Posts Tagged ‘Howard Hawks’

5 Remakes That Are (Arguably) Better Than The Original

Posted 03 Dec 2013 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a truly frightening film, the rare remake that lives up to its source material.Remakes of classic films have an even worse track record than sequels when it comes to relative quality. Whether they change everything and ruin the whole idea (Frank Oz’s 2004 Stepford Wives remake) or remain slavishly faithful to the original (Gus Van Sant’s 1998 Psycho remake), most remakes have great difficulty in justifying their own existence, let alone surpassing the original. Here are five that achieve this rare feat.

10 Remakes That Are (Arguably) Better Than The Original1. INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978) – this is the only one on the list that I wouldn’t argue is definitely better than the original, but it’s pretty damn close. Transposing the McCarthy-era paranoia of Don Siegel’s 1956 classic to the pre-Reagan era, Philip Kaufman’s remake presents an even darker vision, complete with a chilling ending in the spirit of the one Siegel had originally envisioned for his film, before the studio interfered to happy it up a little. Featuring great performances by Donald Sutherland, Jeff Goldblum and Leonard Nimoy, and state of the art special effects for the time, this is a truly frightening film, the rare remake that lives up to its source material.  Read More

My Week With Marilyn

Posted 22 Apr 2012 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

My Week with Marilyn, UK / USA, 2011

Directed by Simon Curtis

My Week with Marilyn is a solid biopic buoyed by an excellent performance from Michelle Williams. Marilyn Monroe was my first real crush, even before I really knew what a crush was. I grew up on old movies, which is probably the reason I still find the image of a woman smoking with a cocktail in the other hand extremely sexy, and no woman on the silver screen from that golden era long before I was born held the mysterious, seductive allure of Marilyn. Three of her films in particular were my childhood obsessions: Otto Preminger’s River of No Return (1954), Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot (1959) and John Huston’s The Misfits (1961), which turned out to be her final feature. Of course, there were other favorites, especially Howard Hawks’ Monkey Business (1952) and Wilder’s The Seven Year Itch (1955), but those three really captured her sweet vulnerability, her almost oblivious sensuality, and the soft sadness behind her alluring smile, an indication of the hard life she had lived and, as my young mind and these films dared to hope, had now left behind. In reality, of course, poor Marilyn’s life only got harder, until it was snuffed out all too soon. Read More

John Carpenter’s The Thing

Posted 07 Oct 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

John Carpenter’s The Thing, USA, 1982

Directed by John Carpenter

John Carpenter's The Thing is perhaps the scariest film of the 1980s. Continuing with my Month Of Halloween Movies (MOHM? Think of it more as a modified yoga chant and less as me crying out for my Mommy), it’s time now to revisit one of my perennial favorites, one that first traumatized me as an impressionable seven-or-eight-year-old when I saw it on a dubbed VHS tape, which is probably the best way to be introduced to any horror film from the 1970s or ’80s. John Carpenter’s vastly different, and I would argue superior, updating of the Howard Hawks produced, Christian Nyby directed classic The Thing from Another World (1951) is undoubtedly one of the nastiest, darkest horror films ever to make it to mainstream movie screens, a spiritual descendant of Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) and a predecessor of David Cronenberg’s The Fly (1986). Don’t get me wrong – the original is absolutely one of the very best of the 1950s UFO-paranoia movies, with only Robert Wise’s The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) really equaling or exceeding it. It’s just that Carpenter’s relentlessly dark vision and the supremely grotesque special effects created by Rob Bottin easily trump even the best of the ’50s for sheer terror and awesomeness. Also, Kurt Russell’s iconic turn as the anti-hero of the story, R.J. MacReady, is one of the quintessential performances of ’80s machismo. Let’s look at the three main things that make this movie so great, beginning with Russell. Read More

Absolute Corruption – Three Films About Power

Posted 29 Jul 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews

By Ezra Stead

Citizen Kane has been widely cited as the greatest American film ever made. Citizen Kane, USA, 1941

Directed by Orson Welles

Scarface, USA, 1932

Directed by Howard Hawks

Beauty and the Beast, France, 1946

Written and Directed by Jean Cocteau

Never before or since has any director made such an impressive feature film debut as Orson Welles did, at the astonishing age of 25, with Citizen Kane (1941). Despite having no prior experience in filmmaking, Welles was given carte blanche on the film, and he delivered the most original, innovative and provocative film of its time. Even today it is considered one of the greatest films ever made, and it is a standard by which all other films are judged. According to the great critic Andrew Sarris, as quoted in his 1967 book Interviews with Film Directors, “Citizen Kane is still the work which influenced the cinema more profoundly than any American film since Birth of a Nation.” Read More

Super 8 – A Return To The Popcorn Crowd

Posted 18 Jul 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Super 8, USA, 2011

Written and Directed by J.J. Abrams

Super 8 is a very fun summer movie in the vein of early Spielberg. Working part-time at IFC Center in the heart of Greenwich Village in New York City means, among other things, that it has been quite some time since I have been to a more mainstream, populist movie theater. It’s not that I’ve become a snob, it’s just that the allure of free movies at not only IFC, but also an extraordinary range of other indie and arthouse theaters here in the maggoty Big Apple, has kept me away from the kind of movies for which I might actually have to pay. It hasn’t really been that difficult, since pretty much everything I’ve actually wanted to see for the past six months has played at one of those less mainstream spots.

When a coworker asked me a few months ago if I was going to see Thor when it opened, I sort of shrugged, thought about it, and realized I didn’t really give much of a damn about any superhero movies coming out until next summer, when Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises and Joss Whedon’s The Avengers open; the former holds significant interest because The Dark Knight (2008) is probably the best superhero movie that will ever be made (prove me wrong, Nolan), and the latter only because of Whedon, whose television series Firefly (2002) and its subsequent cinematic follow-up, Serenity (2005), are among the best science fiction works since Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982). Seriously, I am no snob – under the right circumstances, I will watch literally anything that has ever been filmed – but I don’t really feel the need to seek out yet another remake, sequel, or superhero movie every time one is released. Read More

The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford

Posted 25 Mar 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, USA / Canada, 2007

Written and Directed by Andrew Dominik

Based on the Novel by Ron Hansen

The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford was the best film of 2007. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is probably the single most beautifully shot film of 2007. Every single frame is composed with a painter’s attention to detail, and the result is one of the most classically gorgeous works of cinematic art in recent years.

However, the incredible cinematography by legendary director of photography Roger Deakins (who also shot Barton Fink, The Shawshank Redemption and No Country For Old Men, to name just a few) is just the proverbial icing; the cake is Casey Affleck, in one of the finest screen performances I’ve ever seen. His Robert Ford is nothing short of masterful, a grinning ghoul that would give anyone “the willies,” as Frank James (Sam Shepard) puts it in one early scene, but at the same time a sad and very empathetic character, because he represents the almost shameful desire for fame and glory inside all of us. Affleck’s awkward mannerisms throughout the film are a joy to behold; it is a meticulously crafted performance that continues to haunt me long after viewing the film. Ford’s every motivation in the film is to serve his naive ambition, and there is a feeling throughout of something deeply wrong with the young man; he never shows a genuine connection with anyone outside of his hero-worship of Jesse James (Brad Pitt, in one of his best performances as well). Read More