February 12, 2011 |
P.G. Sturges has led many lives. Sitting on a bench on a warm weekday morning outside the Page Museum in Mid-Wilshire, he elaborates on a few: Navy submarine crewmember, Christmas tree grower, screenwriter, metrologist. Now, at 57, he's added novelist to the résumé, with the release of "Shortcut Man," a hard-boiled mystery with a comic (or, at least, ironic) edge. Narrated by Dick Henry, known as the shortcut man because of his ability to cut to the heart of a problem, it unfolds, as such works tend to do, in a peculiarly Los Angeles sort of netherworld, suspended between wealth and want and full of corruption on every side.
July 25, 2010 |
Most filmmakers who had a hand in shaping the language of the art form approached cinema with the mind-set of pioneers, eager to test and prove the medium's expressive potential. Not so Sacha Guitry. The French actor, writer and director who secured his place in the cinematic pantheon with a series of dazzling comedies made in the 1930s turned to film begrudgingly, spoke of it with condescension and maintained a lifelong allegiance to his first and true love, the theater. Guitry was born and raised in Russia, the son of a stage star who was for a time under contract with a French theater company in St. Petersburg.
January 1, 2010 |
Todd Phillips is smiling. He has good reason for cheer. As director of one of the hottest comedies of 2009, "The Hangover," the 39-year-old has already established himself among Hollywood's firmament. And the release of the DVD and Blu-ray versions of the film just before the holidays has made Phillips even merrier. Humor is nothing new to the producer-director who helmed "Old School," "School for Scoundrels," "Road Trip" and "Starsky and Hutch." "I had a sense of humor when I was a kid," he says, seated at a linen-covered table in a vacant room at Caesars Palace, where most of "The Hangover" was shot.
December 23, 2009
Yes, Virginia, there are many Christmas movies out in the cinematic universe other than the old faithfuls "It's a Wonderful Life," "Miracle on 34th Street," "A Christmas Story," "A Christmas Carol" and "Home Alone." "Remember the Night," one of the best Christmas movies you've probably never heard of, has finally arrived on DVD (available at www.tcm.com) and airs at 5 p.m. Thursday on Turner Classic Movies. And like so many holiday films, including "Miracle on 34th Street," which was released in May 1947, the romantic comedy-drama "Remember the Night" came out in January 1940, a full 11 months before the holidays.
October 4, 2009 |
Farber on Film The Complete Film Writings of Manny Farber Edited by Robert Polito Library of America: 824 pp., $40 At this year's Academy Awards, the most incongruous moment came during the "In Memoriam" roll call. Among the distinguished deceased was "Manny Farber, Film Critic." Outside of Martin Scorsese and a few other relative old-timers, I wonder how many members of the academy recognized the name, let alone remembered Farber's 1957 assessment of the complicity between the typical good-housekeeping movie reviewer and Hollywood's distribution of those 13 1/2 -inch statuettes: "His choice of best salami is a picture backed by studio build-up, agreement amongst his colleagues . . . and a list of ingredients that anyone's unsophisticated aunt in Oakland can spot as comprising a distinguished film."
August 5, 2009 |
Not every movie produced by the Hollywood studios during the Golden Age was tied up in neat little bows; it wasn't all boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl. "Films were more edgy and involved characters that were less than perfect," says UCLA film professor Jonathan Kuntz. "Certainly in the 1930s with the Great Depression, there was a lot of disillusionment with the establishment and society. World War II shook everything up and all kinds of crazy things happen."