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DIANA VREELAND: THE EYE HAS TO TRAVEL|
EVERYTHING OR NOTHING | HUNGARIAN RHAPSODY | WEST OF MEMPHIS
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last update 3.Oct.12
See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel
dir-prd Lisa Immordino Vreeland |
scr Lisa Immordino Vreeland, Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt, Fredeic Tcheng
with Anjelica Huston, Lauren Hutton, Ali McGraw, Marisa Berenson, Richard Avedon, David Bailey, Calvin Klein, Hubert de Givenchy, Manolo Blahnik, Diane von Furstenburg, Oscar de la Renta, Harold Koda
release US Sep.11 tff,
TORONTO FILM FEST
Assembled like a living photo-book, this documentary tells the story the 20th century's most iconic fashionista; Vreeland's influential taste-making forever changed how the world looks at style and fashion. While the film feels a little superficial, it vividly captures her sparky personality.
Born in 1903 Paris then growing up in New York, Diana was her mother's "ugly duckling", so was soon looking for a bit of pizazz. She later returned to Europe with her husband Thomas Vreeland and got a job with Harper's Bazaar, where she created the concept of a fashion editor before moving on to become Vogue's senior editor. Even more influentially, she ran the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum, making the world see for the first time that fashion was both art and history. She died in 1989 New York.
This snappy film is narrated with dialog between Vreeland and George Plimpton from interviews for her 1984 autobiography D.V.. Through these clips, as well still photos, TV interviews and other terrific footage, filmmaker Immordino Vreeland (married to Diana's grandson) stresses Vreeland's biting wit and force-of-nature personality, as immortalised on film in the thinly veiled Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? (1964).
Vreeland was so curious about life that she could never be offended, which meant that she constantly broke rules, like introducing the bikini or denim to high fashion or pushing her models to reveal their own personalities. For her, style was "what helps you get up in the morning". When asked why she loved living in London so much, Diana tartly answered, "The best thing about London is Paris!" Meanwhile, she treasured friendships with everyone from Buffalo Bill to Coco Chanel to Jackie Kennedy.
It could be said that Vreeland's special skill was showing her audience how the world could, and should, look rather than the gritty reality. And in many ways, this family-made film does the same thing, barely touching on deaths and grudges, nasty work situations and strained professional relationships. You get the feeling that Vreeland was such an iconic presence that the darker truth would make her even more interesting.
PG themes, some nudity|
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Everything or Nothing|
dir Stevan Riley|
prd John Battsek, Simon Chinn
with Barbara Broccoli, Michael Wilson, Ken Adams, Lucy Fleming, Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig, George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton, Judi Dench, Christopher Lee, Maud Adams, Famke Janssen, Sam Mendes, Lewis Gilbert, Bill Clinton
release UK 5.Oct.12
James Bond fans will love this fast-paced, energetic documentary tracing the 007 franchise from novelist Ian Fleming's personal experiences through 50 years of movies. It has to race through some of the history, which may leave devotees wishing it had been a TV series instead.
Bond was created as Fleming's alter ego, living the life he imagined for himself while working a desk-bound WWII intelligence job. Then as the Cold War cranked up, the novels caught on, sparking a flurry of interest in the film rights. These were shared by Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, who formed Eon (everything or nothing) Productions and broke the mould for action movies with Dr No in 1962. But it certainly wasn't smooth sailing, as the franchise teetered on the brink of collapse several times over the following decades.
The filmmakers pack this doc with terrific footage, including vintage interviews, behind-the-scenes clips and home movies. They also use extensive scenes from the Bond films themselves, often wittily edited in to illustrate the story of the franchise itself. And all of this is narrated by a string of interviews with cast, crew and family members. Indeed, there's the sense that these films are still a family production.
Assembled in a lucid, comprehensive style that moves briskly, the film completely skips the 1967 Casino Royale, although we get a glimpse of CBS' 1954 TV version. On the other hand, the legal wranglings with Kevin McClory over Thunderball and 1983's Never Say Never Again are outlined in detail. As is Brosnan's derailed shot at being Bond two films before he actually made it onto the screen. It's also interesting to hear how the series was reinvented (with Craig) due to the 9/11 attacks.
None of this is revelatory, but it's fascinating to see these events recounted first-person in the larger context of the Bond legacy. And in the end, we're left with the distinct feeling that the future is in safe hands with Barbara Broccoli. She's determined to keep the films current and relevant while remaining faithful to both Fleming's creation and her father Cubby's enduring friendship with Harry. But as much fun as it is to watch, it's still not much more than a great extra for the Skyfall DVD.
12 themes, language, violence|
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Hungarian Rhapsody: Queen - Live in Budapest
dir Janos Zsombolyai|
prd George Mihaly
with Freddie Mercury, John Deacon, Brian May, Roger Taylor, Bob Geldof, Russell Mulcahy, Jim Beach
release UK 20.Sep.12
12/Hungary Sony 1h59
A two-part documentary, this film offers a rare glimpse into the life of the iconic rock band Queen, centred on their 1986 Budapest stadium concert, which was captured on film by Hungary's state film corporation using 17 cameras. Thankfully, it's finally been remixed for release in the West.
The 27-minute prologue, titled A Magic Year, follows the 12 months after Queen's triumphant performance at Live Aid in July 1985. It's narrated using interviews with the four surprisingly soft-spoken band members as they talk openly about their work on a variety of projects. Packed with backstage clips, studio sessions and clips from major events, their work included scoring Mulcahy's movie Highlander and launching a massive European tour.
Then the film cuts to an aerial tour of Budapest followed by a time-lapse sequence showing the construction of an elaborate stage in an enormous stadium, which fills up with 80,000 fans. This was Queen's first concert in Hungary, so it drew fans from throughout the Eastern Bloc. To make sure he engaged with them, Mercury learned some Hungarian folk music, but the crowd reacts even more enthusiastically to big hits like Radio GaGa and Bohemian Rhapsody. We also get some amusing scenes of the band members touring around the city, meeting locals and getting ready to perform.
Put together, this film gives us a terrific feel for how these men approached their work, from songwriting to recording to performing live. And with their larger-than-life music and Mercury's huge stage persona, this was definitely a band to see live. Watching the interviews and off-stage moments is fascinating, because the musicians' thoughtful comments add a layer of meaning to their high-energy performance. And on stage, Mercury is simply mesmerising, with that devastating four-octave voice and his intimate, charming presence.
So it's odd that the filmmakers truncate the concert itself. Because it's on stage that these four men turned into something almost supernatural, belting out hit after hit with power and passion. Their combined intensity still sends chills down the spine, and it's fascinating to see that Mercury engaged as seductively with an interviewer as he did with a stadium full of fans. Indeed, no matter how shy and self-effacing he was offstage, he knew the truth: "I always win an audience!"
12 themes, language|
R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
West of Memphis||
dir Amy Berg|
scr Billy McMillin, Amy Berg
prd Amy Berg, Lorri Davis, Damien Echols, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh
with Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, Jessie Misskelley, Lorri Davis, Peter Jackson, Eddie Vedder, Henry Rollins, Natalie Mains, Terry Hobbs, John Mark Byers, David Burnett, John Fogleman
release UK Oct.12 lff,
SUNDANCE FILM FEST
This lucid, harrowing documentary recounts a 20-year miscarriage of justice so thoroughly that it leaves us slack-jawed at the corruption, self-interest and intractability of the Arkansas legal system. It's also sharply well shot and edited to leave us with no doubts about the truth.
In May 1993, three 8-year-old boys were found dead in the woods in West Memphis, Arkansas. The police determined that they were violently killed in a satanic ritual and charged three counter-culture teens with murder. Echols was sentenced to death, while Baldwin and Misskelley received life sentences. But critics of the case found anomalies that proved this wasn't an occult killing and that these teens couldn't have done it. For nearly two decades, the cause of the West Memphis Three was championed around the world as lawyers fought Arkansas courts who refused to hear DNA evidence or re-open the case.
Filmmaker Berg digs into this story with a journalist's eye, carefully documenting everything along the way. She follows the story to August 2011, when all three men were freed after entering guilty pleas even though they were clearly innocent. In other words, the killer is still at large (the film has ideas about this) and there is still no real justice simply because Arkansas is too embarrassed to admit that its police and court bullied three innocent boys into prison with false evidence and bad forensics.
The film is assembled from a wealth of archive footage from the police investigation, press coverage, video from each trial and interviews with everyone involved. There's also new material, from interviews to some rather artful padding that gives us a moment to breathe amid the blood-boiling facts. In these clips, we hear from celebrities like Jackson, Vedder and Rollins, who have championed the case for years.
There is never a question that these murders were horrific and inhumane, but the way the police jumped to erroneous conclusions then refused to admit their mistakes is shocking. Overlong and still not quite comprehensive, the film outlines information in a compelling, chronological way that's impossible to deny. And it proves that rallying people to stand up for justice is just the tip of the iceberg.
15 themes, language, disturbing images|
See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL
© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows
on the Wall