marlon brando

Marlon Brando with Martin Luther King Jr

Exactly 50 years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. stood with Abraham Lincoln behind him and told a crowd of 250,000 about a dream. Later the same day, a group of movie stars sat with journalist David Schoenbrun to explore a silver-lined dark chamber of the human heart. Complicated despite its progressively stacked panel, the group interview with novelist James Baldwin, singer Harry Belafonte, Marlon Brando, Charlton Heston, director Joseph Mankiewicz and Sidney Poitier is robust in its inspiration — made more lucent by the evolution that followed it. This is a powerful half hour (which you can see below) that stands at a fascinating crossroads between groundshattering history, celebrity power and race relations in America.

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supermanii-commentary1

Any fan of the Superman movie series knows of the myriad problems experienced during the filming of Superman II. The most notable was the estranged relationship that director Richard Donner had with producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind. Donner’s plan was to film the first two movies simultaneously, but he was eventually dropped from the production and replaced with Richard Lester. In 2006, Warner Bros. worked with Donner to restore his own vision to Superman II, releasing his cut of the film. The result is an incomplete movie patched together from alternate takes and even some screen tests. However, as flawed as this cut of the film is, it is nice to see the original director get some closure in one of the original superhero movie franchises. Donner and his creative consultant Tom Mankiewicz lend their voices to the commentary on this film, which can be purchased separately or in the box set of Superman films available on DVD and Blu-ray. They offer a look into the overall production of the two films, rather than the restoration process.

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Apocalypse Now

Looking for any excuse, Landon Palmer and Scott Beggs are using the 2012 Sight & Sound poll results as a reason to take different angles on the best movies of all time. Every week, they’ll discuss another entry in the list, dissecting old favorites from odd angles, discovering movies they haven’t seen before and asking you to join in on the conversation. Of course it helps if you’ve seen the movie because there will be plenty of spoilers. This week, they imagine a world where all of the massive disasters that took place during the filming and post-production of Francis Ford Coppola‘s Apocalypse Now never happened. Would smooth sailing had delivered a bland war film? A forgettable trip into the jungle with a by-the-book villain at the end of a mad road? And why is it the highest-ranked war movie in the first place? In the #14 movie on the list, Captain Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen) hunts down a rogue Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando) during the Vietnam War and learns all about napalm and surfing. But why is it one of the best movies ever?

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Are you more likely to see a movie in the theater if it’s followed by an exclusive, live Q&A event featuring that movie’s stars? What if it’s free? What if the Q&A is only via satellite and only temporally but not locally exclusive, and so no possibility of autographs or hugs? What if you still have the chance to submit a question to a relatively reclusive living legend of screen and song, such as Barbra Streisand? What if her answer is that she smoked pot with Peter Sellers? “I was married to Elliot [Gould] and he was with Britt Ekland,” the actress said while being broadcast to viewers in 20 theaters nationwide following a sneak preview of her upcoming film, The Guilt Trip, “and the funny thing is that we went to a restaurant and we started to riff on, like, should we have steak ice cream? It was funny at the time. It’s not funny now, because you’re not high.” People were turned away from the AMC Barrett Commons outside Atlanta on Sunday for this national sneak preview. But that happens all the time with complimentary, invite-style advance screenings. It’s hard to be sure whether there was more interest in this particular film and this particular showing of it that wouldn’t otherwise be there simply because the show was to be followed by a live interview with Streisand and her co-star, Seth Rogen. In my experience at film festivals and special events in New York, I’ve found that the […]

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Culture Warrior

Criticizing the Academy Awards is becoming a tradition as solidified as the Awards ceremony itself. The ink spilled over anticipation of who will come out swinging during Awards season is typically followed by an anticipated – but, when well-argued, often necessary – critique of the pomp and circumstance of the ceremony itself. Now that we’re neck-deep in Presidential election season, the time dedicated to polling, statistics, and manufactured drama all in the service of something ultimately unpredictable resonates alongside the earliest Fall predictions of the Winter’s Awards competitors: no matter the race, we can become hopelessly invested in every detail in the process of competition. As Matt Taibbi stated bluntly in an editorial on the Presidential race, this is not what democratic participation should look or feel like. Nor, for that matter, is immersing oneself in the Kool-Aid of Oscar anticipation what a genuine investment in cinema should look like. While I’ve bloviated more than enough on the Oscars, it’s something different entirely when someone who ostensibly stands to benefit from the institution itself to criticize it, as potential Best Actor nominee Joaquin Phoenix did recently. Perhaps criticizing the Oscars is not the bravest thing a wealthy famous person can do (perhaps), but the exact form that it takes is certainly worthy of attention because such instances evidence certain power relations and possibilities in Hollywood. Why do some Hollywood figures participate in this criticism, and others don’t?

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Superman

The Mayans, the wise race of ancients who created hot cocoa, set December 21st, 2012 as the end date of their Calendar, which the intelligent and logical amongst us know signifies the day the world will end, presumably at 12:21:12am, Mountain Time. From now until zero date, we will explore the 50 films you need to watch before the entire world perishes. We don’t have much time, so be content, be prepared, be entertained. The Film: Superman (1978) The Plot: Many light years away, the planet Krypton is doomed to explode, so the scientist Jor-El (Marlon Brando) and his wife launch their infant child Kal-El into space to find safety on the distant planet Earth. The young child’s spaceship crashes in a Kansas field, and he’s taken in by the older couple Jonathan and Martha Kent. The Kents raise the boy, whom they name Clark, as their own. However, he knows he’s different from other people, possessing amazing and superhuman powers. After finding a link to his Kryptonian past, Clark goes on a twelve-year journey to discover his destiny. He moves to Metropolis to become the city’s hero known as Superman (Christopher Reeve), all the while living a double life as a mild-mannered reporter at the Daily Planet. Superman catches the eye of the fiendish criminal Lex Luthor who plans for the hero’s destruction so he doesn’t interfere with Luthor’s plot to make a fortune in real estate.

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That Thing You Do! is the kind of movie only a man with a particular amount of clout can get made. An off-beat comedy about a fake rock band from the ’60s starring a bunch of unknowns and unfamiliar songs to boot? Maybe if it was a comic book first. But thank the powers that be for Tom Hanks and his odd sensibilities. He may be a two-time Oscar winner and an impassioned producer of WWII serialized dramas, but when it came to his directorial debut, the end product was something closer to his Bosom Buddies/The Man with One Red Shoe days. When That Thing You Do! hit theaters it bombed, barely making back its budget and putting Hanks’s directing career in question. Not even Tom Freakin’ Hanks could get his passion project to play with audiences. That very well could have been the end of the actor behind the camera. But lo and behold, a decade and a half later, Hanks returns this weekend with another oddball flick, Larry Crowne. Whether the new comedy (sporting plenty of familiar faces) can counter-program Transformers 3 and survive the competitive summer isn’t the point — we should be happy enough he made something. With Larry Crowne, Hanks has succeeded in doing what so few of his actor-turned-director friends have managed: to make a second movie. Here are a few thespians who took the plunge into filmmaking, only to return to their day jobs after one outing.

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This is not at all the first film adaptation of the classic tale, but the 1962 version of Mutiny on the Bounty featuring Marlon Brando, Trevor Howard and Richard Harris might be the most iconic. This trailer boasts that the ship involved in Lewis Milestone‘s film is the first built from the keel up specifically for a motion picture. In a time where matte paintings replaced real world backgrounds, Milestone took his crew over the ocean to film, and the result was something as frighteningly realistic as possible. It also doesn’t hurt that his cast is one of the strongest ever assembled. With On Stranger Tides coming out tomorrow, it seems even more fitting that we should head out for the open sea with a couple of strong personalities.

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I believe it was Robinson Crusoe who once said “Fess up, Friday” after discovering a urine puddle on his straw shack’s linoleum floor. As revolutionary as that statement was almost three hundred years ago, it took a young man by the name of William B. Goss to bring it into the digital age. Thanks to his initiative, #fessupfriday is the most-used hashtag in Twitter’s four decades of existence. There are certain movies that every cinephile should have seen, but only the brave foolhardy movie lovers immune to ridicule actually admit to the acknowledged classics that have so far eluded them. Which brings me to Francis Ford Coppola’s epic Vietnam adventure, Apocalypse Now. #fessupfriday

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We’re spending all week celebrating war movies. Today we revel in the story of three men from very different backgrounds, all confronting the realities of the early days of Hitler’s rise to power.

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The Criterion Collection debuted two great releases last week with Ang Lee’s Ride With The Devil, and Sidney Lumet’s The Fugitive Kind. We didn’t have a chance to check either of these titles out yet, but we think both are worth talking about.

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With the Academy Awards right around the corner, I’ve had history on the brain. Ever since I bought my mom The History of Oscar in the 11th grade (she’s a lover of Hollywood’s big night), I’ve been curious about Best Picture winners. What made something the Best Picture of its particular year, and how has the criteria for such an award evolved over the years? In an effort to start this journey, I sat down this weekend with four best pics from an era long before my time…

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MethodActing

Have we gone from yelling, “Stella!” to the heavens to sarcastically smirking? Are our actors faking it?

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Explore the depths of the Zapata’s Mexican Revolution – or at least Elia Kazan and John Steinbeck’s version. And did we mention Marlon Brando’s involved?

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


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