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By David Bianculli and David Bianculli,Special to The Sun | March 10, 1994
In the 1950s, Jack Nicholson toiled at a series of supporting roles on TV anthology dramas and episodic series. Now, in the '90s, he returns to television on his own terms, as the center-stage honoree of this year's American Film Institute Life Achievement Award. The one-hour special based on it, taped a week ago and shown tonight on CBS, is the evening's very best bet.* "Mad About You" (8-8:30 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2) -- On this new episode, Paul (Paul Reiser) and Jamie (Helen Hunt) find a secret cache of letters written by a previous occupant -- a similar starting point to that presented, a few years ago, on an episode of "thirtysomething," when Hope (Mel Harris)
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ENTERTAINMENT
By Michael Sragow, The Baltimore Sun | June 23, 2011
If you missed Ramona Diaz's "The Learning" and Richard Chisolm's "Cafeteria Man" at the Maryland Film Festival, seize the chance to see them at the AFI Silverdocs festival. If you've seen them already, take my word for it: They're even better the second time around. "The Learning" is like no other teaching film — it sensitizes you in fresh and unexpected ways to the transactions between instructors and students. Director Ramona Diaz follows four Filipino teachers, recruited by the Baltimore public school system, through their first year teaching Mobtown pupils to their first days back home.
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FEATURES
December 17, 2003
The American Film Institute's choice of TV's Top 10 was divided evenly between cable and network programs, while six of the honorees were programs or telefilms that premiered in 2003. The list included Emmy winners and popular favorites, as Fox, HBO and CBS all received multiple mentions. The awards, announced on Sunday, were determined after two days of jury deliberation in Los Angeles and were presented in alphabetical order rather than establishing a hierarchy of top programs. While Fox's new comedy Arrested Development continues to suffer through anemic ratings, AFI gave the network another reason to stick with the quirky family saga, which the jury says "instills new hope for growth and maturity in today's stunted comedy environment."
ENTERTAINMENT
By Michael Sragow, The Baltimore Sun | June 11, 2011
Morgan Freeman believes that actors are the key figures in movies — the ones who make characters grab audiences by the lapels and invade their dreams. He thinks movies become classics when a star like Gary Cooper in "High Noon" pumps his own lifeblood between the lines until a written role becomes a living symbol, like Cooper's strong, righteous, heartrendingly weary Marshal Will Kane. "Gregory Peck and Gary Cooper and Humphrey Bogart — those guys" are his favorite performers, he once said.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Michael Sragow, The Baltimore Sun | June 11, 2011
Morgan Freeman believes that actors are the key figures in movies — the ones who make characters grab audiences by the lapels and invade their dreams. He thinks movies become classics when a star like Gary Cooper in "High Noon" pumps his own lifeblood between the lines until a written role becomes a living symbol, like Cooper's strong, righteous, heartrendingly weary Marshal Will Kane. "Gregory Peck and Gary Cooper and Humphrey Bogart — those guys" are his favorite performers, he once said.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Chris Kaltenbach and Chris Kaltenbach,Sun Movie Critic | June 17, 2001
The American Film Institute calls it a list of the "100 greatest American thrillers." But it might as well call them the 100 greatest American movies-that-aren't-comedies. The list, unveiled last week during a three-hour special on CBS, ranged from "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (No. 100) to "Psycho" (No. 1). And while it's always a treat to see snippets from so many films, and to listen to people talk about them (though I wonder what qualified Lucy Liu to be on camera almost as often as Steven Spielberg)
FEATURES
By Ann Hornaday and Chris Kaltenbach and Ann Hornaday and Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF | June 21, 1998
Now that the dust has settled, the American Film Institute's canonization of the "greatest 100 American movies of all time" has inspired a few random observations:United Artists - This studio was responsible for the most titles on the list - 18. Formed in 1919 by Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Sr. as a refuge from the predations of exploitative studios, UA stayed true to its mission throughout economic busts and booms...
NEWS
By LOS ANGELES TIMES | November 20, 2005
It's a Wonderful Life, E.T., Rocky and The Passion of the Christ are among the 300 candidates that the American Film Institute is asking more than 1,500 industry workers, critics and historians to choose from in selecting America's most inspiring movies for a TV special. The program, AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Cheers, follows on the heels of other AFI specials that paid tribute to film history's top comedies, stars and quotes, among other topics. It will be broadcast on CBS in June, saluting what AFI director Jean Picker Firstenberg described as "the films that inspire us, encourage us to make a difference and send us from the theater with a greater sense of possibility and hope for the future."
NEWS
By GREGORY KANE | July 26, 1998
FOR OVER A MONTH now, we've heard the litany of wailing and whining emanating from those who are livid that "The Birth of a Nation" was included on the American Film Institute's list of "100 Greatest American Films.""How dare they?" has been the typical response. The response is understandable. "Birth of a Nation" is probably the most racist film ever made. It ruthlessly stereotypes blacks, presents a distorted view of the Reconstruction era and suggests that the hang-'em-high types in the Ku Klux Klan were not the terrorist vermin they were, but actually heroes.
NEWS
July 3, 1998
Films we loveSINCE everyone else is compiling a favorite-films list -- spurred by the American Film Institute's survey to determine the top English-language films of all time -- members of the editorial department were polled, too.It turns out the view from the Ivory Tower isn't all that different from the way AFI members look at the cinema. For the record, the top Sun editorial department film favorites were:1. "Casablanca"2. "Citizen Kane"3. "The Godfather" (Part I)4. "High Noon"5. "Gone with the Wind"6.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Michael Sragow, The Baltimore Sun | January 14, 2011
The AFI Silver celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day each year with free screenings of "King: A Filmed Record … Montgomery to Memphis. " It's never been more pertinent. This year, at this moment, it provides a tonic for the soul. The movie delivers nuance and power simultaneously. Its central message is shaming, inspiring and stunning, all at once. When the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. urges his supporters to fight "physical force" with "soul force," his eloquence and tempered zeal can still bring you to your feet.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 2, 2010
Victor Fleming would top everyone's list of all-time greats if historians rated moviemakers for the star power they ignited instead of directorial mystique. Don't get me wrong: I think Fleming should score high in every way, mystique included. The longer I worked on my biography, "Victor Fleming: An American Movie Master," the more convinced I became of Fleming's unique gift for visual storytelling. But even if you don't see how the same robust talent powered accomplishments as different as "The Wizard of Oz" and "Gone With the Wind," you should be able to gauge the impact Fleming had on Hollywood by the performers he brought to peak stardom.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Michael Sragow, The Baltimore Sun | November 4, 2010
If you love hearing Martin Scorsese talk movies, don't miss "Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff. " Craig McCall's tip-top documentary centers on the cinematographer who turned Technicolor into an incomparably vivid and fluid palette with movies like "Pandora and the Flying Dutchman" and "The Barefoot Contessa. " (It plays at the AFI Silver at 2:45 p.m. Saturday and 8 p.m. Monday.) No one is more passionate than Scorsese at paying tribute to fellow artists like Cardiff and his most influential collaborators, the writing-directing-producing team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (aka "the Archers")
ENTERTAINMENT
By Michael Sragow, The Baltimore Sun | October 28, 2010
Forget the reigning image of Count Dracula as upscale lounge lizard. Cast off the dominant picture of homegrown vampires as sex-crazed or love-struck, mixed-up kids. F.W. Murnau's "Nosferatu" (1922) uses a fanged, hypnotic demon to throw a spell that follows you home from the theater and stays with you for days — and nights — on end. It's the evil-fairy godfather of all great horror movies. Seeing it on the AFI Silver's big screen at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Friday, with a live score by D.C.'s Silent Orchestra, is an experience that connoisseurs of the creepy should not pass up. They will savor every Transylvanian minute — and every minute set in the fictional town of Wisbourg, Germany, too. (If you can't make it, Kino has released the film in a splendid two-disc DVD edition.)
ENTERTAINMENT
By Michael Sragow, The Baltimore Sun | September 16, 2010
Robert Altman barged into the nation's consciousness during the Vietnam War era with the anti-war comedy "M*A*S*H" (1970), guiding a huge ensemble — with fresh stars like Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould — through freewheeling improvisations. The movie was set during the Korean War, but '70s audiences knew it was commenting on the bloody chaos of Vietnam. Seen today, in a new 35mm print at the AFI Silver Theatre, it remains uproarious and profound about the way human beings develop a tough humor and forge unexpected bonds to stay sane amid the human wreckage of combat.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Michael Sragow, The Baltimore Sun | August 5, 2010
If the directors get their hands on some magic editing scissors, Keith Chester's "The Skeptics: In A World of Their Own" and Jeff Krulik's "Heavy Metal Picnic," new movies about mid-'80s Maryland rock, will some day be a tight, hard-driving double-bill. Right now they're a couple of indelible curiosities playing Friday at different places: "Heavy Metal Picnic" at 9:30 p.m. at the AFI Silver and "The Skeptics: In a World of Their Own" at 7 p.m. at Creative Alliance 's Patterson Theater.
NEWS
By GREGORY KANE | June 24, 1998
Are Baltimore film fans more perspicacious than the gaggle of critics, filmmakers and other assorted "experts" selected by the American Film Institute to pick the 100 best American films? Maybe. Just maybe.Last week Sun film critic Ann Hornaday gave us both the AFI's list and Baltimore's list. Baltimoreans agreed with 65 AFI selections, but had the good sense and dignity to leave "Rocky" off their list. Who among the 1,500 AFI judges did Sylvester Stallone bribe to get his affront to the pugilistic sciences ranked 78 of 100?
FEATURES
By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | December 26, 2003
As anyone who's followed the Akira Kurosawa series at the Charles should know by now, this master Japanese filmmaker has too long been pegged as an artist of action and maker of epics. The final entry in the series - a restoration of Kurosawa's 1952 masterpiece Ikiru, known in English as To Live - should clinch the revival of his original reputation, not merely as a movie master but also as a virtuoso humanist. Here he uses multiple film and narrative techniques to dramatize, without tears, the plight of a dying city-government bureaucrat who looks for shreds of meaning in his family and profession.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Michael Sragow, The Baltimore Sun | July 1, 2010
This July 4th weekend the AFI Silver theater in Silver Spring hosts the brilliantly restored editions of "The Godfather" and "The Godfather Part II." In this dual masterpiece, director Francis Ford Coppola turns patriotic cliches on their head. But these movies are an apt cause for celebration on Independence Day. They epitomize American artists' freedom and vitality. The first speech we hear is an aggrieved Italian-American father, saying, "I believe in America. America has made my fortune."
ENTERTAINMENT
By Michael Sragow, The Baltimore Sun | May 20, 2010
It's fitting that Michael Caine is opening at the Charles in "Harry Brown" today, just when the AFI-Silver in Silver Spring is launching a mammoth retrospective for this astonishingly gifted and versatile actor. Caine has gone from his signature role as a Cockney womanizer in "Alfie" (an opening-day attraction at the AFI series) to playing Alfred the Butler for the screen's reigning vigilante, the Dark Knight. In "Harry Brown," he could be called a Cockney vigilante. But that label would be reductive because Caine is extraordinary at infusing this character with everything he's learned about life and death and art. He turns a graphic urban-terror film into the story of a man who refuses (in the poet Dylan Thomas' words)
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