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THE NEW YORK FILM CRITICS CIRCLE THROWS A 75TH BIRTHDAY PARTY--AND HOW SWEET IT IS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beginning on July 3rd and running through September 23rd,  The Museum of Modern Art will screen 27 movies that have been honored by Gotham’s  top critics during the years since the founding of the New York Film Critics Circle in 1935. The movies to be shown have been selected by the current crop of Circle critics, some of whom will be on hand to comment on their picks, which seems a perfect way to celebrate a cinematic milestone. For complete information on the series, click here and visit MoMA’s web site.

Below, courtesy of MoMA, a special preview.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN
1936. USA. Directed by Frank Capra. Screenplay by Robert Riskin. With Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur, George Bancroft, Lionel Stander. “Forget the abysmal 2002 Adam Sandler remake. The original, directed by Frank Capra and written by Robert Riskin, is a screwball delight. This comedy pithily pits small town values against big city opportunism and mendacity. Nice guy Longfellow Deeds (Cooper), a greeting card versifier from a small town in Vermont, is probably Capra’s least complicated hero, while Babe Bennett (Arthur), the newspaper reporter who falls in love with him even as she’s writing exploitative stories making fun of his rube-like ways, is among his most conflicted and complex heroines.” (Leah Rozen, People Magazine)
NYFCC Best Picture

(Click here for Guy Flatley’s 1977 interview with Frank Capra; click here for Guy’s 1972 interview with Jean Arthur; and click here for Guy’s 1971 interview with Lionel Stander.)

LA GRANDE ILLUSION
1937. France. Directed by Jean Renoir. Screenplay by Renoir and Charles Spaak. With Jean Gabin, Pierre Fresnay, Eric von Stroheim, Marcel Dalio.
"No Less a personage than Franklin Delano Roosevelt hailed Jean Renoir’s 1936 'Grand Illusion' as a notable contribution to world peace, but as Renoir himself ruefully remarked, three years later the world was at war again. Nonetheless, 'Grand Illusion' remains a testament to the talents of Jean Gabin, Pierre Fresnay, and Marcel Delio on the French side, and Erich von Stroheim and Dita Parlo on the German side in forging a hopeful Franco-German fraternity that has endured cinematically through War and Holocaust to this day." (Andrew Sarris, New York Observer)
NYFCC Best Foreign Film (1938)

SPELLBOUND
1945. USA. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Screenplay by Ben Hecht, Angus MacPhail. With Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Michael Chekhov, Rhonda Fleming, Leo G. Carroll, Norman Lloyd, John Emery, Bill Goodwin, Steven Geray, Wallace Ford, Paul Harvey, Regis Toomey, Art Baker. “Bergman won the NYFCC’s Best Actress award for Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller and The Bells of St. Mary’s, released, along with Saratoga Trunk, at the height of her popularity in late 1945. Cast as a dishy ‘dream detective’ who unlocks shell-shocked vet Gregory Peck’s unconscious to solve a murder, it’s a stylish, fascinating window into contemporary attitudes toward psychiatry, as filtered through the disparate sensibilities of Hitchcock, producer David O. Selznick, screenwriter Ben Hecht, and Salvador Dalí, who designed the famed fantasy sequence.” (Lou Lumenick, The New York Post)
NYFCC Best Actress

(Click here for Guy Flatley’s 1972 interview with Alfred Hitchcock.)

THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES
1946. USA. Directed by William Wyler. Screenplay by Robert E. Sherwood. With Fredric March, Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright. “'The Best Years of Our Lives' was released in 1946, as American servicemen returning from the war struggled with readjustment to civilian life. But the picture isn’t just a dated time capsule. It resonates today, largely because the performances—from Dana Andrews, Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Teresa Wright, and Harold Russell—are so uniformly superb, and so piercing. Cinematographer Gregg Toland’s framing underscores each character’s sense of isolation and, ultimately, connection.” (Stephanie Zacharek, Salon.com)
NYFCC Best Picture

(Click here for Guy Flatley’s 1973 interview with Fredric March.

THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE
1948. USA. Written and directed by John Huston. With Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Holt, Bruce Bennett. “Huston’s (im)morality tale about greed and gold is one caustic take on the human condition; it’s easily one of the more cynical pictures to come out of a Hollywood studio without the name ‘Billy Wilder’ attached. Humphrey Bogart was never seedier or sweatier; John’s pop, Walter Huston, somehow manages to out-cackle and out-coot that other famous Walter (Brennan). P.S., Don’t even think about asking to see those bandits’ badges.” (David Fear, Time Out New York)
NYFCC Best Picture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


ALL ABOUT EVE 
1950. USA. Written and directed by Joseph Mankiewicz. With Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, Celeste Holm, Gary Merrill, Hugh Marlowe, Thelma Ritter, Marilyn Monroe, Gregory Ratoff, Walter Hampden, Barbara Bates. "Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s quintessential backstager revived Bette Davis’s career and gave Thelma Ritter and Marilyn Monroe two of their earliest plum supporting roles. Almost 60 years after its release, 'All About Eve' remains one of the most quotable movies ever made: Filled with venomous barbs about ego, ambition, fame—and that nastiest of all species, the critic—the film says as much about what it means to be a star as to be a fan." 
(Melissa Anderson, Village Voice)
NYFCC Best Picture

A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE
1951. USA. Directed by Elia Kazan. Screenplay by Oscar Saul. With Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, Karl Malden, Rudy Bond, Nick Dennis, Peg Hillias, Mickey Kuhn. 
(David Edelstein, New York Magazine)
NYFCC Best Picture

UMBERTO D
1952. Italy. Written and directed by Vittorio De Sica. With Carlo Battisti, Maria-Pia Casilio, Lina Gennari, Ileana Simova. “The heroic era of Neorealism reached its climax (and box-office disaster) with this wrenching portrait of an elderly, middle-class pensioner slowly losing his home and his dignity. With its episodes of deliberately undramatic activity, Umberto D. comes close to achieving an ideal announced by André Bazin—the perfect aesthetic illusion of reality—and foreshadows the observational cinema of filmmakers such as Hou Hsiao-hsien and Chantal Akerman. With its unabashed emotion, it also breaks your heart.” (Stuart Klawans, The Nation)
NYFCC Best Foreign Film (1955)

(Click here for Guy Flatley’s 1972 interview with Vittorio De Sica.)


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LES DIABOLIQUES
1955. France. Directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot. Screenplay by Clouzot, Jérôme Géronimi, René Masson, Frédéric Grendel. With Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzot, Paul Meurisse, Charles Vanel. “'Les Diaboliques' is to bathtubs what Hitchcock’s Psycho is to showers. Clouzot’s black-and-white chiller unfolds in a boys’ boarding school in rural France, where the tyrannical headmaster is marked for murder in an intricate plot hatched by his wife (Véra Clouzot, the director’s wife) and mistress (Signoret). Suspense builds slowly as we come to realize that nothing is as it seems at first. The 1996 Hollywood remake is best forgotten.” (V. A. Musetto, The New York Post)
NYFCC Best Foreign Film

MON ONCLE (MY UNCLE)
1958. France/Italy. Directed by Jacques Tati. Screenplay by Tati, Jacques Lagrange, Jean L'Hote. With Tati, Jean-Pierre Zola, Alain Becourt, Adrienne Servanti. "Once a comic icon to rival Chaplin, Jacques Tati has been increasingly overlooked in recent decades. And yet his films, which chronicle the tug-of-war between nature and technology, have never been more relevant. In 1958’s Oscar-winning 'Mon Oncle,' Tati’s everyman alter ego, Monsieur Hulot, navigates a dehumanized modernity in which stark suburban mansions isolate inhabitants obsessed by gadgetry. How prescient was Tati’s vision? Answer that question the next time you bypass the bookstore for your Kindle, or Twitter instead of talk."  (Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News)
NYFCC Best Foreign Film

LA DOLCE VITA
1960. Italy. Written and directed by Federico Fellini. With Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg, Anouk Aimée, Yvonne Furneaux. “To address Fellini's 'La Dolce Vita' in seventy-five words is blasphemy—a quickie replacing an orgy. The sensual 1960 masterpiece is expansive, a feast, the definition of what it was to live the good life in postwar Rome for a people who knew suffering and deprivation, and defiantly chose life. Anita Ekberg is Venus incarnate, a statue that has stepped off her pedestal into the audience’s open arms—and those of the magnetic Marcello Mastroianni! Magnifico!” (Thelma Adams, Us Weekly)
NYFCC Best Foreign Film (1961)

IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT
1967. USA. Directed by Norman Jewison. Screenplay by Stirling Silliphant, based on the novel by John Ball. With Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, Warren Oates, Lee Grant, Beah Richards, Larry Gates.  "Philadelphia homicide detective Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier) gets drawn into a murder mystery in 1967 Sparta, Mississippi. The victim’s widow (Lee Grant) convinces him to help a bigoted police chief (Rod Steiger) solve the crime. Race relations ignite when a white suspect slaps Tibbs. In Stirling Silliphant’s screenplay, Tibbs takes the hit. At Poitier’s insistence, his Tibbs strikes back, furthering the liberation of black men in American cinema. 'They call me Mr. Tibbs.'  They’d better!" 
(Dwight Brown, NNPA Syndication/BlackPressUSA.com)
NYFCC Best Picture

THE LION IN WINTER
1968. Great Britain. Directed by Anthony Harvey. Screenplay by James Goldman, based upon his play. With Peter O’Toole, Katharine Hepburn, Anthony Hopkins, John Castle. “Daggers dance in the glances between Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn as King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, his imprisoned wife, in a witty drama that roars with political, sexual, and familial intrigue, The Lion in Winter. Named Best Picture of 1968 by the Circle, the film takes place in a muddy, unwashed 1183, as the king tries to choose a successor among his sons. But it’s the wary, well-worn respect between the old monarch and his long-suffering but still-dangerous queen that give the film its heart.” (Kyle Smith, The New York Post)
NYFCC Best Picture


(Click here for Guy Flatley’s 1972 interview with Peter O’Toole.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE
1971. Great Britain. Written and directed by Stanley Kubrick. With Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Michael Bates, Warren Clarke. "A notorious 1971 movie based on a scandalous 1962 book, Stanley Kubrick’s 'A Clockwork Orange' went its own way in explicating the violent abandon of Alex (Malcolm McDowell), who with his vicious droogs beat, rape and rob their way across a moonscaped London to the strains of Beethoven’s Ninth (and 'Singin' in the Rain'). Although his film was condemned for its  futuristic/nihilistic view of humanity-to-be, and long-banned in Britain for a copycat assault, Kubrick’s argument was an aesthetic one: Alex, a derailed esthete at heart, was really a victim of bad taste. It’s the visual gag in what remains an alarming movie."  (John Anderson, Newsday/Variety)
NYFCC Best Picture

(Click here for Guy Flatley's 2002 Moviecrazed interview with Malcolm McDowell.)

AMARCORD
1973. Italy/France. Directed by Frederico Fellini. Screenplay by Fellini and Tonino Guerra. With Pupella Maggio, Magali Noel, Armando Brancia, Ciccio Ingrassia. "After nearly a decade of descending into the phantasmagorical murk, Federico Fellini re-emerged with this wistful autobiographical dreamplay about his memories of growing up in an Italian coastal village in the fascist ’30s. The movie is nostalgia raised to the level of poetry. What lends it added poignance is that Amarcord, with its indelible folk images (who could forget the peacock in the snow?) and its sentimental evocation of small-town life, now summons our own nostalgia for an era when art filmmakers could be unblushing populists."  (Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly)
NYFCC Best Picture (1974)

PIXOTE
1981. Brazil. Directed by Hector Babenco.  Screenplay by Babenco and  Jorge Duran. With Fernando Ramos Da Silva, Jorge Juliao, Gilberto Moura, Marilia Pera.  "Of the great film performances by children, few can compare to Fernando Ramos da Silva’s poker-faced urchin in Pixote, Hector Babenco’s unremittingly bleak portrait of street children in the exurban favelas of São Paulo. That Ramos died at the hands of Brazilian police six years later only adds to the film’s near-unwatchable poignancy. The penultimate scene, in which Pixote suckles at the breast of the prostitute Sueli (Marília Pera) has the haunting starkness of a Goya painting". (Dana Stevens, Slate)
NYFCC Best Foreign Film

FANNY AND ALEXANDER
1982. Sweden, Germany and France. Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. With Gunn Wallgren, Allan Edwall, Ewa Froling, Bertil Guve. "'Fanny and Alexander' was Ingmar Bergman's warm, generous swan song to the cinema (though in fact he made several films after it).  Set in turn of the century provincial Sweden, it's at once a family epic, a portrait of the artist, a ghost story, a fairy tale, a tribute to the theater, and a summing up of the themes that haunted his career. Only here, Bergman's demons are sumptuously transformed into artifice and play."  (David Ansen, Newsweek)
NYFCC Best Foreign Film

SHOAH
1985. France. Directed by Claude Lanzmann. “The NYFCC named Claude Lanzmann’s magisterial nine-and-a-half-hour account of the extermination of six million Jews the best documentary of 1985. Shoah is an historic documentary as well as a great, unique film and, in addressing the issue of representation, a rigorous work of film-philosophy. Refusing to 'reconstruct' the past, Lanzmann compels viewers to imagine the unimaginable. For all its devotion to detail, Shoah is a film that ultimately unfolds in the mind’s eye.” (J. Hoberman, The Village Voice)
NYFCC Best Nonfiction Film

HANNAH AND HER SISTERS
1986. USA. Written and directed by Woody Allen. With Woody Allen, Michael Caine, Mia Farrow, Dianne Wiest, Barbara Hershey, Max Von Sydow, Carrie Fisher, Tony Roberts, Joanna Gleason, Richard Jenkins, Sam Waterston, John Turturro, Maureen O'Sullivan, Lloyd Nolan, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Julie Kavner, Daniel Stern, Soon-Yi Previn. "Released in a year of filming dangerously (Blue Velvet, River’s Edge), Woody Allen’s career-high romantic roundelay achieves the bold by, paradoxically, hewing within the boundaries. The set up is Chekhovian, even conventional: A trio of urbanite sisters is psychologically transformed by middle age, marriage and personal need. And still, the drama that Allen mines, from his strongest ensemble cast to date and a vivid NYC, yields a grace that’s close to mysterious." (Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York)
NYFCC Best Picture

(Click here for Guy Flatley's 1978 interview with Woody Allen; click here for Guy's 1977 interview with Carrie Fisher.)

GOODFELLAS 
1990. USA. Directed by Martin Scorsese. Screenplay by Scorsese, Nicolas Pileggi. With Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco. “'Goodfellas' is, of course, a movie of great style—the classic tracking shots, the New Wave freeze frames, the jittery editing. And of course, a movie of great performances. But more than any other mob movie this is a movie about lifestyle. And more than any Martin Scorsese film, a film not about sin or redemption, but temptation itself. How could anyone ever aspire to be a gangster? Just watch.” (Stephen Whitty, The Star-Ledger/Newhouse)
NYFCC Best Picture

(Click here for Guy Flatley’s 1973 interview with Martin Scorsese; click here for Guy’s 1973 interview with Robert De Niro.)

LES ROSEAUX SAUVAGES (WILD REEDS)
1994. France. Directed by André Téchiné. Screenplay by Téchiné, Gilles Taurand, Olivier Massart. With Élodie Bouchez, Gaël Morel, Stéphane Rideau, Frédéric Gorny. “Five French youths in the early 1960s face their own sexual awakening through pop music, movies, and the Algerian War. François maintains his affinity with Maïté while also being drawn to working-class Serge, who competes for Maïté along with the right-wing student Henri. These emotional conflicts are delicate yet devastating. Téchiné observes nature and human nature through a series of epiphanies.” (Armond White, New York Press)
NYFCC Best Foreign Film (1995)



FARGO
1996. USA. Directed by Joel Coen. Screenplay by Joel Coen, Ethan Coen. With Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare. “'Fargo' stands at the top of [the Coen brothers’] oeuvre: funny, violent, and dark, set in a universe where a kidnapping plot’s venal miscreants are forced to live by Murphy’s Law. Frances McDormand delights as the unflappable Police Chief Marge Gunderson, who calmly cleans up messes and solves the case. Snowy but never cold, this film still dazzles with its unpredictability and harsh sense of justice. Oh yeah—and the woodchipper.” (Marshall Fine, Star Magazine)
NYFCC Best Picture

CHICKEN RUN
2000. USA/Great Britain. Directed by Peter Lord, Nick Park. Screenplay by Karey Kirkpatrick, based on an original work by Lord and Park. With Mel Gibson, Julia Sawalha, Miranda Richardson, Jane Horrocks. “In their first full-length feature, Nick Park and the distinctive Aardman claymation artists behind Wallace and Gromit conjure a perceptive, funny, detail-perfect fable about group effort and Anglo-American relations among fowl of the Greatest Generation. If 'The Great Escape' or 'Stalag 17' were retold with animated chickens—and the chickens had lips (and the voice talents of Mel Gibson and Imelda Staunton, among many)—well then, a great war epic might look something like this.” (Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly)
NYFCC Best Animated Film

FAR FROM HEAVEN
2002. USA. Written and directed by Todd Haynes. With Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Haysbert, Patricia Clarkson. “Why did the New York critics vote a movie about a 1957 Connecticut housewife as 2002’s best? Because 'Far From Heaven' is pure cinema. Because Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid, as her gay husband, are in peak form. And because director Todd Haynes, channeling Douglas Sirk’s magnificent obsession with shadows and symbols that define character, creates an imitation of life from half a century ago that holds up a cracked mirror to the here and now.” (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone)
NYFCC Best Picture

SIDEWAYS
2004. USA. Directed by Alexander Payne. Written by Payne, Jim Taylor. With Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen, Sandra Oh. “'Sideways' may look like a standard midlife crisis, buddies-on-the-road movie, but don’t be fooled. It’s remarkably sweet and funny and sad. At a time when most Hollywood comedies are little more than gagfests peopled by joke-bots, its humanity should be doubly prized—even if, unlike Paul Giamatti’s wine connoisseur, you like Merlot.” (Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor)
NYFCC Best Picture

4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS
2007. Romania. Written and directed by Cristian Mungiu. With Anamaria Marinca, Laura Vasiliu, Vlad Ivanov, Alex Potocean.  " Set two years before the bloody downfall of the Ceausescu regime, Cristian Mungiu’s brilliant, suspenseful exemplar of the new Romanian cinema tracks the ordeal, by turns harrowing and surreal, of a college student’s efforts to negotiate her best friend’s black-market abortion and that of the abortion itself. Graced by superb performances and quietly stunning camera work, Mungiu’s portrait of female friendship and oppression becomes a window on a corrupt, brutalized society approaching total collapse." (Karen Durbin, Elle)
NYFCC Best Foreign Film (2008)

WALL-E
2008. USA. Directed by Andrew Stanton. Screenplay by Stanton and Jim Reardon. With Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Fred Willard. "There’s never been anything in animation like the first 40 minutes of 'Wall-E,' a magical juxtaposition of a joyous song from 'Hello, Dolly!' with a vision of a barren earth whose sole inhabitant – except for a cockroach – is a little trash-compacting robot that can’t stop building skyscrapers of garbage. And the latter section of the film, a satire of rampant consumerism dressed up as genial comedy, redoubles the daring of this Pixar masterpiece."sss (Joseph Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal)
NYFCC Best Animated Film