Michelangelo Antonioni RIP

AntonioniJust a day after Ingmar Bergman passing, news comes through that another cinematic legend is gone.

The great Michelangelo Antonioni has died in Rome aged 94.

Aleesandro Rizzo of the AP reports:

Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni, whose depiction of alienation made him a symbol of art-house cinema with movies such as “Blow-Up” and “L’Avventura,” has died, officials and news reports said Tuesday. He was 94.

The ANSA news agency said that Antonioni died at his home on Monday evening.

“With Antonioni dies not only one of the greatest directors but also a master of modernity,” Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni said in a statement.

Antonioni depicted alienation in the modern world through sparse dialogue and long takes. Along with Federico Fellini, he helped turn post-war Italian film away from the Neorealism movement and toward a personal cinema of imagination.

In 1995, Hollywood honored his career work — about 25 films and several screenplays — with a special Oscar for lifetime achievement. By then Antonioni was a physically frail but mentally sharp 82, unable to speak but a few words because of a stroke but still translating his vision into film. The Oscar was stolen from Antonioni’s home in 1996, together with several other film prizes.

His slow-moving camera never became synonymous with box-office success, but some of his movies such “Blow-Up,” “Red Desert” and “The Passenger” reached enduring fame.

His exploration of such intellectual themes as alienation and existential malaise led Halliwell’s Film Guide to say that “L’Avventura,” Antonioni’s first critical success, made him “a hero of the highbrows.”

If you haven’t seen L’Avventura, Red Desert, Blow Up and The Passenger I would highly recommend them. Another film of interest – but relatively overlooked – is his beautiful segment to Beyond The Clouds, the 1995 film he made in collaboration with Wim Wenders.

It turns out he died on the same day as Bergman – making July 30th 2007 an especially sad day for cinema.

> The full AP report of his death
> IMDb entry for Micheangelo Antonioni
> A profile of Antonioni by James Brown at Senses of Cinema
> Andrew Pulver at The Guardian on some of Antonioni’s best scenes

Ingmar Bergman RIP

Ingmar BergmanIngmar Bergman has died, aged 89.

One of the all time greats of cinema he directed such masterpieces as The Seventh Seal, Winter Light, Persona, Cries and Whispers and Fanny and Alexander.

The AP report:

Master filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, one of the greatest artists in cinema history, died Monday at his home on an island off the coast of Sweden. He was 89.

Bergman’s dozens of works combined deep seriousness, indelible imagery and unexpected flashes of humor in finely written, inventively shot explorations of difficult subjects such as plague and madness.

His vision encompassed the extremes of his beloved Sweden: the claustrophobic gloom of unending winter nights, its glowing summer evenings and the bleak magnificence of the Baltic islet of Faro, where the reclusive artist spent his last years.

Once described by Woody Allen as ‘probably the greatest film artist … since the invention of the motion picture camera,’ Bergman first gained international attention with 1955’s ‘Smiles of a Summer Night,’ a romantic comedy that inspired the Stephen Sondheim musical ‘A Little Night Music.’

His last work, of about 60, was ‘Saraband,’ a made-for-television movie that aired on Swedish public television in December 2003, the year he retired.

Forget the ‘depressing’ tag that was often lazily applied to his films and remember instead his memorable explorations of the human soul and the indelible stories and images he contributed to world cinema.

> AP story in full by Louise Nordstrom in Stockholm
> Bergman entry on the IMDb
> Wikipedia entry for Ingmar Bergman
> Guardian obituary

DVD Review: Dream On – Series 1

Buy Dream OnDream On was one of the great American sitcoms of the 90s and Series 1 finally gets a UK release on DVD this week from Universal Playback.

In the States it screened on HBO and here it was initially shown on Channel 4 and more recently by ITV4.

It centres around a divorced New York book editor named Martin Tupper (Brian Benben) and explores how he deals with his chaotic love life, his ex-wife and his job.

The central conceit of the show is that his interior thoughts are depicted via clips of old black and white TV shows.

Clever, funny and superbly edited, it is well worth a look if you are a fan of shows like Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Listen to the review here:


Download the review as a podcast via iTunes:

Dream On – Series 1 is out now on DVD from Universal Playback

> Download this review as an MP3 file
> Buy Dream On Series 1 on DVD from Amazon UK
> IMDb entry fro Dream On
> BBC Comedy guide on Dream On
> Wikipedia entry for Dream On

Led Zeppelin to release Mothership

Led Zeppelin MothershipFans of Led Zeppelin take note – on November 12th a new 2 CD set entitled Mothership is coming out.

Plus, there is a special edition re-issue of concert film The Song Remains The Same out on DVD.

Here is the official press release:

After nearly forty years, Led Zeppelin continues to inspire generations with their groundbreaking blues-infused, guitar-driven rock n roll.

Arguably the biggest rock band in the world throughout their 12-year reign, they remain one of the most influential and innovative groups in music history.

With over 200 million albums sold worldwide, their catalog is one of the most enduring bodies of musical composition to come out of the 20th century, and it has influenced countless bands along the way.

They had the biggest tours; the biggest sound; the biggest record sales; the biggest reputation. Quite simply Led Zeppelin was the ultimate rock band.

Available November 12, worldwide, Atlantic Records/Rhino Entertainment will honor Led Zeppelin with the release of Mothership, a 24-track, two-CD comprehensive collection that spans their illustrious career.

All eight of the band’s classic studio albums are represented here, with the tracks being personally selected by Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, and John Paul Jones. Mothership includes landmark songs such as ?Whole Lotta Love, Immigrant Song, Kashmir, Rock And Roll, Dazed And Confused and Stairway to Heaven.

The set will also include new liner notes.

Available at all physical retail outlets and www.ledzeppelin.com, Mothership collectible packages will be available in multiple configurations:

– Standard Package: 2-CD set

– Deluxe Edition: 2-CD/ 1-DVD featuring the 90-minute, premiere-version of the Led Zeppelin DVD (£12.20 SRP)

– Collector’s Edition: 2-CD/1-DVD ultra-deluxe, collectible limited edition

– Vinyl Edition: LPs, high-end, audiophile quality vinyl with collectible memorabilia

Originally released in 1976, The Song Remains The Same soundtrack album of the concert film features songs from the band’s three-night stint at Madison Square Garden in July 1973. On November 19, The Song Remains The Same soundtrack gets the deluxe reissue treatment, with the band members overseeing the remixing and remastering of the original release.

The new version of the soundtrack includes six songs that were not on the original release Black Dog, Over The Hills And Far Away, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, The Ocean, and Heartbreaker, plus new liner notes by Academy Award-winning director Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous).

Slated for a simultaneous release, Warner Home Video debuts brand-new DVD editions of The Song Remains The Same, now for the first time with all 14 songs from the original concert.

The DVD features newly remixed and remastered sound, 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound, and boasts more than 40 minutes of added bonus material*, including never-before-released performance footage of Over The Hills And Far Away and Celebration Day; plus performances of Misty Mountain Hop and The Ocean; a rare 1976 BBC interview with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page; vintage TV footage from the Drake Hotel robbery during the New York concert stand; and a Cameron Crowe radio show.

The discs will be available as follows:

– Deluxe Edition DVD

– Deluxe Edition HD DVD and Blu-ray

– Limited Collectors Edition 2-disc set includes collectible vintage

T-shirt with original album artwork design, soundtrack CD, lobby cards, reproductions of original premiere invites, tour schedule, and more

‘We have revisited The Song Remains The Same’, says Jimmy Page, ‘and can now offer the complete set as played at Madison Square Garden. This differs substantially from the original soundtrack released in 1976, and highlights the technical prowess of Kevin Shirley, who worked with us on How The West Was Won. When it comes to The Song Remains The Same, the expansion of the DVD and soundtrack are as good as it gets on the Led Zeppelin wish list’.


Track Listing:

Disc One
1. Good Times Bad Times
2. Communication Breakdown
3. Dazed And Confused
4. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You
5. Whole Lotta Love
6. Ramble On
7. Heartbreaker
8. Immigrant Song
9. Since I’ve Been Loving You
10. Rock And Roll
11. Black Dog
12. When The Levee Breaks
13. Stairway To Heaven

Disc Two
1. Song Remains The Same
2. Over The Hills And Far Away
3. D’Yer Maker
4. No Quarter
5. Trampled Under Foot
6. Houses Of The Holy
7. Kashmir
8. Nobodys Fault But Mine
9. Achilles Last Stand
10. In The Evening
11. All My Love


Track Listing

Disc One
1. Rock And Roll
2. Celebration Day
3. Black Dog (including Bring It On Home)*
4. Over The Hills*
5. Misty Mountain Hop*
6. Since I?ve Been Loving You*
7. No Quarter
8. The Song Remains The Same
9. Rain Song
10. The Ocean*

Disc Two
1. Dazed And Confused
2. Stairway To Heaven
3. Moby Dick
4. Heartbreaker*
5. Whole Lotta Love

* Not on original soundtrack release

I for one am looking forward to this, especially after the superb live DVD released in 2003.

> Official Led Zeppelin website
> Find out more about Led Zeppelin at Wikipedia

Karen Allen returns for Indy 4

Karen Allen is reprising her role as Marian Ravenwood, the feisty female lead from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The news was announced at Comic Con that she’s back for the forth Indy movie:

Actress Karen Allen is joining the cast of the upcoming “Indiana Jones” movie, reprising her role as spirited Marion Ravenwood, it was announced today during Comic-Con International in San Diego.

The new movie is in production under the direction of Steven Spielberg, who is pictured here with Allen during a break in shooting in Hawaii.

The upcoming “Indiana Jones” adventure is a Lucasfilm Ltd. production and is being distributed by Paramount Pictures.

Frank Marshall returns as producer, with Kathleen Kennedy joining George Lucas as executive producer.

Looking back on it, Allen’s character in the first Indy movies was one of the best mainstream roles for a woman in the early 1980s.

Plus, she brought a a zest and presence to film that was missed in The Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade.

Sadly her career didn’t really take off in the way it should have done after Raiders.

She was good in Starman but for most of the 80s and 90s struggled to find major lead roles, which was a shame as her timing and natural charm was a big part of why the first Indy film was such a hit.

Production continues on Indy 4 and it is still scheduled for a worldwide release on May 22, 2008.

> Official Indiana Jones site
> IMDb entry for Karen Allen

(Photo by David Jones – Courtesy of IndianaJones.com)