Read Mindjack's Daily Relay
tracking trends and developments
in digital culture

home | archives | about us | feedback

Monday, December 22, 2003

Ebert & Roeper's Top 10 and then some
In his usual tradition, Roger Ebert lists his top 10 films of the year, then gives another dozen or so a special jury prize. Monster, with Charlize Theron, is his number 1. Some other notable entries include the largely Canadian production Owning Mahowney at number seven, and the relatively obscure The Son at number eight. Richard Roeper gives his top 25 films, with Jim Sheridan's In America at the top. See both lists in full here.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 12/22/2003

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Review: The Manchurian Candidate
directed by John Frankenheimer
starring Frank Sinatra, Lawrence Harvey, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh, James Gregory

There's a remake of The Manchurian Candidate currently being made by Jonathan Demme. Why this is necessary, I don't know. The cast is interesting: Denzel Washington in the Sinatra role, Liev Schreiber as Raymond Shaw (originally played by Lawrence Harvey), Meryl Streep as Raymond's mother (played brilliantly by Angela Lansbury in the original) and Jon Voight as Senator Jordon. IMDb doesn't have a listing for McCarthy-inspired Senator Iselin. But good casting can't make up for the wrong-headedness of this idea.

This isn't as bad an idea as Gus Van Sant's shot-by-shot remake of Psycho, but it's close. The original Manchurian Candidate (1962) is not only one of the best political thrillers made, it achieves the most difficult feat of any political film: it remains as relevant as ever, some forty years after its release. Also, like Psycho, this is a film that needs to be black and white. Just look at the lighting used on Lawrence Harvey's face throughout the film, or the wonderful composition of the final scene at Madison Square Garden and try to imagine it in color.

The film's tagline is: "If you come in five minutes after this picture begins, you won't know what it's all about! When you've seen it all, you'll swear there's never been anything like it." Unlike most films, The Manchurian Candidate actually lives up to the hype. The film's famous first five minutes show an American army patrol in Korea captured by an assemblage of Korean, Chinese and Soviet forces. Shortly thereafter in the film, through a wonderfully surreal flashback sequence, we learn that the patrol has been brainwashed and that one of the members, Raymond Shaw, remains under their control. The suspense builds form this point on, as it's unclear what Raymond's mission is or who exactly his controller is.

I already mentioned Angela Lansbury's performance, but Frank Sinatra as Maj. Bennett Marco is deserving of mention as well. Rarely is Sinatra described as a great actor, often just playing himself in films, but here he gives a truly nuanced performance that is key to the success of the film.

The one complaint occasionally thrown at the film concerns Janet Leigh's character, Rosie, who meets Marco on a train and delivers some very unusual dialogue. In his review of the film, Roger Ebert raises an interesting theory about this that I tend to agree with -- that Marco is another sleeper assassin and Rosie is his controller, adding another layer of complexity to an already convoluted story.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 12/18/2003

I just came across Rosebud -- a wonderful resource for anyone interested in studying film. The best part is the film glossary, which includes clips with many of the definitions, like this example of deep focus from Citizen Kane.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 12/18/2003

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

BFI's screenonline
The British Film Institute has launched screenonline, with a wealth of information about British film and television. There are video and audio materials too, but it's limited to users from UK schools, colleges and libraries.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 12/17/2003

Friday, December 12, 2003

Reunderstanding Movies
My article, Reunderstanding Movies, about how DVDs and the Internet are changing the way we watch movies, is in the new Mindjack.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 12/12/2003

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Finally, the original Japanese cut of Godzilla will be getting a (limited) theatrical release next spring with a DVD to follow. The film was changed significantly for its release in the US, toning down the anti-nuclear sentiments and adding Raymond Burr. To date, this has been the only version easily available in North America. (via scrubbles)
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 12/11/2003

Slant's Best of '03
Here's a top 10 list I've been looking to, Ed Gonzalez's at Slant Magazine. Two Gus Van Sant films made the list; Gerry at #2 and Elephant at #10. Robert Altman's The Company is number 1. Also notable, the anime film Millennium Actress at #6 and the oft-maligned Cabin Fever at #8. It's unlikely we'll see either those on many other lists.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 12/11/2003

Monday, December 08, 2003

Big Happenings at BNAT5
Harry Knowles (of Ain't it Cool News) scored quite a coup with his latest Butt-Numb-a-Thon one day film festivel, not only screening Return of the King and The Passion of Christ, but having Peter Jackson and Mel Gibson there in person. More reviews from the event here, here and here.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 12/08/2003

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Newsweek's Top Ten
Newsweek places American Splendor atop its top 10 list. Also check out their top 5 documentaries.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 12/07/2003

Friday, December 05, 2003

Speaking of Lists
I'm not a fan of lists by consensus like the now infamous AFI Top 100 (though the British Film Institute's list isn't half bad). I do, however, enjoy the various reactions to these lists. A couple of great ones are: Jonathan Rosenbaum's Alternative 100 Top Films/Movies, Slant Magazine's 100 Essential Films, Cinescape's Top 100 Sci-Fi, Horror & Fantasy Films, and James Beradinelli's All-Time Top 100. And, of course, Roger Ebert's Great Movies series -- not exactly a list but some of the best writing about film around.

Anyone care to share their own reactions to these lists? Or point out some good lists that I've missed? Discuss Here.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 12/05/2003

The Lists Begin
Artforum has the first year-end top 10 lists I've seen. Contributors are: John Waters, Amy Taubin, Geoffrey O'Brien, James Quandt, and Stephanie Zacherek.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 12/05/2003

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Independent Spirit Award Nominees
The nominations for the 2004 Independent Spirit Awards have been announced. Up for best feature are:
American Splendor
In America
Lost in Translation
Raising Victor Vargas
Shattered Glass
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 12/04/2003

Subscribe to our RSS feed:
Subscribe with Bloglines



Your Ad Here

More from Mindjack:

Daily Relay

Tracking trends and developments in digital culture

Support Mindjack


Mindjack Release
Sign up to receive details of new issues

Archives prior to April, 2005 are from Donald Melanson's personal film blog.


Roger Avary
Bitter Cinema
Cinema Minima
Film Journey
Filmmaker Mag Blog
A Girl and a Gun
GreenCine Daily
Indie Film Blog
IFC Blog
Like Anna Karina's Sweater
Masters of Cinema
Reel Reviews Podcast
Wiley Wiggins

Film Criticism and Theory
James Beradinelli
Bright Lights Film Journal
Combustible Celluloid
Dual Lens
Roger Ebert
European Films
The Film Journal
Jim's Film Website
Guardian Unlimited Film
Long Pauses
Milk Plus
The New York Times
The New Yorker
Not Coming to a Theatre Near You
Reverse Shot
Jonathan Rosembaum
Salon A&E
Senses of Cinema
Slant Magazine
The Stranger
Strictly Film School
The Village Voice

Movie News
Ain't It Cool News
Movie City News
Dark Horizons
The Movie Blog
Cinema Confidential
Coming Soon

DVD News & Reviews
The Digital Bits
DVD Journal
DVD Times
DVD Verdict

Print Magazines
Cinema Scope
Film Comment
Independent Film Quarterly
Inside Film
Movie Maker
Sight & Sound
Total Film

IMDb Search