The studio is the enemy of the artist! – Norman Jewsion talking to Hal Ashby
When they talk about the great filmmakers of the 1970s, names like Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Altman, Sidney Lumet, and Brian DePalma are always mentioned. Yet, none of these artists made as many great or important films within the decade as Hal Ashby (arguably Robert Altman did as many). Ashby’s 70s work included The Landlord, Harold and Maude, The Last Detail, Shampoo, Bound forby’s Glory, Coming Home, and Being There. All these works were made within that one decade. No other filmmaker of the period had as many excellent films within a ten year period.
Hal Ashby was a rebel with a cause. His work was filled with social commentary on racism, The Vietnam War, the ruling class, the military and more. He loved film and filmmaking more than anything else in life. He fought the fight to keep his work untouched by the corporate bad guys. In Amy Scott’S 2018 documentary, “Hal,” reflects the director’s roguish, anarchic and independent artistic nature. Ashby’s first claim to fame was as a film editor mostly working with director and good friend Norman Jewison on films like The Cincinnati Kid, The Russians Are Coming, The Russians are Coming, In the Heat of the Night, for which he won an Oscar, and The Thomas Crown Affair. But what Ashby wanted to do most was direct and he got his opportunity with The Landord, a film far ahead of its time. Sadly, Ashby’s run of excellent work did not extend into the 1980s. Plagued by rumors of cocaine use and fighting with studio heads both his artistic and personal health suffered. Ashby died of cancer in 1988 he was only 59 years old.
I live in Florida and every year for six months starting on June 1st and going through November 30th we are inundated us with hurricane preparation news and fears by our local weather gurus. They beg us to prepare, know your evacuation routes, have plenty of water, food and be sure important papers are wrapped in plastic bags, all just in case. While tracking hurricane paths has improved tremendously Mother Nature has a way of doing its own thing. Preparation is important, but six months of it is emotionally draining. We’re now in November and the season is almost officially over. By November you can start breathing a sigh of relief for six months before it all starts again. This hurricane season Cat. 5 Dorian devastated the Bahamas and just last season Hurricane Michael massacred the Florida Panhandle. The point is, hurricanes are not to be taken lightly.
Like many comics before her, and after, Gilda Radner was looking for love. Born in Detroit to a middle-class family, her father whom she loved dearly died when she was fourteen. Chubby as a child, the film states her mother, a beautiful looking woman, forced Gilda to take diet pills and repeatedly stressed the importance of being thin. Gilda, feeling unattractive found out she was funny and discovered people liked funny people. Continue reading →
Guilt is the sort of thing that can haunt you, eat at your inner guts, and destroy your mind. It will weigh on you and everyone you come into contact with. Do something horrible, and it can kill you. Based on Stephen King’s novella, 1922 is an exploration of how guilt is unrelenting and its dread can destroy a man and his entire world. Continue reading →
There was a time when photographs actually required film be in the camera instead of a digital disc. Many professional photographers back in the day used Kodachrome because the colors were vibrant. On a bright shiny sunny day, you could get those those nice bright colors, the greens of summers that Paul Simon sang about in his hit song. If stored properly, Kodachrome had a long post processing self-life. Colors did not fade. Kodachrome was also good for magazine reproduction. With the introduction of digital photography, Kodachrome began to lose a significant portion of the market share. In 2009, Kodak stopped producing Kodachrome. In 2010, the last authorized processing facility, Dwayne’s Photos, located in Parsons, Kansas closed its doors. Continue reading →
Brad Anderson’s new film, Beirut has been receiving mixed reviews. Some critics are calling it not accurate. That said, it remains one of the more intelligent and adult films released so far this year which means it will lose money and die a quick death at the box office. With no Marvel superheroes or bottom-feeder level comedy, the film has little to attract the majority of today’s audience. Continue reading →
The new HBO documentary, Elvis The Searcher, sets itself apart from so many other takes we have seen on the man. True, it is was authorized by the Presley estate, Priscilla Presley is one of the producers, and they do tread lightly on his “legal” drug use, and there is no mention of other women. That all said, the film takes a mostly honest look, a discourse, at Presley’s life and his place in the history of popular culture. Since his sad final years, his death and his afterlife, Elvis has become something of a laughing stock, known more for being a fat, pathetic, over the hill, jumpsuit wearing laughing point than the pop culture subversive artist he was. The documentary attempts to correct this by putting Elvis, his talent, his revolutionary influence back in its proper perspective. It’s also, intentionally or not, a look at the sad failure of the American Dream. Continue reading →
At a time when journalism and the news media, in general, is under attack for delivering “fake news,” Steven Spielberg’s film The Post delivers a message on the importance of a free and separate press; the need for the truth to come out despite attacks from those in positions of power and influence. Continue reading →
With January rapidly coming to an end, I thought I better make my list of best/favorite movies released in 2017. I have not yet seen some of the films popping up on many folks lists, Shape of Water, I Tonya, The Post to name a few, so it is possible my own list could change. However, I did not want to wait until March or later to put something out. The films are in no particular. Maybe, there will be an update.
After recently watching Sofia Coppola’s first rate remake of the 1971 gothic western, The Beguiled, I was motivated to take a look at the original Don Siegel directed film which I have not seen since it was first released back in 1971. Both films stay close in plot, but head in alternate directions when it comes to a point of view. That may be in part due to the gender difference of the directors as well as the mores and attitudes that have evolved in the more than forty years separating the two works. Continue reading →