FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Joseph L. Mankiewicz |||
Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Mankiewicz directed 20 films in a 26-year period, and was very successful at every kind of film, from Shakespeare to western, drama to musical, epics to two-character pictures, and regardless of the genre, he was known as a witty dialogist, a master in the use of flashback and a talented actors' director.

The 1950 Oscar for Best Picture and Screenplay brought Mankiewicz wide recognition as a writer and a director, with his sardonic look at show business glamour and the empty lives behind it. This well orchestrated cast of brilliant and catty character actors is built around veteran actress Bette Davis and Anne Baxter as her understudy desperate for stardom.

One of Mankiewiczí more intimate films, this highly regarded and major artistic achievement is a spirited romantic comedy set in England of the 1880ís about a widow who moves into a haunted seashore house and resists the attempts of a sea captain specter to scare her away. This is a pleasing and poignant romance that is equally satisfying as a good old ghost story.

Mankiewicz wrote and directed this witty dissection of matrimony that has three women review the ups and downs of their marriages (with all its romance, fears and foibles) after receiving a letter telling them that one of their husbands has been unfaithful. Once again Mankiewicz deftly utilizes the skills of a well-chosen ensemble, which includes a young Kirk Douglas at his dreamiest.

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Born into Brothels

By CassyHavens

October 8th, 2005

First time I heard about this movie was when it won the Oscar for Best Documentary. Itís not the kind of movie that would be easy to market to a wide audience; thereís a lot in the film that is hard to watch, and a lot that really makes you think twice about the world. Living in the brothels of the red light district of Calcutta, Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman have created a powerful movie about children in adverse situations, achieving their dreams through art, and hope.


The real stars of this film are, of course, the children who live in the brothels. These arenít perfect children, and the filmmakers donít attempt to paint them as saints. They have faults, they have weaknesses, and they are each unique in their own ways. Each of them wants a better life. Itís as simple as that.

There isnít a lot that I can say about the film that hasnít already been said by people much more articulate than me. Itís uplifting, itís funny, itís heartbreaking, itís moving.

While it appears like there are a lot of special features, theyíre pretty brief. There is a small segment, "Reconnecting," which meets up with the kids 3 years later. Much too short, maybe only 5 minutes. There are 7 sets of deleted scenes, including one entire kid that they mostly cut from the film. These were good cuts, the scenes were not necessary, and some just reiterated what had already been presented in the film.

There are about 19 behind the scenes photos by Zana, Ross, and some of the kids. Notably missing are the childrenís actual photographs. I thought that would be a no-brainer, but apparently not. Thereís a small blurb about Kids with Cameras, and also the Academy Award acceptance clip. A brief interview with Charlie Rose after the Oscar win, the trailer, and a few other trailers.

I saved the best for last. The two commentaries I had to wait a while to watch them; you can only watch the same movie so many times in one day. The directorís commentary with Zana and Ross was fairly run-of-the-mill, with some nice insight on things you already know or guessed. You can really see how much they loved Kochi though, and you canít watch the film without falling in love with the little sweetheart. Their honest remarks about the children show that they really do care about them, and embrace their shortcomings.

The second commentary is video footage of the children watching select scenes from the film several years later. For most of it, they tease each other playfully, but when a serious scene comes on, they instantly become quiet, and remind each other that itís all in the past, theyíre so much better now. They way these children interact with each other is like that of a close-knit family; theyíve seen each other at their worst, and their best. These kids that have been given the fuzzy end of the lollypop in life, they show us that nobody should ever give up, that no situation is so dire that there is no escape from it.

My rating: B+