Hal Ashby

Over Under - Large

In 2011, director Tate Taylor adapted Kathryn Stockett’s novel “The Help,” a story about the relationship between the wealthy whites and the poor blacks who raised their children of 60s-era Mississippi, into a feature film. When all was said and done, Taylor’s film made nearly ten times its production budget, was nominated for a truckload of awards (including 8 NAACP Image Awards and 4 Academy Awards), and had everyone’s aunts and grandmas talking their ears off about how much they wanted to go see it. To say that it ended up being a success would be something of an understatement. The Landlord is the debut of director Hal Ashby, one of the great ’70s filmmakers who, for some reason, doesn’t get the same recognition as many of his contemporaries. It earned Lee Grant a nomination for Best Supporting Actress back in the day, but it’s a film (like most of Ashby’s work not named Harold and Maude) that’s been generally forgotten over time. This is strange, because not only is it a great film that pushes some racial hot-buttons, but it also features a couple of actors who went on to do big things in Beau Bridges and Lou Gossett Jr.

read more...

Criterion Files

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Moonrise Kingdom. Wes Anderson is known for getting his inspiration from a variety of sources. While Anderson’s signature visual quirks make his films unquestionably his own, the director’s images, themes, and characters also emerge through an amalgamation of materials that inspire him, whether the source be the stories of J.D. Salinger or the pathos of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts. But most of Anderson’s references are to other works of cinema, as detailed in this five-part video essay by Matt Zoller Seitz, which details Anderson’s particular influence by auteurs ranging from Orson Welles to Hal Ashby. However, certain films anchor their influence more directly than others. For instance, The Life Aquatic was greatly inspired by Federico Fellini’s post-Dolce Vita work, and The Darjeeling Limited is dedicated to celebrated Indian auteur Stayajit Ray. In the weeks since the Cannes premiere and commercial release of Anderson’s latest, Moonrise Kingdom, several critics have noted that only does the film seem to be directly influenced by a specific director, but one particular film by that director. Pierrot le Fou, Jean-Luc Godard’s colorful, whimsically anarchistic couple-on-the-run film from 1965 seems to bear a great deal of similarity to Moonrise Kingdom, which takes place the year that Godard’s film was originally released in France (Pierrot’s US release was delayed until 1969, where it stood curiously opposite Godard’s polemical late-60s work). Having read several reviews that cite Pierrot‘s influence on Moonrise, I reflected back on both films, and here are some of the […]

read more...

Culture Warrior

As much as I admire the incomparable films made during the era, New Hollywood (the term referring to innovative, risk-taking films made funded by studios from the mid-60s to the mid-70s) is a title that I find a bit problematic. The words “New Hollywood” better characterize the era that came after what the moniker traditionally refers to. Think about it: if “Old” or “Classical” Hollywood refers to the time period that stretches roughly from 1930 to 1960 when the studios as an industry maintained such an organized and regimented domination over and erasure of any other potential conception over what a film playing in any normal movie theater could be, then if we refer to the time period from roughly 1977 to now “New Hollywood,” the term then appropriately signifies a new manifestation of the old: regimentation, predictability, and limitation of expression. Where Old Hollywood studios would produce dozens of films of the same genre, New Hollywood (as I’m appropriating the term) could acutely describe the studios’ comparably stratified output of sequels, remakes, etc. What we traditionally understand to be New Hollywood was not so much its own monolithic era in Hollywood’s legacy, but a brief, strange, and wonderful lapse between two modes of Hollywood filmmaking that have dominated the industry’s history.

read more...

Over Under - Large

When thinking about which films I consider to be overrated, I keep coming back to two different categories. First there are the art films that get embraced by the movie geek community and praised to high heaven for their crafting, whether they really makes for an exceptional overall movie-going experience or not. And then there are the movies that get overrated by the mainstream. They’re mostly sentimental movies that tug on the heartstrings, with characters that hit low lows, but then achieve some new victory. Robert Zemeckis’ Forrest Gump is definitely the latter. It’s a movie that seems designed solely to make parents and grandparents nod knowingly at historical incidents they remember and then tear up when a sad part rolls around; but they love it for it. Being There was nominated for the Palme d’Or and even won Melvyn Douglas an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor back when it came out, but it’s a movie I never hear mentioned these days. As a matter of fact, other than the little bit of nostalgia that remains for Harold and Maude, I would say that Hal Ashby is a director whose career has been kind of forgotten by my generation of film fans. That’s a shame, because the man did some great work, and this film in particular has one of the last great performances by the legendary Peter Sellers.

read more...

Jonathan Levine‘s 50/50 bares many similarities to a Hal Ashby film. Many writers/directors have attempted to emulate the Harold and Maude director’s style, capturing both the tragedies and odd humor of life, and most of the time they all come off as lazy homage. Like a bad film student trying to ape a filmmaker he or she loves, it’s embarrassing and clumsy. However, writer Will Reiser, co-star/producer Seth Rogen, and director Jonathan Levine managed to make a film inspired by the legend, and yet make their own personal and heartfelt story. A part of that heart comes from the honesty that the filmmakers captured. 50/50 had to jump over some big tonal obstacles, which, as our own review points out, it did so without a hitch. Here’s what Will Reiser and Seth Rogen had to say in our brief chat about Hal Ashby, real life not working on the page, and finding Jonathan Levine:

read more...

Criterion Files

Bob Rafelson’s highly underrated The King of Marvin Gardens (1972) works as something of an unofficial sequel to his beloved previous film and the rightful centerpiece of the BBS Story, Five Easy Pieces (1970). After the “farcidelia” of Head, Rafelson’s second film could not be further from its opposite in tone, aesthetics, and overall relation to the counterculture, whose narrative absence is used to great effect in the latter film. It wasn’t until Rafelson’s third film as director that his identity as a filmmaker started to solidify through his continued exploration of themes shared between films. Like many filmmakers of the New Hollywood generation, Rafleson possessed symptoms of the self-conscious auteur, but the similarities between Five Easy Pieces and The King of Marvin Gardens go far beyond surface connections that denote a consistent cinematic personality behind the camera in terms of themes and style, but instead point to a rare kind of filmmaker altogether during New Hollywood or any era.

read more...

Our Culture Warrior Landon Palmer digs into next month’s Cannes line up so you won’t have to. Learn what to look out for when they hit the states and feign sounding cultured at parties!

read more...
Some movie websites serve the consumer. Some serve the industry. At Film School Rejects, we serve at the pleasure of the connoisseur. We provide the best reviews, interviews and features to millions of dedicated movie fans who know what they love and love what they know. Because we, like you, simply love the art of the moving picture.
Comic-Con 2014
Summer Box Office Prediction Challenge
Got a Tip? Send it here:
editors@filmschoolrejects.com
Publisher:
Neil Miller
Managing Editor:
Scott Beggs
Associate Editors:
Rob Hunter
Kate Erbland
Christopher Campbell
All Rights Reserved © 2006-2014 Reject Media, LLC | Privacy Policy | Design & Development by Face3