Classic Freaky Friday Still A Fun Movie

     Freaky Friday, the 1976 classic version starring Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris, screened at the Birmingham Sidewalk Festival. This retro, family movie was part of Sidewalk's Family Film Festival sponsored by Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Alabama.
      The screening comes on the heels of the 40th Anniversary of the film. Here's a bit of trivia: Foster and Harris were both nominated for the Best Actress Golden Globe Award. Technically, since they played each other's character for most of the film, they were both nominated for playing the same character! The film was directed by Gary Nelson.

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Gardens of Red Cust poster
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Ethan and Ari Gold
Song Writer Ethan Gold and Director Ari Gold for The Song of Sway Lake.

The Song of Sway Lake poster

Gardens of Red Dust Wins Juried Award

     Eleven well-made documentary shorts featuring Alabama people and places screened at Sidewalk Film Festival. Subject matter was extremely varied, ranging from a paralympic athlete's accomplishments to an okra fest to an examination of different perspectives on death and burial.
      This last one, titled Gardens of Red Dust, co-written and co-directed by Corey Carpenter and Maggie Patterson, won the Alan Hunter Award for Best Alabama Film at Sidewalk. (See article below.) The production merged several Alabamians’ ideas on how they wanted to handle their departure. One chose a quiet burial in a family cemetery in the country. Another liked the slightly bizarre and humorous idea of cremation with their ashes to fill shotgun shells so they could “fly through the air.”
     This is the second time one of Carpenter's films was accepted at Sidewalk. In 2015, Alabama The Beautiful, an hour-long documentary about the impact of artisan businesses on Alabama, was selected to screen.

Gardens Of Red Dust

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Classic Film Watch Reviews and Articles by Mary McCord

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©2018 Classic Film Watch is a non-commercial, film review and informational website. All photos or artwork, unless otherwise identified, are either in the public domain or believed to satisfy the four-point criteria of the U.S. copyright law for fair use. No infringement is intended. Photos and artwork are not used for commercial purposes.

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A Ghost Story

Powerful Words: The Page Onscreen

    This is the theme of the TCM 2018 Classic Film Festival and, as a reader and writer, it is of special interest to me. While the director and good actors are extremely important, a film goes nowhere without a good story. It has to be more than an idea, it has to be a solid screenplay. This is where the actors discover inspiration for their characters and the director finds the action, atmosphere and mood although nothing is written in stone and many changes are made before a film is completed.
    TCM will probably choose to screen a great many Academy Award winning films for Best Screenplay and Best Screenplay Adaptation. Ask anyone who loves films and they will tell you that some of their favorite films never even got a nomination. TCM usually shows more than 80 films at their yearly Festival, so I think we can depend on there being really good films shown that were never recognized by the Academy. It is their intention to celebrate the representation of the written word "from original screenplays to unique adaptations to portrayals of writers real and imagined.on the silver screen".
    Because of the large number of films shown each year, there has been good representation of all of the genres at past Festivals. I can't wait to see what the full line-up will be and I am especially interested in the silent films and foreign films.
    Given this year's theme, I wonder which silent films will be chosen. Of course, these films were story-powered and had scripts, but they were more action than words. It's always a treat to see a foreign film on the big screen. It is especially rare to see a classic foreign film, but TCM manages to do this every year. I'm also interested in the documentaries about early filmmaking which are always fascinating.
    There's much to think, talk, write and read about the upcoming Festival. Check back for updates over the coming months. To read about last year's Festival, click here.

—Mary McCord, Editor, Classic Film Watch

TCM Special Guests and Films

    TCM has announced two of their special guests for the 2018 Classic Film Festival: Mel Brooks and Robert Benton.
    Brooks is a director, producer, actor and writer. He will participate in a live conversation before the screening of his 1968 film, The Producers. This screening will be the world premiere restoration celebrating its 50th anniversary.
    Benton is a writer and director. Two of his films will be shown, Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) and Places in the Heart (1984) Both these films received Academy Awards for his screenplays.
    Other films that have been announced are: The Black Stallion (1979); Bullitt (1968; Hamlet (1948); His Girl Friday (1940); The Sea Wolf (1941); The Set-Up (1969); The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974); Throne of Blood (1957); To Have and Have Not (1944); and Woman of the Year (1942).
    Watch for more announcements of special guests and films to be shown.

Key Largo poster Treasure of the Sierra Madre poster

Humphrey Bogart Film Festival set for October 17-21, 2018

    The Humphrey Bogart Film Festival will be held October 17-21 in Key Largo, FL. This year, the Festival will celebrate the 70th Anniversaries of Key Largo and Treasure of the Sierra Madre. This annual Festival screens all of the films that made Bogart famous. There are panel discussions and many other events. Watch for more details.

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Sidewalk Film Festival to be held August 20-26, 2018
Accepting Submissions Now!

    Sidewalk Film Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary August 20-26 in Birmingham, Alabama’s historic theatre district.
    Submissions are now open in all categories, including Narrative Features, Narrative Shorts, Documentary Features, Documentary Shorts, Music Videos, Episodic Content, Teen Filmmaker, and Family Film Festival.
    Sidewalk actively strives to bring a variety of film to its audience. The Festival presents films that highlight the historical and present-day fight for civil rights in its Life & Liberty track, films by and about African-American people in the Black Lens track, LGBTQ filmmakers and content with the SHOUT track, and family-friendly programming with its Family Festival track and retro/classic film screening. The programming also highlights both student and Alabama-based filmmakers.
    Sidewalk has announced the return of its Sidewrite screenwriting competition. New for this year, Sidewalk is now accepting both short and feature length screenplay submissions. Also new this year is the option to receive feedback for your screenplay submission from the Sidewrite jury. For more information, click here. Read about the 2017 Sidewalk Film Festival below.

Sidewalk 2017 heading

Nostalgic music and great acting shape The Song of Sway Lake

     The Song of Sway Lake is a film full of many different elements—a treasure hunt for a rare and priceless 78rpm record, family drama, the tragic death of a father, and an outsider's peculiar fascination with the family, especially the matriarch. Even with so much happening, the story remains cohesive. The cement? The fine acting performances that take you beyond the dialog and action, forming strong characters.
     Ollie, played by Rory Culkin, returns to his family lake house with his Russian friend, Nikolai (Robert Sheehan), to search for a valuable vinyl record from the 1920s Jazz Age. His father, who had recently commited suicide, was an avid record collector. Ollie, who also collects music, wants to steal this record before anyone else in the family finds it. Soon, Ollie's grandmother, Charlie Sway (Mary Beth Peil), arrives to search for the record, too.
     The screenplay was written by Ari Gold and Elizabeth Bull. The film was directed by Gold.
     The soundtrack is composed of original songs written by Ethan Gold. The songs were faithfully produced to replicate music from the Big Band Era (theme song) and the Jazz Age, the time period of the priceless, vintage record that is the focus of the big search.
      In a Q&A session after the screening, Ethan spoke about the difficulty of finding voices to perform the songs because very few singers today can sing in the old styles. The extraordinary songs were performed by John Grant and The Staves. Even though a scene at the first of the film refers to Sway Lake being a real place, Ari Gold said that the lake is actually

A (Different Kind Of) Ghost Story

     A Ghost Story is a supernatural drama that is not meant to scare you in the usual way, but it makes you think about how short life can be and the uncertainties of what comes after.
      Academy Award Winner Casey Affleck plays a musician who dies suddenly, but his spirit remains in the house he loved. He quietly watches his grieving girlfriend, played by Academy Award Nominee Rooney Mara, but sadly, she moves on and other people move in. He becomes frustrated with the new company and makes his presence known with feats of levitation and other ghost-like actions that scare off the new inhabitants.
      The next inhabitants throw a party. As the ghost eavesdrops, one person gives a dissertation on how humanity tries very hard to preserve the legacy of the human race, but it will be to no good end because the world will eventually cease to exist and the universe will collapse.
      Years later, the ghost becomes displaced by a bulldozer and a skyscraper is built where his house had stood. Frustrated, he climbs to the top of the building and jumps off, landing in the time of pioneers in the frontier. Now, we have a time-traveling ghost. It starts to get really interesting. The ghost watches as the settler stakes out a place for a house in a spot where the ghost's house would be centuries later. Some time passes and the ghost finds the settlers, arrows sticking out of their bodies, killed by Native Americans.
      The ghost is then transported to the future, back to his original house, and watches as he, very much alive, and his girlfriend move in. Now, we have some sort of time loop. Could this be a space time continuum or some other experimental physics going on? After all, this is an experimental film. Science actually has nothing to do with the film. Although a unique concept about a ghost, the story delves much deeper into the human psyche and makes the viewer think. As the story adavances, it becomes even more surprising.


TCM Film Festival 2017
Festival Daily Posts

April 6-9, 2017

TCM Film Festival 2016
Festival Daily Posts and
Red Carpet Photos

April 28-May 1, 2016
Festival Screenings
The Freshman (1925 Silent); Los Tallos Amargos (1956); War of the Worlds (1953); He Ran All The Way (1951); Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982
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TCM Film Festival 2015
Festival Daily Posts and
Red Carpet Photos

March 26-29, 2015
Festival Screenings
My Daughter Clementine (1946;
Out of Sight (1998); Psycho (1960); Rififi (1955); The Cincinnati Kid (1965); Why Be Good? (1929 Silent); The Apartment
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TCM Film Festival 2014

Festival Daily Posts and
Red Carpet Photos

April 10-13, 2014
Festival Screenings
Touch of Evil (1958); On Approval (1944); Why Worry? (1923 silent)
The Great Gatsby (1949); Hat Check Girl (1932)
More Photos

TCM Film Festival 2013
Festival Review
IT, A Silent Review
Safe in Hell, A Pre-Code Review
The Donovan Affair, Early Talkie

TCM Classic Cruise
November, 2016
Review of Cruise & Events October, 2014
Review of Cruise & Events January, 2013
Review of Cruise & Events
December, 2013

Review of Cruise & Events

Sidewalk Film Festival
August, 2016 Festival Review
August 2015 Festival Review

TCM "SUTS" Blogathon
Romance On The High Seas
Mata Hari
In A Lonely Place
The Maltese Falcon
Lullaby of Broadway

Hitchcock 9
Hitchcock Silent Films (Photo Feature)

Debbie Reynolds; Carrie Fisher;
Robert Osborne
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Film Noir: Style or Story?