Tag Archives: Sigourney Weaver

My 12 Favorite Horror Movies

Halloween is coming, and the dead shall rise from their graves. At least on a TV screen near you. We are awash in lists of the greatest horror movies ever made, and everybody’s trying to come up with a twist of their own. Well, I decided to just list my 12 favorites, a bunch of movies that are scary but also all-around superior entertainment.

1 The Shining

1980-U.S. Directed by Stanley Kubrick. Cast: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd.

What I wrote: “Ten years ago, a friend of mine and I had a nerdy contest where we decided to crown the greatest horror movie ever made. After plenty of heartbreaking comparisons and heated discussions, we agreed on one candidate that we both could accept as the scariest film ever made.”

2 Alien

1979-Britain-U.S. Directed by Ridley Scott. Cast: Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt.

What I wrote: “What should we primarily remember from this film? Perhaps just the intense feeling of terror. There’s a monster that we don’t quite know how to explain, there’s a lot of running away from it in dark corridors. Nightmares are fascinating and Alien is just as absurd, scary and repetitious as anything invented by a sleeping mind.”

3 The Exorcist

1973-U.S. Directed by William Friedkin. Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair.

What I wrote: “It was so convincing to many in the audience that even the famous evangelist Billy Graham believed that Satan was responsible for its success. William Friedkin’s work remains potent, not least because of the raw, cold atmosphere that cinematographer Owen Roizman has created.”

4 The Omen

1976-U.S. Directed by Richard Donner. Cast: Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, Harvey Stephens.

What I wrote: The Omen does owe a lot to its famous predecessor, but thanks to the talent involved it manages to stand on its own and has in turn spawned many other more or less worthless imitations. There’s a lot to be said for a film so perversely clever it makes its audience root for a father who tries to kill his son.”

5 Halloween

1978-U.S. Directed by John Carpenter. Cast: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Nancy Loomis.

What I wrote: “Simple – but never cheap. When the filmmakers found a Star Trek mask of Captain Kirk in a store, they realized that all they had to do to make it horrifying was change its hair, eyes and spray-paint the face white. Ingenious. It’s the small things that count.”

6 The Sixth Sense

1999-U.S. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Cast: Bruce Willis, Toni Collette, Haley Joel Osment.

What I wrote: “The film begins with a woman fetching a bottle of wine from a dark cellar and suddenly shuddering as if a cold wind hits her. We have all experienced it, as well as the sense of fear that accompanies it. With this film, writer-director M. Night Shyamalan shows us that there is every reason to be afraid in those moments.”

7 Poltergeist

1982-U.S. Directed by Tobe Hooper. Cast: Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Beatrice Straight.

What I wrote: “This movie frightened me as a kid. Its effect may have diminished over the years, due among other things to aging special effects, but it was a pretty spectacular thrill-ride in its day. Most previous ghost movies had been more discreet in their use of effects, but this one went all in with help from Hollywood’s very best, including the masterful Richard Edlund.”

8 The Conjuring

2013-U.S. Directed by James Wan. Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor.

What I wrote: “James Wan is so good at building tension and delivers shocks in such a skillful way that it’s hard to resist.”

9 Psycho

1960-U.S. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Cast: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles.

What I wrote: “The shower sequence is one of the most famous scenes in cinema history; meticulously designed, shot and edited, it features a quick series of cuts, nudity, brute force, the horrifying illusion of someone being attacked with a knife, and Bernard Herrmann’s ingenious, screeching score accompanying it.”

10 Aliens

1986-U.S. Directed by James Cameron. Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Michael Biehn.

What I wrote: “When I first heard about this film, I was 11 or 12 years old and pretty much a novice when it came to movies. Judging from what some of my classmates were talking about, I understood that Aliens was a dark, scary and very exciting film, a special experience indeed. When I finally got to see it a few years later, it blew my mind.”

11 Jaws

1975-U.S. Directed by Steven Spielberg. Cast: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss.

What I wrote: “It takes time before the monster appears, a technique that was to be employed in many other films. It is easy to fear something we can only imagine (and we’re good at conjuring up gruesome images in our heads).”

12 Nosferatu

1922-Germany. Directed by F.W. Murnau. Cast: Max Schreck, Alexander Granach, Gustav von Wangenheim.

What I wrote: “If you’re looking to create a good tagline for this classic horror movie, it would have to be “Banned in Sweden for 50 years!”. The ban wasn’t lifted until 1972 when audiences had already seen much worse in theaters over the years. Nosferatu won’t seem as horrifying to modern audiences, but this is nevertheless a landmark achievement.”

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Meyerowitz Stories: Sandler and Stiller Strike Back

This weekend my parents are coming to Stockholm to see me, my brother, sister and nephews. I’m glad they’re coming because we are all close, but at the same time there can be tensions when parents and their adult sons and daughters have to live together closely for a short time. It doesn’t matter how old you get, the roles you’ve always played in a family remain the same, and so do the issues you might have with one another.

Watching Noah Baumbach’s new film, the best he’s made so far, made me think of my own family and the bonds we share. I’m certainly blessed in comparison with the Meyerowitzes… then again, the love and intimacy that eventually grace the film is quite moving.

The Meyerowitz children, Danny (Adam Sandler), Matthew (Ben Stiller) and Jean (Elizabeth Marvel), are adult now but their relationship with their father Harold (Dustin Hoffman) is still a struggle. Harold used to be a lauded sculptor but is no longer an active or even particularly well remembered figure in the Manhattan art scene. Danny, a musician who’s never accomplished much, has been more successful with his teenage daughter (Grace Van Patten), even though he hates the idea of her growing up. Matthew has been doing very well for himself in Los Angeles, but is not much of a role model as a father. Jean usually ends up between her brothers, but when Harold finds himself in a hospital the siblings have to get together and deal with an uncertain future.

Reminiscent of The Squid and the Whale
Released in theaters and on Netflix, the film reminded critics and audiences of Baumbach’s earlier The Squid and the Whale (2005) and he knew that there would be comparisons. After all, both movies take place in the same intellectual middle-class Manhattan environs (Squid and the Whale has the Museum of Natural History, this one has MoMa) and depict a troubled relationship between siblings and their father, a bearded cultural giant who’s now in decline. The tone is also the same, with frank dialogue and a sense of humor laced with earnestness.

It’s impossible not to love the cast. Hoffman is fun to watch as the egotistic patriarch who can’t stand to see the fellow artists from his heyday remain relevant when he’s almost forgotten; Thompson is hilarious as his girlfriend, an alcoholic yet lovable hippie who is chronically unable to cook a decent meal. The real treat here though is watching Sandler, Stiller and Marvel as the siblings. The latter is a veteran of theater and television who’s very engaging as Jean, the seemingly mousy sister who’s devoted to her family and too rarely noticed by her brothers. As for Sandler and Stiller, they have too often been seen in subpar comedies, which has led many of us to expect very little from them. On few occasions, they have surprised us. In this case, Sandler finally finds a proper vehicle for the rage that has become typical of so many of his characters. His ambition to fuse that rage with likability, seen in many of his bad comedies, is finally fulfilled.

Stiller is also terrific, and it is particularly joyful to see both stars interact with Hoffman; they look like they’re digging deep inside of themselves to find that little extra something that might elevate a scene they’re sharing with a titan like that.

The dynamics of the Meyerowitz family are nicely captured by Baumbach in his two roles as writer and director. Randy Newman’s music score is also a pleasure. Watching these selected stories from the life of a family is like therapy, for Baumbach (who was initially inspired by a stay in the hospital) and us in the audience alike. 

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and selected) 2017-U.S. 112 min. Color. Produced by Noah Baumbach, Eli Bush, Scott Rudin, Lila Yacoub. Written and directed by Noah Baumbach. Music: Randy Newman. Cast: Adam Sandler (Danny Meyerowitz), Ben Stiller (Matthew Meyerowitz), Dustin Hoffman (Harold Meyerowitz), Elizabeth Marvel (Jean Meyerowitz), Emma Thompson, Grace Van Patten… Candice Bergen, Rebecca Miller, Judd Hirsch, Adam Driver, Sigourney Weaver.

Last word: “I wanted to write about a hospital. I felt, in a movie, I hadn’t quite seen what it’s really like to be in a hospital when you’re with someone who’s sick, and having the personal and institutional kind of colliding. But I didn’t know how much of the movie that was going to be. Getting the short story structure helped me think, ‘OK, that could be here. And I could have the two brothers not even be in the same movie until the third section.’ That was helpful, too, because it spoke to the kind of family dynamic, the compartmentalisation that Harold utilised. He doesn’t involve Danny and Matthew; he sees them separately.” (Baumbach, Dazed)

 

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The Ice Storm

IT WAS 1973, AND THE CLIMATE WAS CHANGING. 

After the romantic intrigues of Sense and Sensibility (1995), director Ang Lee gave us something equally human but colder. We’re drawn into the relationships between teenagers and adults, families who gather in the suburbs in 1973 over the Thanksgiving weekend. The kids explore their sexuality and early, confusing feelings, and for the grownups it’s all about looking for kicks, which eventually comes in the shape of a key party. But the film also deals with deeper emotions and their value. Very well acted, with a terrific feel for the 1970s details. The ending is heartbreaking, but the story struggles to tie its sentiments to a deeper meaning.

1997-U.S. 113 min. Color. Produced by Ted Hope, Ang Lee, James Schamus. Directed by Ang Lee. Screenplay: James Schamus. Novel: Rick Moody. Cast: Kevin Kline (Ben Hood), Joan Allen (Elena Hood), Sigourney Weaver (Janey Carver), Christina Ricci, Elijah Wood, Henry Czerny… Tobey Maguire, Katie Holmes, Allison Janney.

Trivia: Natalie Portman was allegedly considered for a role.

BAFTA: Best Supporting Actress (Weaver). Cannes: Best Screenplay.

Last word: “When [Ang Lee says] that something happened in ’73 that has brought us to where we are today… We were just falling apart as a family. Maybe Ang was more able to see that, coming from another country. To me, Elvis finally caught up to the middle-class by the early ’70s – finally caught up with them and everything started to unravel from the 50s and the post-war period. And that’s something I’ve been able to see much better having been in the film. Being from outside America Ang could perhaps see it more clearly.” (Weaver, Film Scouts)

 

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Bill Paxton 1955-2017

It was quite a shock today for Hollywood and the rest of us to wake up and know that Bill Paxton has died due to complications following surgery. Judging from all the love for Paxton on Twitter, he was really popular in Hollywood. In the clip above from last summer’s Comic Con, he and Sigourney Weaver talk about the impact that one of their movies, Aliens (1986), had.

Born in Texas, Paxton’s first notable “appearance” may be in a now classic photograph from November 22nd, 1963 where the eight-year-old Bill can be seen in the crowds awaiting President John F. Kennedy shortly before the assassination. The photo is now on display in a museum in Dallas. Paxton’s film debut was Jonathan Demme’s Crazy Mama (1975), but his career got a real boost first when he was hired by James Cameron to play a punk who gets taught a lesson by Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator (1984).

Cameron kept coming back to Paxton, casting him as a whiny Marine in Aliens, a sleazy womanizer in True Lies (1994) and a deep-sea explorer in Titanic (1997). In between, Paxton had good roles in the vampire movie Near Dark (1987), noir thriller One False Move (1992), Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 (1995), the hugely entertaining Twister (1996) and Sam Raimi’s A Simple Plan (1998), which was one of his best performances.

In later years, Paxton turned to TV and it’s possible that we’ll remember him chiefly as the Mormon businessman with three wives on Big Love (2006-2011), which earned him a Golden Globe nomination. A great role for him. Paxton fared less well with the current Training Day, which wasn’t liked by critics or audiences and is likely to be canceled now.

He played guys who were bad or pathetic, but we still remember Bill Paxton simply as a good guy. It was touching and heart-warming to read tributes today from virtually every star who had worked with him, from Tom Hanks and Cameron, to Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis. I’m sure his name will come up tonight at the Academy Awards. May he rest in peace.

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A Monster Calls

STORIES ARE WILD CREATURES.

amonstercallsConor O’Malley (Lewis MacDougall) is dealing with his mother’s terminal illness and a bully at school when late one night he has an encounter with a ”monster”, a giant yew tree that has three stories to tell him. Patrick Ness brings his children’s book (and Jim Kay’s illustrations) vividly to life in collaboration with an impressive filmmaker who makes it impossible for us not to shed tears. But this isn’t a simpleminded tearjerker; its complex and for children totally relevant and relatable message about the nature of grief is illustrated in smart, symbolic ways where animation and fantasy blend into real life. Young MacDougall is perfectly cast as the boy who’s struggling with himself.

2016-Spain-Britain-U.S. Part Animated. 108 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Belén Atienza. Directed by J.A. Bayona. Screenplay, Novel: Patrick Ness. Cast: Lewis MacDougall (Conor O’Malley), Sigourney Weaver (Grandmother), Felicity Jones (Lizzie O’Malley), Toby Kebbell, James Melville, Lily-Rose Aslandogdu… Geraldine Chaplin. Voice of Liam Neeson.

Trivia: The novel was originally started by Siobhan Dowd, but she passed away before finishing it. Tom Holland served as a stand-in as the Monster during the making of the film.

Last word: “I have lots of friends who are illustrators, and we talk a lot about how what you don’t see is more important than what you can see in a painting. In that sense, I didn’t want to see the faces of the characters in the animated stories. For me, they’re more ideas than characters, so I thought, ‘I don’t want to see actors playing them.’ I realized the best way to do that was with drawings. So then it made perfect sense that Conor himself drew the characters. That created an immediate connection to me, because I was obsessed with drawing when I was a kid. And then I started to feel the whole story in an even more personal way.” (Bayona, The Verge)

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Ghostbusters II

BE READY TO BELIEVE US. 

ghostbusters2Five years after the events in the first film, the Ghostbusters have been forced out of business… but a new supernatural threat against New York City catches their attention. The charm from Ghostbusters (1984) is still intact in this sequel thanks to the wonderful cast, with Peter MacNicol adding fun as a Renfield-type art curator who falls under the spell of a ghostly villain. Not a brilliant story, but once again the city is incorporated in amusing, eye-catching ways; director Ivan Reitman makes sure it all stays fun. Instead of a giant marshmallow man, we get a very animated Statue of Liberty this time.

1989-U.S. 102 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Ivan Reitman. Screenplay: Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis. Cast: Bill Murray (Peter Venkman), Dan Aykroyd (Ray Stantz), Sigourney Weaver (Dana Barrett), Harold Ramis (Egon Spengler), Rick Moranis, Ernie Hudson… Peter MacNicol. Voice of Max von Sydow. Cameo: Cheech Marin.

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Highlights of Comic-Con 2016

This year’s Comic-Con in San Diego ended last Sunday. Time to sum up what we enjoyed the most:

Marvel embracing women – Superhero films are generally speaking not known for giving women good roles. But the times are changing. In the first tweet above, the “Marvel Mamas” have assembled, featuring among others Tilda Swinton and Lupita Nyong’o from the upcoming Doctor Strange and Black Panther. It was also confirmed that Oscar winner Brie Larson will be Captain Marvel in the studio’s first female-led blockbuster.

The return of King Kong – One of the trailers I found most exciting, purely for its popcorn value, was Kong: Skull Island, which premieres next spring. Starring Larson, Tom Hiddleston, John Goodman and Samuel L. Jackson, the trailer is very intense and militaristic, looking like a Vietnam War allegory where the soldiers make the mistake of underestimating their enemy. I’m certainly rooting for Kong.

Warner’s damage control – Batman v Superman was indeed a failure, generating a lot of bad reviews and unsatisfying box-office numbers. The experience jolted Warner who must have had a sit-down or two with director Zack Snyder, trying to figure out how to make Justice League, the DC equivalent to Marvel’s The Avengers, look more appetizing. A sizzle reel showed that the answer is more humor, and it highlighted Ezra Miller as The Flash in particular. But the real buzz was generated by the first trailer for Wonder Woman, that looks genuinely entertaining, DC’s answer to the Captain America films.

The Brits are coming – Eddie Redmayne charmed audiences by handing out wands at his Fantastic Beasts panel, which was hosted by Conan O’Brien. Harry Potter fans had every reason to be excited; the new trailer for the film looks great. Benedict Cumberbatch was in San Diego for panels on both Doctor Strange and Sherlock and surprised fans who were waiting outside Hall H:

Aliens nostalgia – Comic-Con is not just about the future. This wonderful panel reunites the cast of Aliens (1986), which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Amazing to see James Cameron, Sigourney Weaver, Gale Anne Hurd, Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, Paul Reiser and Carrie Henn (all grown up now!) together again, reminiscing. This is still a total masterpiece to me.

… and there was politics – Alec Baldwin appeared at the panel for the animated comedy The Boss Baby, where he said that he has one brother at the Republican convention, supporting Donald Trump, and another outside the RNC, protesting the billionaire. Politics really has the Baldwin brothers feuding each other. The Trump supporter is most likely Stephen; the protester must be William. Not even Comic-Con can escape this horrifying period in American history.

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Ghostbusters

WHO YOU GONNA CALL?

ghostbusters16When one of New York City’s oldest buildings appears to be haunted, two parapsychologists jump at the chance to see an actual ghost, and drag a skeptical friend (Kristen Wiig) along. The folks behind the original franchise long tried to get a third movie made, but instead we got a remake that was maligned by Internet trolls even before cameras started rolling. The reason? Women were cast as ghostbusters. The final results turned out to be an entertaining ride, with intense visual effects in 3D and amusing lead performances. As always with Paul Feig movies though, an uneven barrage of jokes and action.

2016-U.S. 116 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Ivan Reitman, Amy Pascal. Directed by Paul Feig. Screenplay: Katie Dippold, Paul Feig. Cast: Melissa McCarthy (Abby Yates), Kristen Wiig (Erin Gilbert), Kate McKinnon (Jillian Holtzmann), Leslie Jones (Patty Tolan), Chris Hemsworth, Cecily Strong… Andy Garcia, Charles Dance, Ed Begley, Jr.. Cameos: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Ernie Hudson, Ozzy Osbourne.

Trivia: Co-executive produced by Aykroyd. Emma Stone was allegedly considered for a part. Also released in a 133-min. cut.

Quote: “I guess he’s going to Queens – he’s going to be the third scariest thing on that train.” (Jones watching a ghost escape on a subway train)

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Ghostbusters

THEY’RE HERE TO SAVE THE WORLD.

ghostbusters84Parapsychologists Pete Venkman, Ray Stantz and Egon Spengler (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis) start a business where they hunt ghosts in New York City, but a particularly dangerous demon is about to present itself. One of the biggest hits of the 1980s has become a much-loved classic with a perfect cast, including perennial Ivan Reitman collaborator Murray’s irreverent ghostbuster and Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis in amusing supporting turns as the demon’s victims. The visual effects show their age but are very creative, with a giant marshmallow man as a highlight. Well paced, with a nice feel for New York City, and scored by Ray Parker, Jr.:s title song, which is used to great effect in the opening sequence.

1984-U.S. 107 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced and directed by Ivan Reitman. Screenplay: Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis. Music: Elmer Bernstein. Song: ”Ghostbusters” (Ray Parker, Jr.). Visual Effects: Richard Edlund. Cast: Bill Murray (Peter Venkman), Dan Aykroyd (Ray Stantz), Harold Ramis (Egon Spengler), Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts… Ernie Hudson.

Trivia: Eddie Murphy and Michael Keaton were allegedly considered for roles. Followed by Ghostbusters II (1989) and an animated TV series, The Real Ghostbusters (1986-1991). Remade as Ghostbusters (2016).

BAFTA: Best Original Song.

Last word: “I had a meeting with Frank Price, who was running Columbia PicturesHe said, ‘I hear you guys have a movie you want to make.’ I said, ‘Bill and Danny both want to do it. We want to bring Harold Ramis into it. They’re writing a script.’ I gave him a description of the script, even though it didn’t exist. ‘Stripes’ had cost $10 million; ‘Ghostbusters’ was going to be way more elaborate, so I thought, let’s make it three times as expensive: $30 million. I was really just pulling a figure from the air. He said, ‘You’ve got a deal.’ This was May, 1983; about six weeks later, Aykroyd, Ramis, and I all went to Martha’s Vineyard, where Dan has a house, and spent two or two-and-a-half weeks in Aykroyd’s basement, every day. [We] basically created the movie as it exists now on film.” (Reitman, Rolling Stone)

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Finding Dory

AN UNFORGETTABLE JOURNEY SHE PROBABLY WON’T REMEMBER.

findingdoryOne year after the events of Finding Nemo (2003), Dory begins to remember a few things about how she got separated from her parents; together with Marlin and Nemo, she sets out to find them. This 3D sequel is stunningly beautiful, showing just how amazingly technology is moving forward. However, the story is less impressive; largely copying the original, the adventure feels more bloated this time as well. But the filmmakers still vary their locations a lot and there’s so much fun to be had that audiences are not likely to care; some of the moments are touching. Spirited performances, including Ed O’Neill as a likably grumpy octopus.

2016-U.S. Animated. 103 min. Color. Produced by Lindsey Collins. Directed by Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane. Screenplay: Andrew Stanton, Victoria Strouse. Music: Thomas Newman. Voices of Ellen DeGeneres (Dory), Albert Brooks (Marlin), Ed O’Neill (Hank), Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Hayden Rolence… Ty Burrell, Idris Elba, Dominic West, Bill Hader, Sigourney Weaver, John Ratzenberger, Willem Dafoe, Brad Garrett, Allison Janney.

Trivia: Alexander Gould, who voiced Nemo in the original, can be heard as a delivery-truck driver and his co-worker. Dafoe, Garrett and Janney appear in a post-credits scene as the characters they voiced in the first film.

Last word: “The first thing to know is nothing that we had made [on ‘Finding Nemo’] still exists. As Andrew said to someone else, it’s like trying to boot up your old computer from 13 years ago. It just doesn’t exist. So we knew going in that we were going to be rebuilding and recreating anything that we were going to be using from the first film; characters or sets. And then invariably the question comes up: How much are we going to change it? Because, to your point, the rendering and the imagery and the capabilities are so much better 13 years later. It’s always a delicate balance.” (Collins, Screen Crush)

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Annie Hall: This Is 40

A NERVOUS ROMANCE. 

anniehallIn the film’s first scene, Woody Allen as Alvy Singer addresses his audience, letting us know that he recently turned 40 and that this landmark event has brought on a life crisis. It wasn’t really planned, but I happened to watch this movie for the first time in many years at exactly the same moment in my life, a few days after my 40th birthday. There’s something about turning a corner like that. It makes you think about your life up until now and what lies ahead. In Allen’s case, he felt like something had to change in his filmmaking career. Maybe there’s more to it than simply making playful comedies?

New York City comedy writer Alvy Singer ponders his relationship with Annie Hall (Diane Keaton), which ended a year earlier. He had two unhappy marriages behind him when he first met Annie, but it didn’t take long for them to hit it off. They had wine on Annie’s balcony and Alvy joined her as she auditioned as a singer at a night club. When they started sharing a bed, Alvy’s neurotic issues became more evident and her willingness to move in with him after some time was not something he took lightly. Alvy keeps wondering what kind of relationship is he really looking for…

Sacrificing laughs
In the mid-70s, Allen was very successful as a writer and director of comedies. Marshall Brickman, who had co-written Sleeper (1973) with Allen, knew that his partner had serious thoughts about life and death, culture and philosophy, and that he wanted to make a movie that addressed those issues more clearly. Allen was prepared to, in his own words, “sacrifice some of the laughs for a story about human beings”. He had always put himself on display in his comedies, but this one would be much more personal, exploring a relationship in an artistic way that explicitly tried to engage the audience. As we follow the challenges of the romance between Alvy and Annie, Allen frequently breaks the fourth wall and addresses the audience, more or less asking for their understanding or perhaps begging for advice. Some sequences are journeys back to Alvin’s childhood, introducing us to his overbearing parents. That’s where the psychoanalysis comes in, as Allen tries to find reasons for his own behavior and thinking. His usual playfulness is at work throughout, evident in the abundance of funny lines and moments like an animated scene where Allen puts himself in a version of “Snow White”. Many scenes are laugh-out-loud funny, such as the one where he tries cocaine for the first time. The way he contrasts New York City and Los Angeles in the film’s last half-hour is hilarious. The same can be said about Alvy’s obsession about how gentiles perceive Jews, which leads to moments that are not only funny but also say something about how anti-Semitism always survives. The laughs are tempered with another achievement by Allen – the film is genuinely romantic at times, as Alvy and Annie spend time getting to know each other with the Big Apple as a gorgeous backdrop. This was the first time that Allen worked with cinematographer Gordon Willis, “the prince of darkness”, and he lends the film a delicate sense of realism and earnestness that helped the director find his new voice. 

This is indeed the perfect Woody Allen film, his best. What especially makes me cherish it is the bittersweet way the movie captures love, memories – and the effect that ever present doubt has on our relationships. After making two comedies together, former lovers Allen and Keaton are perfectly cast here, as they work their personal traits, quirks and history into their characters, making us fall in love with them; Keaton became such a hit even that her onscreen wardrobe turned her into a fashion icon.

Annie Hall 1977-U.S. 94 min. Color. Produced by Charles H. Joffe. Directed by Woody Allen. Screenplay: Woody Allen, Marshall Brickman. Cinematography: Gordon Willis. Editing: Ralph Rosenblum, Wendy Greene Bricmont. Cast: Woody Allen (Alvy Singer), Diane Keaton (Annie Hall), Tony Roberts (Rob), Paul Simon, Shelley Duvall, Carol Kane… Christopher Walken, John Glover, Jeff Goldblum, Beverly D’Angelo, Sigourney Weaver.

Trivia: Weaver’s first film.

Oscars: Best Picture, Director, Actress (Keaton), Original Screenplay. Golden Globe: Best Actress (Keaton). BAFTA: Best Film, Direction, Actress (Keaton), Screenplay, Editing.

Quote: “Don’t knock masturbation. It’s sex with someone I love.” (Allen)

Last word: “When ‘Annie Hall’ started out, that film was not supposed to be what I wound up with. The film was supposed to be what happens in a guy’s mind, and you were supposed to see a stream of consciousness that was mine, and I did the film and it was completely incoherent. Nobody understood anything that went on. The relationship between myself and Diane Keaton was all anyone cared about. That was not what I cared about. That was one small part of another big canvas that I had. In the end, I had to reduce the film to just me and Diane Keaton, and that relationship, so I was quite disappointed in that movie, as I was with other films of mine that were very popular.” (Allen, Cinema Blend)

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Ingrid Bergman – In Her Own Words

ingridbergmaninherwordsDocumentarian and writer Stig Björkman offers an intimate look at one of the most famous movie stars ever, using her private diary notes and film recordings of life with her family – or families, rather, since Ingrid Bergman’s incurable restlessness was a defining part of her personality. Meeting her adult children, all four of them, including Isabella Rossellini, and hearing them talk about their experiences of Bergman is fascinating because of how refreshingly perceptive and forgiving they are. Her diary entries also reveal a person of ambition, longing to grasp as much of the world as she can. The film skilfully balances Bergman’s career and personal life, varying the home movies with well-selected clips from her films and news footage, illustrating not only the “scandals” but a sense of humor and immense charm.

2015-Sweden. 114 min. Color-B/W. Produced by Stina Gardell. Directed by Stig Björkman. Music: Michael Nyman. Song: “Filmen om oss” (performed by Eva Dahlgren).

Trivia: Original title: Jag är Ingrid. Sigourney Weaver and Liv Ullmann are interviewed in the film. Alicia Vikander is Bergman’s voice from the diaries. Dahlgren also contributed some of the super 8 footage seen in the film.

Last word: “It all started in Berlin, four and a half years ago. There was a big Ingmar Bergman exhibition and I was there with Harriet Andersson to talk about Ingmar. Isabella [Rossellini, daughter to Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini] was also at the Berlinale as President of the jury. One evening Harriet and I were having dinner and Isabella joined us. She sat next to me, suddenly turned to me and said:…’shall we make a film about mamma???’ I said YES! That’s how it started. Later on I met with Ingrid’s children, Pia Lindström, and Isabella’s two siblings Roberto and Ingrid. They all gave me full access to Ingrid’s archive material stored at the Wesleyan University in Connecticut.” (Björkman, Nordisk film & TV fond)

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CHAPPiE

HUMANITY’S LAST HOPE ISN’T HUMAN.

chappieIn the future, the Johannesburg police force is assisted by highly efficient robots created by a brilliant engineer (Dev Patel); when he gives one of them a mind of its own, he’s threatened from two sides… Based on a short film that Neill Blomkamp made in 2004, this noisy, dystopian sci-fi thriller with a social commentary on the future of artificial intelligence will also remind fans of his previous District 9 and even RoboCop, perhaps a little too much. The story follows familiar patterns, but offers interesting moments as well as some explosive action, and an effective motion-capture performance by Sharlto Copley.

2015-U.S. 120 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Neill Blomkamp. Screenplay: Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell. Music: Hans Zimmer. Cast: Sharlto Copley (CHAPPiE), Dev Patel (Deon Wilson), Ninja (Ninja), Yo-Landi Visser, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Hugh Jackman… Sigourney Weaver.

Trivia: Ninja and Visser are normally members of a South African rap-rave group, Die Antwoord.

5 kopia

 

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