Le Mépris is the closest Jean-Luc Godard has ever come to making a Hollywood-style film: international stars, relatively big budget, script based upon a "prestige" novel, glamorous locations shot in color and 'scope. Of course, it is subversive toward all of the above, and is, among other things, about the absurdities of making a Hollywood-style film. Received with a good deal of puzzlement during its initial release, it was greeted with huge critical acclaim upon its rerelease in 1997.
Freely adapting Alberto Moravia's Il disprezzo (Kaja Silverman and Harun Farocki's book on Godard supplies detail), Godard tells the story of a writer (Michel Piccoli) who earns the contempt of his wife (Brigitte Bardot) when he appears to pander – in more ways than one – to an American film producer (Jack Palance). Though an aspiring "serious" writer, Paul accepts the high-paying job of dumbing down (as we would now call it) the shooting script of a film of The Odyssey being directed by the venerated Fritz Lang (playing himself), and worse yet, he seems to push his beautiful wife into the philandering producer's path. To be sure, nothing is quite so simple as it seems: the rushes we see from Lang's film are so bizarrely abstract (and unlike anything the real Lang ever directed) that one may imagine the consternation of even a less crass producer than Jerry Prokosch (Palance); and Paul's "crime" against his wife is no more tangible than his urging her to go off with Jerry in the latter's two-seater to his villa while Paul takes a cab. But Le Mépris is among other things a semiotician's delight: Lang's footage and Paul's sendoff of his wife in the sports car are signifiers of much else, not to be taken at face value.
Much of Le Mépris is structured upon contrasts of the Classical and the Modern,...Read More
The plot of All About Eve is based on a short story and radio play by the actress and writer Mary Orr, who adapted it from a real life incident told to her by actress Elisabeth Bergner. Joseph Mankiewicz recommended that Darryl F. Zanuck buy the film rights to Orr's story in 1949.
Adapting it for screen, the director originally cast...Read More
Sometimes, what's poorly reviewed isn't what's popular. All three movies in the top spots this week found themselves receiving aggregate middling to poor reviews, but that hasn't stop audiences from making them a bit of money. Ivan Reitman's romantic comedy No Strings Attached came in 1st with $20.3 million, the only newcomer to the Top 10 list this week, beating out The Green...Read More
No Strings Attached, in a word, is funny. It is damn funny, actually. I am just as surprised to write this as you probably are to read this. In fact this movie is so funny, I found myself belly-laughing throughout the entire thing. The storyline in this film screams trite romantic comedy – guy and girl try to have a casual relationship solely...Read More
Director Roel Reine is not a household name, as very few movie directors are, but that doesn't mean his name is not in your home. Reine has mastered the art, and it is an art, of making movies that are produced to go directly to DVD for distribution.
Reine's film credits include The Marine 2, The Lost Tribe, and the recently...Read More
Roel Reine's Death Race 2 is the straight-to-DVD prequel of the 2008 movie Death Race. But if you're thinking a straight to home movie can't do the original justice, think again. From the opening scene to the last second of footage, Director Reine made sure to stay true to two obvious ideas: people loved the first film so he had better capture that...Read More
Ugetsu monogatari was not the first Kenji Mizoguchi film to be shown in the West, but it was the first to reveal him to the West as a major artist. Swiftly establishing itself (especially in France) on many critics' "Ten Best" lists, the film opened the way for the acclamation of the work of Mizoguchi's final period. For some, he became the supreme...Read More
From the beginning, director John Huston insisted that The African Queen be shot on location. To find a river identical to the one in C. S. Forester's novel, he logged 25,000 flying miles criss-crossing Africa until he settled on the Ruiki in the then Belgian Congo. At a time (1951) when on-location shooting was nowhere near as common as today, traveling 1,100 miles...Read More
The General is by far the most famous of the comedy features in which Buster Keaton starred, and in several cases directed or co-directed, between 1923 and 1928. It is also one of the finest, and has appeared on many 10-best-films lists. All of his silent features followed a basic story formula (a popular one in silent comedy): a young "failure" finally displays...Read More
In 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick further explored his dark vision of man in a materialistic, mechanistic age depicted in Dr. Strangelove four years earlier. In explaining how the original idea for this landmark science-fiction film came to him, he says, "Most astronomers and other scientists interested in the whole question are strongly convinced that the universe is crawling with life; much...Read More