feature (Television Premiere)
Best Director of a Documentary
Best First Documentary Feature
Best Music Documentary
Best Sports Documentary
Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary
Best Limited Documentary Series for Television
Best Ongoing Documentary Series for Television
Best Unstructured Reality Series
Best Song in a Documentary
Most Innovative Documentary
Best Investigative Journalist

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Awards Documentary

August 2016 — What’s Opening This Month

Posted on August 1, 2016 at 8:00 am

August is usually when the summer movie season slows down, but this month we have some movies that are sure to win at the box office and even a couple that might turn up on some end of the year best lists.

August 5

“Suicide Squad” — think “The Avengers” crossed with “The Dirty Dozen.” This “bad guys have to be the good guys” movie from DC Comics stars Will Smith, Cara Delevingne, Jared Leto (as The Joker), and, as Harley Quinn, “Wolf of Wall Street’s” Margot Robbie, my pick for the break-out performance of the summer.

“Don’t Think Twice” Mike Birbiglia wrote, directed, and stars in one of the best movies of the year, the story of an improv troupe, and what happens to the team when one of them gets offered a job on television.

August 12

“Sausage Party” A very R-rated animated story about food in the grocery store that finds out the release of being purchased is not the happy ending they had thought.

“Peter’s Dragon” Robert Redford and Bryce Dallas Howard star in the remake of the Disney fantasy about a boy and his dragon.

“Florence Foster Jenkins” It takes a great actress to play a terrible singer.  Fortunately, we have Meryl Streep, who plays the real-life wealthy woman who loved to sing opera and Hugh Grant as the husband who protected her from finding out that she was awful at it.

“Hell or High Water” Two brothers, one an ex-con (Ben Foster), one who has never broken the law (Chris Pine), rob some banks in Texas.  Two Texas Rangers (Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham) go after them in this exceptionally smart, thoughtful crime story.

August 19

“Ben Hur” Jack Huston and Morgan Freeman star in this classic story of the Jewish prince who becomes a slave and wins a chariot race in the time of Jesus.

“Kubo and the Two Strings” An enchantingly beautiful stop-motion animation fantasy set in ancient Japan is a story in some ways about stories and how the stories we tell ourselves and those around us can transform our lives.  Voices include Rooney Mara, Charlize Theron, Ralph Fiennes, and Matthew McConaughey.  I’ve seen it.  The ending had me in tears — and then took my breath away.

“War Dogs” Miles Teller and Jonah Hill star in this fact-based black comedy about two guys in their 20’s with no experience who won a $300 million contract to supply weapons to the Pentagon.  It did not go well.

August 26

“Southside With You”  Barack Obama was working at a Chicago law firm the summer after his first year of law school.  Michelle Robinson was his supervisor.  This is the story of their first date.  Even if their names were Smith and Jones it would be one of the most romantic movies of the year; knowing what was ahead of them makes it even more meaningful.


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Opening This Month
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