Claudia Cardinale


France during the war is a perennial setting for filmmakers wishing to impart some quality gravity to their story. The moral stakes are high and clear, the Americans can always be relied upon for a final-act deus ex machina, and everyone just looks so glamorous. Plus, all the international cinema prizes are selected by juries who were young boys at the time, so its an easy and effortless bid for a sentimental vote. The Artist and the Model, Fernando Trueba’s 2012 film about l’occupation de la France, appears to consider itself a contender for membership in this venerable genre. But unfortunately, it’s as lifeless and contrived as an amateur model trying to hold a pose. It has all the set pieces it could possibly want: Nazis, elderly French artists, naked and nubile résistantes. And yet it squanders it on a scanty plot that appears to serve only as justification for letting an old man — the titular artist, not the director or the assumed audience — stare at a nude girl for an hour and forty minutes. Trueba, it seems, considered this to be some kind of a labor of love. He created the role of the sculptor with veteran French actor Jean Rochefort specficially in mind, and the woman who plays the model, Aida Folch, learned to speak French just for the project. The director dedicated the film to a recently deceased brother, a sculptor of some renown. This may be why he chose to have his impassive protagonist […]



Once upon a time, Hollywood was king of the Western and the idea of anybody over in Europe making a movie about the American Southwest as successful as something like High Noon was laughable. Italian-produced films about the west, or Spaghetti Westerns, were largely low budget knock-offs where fading Hollywood stars went to die after their careers had peaked. But the work of Sergio Leone changed that viewpoint. His “The Man With No Name” trilogy wasn’t just a worldwide financial success upon release, the films have gone on to be seen as some of the greatest Westerns produced anywhere, throughout the history of film. And the final installment of that series, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, has especially become an important part of the fabric of pop culture. More than any other Western I can think of, it’s stood the test of time and achieved a level of awareness that rivals any other classic film in any other genre. Often it’s referred to as not just the definitive Spaghetti Western and Leone’s masterpiece, but as the definitive Western, period. That’s all fine and good, because I think The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is largely a great film; but I think he actually improved two years later when he made Once Upon a Time in the West, my pick for the greatest Western of all time.


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Burt Lancaster. Lee Marvin. Robert Ryan. Woody Strode. Jack Palance. Ralph Bellamy. Claudia Cardinale. An incredible line-up was utilized to the fullest degree possible (117 degrees in the desert heat) in Richard Brooks’s The Professionals. It’s a stellar men-on-a-mission story where a group with 100 proof women, 90 proof whiskey and 14 carat gold on its mind gets rounded up to save a young wife from the marauder that’s taken her across the border into Mexico.

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published: 01.28.2015
published: 01.28.2015
published: 01.28.2015
published: 01.27.2015

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