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Leonard Maltin’s 2014 Movie Guide: The Modern Era
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As Heard on Public Radio:
Marketplace: Things Have Changed Since Leonard Maltin Started Reviewing
Airtalk: Leonard Maltin Talks Cinema and His Final ‘Movie Guide’
Summer blockbusters and independent sleepers; masterworks of Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, and Martin Scorsese; the timeless comedy of the Marx Brothers and Buster Keaton; animated classics from Walt Disney and Pixar; the finest foreign films ever made. This 2014 edition covers the modern era, from 1965 to the present, while including all the great older films you can’t afford to missand those you canfrom box-office smashes to cult classics to forgotten gems to forgettable bombs, listed alphabetically, and complete with all the essential information you could ask for.
Of Interest to Public Radio Fans:
NPR: James Garner Dies
All Things Considered: ‘Rockford Files’ Actor James Garner Dies
Flicks in Five: James Garner
KPBS: James Garner Served In Korean War, Awarded Purple Heart Twice
Actor James Garner, whose wise-cracking but affable character made hits out of the TV shows Maverick and The Rockford Files, has died. He was 86.
Garner had a long career and remained active as a TV and film actor well into his 70s. His style as a leading man who was quicker with his tongue than his fist was established early as gambler Bret Maverick in the 1950s TV Western Maverick.
Garner carried that smooth-talking charisma into the private eye business in the ’70s TV show The Rockford Files, for which he won an Emmy. Among his work on the big screen are roles in The Great Escape, Victor Victoria, Space Cowboys and The Notebook. He was nominated for an Oscar for the 1985 film Murphy’s Romance, which co-starred Sally Field.
Weekend Edition: James Garner Dies at 86
"[James Garner] will be remembered as a guy who made it look very easy. You know, he was once asked by an interviewer how he wanted to be remembered, and he said, with a smile. And I think he’s achieved that."
NPR: Appreciating James Garner: TV’s Best Unhero
“Maverick became a classic role thanks to Garner’s easy charm and quick wit. Some of that came from his down-to-earth approach to acting; claiming that he stole much of his technique from Henry Fonda while working alongside him as a bit player in a 1954 stage production of The Caine Mutiny Court Martial, Garner boiled his creative process down to a few short phrases in a 2005 People magazine interview.
“‘I’m a Spencer Tracy-type actor,’ he said, referencing another famously down-to-earth acting legend. ‘Be on time, know your words, hit your marks and tell the truth.’”
The Rockford Files: Iconic television featuring James Garner in virtually every scene as the bumbling detective Jim Rockford. Episodes are fast paced and fun to watch. The combination of having James Garner in the leading role along with great writing generally led to some amazing guest stars, pre “Love Boat” or “Fantasy Island.”
Maverick: This Western follows professional gambler Bret Maverick across the plains and prairie in search of love and the next big poker game.
Murphy’s Romance: The perfect foil to Sally Field in this wonderful romance. Sally Field plays a divorcee who needs all sorts of help running her horse farm and ultimately ends up in a love triangle featuring her ex husband and the older, wiser pharmacist portrayed by James Garner. Thoroughly enjoyable!
Victor/Victoria: A woman masquerading as a man portraying a woman. .. sounds like the perfect scenario for a farce from Blake Edwards. All goes fine until the woman, portrayed by Julie Andrews, falls in love with King Marchand, a Chicago club owner portrayed by James Garner. Excellent score by Henry Mancini as well as Oscar nominated supporting turns by Robert Preston and Lesley Anne Warren help this musical rank among the finest.
The Notebook: The love story of love stories is anchored by James Garner’s portrayal of Duke, who remains true to his one true love despite her battling dementia as he recounts their courtship every day in hopes of breaking through the fog and capturing one more moment with his wife.
Lauren Bacall 1924 - 2014
Award-winning actress Lauren Bacall was Humphrey Bogart’s partner on and off the screen. She was nominated for an Academy Award, won two Tony Awards and received an honorary Oscar in 2009. Beautiful, elegant, sultry and sexy, one more link to “old hollywood” has been lost and will be missed. In 1999, Bacall was the 20th out of 25 actresses listed on the AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Stars list with films such as “To Have or Have Not,” “Key Largo,”: “How To Marry a Millionaire,” and “The Mirror has Two Faces.”
Morning Edition: Hollywood, Broadway Icon Lauren Bacall Dies at 89
All Things Considered: The Countless Lives of Lauren Bacall
Fresh Air: Lauren Bacall
Great Classic Film Legends: Lauren Bacall - 4 classic films demonstrating both her beauty and talent - Includes Key Largo, Blood Alley, Dark Passage and Designing Woman.
The Mirror has Two Faces - Lauren Bacall was the odds on favorite to win the best supporting actress Oscar for her portrayal of Barbara Streisand’s overbearing, manipulative, over-the top, controlling mother.
Robin Williams - 1951 - 2014
Robin Williams passed away yesterday of an apparent suicide. He was a comedic genius who first rose to fame on television in the series “Mork and Mindy.” The success of this show led to a diversified carreer in television, feature films, stand-up and regular appearances on the USO tour. Among his many feature films are “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Dead Poet’s Society,” “Good Morning Vietnam,” and his Oscar winning performance in “Good Will Hunting.”
One of my favorite stand up routines if Robin Williams’ riff on how the game of golf was created. Watch
Press Play with Madeleine Brand: Remembering Robin Williams
Fresh Air: Robin Williams: In Looking For Laughs, ‘You Have To Be Deeply Honest’
NPR’s Monkey See: Robin Williams: A Supreme Talent Who Was Always On
NPR’s Monkey See: Remembering The Big-Hearted Comedy Of Robin Williams
NPR ED: What Robin Williams Taught Us About Teaching
All Things Considered: 'An Evening With Robin Williams,' Circa 1982
All Things Considered: Robin Williams, A Stand-up Act — On Stage, On Set And In Life
Morning Edition: Robin Williams’ Death Leaves Fans Reminiscing
Here & Now: After Robin Williams’ Death, A Look At Depression
Here & Now: Celebrating The Work Of Robin Williams
PRI’s The World: Many veterans remember Robin Williams’ morale-boosting performances for the troops
MPR Newscut: Robin Williams and his black dog
MPR Newscut: Why Robin Williams’ death has hit us so hard
NPR: Actor-Comedian Robin Williams Dies At 63
All Things Considered: Robin Williams, Comedic Master And Oscar Winner, Dies At 63
Morning Edition: Versatile Comedian Robin Williams Dies At 63
Below, we highlight a few of his best performances.
Mork & Mindy - The series that propelled Robin Williams to superstardom! It was his hilarious and funny portrayal of Mork from Ork as he struggled to adjust to life on Earth and report his findings back to his leader. ”Mork’s Mixed Emotions” was listed as the 94th best episode of all time by TV Guide.
Mrs. Doubtfire - A wonderful comedy about a divorced father struggling to maintain a relationship with his children who dons a wig and dress to become his ex-wife’s housekeeper and nanny.
Insomnia - This may be the performance that is most suprising (with the possible exception of One Hour Photo). Robin Williams and Al Pacino at the top of their game! Both performances are nuanced and surprising. Al Pacino plays a homicide detective with a past who comes to Alaska to solve a murder where the Midnight Sun wreaks havok on his sleep and judgement as he tries to solve the case.
Good Will Hunting - Robin Williams Oscar winning performance for Best Supporting Actor anchors this feature film as he portrays the teacher who is the last resort to reaching one of the most intelligent humans who happens to have had one too many run ins with the law.
Dead Poets Society - Another brilliant supporting turn as a teacher who inspires his students to “Sieze the Day!” Williams portrays John Keating, a teacher who inspires his students with his non-traditional approach to teaching but fails to impress other faculty at the upper class prep academy.
Good Morning Vietnam - Oscar nominated turn as a radio DJ who brings laughter to a war torn 1965 Saigon as he entertains the troops with his stories and music while upsetting the upper brass.
Aladdin - Robin Williams took the role of the genie for scale as a “thank you” to Disney for casting him in Good Morning Vietnam. And here is a case of the genie who stole the movie with some of his best ad-libbed worked mixed into the scripted animated feature thus creating a Genie for all ages! What a vocal powerhouse of a perfomance - so much so that Disney all but promoted Robin Williams’ Genie as a lead character even though he was not featured in much of the animated film.
David Suchet In the Footsteps of St. Paul
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David Suchet returns as Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s endearingly fastidious sleuth, in three baffling new cases based on her classic novels. As seen on the “PBS Masterpiece Mystery!” series.
Poirot - David Suchet is most famous for portraying Hercule Poirot in the PBS Mystery series. Set 6 contains Three Acts of Tragedy, The Clocks, and Halloween Party.
The Bob Hope Classic Comedy Collection
Morning Edition: Bob Hope
The Bob Hope Classic Comedy Collection features 10 of the funniest movies from the legendary comedian. As a recognized genius of American comedy, Bob Hope has no equal. From his early days in vaudeville to his years as a top Hollywood box-office draw and star of radio, TV and live performances, Bob Hope’s innocent charm and lightning-quick wit have delighted millions of fans throughout the world. Filled with timeless laughs, the Bob Hope Classic Comedy Collection will entertain longtime fans and introduce a whole new generation to the legendary style of one of the most famous comedians of all time!
The Story of the Jews by Simon Schama
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As Heard on Public Radio:
On Point: Simon Schama on “The Story of the Jews”
PBS: The Story of the Jews
The Diane Rehm Show: The Story of the Jews
NPR: Review: The Story of the Jews
KQED: The Story of the Jews
.Simon Schama presents this epic series exploring the extraordinary story of the Jewish experience from ancient times to the present day. Both deeply historical and utterly contemporary, this is a compelling film about distinctiveness and difference, separation and isolation, tolerance and prejudice. It is also a celebration of the ways in which Jewish thought, imagination, and achievement have transformed the world for us all. 3 hours on 1 DVD.
The Address: A Film by Ken Burns
At the tiny Greenwood School in the small New England town of Putney, Vermont, its roughly 50 students, boys from the ages of 11 to 17, are asked each year to memorize the Gettysburg Address. This would be a daunting assignment for any student, but the boys at Greenwood all suffer from learning differences that have made their personal, academic and social progress extremely challenging.
Embedding camera crews at the school for three months to chronicle the boys’ struggle to learn Abraham Lincoln’s immortal words and deliver them in a final public recitation, acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns has created a fascinating and inspiring documentary that shows them heroically confronting past failures and humiliations, ultimately opening the door to what Lincoln himself called “a new birth of freedom.”
Interweaving the history of this most famous of American speeches with the contemporary journey of the boys at Greenwood, The Address reveals the timeless resonance of Lincoln’s words, while culminating in the triumph of the human spirit.
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Here & Now: The Real Philomena
Morning Edition: Dench Makes a Decision in ‘Philomena’ Worth Waiting For
The Leanard Lopate Show: Steve Coogan & Philomena Lee on ‘Philomena’
The Current: Cube Critics on ‘Philomena’ & Others
Airtalk: Steve Coogan on Adapting ‘Philomena’ for the Big Screen
All Things Considered: 'Philomena' And The Power Of A Quiet Film Score
NPR’s Monkey See: Bob And Linda Read Internet Movie Reviews, Part Five: Philomena
All Things Considered: Two Very Different Movies, Two Heroines With Spine
All Things Considered: Steve Coogan, Tacking Toward The Funny Side Of Serious
When she fell pregnant as a teenager in Ireland in 1952, Philomena Lee (Judi Dench) was sent to the convent to be looked after as a fallen woman. She cared for her baby for three years until the Church took him from her and sold him, like countless others, to America for adoption. Coerced into signing a document promising never to attempt to see her child again, she nonetheless spent the next fifty years secretly searching for him, unaware that he was searching for her from across the Atlantic.
The Daily Circuit: Movie Maven reviews ‘Great Expectations’
Cube Critics: 3 Reasons to See Great Expectations
The Current: Great Expectations
Great Expectations is a new adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic, starring Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Holliday Grainger, Jason Flemyng, Robbie Coltrane, David Williams and Toby Irvine. Great Expectations is directed by Mike Newell.
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Morning Edition: Well Into Spring, ‘Frozen’ Soundtrack Keeps The Charts Cool
The Current: Sorry, Prince did not actually inspire Disney’s “Let It Go”
All Things Considered: Solid Frozen Puts Fresh Sheen on an Old Story
The Take Two: The Magic Behind the Music of ‘Frozen’
KCRW Film Reviews: Frozen
Fearless optimist Anna teams up with Kristoff in an epic journey, encountering Everest-like conditions, and a hilarious snowman named Olaf in a race to find Anna’s sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom in eternal winter.
Saving Mr. Banks
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Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me: Tom Hanks Plays Not My Job
Morning Edition: Tom Hanks & Emma Thompson on the Magic of Disney
All Things Considered: "Mr. Banks’ Not Your Typical Family Film
The Take Two: Tom Hanks on Becoming Walt Disney
NPR Review: Making ‘Mary Poppins’
Cube Critics: Saving Mr. Banks & Other Holiday Films
Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson bring to life the untold true story about the origins of one of the most treasured Disney classics of all time. John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side) directs this acclaimed film that reveals the surprising backstory behind the making of Mary Poppins. Determined to fulfill a promise to his daughters, Walt Disney (Hanks) tries for 20 years to obtain the rights to author P. L. Travers’ (Thompson) beloved book. Armed with his iconic creative vision, Walt pulls out all the stops, but the uncompromising Travers won’t budge. Only when he reaches into his own complicated childhood does Walt discover the truth about the ghosts that haunt Travers, and together, they set “Mary Poppins” free.
Fresh Air: A ‘Hustle’ With a Flow
All Things Considered: David O Russell Building Movies from the Character Up
Morning Edition: 'American Hustle' Hot Streak Continues for David O Russel
Cube Critics: December Movie Roundup
SCPR: Film Week - American Hustle & Others
Dinner Party Download: Jeremy Renner on 360° Filmmaking and Unbearable Bowling
KCRW: American Hustle
A fictional film set in the alluring world of one of the most stunning scandals to rock America, AMERICAN HUSTLE tells the story of brilliant con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), who along with his equally cunning and seductive British partner Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) is forced to work for a wild FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). DiMaso pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia that’s as dangerous as it is enchanting. Jeremy Renner is Carmine Polito, the passionate, volatile, New Jersey political operator caught between the con-artists and Feds. Irving’s unpredictable wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) could be the one to pull the thread that brings the entire world crashing down. Like David O. Russell’s previous films (THE FIGHTER, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK ), American Hustle defies genre, hinging on raw emotion, and life and death stakes.
12 Years a Slave
Morning Edition: '12 Years A Slave' Wins Oscar's Best Picture
Morning Edition: Conversations About Slavery Inspired By ‘12 Years A Slave’
Tell Me More: Best Picture Win For ‘12 Years A Slave’ Sends New Message To Hollywood?
Tell Me More: Actress Alfre Woodard On Truthful Storytelling In ‘12 Years A Slave’
All Things Considered: Hard To Watch ‘12 Years A Slave’? Try Editing It
Morning Edition: '12 Years A Slave': 160 Years Later, A Memoir Becomes A Movie
All Things Considered: For A Free Spirit, A Grim ‘12 Years’ In Chains
Weekend Edition: '12 Years' Is The Story Of A Slave Whose End Is A Mystery
Fresh Air: '12 Years A Slave' Was A Film That 'No One Was Making'
Fresh Air: Historian Says ‘12 Years’ Is A Story The Nation Must Remember
NPR: '12 Years A Slave' Screenwriter Talks Grit, Grace And Survival
NPR’s The Record: '12 Years A Slave' Is This Year's Best Film About Music
NPR’s Monkey See: Pop Culture Happy Hour: ‘12 Years’ And Rites Of Passage
Dinner Party Download: Lupita Nyong’o Invites Us Into Her Bubble
Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Solomon Northup, the New York State citizen who was kidnapped and made to work on a plantation in New Orleans in the 1800s. Steve McQueen (Hunger) directs from a script he co-wrote with John Ridley, based in part by Northup’s memoir. Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sarah Paulson, and Paul Giamatti co-star.
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NPR’s The Two-Way: '12 Years A Slave,' 'Gravity' Win Big At The Oscars
All Things Considered: Sandra Bullock, Boxed In On The Set Of ‘Gravity’
All Things Considered: What The Oscars Mean, And What They Don’t
Fresh Air: Neil DeGrasse Tyson Explains Why The Cosmos Shouldn’t Make You Feel Small
NPR’s Monkey See: Pop Culture Happy Hour: ‘Gravity’ And The Thrill Of The Fiasco
Science Friday: Science Goes to the Movies: ‘Gravity’
NPR’s 13.7 Cosmos & Culture: Space Is Not Our Friend
Gravity stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in a heart-pounding thriller that pulls you into the infinite and unforgiving realm of deep space. Bullock plays Dr. Ryan Stone, a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky (Clooney). But on a seemingly routine spacewalk, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalsky completely alone - tethered to nothing but each other and spiraling out into the blackness. The deafening silence tells them they have lost any link to Earth and any chance for rescue. As fear turns to panic, every gulp of air eats away at what little oxygen is left. But the only way home may be to go further out into the terrifying expanse of space.