This week, I was planning to discuss in detail THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES. This was my agenda for two reasons. First, and simply put, this film is well-worth seeing and reviewing for a range of reasons. Second, it was shot on location here in upstate New York.
Of all the actors who came to the fore after the end of the Second World War, perhaps the best-recalled are Burt Lancaster, Gregory Peck, Kirk Douglas, Montgomery Clift, Robert Mitchum, William Holden... But they are not the lone stars of the era. Glenn Ford may not have appeared in as many timeless titles as the Lancasters and Pecks, but he was a prolific performer whose star glowed from the postwar years into the 1960s.
42 is a new biopic about the life of Jackie Robinson, the legendary baseball player who was the first African-American to play in the major leagues during the 20th-century. But this new Jackie Robinson film is not the first Jackie Robinson film. THE JACKIE ROBINSON STORY came to movie theaters in 1950: 63 years ago, three short years after Jackie debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Many ethnographic filmmakers are – and always have been-- content to record and educate. Since the early silent film days, factual films of this sort have captured a straight-forward view of the lifestyles, rituals, and customs of isolated people from far-away places.
Back in the late 1960s and early 70s, a host of films-- which now are acknowledged classics-- literally changed the tenor of American filmmaking. And in retrospect, they serve as mirrors of their time. Films like THE GRADUATE and FIVE EASY PIECES, which helped establish Dustin Hoffman and Jack Nicholson as major stars and which are as fresh and invigorating today as when first released, spotlight characters who are alone, confused, and alienated, and are drifting aimlessly through life.
Two different but not unrelated documentaries recently have come to DVD, courtesy of Kino Lorber and Kino Classics. One is current, and in fact is a Best Documentary Academy Award nominee. The other was made 43 years ago.
These days, movie-going can be an expensive proposition-- and I would hate to have to plunk down some hard-earned money in the hope of finding relaxation in a darkened movie theater and end up sitting through a comedy that is crass and unfunny or a thriller that simply is not thrilling, not to mention the very real possibility that the person sitting next to me will be yapping away on his or her cellphone while I am trying to soak in all the on-screen dialogue.
Not all of the top films of 2012 are big-budget, and high-profile. Indeed, quite a few are low-budget. They are independently produced American films, or they are foreign language titles. And so here is a sampling of some of the year’s outstanding under-the-radar titles.