Kirk Douglas dies at 103 years old

Actor Michael Douglas posted on Instagram that his father, Golden Age Hollywood star Kirk Douglas, died today at 103 years old, according to ABC News. Born Issur Danielovitch on December 9, 1916, in Amsterdam, New York, Douglas changed his name before enlisting in the Navy for World War II; he made his Broadway debut in a musical prior to the war, and after he was injured and discharged in 1944, he returned to acting. Nominated three times throughout his career, he was finally given an honorary Academy Award in 1996, the same year he suffered a stroke which impacted his speech.

Harvey Weinstein accuser testifies against disgraced film mogul in court

Thirty-four-year-old former actress Jessica Mann testified Friday that sixty-seven-year-old Harvey Weinstein assaulted her more than once after meeting her at a party in 2013, including raping her in a Manhattan hotel room, according to The Daily Beast. Weinstein, who dozed off repeatedly during Mann’s testimony, has pled not guilty to five criminal sexual charges, including three related to his alleged incidents with Mann, and two involving Miriam Haleyi, a former production assistant on Bravo’s Project Runway (2004-). Mann’s second day of testimony was cut short Monday after she burst into tears while reading an email to an ex-boyfriend from May 2014 wherein she first accused Weinstein of sexual assault.

Steven Soderbergh’s “Contagion” (2011) goes viral in wake of coronavirus outbreak

With the coronavirus breaking out from China, Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion (2011), a thriller about an apocalyptic epidemic, has been downloaded enough times to crack the top ten of the UK iTunes movie rental chart, ranking it alongside more recent hits, according to The Guardian. The deadly virus in the film also originates out of China because of a bat, as more than one Twitter user have pointed out. This example of “life imitating art” calls to mind the three-day conference the Pentagon hosted with Hollywood screenwriters and producers after the September 11 attacks to brainstorm possible worst-case scenarios for future atrocities.

How Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” (2019) succeeded globally

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Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite (2019) ranks alongside Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful (1997) and Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) as one of the most commercially successful international features in the United States. (Image Courtesy: The Daily Targum).

Thanks to a positive social media reaction, word-of-mouth recommendations, as well as the filmmaker’s niche audience, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite (2019) is the rare foreign release to become a hit in the United States, according to Rutgers University’s The Daily Targum. Set in contemporary South Korea, the conflict in the film arises between two families on opposite sides of the income gap and the ways in which prestige, money, and education pose as obstacles in the struggle for capitalistic status and prosperity. The thematic relevance of this narrative to viewers around the world, in addition to the praise the movie has garnered for its visuals and storytelling, have all contributed to its Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, with some critics calling it the greatest picture of the year.

Kobe Bryant’s Oscar-winning short film removed from website

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John Williams told the Los Angeles Times in 2017 Glen Keane’s Dear Basketball (2017) is “elegiac” without being “weepy.” (Image Courtesy: The Los Angeles Times).

After being briefly available online Monday, Glen Keane’s Kobe Bryant movie, Dear Basketball (2017), the winner of that year’s Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, has been taken down in the aftermath of the basketball star’s death, according to the Los Angeles Times. The five-minute picture is based off a poem Bryant wrote for the Players’ Tribune in November 2015 to announce his retirement, narrated by Bryant himself, scored by Oscar-winning composer John Williams, and animated by Keane, son of The Family Circus creator Bil Keane. A teaser trailer for the short will still be hosted on dearbasketball.com.

Pennsylvania composer to debut original score for classic silent films

Pennsylvania composer Kyle Simpson will debut original scores to two classic silent films (Georges Méliès’s A Trip to the Moon (1902) and The Kingdom of Fairies (1903)) Saturday at Carnegie Library and Music Hall, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Simpson, an assistant professor of music at Washington & Jefferson College who has performed professionally with the Glenn Miller Orchestra as well as Lew Soloff and Paquito D’Rivera, will play the scores live with his chamber orchestra and Pittsburgh’s Redline String Quartet. The Village Voice named A Trip to the Moon one of the hundred greatest films of the twentieth century.

Olivia Wilde directs short film starring Margaret Qualley, with cinematography by Matthew Libatique

Olivia Wilde’s Wake Up (2020), starring Margaret Qualley and with cinematography by frequent Darren Aronofsky collaborator Matthew Libatique, will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival over the coming days (trailer available from People magazine), according to IndieWire. Wilde and Qualley both had a breakthrough year in 2019, with Wilde directing Booksmart (2019) and Wilde appearing in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) as well as FX’s Fosse/Verdon (2019), and Libatique has been nominated for two Academy Awards. In Wake Up, Qualley plays Jane Doe, a woman forced to rediscover her humanity in an increasingly digital world.