17.April.2012: The Hollywood Reporter’s Mike Barnes breaks the sad news that longtime Brian de Palma actor William Finely has died. He was 69. Barnes writes, “Finley, a longtime friend and a classmate of De Palma’s at Sarah Lawrence College in New York, also played the husband of Margot Kidder’s character in the director’s 1973 breakout, Sisters, as well as appearing in Woton’s Wake (1962), Murder a la Mod (1968), The Wedding Party (1969), Dionysus (1970), The Fury (1978), Dressed to Kill (1980) and The Black Dahlia (2006).” The Playlist’s Oliver Lyttelton offers some background on one of Finley’s strangest De Palma roles, in Phantom of the Paradise, in tribute.
Boston Globe critic Wesley Morris has won a Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism. The Globe has posted a series of his nominated stories, all of them from 2011. Just plucking a couple of nice examples from the lot, Morris leads in to his remembrance of filmmaker Sidney Lumet, “Lumet’s chief preoccupation wasn’t art. It was right and wrong in the American city, nearly always in New York.” And of The Help he writes, “It’s possible both to like this movie—to let it crack you up, then make you cry—and to wonder why we need a broad, if sincere dramatic comedy about black maids in Jackson, Miss., in 1962 and ’63 and the high-strung white housewives they work for. The movie is too pious for farce and too eager to please to comment persuasively on the racial horrors of the Deep South at that time.”
Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained won’t be in theaters until Christmas, but a new press release spills the plot synopsis: “Set in the South two years before the Civil War, Django Unchained stars Academy Award®-winner Jamie Foxx as Django, a slave whose brutal history with his former owners lands him face-to-face with German-born bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Academy Award®-winner Christoph Waltz).” Invariably, it doesn’t take long from there to get to what is perhaps the quintessential phrase for Tarantino’s recent films: “Dead or alive.”
Indiewire’s Allison Willmore posts Bill Plympton’s surreal overture for The Simpsons on Sunday night. “Plympton joins the ranks of fellow guest couch gag animators Banksy and John Kricfalusi,” she writes, “though the latter two never raised the question of what, exactly, a couch takes off when working as a stripper—its slipcovers?”
Susan Doll wraps the Turner Classic Movies Festival in Los Angeles with a fun discussion of film noir dialogue, drawing on plenty of particulars from the films themselves. Regarding the saucy stuff, Doll writes, “Film noir features the strangest pick-up lines. Elisha Cook, Jr. casually asks Ella Raines in Phantom Lady: ‘You like jive?’…Later he coos: “Stick with me, Snooks, and I will buy you a carload of hats.” Hey, he had me at ‘Snooks.’ Helene Stanton gets straight to the point with Cornel Wilde in The Big Combo: ‘What’s on your mind? As if I didn’t know.’ But, Gloria Grahame, my favorite noir dame, is more provocative with Bogart in In a Lonely Place: ‘I said I liked it; I didn’t say I wanted to kiss it.’ The volley of barbed wisecracks is not only an indicator of sexual attraction but also a substitute for sex in the era when the Production Code did not allow direct depictions or expressions of lust and desire.”