Author: Devanshu Mehta

May 4, 2010 / / Main Slate

Ghost World – 2001 – dir. Terry Zwigoff

“I wonder if he’s just totally insane, or he really thinks the bus is coming?” says Enid, as she watches Norman sitting at the bus stop, waiting for the bus that never comes. This is probably the most enduring image from the 2001 cult classic Ghost World, which has a wide range of powerful iconography to choose from. From the opening sequence set to 1960’s Bollywood pop, to the angle of the shot in the final scene, every scene is full of detail for those paying attention.

November 1, 2006 / / Film Notes
August 8, 2006 / / Film Notes

“I’m not a storyteller, I’m a man who draws pictures,” says Hayao Miyazaki the super-director of some of the highest grossing Japanese films of all time, such as My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away and most recently, Howl’s Moving Castle.

In Hollywood, children’s films in general and animated ones in particular follow the classical storytelling mold. A state of equilibrium is disturbed, the protagonist faces difficulties attempting to restore order, and the protagonist secures a new equilibrium, overcoming said difficulties and, in the process, learning something about him- or herself. While the world that is built around these stories may be enchantingly detailed and richly populated—I’m thinking of the talking furniture of Beauty and the Beast or the fun forest friends of Bambi—the story arc of the protagonist is central to the film and the tapestry is for show.

July 28, 2006 / / Film Notes

U.S.A., 1960. 109 min. Shamley Productions. Cast: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin, Martin Balsam, John McIntire; Music: Bernard Herrmann; Cinematography: John L. Russell; Produced by: Alfred Hitchcock; Written by: Robert Bloch and Joseph Stefano; Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

The steamy shower, the shadow behind the shower curtain, the raised, knife-wielding hand, that shrieking soundtrack and a screaming Janet Leigh have not only become legend in film, but also legend in parody. The scene has become so recognizable in modern times that when it is parodied I can sense young people nodding their heads in recognition even when they have no idea about its origins.

June 26, 2006 / / Film Notes

US, 2005. Rated R. 102 min. Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan, Corbin Bensen; Music: Scott Hardkiss, John Ottman, Lior Rosner; Cinematography: Michael Barrett; Written by Brett Halliday and Shane Black; Directed by Shane Black.

Shane Black, the writer and director of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, was the original Hollywood screenwriting fairy tale. At the age of 24, in 1985, he sold his first screenplay for a quarter of a million dollars and in the process invented a certain kind of action film that defined Hollywood in the late 80s and early 90s.

May 26, 2006 / / Film Notes

USA, 1945. 142 min. MGM. Cast: Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Kathryn Grayson, Dean Stockwell; Music: George E. Stoll and Jule Styne; Choreography: Gene Kelly; Produced by: Joe Pasternak; Written by: Natalie Marcin and Isobel Lennart; Directed by: George Sidney

There is an old Hollywood story that goes something like this: only three years and six movies into his acting career, Gene Kelly had a novel idea for his next film, 1945’s Anchors Aweigh. He wanted to dance with an animated character and his first choice, unsurprisingly, was Mickey Mouse. Kelly and his assistant Stanely Donen brought it before Walt Disney. Walt was impressed and encouraging, but Mickey Mouse would never work in an MGM film.

May 26, 2006 / / Film Notes

USA, 1949. 98 min. MGM. Cast: Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Betty Garrett, Ann Miller, Jules Munshin; Music: Leonard Bernstein, Adolph Green, Betty Comden; Choreography: Gene Kelly; Produced by: Arthur Freed; Written by: Adolph Green and Betty Comden; Directed by: Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen

Stanley Donen was never nominated for an Oscar, so in 1998, the Academy did what was right and awarded him an honorary Academy Award. Donen danced with his Oscar on stage before declaring the secret behind his directorial success. “You show up,” he said. “You show up, and you stay out of the way. But you gotta show up or else you can’t take the credit and win one of these.”