Cinema

The Birds (1963): ‘Risseldy Rosseldy’

A couple of early incidents featuring agitated lone gulls – a swift strike as Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) prepares to dock her motorboat, and another which annihilates itself in the Brenner front door – progress into a fully-fledged attack on Cathy Brenner’s (Veronica Cartwright) birthday party, as the youngster celebrates turning twelve. Later that evening a swarm of sparrows invade the Brenner home through…

Capsule Movie Review: McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)

McCabe & Mrs. Miller Anti-Western | 121 Minutes | 1971 | United States * * * * * In 1902 an inscrutable gambler, John McCabe (Warren Beatty), arrives in the fledgling town of Presbyterian Church in the northwestern United States. A hazy rumour has him as a gunslinger, and McCabe uses innuendo and disorder to quickly assert his position in the town,…

Capsule Movie Review: Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Million Dollar Baby Sports Drama | 132 minutes | 2004 | United States * * Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank), from southwest Missouri, has worked as a waitress from her early teens. Stuck in grim poverty, she seeks a way beyond her circumstances, and determines to become a boxer. She turns up at a worn-down Los Angeles gym, owned and run by Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) with the…

Capsule Movie Review: How to Steal a Million (1966)

How to Steal a Million Heist Comedy | 123 Minutes | 1966 | United States * * * Nicole Bonnet (Audrey Hepburn) is the daughter of an art forger, who has collected so many supposed masterpieces that he has won considerable renown in the world of art. Approached by the Kléber-Lafayette Museum, he proudly loans to this illustrious Paris institution (occupying the building…

Capsule Movie Review: Young Adult (2011)

Young Adult Black Comedy | 94 Minutes | 2011 | United States * * * * * Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron), a 37-year-old ghostwriter for a series of young adult novels soon to be cancelled, returns to her small Minnesota hometown, angling to hook up with her old high school flame, who is married and has just become a father. Her…

August Film: Detour Analysis

The production of Edgar G. Ulmer’s 1945 film noir classic Detour is as fabled as the picture itself: reportedly shot over anything from two days up to four six-day weeks, on a small budget costing somewhere between $20,000 and $100,000. Ulmer himself, in an interview given in 1972, asserted that the film took six days to shoot. Yet it subsequently spent more than six…

August Film: Detour (1945)

  Detour 68 minutes | 30 November 1945 | United States ‘Man is involved in two freakish accidents that make him look like a murderer. Poverty row masterwork that is the most precise elucidation of the noir theme of explicit fatalism.’ – Spencer Selby Director: Edgar G. Ulmer Producer: Leon Fromkess Screenplay: Martin Goldsmith Based On: Martin Goldsmith’s 1939 novel Detour: An Extraordinary Tale Starring: Tom…

The Birds (1963): Storyboarding the Scene at the Schoolhouse

One of the myths to have built up around the career of Alfred Hitchcock maintains that, after planning and storyboarding his films so thoroughly, once on set he never so much as peeked through the camera viewfinder, bearing each scene from start to finish precisely in his head. This sounds barely sensible, an uncharacteristic relinquishing of control and disavowal of prospective…

The Birds (1963) and Its San Francisco Pet Shop Opening

Analyses of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds have typically tended in two directions. There is the film’s at-the-time innovate use of special effects, which were added by Lewis Hampton and Ub Iwerks, but which required much in the way of planning and shooting: careful storyboarding, trained gulls, numerous camera angles, and then plenty of editing to bring together different shots. And there…