All posts under Vintage

Il Postino

Il Postino

This past awards season, Harvey Weinstein launched a brilliant campaign and helped sweep THE KING’S SPEECH into the Oscar winners circle. (Some marvelous acting and an emotionally rich story didn’t hurt either.) Back in 1995, when he was head of Miramax, Weinstein and the “Miramax marketing machine” first showed their marketing chops with the tender Italian film IL POSTINO. Ridiculously retitled The Postman for stupid U.S. audiences that are either frightened or turned off by foreign words (DANGEROUS LIAISONS anyone?), the film stars Massimo Troisi as a simple postman who…

Read More

Notes on a Scandal

Notes on a Scandal

It’s spring (though you’d never know it from the temperatures here in Manhattan) and supposedly love is in the air. So it’s only fitting to revisit the chilly “love story” of NOTES ON A SCANDAL (2006). Judi Dench stars as a lonely, spinster high school teacher who forms a friendship with the new art teacher, Sheba (Cate Blanchett), until she catches Sheba involved in an affair with one of her underage students. Positioned as major Oscar bait at year’s end, Richard Eyre’s direction is taut and Patrick Marber’s script makes the most…

Read More

The Thrill of the Hunt

foxhunt

I’ve never participated in a fox hunt for a couple of reasons–1) It’s now banned almost everywhere, 2) I’m afraid of horses, and 3) it requires me to be outdoors. Though I’m fully aware of the animal cruelty issues, there’s still something appealing about the time-honored tradition of a good old-fashioned hunt. Plus, I think I’d look damn good in a pair of jodhpurs. So I live out these admittedly romantic notions through the movies, where the hunt usually brings out the best in a composer. One of the most memorable…

Read More

The Adventures of *

adventures

From the earliest days of sound film, animation and jazz have made hip, beautiful music together. From swinging classics like Warner Bros.’s “I Wanna Singa,” starring “Owl Jolson,” through more experimental animation in the 1950’s and beyond, animators have often used jazz as their inspiration. I discovered one of my favorite animated shorts in 2008 when I was covering the Jazz Score exhibit at M0MA for FSM Online. Academy Award-winning animators John and Faith Hubley’s THE ADVENTURES OF * (1957) tells the story of an asterisk (the symbol used for…

Read More

On a High and Windy Hill

Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing

Following the success of Dimitri Tiomkin’s title song for HIGH NOON, whose popularity prior to the film’s release marketed it to box office bucks (and no doubt helped him win the Oscar), producers scrambled to add songs to films, whether they warranted them or not. Popular songs like “Moon River” (BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S), “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” (BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID) and “The Way We Were” undoubtedly assisted Henry Mancini, Burt Bacharach and Marvin Hamlisch, to name three, to double wins on Oscar night. Only twice…

Read More

Anastasia (1956)

Anastia

After fleeing her family and running off with Italian director Roberto Rossellini, scandalizing the film community, Ingrid Bergman was welcomed back into Hollywood’s bosom in 1956 with her dramatic performance in ANASTASIA. Bergman won her second Oscar as the mentally troubled Anna Anderson who is being tutored by Prince Bounine (Yul Brynner) to impersonate Anastasia, the daughter of slain Russian Tsar Nicholas II, who was it was rumored had escaped the 1918 massacre of the royal family. Based on Marcelle Maurette’s 1954 play, the film can’t help belie its stage…

Read More

Far From the Madding Crowd

Far From the Madding Crowd

If given the chance, I would watch Julie Christie read the phone book. (Do they even make phone books anymore?) And the torrid, tragic romanticism of Thomas Hardy’s novels seem perfect for cinematic translation, with their surging passions, period detail and wind-swept English locales. Put the two together and you have a recipe for success, right? Up to a point… Hardy’s FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD reunited Christie with director John Schlesinger and screenwriter Frederick Raphael, both of whom had propelled her to her an Oscar in 1965 for Darling. (Raphael…

Read More

From the Horse’s Mouth

Equus

One of the challenges of bringing plays to the screen is how to “open up” the stage-bound dialogue and events so that it feels and sounds more like a film. And when a play depends as much on its imaginative staging as Peter Shaffer’s EQUUS does, that job is made even more difficult. Richard Burton stars as a troubled psychiatrist who must discover the reasons for a disturbed teenager’s (Peter Firth, reprising his stage role) blinding of six horses. Shaffer’s psychobabble hasn’t aged particularly well and the film loses some of…

Read More

The Preacher’s Wife

The Preacher's Wife

For such a bona fide star, Whitney Houston has not had much of a film career. Granted, her choice of projects has been questionable. But the camera loves her and her star power compensates for her lack of acting ability. One of Houston’s stronger films is THE PREACHER’S WIFE, Penny Marshall’s pleasant remake of 1947’s THE BISHOP’S WIFE. Houston stars as the wife of Reverend Henry Biggs (Courtney B. Vance), whose marriage is in trouble and whose church is under threat of being torn down by local-boy-made-good (Gregory Hines). When he asks God for…

Read More

Babel

Babel

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s BABEL (2006) completed the trilogy that began with AMORES PERRES (2000) and 21 GRAMS (2003). The multi-cultural BABEL tells four interlocking stories on three continents in five languages. Brad Pritt and Cate Blanchett star as an unhappy American couple on vacation in Morocco. When Blanchett is accidentally shot by a stray bullet from a shepherd boy in the hills, it results in an international crisis. Back home in San Diego, Brad and Cate’s housekeeper (Adriana Barraza) takes their two young children over the Mexican border in order…

Read More