12/5/2016

    The Lifelong Sigh of Don Luis Buñuel

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    From age 8 to 15, Luis Buñuel studied at a local Jesuit school that was ruled with iron discipline. It is perhaps little wonder that his mature life and work were informed by a fierce anti-clerical aesthetic and a resistance to institutional authority. In an irony totally in harmony with the director’s ethos, his movies are, nevertheless, suffused with themes of sin and forgiveness, and present sexual obsession and perversion alongside self-flagellating chastity.

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    11/21/2016

    The Archers: A Very British Affair

    NPG x87556; Emeric Pressburger; Michael Powell by Cornel Lucas

    It was on Alexander Korda’s The Spy in Black that Michael Powell met Emeric Pressburger. They soon formed The Archers and, beginning with 1942’s One of Our Aircraft Is Missing, made more than one dozen feature films, sharing credit on all of them. Their final collaboration was Night Ambush (1957), a swan song in black-and-white from a team that had elevated color in film to expressionistic — even surrealistic —  heights.

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    Technicolor at 100: No Film, All Digital

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    During Technicolor’s hegemony as the go-to process for accurate color in the movies, more than 500 films were photographed in the 3-strip “Color by Technicolor” process, including many of the greatest triumphs of cinematographers such as Jack Cardiff, Leon Shamroy, Oswald Morris, Harold Rosson and George Folsey. Now a foreign-owned digital business, the company finds itself basking in a purely nostalgic centennial.

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    The Joy of Filmmaking

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    A few weeks ago, a friend in academia asked me for my thoughts on shooting with film cameras rather than on digital video — not to rank one technology over the other, but simply to compare the aesthetic experience of working with each one. Is using film and film cameras onerous work that distracts from the filmmakers’ creative vision because of the format’s inherent limitations? Or does working with the more-than-century-old technology offer unique experiences that are lost in the digital universe?

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    9/26/2016

    Harry Crews: The Bard of Bacon County

    The voices Harry Crews heard during his childhood, under summer night skies and in front of winter’s crackling hearth, the stories told among friends and family, the characters drawn out of local history (part anecdotal, part pure storytelling), did not merely inform the writer-to-be, but embedded their hard-won truths into his blood, bone and marrow.

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    9/12/2016

    The Most Remarkable and Strange Life of Erwin Blumenfeld

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    If it were conceived as a motion-picture screenplay, Erwin Blumenfeld’s life would read like an ill-conceived mashup of contradictory forces. He was an avant-garde Dadaist-turned-high-fashion-magazine sellout, a happily married father of three-turned-Humbert Humbert sexagenarian in sexual thrall to a woman almost 45 years younger, and a German Jew filled with a moral life force so strong that he dared to caricature Hitler while he was still a vulnerable émigré in Amsterdam.

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    8/29/2016

    All About Eve and A Little About Joseph L. Mankiewicz

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    Joseph L. Mankiewicz began in movies as a title writer during the late silent era, but he quickly graduated to scripting dialogue for early talkies, and he received his first screenplay Oscar nomination at age 21. Nine more Academy nominations followed, and he won four statuettes, two for writing and directing Letter to Three Wives and two, the very next year, for writing and directing All About Eve. This home run of four Oscars for writing/directing in successive years has never been repeated.

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