January 18, 2014 |
With a title like Bullet in the Face , you know Alan Spencer's latest TV comedy means business. Lauded by fans for more than three decades as the creator of ABC's mid-1980s police satire Sledge Hammer! , Spencer returns to the genre with Bullet , which he developed last year for IFC. A critical and ratings hit, the wickedly dark and hilarious series ran for six half-hour episodes and is now available on DVD. Imbued with a unique postmodern noir look, the series is set in Brute City, a "melting pot of crime" ruled by vicious kingpins such as Racken (Eric Roberts)
November 30, 2012
Boris N. Strugatsky, 79, a prolific writer who used the genre of science fiction to voice criticisms of Soviet life that would have been unthinkable in other literary forms, died Nov. 19 in St. Petersburg. The cause was heart failure, his biographer, Boris Vishnevsky, said. Employed as an astronomer at a state observatory, Mr. Strugatsky began collaborating on science fiction with his older brother, Arkady, in 1956. Together they produced rich, often bleak allegorical landscapes that ranged from a dysfunctional institute for the research of magic in Mondays Begin on Saturday to a postapocalyptic "zone" littered with deadly extraterrestrial objects in Roadside Picnic , adapted for Stalker, Andrei Tarkovsky's revered 1979 film.
May 6, 2007 |
Like a prophecy too dangerous for its times, Alejandro Jodorowsky's infamous, myth-and-blood-soaked cult film El Topo went into hiding not long after its 1970 release. Actually, it fell victim to a 30-year legal dispute between Jodorowsky and the film's distributor, Allen Klein. But it may as well have vanished. A surreal cross between a Sergio Leone spaghetti western and (a poor man's version of) Andrei Tarkovsky's metaphysical sagas (Stalker, Mirror), El Topo made a big splash during its brief run. Widely credited as the first midnight movie, it enjoyed a sold-out nightly run at the Elgin Theatre in Manhattan for more than nine months, starting in December 1970.
November 29, 2002 |
If George Clooney ever decides to publish a book about his life, the focus won't be his famous family, tabloid-worthy love affairs or acting career. It will be his 1972 IBM Selectric typewriter. The computer-challenged actor likes to use the typewritten word to express his views, good or bad. Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly was on the receiving end of one of his letters when he questioned the sincerity of a group of celebrities who raised money for 9/11 victims. So was actress Renee Zellweger, after she defied skeptics by turning her Texas drawl into an authentic British accent in the film "Bridget Jones's Diary.
November 27, 2002 |
Endlessly repeating the same process and hoping for different results was Einstein's definition of insanity. Yet compulsive repetition makes for terrific films, such as Groundhog Day and Solaris, Steven Soderbergh's enigmatic sci-fi sonnet starring George Clooney as an astro-psychologist who could use a shrink himself. When Dr. Chris Kelvin (Clooney) travels to a distant space station to treat hallucinating scientists orbiting the ocean planet Solaris, his dead wife, Rheya (Natascha McElhone)
June 7, 2001 |
The Sundance Channel is joining with the Criterion Collection to present a series of landmark foreign films over 13 weeks beginning tonight, with a different title airing each Thursday. The series will include works by such renowned directors as Jean Renoir, Roman Polanski, Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa and Federico Fellini. Each film is preceded at 8:30 p.m. by "Conversations in World Cinema," which talks to filmmakers. Past guests have included Liv Ullmann for "Faithless," Ang Lee for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and Ed Harris for "Pollock.
March 12, 1998 |
No disrespect to Alexander Sokurov - the Russian exponent of Transcendental Cinema and protege of Andrei Tarkovsky - but if you want to paint, go get a canvas and a brush. "Painterly" doesn't begin to describe Sokurov's Mother and Son, which begins with a shot of a couple huddled together in a murky blur and stays there - and stays there - until one figure finally stirs, issuing a benumbed blurt of words. ("Last night I had a dream," says the man. "It was strange. ") The couple that occupy this static space, and then move on to various other static spaces, and to a landscape of bent trees and crooked horizons, are the title characters.
August 21, 1992 |
When Andrei Roublev was first released in the late 1960s, critic Nigel Andrews hailed it as "the one indisputable Russian masterpiece of the last decade. " This sweeping epic, directed by Andrei Tarkovsky and shot in CinemaScope, is ostensibly a biography of the 15th-century Russian icon painter, but so little was known about the artist's life that Tarkovsky uses Roublev (played by Anatoly Solonitsin) as a jumping-off point to examine the creative process - and the creative process at odds with authoritarian rule and the turmoil of a country torn asunder.
August 16, 1991 |
Poor Gully Jimson. He is an artist without a farthing in his pocket, yet his paintings are hanging in London's National Gallery. But does he care? As marvelously characterized by Alec Guinness in The Horse's Mouth (1958), a memorable adaptation of Joyce Cary's novel, Gully only cares about finding a wall on which to paint a heroic fresco of Lazarus. Scored to the carousel-like music of Sergei Prokofiev, The Horse's Mouth is a jaunty journey through London's taprooms and tenements, with the enterprising Gully seeking solace in the meaty arms of his ex-wife and his soon-to-be-ex-patrons.
August 9, 1991 |
Some art historians dismiss Rembrandt (1936) because this biography starring Charles Laughton as the Dutch master perpetuates the fiction that the artist's Nightwatch was misunderstood in its time, ditto the painter himself. Yet this superlative portrait of the artist captures so many deeper truths about Rembrandt, about art, about patronage, about love, that it is one of the most supremely embraceable of movies. Laughton provides an affecting and affectionate interpretation of the artist, a man of contrasts stark as the pearly light and velvet shadow of his paintings.