Audrey Kupferberg

Audrey Kupferberg: London Theatre

Jul 28, 2017

A few years ago, the college-aged daughter of friends of mine informed me that she goes to the theater for fun. Nothing more.  I disagreed.  Theater can be fun, but a person should attend theater to become educated, to illuminate aspects of life and clarify our emotional responses to the various worlds in which we live.  In the past month, I have been on a theater spree in London and New York City, seeking out plays and musical shows which range from lovely bits of fluff to full-blown political and humanist statements.  The musical shows offered the kind of fun my young friend craved, but also managed to touch upon more weighty themes. 

Audrey Kupferberg: The Beguiled

Jul 21, 2017

Ever wish that you could remake one of those offensive anti-women macho dramas of the early screen career of Clint Eastwood?  Instead of yelling down the sexist male aggression in scene after scene, you could start from zero, rewrite the screenplay, and present the story from a more gender-balanced or even from a female point of view. PLAY MISTY FOR ME is a classic example -- and so is THE BEGUILED.

Audrey Kupferberg: Early Women Directors

Jun 29, 2017

A few weeks ago, headlines for the opening of WONDER WOMAN read: Patty Jenkins is the first woman to direct a superhero film with a female protagonist. WONDER WOMAN is the first female-directed live-action film to have a $100 million+ budget. WONDER WOMAN opened at $103 million box office, which is the highest US opening for a female director.

Audrey Kupferberg: Zaza

Jun 16, 2017

Looking over the current crop of films available in theaters or on home screens, it is worth noting that a number of screen veterans are back in the spotlight, adding a strong late act to their respective careers.   Richard Gere is receiving very positive reviews as the complex and quirky title character in NORMAN.  Shirley MacLaine has scored points in WILD OATS and THE LAST WORD. Susan Sarandon,  Jessica Lange, and Christopher Plummer are among the veteran actors who also continue to have active careers. 

HOME FIRES is an ITV series about British villagers who fight World War II in Cheshire—with an emphasis on the woman’s role in fighting war on the home front.  Season two recently completed airing on American PBS stations.  The episodes of seasons one and two reportedly drew good ratings here and abroad.  And why not?  The scripts favor strong characters—particularly strong female characters—and there is plenty of action and emotional turmoil which escalates from episode to episode. 

Audrey Kupferberg: World War I On Film

Apr 25, 2017

It has been exactly 100 years since the United States entered World War I.  To commemorate the event, PBS recently debuted THE GREAT WAR, a 6-hour documentary as part of its ongoing American Experience series.  It was called The Great War back then, because nobody had the farsightedness to predict that there would be a Second World War.  In addition to this nonfiction interpretation of the war, two feature films offering very different accounts of the Great War have been made available.

Audrey Kupferberg: London Road And Happy Street

Mar 17, 2017

The film version of the hit British stage musical London Road, written by Alecky Blythe, recently was made available to home markets.  Both the play and its screen version are performed in an unusual and rather surprising form of musical entertainment called verbatim theatre.  This approach to musical theater, and as it extends to film musicals, presents interpretations of true events in a documentary style.  The lyrics are constructed from words spoken by the real-life participants.  The music reflects the inflections of the voices which originally spoke the words.   Most likely, viewers will not go to sleep humming the tunes of LONDON ROAD.

Audrey Kupferberg: Hidden Figures And 20th Century Women

Feb 17, 2017

In so many ways, we look at feature films as means of expressing our aspirations.  We want films to mirror the best in us.   People of various philosophies differ in which character traits they want defined in films.  As a woman with a feminist philosophy, I relish films that depict independent-thinking women who strive to lead full and meaningful lives.  

I fell in love with the movies many years ago.  Going to see a film – even a sad drama – somehow left me with a feeling of empathy or a shared moment of humanity.  But a number of the art-house films of late 2016 with their emphasis on sadness and disillusionment simply leave me emotionally wrung out.

Audrey Kupferberg: Children Of Divorce

Dec 16, 2016

Flicker Alley, in partnership with the Blackhawk Films Collection, has just released the Blu-ray/DVD world premiere of a 1927 Hollywood feature, CHILDREN OF DIVORCE.  Working with preservationists from the Library of Congress, which holds the original nitrate negative and protection material on this title, and having these materials scanned in 4K resolution, Flicker Alley has presented the film in its very best form.  Plus, there is a new musical score by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.

Audrey Kupferberg: The Crown

Nov 25, 2016

Netflix has a new, fact-based series called The Crown. It’s about the British royals in the mid-20th Century, including their complicated family relationships as well as their interaction with the most influential leaders of British government. 

Audrey Kupferberg: 'Arrival' And 'Hacksaw Ridge'

Nov 18, 2016

Two new films are playing in local theaters this month.  One is an innovative sci-fi feature called ARRIVAL starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker.  Adams gets most of the screen time as Dr. Louise Banks, a brilliant university linguist, who is employed by the U.S. military to translate the language of aliens.  The story involves twelve alien spacecraft that land in a dozen locales across the earth.  The extraterrestrials, which are called Heptapods, are nothing like humans in their appearance, but they do seem to be capable of communication.  While they look absolutely primordial, they have powers that we on earth have not yet acquired.

Audrey Kupferberg: Denial

Nov 1, 2016

DENIAL, a newly-released film, relates a very important true story, one that actually drew headlines 16 years ago.  The focus of the plot is a lawsuit that worked its way through English courts from 1996 into the 21st century.  In this suit, self-proclaimed historian David Irving sued Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt, an eminent American scholar on Holocaust Studies, for libel for characterizing some of his writings and public statements as Holocaust denial.

Audrey Kupferberg: Death Fantasies In The Movies

Oct 21, 2016

Throughout the history of the movies, there have been realistic portrayals of death.  But there also have been many instances where death is handled as eerie fantasy.  As we move towards Halloween, stories featuring death and its supernatural elements are dominating home screens.

Audrey Kupferberg: Florence Foster Jenkins

Sep 16, 2016

Have you seen the advertising stills and posters for FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS, the late summer release from director Stephen Frears?   In just about every image, the three major characters smile in a carefree, bubbly fashion as though they just tasted the most delicious champagne.   There are Florence herself played by Meryl Streep, her husband St. Clair Bayfield played by Hugh Grant, and highly talented Simon Helberg from THE BIG BANG THEORY appearing as her piano accompanist. 

Audrey Kupferberg: London Theater Celebrates Anniversaries

Aug 26, 2016

William Shakespeare died 400 years ago, and theaters all over the world are commemorating the death of the Bard of Avon with productions of his works.  This summer, London venues offered quite a variety of Shakespeare’s plays.  

Audrey Kupferberg: A Couple Of Down And Outs

Aug 19, 2016

In an age when we have come to believe that any film can be seen leisurely at home if you sit on your sofa long enough, it is particularly exciting to enjoy a cinematheque screening of a film that is not available to the home market in any format, one that has not been shown on home or theater screens for close to 100 years.

Audrey Kupferberg: Pioneers Of African-American Cinema

Jul 15, 2016

The 1920s through the 1940s are the Golden Age of Cinema.  It was a time of tremendous growth in the film industry, when billions of investment dollars were poured into the purchase of Hollywood real estate, and the studio system perfected the production of sophisticated motion pictures. 

Audrey Kupferberg: Love And Friendship

Jun 17, 2016

Whit Stillman has made a jewel of a film called LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP.  Stillman, who was raised in Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY, doesn’t have a very prolific career as a film writer/director, but his films, which include METROPOLITAN, THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO, and DAMSELS IN DISTRESS, are artful and clearly are his unique conceptions.  

As we finally are able to see the end of the road for the current presidential primaries—and as we look ahead to the upcoming presidential election campaign, it is an appropriate time to look back at the ways in which previous presidential campaigns have been executed, and recorded through the types of media then available throughout modern American history.  

This month, Turner Classic Movies is paying tribute to the 20th Century’s “royal family of Broadway,” the Barrymores.  Lionel, Ethel, and John Barrymore, that is, three siblings whose artful work brightened the stage and screen throughout the first half of the century. 

Audrey Kupferberg: Downton Abbey Actors In Other Roles

Mar 18, 2016

Now that the final episode of DOWNTON ABBEY has aired and been discussed over tea, on social media, and at the dinner table, it is time for fans to move on.  However, for many avid followers, separation anxiety has set in.  For those people, here are a few suggestions which may not bring you to the satisfaction of a Sunday with the Crawley clan, but could result in some fine entertainment.

Audrey Kupferberg: Grandma

Feb 19, 2016

Seventy or eighty years ago in a far distant galaxy called the Hollywood Golden Age, influential studio administrators came to two important realizations.  First of all, women movie-goers liked to see stories featuring strong women characters.  Secondly, on a date and in mixed company, it usually was the female who chose the film to be seen.

Audrey Kupferberg: BBC Police Procedural RIVER

Jan 15, 2016

In the genre of police procedurals, it is common for one or more of the suspects to be suffering from mental illness.  Crime often is linked to an unbalanced view of the world, a distortion of reality.  In RIVER, the 2015 six-part BBC series that recently became available on Netflix streaming, the tables are turned.  Instead of perps with unbalanced eyes towards their surroundings, it is the police officer who is unhinged.  Detective Inspector John River of the Metropolitan Police in London, a character played with sensitivity and at times even brilliance by Stellan Skarsgard, is the focal point of RIVER.   

Audrey Kupferberg: The Girl King

Dec 18, 2015

New to DVD and streaming this month is an oddly disappointing film called THE GIRL KING.  The feature, produced and directed by Finnish filmmaker Mika Kaurismaki, has an exciting story to tell, but THE GIRL KING provides little excitement as it relates the unusual life of 17th Century Swedish Queen Kristina.

One-hundred years ago, renowned American actor William Gillette stood before the cameras at the Essanay Studios in Chicago to make a celluloid record of his celebrated stage performance as Sherlock Holmes. The play was based on four of the popular Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and was adapted by Gillette with the author’s blessing.  Gillette played the legendary fictional detective on stage 1300 times from 1899 to 1932. He acted the character wearing the deerstalker cap and smoking the large, curved pipe, according to 19th century illustrations by Sidney Paget in the Strand Magazine.

Audrey Kupferberg: Women's Rights On Film

Nov 20, 2015

Some women these days seem lackadaisical about having equal rights with men, except when it comes to their paycheck.  And yet it isn’t even 100 years since women were allowed to vote in our country.  It is well less than a century since women were allowed out into the streets wearing trousers—and NOT wearing uncomfortable and medically harmful corsets.  These days, women are successful doctors and lawyers, scientists and experts in fields of high technology.  We dress as we please.

Audrey Kupferberg: Lion's Love

Oct 16, 2015

A newly-released DVD set of forgotten classics from the Criterion Collection, Eclipse Series 43: Agnès Varda in California, includes a real gem of late 1960s independent filmmaking.  It is LION’S LOVE, shot in sunny Los Angeles during the somewhat grim month of June 1968.  LION’S LOVE is not a conventional narrative film.  Then again, Agnes Varda is no conventional filmmaker.

Audrey Kupferberg: A Gentleman's Guide To Love And Murder

Sep 26, 2015

Several thousand people from across upstate New York enjoyed a special theater treat this past week.  From Saturday, September 19, to Saturday, the 26th, Proctors in Schenectady hosted the launch of a 44-week National Tour of the 2014 four-time Tony Award-winning musical, A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE & MURDER.

Audrey Kupferberg: The Epic Of Everest

Sep 18, 2015

The early 20th century was a time when exploration reflected feelings of nationalist pride and the concept of man versus nature. So much of this activity coincided with the development of motion pictures. As North American, British, and European men—and a few women-- took to remote areas of the world on foot and in land and air vehicles , they brought with them moving picture cameras and still photographic equipment in order to record remote lands and peoples never seen by what they considered to be the civilized world.

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