Peter Bogdanovich

Targets Karloff

The morning’s best writing from around the movie website-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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John Ford

John Ford is The Western. Instrumental in elevating the genre and crafting more iconic films than can fit in a saddle bag, the director had a filmmaking career spanning 63 years and managed to make eye patches cool on top of building a legendary resume. Sporting four Oscars (for How Green Was My Valley, The Grapes of Wrath, The Informer and The Quiet Man), Ford saw the work of a filmmaker as a way to make a living, a job not to be seen through romance or puffery. Still, it’s impossible to overstate his influence. If you could ask David Lean, Martin Scorsese, Stanley Kubrick and other masters who inspired them, they’d all bring up Ford’s name. The directors we all look up to, look up to him. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from the man who made Jimmy Stewart play Wyatt Earp so audiences wouldn’t go to the bathroom.

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Brie Larson got her start in children’s films, broke into television, and even had a short music career. The 22-year-old actress has transitioned into more grown-up roles, but she still gets cast in a high school student (even though, ironically, she was home schooled for her high school years). Her most recent role was in this spring’s hit comedy 21 Jump Street, based on the television series that ran on Fox from 1987 until 1991. The film comes out on Blu-ray and DVD this week, so Larson took some time to chat with Film School Rejects about her various roles, including the upcoming films James Ponsoldt’s The Spectacular Now and Peter Bogdanovich’s Squirrel to the Nuts.

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It only took legendary filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich over three decades to write another film about the ins and outs and ups and downs of the theater – and who can blame him after the massive bomb that was At Long Last Love – but Squirrels to the Nuts sounds just zippy enough to really make it. Bogdanovich has written the script for the new film and will also direct (a double duty he hasn’t pulled off since 1990’s Texasville), but it’s the film’s producers, Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach, who should really set the tone for the film. Variety reports that the “quirky indie comedy” centers on a “hooker-turned-Broadway-thesp and the recurring intersection between those two facets of her life.” There’s nothing like prostitution to really keep you on your toes. Rising star Brie Larson will play the hooker with a heart of gold tap shoes, which sounds like yet another role that will show off the actress’s knack for excelling at very different parts (it’s not everyone who can turn in solid performances in both Rampart and 21 Jump Street  in the same year). Owen Wilson will play a Broadway director who, despite being married to another Broadway star (not yet cast), pays Larson for her non-theatrical work before eventually helping her get away from hooking.

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Alfred Hitchcock was born in the 19th century but gave birth in the 20th century to the age of modern filmmaking. Famous for his wit, inventive appreciation of the macabre, and a firm belief that suspense involves bringing a victim out from the shadows into the light he crafted the kinds of movies that made you care about characters even while reaching for your cholesterol medication. He also has a lot to teach. To fellow filmmakers and fans alike. Which is why we’ve chosen him as the first teacher in a new series of weekly articles where master movie-makers share their insights. Throughout his life, Hitchcock was candid about his methods and philosophies (amongst other things he flung around freely). Here’s a bit of free film school from a true visionary.

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Why Watch? Because kids can be so cruel. We’re lucky enough to feature some short films from directors on the rise, but we’re also lucky enough (thanks internet!) to go back and watch the early work of established talent. I’m not a big fan of Sofia Coppola‘s films, but this short shows a completely different side of her. There’s a momentum here – an almost MTV sensibility – that doesn’t exist in her other movies. Here, in a short that lies somewhere between the tones of The Virgin Suicides and Mean Girls, a group of 7th grade girls plot a secret plan based on “Flowers in the Attic.” As it turns out, 7th grade girls can be real assholes. So can everyone else. For fun – see if you can spot Peter Bogdanovich in a small role. What does it cost? Just 14 minutes of your time. Check out Lick the Star for yourself:

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Criterion Files

To this point in our subjection of the films of BBS Productions we’ve been privy to a handful of boundary-pushing films that we now recognize today as landmark pictures in the furthering progress of New Hollywood from the late 1960’s onward. They were films dealing with contemporary cultural changes and a youthful revolutionary attitude to not necessarily show things as we dream them to be, but more as they are. Life isn’t like the movies, so maybe make some movies that are a reflection of life. Life is imperfect, rough around the edges and occasionally a little disorienting. Thus far, the films in the BBS library discussed these past four weeks have shown us just how the mindset of the transitioning American lifestyle and interest was during that time period with timely and current stories.

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Criterion Files

For the rest of the summer, Adam and Landon will be focusing on films included in the Criterion Collection released by the legendary BBS Production Company whose anti-establishment films rocked the world of Hollywood in the late 1960s and early 1970s. So dust of your old LPs, set out on the highway, and embrace your countercultural sensibilities with one of the most eccentric and essential stories of New Hollywood. When rummaging through the Criterion Collection’s available box sets, one thing becomes abundantly clear: the serious and traditional role that authorship has played in forming both the Collection and its reputation. Whether it’s five films by John Cassavetes, Sergei Eisenstein’s sound years, or Truffaut’s cinematic adventures of Antoine Doinel, the Collection places the director as the primary author of the text, just as they do when ascribing possession to individual titles (“Orson Welles’s F for Fake,” for instance). Then came the BBS set, which frames authorship to a group of films not because of the signatures of the directors who made each individual title, but as a group effort through the umbrella of a production company. BBS may refer specifically to Bob Rafelson, Bert Schneider, and Steve Blauner, but the talent pool that determined the artistic output of this company was hardly exclusive to them, incorporating the then-young talents of Dennis Hopper, Peter Bogdanovich, Jack Nicholson, and Henry Jaglom. None of these figures solely inhabited clear and exclusive occupational signposts like “writer,” “director,” “producer,” or “actor,” but a combined contributions to […]

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A not quite finished film from Orson Welles that was shot in 1972 may very well soon see the light of day, according to The Guardian. The film, titled The Other Side of the Wind, is purportedly about the last days of an aging filmmaker, and was shot by Welles while he happened to be in his last days as an aging filmmaker. How Meta. Welles himself described the picture to its star John Huston as being, “about a bastard director… full of himself, who catches people and creates and destroys them. It’s about us, John.” Could it be that this bit of scripted work acts as a sort of companion piece to Welles’ phenomenal documentary F for Fake, which was made around the same time and centered itself around falsehood in the arts, both literally and figuratively? Regardless, I think that anybody could agree that any chance for the world to see another film made by Welles is an opportunity far too good to pass up. Or, at least, most people could agree. There is a slight dispute as to whether the film should be finished or not. Actor/director Peter Bogdanovich was apparently given extensive notes about the editing from Welles during the production and currently camps are divided as to whether a team including Bogdanovich should be allowed to create a final edit of the film or if they should just release the raw footage as Welles left it. I think experience has shown that in situations like […]

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