The Library of Congress has unveiled its annual list of 25 films that will join the National Film Registry. The movies are culled from the period 1919-2002 and include classics like Rita Hayworth-starrer Gilda; sci-fi pic Forbidden Planet; western The Magnificent Seven; war drama Judgment At Nuremberg; Mary Poppins (fitting in a year where Saving Mr Banks, the story of that film’s genesis, is playing in movie theaters); astronaut epic The Right Stuff; Michael Moore’s Roger & Me; and Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. Each of the 25 films will be preserved as cinematic treasures for generations to come. “The National Film Registry stands among the finest summations of more than a century of extraordinary American cinema,” said Librarian of Congress, James H Billington. “This key component of American cultural history, however, is endangered, so we must protect the nation’s matchless film heritage and cinematic creativity.” There are also some silent films on the list including Daughter Of Dawn, featuring an all-Native-American cast; 1919′s A Virtuous Vamp, starring Constance Talmadge; and 1926′s Ella Cinders. Earlier this month, the Library of Congress released a survey that found that 70% of American silent movies have been lost. In all, this year’s additions bring the number of films in the registry to 625. The complete 2013 list is below:
Bless Their Little Hearts (1984)
Part of the vibrant New Wave of independent African-American filmmakers to emerge in the 1970s and 1980s, Billy Woodberry became a key figure in the movement known as the L.A. Renaissance. Woodberry crafted his UCLA thesis film, “Bless Their Little Hearts,” which was theatrically released in 1984. The film features a script and cinematography by Charles Burnett. This spare, emotionally resonant portrait of family life during times of struggle blends grinding, daily-life sadness with scenes of deft humor. Jim Ridley of the “Village Voice” aptly summed up the film’s understated-but- real virtues: “Its poetry lies in the exaltation of ordinary detail.”
Brandy in the Wilderness (1969)
This introspective “contrived diary” film by Stanton Kaye features vignettes from the relationship of a real-life couple, in this case the director and his girlfriend. An evocative 1960s time capsule—reminiscent of Jim McBride’s “David Holzman’s Diary”—this simulated autobiography, as in many experimental films, often blurs the lines between reality and illusion, moving in non-linear arcs through the ever-evolving and unpredictable interactions of relationships, time and place. As Paul Schrader notes, “it is probably quite impossible (and useless) to make a distinction between the point at which the film reflects their lives, and the point at which their lives reflect the film.” “Brandy in the Wilderness” remains a little-known yet key work of American indie filmmaking.
Read More »
After earlier premieres at the London Film Festival in October and the AFI Film Fest at the Chinese Theatre in November where the original Mary Poppins premiered in 1964, Saving Mr. Banks, Walt Disney Studio’s big awards contender, finally had its official Los Angeles premiere on a cool December Monday night. It took place on the very Disney studio lot where much of the movie about the making of the 1964 classic was filmed (as well as Poppins itself). And just to add a touch of nostalgia and class itself the stars of Mary Poppins Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke joined the cast of Banks including Tom Hanks who plays Walt Disney and Emma Thompson who plays the cantankerous author of Poppins P.L. Travers. At a photo opp before the film the Banks cast members along with Andrews and Van Dyke and studio execs Bob Iger and Alan Horn all joined in a spontaneous rendition of the catchy tune from Poppins, “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” (watch here). Those singing along included the indefatiguable two-time Oscar winning co-writer of that song and the entire score, Richard M. Sherman.
At the post party in a completely made-over studio commissary Horn told me how pleased they were that Saving Mr. Banks had made the AFI Top Ten Movies Of The Year list released earlier Monday. When I asked how he felt about singing with all those iconic stars he said he can’t sing and in fact was banned from trying to carry a tune in church and everywhere else. Iger also marveled at the idea he was actually singing along with everyone and modestly just said ” let’s not count the eggs before they are hatched” when I suggested that the movie was a cinch to become the Disney studio’s first home grown live action Best Picture nominee since the original Mary Poppins 49 years ago, the one and only other time the studio had such a distinction.
The 85-year-old Sherman, who has been on cloud nine since this whole ride began, said it was completely “surreal” to be back on the Disney lot with Andrews and Van Dyke celebrating this whole experience. Only in Hollywood. There’s something about the movie that really has created a team spirit. At a Saturday night cast Q&A with Hanks, Thompson, Colin Farrell, Jason Schwartzman and Bradley Whitford I moderated after a SAG screening of the film, Hanks also led everyone in a rendition of “Let’s Go Fly A Kite”. Guess it is just a movie that makes people want to sing. Hanks and Thompson had also been doing Q&As earlier that day at BAFTA and for the Academy where I am told 700 members showed up for a 3 PM Saturday matinee. Certainly Disney, which has been having a great holiday season already with Thor and Frozen, is hoping they will be singing about Banks which opens nationwide on December 20th. I am told it is tracking well. Banks opens Friday with a special engagement at the Walt Disney Studio Theatre that includes a special studio tour of spots of where the films were made. Read More »
Screenwriter Kelly Marcel came late into the process of writing her famously blacklisted script for Saving Mr. Banks (12/13). Original writer Sue Smith had crafted it more as a biopic of Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers but Marcel focused instead on the three-week period in 1961 that Travers came to Disney studios and clashed with Walt Disney (played by Tom Hanks) himself as she collaborated on the nascent screenplay for the proposed film, a 20-year dream of Walt’s but also a complete pain-in-the-neck in dealing with the take-no-prisoners Travers played by Emma Thompson. Effortlessly weaving in flashbacks to Travers’ childhood and trying to warm her up were just part of the challenge as Marcel explained on the Disney panel at Deadline’s THE CONTENDERS event.
Any doubt that awards season has not kicked into full gear even though it’s only early November were firmly erased Friday night as I kept running into the same Hollywood Foreign Press Association and Academy members as we dashed from an AFI Fest pre-party for The Weinstein Co.‘s August Osage County premiere in Hollywood, to a Lionsgate holiday (!) celebration at Spago, to Disney‘s Mary Poppins sing-a-long for Saving Mr. Banks at the Beverly Hills Hotel. And that doesn’t even count Sony‘s tribute to their American Hustle David O. Russell for the AFI Fest at the Egyptian. When the picture isn’t ready to show why not just throw a tribute with clips instead? (they sneaked the first six minutes). Deadline’s Jen Yamato was there and reports Jane Fonda and his Oscar winning Silver Linings Playbook star Jennifer Lawrence showed up for the pre-reception. Just down the street at the Academy’s Linwood Dunn Gravity star Sandra Bullock was holding court doing a Q&A for SAG nominating committee members after a screening of the film (Warner Bros. had a separate Gravity press cocktail reception Wednesday night in West Hollywood which drew director Alfonso Cuaron and son, co-writer Jonas, along with producer David Heyman).
At Hollywood and Highland’s The Grill, August Osage County co-producer George Clooney was clearly the star attraction taking photo after photo with excited (mostly female) members of the HFPA who swarmed around him at the intimate, but crowded event before the North American premiere of the film at the Chinese. If anyone knows how to work a room like this, it is Clooney. When I managed to catch his eye he told me the film has been reworked a bit since I saw it at its Toronto Fest debut in September and that, after the balancing act of getting the adaptation of a 3 1/2 hour play down to a tight – and funny – two hours (it’s entered in the Golden Globes as a comedy), both Harvey Weinstein and director John Wells are happy with it, as Wells also confirmed. The director said he worked on honing the script for over two years with Pulitzer Prize and Tony winner Tracy Letts (also at the reception). As Clooney explained they had to take a rather insular play and open it up a bit which wasn’t easy, but the film I saw played like gangbusters in Toronto and was well-received at AFI, I am told by some who saw it last night for the first time. Co-stars Juliette Lewis, Julianne Nicholson, Dermot Mulroney and Chris Cooper who has a couple of scenes that stop the show were also at the reception before hitting the red carpet (stars Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep were absent). Read More »
UPDATE, 12:45 PM: Disney president and CEO Bob Iger has released this statement on Robert Sherman’s passing: “Today, on behalf of everyone at Disney, we mourn the loss of an extraordinary talent, Robert Sherman. One of the world’s greatest songwriters and a true Disney legend, his legacy will endure forever through the magic of his music. From ‘Mary Poppins’ and ‘It’s A Small World’ to ‘Winnie The Pooh’ and ‘The Jungle Book’, Robert, along with his brother Richard, wrote many of Disney’s most memorable and beloved songs, which continue to enchant millions of people around the world to this day.”
PREVIOUS, TUESDAY AM: According to reports, songwriting legend Robert Sherman has died at the age of 86, in London. Sherman and his brother Richard penned such classic tunes from Disney films as Mary Poppins and Jungle Book, and non-Disney films like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The siblings were adored by Walt Disney himself and proved a huge help to his efforts to generate quality family entertainment and theme parks (they wrote “It’s A Small World”). The brothers scored 23 gold and platinum albums, have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and in 2008 received the National Medal of Arts from President George W. Bush. The brothers also crafted the scores of tunes like ”You’re Sixteen, You’re Beautiful And You’re Mine.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The Blind Side helmer John Lee Hancock is in early talks with Disney to direct Saving Mr. Banks, the Kelly Marcel-scripted saga of how Walt Disney waged a 14-year courtship to persuade Australian author P.L. Travers to sell him rights to make a film out of Mary Poppins. Disney is near a deal to acquire the Black List script, which is set up with producer Alison Owen of Ruby Films. Disney seems a natural place for the script, considering the studio owns many rights from making the 1964 classic film that starred Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke and David Tomlinson, the latter of whom played Mr. Banks in the film. This is a hot project — names like Tom Hanks to play Disney and Meryl Streep to play Travers have been in the wind — and Disney’s intention is to put it into production this year.
The heart of this script comes from how close Travers felt to her story of a nanny with magical powers. Mary Poppins was highly personal, and reflected hardships in her own life and her relationship with her father, who died when she was 7. Disney finally persuaded her to let him make the film, but she was prickly all the way to the end. While Mary Poppins was lauded immediately, she hated the animated sequences in the film so much that she refused … Read More »