May 21POSTED BY KATIE - 4:20PM
Films can inflame citizens to become soldiers, and films can portray the sacrifices of those gone forever. We watch a war film for Memorial Day as a way of saying thanks to those who have given their lives in battle. We, too, have lost a loved one to war; we keep these soldiers alive in our hearts, and these films keep their sacrifices real to new generations. There are many war films, but here are the ones that stand out in revealing the triumph and tragedy of America’s wars:
CIVIL WAR: GLORY (1989, dir. Edward Zwick)
If you’ve never watched this multiple Oscar-winning film about the first black regiment of the Civil War, do yourself a favor and watch it now. A celebration of the heroism of slaves fighting for America, a film about changing history. Stars Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman. Rotten Tomatoes score 93%.
WORLD WAR I: GRAND ILLUSION (1937, dir. Jean Renoir)
Considered one of the great films of all time, this anti-war film takes place in a WWI POW camp as French soldiers plot their escape from their German captors in one of the very first prison escape films. Rotten Tomatoes score 98%
WORLD WAR II: THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967)
Heroism, men fighting for each other, top-notch actors, and a truly exciting story about an elite band of soldiers sneaking up on Nazis in a French chateau. Rotten Tomatoes score 95%
Films about WWII vary depending on when they’re made. Those made in the 1940s offer more of a pro-defense stance (understandably); films made in the 1960s during the build-up of the Vietnam War use WWII to foreground the heroism of men on impossible missions; later come the anti-war visions of WWII by the Vietnam generation, and more recently are remarkable films showing WWII from the vantage of Japanese (director Clint Eastwood’s heart-breaking LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA) or Chinese territory (director Steven Spielberg’s moving EMPIRE OF THE SUN).
KOREAN WAR: GRAN TORINO (2008, directed by Clint Eastwood)
Not about war, but a Korean war veteran facing the influx of Asian immigrants in his native Detroit. Clint stars and directs a deeply thought-provoking film. Rotten Tomatoes 80%
VIETNAM WAR: APOCALYPSE NOW (1979, dir. Francis Ford Coppola)
This is one of the most profound, artistic, and provocative interpretations of the Vietnam War, a true milestone in American filmmaking nominated for eight Academy Awards. Rotten Tomatoes score: 99%
More classic films about Vietnam:
FULL METAL JACKET (1987, dir. Stanley Kubrick) – powerful story from one of the 20th century’s finest directors about new recruits eager to fight and their maturation on the battleground. Rotten Tomato Score 97%
SOMALIA: BLACK HAWK DOWN (2001, dir. Ridley Scott)
Set in 1993, this is a terrifying look at fighting in desperate situations. Director Ridley Scott knows how to scare and how to reflect on what America’s contradictions. Ewan McGregor and Josh Hartnett -- plus the helicopter skirmishes in this film -- will sear unique images of war into your memory. Rotten Tomatoes score: 76%
GULF WAR: THREE KINGS (1999, dir. David O. Russell)
A thriller starring George Clooney, Ice Cube, Spike Jonze, and Mark Wahlberg, who conspire to hide a cache of gold from the American military. The film reflects the nation’s divisions over this war, and its unique portrayal of war’s violence had a strong aesthetic influence. Rotten Tomatoes score: 94%
AFGHANISTAN: RESTREPO (2010, dir. Hetherington/Junger)
Documentary by embedded journalists in Afghanistan’s dangerous Korengal Valley where troops honor their fallen comrade PFC Juan Restrepo by fiercely fighting the enemy. Rotten Tomatoes score: 96%
Also: HELL AND BACK AGAIN (2011, nominated for Oscar, winner of Sundance World Doc Award) – another documentary about a soldier who survived Taliban machine-gun fire. Rotten Tomatoes score: 100%
May 14POSTED BY KATIE - 3:31PM
“The idea from the start was to find films that we really like” – that’s how legendary rapper Adam Yauch described the goal of his independent film distribution company, Oscilloscope Laboratories. With Yauch’s passing last week at age 47, we’re paying tribute to his accomplishments as a film visionary as well as being one of the Beastie Boys, the hardcore hip hop band inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame just days before Yauch succumbed to cancer.
Oscilloscope acquired “films that make us laugh or that are informative,” Yauch told the GOTHAMIST in 2009, six months after co-founding Oscilloscope. That’s when Film Fresh started working with Oscilloscope, back when we still sold DVDs. Very quickly, Oscilloscope’s lineup became “synonymous with smart, interesting cinema,” noted NY TIMES film critic Manhola Dargis in her remembrance of Yauch.
An example of this is THE MESSENGER (2009), starring Woody Harrelson and directed by Oren Moverman (who both worked together recently in RAMPART). INDIEWIRE reported Moverman’s anecdote on how Yauch acquired the film: When they first met, Yauch told Moverman that he hoped Oscilloscope would someday distribute films like THE MESSENGER. What Yauch didn’t realize was that Moverman’s film, despite winning great acclaim at Sundance Film Festival, didn’t have a distributer. Not only did Yauch follow up on the opportunity to distribute THE MESSENGER, but he accompanied Moverman to the Oscars when the film was nominated for two awards in 2010. Moverman remembered:
He never talked to me about awards or even the business of the film. He seemed to be about the "message," the intent, the filmmaking. At every introduction to the film he spoke from the heart, just pouring love, not just for the work he was presenting but also for the potential of cinema.
Photo from THE MESSENGER, starring Woody Harrelson (L), directed by Oren Moverman
As a musician, Yauch had helped shape the band’s playful and irreverent music videos, some made by edgy directors such as Spike Jonze, and some made by Yauch himself under the alias Nathanial Hörnblowér. Among Oscilloscope’s earliest films was GUNNIN’ FOR THAT #1 SPOT, directed by Yauch in 2008. Last year, Yauch directed FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT (REVISITED), a spirited revision of the Beastie Boys’ successful 1987 song and video, “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!).” The 30-minute film features cameo appearances by dozens of Hollywood stars like Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly and Seth Rogen as well as indie artists like filmmaker Mike Mills. Beastie Boys bandmate and childhood friend Mike D. explained how comedies from their childhoods, like CADDYSHACK and STEP BROTHERS, inspired the antics in Yauch’s last video. Mills gave Film Fresh an idea of why Yauch is a hero to so many:
I think Yauch was part of the great American transcendentalist tradition that goes from cultural entrepreneurs like Emerson, Throreau and Whitman down through the Beats like Ginsberg and Dylan and slides into more contemporary punk/hip-hop scene. This tradition says your particular misshaped voice and soul and body are perfect and powerful and divine - not any official or ideal cultural self. As a huge fan and sometime graphic collaborator, I felt that he and the other Beastie Boys were THE shining example of how white boys could find self-empowerment in a mediated, consumerist world - they showed how to subversively laugh, how to do what you want and own the company that is distributing that product, how to be free, and in their later phase, how to embrace the political responsibilities of an open and compassionate heart - the completion of their self-empowerment being the care and support of others of the less empowered. Yauch was incredibly brave, even during his illness, not letting it define him. To me, and my generation, he is a real living cultural radical hero, passed on or not.
Yauch was a board member of IFP, a frequent attendee of the Sundance Film Festival, and also a founder of the Milarepa Fund, a non-profit organization working for Tibetan justice. Oscilloscope Laboratories continues without Yauch. Film lovers can support his legacy by joining Oscilloscope’s DVD/Blu-ray club, Circle of Trust, or renting one of Oscilloscope’s films here:
May 14POSTED BY KATIE - 3:24PM
(film still from AYN RAND AND THE PROPHECY OF ATLAS SHRUGGED)
Ayn Rand’s been gone for 30 years, but her legacy of individualism and conservative capitalism brightly fuels today’s partisan battle. Right now, Ayn Rand is ideological Ground Zero for the right and left, fueled in part by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), conservative chairman of the House Budget Committee, who seemingly renounced his long-held admiration for Rand on April 26. It’s easy to find Rand mentioned in op-ed pieces this week and throughout this past month.
We’re film lovers, not politicos, so we’re fascinated by Rand's ties to filmmaking. While still living in Russia, Rand studied screenwriting and wrote about the American film industry; her first ever publication was a biographical article on the actress Pola Negri.
In 1926, when her middle-class family lost everything after the Bolshevik revolution, Rand came to Hollywood and worked for Cecil B. DeMille, during the silent movie era. According to biographer Anne C. Heller, Rand “loved the Hollywood standard of life.” Then she began writing novels, striving to articulate her strong ideas about individualism and selfishness through fiction. When her best-selling novel “The Fountainhead” was turned into a big budget film in 1944, she had an office on the Warner Bros. lot. Her last novel, “Atlas Shrugged,” is the kernel of a new documentary AYN RAND AND THE PROPHECY OF ATLAS SHRUGGED, available May 15, 2012, adding to the recent spate of pro-Rand documentaries like AYN RAND: IN HER OWN WORDS (2011).
We just re-watched THE FOUNTAINHEAD, a true classic film. Directed by the legendary King Vidor, the film starred Gary Cooper as an idealistic architect unwilling to compromise, Patricia Neal as his love who marries a newspaper tycoon who shapes public opinion. Rand herself wrote the screenplay and was on the set throughout the production. The Rotten Tomatoes score is 83%, but we think it deserves an even higher score than that.
Regardless of your ideological bent, it’s good in today’s contentious political climate to know the answer to the question: “Who is John Galt?” Any of these films can keep you informed.
Gary Cooper (L) in THE FOUNTAINHEAD (1944)
May 7POSTED BY KATIE - 5:44PM
In the science fiction classic, BLADE RUNNER (1982), a replicant panics when asked about his mother, realizing that his answer will reveal him to be a machine. While not about mothers specifically, the film addresses the cultural anxieties we have about what makes us human. Our families? Our memories? Our personal history, preserved in photographs?
Mothers often take us to the heart of a narrative. Strengthening family values, or upsetting the apple cart entirely, a mother in a film can focus us on questions about life and its meaning. While the answers vary from era to era, mothers and their stories often serve as a cinematic launching pad for the issues filmmakers want us to consider.
Here are five films that use a mother to catalyze a soul-searching message:
MILDRED PIERCE (1945) -- her name’s been made current again by the HBO version, but there’s no substitute for the original noir mom, played by Joan Crawford. Michael Curtiz’s 1945 masterpiece uses all the noir conventions – a murder mystery, a femme fatale – to criticize postwar women who dared to be more than a mom.
THE BLIND SIDE (2009) -– here’s the traditional mom, a modern-day Ma Joad, in the non-traditional set-up of a wealthy white Christian family that adopts a black homeless teen. In her Oscar-winning role affirming selflessness and football, Sandra Bullock scores a touchdown for American family values. Audiences give it 90%.
CARNAGE (2011) -- this comedy pits two pitbull moms (Kate Winslet and Jodie Foster – both nominated for Golden Globes for these roles) and their husbands across the liberal/conservative divide after their kids have a fight. This film skewers self-righteous stances at a time when national political debates exploit them.
MADAME BROUETTE (2002) -– although Mati’s conditions are unique to Senegal, this film generates tremendous empathy in her search for love and her determination to offer something better to her daughter. Winner of the 2003 Golden Berlin Bear award, this film provides a universal message about triumph over adversity.
SAVING FACE (2004) -– here’s a delightfully quirky indie comedy about a mother-daughter pair; the mom is a 48-year-old widow who is pregnant, her daughter is a lesbian who plays matchmaker for her mom after she comes to live with the young Manhattanite at a really bad moment.
We select five films in our blog entries, but that's just to get the conversation going. We love getting suggestions from you about other films you'd like to see on our lists -- especially on the topic of mothers in film. Share your ideas below!
May 7POSTED BY KATIE - 9:57AM
Available here for streaming or download May 15!
Ayn Rand and the Prophecy of Atlas Shrugged
Set in what Novelist and Philosopher Ayn Rand called "the day after tomorrow," Atlas Shrugged depicts an America in crisis, brought to her knees by a corrupt establishment of government regulators and businessmen with political pull - the "looters" and the "moochers" - who prey on individual achievement.
Ayn Rand and the Prophecy of Atlas Shrugged looks into Rand's background for the ideas and philosophy that inspired and shaped her novel and seeks to determine whether America is indeed headed for the disastrous outcome she predicted.
SPECIAL FEATURES include over 40 minutes of in-depth interviews, with eight experts.
While you're waiting for this documentary, check out these other interesting films about capitalism:MARGIN CALL (2011) -- a gripping thriller about an aggressive Wall St. investment firm coming to terms with its toxic products.FREAKONOMICS (2010) -- a documentary based on the best-selling book by incentives-based economists Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, who study human behavior.POM WONDERFUL PRESENTS: THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD (2011) -- Oscar-winning filmmaker Morgan Spurlock looks at product placement in films by selling mentions in this documentary.FAST, CHEAP, AND OUT OF CONTROL (1997) -- this is an amazingly engaging, classic documentary from master director Erroll Morris about people devoted to their quirky careers.FARMAGEDDON (2012) -- Kristin Canty's personal fight to obtain raw milk for her son's allergies leads her to discovery of lobbyists obstructing this market.
- Rating: NR
Apr 27POSTED BY KATIE - 4:36PM
April 29 is the 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots. For a year, the nation had focused on a videotape recording of black motorist Rodney King being harshly beaten by white LAPD officers. Even to law & order supporters, the videotape was difficult to dismiss. When the police officers involved were acquitted of all charges, crowds spontaneously gathered in L.A.’s African American neighborhoods on April 29, 1992. Violence erupted when a white truck driver, Reginald Denny, unknowingly drove directly into the turmoil. Live helicopters' news images of Denny being beaten galvanized good Samaritans who rushed out to help him. Violence, fires and looting raged across L.A. for six days.
Roughly coinciding with this anniversary, the recent film RAMPART is being released for home viewing. Pictured above, Woody Harrelson stars as Dave Brown, an LAPD officer in the famously corrupt Rampart division. Brown is a bad cop with a good heart, a heavy drinker who lives with his two ex-wives (who are sisters) and his kids. As viewers will discover, RAMPART aggressively rekindles the wounds of twenty years ago even though it is set today. Harrelson’s performance is excellent, and we're pleased to make the film available on May 1 to our customers two weeks before its general public release.
Throughout film history, the LAPD has provided a context for dozens of policiers, with its members typically portrayed as macho and corrupt -- even murderous. We went through our library to pick out a few of these films -- the ones we definitely recommend (although it was hard to narrow them all down to just five). Let us know what are your favorite LAPD films!
BLUE THUNDER (1983) – Once upon a time, a long time ago, the LAPD began using aerial surveillance with the latest military technology to control the urban metropolis. This thriller starring Roy Scheider won the Oscar for editing.
HEAT (1995) – A fantastic cast plus knife-edge direction by Michael Mann make this one of our favorite films. Al Pacino is the good cop, obsessed with catching Robert De Niro, the leader of an unbeatable group of thieves.
L.A. CONFIDENTIAL (1997) – This stylized neo-noir has as much to say about Hollywood and prostitution as it does about police violence. Based on James Ellroy’s novel, the film deserved the two Oscars it received, one to Kim Basinger. Also starring Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, and Danny DeVito.
TRAINING DAY (2001) – This is one of the first thrillers in the LAPD genre dealing directly with race. Denzel Washington is a bad cop, in a role that won him an Oscar. The film gave a career boost to Ethan Hawke as well.
And note: none of these films are available for instant streaming on Netflix!
(If you prefer to a comic look at the LAPD, we’ve got BLUE STREAK with Martin Lawrence, SHOWTIME with Eddie Murphy and Robert De Niro, and RUSH HOUR with Jackie Chan. And none of these are on Netflix’s instant play, either.)
Apr 23POSTED BY KATIE - 5:31PM
The revolution in home viewing of indie films continues, with exciting new opportunities for people seeking fresh film content and flexible ways of seeing it. We’re urging people to check out Tribeca Film Festival’s online film offerings – these films are available free to anyone right now, for a limited time, running concurrently with the ten-year-old festival’s screenings this week in New York.
For the past two decades, film festivals have served as the marketplace for independently made films to find a distributer. The traditional road to success has been to premiere at one of the major festivals where sales take place (typically this is Sundance, Toronto, and Cannes); there, a film might be bought (licensed) by a group that usually manages its release first in North American movie theaters followed months later by its availability for home viewing either on a premier television channel, a DVD, or through digital on demand (rental) or electronic sell through (purchase) through a retailer such as Film Fresh. Indie distributers and Hollywood studios control the window of when a film is available for its theatrical run domestically and abroad, as well as its digital afterlife (which is why you’ll see some films move in and out of availability for rent and/or purchase – we digital retailers do not control this.)
Given this traditional cycle of film sales, Tribeca Film makes an impressive intervention to bolster the role of online viewing.
What distinguishes Tribeca Film as more than innovators but true leaders is the Festival’s role spearheading crucial discussions online on its blog, FUTURE OF FILM, on how technology is affecting film production and release. For instance, director Morgan Spurlock advises indie filmmakers about the need to be flexible about online distribution (Spurlock’s progressive and influential role gives us the ability to offer you COMIC-CON EPISODE IV: A FAN’S HOPE on demand at the same time it’s opening in theaters in a limited multi-city run). The impressive BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield authored an entry on the importance of the home video market and his idea that the gap from theatrical to home should be substantially shortened.
We like fresh ideas and technological innovations that can expand opportunities for indie films!
In addition to offering Tribeca Film's JESUS HENRY CHRIST, we've got Tribeca's 2011 films that have already finished their theatrical runs and are now available for home viewing, including A GOOD OLD-FASHIONED ORGY (including the unrated version), PUNCTURE, REVENGE OF THE ELECTRIC CAR, and LIMELIGHT. Most of the other top-grossing films of last year's festival are still in theaters, either here in the U.S. or internationally, but we're looking forward to offering these (like the smash hit JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI, bought last year just before it premiered at TFF by Magnolia Pictures) when they become available.
Apr 20POSTED BY KATIE - 10:35AM
It's 4/20, which also means that it's 420 Day!
Most people know by now that "420," in all of its forms (420, 4:20, 4/20) can serve as a sly reference to marijuana use. Wikipedia even has a page on "stoner films," comedies that wrangle as much humor as possible from that inebriated state. In recent years, think of the three HAROLD & KUMAR films, PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, FRIDAY… fill in your favorite stoner comedy here (we've probably got it for rent).
Yet drug films can also be extremely powerful stories, which is probably why each generation has a classic.
In the 60s, it was EASY RIDER (1969), of course, starring Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda, a portrait of the psychedelic generation that launched a revolution in Hollywood, with a stoned Jack Nicholson, an avant-garde LSD sequence, & a sobering end.
Then there was UP IN SMOKE (1978), which brought Cheech and Chong into pop culture consciousness as goofballs driving a van made of marijuana from Mexico to Los Angeles.
At the end of the 80s, Gus Van Sant directed DRUGSTORE COWBOY (1989) a stark drama about addicts who break into pharmacies, with Matt Dillon, a cameo by William S. Burroughs, and a Rotten Tomatoes score of 100%.
And recently, we've seen HALF NELSON (2006) -- a powerful drama starring Ryan Gosling, nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for this role as an inspiring inner-city teacher who tames his dark side with a needle, finally finding help with one of his students.
Apr 16POSTED BY KATIE - 3:19PM
The first Earth Day teach-in was held in 1970, an urgent call to action to stop polluting our air and water and heed the dangers of our unbridled lifestyle. Inspired by Wisconsin’s former governor and senator Gaylord Nelson and the musical Hair, Earth Day began as a teach-in in Philadelphia. Walter Cronkite called the crowd “young, white, and anti-Nixon”; 42 years later, Earth Day is now a mainstream opportunity to reflect on the ways individuals and our society can improve our stewardship of the environment, food supply, and animals.
Film plays a key role in raising awareness about our environment, animals, and food supply – here are some indie and international options you may not have seen. There are three sections: 1) The Environment, 2) Living in Harmony with Animals, and 3) Earth Day films for kids and the family. Let us know what films have raised your consciousness and changed your habits.
WASTE LAND (2010) – winner of the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award for World Cinema, this documentary visits the world’s largest garbage dump in Brazil, where Brooklyn artist Vik Muniz collaborates with “catadores,” or garbage pickers. Rotten Tomatoes audiences overwhelming like this film (92%)
GASLAND (2010) -- see why this documentary was nominated for the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature last year as you learn about fracking, the recovery of gas from rock beds by way of high-pressure water. Rotten Tomatoes gave this a score of 97%.
FORCE OF NATURE (2011) – an engaging look at environmental sanity by Dr. David Suzuki, one of Canada’s leading scientists with a popular, long-running science show on TV.
Rotten Tomatoes audiences give it a score of 87% Netflix does not have this!
WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR? (2006) -- this popular film (RT score of 88%) documents General Motors’ decision to scrap its electric car, the EV1, and the outcry of devoted EV1 owners, whose cars were taken from them by GM and destroyed. This film was so successful at raising awareness about electrical vehicles that GM, Nissan, and Tesla invited the film crew behind the scenes to make REVENGE OF THE ELECTRIC CAR (2011), a hopeful look at our electric future.
Living in Harmony with Animals
IMAX: BORN TO BE WILD (2011) – now you can watch IMAX’s heart-grabbing and beautiful documentary of endangered species in the rainforests of Borneo and the dedicated people who rescue and raise orphaned orangutans and elephants. This is an uplifting and hopeful film, perfect for any animal lover. Rotten Tomatoes gives this a 98% score.
GRIZZLY MAN (2005) -- we love this documentary about a self-styled authority on Alaskan grizzlies who made films of his work over the years; world-renowned director Werner Herzog uses this footage to tell of the man who was killed by the grizzlies he loved. It’s not for kids, but it’s a terrific film. Rotten Tomatoes score of 93%.
MARCH OF THE PENGUINS (2005) – this is the documentary that launched the penguin and environmental craze made popular in the animated films HAPPY FEET (2006), which won the Academy Award for Best Animated Film, and HAPPY FEET TWO. Truly a fabulous family film – this is one you might want to buy instead of rent. Rotten Tomatoes gives this a score of 94%, narrated by Morgan Freeman.
THE COVE (2008) – another Audience Award-winner at the Sundance Film Festival, this documentary takes a hard look at dolphin hunting in Japan. With footage secretly filmed, this stunning look underseas has inspired audiences to action. Rotten Tomatoes score 95%
Also: WHALEDREAMERS (2006) – This Australian documentary shows an Aboriginal tribe that sings and prays to whales. Produced by Julien Lennon.
BLUE WATER, WHITE DEATH (1971) – this is the documentary that inspired JAWS; however, this look at sharks in their natural habitats is fascinating, not scary.
Films where kids have a special relationship to animals:
FOX AND THE CHILD (2007) comes from the same director who made MARCH OF THE PENGUINES, about a 10-year-old girl who tames a wild fox who leads her on many adventures.
WHALE RIDER (2002) is such a moving film not only about whales but New Zealand’s aboriginal heritage and a young girl’s place in her patriarchal tribe. We love this Oscar-winning film; if you’ve never seen it, do yourself a favor and watch it.
EYE OF THE DOLPHIN (2006) is popular among our viewers, about a tween girl living with her estranged father in the Bahamas when she learns she has a gift for communicating with dolphins.
FREE WILLY (1993) is the original in the series of films about children who rescue orca whales. A boy bounced around in the foster system gets a home in an ocean park, where he befriends another orphan, the killer whale named Willy, and eventually saves his life. The theme song won Michael Jackson an MTV Award.
FREE WILLY: ESCAPE FROM PIRATE’S COVE (2010) another upbeat family tale about an Australian girl spending a lonely summer in South Africa with her grandfather. She tames an orphaned baby whale and protects him from exploitation.
Have a great Earth Day!
Apr 10POSTED BY KATIE - 9:22AM
Today’s release of ALBERT NOBBS on premium rental (before it comes out on DVD) gives us a chance to reflect on how cross-dressing functions as a dramatic element in contemporary film. We’ll skip the fascinating history of Shakespeare’s male actors filling the women’s roles and other Elizabethan traditions, in order to focus on how cross-dressing in films of the last thirty years.
ALBERT NOBBS is remarkable for performances by Glenn Close and Janet McTeer as women passing in 19th century Dublin as men. It’s the virtuoso acting of two of Hollywood’s finest (and beautiful) stars – who deserved the Oscar nominations they received – that gives this film its power. We love to see great acting, and this film delivers it on a silver platter.
With its Irish setting, ALBERT NOBBS introduces one clear distinction between cross-dressing in films from Europe and from America. Here in the U.S., films generally dress men as women to be funny – as in TOOTSIE (1982), starring Dustin Hoffman, or DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN (2005) starring Tyler Perry and the MADEA films Perry has also made.
In contrast, European films are more likely to use cross-dressing as a way of going below the surface of complex human emotions. The Irish drama, THE CRYING GAME (1992), looks at the depths of love – can love survive terrorism and gender/sexual taboo? The British film ORLANDO (1992) uses a novel by Virginia Woolf to imagine a character whose gender shifts from male to female, in this beautiful art film starring the amazing Tilda Swinton. Likewise, the Belgian film MA VIE EN ROSE (1997) considers gender through the vantage of a six-year-old boy who believes he should be a girl.
Alfred Hitchcock even used a transvestite in MURDER! (1930) to fool the audience in one of his early murder mystery films (set in a circus), made while the director still worked in his native England.
There are so many films with cross-dressing -- read more here. Some of these films aren’t available in digital format, some are out of print, and many are terrific films worth watching. ALBERT NOBBS is a great place to begin.