Manhattan

Manhattan Movie

“I’m a minimalist. I see things in simple ways…It’s human nature to define complexity as better. Well, it’s not.” – Gordon Willis Cinematographer Gordon Willis, who passed away on May 18th, leaves behind an incredible legacy of deceptively “simple” lighting schemes and compositions that will forever be stuck in the minds of cinephiles. Willis was perhaps best known for his high-contrast use of shadows and high-key lighting, which filled his frames with a tremendous aura of depth and mystery. While he was referred to as the “Prince of Darkness” by colleagues, Willis himself stressed that it was visual contrast between light and darkness – not darkness itself  – that can produce such memorable imagery. The look of movies in the 1970s, from The Godfather to Annie Hall, is inseparable from the eyes of this master of the craft. Here is an overview of some of his best work.

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Manhattan Movie

Hearts have been rapturously breaking in Woody Allen’s Manhattan for 35 years, and will likely continue to do so for as long as human beings cherish cinema. Last week marked the anniversary of the film often hailed as Allen’s masterwork. It’s easy to see why Manhattan is so beloved. The film is a perfect confluence of story, sight and sound. Gordon Willis’ stunning monochromatic Panavision tableaus, George Gershwin’s rhapsodic instrumentals and an iconic cityscape make a majestic setting for a story of reckless romance. Whatever genre you’re working in, Manhattan remains a trove of inspiration for filmmakers seeking to steal from one of American cinema’s best-loved auteurs. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from Allen’s ode to The Big Apple.

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Manhattan Movie

Friday is Manhattan‘s 35th birthday, and while Woody Allen‘s black and white love story may not have the prestige of an Annie Hall or the out and out hilariousness of a Love and Death, it does have one unique aspect — one of greatest May/December affairs in cinema. Plus we’re still three years from Annie Hall‘s 40th anniversary, and we’ve got to kill time somehow. But what is it that’s so special about the love between Allen’s balding, bespectacled Isaac Davis and Mariel Hemmingway‘s genteel young Tracy? Well, part of it is that Manhattan isn’t the story of Isaac and Tracy. It’s not really about anyone. It’s a film about a city; something made achingly clear in the title and the first three and a half minutes. We view the scenery of New York, we hear the music equivalent of New York (George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”), and we hear a nerdy, neurotic New Yorker describe himself as having “the coiled sexual prowess of a jungle cat.” Together, those three elements (and Manhattan itself) are Woody Allen’s New York.

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Merch Hunter - Large

In a variation on the usual format, this week the Merch Hunter will be getting on his soap-box, because there is something fundamentally broken with the way that studios and marketeers produce and release film posters these days, which has criminally devalued them as a really viable collectible compared to the Golden Age posters of yesteryear. The problem is, posters are now seen as little more than a disposable marketing tool, rather than a celebration of the subject film: they are deemed an obligatory step in the pre-release campaign and in 90% of cases are given less consideration or dutiful care than the ridiculous promotional material that is sent out in bulk to bloggers (like Drive tooth-picks and Horrible Bosses beach-balls). Film posters are supposed to be works of art: they should not be limited to cheap thrill character reveals or plot hints, because the trailer already exists for those reasons. Yet time and time again, modern studios feel the need to advance this risible idea of the poster as a “teaser”, which not only makes it completely disposable after the event in most cases, but also fundamentally redefines what a poster is. Instead of something to be held in esteem, and given pride of place on cherished wall-space, what is left is a glorified jpeg, expressly aimed at the blogosphere and its hunger for new material no matter what the cost.

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This Week in Blu-ray

This Week in Blu-ray may be coming to you a few days later than usual, but fear not, as it was worth the wait. Fox and MGM decided to drop a number of great films on me at the last minute, meaning long hours of pouring over special features, drinking heavily and ultimately turning myself into a late-1970s Woody Allen character by the end. It was all worth it, as you’re about to experience 2500 words or so of the most full edition of this column we’ve seen in a long time. Plenty of unsung heroes of 2011, classics of yesteryear and boxing robots to go around. Also, Rob Hunter stops by for some cross-column reviewing with Rebecca. 50/50 In a week that will see the release of a bevy of classics coming to Blu-ray for the very first time, it would be a crime to overlook one of 2011’s most heartfelt works, complete with some ranged performances from the likes of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen and Bryce Dallas Howard. Jonathan Levine (The Wackness), working from a script by Will Reiser based on a true story, tells the tale of Adam, a 27-year old guy who gets diagnosed with spinal cancer. Dealing with his overbearing friends, his smothering mother and a relationship that hangs on the edge, Adam must find a way to not only beat cancer, but all the situational drama it’s caused between him and those he cares about most. It’s funny, touching and full of memorable performances. […]

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When Zoolander came out on September 28, 2001, the production had digitally removed The World Trade Center’s Twin Towers from the New York City skyline in an effort to avoid displaying a devastating image in the middle of a comedy about the world of fashion. If they’d have left it in, it wouldn’t have been the first time the buildings had been featured on film or television. Since they didn’t, it marks the first time the buildings were ever erased. With the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on 9/11 coming this Sunday, it’s impossible not to be consumed a bit by the gravity of an action that killed so many and lowered a different world view onto all of us. Landon and I talked on Reject Radio regarding the effect that the day had on movies and movie-watchers, but that mostly dealt with the last decade – the world that came after that morning. As a counterpart, here’s a simply-edited montage of the past. Dan Meth has built a view to the movies where the Twin Towers either stood proudly in the background, made prominent appearances in the front of the action, or acted as the set. It’s stirring in its matter-of-factness, and it’s more than a little moving, but it’s ultimately a celebration of a symbol that no longer (physically) exists. Check it out for yourself:

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Adam Sandler lucked out. Instead of having to sell his soul to the Devil to become a top-grossing, leading man, he found a inexplicable role that Hollywood continues to perpetuate and sell to the masses: the smug, amoral love interest. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Sandler returns with Just Go with It, in which he pretends to be a married man as a way of roping in sympathetic woman. His best friend (Jennifer Aniston) strongly disagrees with his practices – think they’ll fall in love? Of course they will, this isn’t a Lars von Trier film. Forgiveness is pushed to its limits in American romantic comedies and Sandler isn’t the only offender. Countless relationships have blossomed from a quick change of heart and a tagged-on apology, and the formula continues to work. When the nice guys finish last, these guys finish first:

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So Lars Von Trier isn’t forcing Martin Scorsese to remake Taxi Driver. Who cares? Here are ten directors that the madman should punish for being geniuses.

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yellow-brick-road

A new show from the ‘Friday Night Lights’ team will bring ‘The Wizard of Oz’ to modern day Manhattan.

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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