The 24 Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival begins Thursday, November 4 running through Sunday, November 15. Sporting a record 447 films, 97 narrative and 86 documentary feature films, plus 264 short films will screen. The fiction and nonfiction, live action and animation selections hail from 70 countries. If all these statistics sound overwhelming, the 270 programs are.
Hardly anyone thinks about the producer of news programs. Viewers concentrate on the product and maybe the deliverer of the story, but the person who pitches the story, gathers it, builds a research team, and works with the news reporter is merely a line on the credits. Not so with Mary Mapes.
So, why would the Disney Studios put out a live- action version of "Cinderella" when its 1950 animated version is embedded in the cinematic minds of millions? The current version quotes so much of the animated version -- if not really, then seemingly -- that it's impossible to divorce the two.
The much anticipated third installment in "The Hobbit" series, "The Battle of the Five Armies," wraps up Bilbo Baggins' fine adventure with two-and-a-half hours of personal and political drama. Gandalf anchors the multifaceted conflicts-- fighting the enticement of gold and power, struggles with morality, the critical importance of friendship and one's word--in short, dedication to good over evil.
George Clooney made a noble effort to tell the story of soldier/scholars sent by President Franklin Roosevelt to save the culture of Europe near the end of World War II. A noble effort, however, does not immediately translate to a fine film.
"There are only so many traumas you can withstand before they find you on the street talking to yourself." Truer words were never spoken, and spoken they are, along with thousands of other words by the woman known as Jasmine. She was born Jeannette, but she changed her name, so her name is a lie.
Film directors crave recognition as distinctive, unique voices and stylists. Add a bonus for entertainment value, and this achievement becomes exceedingly rare. But not for writer/director Wes Anderson whose signature defines his films as definitively HIS--a combination of an offbeat, appealing humor and an atypical, stylistic presentation. Anderson is, in essence, fresh and original.