Week in review: 6/23 - 6/27


The man who played the villain in The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, Eli Wallach, passed away Tuesday. In addition to Sergio Leone's spaghetti Western, Wallach appeared in classics The Magnificent Seven (rumor has it the film will soon be remade with Denzel Washington) and Elia Kazan's Baby Doll. The performer was one of several thesps, including Marlon Brando and Cheryl Crawford, who founded the Actors Studio in 1948. He received an Honorary Academy Award in 2010 for "a lifetime's worth of indelible screen characters." Wallach was 98.

A less well-known figure if one whose work is as beloved by her dedicated base of fans, Freaky Friday author Mary Rodgers passed away Thursday. The daughter of South Pacific composer Richard Rodgers, Mary first rose to prominence in 1959 when her musical Once Upon a Mattress proved a hit on the Great White Way. The Broadway show based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale 'The Princess and the Pea' launched the career of lead Carol Burnett. Rodgers was also a writer of children's stories, some of which would likely be marketed as Young Adult fiction today. Her Freaky Friday has been adapted for the cinema three times: First in 1976, starring Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris (Rodgers wrote the screenplay); then again in 1995, with Gaby Hoffman and Shelley Long; and finally, in 2003, featuring Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis as the mother-daughter pair who inadvertently and unwillingly swap bodies. Rodgers was 83.

As we're now, incredibly, halfway through 2014, this week saw pundits and critics publishing a host of mid-year recaps and retrospectives. Thus, we have a list of Variety critics' top films of 2014 (So Far), and Deadline's more objective roundup of the year's highest-grossing films to date (small surprise The Lego Movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and X-Men: Days of Future Past top the bunch). If these items fail to fulfill your longing for lists, or they don't come packaged with enough photos, take a peek at this piece from The Hollywood Reporter: The publication polled a group of Hollywood players, from actors to executives, on their favorite films and ranked the results. Some, like the good folks at Indiewire, were none too pleased with the findings, lambasting the "insidious dullness" of Hollywood's choices. Yes, indeed; The Princess Bride should have been ranked higher.

In considerably more contentious news, Gary Oldman found himself in hot water of his own boiling on Monday after he made a series of ridiculous comments to Playboy magazine. He defended the homophobic tirade of Alec Baldwin and the anti-Semitic rantings of Mel Gibson, among letting fly other choice remarks. Needless to say, the rest of this week has seen Oldman on Mea Culpa high alert, turning his publicity blitz for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes into more of a personal apology tour.

We're much happier to report the appointment of composer and six-time Oscar nominee Alexandre Desplat (Philomena, The King's Speech) to the head of the upcoming Venice Film Festival jury. Desplat will be the first musician to hold the position. Likewise, we're very pleased on behalf of the city of Chicago, which George Lucas has chosen over LA, San Francisco, and other contenders, as the site of his planned Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. The Star Wars' director's wife, Mellody Hobson, is a native of the Windy City.

A city that is for all its famed chilliness not nearly as uncomfortable as the world of eternal winter depicted to such success in Frozen. The New Yorker's Maria Konnikova attempts to understand the surprising global appeal of the Disney princess movie, while writer A.D. Jameson likewise tries to de-mystify the film critic term "mise-en-scene" in his longform 'Why It Matters' piece.

How many of the 271 newly invited to join the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences do you think know the term? Lupita? Michael Fassbender?

Finally, to kick off your weekend in the right and a most pleasant and nostalgic manner, here's Vulture with a collection of photos depicting famous filmmakers working on their favorite projects.