Category: Cinema Saints

Cinema Saint: Robert Rodriguez

Between September 15 and October 15, AE will be running a series of articles celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, in which we elevate and celebrate Hispanic contributions and representation in the world of cinema, starting today with the induction of our newest Cinema Saint, Robert Rodriguez. — His name is Robert Rodriguez. Hell, you’re probably familiar with the guy. You either know him as the kickass director of the Mariachi trilogy and From Dusk Till Dawn, or you recognise him as Quentin Tarantino’s cinematic partner-in-crime. Either way, the man likely needs no introduction. It’s easy to talk and write about...

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Redefining Representation: A Love Letter to Ava DuVernay

“If you are a woman in Hollywood, if you are of color, particularly if you’re black, the founding images of cinema are adverse to your very humanity. And if the images of the medium you work in are adverse to your very humanity, then every action is a reaction. So everything I do tries to provide contrast. I try and pivot from the characterization of what women should be, what black people should be, what black women should be. I try to counter the presentation of black life—within Hollywood, within the studio system, within what makes it to theaters.”...

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Spike Jonze: A Boy and His Toys

In an unspecific way, it seems, these four movies have always been about me in the way that they are specifically unspecific in being about Spike Jonze. And everyone else. Everyone was mad at me for months after the release of Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are. Since my early twenties, since before the movie was in production, I have had the image of the wild thing most prominently featured in the artwork of Maurice Sendak’s children’s book tattooed on either side of my collarbone. That character doesn’t have a name in the book, but Spike Jonze named...

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Cinema Saint: Nicole Kidman- A Career’s Worth of Receipts

It turns out Nicole Kidman is the star we took for granted. She’s always been there on the peripherals of our adoring Hollywood gaze, but lately she’s been front and center thanks to her four projects screened recently at Cannes (The Beguiled, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, How to Talk to Girls at Parties, and Top of the Lake) where she won the 70th Anniversary award. But we should have kept her front and center from the start. With the recent Kidman Renaissance seemingly underway, it seemed time to look back at her career and cultivate an appreciation...

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Cinema Saint: Sofia Coppola And The Search For Substance Through Style

“Style over substance!” It’s one of the most frequent accusations in film discourse, and it’s been used to deride visually-driven filmmakers for years. From big-budget genre connoisseurs like Gore Verbinski and Zack Snyder to former awards-season heavyweights like Michael Mann and Terrence Malick, all sorts of filmmakers have seen their work downplayed with this label. The phrase is a reductive one that presumes imagery and atmosphere are less significant to a movie’s staying power than verbosity and screenwriting intricacy. And yet, many creative voices from multiple decades have been dismissed as prioritizing style and downplaying substance. Even an Oscar-winning...

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Daniel Day-Lewis and the Self-Sacrifice of Dual Citizenship and Method Acting

Shall I be gone long? For ever and a day. To whom there belong? Ask the stone to say. Ask my song. -Epitaph from the tombstone of Cecil Day-Lewis, United Kingdom Poet Laureate from 1968-1972, from his poem Is It Far to Go? There are ways in which Daniel Day-Lewis is discussed that are unique to conversations about his career, things we say about Day-Lewis we do not say about any other actor. First, there’s a quiet regional battle of possession under the conversation, a subtextual tug of war over the biographical reservation of his citizenship and his artistic...

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Jackin’ It: The Mad Masculinity of Jack Nicholson

“Don’t come any closer,” a young man says brandishing a firearm. Not only are those words filled with conviction, but the performance attached to them displays the tortured petulance and the ability to swing from restless calm to mad fury (all with manic ease) that would define a career. The film is 1958’s The Cry Baby Killer, the kind of teenage drive-in fare that could have inspired so many after-school specials yet to come. And the young man brandishing the gun, the titular cry baby killer, is 21-year-old Jack Nicholson. Here, in his screen debut, he’s already hinting at the...

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Cinema Saint: Douglas Trumbull, The Invisible Star

As an art, filmmaking is a delicate tightrope walk between what is imaginable and what is producible. While the incredible innovations in computer-generated imagery have certainly provided safety mechanisms for the modern film maker, considerable effort is still required to make the impossible feel, move, and act with realism and precision. The greatest artists of the medium, then, are those most adept at taking the ephemeral visions that cinema is built upon and making them a tangible reality. Douglas Trumbull, American filmmaker and visual effects innovator, turns 75 on April 8th. Son of Donald Trumbull (another notable visual effects...

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Just Like the Rest of Us: The Noble Humanity of Sidney Poitier

In the 1967’s mystery thriller, In the Heat of the Night, a prejudiced Police Chief looks Sidney Poitier’s detective, Virgil Tibbs right in the eyes and says, “You’re just like the rest of us, aint’cha.” This statement not only defined Tibbs but much of Sidney Poitier’s early acting career, a career defined by characters who lessened the sentiment that blackness should be equated with “other.” For many blacks, myself included, Sidney Poitier has always been associated with excellence, an example to be passed down by our parents and grandparents. This is skill, they say. This is craft. And they’re...

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Tony Scott: The Patron Saint of Selfless Artists

In a 2009 interview with Rotten Tomatoes, Tony Scott discussed his plans for his intended remake of the 1979 cult classic The Warriors, which included reshaping the story as a modern tale of rival Los Angeles gangs. The vision was expectedly simple, with“10 guys stuck at point B and they need to get back to point A.” In preparation for filming, Scott had started meeting with actual L.A. gangs (always the second guy, never the leader, he explained). It was an interest and approach seemingly mismatched, but oddly appealing given his history of only being predictable by his unpredictability...

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Cinema Saint: Pam Grier

With all due respect to Lynda Carter, the real Wonder Woman of the ’70s was Pam Grier. This month AE has been celebrating the impact and legacy of the Blaxploitation films of ’70s, and no discussion of that genre and its influence would be complete without honoring Pam Grier. Before Ellen Ripley, before Sarah Connor, before Buffy Summers, before Furiosa, there was Pam Grier’s cadre of smart and capable action heroes who brought pain to those deserving but with an identifiable sense of humanity. She has become one of the most lasting images of black culture, equally responsible for...

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Cinema Saints: Michael Mann And His Devotion To Empathy

From the early American frontier to the contemporary streets of Miami, Michael Mann’s approach to storytelling and filmmaking are defined by atmosphere, attention to detail, and orchestration of complex themes contextualized by equally intricate scene constructions. As an artist uses a paint brush to create a painting, Mann uses specific filmmaking techniques to craft portraits of men and women in perpetual motion in worlds bound by varying code of ethics, desires, and existentialism. Michael Mann’s protagonists often find themselves at odds with societal constructs in their pursuit of happiness. What defines this happiness can shift between their utmost wants...

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Cinema Saints: Emmanuel Lubezki

In the modern age of widely inclusive discourse and immediately-documented reaction, perhaps nothing in film culture is as bitterly received by film fans as the over-enunciation and repetitiveness of on-the-spot legacy building. The Revenant, the latest film to result from the creative partnership of Director Alejandro González Iñárritu and Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, serves as the perfect illustration of this. Before the film’s wide release, it was difficult to measure which publicized narrative was the most worn and grating: the stories of Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar-seeking commitment to his role, Iñárritu’s readily-shared and over-licensed insistence regarding his artistic pursuit of capital-T...

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Cinema Saint: Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford is like Michael Jackson. He isn’t a musician, but he is a genre unto himself. Michael Jackson was so influential to other artists and musicians that he spawned a slew of imitators and worshippers who are pop stars and R&B stars, but really the genre they work in is Michael Jackson. Consider Justin Timberlake, Usher, Justin Bieber and the like. They are stars who grew up watching Jackson and wanted to be him. They based their songs and their dance moves on his and each has been, at one point or another, hailed as the new Michael...

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