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Archive for April 11th, 2011

by Sam Juliano

So here we go with the lovely ladies.  The task was again as challenging as ever, and I widened the horizons with a final round-up of the 68 performances by an actress-in-a-leading role that I rate above all others.  The scroll goes from the silent era to 2010, and unlike the Best Actor listing there are several women who appear twice here: Hideko Takamine, Vivien Leigh, Katherine Hepburn, Lillian Gish, Bette Davis, Harriet Andersson and Judy Garland.  As was the case with the actors, this list is not presented in any particular order, meaning essentially the last ten listed are as great as the first ten.  Sure everyone will find some important names missing, but this is what I came up with during my Sunday research.  All visitors are encouraged to come up with their own choices.

Renee Falconetti in Dreyer's "The Passion of Joan of Arc" (1928; France)

Gloria Swanson in Billy Wilder’s “Sunset Boulevard” (1950)
Vivien Leigh in “Gone With the Wind” (1939)
Lili Darvas in Karoly Makk’s “Love” (1971, Hungary)
Harriet Andersson in Bergman’s “Cries and Whispers” (1972; Sweden)
Maggie Smith in “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” (1969. UK)

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Director: Stanley Kubrick

Producer: James B. Harris

Screenwriters: Jim Thompson and Stanley Kubrick

Cinematographer: Lucien Ballard

Music: Gerald Fried

Studio: United Artists 1956

Main Acting: Sterling Hayden and Coleen Gray

Like most of Stanley Kubrick’s work, form and structure largely shape what makes The Killing so great. A caper/heist film molded in the same vat as John Huston’s earlier The Asphalt Jungle, it sets forth showing every last detail of the robbery from every possible angle. The movie brazenly shifts back and forth in a non-linear fashion with miniscule precision on how the robbery gets accomplished and how things inevitably fall apart. Each character is afforded a rich detailed background and given moments in the spotlight to let us know how they landed in such a precarious position. The examination of these noir characters is successful in opening up multi-dimensional nuances and making them come to life as real people with a desperate need for money and fortune. The character actors in The Killing are a who’s who of film noir. Marie Windsor (The Narrow Margin), Elisha Cook (The Maltese Falcon), Sterling Hayden (The Asphalt Jungle), Coleen Gray (Nightmare Alley) to name just a few, all seem to be cast in roles that Kubrick once saw each of them perform in other films. For most of them, they get to give one more great performance in a classic film noir before the final curtain drops on the whole movement. At times, The Killing feels like a lifetime achievement award for these thespians as they strut their stuff again one last time. The big difference is that this Kubrick film is no consolation prize, instead it breathes with vitality and greatness. In many cases, they are putting together their best performance in a picture that would contend with the greatest in which they have ever been involved. (more…)

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Juan Diego Florez in title role of Rossini's "Le Comte Ory" broadcast in HD to movie theatres on Saturday

by Sam Juliano

Sydney Lumet passed away on Saturday in Manhattan at the age of 86, and Dee Dee is johnny-on-the-spot has a remembrance link on the sidebar for this great American director of such classics as 12 Angry Men, The Pawnbroker, Network and Dog Day Afternoon. Respondants to this thread are encouraged to name their own favorite Lumet films.

Again our thoughts are with Murderous Ink and the Japanese people during the continuing time of crisis in the far east.

My own week was occupied by a host of school-related matters, with the weekend saved for seeing several films, an HD opera and a stage play in a tiny Manhattan 4th Floor theatre.

Rossini’s rarely-performed middle-career opera Le Comte Ory, was broadcast on movie screens in HD worldwide on Saturday afternoon at 1:00 P.M.  I traveled to Secaucus to watch and listen to this utterly delightfully spirited piece, often referred to as an ‘opera comique,’ one widely considered a difficult bel canto work to find the right singers for.  I hope to have a full review up soon. (more…)

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