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  • Ross Johnson 2:00 pm on 2017/10/31 Permalink
    Tags: alex cox, , barry lyndon, , cary grant, , , David Lynch, it's back!, katherine hepburn, , rebecca, sid and nancy, stanley kubrick, the philadelphia story, , vampyr   

    10 Essential Films to Pick Up in Our Semi-Annual Criterion Sale 

    The Criterion Collection continues to represent the very top of the line when it comes to presenting classic and cult films on DVD and Blu-ray. Every month, Criterion releases a new set of films well worth a first or second look, each presented with the best possible image and audio quality, and a wealth of enlightening supplemental material to help you understand why movies matter.

    Throughout November, all Criterion titles are 50 percent off at Barnes & Noble, making this the perfect time to stock up on some of the greatest movies ever made. Here are 10 recent releases that belong in every collection.

    Barry Lyndon
    Over a long career, late, legendary director Stanley Kubrick proved he could master any genre to which he turned his camera. Barry Lyndon aimed to do for the historical drama what 2001: A Space Odyssey did for science fiction, but it was met with mixed reviews upon its initial release in 1975. It’s reputation has grown over the years, however, as viewers have come to appreciate its measured pacing, wry tone, gorgeous sets and costuming, and immaculately composed visuals, all of which shine in this newly remastered edition. The story of the title character’s journey from a farm in Ireland through war and high society in the late 18th century, it’s a grand adventure with Kubrick’s customary sense of moral ambiguity, and quite possibly the most beautiful move he ever made.

    Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me
    Who would’ve imagined that we’d still be talking about Twin Peaks in 2017? When it was released in the wake of the unceremonious cancelation of early ’90s cult TV sensation, Fire Walk with Me was met with a befuddled critical response, and outright vitriol from many viewers, who’d hoped it would answer questions left dangling by the show’s cliffhanger ending. Over the ensuing quarter century, critics and fans alike have come around on the story of Laura Palmer’s fateful final days. While the series was largely about the shadow cast by her death, the movie firmly establishes Laura as the hero of the Twin Peaks universe, a young woman who sacrificed everything to fight the darkness. The Criterion edition also includes The Missing Pieces, a assemblage of almost 90 minutes of deleted scenes and alternate takes.

    The Philadelphia Story
    The film that gave Katherine Hepburn her most famous role is widely regarded as the pinnacle of screwball comedy, and one of the best films ever made. Already regarded as “box office poison” thanks to a Hollywood smear campaign, Hepburn’s career had all but fizzled out when, seeing an opportunity, she acquired the rights to a popular Broadway play, planning to make it her comeback vehicle. It worked, and no one ever questioned her star power again. George Cukor directs the story of Tracy Lord, a formidable society divorcee caught in a love triangle between her ex-husband (Cary Grant) and a tabloid reporter (James Stewart). Newly restored for Criterion, this black and white gem shines like never before.

    Orson Welles wears many hats in our collective imagination—actor, director, iconoclast, aging punchline—and his brilliant adaptions of Shakespeare are, sadly, frequently overshadowed by other parts of his legacy. If he hadn’t lead such a colorful life with such a varied career, he’d likely still be famous for his stage adaptions of the work of the Bard, and for the films they inspired. Uncompromising in his vision, Welles spent years to bringing his Othello to life onscreen, crossing continents in the process. He directs himself in an audacious lead performance.This edition includes two cuts of the film: the 1952 European version, and the one released in the U.S. in 1955.

    Hitchcock’s first film in Hollywood (following a successful career in England) represents a fascinating compromise: new to the scene, Hitch sacrificed more control than he ever had before (or would again) in order to collaborate with legendary producer David O. Selznick. Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier star in the creepy, gorgeous, dreamlike adaption of Daphne du Maurier’s novel about the new wife of a rich gentleman who comes to live in his ancestral estate, where she is haunted by his late first wife. Though Hitch wasn’t crazy about working with Selznick, this was the only one of the master’s films to claim the Best Picture Oscar.

    David Lynch: The Art Life
    Though he’s an elder statesman of the dreamlike, the challenging, and the weird, David Lynch the person is not very well understood. The Art Life doesn’t promise to make clear every dark and surreal pathway Lynch has travelled, but it does offer unprecedented access to the filmmaker and painter through a series of candid, intimate conversations in which he discusses the many influences that made him one of the essential artists of modern media.

    Terry Gilliam’s 20-year passion project, the notoriously troublesome The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, is finally (maybe) making its way to theaters next year, so it’s as good a time as any to revisit the beginning of his storied directorial career. Gilliam followed up his gig as co-director on Monty Python and the Holy Grail with this bit of inspired nonsense starring fellow Python Michael Palin. Indeed, it plays like a Python film in all but name, based on the Lewis Carroll poem, and at least as silly. This edition features a new documentary on the making of the film and a 2001 commentary track featuring Gilliam and Palin.

    Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer produced this early take on vampire lore just a year after the release of the Bela Lugosi classic Dracula. This one is an altogether less literal tale, and straddles genres as it follows the exploits of student of the occult Allan Gray, who comes face to face with the supernatural in a village outside of Paris. The film was all but forgotten for decades, but has gained in reputation in recent years for its surreal and nightmarish imagery.

    Walter Matthau teams with Glenda Jackson for a comedic thriller that’s also a parody of the paranoid spy films of the ‘70s and early ‘80s. Matthau is a retired CIA agent who has no qualms at all about publishing the tell-all memoir revealing the secrets behind the worlds’ major spy agencies. What follows is an around-the-globe chase as the agent dodges his former colleagues with some help from an old partner.

    Sid & Nancy
    The story of Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious and girlfriend Nancy Spungen is also the story of the rise and fall (and rise) of the trans-Atlantic punk scene of the late 1970s. Director Alex Cox’s film, featuring Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb in the title roles, has become almost as iconic as the era it portrays: a time of incredible music and stunning excess that could only have ended tragically. Criterion’s new restoration marks the film’s high-def debut.

    The post 10 Essential Films to Pick Up in Our Semi-Annual Criterion Sale appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Tara Sonin 3:30 pm on 2017/08/24 Permalink
    Tags: , cat on a hot tin roof, , , darkness and light, , , , , , , rebecca, , , , ,   

    The Gothic Novel Survival Guide 

    So, you’ve found yourself in the 18th or 19th century, stuck in a gothic—or Southern Gothic!—novel. Surrounded by mysterious settings, dangerous characters and a bit of romance, these novels can prove fatal, but nothing you can’t survive, if you follow these instructions:

    1. First, are you in Europe or America?

    The Gothic genre originated in Medieval Europe with The Castle of Ontranto, the story of a man who undoes his life while trying to prevent a prophecy from coming true (think Macbeth meets Oedipus Rex) while Southern Gothic novels like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil are the American response to the popularity of this genre, and deals with the South’s blood-tainted history as a result of slavery. So, depending on where—and therefore, when— you are, you play by different rules.

    2. If you’re in Europe, figure this out first and foremost: if there’s magic, hide on the sidelines.

    Look, I’m not saying Dracula isn’t kind of sexy (especially the Gary Oldman movie version), but in the Gothic genre, magic and mystery almost always spell death. The people who survive are the ones who don’t get mixed up in it. In The Picture of Dorian Gray, wishing for eternal youth has horrific, murderous consequences when a man decides to trap his youth inside a painting, but ultimately damns his soul. (The servants survive though, so probably best to stick to the downstairs parts of the great, gothic houses.)

    3. Are you a woman? Then decide: villain, or victim?

    There are two types of women in gothic literature. There’s the mysterious, often off-the-page villainess (such as Rebecca, in the classic gothic novel about a woman unraveling the truth about her new husband’s dead first wife) and Jane Eyre (whose romantic anti-hero Rochester keeps his mentally unstable wife locked in an attic until she tries to burn their house down). But there are characters like Jane, who is in many ways a victim of circumstance—an orphan, abused, forced into a life of servitude—and Nelly, in Wuthering Heights, the narrator of the story and servant to the family. She isn’t culpable for the tragedy that ensues as a result of Catherine and Heathcliffe’s romance, but she witnesses it, and lives to tell the tale. As I said before: villains usually have a tragic end, but as far as gothic literature goes, they’re usually the most infamous (and interesting) characters.

    4. If you’re in a Southern Gothic novel, outrun your past—fast.

    In books like The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, and plays like Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, the characters are obsessed with events that happened in the past that they cannot undo. If your past is haunting you, it can be almost as powerful as the magic present in the European gothic novels. For the characters in The Sound and the Fury, three brothers fixating on what happened to their youngest sister, Caddy, caused the ruin of their entire family; and in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Brick’s inability to confront the truth about his sexuality led to tragedy both for his marriage, and a close friend. If you’re going to survive the Gothic South, either make peace with the past, or invent yourself a new one.

    On second thought, these books may be much more fun to read than they are to live through, but with these steps, you’re primed to make it to the 21st century intact. Unless, of course, I’m one of those gothic villainesses haunting you from the shadows of your past, waiting to take you down.

    What tips would you offer someone who’s just trying to live through a gothic novel?

    The post The Gothic Novel Survival Guide appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • BN Editors 4:30 pm on 2014/06/20 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , god bless you mr. rosewater, , , , mother night, , , rebecca, ,   

    10 of Our Favorite Sentences in Literature 

    God Bless You Mr Rosewater

    Sometimes when you’re reading a book, a particular sentence will jump out, grab you by the collar, and start beating you about the head. In a good way! These are the sentences we still remember years later, even when we no longer remember the name of the books they came from. The sentences we’re tempted to use as our Twitter bios, but that would be pretentious. The sentences we want to sign off with on birthday cards, but that would be confusing. Here they are, some of our favorite sentences in all of literature. What are yours?

    “Listen: Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.” –Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
    –Melissa Albert

    Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. … I came upon it suddenly; the approach masked by the unnatural growth of a vast shrub that spread in all directions… There was Manderley, our Manderley, secretive and silent as it had always been, the gray stone shining in the moonlight of my dream, the mullioned windows reflecting the green lawns and terrace. –Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier
    –Rebecca Jane Stokes

    “Ask her if she still keeps all her kings in the back row.” –The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
    –Lauren Passell

    124 was spiteful. Full of a baby’s venom. –Beloved, by Toni Morrison
    –Molly Schoemann-McCann

    “That I can read and be happy while I am reading, is a great blessing.” –Autobiography of Anthony Trollope, by Anthony Trollope
    –Emma Chastain

    “[If] the world would stop indulging wars and famines and other perils, it would be possible for human beings to embarrass each other to death.” –from The Hotel New Hampshire, by John Irving
    –Kat Rosenfield

    “Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.” –God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, by Kurt Vonnegut
    –Nicole Hill

    “A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head.” –A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole
    –Dell Villa

    “Like many others before him, Abbott discovers, once married, that marriage is a battle—clinically, a negotiation—over the possession of the Bad Mood.” –Abbott Awaits, by Chris Bachelder
    –Kathryn Williams

    “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be very careful what we pretend to be.” –Mother Night, by Kurt Vonnegut
    –Ester Bloom

    What’s your favorite sentence in literature?

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