Blog Directory CineVerse: May 2011

No CineVerse meeting June 1

Sunday, May 29, 2011

It doesn't happen often, but there will be no CineVerse meeting on June 1. Our group will reconvene next week on June 8. Hope to see you then!


Give Lawrence another listen

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Three years ago this week, CineVerse took a fine tooth comb to Lawrence of Arabia, the David Lean masterwork, and came away with an insightful group discussion on the movie's merits.

If you'd like to hear a podcast recording of that chat, click here.


One smoking hot movie

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ever wonder how it feels to be a big tobacco flak? Join CineVerse on May 25 for the irreverently hilarious Thank You For Smoking (2005; 92 minutes), directed by Jason Reitman, chosen by Helen Cuprisin.

Plus, we'll have an open group discussion on our favorite films and why we love the cinema following the movie.


Under the radar: Set your sights on Grosse Pointe Blank

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ask Steve Pink where his edgy group came up with the moniker “New Crime Productions” (NCP), and he invokes the name of Galileo.

“He was a criminal of the highest order, considered a heretic for his positive ideas about the universe,” said Pink when I interviewed him back in 1997 about NCP, which was originally launched as an alternative Chicago theater troupe in 1988. “A ‘new crime’ is an original or innovative way of creating. As technology and innovations come into the world, there are no laws to regulate them at first.”

Along with actor John Cusack and D.V. De Vincentis—two other former Chicago-area pals—Pink is one of the partners-in-crime and co-founders of NCP, which has been responsible for a number of critically acclaimed films since the late 1990s, including “Arigo,” “High Fidelity,” and “Grace is Gone.”

But perhaps “Grosse Pointe Blank” is NCP’s greatest achievement—not to mention its first. Written and co-produced by Pink and DeVincentis for NCP and distributed by Hollywood Pictures, the film stars Cusack as a successful hit man trying to fight off middle age and an identity crisis. On the advice of his shrink, Cusack vows to rediscover himself by attending his high school reunion back in his hometown of Grosse Point, Michigan, where his sordid past comes crashing down on him like an avalanche.

“We really believed in the story from the start,” said Pink of the black comedy, adapted from a screenplay by Tom Jankiewicz. “It’s paints a great character written from an emotional, socially satirical point of view. Despite his moral ambiguity as an assassin, (Cusack) plays a character you actually can’t help liking.”

New Crime co-conspirator De Vincentis seconded that motion. "It's less the story of a psychopath than a person who simply takes all the serious buzz phrases like 'be all you can be,' or 'let's go out there and make a killing,' seriously. The character rediscovers his past while reinventing his present."

Though the NCP trio wasn’t able to shoot in Chicago as originally intended due to bad weather (principal filming took place on the west coast, though on a "rigorous" and "very challenging" schedule) they were able to infuse plenty of Windy City talent into the film: the supporting cast includes NCP theater alum Jeremy Piven and fellow Columbia College pals Patrick O’Neill, K.K. Dodds, and Audrey Kissell. Also playing opposite Cusack are big screen veterans Dan Ackroyd and Alan Arkin.

"Beyond a hectic production schedule, it was pretty tough just trying to adjust the script every day to meet the physical needs of the production while maintaining its integrity," said De Vincentis. "We were literally rewriting the story every day."

NCP’s last project was “Hot Tub Time Machine” starring Cusack and Chevy Chase, which was released last year.


Enjoy the joie de vivre of Amelie

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Want to enjoy a French film confection as sweet and luscious as a bon bon?

Make plans to attend CineVerse on May 18 for a World Cinema Wednesday special from France that you won't easily forget: Amelie (2001; 122 minutes), directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, chosen by Larry Twardy.


Can you feel the heat?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Fritz Lang is known for masterpieces like Metropolis and M. But after he came to America, he specialized in film noir features that sizzled.

One great example is "The Big Heat" (1953; 89 minutes), our next CineVerse spotlight, scheduled for May 11, chosen by Peggy Quinn. Prior to the movie, we'll also enjoy a trailer tribute to the best of the film noir genre.


Favorite films noir

Monday, May 2, 2011

For May, CineVerse asks the question: What is the greatest film noir movie ever made? Register your vote before the end of the month by participating in our online poll, which can be found in the left sidebar at the top of our Web page (

For the uninitiated, film noir, according to Wikipedia, is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Hollywood's classic film noir period is generally regarded as stretching from the early 1940s to the late 1950s. Film noir of this era is associated with a low-key black-and-white visual style that has roots in German Expressionist cinematography. Many of the prototypical stories and much of the attitude of classic noir derive from the hardboiled school of crime fiction that emerged in the United States during the Depression.

By the way, here are the results of March's poll, which queried: What is the most overrated Best Picture Oscar winner of all time?
  • Oliver (30%)
  • Ordinary People (15%)
  • The Greatest Show on Earth (15%)
  • The King's Speech (15%)


A Beautiful Mind is a terrible thing to waste

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Like to solve complex math problems? Nah, neither do we. But we do enjoy a good flick starring Russell Crowe.

Join CineVerse on May 4 for "A Beautiful Mind" (2001; 135 minutes), directed by Ron Howard, chosen by Tom Nesis. 


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