To Be or Not to Be

*FSR traveled to Manaus, Brazil to attend and cover the 8th Amazonas Film Festival. See all our coverage here.* I’m sitting in a small van and staring at a Brazilian police officer standing a few feet away with a submachine gun in his hands. He’s not alone. The van starts up and soon our motorcade is weaving its way through the city streets of Manaus, from the hotel and commercial area through the graffiti filled downtown, heading towards the Amazonas Opera House. Police officers on motorbikes escort the caravan along, rushing past at tremendous speed to block off the intersections ahead before repeating the process once all the cars have passed. The experience was more than a little surreal, and I can only wonder what the throngs of pedestrians watching the caravan of tinted windows speed by were thinking. As my movie-addled mind is prone to do I immediately started thinking of similar scenes from films with the most notable one being Clear and Present Danger. Sure that was Columbia and not Brazil, but that didn’t stop me from scanning the rooftops for rebels aiming rocket launchers down upon us. As frenetic as the ride was, especially when combined with the already aggressive driving style of every single person in the city, it served as a tonal balance to the events of earlier in the day. Nothing like a lazy ride on the Amazon River to clear your mind and soul of unnecessary daily debris.

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Every week, Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius log on to their favorite chat client of 1996 as MrSmith1939 and 2BorNot2B in order to discuss some topical topic of interest. This week, the two daydream the ultimate reboot – an entire era of filmmaking brought back to life through the lens of modern directors. What styles should we bring back and homage? It is a good idea to let nostalgia drive us artistically? Will people in 30 years be harkening back to the Abramsian style?

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Recently covered for Old Ass Movies, this comedy classic is one of the few that effectively takes down Hitler, but that wasn’t the consensus when it was released. The US has entered WWII a year earlier, and not many were interested in laughing at what seemed like a genuine threat to humanity. Fortunately, through today’s eyes we can see a vibrant comedy that’s hilarious throughout while maintaining a dark sense of drama and the sly nuance of a spy thriller.

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Your weekly fix of great movies made before you were born that you should check out before you die. The persistent question in To Be or Not To Be is this: what use is a clown during wartime? There might not be a definitive answer, but Ernst Lubitsch‘s most dramatic work (by default) is a comedy that has to be taken seriously. It’s also startling proof that it’s harder to laugh when you’re standing too close to the fire. It’s only in stepping back that you can feel the warmth without getting hurt. That was the case when this comedy about Hitler and Hamlet premiered right smack dab in the middle of Word War II.

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Culture Warrior

There will inevitably be a movie about the mission to kill Osama bin Laden – this much is certain. Recent news has established that Kathryn Bigelow might be the first to try to put into play one of several projects related to last week’s assassination amongst several that are being shopped around. The reasoning is clear, as the material lends itself inherently to cinematic expression. The mission itself, in short, feels like a movie. Whether or not this movie (or movies) will have anything to say beyond what we already know and think and feel is unknown and, in Cole Abaius’s terms, it will be difficult for such projects to escape an inherent potential to come across as a shameless “cash-in.” My personal prediction is that the first movie that arises from bin Laden’s death will, at best, be an exciting procedural that visualizes an incident we are currently so invested in and preoccupied with. But I doubt that anything released so soon will remotely approach a full understanding of bin Laden’s death as catharsis for American citizens, as a harbinger for change in the West’s relationship to the Middle East and the Muslim world, as a precedent for the possible fall of al Qaeda, etc. In short, we won’t be able to express cinematically (or in any other medium, for that matter) what the death of bin Laden means until the benefits of time and hindsight actually provide that meaning. This is why I think any movies about Osama […]

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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
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published: 12.12.2014
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