Audrey Kupferberg | WAMC

Audrey Kupferberg

Film archivist Audrey Kupferberg says a black line can be seen at the edge of film, this is the audio.
Jackie Orchard / WAMC

On today’s 51%, we explore the world of film with archivist Audrey Kupferberg.

Audrey Kupferberg: Classic Fantasy-Romance Films

Jun 1, 2021
Audrey inspects a film
Orchard / WAMC

It’s springtime.  Alfred, Lord Tennyson was on the right track when he wrote, “In the spring a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of love.”  But I don’t think that process is limited to young men.  No matter a person’s age, gender, inclinations, most of us think about romance in the most imaginative of ways during the springtime.

Audrey Kupferberg: What's In A Title?

May 27, 2021
Audrey inspects a film
Orchard / WAMC

55 Steps.  What does that title mean to a potential viewer?  It really is amazing how many likeable films are pushed to the side because their titles are boring, meaningless, and don’t give a clue as to their content or topic. 

Audrey Kupferberg: News Of The World, Deadwood

May 18, 2021
Audrey Kupferberg
WAMC

The most recent film from Tom Hanks is a 21st Century Western called News of the World.  After a few months of limited availability, this film is now widely viewable on home devices.

Audrey Kupferberg: Masked And Anonymous

Apr 30, 2021
Audrey Kupferberg
WAMC

On May 24th, cultural icon Bob Dylan – and a huge number of his devoted fans all over the world, will celebrate his 80th birthday.  Since 1961, his talents for singing and composing have captivated audiences not only for their musicality, but also for their incredible impact as cultural and political protests.

Audrey Kupferberg: The Last Vermeer And King Of Thieves

Apr 21, 2021
Audrey Kupferberg
WAMC

So many films are based on true stories.  Most of the time, that hardly matters since the screenplays wind up being very far from the real-life events.  Often, what viewers cherish over strict retellings of history are entertaining stories which feature colorful characters.

Audrey Kupferberg: Martin Eden

Apr 15, 2021
Audrey Kupferberg
WAMC

Martin Eden, is an artfully-conceived Italian film that was released by Kino Lorber in late 2020 and is available on various formats, including streaming.  It’s based on a 1909 novel by Jack London, directed by Pietro Marcello, and stars Luca Marinelli.  It was shot on location in Naples, but it’s difficult to take in the various pleasing and unsightly districts of that city when Marinelli is on the screen.  This actor is captivating.  His deep blue eyes, slicked dark hair, and powerful squared features dominate the many scenes in which Marcello shoots him in close-up. 

Audrey Kupferberg: Beanpole

Apr 1, 2021
Audrey Kupferberg
WAMC

Beanpole or Dylda is a Russian feature film shot in St. Petersburg. It was theatrically released a little more than a year ago.  It is available for home-viewing on DVD and Blu-ray, as well as on MUBI on Prime Video and Prime Video itself.  It is the second feature directed by Kantemir Balagov, and he was still in his twenties when he co-wrote and helmed the production.  Beanpole takes place in Leningrad in 1945 at the tail-end and end of World War II. 

Audrey Kupferberg: Tenet

Mar 30, 2021
Audrey Kupferberg
WAMC

Tenet is the most recent film produced, written, and directed by Christopher Nolan.  It’s up for two Oscars, one for Best Achievement in Visual Effects and one for Best Achievement in Production Design.  At the age of fifty, Nolan has earned a slew of award nominations for his gifted, cerebral, sometimes nonlinear approach to filmmaking. 

Audrey Kupferberg: Christopher Plummer

Mar 26, 2021
Audrey Kupferberg
WAMC

Canadian actor Christopher Plummer died earlier this year at age 91.  He was celebrated in many parts of the world for his work on stage and in films.  Most performers would have hung up their acting shoes by their tenth decade.  Not Plummer.  According to my friend Lois Farber, a longtime Plummer enthusast, the actor was in discussion with Stratford Festival stage director Des McAnuff to film King Lear in Newfoundland.

Audrey Kupferberg: Bacurau

Mar 23, 2021
Audrey Kupferberg
WAMC

At the end of each year, former President Barack Obama shares a list of his favorite movies and TV shows.  On the 2020 film list are such popular titles as Mank, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Nomadland, and Let Him Go.  His list also included a few less touted films, such as the Brazilian feature Bacurau, written and directed by Kleber Mendonca Filho and Juliano Dornelles.  Being that this man of taste liked Bacurau, and being that it has been highly rated and awarded, I decided to give it a try.

Audrey Kupferberg: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Mar 19, 2021
Audrey Kupferberg
WAMC

One of Netflix’s popular films is Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, an abbreviated version of August Wilson’s 1982 play.  It stars Viola Davis as famous early 20th Century African-American blues singer Ma Rainey, and the late Chadwick Boseman as Levee Green, a young and ambitious member of her band.  Denzel Washington produced.  This is Boseman’s final role, and even though he was quietly going through cancer treatment during the production, he is an absolute powerhouse. The year of the action is 1927.  The circumstance is a recording session by Ma Rainey and her band, all men of color, in a Chicago studio run by white producers.

Audrey Kupferberg: "Ammonite" And "The Dig"

Mar 15, 2021
Audrey Kupferberg
WAMC

If ever there were two movies suitable for a double feature, they are the recent releases Ammonite and The Dig.  The Dig is a Netflix original and Ammonite is available from several sources on DVD and BluRay as well as streaming.

"13th" Teaches, Touches

Mar 2, 2021
Audrey Kupferberg
WAMC

Someone I know who works in the film industry once told me that if a movie or TV show doesn’t grab you in the first ten minutes, it probably will not grab you at all.  Recently, a number of Netflix and Amazon originals that have been listed among the most popular programs for streaming have not grabbed me.  After watching a couple episodes of such series as Bridgerton and Firefly Lane, I was not left wanting more.  Both are quality productions, the casting is terrific, but the stories are not innovative. Their themes remind me of the the paperback romance novels that were popular from the 1950s through the 1970s.  Harlequin books come to mind.  Barbara Cartland comes to mind, as well.

Audrey Kupferberg: Detective Shows

Feb 3, 2021
Audrey Kupferberg
WAMC

Some are cerebral.  Some are character-driven.  Some specialize in car chases.  The genre is known as criminal investigations, police procedurals, and just plain detective shows.  I find the best of them so entertaining, no matter the approach. 

Audrey Kupferberg: Elizabeth Is Missing

Jan 26, 2021
Audrey Kupferberg
WAMC

In early January, WMHT and other PBS stations ran a feature film from 2019 starring Glenda Jackson as part of their Masterpiece series.  It’s called Elizabeth Is Missing, and its available on DVD and streaming on PBS Passport.  Looking haggard at the age of 85, Jackson proves that her acting ability is in topnotch condition, even as her wrinkled face and scrawny physique show advanced age.  She embodies the lead character of Maud Horsham, a woman who is sinking, or has sunk, into dementia. 

Audrey Kupferberg: Mank

Jan 15, 2021
Audrey Kupferberg
WAMC

When it comes to films about Hollywood history, the more cynical the presentation, the more audiences relish them.  That concept has influenced the creation of Mank, a recent black-and-white arty release, written and directed by David Fincher and being streamed on Netflix.

Audrey Kupferberg
WAMC

Remember the old ad for chocolate bars:  Sometimes you feel like a nut; sometimes you don’t.  Well, that adage applies to films as well as candy.  Two recent quality films available for home viewing may well satisfy your craving, whichever that craving may be.

Audrey Kupferberg: Christmas Movies

Dec 23, 2020
Audrey Kupferberg
WAMC

Who doesn’t like a good Christmas movie?  If you look among the classics, you will find stories of romance, sprightly musicals, dramas of human error and redemption, fantastic tales of Santa and his elves, and family movies with happy resolutions.

Audrey Kupferberg: Jewish Soul BluRay

Dec 15, 2020
Audrey Kupferberg
WAMC

Kino Classics has just released a ten- film BluRay set of Yiddish language feature films.  The titles come from the heyday of Yiddish film production, the late 1930s.  When I first heard of the release, I assumed it featured the restorations of The National Center for Jewish Film at Brandeis University, but I was mistaken.  These are restorations completed by Serge Bromberg at Lobster Films, along with the Museum of Modern Art, the Deutsche Kinemathek, and the Fillmoteka Narodowa in Warsaw.

Audrey Kupferberg: "A Kid Like Jake" And "Freak Show"

Dec 9, 2020
Audrey Kupferberg
WAMC

Films and TV series about LGBTQ+ adults are not uncommon. Most are distributed with a mainstream audience in mind and are quite popular. The recently released feature film version of the Broadway revival of Mart Crowley’s play The Boys in the Band on Netflix is one example of a lively, evocative production centering around a small group of gay men in 1968. Crowley’s play was quite controversial when it opened off-Broadway pre-Stonewall riots when gays were closeted for the most part and shunned by many.

Audrey Kupferberg: The Life Ahead

Nov 30, 2020
Audrey Kupferberg
WAMC

It would take half this radio piece to explain all the awards that Sophia Loren has received over the decades.  Her film career in Italy and Hollywood blossomed in the 1950s when producer Carlo Ponti changed her name from Scicolone to Loren and redesigned her career.  They married in 1957.

Audrey Kupferberg: Mr. Jones

Nov 18, 2020
Audrey Kupferberg
WAMC

Born in Warsaw shortly after World War II, filmmaker Agnieszka Holland has had a prolific career writing and directing for film and television. Her parents were journalists who fought in the resistance.  She’ll be remembered for her works centering on the horrors of World War II, particularly Europa, Europa in 1990 and In Darkness in 2011.  She also directed several episodes of House of Cards.

Audrey Kupferberg: Lizzie And First Cow

Nov 10, 2020
Audrey Kupferberg
WAMC

The gruesome legend of Lizzie Borden has not faded from our popular culture, even after 108 years.  Remember the oft-quoted rhyme:  Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her father forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her mother forty-one. 

Audrey Kupferberg: Hamlet

Oct 29, 2020
Audrey Kupferberg
WAMC

I was just reading a book about an evil younger brother who conspires to destroy the life of his weaker older brother in order to seize the elder’s more powerful position. The child of the brother who has been destroyed speaks out, revealing the sins of the younger brother.  No, I wasn’t reading Hamlet; I was reading Mary Trump’s book, Too Much and Never Enough.

Audrey Kupferberg: Lon Chaney And Tod Browning

Oct 21, 2020
Audrey Kupferberg
WAMC

Halloween used to be the season for vintage horror films.  A favorite choice was Lon Chaney in The Phantom of the Opera or Bela Lugosi in Dracula.  But times have changed.  After all, there are so many newer, frightening movies being made with fast-paced action and sophisticated special effects that send chills down your spine.

Audrey Kupferberg: One Hundred Years Ago At The Movies

Oct 9, 2020
Audrey Kupferberg
WAMC

In thinking about the Spanish Flu pandemic that lasted approximately from the spring of 1918 to the summer of 1919, a crisis that appears to have begun in Kansas, not Spain, I am interested to read of its effect on the movie industry.  Richard Brody wrote a piece on this subject for the March 17 issue of the New Yorker magazine.

Audrey Kupferberg: The Photograph And The Public

Sep 29, 2020

Motion pictures take us in many different directions.  Through our viewing experiences, we see parts of the world to which we will never travel and meet people with eccentricities we will never otherwise encounter.  Sometimes a film will be about the places to which we have traveled and about people who are very much the same as ourselves or the folks in the next town over.  When done right, the characters and storylines in those films can be as engaging and at times even as explosive as more imaginative and exotic movies.

Audrey Kupferberg: The Trip to Greece And Happyish

Sep 25, 2020

The career of Oscar-nominated and BAFTA-winning actor/producer/writer Steve Coogan hit one of several high points a couple years ago with his interpretation of Stan Laurel, the great silent film comic, in his final years. Stan & Ollie is one of the few of Coogan’s most memorable projects on which he seemingly did not have creative control.  Among Coogan’s outstanding works—where he clearly had control as actor/producer/writer-- is Philomena from 2013, a drama about an elderly woman, played by Judi Dench, who seeks knowledge of the child she once bore and who was taken away while she was being held in a nightmarish convent. 

Audrey Kupferberg: The City Without Jews

Sep 15, 2020

The City Without Jews, an Austrian silent feature film from 1924, has been rediscovered and restored.  It is available for home viewing with a musical score on Blu-ray and DVD through Flicker Alley.  The title is a shocker, especially coming several years before Hitler’s rise to power and well more than a decade before the Holocaust.  But anti-Semitism didn’t originate with the Nazis; it’s ages old.  In this story, the Jewish population is expelled from a fictional version of Vienna.  The head councilor is warned ahead of time, “Abandon your project!  Inhumanity doesn’t make for good politics.”  Now, to my mind, that is a warning that has never grown stale.

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