July 31, 2004

A week of weeklies.

Experience has now confirmed the suspicion that a week on the rocky Adriatic coast beats a week at the keyboard, but even so, it's always a blast to come back knowing full well there'll be at least a few surprises lurking behind the bookmarks...

Tanner on Tanner Monday, day of the slicks:

Tuesday, NYC:


Wednesday, San Francisco: Cheryl Eddy on Manchurian, Johnny Ray Huston on Menahem Golan's The Apple and Nickie Huang on Harold and Kumar, all in the San Francisco Bay Guardian. And it's here where I blush appropriately.

Intimate Strangers Thursday, the three coasts:

Friday, and once again, the Nation allows only its subscribers to read Stuart Klawans.

Posted by dwhudson at 3:40 PM

Brisbane, Toronto, Venice.

Brisbane International Film Festival Matt Clayfield is blogging extensively and engagingly from the Brisbane International Film Festival

The line-up for the 61st Venice International Film Festival (September 1 - 11) has been unveiled; indieWIRE's Brian Brooks sorts through the "70 films and 19 digital pics, divided into five sections, curated for the first time by [Marco] Mueller." Filmmaker's Steve Gallagher has a few comments on the retro, "The Secret History of Italian Cinema. Kings of the Bs (1960 - 1980)." More immediate thoughts on the line-up in general from Filmbrain.

The Toronto International Film Festival (September 9 - 18) has announced a line-up of 24 docs, including the world premieres of Michael Tucker's Gunner Palace, George Butler's Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry (Time's photo essay), Ken Burns's Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson, Peter Raymont's Shake Hands With the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire, James D Stern and Adam Del Deo's The Year of the Yao and Don Boyd's Andrew and Jeremy Get Married. Turn once again to Steve Gallagher for more info and linkage for the full list.

And for more goings on elsewhere, check Wendy Mitchell's roundup in indieWIRE. She's everywhere.

Posted by dwhudson at 3:32 PM

Weekend shorts.

Woody Allen and Philosophy Xan Brooks sketches what Woody Allen's up to "at Ealing studios in west London, shooting a British romantic comedy with British money and a cast of homegrown talent." Fine, skim that, but here's something to bite into: An excerpt from Mark T Conrad's Woody Allen and Philosophy in Metaphilm in which he argues that there is a coherent and consistent position throughout the oeuvre: Life is "inherently and utterly meaningless":

What’s more, in the end Allen seems to tell us that, instead of discovering or creating real meaning and value (through relationships and artistic creativity, for example), all we can ever really hope to do is distract ourselves from, or deceive ourselves about, the meaninglessness of our lives, the terrifying nature of the universe, and the horrible anticipation of our own personal annihilation in death.

Well, back in the Guardian: Fergal Byrne offers brief background on five legendary films that were never completed:

In the Saturday Review, Richard Eyre on Brando and Andrew Pulver's adaptation of the week, David Cronenberg's Naked Lunch, and Ahdaf Soueif: "Is there, then, an 'Arab cinema' that makes sense when viewed as a whole? I'm not sure there is one as a discrete tradition that makes an original contribution to the form."

Bonus barely film-related Guardian click just because: Dave Eggers interviews David Cross.

Sight & Sound Nick James writes the rare Sight & Sound cover story that makes it online. Before Sunset, he argues, "surpasses even its predecessor as a sophisticated and mature piece of what [Richard] Linklater calls 'romance for realists'." Also in the August issue: Both Philip Kemp and Guido Bonsaver have pieces anticipating the Fellini retro at the National Film Theatre. And the reviews: Kemp on A Thousand Months, Ryan Gilby on Last Life in the Universe and David Jays on Memories of Murder.

In the tradition of its point-by-point guide to Mulholland Drive - thorough, dedicated, almost obsessively so, thank heavens - Salon offers Dan Kois's "Cliffs Notes" on Donnie Darko.

Jonathan Rosenbaum in the Chicago Reader:

DVDs are bringing about rapid and substantial changes in the way we consume movies, and in film culture itself.... We're rapidly approaching a time when anyone living anywhere in the world can theoretically enjoy access to the canon of world cinema once reserved for film students in world capitals like New York or Paris. But availability isn't everything: people need to know something exists before they can choose to see it. This is why I started writing a column called "Global Discoveries on DVD" for the Canadian quarterly Cinema Scope a year and a half ago. The things I've seen since I began monitoring the world market seem to me full of promise. I'll limit myself to citing a few examples from the past month or so.

Go take notes.

Scott Macaulay: "Producer Jeff Levy-Hinte (Thirteen, High Art, and the Venice-bound Mysterious Skin) wrote one of the most important articles Filmmaker has ever published in our current issue. Entitled 'The Digital Divide,' it's a trenchant and provocative attack on the intersecting political and lobbying efforts that comprise the MPAA's 'War on Piracy.'" And so, the magazine is making the article available for download as a PDF file.

Which musical number would you most like to live out? The cinetrix has chosen hers.

Fangoria's Darren Gross moderates a roundtable chat with Takashi Miike, Guillermo Del Toro and Eli Roth. Via the Movie Blog.

"There is a fine line between the auteur and the repetitious hack." Michael Agger argues the case against M Night Shyamalan in Slate while David Edelstein pans The Village.

Stephen Reid raises a thumb for Heidi Macdonald's Comic-Con blog, "The Beat," while brother Al writes a love letter to The Hitcher.


For the Sunday Times, Lawrence Grobel talks to Billy Bob Thornton about his quirks and John Russell Taylor surveys that Fellini retro at the NFT.

Jonathan Brown reports that "first-time director Kerry Conran has used a combination of computer graphics and old film footage to bring [Laurence Olivier] to life as the evil Dr Totenkopf" in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

Also in the Independent:

Cahiers du Cinema Filmbrain is slightly puzzled yet intrigued by Cahiers du Cinema's 1993 list of the 100 films that would constitute the perfect video collection.

"Who is the most important director currently working in film today? Why?" asks Shroom over Milk Plus. Suggestions are beginning to come in, too.

How wrong was it that Rocky won Best Picture in 1977? Aaron reminds you.

Jonathan Demme's remake of The Manchurian Candidate prompts not only a review from the New York Times's AO Scott, but also a backgrounder from Sharon Waxman, a column from Frank Rich and a profile of Meryl Streep from Jesse Green. Also: Charles McGrath profiles Spike Lee.

Roger Avary is hooked on The Ultimate Film Fanatic.

At Movie City News, where David Poland is sorting out the numbers of summer even as he looks forward to the Oscar race:

Gabriel Orozco Greg Allen tries to stamp out a ridiculous misconception about Spike Jonze and praises Juan Carlos Martin's doc, Gabriel Orozco.

Doug Cummings not only finds The Story of the Weeping Camel "exemplary," he's also surprised to find the latest issue of Film Comment worth dipping into.

George Fasel: "The Several Mr. Ripleys."

Kamera's brief book reviews: Colin Odell and Michelle Le Blanc on British Film Editors: The Heart of the Movie by Roy Perkins and Martin Sollery and John Atkinson on 100 American Independent Films by Jason Wood.

The Cinecultist recommends Craig Seligman's Sontag & Kael.

Vince Keenan knows how to wrap up a trip to NYC,

Via Greg Pak, Bad Culture's roundup of news related to the Richmond Organization's efforts to put a stop to one of Blogistan's #1 Flash hits, "This Land"; the Org owns the copyright to Woody Guthrie's song but has evidently never actually listened to it.

Online viewing tip. The 2004 SXSWeb finalists. Voting ends August 2.

Also, via Cinemocracy, Will Ferrell reprises and updates his George W Bush.

Another one. (It's been a while, right?) The trailer for Ong Bak, via drew, who has decreed that Phanom Yeerum (aka Tony Jaa) is "the new king of delivering industrial-size cans of whupass."

Posted by dwhudson at 3:29 PM

July 29, 2004

Summer Reading 04. 4.

Stanley Kubrick
In 1968, when Stanley Kubrick was asked to comment on the metaphysical significance of 2001: A Space Odyssey, he replied: "It's not a message I ever intended to convey in words. 2001 is a nonverbal experience.... I tried to create a visual experience, one that bypasses verbalized pigeonholing and directly penetrates the subconscious with an emotional and philosophic content." The philosophy behind Part I borrows from this line of thinking: from the opening sequence of Killer’s Kiss to the final frames of Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick’s complete films will be presented chronologically and wordlessly via frame enlargements. A completely nonverbal experience.

Alison Castle in an update on the forthcoming book, The Stanley Kubrick Archives.

Also from Castle and TASCHEN: How the publisher will handle the publication of Kubrick's works-in-progress, including a facsimile of the screenplay for Napoleon, "which is not only an excellent piece of screenwriting but is also a beautiful object, typed on Kubrick’s favorite typewriter, a rare German model whose letters are distinctively large and rounded."

Explore TASCHEN's Reading Room, which includes Paul Duncan's prelude to Stanley Kubrick: Visual Poet 1928 - 1999.

Posted by dwhudson at 12:15 PM | Comments (2)

July 28, 2004

Summer Reading 04. 3.

Makhmalbaf and I once had an argument in Chicago in which he said I was too interested in politics and not interested enough in poetry, and I said that to be interested in poetry was a political position, especially in America.... I do think the main lesson the Iranian cinema has taught the world is ethical. It’s the most ethical cinema, and it also teaches us how to make films with simplicity of means.... If Bazin were still alive he would love Iranian films.

"Jonathan Rosenbaum: A life at the movies," an interview by Lorena Cancela at Otrocampo.com.

Further delving: "A Brief Critical History of Iranian Feature Film (1896 - 1975)," Reza Talachian. Frankly, it's not all that brief. More recently: "Iranian Cinema: Art, Society and the State," Ziba Mir-Hosseini.

Posted by dwhudson at 3:32 PM


Thanks to the editors at the San Francisco Bay Guardian for giving the GreenCine Daily the rather unique Best Up-to-the-Minute Resource for Movie Maniacs award (scroll all the way towards the bottom) in its new Best of the Bay 2004 issue. All the kudos goes, very deservedly, to my colleague David Hudson. Hopefully, he'll blush appropriately when he returns.

Posted by cphillips at 1:46 PM

July 27, 2004


From Film Comment comes a note about a film they're quite taken with: "Not since Richard Linklater's Slacker has a film so captured the experience of post-higher education limbo, when everyone is terrified of making commitments to a job or a mate, than Andrew Bujalski's Funny Ha Ha. Having built a dedicated following through festival and college circuit screenings, the film has now earned a slot on the Sundance Channel for the rest of July and August." Amy Taubin interviews the filmmaker on Film Comment's site.

Quick tip: Steve Ericksen's fine interview with Los Angeles Plays Itself filmmaker Thom Anderson. My favorite moment is Anderson's revelation that the movie he most regretted not including [in the documentary] is Fast Times At Ridgemont High, "which is one of my favorites." Mine, too.

Here's your "What the F___" moment for today: Ralph Nader demands that Michael Moore lose weight. Perhaps, the "giant beach ball" could throw some of his weight around to Nader.

Posted by cphillips at 11:54 AM | Comments (5)

Summer Reading 04. 2.

Cassavetes: Five Films Come fall, after we've all had our flings and the cooler breezes are clearing our heads, not only will movies for adults and Oscar hopefuls return to the theaters (though you have to admit that this summer hasn't been as juvenile as others), but it'll also be the season of events, retrospectives and so on. And one of the big events will be Criterion's release of five films by John Cassavetes, an accompanying doc, the works, which will surely be accompanied by longish pieces in the usual papers and magazines and so forth. But time could well be taut in the autumn, so you might want to get a head start now.

You can, of course, dive right into Boston University prof Ray Carney's site, especially since he's been shut out of the Criterion package (more on that here), or, if you're feeling not quite so adventurous or are even already a bit pressed for time, a few alternative overviews for quicker studies:

  • Tim Applegate in the Film Journal.
  • Acquarello's reviews at his exquisite site, Strictly Film School.
  • Jason Wood in kamera.co.uk.
  • Senses of Cinema offers a plethora of options, particularly since the centerpiece of 2001's Issue 16 is a seven-article spotlight on Cassavetes, opening perfectly with Adrian Martin's sharp intro; other issues have featured pieces on various aspects of Cassavetes's work, articles such as Pamela Robertson Wojcik's paper on performance and Needeya Islam's interview with George Kouvaros.

Posted by dwhudson at 11:50 AM

July 26, 2004

Summer Reading 04. 1.

Being There

Although Being There is over 30 years old, it is eerily pertinent to the current political scene. Only in one respect was Kosinski's prophecy too cautious. Writing during the reign of the uncharismatic, unphotogenic, yet canny and intelligent President Nixon, Kosinski was apparently unable to imagine Chance as a sitting president.... George W Bush is a simulation, a virtual figure upgraded from a prototype like that of Chance the Gardener. I am not interested in George W Bush's corporeal being but rather in his flatness and in the way that his obvious deficiencies are "spun" by supposedly disinterested media pundits. Bush's estrangement from the real - evident in his unfamiliarity with geography, history, ordinary English syntax and semantics, and a fund of common knowledge - stems from his own lack of reality. George W Bush does not exist.

Carol V Hamilton, "George W Bush as Presidential Simulacrum," CTHEORY, July 13, 2004.

Posted by dwhudson at 10:38 AM | Comments (3)

July 23, 2004

4-Star shorts (weekend edition).


"Since 1992, my wife and I have operated the independent Movie Theatre, located at 2200 Clement St. in San Francisco's inner Richmond district. We built this theatre from scratch. When the lease was signed in 1992, the theatre was an empty shell with no seats, projection equipment, curtains, screen, etc. Now, after 12 years of hard work, the theatre is a destination for many people seeking international and independent films, martial arts movies, first-run Asian films, or other cult classics. Recently we have also started screening first-run Hollywood features. The theatre has been serving the community for over 10 years. As many of you may or may not know, our lease expires next May of 2005."

That's a letter from Frank Lee, owner and operator of the 4-Star Theater in San Francisco, and essentially the last real place to see first-run Hong Kong flicks in SF. If this makes you sad and wistful, as it does me, you should go to the Save the 4Star site to read the rest of Lee's plea, and to do what you can to help them save it. The one bit of good news is that, regardless of what happens with the 4-Star, Lee will be running the Presidio Theater in San Francisco, another endangered single-screen venue in a land of megaloplexes.

The 12th annual UCLA Festival of Preservation just opened and runs for the next month. It's an incredible line-up, and what sticks out to me in particular is "radical scavenger" Emile deAntonio's (our second mention of him this week) In the Year of the Pig, which is one of the finest anti-war docs ever made, about Vietnam but just as timely now, and normally extremely hard to find or see. It screens on July 31st. If you're in the LA area, don't miss it. (Thanks to Matt Langdon for the tip!)

Columbia Home Entertainment landed domestic DVD distribution rights to Fahrenheit 9/11, ending any hopes one may have had for an irony-filled Disney pick-up. Actually, according to Video Business magazine, Lions Gate put up the closest fight, but Harvey Weinstein's previous relationship with Columbia (see: Dogma controversy, 1999; in fact, for extra amusement, see some of the hate letters on Kevin Smith's site) helped cement a deal. No word yet on a date, but getting it out in October, so Moore can have it out before The Big Election, will be a bit of a challenge, alas. (Moore, of course, wants bonus features, news footage that will bring up rights issues, and so on.)

R.I.P., Jerry Goldsmith. His score for Chinatown remains one of the finest ever. (Not to mention Patton, and Gremlins.)

I still think Pokemon causes seizures, but apparently the case is weakening.

Moderately challenging quiz: The Guardian (UK) asks: How well do you know these transatlantic adaptations?

Margaret Cho was talking about injustices of law -- namely Damien Echols and Martha Stewart, while praying for David Bowie -- but now she's got a more personal injustice to talk about, after being uninvited from performing at the Unity event in Boston. Another left-leaning lady to fall prey to the "let's play it safe" mentality so in at the moment. Oh well, more fodder for a future Cho act.

If the reviews for Catwoman aren't as bad as (I/you) expected, it's only because I/you expected [insert cat-related pun here]. As is, they're pretty bad, and the summary in The Village Voice is a handy recap of how bad the fur has been flying, and the terrible feline puns along with it. The Voice itself, among many other papers, said "Berry coughs up a hairball." But The East Bay Express (aka, syndicated New Times critics) said "there's plenty to like" and that we'll "get pussy galore." Ouch. Should we call in PETA? Still, Halle Berry+catsuit+whips= [fill in the blank].

For something completely different, Filmbrain continues the praise for Maria Full of Grace.

From Wired: Outfoxed is number one on Amazon and the latest cinematic excuse for a political house party.

Woody Allen's latest, Melinda and Melinda, will open the San Sebastian Film Festival in September. Chloe Sevigny and Will Ferrell(!) are in the mix of slightly more indie-than-usual castmembers.

Note: in David Hudson's absence (taking a much-deserved vacation for a week) followed by my own almost-as-much-deserved break, the GreenCine Daily will be a bit less...voluminous over the next few days. But we'll still be here. Look for a report on the ComicCon convention next week, some summer reading bits and other goodies.

Posted by cphillips at 11:53 AM

July 22, 2004

Shorts, 7/22.

The Manchurian Candidate Austin Chronicle editor Louis Black has known Jonathan Demme for years. "Especially after the disastrous reception of [The] Truth [About Charlie], I didn't believe it when I heard that Demme was remaking The Manchurian Candidate," he writes, but Demme asked him to take a look at the screenplay and send comments. "Warning him that I am notorious for totally missing the director's film in the version I saw in my head as I read, I agreed. During the next 8 months I wrote more than 20,000 words of notes..." And a selection follows, right on up to a final note to Demme after Black has seen a near-final cut. For all his previous reservations, he concludes, "This is an MC for our time."

Also in the AC:

The Philadelphia City Paper blurbs its picks for the second and final week of the Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

I, Fatty Steve Mikulan talks to Jerry Stahl about his novel, I, Fatty: "I wanted to make the story less about the mechanics of show business and more about the core weirdness that went into the inception of the whole strange phenomenon that is Hollywood." Also in the LA Weekly: Walter Chaw on Zatoichi, Joe Donnelly on The Bourne Supremacy and Ella Taylor on A Home at the End of the World.

Scott Thill introduces his interview with Alan Moore:

The funny thing is that Alan Moore hates to talk about film and television, because, as he explains later in our interview, both "have a lot to answer for." He's not talking about how they've distilled his densely researched, intricate tales of socio-historical interrogation, like From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, into narrowcasted popcorn movies. Instead, he means the way they've had such an impact on human consciousness that many people were only able to articulate the horrific reality of 9/11 by comparing it to a disaster film.

Alan Moore: Voice of Fire Just one clip from Moore:

We always win our wars in the movies, and I think there are people raised on war movies who thought that was what real war was going to be like, that once the cameras stopped rolling, all the people who were killed would be able to get up and carry on with their lives. It's a shame that we seem to need one of these things every generation just to teach a very simple lesson: War never accomplishes anything. It's never going to look good in the history books. People are never going to look back and think, "He started a lot of wars; what a great leader he was!" That's not the way it works. God knows how many more of these things we're going to need before it starts to sink in.

Also in Salon: Cintra Wilson goes on and on about Chris Penn.

Ramona Diaz's Imelda has opened "to packed houses" in Manila despite Marcos's best efforts. John Aglionby reports in the Guardian. Also: Brian Whitaker on Control Room and Xan Brooks and Sean Clarke "suggest a few other classics that might benefit from a 'Nine Years Later' sequel" à la Before Sunset.

The New York Times's Laura M Holson recaps the Superman saga: "Since Warner began developing a remake of the successful comic-book franchise in 1993, it has spent nearly $10 million in development, employed no fewer than 10 writers, hired four directors and met with scores of Clark Kent hopefuls without settling on one." Plus: DreamWorks's animation division IPO.

At Movie City News, Leonard Klady recalls how movies have shaped his life, and then:

There's no question that the American film industry has dominated world screens through a combination of business acumen, technical and storytelling skill, opportunity, luck and bullying. The disparity of resources between the U.S. and other filmmaking nations is a far wider chasm than in any other equivalent business or military competition. That's alarming because as a means of communicating between nations it turns the conversation into a virtual monologue.

Then, via MCN, an audio file, (5 megs, .mov), in which Larry Wachowski talks about the Matrix series, and an online browsing tip: the results of a Worth1000 Photoshop contest: "The premise is simple: Take any movie title and turn it into an image that depicts that title."

Posted by dwhudson at 4:43 AM | Comments (2)

July 21, 2004

Shorts, 7/21.

Factotum Ah, frittering the day away as an extra. Anyone who ever has knows it's a profoundly absurd exercise in endurance - how much boredom can you possibly stand? - but it's also usually the source of a good tale or two after it's all over. Paul Demko has one. Norwegian director Bent Hamer has been filming an adaptation of Charles Bukowski's Factotum in the Twin Cities Demko, once found out as a journalist, scores a chat with producer Jim Stark, who "explains that Los Angeles, where much of Factotum actually takes place, now lacks sufficiently skuzzy bars and factories to create the proper visual backdrop. (Potential new slogan for the state film board: 'Minnesota: Sleazy Enough for Bukowski!')"

Also in the City Pages: Matthew Wilder files an excellent and raucous report on the "Blaxploitation: Misnomer and Misunderstood" panel at the recent Los Angeles Film Festival and raises a few pertinent questions such as, "When the fuck did this guy [Elvis Mitchell] become Dave Chappelle?" And:

Has no one noticed that King Arthur - funded by Disney at a cost of more than $100 million - is the biggest Hollywood movie ever directed by an African American? Has no one peeked past the movie's surface to notice that what at first blush might seem like boilerplate Bruckheimer (Hans Zimmer's score providing its usual Enya-esque ululation) is actually an anticolonial, antiracist spaghetti Western on par with Franco Solinas's A Bullet for the General?

The Japan Times's Mark Schilling reviews Steamboy (four out of five stars) and interviews director Katsuhiro Otomo. Via The Movie Blog.

"Bollywood, you can do better." Priya Lal explains in PopMatters that, while she certainly doesn't side with the right-wingers protesting Girlfriend for its depiction of a lesbian relationship, the film itself is "disabling" rather than "empowering."

In the New York Times:

Premiere: Night Watch

  • Erin E Arvedlund reports on an upset that's rare but vital: a film made outside the US that's dominating its local market. This time the market is Russia and the film is Night Watch.
  • The unwritten question lurking behind nearly every sentence of Sharon Waxman's piece: How much damage will Catwoman do to Halle Berry's career?
  • Dave Kehr: "Thanks to Make a Wish, lesbians now have a slasher film they can call their own."

Let's hope "In a world..." is not one of Margery Doppelt's. She writes narration for trailers, poster copy, that sort of thing, and is keeping a diary in Slate.

Like Sheila Whitaker, Nick Broomfield was a member of the jury for the Ramallah International Film Festival and writes about the experience in the Guardian. Broomfield sets the scene more effectively; it's rare that a report from a film festival is so disturbing. Also: Dan Glaister on the Linda Ronstadt brouhaha, which has sparked an open letter to Aladdin Casino prez Bill Timmins from Michael Moore.

The Video Software Association Show in Vegas is no longer a high-flying affair, reports Gary Dretzka for Movie City News, but: "The vacuum was filled this year by what appeared to be a new emphasis on high-quality niche product, including the sort of independent, foreign and documentary films art-house buffs have been clamoring for since the [DVD] format emerged seven years ago."

Also: David Poland on Outfoxed and, via MCN, producer Don Murphy, ranting wildly and entertainingly about "entertainment journalists, and I use that term very, very loosely." Plus: Reuters's Joelle Diderich listens to JT LeRoy defend Asia Argento's adaptation of his story collection, The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things.

In the Independent:

  • John Walsh on One for the Road, "by some way the sourest, most authentically crapulous treatment I've seen of the demon drink.... This seems a little odd, given the complex, long-standing love affair that Hollywood has always conducted with drunks."
  • Jonathan Romney: "If one person can be held responsible for ushering in the age of credit titles, that honour surely falls to New York-born graphic designer Saul Bass (1920-1996), the subject of an exhibition that has just opened at London's Design Museum."
  • Bob Guccione Jr on The Stepford Wives: "This is a uniquely American film.... It comes from a sexual-moral conflict that no one except perhaps the Taliban shares: the desire for better, more exciting sex and a more comfortable attitude to sexual relationships, and the ingrained guilt that such pleasure must be a sin."
  • And via MCN, Sheila Johnston listens to Peter Weir and Jane Campion give master classes at the Taormina Film Festival. Good stuff that wraps with Campion's "10-point guide to working with actors."

The New York Observer's Joe Hagan talks to Carl Cameron, chief political correspondent for Fox News, who is, naturally, not very happy about Outfoxed.

In the San Francisco Bay Guardian:


NP Thompson turns in an early review of Jonathan Demme's The Manchurian Candidate: "In lieu of any cogent political argument to make, Demme coasts on making a mad scientist movie, and even on this count, he and his accomplices fall flat."

Much has been made of how the DVD, combined with the relatively low costs of digital production, are forging new means of distribution, particularly within nichified networks which are, in turn, made sleeker and more efficient by the Net. The prime example at hand, of course, would be the recent series of political docs by Robert Greenwald and his cooperation with organizations such as MoveOn.org. But here's an interesting development: Haydn Reiss, project director for Magnolia Films (not Magnolia Pictures), is issuing a call for financial help to complete a doc with the working title "How Democrats and Progressives Can Win: Solutions from George Lakoff." This could go all sorts of places and in all sorts of genres.

Online viewing tip. "Pizza," a Flash short from the ACLU via Greg Gilpatrick.

Posted by dwhudson at 8:02 AM | Comments (5)

July 20, 2004

reverse shot. Summer 04.

Richard Linklater Oh, my. If you check in only semi-regularly, you'll know that Richard Linklater is held in extremely high regard around here. And now, thanks to the cinetrix, I see that the summer issue of reverse shot features a symposium to wallow in. The introduction absolutely nails the sense of dawning realization - this is a filmmaker whose works many of us have always felt a personal kinship with even as we unwittingly underrated the cumulative power of what turns out to have been both a seemingly accidental and surprisingly cohesive oeuvre - a realization hammered home by Before Sunset. Well, the editors' intro says it better; it's relatively short, too. Read it.

Next up, Michael Koresky and Jeff Reichert's lengthy interview, wherein the tone is pretty much set when Linklater says, "The truth will only be told over a career."

The symposium itself is comprised of mostly short pieces on each of the films, one each, except for Before Sunset, which gets four, and Dazed and Confused, which receives two highly personal love letters.

And that's just the meat and potatoes. The trimmings make this an incredibly strong issue: Vicente Rodriguez-Ortega interviews Christopher Doyle and Ken Chen reviews Hero; Andrew Tracy interviews Thom Anderson and reviews Los Angeles Plays Itself; and there are reviews of eleven films and a DVD.

Posted by dwhudson at 3:28 PM | Comments (3)

Shorts, 7/20.

Brother to Brother LA's Outfest award-winners have been announced. Brother to Brother picked up three; Girl Play, two.

Wendy Mitchell files that report from Karlovy Vary we've been waiting for: "By most accounts, this year's competition films were stronger than recent years, and popular sidebars included the Ten Best Turkish Films, a Tribute to John Cassavetes, and a number of films by Iranian director Samira Makhmalbaf and doc legend Albert Maysles (who both made the trek to the festival). Of course, regional fare was also prominent." And according to Planet Bollywood, the entry from India, Rituparno Ghosh's Raincoat, was just right for the weather, too.

Back to indieWIRE: Anthony Kaufman reports on a slew of docs that are covering campaigns this election year. He also asks Austrian filmmaker Barbara Albert about her feature, Free Radicals. Among the answers: "You live and you die. That's it. There's really nothing more that you can say. You have to deal with it and accept it. And it doesn't make me sad or angry anymore."

And Eugene Hernandez previews LA's Don't Knock the Rock fest.

In the Village Voice:

Tom Hall is rather shaken by a recent episode of Six Feet Under, "one of the most cinematic pieces of TV I have ever seen."


"Peep "TV" Show is clearly one of the most controversial films of 2004, and Filmbrain hopes it has the chance to reach a wider audience.

In the New York Press:

  • Armond White on I, Robot: "It's a pretend-clever idea to have a black performer act out police prejudice." And A Home at the End of the World: "Another Michael Cunningham adaptation that, like The Hours, parallels gay political oppression with feminist frustration, mixing literary pretense with soapsuds."
  • Matt Zoller Seitz on The Bourne Supremacy, "darker, wiser and more focused than its predecessor." And Maria Full of Grace: "The temptation to overdo things - to push for 'powerful' moments - must have been awfully seductive. Luckily, Marston resisted."
  • Saul Austerlitz reviews an odd pair, though it surely wasn't planned as one: Andrew Hoskins's Televising War: From Vietnam to Iraq and the "Passion, Pornography and Partnership" series at Makor.

Paul Krugman dreams up his own remake: "The Arabian Candidate." Also in the New York Times: AO Scott reviews Outfoxed.

Now, here's an interesting take on Robert Greenwald's doc: A transcript of the July 17 edition of Fox News Watch. The segment on Outfoxed is sandwiched between two others. First, the pundits debate the question of whether or not the "media" "want" Kerry to win; and in the final segment, you've got your tidbits: the family of a major killed in Kuwait who's pissed at Michael Moore; another with a priceless headline - "Al-Jazeera Says It Will Be More Fair, Balanced" - one on AIDS coverage that ends on an unsurprising refrain - "The most successful anti-AIDS program on the African continent is by President Museveni of Uganda. It's abstinence. It's getting under covered." - and viewer mail. But there in the middle is this, from Newsday's Jim Pinkerton, on Outfoxed: "The most insightful commentary on this whole documentary was by Tina Brown of the Washington Post who said, 'Look, the real secret to FOX is energy and passion.' And I think that she is auditioning for her own job, because she could do a much better job running CNN or MSNBC than the people they've got now."

Movie City News passes along a press release from IFC announcing that Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, the team behind American Splendor, will be making Wanderlust, a doc on "road movies and how they have influenced - and reflected - American society."

Hunter S Thompson.jpg Film Threat's Eric Campos asks Wayne Ewing what it's like making a doc about Hunter S Thompson.

Reporters on the media beat are going to keep writing this story until it finally comes true: TiVo and similar services, plus VOD in all it various forms, will change the way we watch TV, dammit. Thing is, there's no denying it. It's just taking a while. At any rate, Lisa DiCarlo's version in Forbes is a succinct update if you haven't been paying attention.

In Artnet Magazine, Phyllis Tuchman explores the strands in Cindy Sherman's mid-70s work that eventually led to the Untitled Film Stills.

Online viewing tip. "Pilot," the ad Glassworks has created for Stella Artois.

Posted by dwhudson at 3:25 PM

July 19, 2004

Shorts, 7/19.

The Manchurian Candidate Not only is Newsweek wild about the iPod, it's pretty excited about Jonathan Demme's remake of The Manchurian Candidate as well. Sean Smith talks to the major players - Denzel Washington, very briefly, since he doesn't seem to have a whole lot to say about the film, at least not to Newsweek; Demme, of course ("I don't think there's anything more farfetched about this than what we're reading in newspapers today"); and Meryl Streep, who not only says many smart things but has many smart things said about her throughout the piece.

Smith also outlines the story behind each version, though Joe Leydon writes to point out that Smith gets a few things wrong regarding the background of John Frankenheimer's original: The film premiered in New York "two days after President Kennedy publicly announced details of the ongoing Cuban Missile Crisis. And, trust me, it aired on network TV long after the JFK assassination." What's more, the film wasn't locked away for political reasons or out of fear of offending the nation. As Frankenheimer told Terry Gross in 1990 (and that's a fine listen; a mere 16 minutes or so), though it was Frank Sinatra who made the film possible in the first place, it was the studio's contract with him that made it financially unfeasible to keep it out there until rights finally reverted back to Sinatra. More background: Louis Menand in the New Yorker and, if you don't mind paying for it, J Hoberman in the New York Times; both pieces ran last September. Also, The Complete Review takes on Greil Marcus's take; reviewing the book for kamera.co.uk, Adrian Gargett was more appreciative.

Well, meanwhile, there's David Ansen's review. Very thumbs up. Curiously, both he and Smith find the remake resonates deeper and broader in the wake of Fahrenheit 9/11. We'll see.

The Guardian's Stephen Bates talks to Mark Pinsky, author of The Gospel According to Disney: Faith Trust and Pixie Dust, who points out that not only is God pretty much missing in all the studio's films, Disney "has quietly subverted the Christian gospel by substituting some decidedly unchristian themes: belief in the power of magic, that good people are handsome, and that what you wish for really can come true. 'The Gospel of Disney is all about me,' Pinsky writes. 'My dreams. My will.'" An American gospel, then, as opposed to a Christian one.

Also in the Guardian:

Red Desert

Red Desert

Is this the shape of the art-house cottage industry in the very near future? Anne Thompson lays out plans drawn up by partners Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban: "[Wagner] envisions producing low-budget digital movies through his HDNet Films, releasing them through his specialty-film distributor, Magnolia Pictures, projecting them on Landmark screens, selling them on DVD in Landmark theaters and broadcasting them on HDNet Movies, one of two high-definition television networks run by Mr. Cuban." Also in the New York Times: Melanie Warner reports on all the good things Spider-Man has done for Marvel Enterprises.

Yasmine El-Rashidi has a piece in Al Ahram Weekly on demonstrations by Egyptian Copts sparked by Osama Fawzi's Bahib Al-Sima (I Love Cinema): "The result is one which has been seen numerous times in recent years: an artist who is essentially criminalised." Also via Perlentaucher: Grover Lewis's portrait (in Spanish) of Timothy Carey in Radar; Lewis's interview with Carey ran (in English) earlier this year in Film Comment.

Eugene Hernandez writes that New Yorkers are have a grand ol' time second-guessing the future of Miramax; also: How will the Buried Secret fiasco reflect on My Architect director Nathaniel Kahn's credibility?

Roger Ebert is on a roll. Metaphilm gets a kick - nay, two kicks! - out of his recent reviews of I, Robot and A Cinderella Story while Movie City News points to the latest addition to the "Great Movies" collection: Out of the Past.

Will Baum has begun posting scenes of a screenplay - The Wrong Ones - as blog entries.

Rejoice, for the cinetrix is back, if only fleetingly, and flush with pointers all of a sudden, to a Boston area series of films with presidents, for example, and a top ten you can't help but sample until you realize you've read the whole damn thing: Traci Lords's.

Online browsing tip. Peter Strausfeld's wood and lino-cut film posters. Via Matt Langdon.

Posted by dwhudson at 8:00 AM | Comments (3)

July 18, 2004

Filmmaker. Summer 04.

Filmmaker No, the cover story on The Motorcycle Diaries isn't online, but there's already plenty out there on the movie. What you will find online are the features that make Filmmaker unique, starting with the annual round-up of "25 New Faces of Indie Film, complete with contact info for each. The theme this year seems to be "improvisation," that is, indie filmmakers busting the boundaries of usual job descriptions.

One of the "New Faces" in 2002 was Joshua Marston, who went on to direct Maria Full of Grace. Michael Koresky talks to him, and of course, this is not run-of-the-mill celeb profile stuff; because this is Filmmaker, Koresky and Marston actually talk about the making of the film. The same holds true for Andy Bailey's talk with Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky about the making of Metallica: Some Kind of Monster and Edward Boyce's interview with Chris Kentis regarding the Mini DV flick Open Water. Production budget: $130,000; publicity, of course, will be many, many times that.

Dozens of truly independent projects are introduced in a variety of ways. Tamara Krinsky, for example, covers the ten supported in part by Filmmaker's Fast Track program, Mary Glucksman takes a look at six more and Anthony Kaufman explores a growing gap in NYC indie production: the "middle class of indies (roughly from $750,000 to under $2 million).

David Adler looks back at Toronto's Hot Docs fest, Graham Leggat introduces the mobile game Pax Athletica and Peter Bowen reminds us that Jefff Scher is making animated portraits.

And then there's the magazine's counterpart to, say, Artforum's top ten, the "Super 8."

Posted by dwhudson at 6:06 AM

Weekend shorts.

Gong Li's career is finally about to enjoy a second wind, hopes G Allen Johnson.

The Rosenbergs

Also in the San Francisco Chronicle: Ruthe Stein talks to Ivy Meeropol about Heir to an Execution, the doc she's made about her grandparents, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

At the Movie Blog, Bubba has good long chat with Colin Geddes, who programs the Midnight Madness series at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Donnie Darko Coincidentally, the New York Times has also given the title "The Resurrection of Donnie Darko" to its piece on the director's cut, which sees limited release this coming Friday. And Robert Levine also talks to that director, Richard Kelly, but we've given Sean Axmaker a little more space, a little more time.

Also in the NYT:

  • An editorial chastises Hollywood for taking the easy way out in movies like I, Robot: technophobia.
  • Ilias Yocaris on Harry Potter: "The underlying message to young fans is this: You can imagine as many fictional worlds, parallel universes or educational systems as you want, they will still all be regulated by the laws of the market."
  • "Six months after the Super Bowl, writers, producers and network executives are in a state of confusion about what they are allowed to say and show on television." And the cost of crossing the line that hasn't yet been defined could rise to $3 million a day, reports Scott Robson. Related: Kate Aurthur on TV's "most persistent taboo," abortion.
  • Caryn James is betting that Colin Farrell, already large, is about to become huge.
  • Frank Rich: "No sooner do we rejoice at the demise of much of the 70's cultural detritus lampooned in Anchorman, from polyester leisure suits to unembarrassed on-camera sexism, than we start wondering if TV news may be even more farcical now than it was then."
  • Sylviane Gold, briefly, on Free Radicals.

Ray Pride's review at Movie City News of Outfoxed mentions David Brock's site, Media Matters for America, and heavens, if you're following coverage of Robert Greenwald's doc, there's quite a collection.

Then, via MCN, Claudia Eller and Richard Verrier's update in the Los Angeles Times on the Miramax-Disney rumble.

Does buying a pirated DVD help fund terrorism? Not exactly, reports Duncan Campbell. Also in the Guardian: John Patterson on Richard Linklater and bloated running times as a metaphor for contemporary America; and Andrew Pulver's adapation of the week: Jean Renoir's Une partie de campagne.

In the Observer:

Prozac Nation

Michael Chabon picks his ten best comic book adaptations. Also in the Independent, profiles: Ian Burrell on Kiera Knightley, Nick Duerden on Juliette Lewis and Vanessa Grigoriadis on Ethan Hawke.

Filmmaker's Scott Macaulay points to a report from the AP: That whole Buried Secret thing with M Night Shyamalan was a hoax. And Steve Gallagher notes that Project Greenlight has selected a winning director: John Gulager. Fortunately, though, fellow contender Scott Smith will carry on blogging.

Posted by dwhudson at 6:01 AM

July 16, 2004

Shorts, 7/16.

Millhouse: A White Comedy David Greenberg's history lesson in Slate: Emile de Antonio was Nixon's Michael Moore:

When Millhouse was released, public frustration over a war gone bad was high. The president seeking re-election, despite having first run as "a unifier, not a divider" (Nixon's words), had turned out to be an intensely polarizing figure. And although the film never attracted the millions that have flocked to Fahrenheit, Time, Newsweek, and the leading newspapers did review Millhouse - mixing praise with observations that its "cheap shots" and "partisan zeal" would appeal mainly to Nixon haters - and the documentary drew big crowds in art houses.

Also in Slate: Chris Suellentrop: "[I]f Asimov is so easy, why do so many people - including Alex Proyas, the director of I, Robot, and the movie's screenwriters, Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Vintar - keep getting him so wrong?" The latest attempt also leaves David Edelstein frustrated. Plus, Adam Sternbergh: "It's difficult to pinpoint the exact moment when the ironic cameo became an obligatory go-to joke, but surely Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's role in Airplane! (1980), as a pilot who insists he's not Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, was a seminal advance in the field. The watershed moment may have been Robert Altman's 1992 satire The Player."

Andreas Kilb in the FAZ Weekly on a low-budget domestic film scoring raves in Germany: "Once upon a time, when television thrillers were still in black and white, it was said that every German was a deputy sheriff. Muxmäuschenstill is the apotheosis of the deputy sheriff: both fantasy and nightmare in the German psyche." Also: Michael Hanfeld remembers Inge Meysel, whose death last weekend was Sunday's top story in countless German papers.

Honestly now, had you heard of Grigori Kozintsev before just now? I'll confess: Not me. But his is a fascinating story and it certainly comes as no surprise that Doug Cummings tells it well.

Via Movie City News:

  • "With most movies, even great movies, there's usually The Scene. The one that defines it, encapsulates it, embodies its appeal or contains its signature moment." In the San Francisco Chronicle, Mick LaSalle presents a whopping list of capital-s Scenes.
  • Geoff Pevere in the Toronto Star: "I hate the rich." And he realizes the most popular movies play to his prejudice, even as their makers rake it in. (There is a flip side to this, of course; even movies that demonize the rich are usually perfectly unaware of the real concerns of those who aren't.)
  • M Night Shyamalan was originally gung-ho about cooperating on a doc about him, but then he and its makers had a falling out. Now the doc is entitled The Buried Secret of M Night Shyamalan and will premiere Sunday on the Sci Fi Channel. The AP's David Bauder reports.

Juliette Lewis Juliette Lewis is on the cover of the Guardian's Friday Review; the piece itself is an edited extract from Chuck Palahniuk's forthcoming collection, Non-fiction.

In the New York Times, the usual Friday reviews, of course, but also Bill Carter, sifting through the list of Emmy nominations, analyzing HBO's "growing supremacy over the broadcast networks."

Filmbrain knows why Kubrick tried to ensure no one would ever see his 1953 feature debut, Fear and Desire.

In the Independent:

Via Greg Allen, Leander Kahney's report on a delightfully insane editing system built into a Lexus.

We're not usually product pushers, but this game looks fun: Kung Fu Samurai on Giant Robot Island.

Online fiddling around tip. The Virtual Flick Book. (This one only takes a few secs, Cynthia.) Via b3ta.

Posted by dwhudson at 2:38 PM | Comments (2)

July 15, 2004

History for sale. Cheap.

The Second Life of Studio Babelsberg Few studios outside of Hollywood are as permeated with myth, legend and probably more than a few ghosts as the Babelsberg studios just outside Berlin. The glory days are long past, of course, the 20s, when the likes of Fritz Lang, FW Murnau and Josef von Sternberg were working for Ufa. Then, with the rise of Hitler, the studios became Goebbels's plaything. After the war, the East Germans ran the DEFA Studios in Babelsberg (and heavens, there's a body of work ripe for rediscovery outside of Germany), and ever since the Wall fell, the studios have struggled to come up with a formula for profitability.

Tamsin Walker had a good backgrounder on Babelberg's financial troubles in June at Deutsche Welle. Briefly, though, Volker Schlöndorff tried his hand at running them for eight years while the owner, the Compagnie Generale des Eaux, later Vivendi Universal, managed to lure a few high-profile productions - Polanski's The Pianist or The Bourne Supremacy, for example; and Mission Impossible 3 is scheduled to starting shooting with Tom Cruise in August - but never quite enough to turn a buck.

Or rather, a euro, which is precisely how much Vivendi Universal has sold the studios for. To whom remains somewhat mysterious, as Rüdiger Suchsland reports (in German) at Telepolis. The names of the buyers - Christoph Fisser and Carl Woebcken - are known, but not much else about them, other than that they'll also be taking on the studios' debt, around 18 million euros. The suddenness and secrecy of the deal, spelled out a tad more by Jo Johnson in the Financial Times, has been particularly frustrating for the 220 employees who've written a letter to Chancellor Schröder, expressing their worries that the two Munich investors may have little in mind other than selling off the studios all over again, either as a whole or in countless parts.

Posted by dwhudson at 12:45 PM

Shorts, 7/15.

Film editor Sam Adams introduces the Philadelphia City Paper's cover package on the Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, opening today and running through July 27.


  • Christopher Münch (The Hours and the Times) has a new film, Harry and Max, screening at the fest, and Adams surveys his quietly persistent career.
  • Producer and director Lee Daniels will be receiving the Artistic Achievement Award; AD Amorosi finds out what he's about: "I'm a masochistic bitch looking for the truth."
  • City Paper critics preview around two dozen titles that'll be screening during the first week of the fest. As always, even if you're miles from Philadelphia, it's worth noting the recommendations, even if only mentally; your chance to catch them may come.

"Every now and again, we get to a moment in the history of internet journalism that requires a good look at where we have been and where we are going." David Poland does more than take a good look; this is a three-part, inside-n-out, say-'ah' check-up. Parts 2 and 3. Meanwhile, he's bullish on The Bourne Supremacy and the prospect of "a powerful adult franchise of slightly greater box office reach than the Jack Ryan series, but of a definitively superior quality."

Koreanfilm.org has added a page on the 60s. On the contemporary front, Alison Veneto turns in an "Introduction to Korean Cinema, Part I (of II)" at Movie Poop Shoot.

"The LA Times is going to be at war with the NY Times over entertainment coverage. And you know what? We're going to win!" That's Amy Wallace, who's leaving Los Angeles Magazine for the LAT, talking to the LA Weekly's Nikke Finke. Another career move Finke examines: "Why in the world would someone as successful in the entertainment industry as [Robert] Greenwald jeopardize everything he’s worked so hard to build - his career, his reputation, his finances - to dabble in the dirt-poor field of documentary-making?" Finke's is a fine backgrounder on Greenwald in case you were wondering yourself about the guy behind Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election, Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraqi War (Unconstitutional, a look at the post-9/11 demolition of our basic rights, is next), and now, of course, Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism. His "half-joking" answer to Finke's question, by the way: "By doing this, I've saved all this time in therapy."

The Hollywood Dodo Also in the LA Weekly:

Isaac Asimov's original story, "I, Robot," was a "rebellion against the Frankenstein plot," writes Edward Rothstein, but the movie seems confused on this point: "The movie wants to look backward toward Asimov and sideways toward Hollywood technothrillers. It promises a fresh embrace of technology while rounding up the usual technological suspects." Also in the New York Times: Virginia Heffernan interviews Sacha Baron Cohen.

Thomas Carl Wall's "The Time-Image: Deleuze, Cinema, and Perhaps Language" at Film-Philosophy won't thrill everyone, but the sections on Vertigo and Maborosi are worth dipping into, even for non-academics.

Steamboy "It's easy to forget that [Alfred] Molina is English." But Simon Hattenstone gets to hear him say things like, "Blimey!"

Online viewing tips. A healthy batch of new anime trailers, rounded up by Anime News Network. Katsuhiro Otomo's Steamboy, which'll be showing in Venice this year, looks pretty impressive.

Posted by dwhudson at 7:38 AM

Happy Birthday, indieWIRE!

indieWIRE And here's to eight more years. At least. On his blog, Brian Clark recalls the first anniversary with an evil grin.

To this day, one of the best primers on the last great flourishing of the American indie film movement, that is, the 90s (perhaps, with digital tech, we're on the cusp of another) - who made which movies why and how and when and where they got seen - is the series of interviews that appeared in indieWIRE in late 1999. Click here, scroll down towards the bottom of that page, and then here for overviews focusing on the 90s, interviews with key producers, distributors, festival directors and the like.

And of course, well into the 00s, iW is still the click. There's Anthony Kaufman, for example, reporting yesterday that "according to this summer's art-house crowd, foreign language films are out of fashion, replaced by hot docs and specialized studio pics."

Posted by dwhudson at 7:33 AM

July 14, 2004

Shorts, 7/14.

TIFF Poster Organizers of the Toronto International Film Festival ignited the first spark of buzz yesterday, opening the site, presenting the poster and announcing a number of titles that'll be screening September 9 through 18. Eugene Hernandez scans those titles at indieWIRE.

"Despite mutual admiration and occasional crossovers, independent film and art inhabit parallel universes," laments Dominic Eichler in Frieze. And that's why it's taken Matthias Müller so long to get properly exhibited.

After an all but hopeless attempt to treat soldiers to a free showing of Fahrenheit 9/11, Bill Warhop finally manages to get four to take up his offer. Says one: "Toward the end he was saying don't let our soldiers die there while the richer people don't send their kids to the military. At the end he wants you to think, 'These are our kids.' He started off with us as crazy killers ... What are we? I didn't understand what we are."

Also in Salon, Andrew Exum, who's been deployed himself to Afghanistan and Iraq, leaves the film with similar questions, but concludes, "Moore stumbles into a revelation here, albeit clumsily and unwittingly: Soldiers aren't so easily stereotyped. The reality is, they are complex, just like you and me, with both strengths and weaknesses." Definitely a recommended read.

Two takes on what's up with Bill Cosby these days: In Slate, Debra Dickerson tries to comprehend the "darkness in the Cos' light"; in the Village Voice, Ta-Nehisi Coates argues he's simply out of touch.

Back to Slate: For anyone who's seen Andrew Jarecki's Capturing the Friedmans, can Just a Clown be just a movie, wonders Dana Stevens

John Irving's been talking to the press, promoting The Door in the Floor, based on the first third of his novel, A Widow for One Year. It's quite an endorsement for the film. The best of these pieces so far, via Movie City News, is Simon Haupt's in the Globe and Mail.

Matthew Sweet discovers why Gerry Anderson is furious at the makers of the Thunderbirds movie. Also in the Independent, another story on the two German films in which Hitler is an actual character rather than the usual ominous shadow; but Steve Crawshaw's piece delves far deeper than previous articles.

Online viewing tip. "Bad Fellas," a "glowing tribute to the genius of Martin Scorsese's screenwriting," as Fraser calls it, and not at all safe for work (unless you're wearing headphones).

Posted by dwhudson at 6:44 AM

July 13, 2004


Murdoch on Fox Reviewing Robert Greenwald's Outfoxed in Salon, Andrew O'Hehir opens with a dead-on parody of Foxspeak before the but-seriously part:

As media critic Robert McChesney says in the film, it is much easier to propagandize a public that believes in its own freedom, and does not expect propaganda, than it was in a Soviet-style system where people were always suspicious of official pronouncements. In that context, it's no longer accurate to haul out the tiresome leftist chestnut and refer to a development like the rise of Fox News as 'Orwellian.' It's subtler, lusher, more sweeping and far more effective than anything Orwell ever imagined.

Via Movie City News, a report from Editor & Publisher on the press conference during which Fox News launched a rebuttal to the film as well as "a full-frontal attack on The New York Times."

Brian Brooks thoroughly covers both Greenwald's and Fox's press conferences in more detail for indieWIRE. And Brian Clark has a few more pointers.

This Friday (July 16), there'll be a screening at San Francisco's Victoria Theatre at 7 pm, followed by a Q&A with Greenwald at 8:30 pm, an event sponsored by AlterNet, Media Alliance and Global Exchange. You can, of course, also buy the DVD at the official site and we also have copies to rent.

Posted by dwhudson at 2:18 PM

Shorts, 7/13.

Howl's Moving Castle Online viewing tips are usually tacked onto the end of a string of shorts, but today, they warrant top billing.

Starting with a new preview for Hayao Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle (Haur no Ugoku Shiro; more and more). That's via Neil Gaiman. Related: A Miyazaki-Moebius exhibition in France.

Via Movie City News, a lovely and unique music video: "Sad Song" (or click here to launch it immediately). It's comprised entirely of those 15 seconds of 15fps silent jpeg movies you can make on most digital cameras, and if that weren't ingenious enough, there's the aspect ratio. Fredo, the creator of the song and video, is also pleased to announce that 35 seconds of his music will be heard in Jonathan Demme's forthcoming remake of The Manchurian Candidate.

And then Kate Stables has eight online viewing tips for you over at the Guardian. Also: Gerard Seenan reports that terrorist groups are earning more pushing pirated DVDs than they are with drugs; and tidbits: Baz Luhrmann wants to "spend more time with his family" (read: His Alexander won't be going up against Oliver Stone's); and here come a third Ten Commandments and a second Basic Instinct. The cinetrix has more on that one.

Filmmaker magazine has a fresh batch of articles online:

Langlois Minute history lessons: Doug Cummings on Jacques Tourneur and the Cinecultist on Henri Langlois.

Filmbrain's wondering what in the world's going on with Jonathan Rosenbaum. Fair enough.

The Arts Journal has launched a new blog, Serious Popcorn.

Two book reviews at kamera.co.uk: Andy Murray on Lez Cooke's British Television Drama: A History and Thessa Mooij on Pat Silver-Lasky's Screenwriting for the 21st Century.

No J Hoberman in the Voice this week, but still:

Fahrenheit 9/11 Viewers

Nielson has confirmed what just about everyone suspected, reports Sharon Waxman in the New York Times: "The top theaters for Fahrenheit have been in urban, traditionally Democratic strongholds, including Manhattan, Los Angeles, San Francisco and the Bay Area, Chicago and Boston. The highest grossing theaters for Passion were typically more suburban and far more widely dispersed, from Texas and New Mexico to Ohio, Florida and Orange County, Calif." There's even an accompanying graph.

"'What Friendster is doing with these movie-character profiles is actually a brand-new paradigm in media promotion,' Friendster spokeswoman Lisa Kopp said." Via Ditherati, Daniel Terdiman's story in Wired News. Also: John Gartner on the new portable video players.

Via Greg Gilpatrick, Matt Silverman's thorough introduction to rotoscoping.

Via Tagline, the DVD Times report on the 10-disc "Matrix Ultimate Collection Box Set." Whoa.

Posted by dwhudson at 2:16 PM

July 12, 2004

Rouge. 3.

In 1970, Simon Hartog brought together Pierre Clémenti, Miklos Janscó, Glauber Rocha and Jean-Marie Straub for a conversation later translated by John Mathews and published in Cinematics. Now, the invaluable online journal Rouge kicks off its third issue with the discussion that has definitely yellowed in some of its corners, but in others... well, here's this, for example, from Rocha:

The Surrealists

The principle of the art-house circuit is reactionary today, because it imposes a certain type of film and tends to create its own closed market. Right from the script to its projection, a film is earmarked 'art-house', and this is very bourgeois, very reactionary, very elitist.... And the public coming to see the film does so with a very snobbish attitude.

Paul Hammond examines "the most obscure and pivotal - nay, cataclysmic - period of Buñuel’s life: the 1930s." That's Buñuel, by the way, second from the right on the top row over there, among his fellow Surrealists of the day.

Last year (or thereabouts), the a_film_by list saw a rambunctious thread on William Friedkin's Cruising; Bill Krohn's essay on the film, in part a reaction to another he quite likes by Robin Wood, seems informed by that discussion.

Raymond Bellour's essay on Ritwik Ghatak's The Cloud-Capped Star (Meghe Dhaka Tara) is followed by Moinak Biswas's on the filmmaker: "Ghatak never made the political films a sworn Marxist like him would be expected to make."

Meaghan Morris contextualizes Tracey Moffatt's Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy.

Shortish, relatively speaking:

And then a pictorial juxtaposition from Darren McDonald.

Posted by dwhudson at 1:25 PM

Shorts, 7/12.

Outfoxed "I want to make a great film," Robert Greenwald tells Robert S Boynton in the New York Times Magazine. ''But I'd like to do so without losing my house and spending the rest of my life in court." Boynton explains: "Over the past couple of years, Greenwald has developed a ''guerrilla'' method of documentary filmmaking, creating timely political films on short schedules and small budgets and then promoting and selling them on DVD through partnerships with grass-roots political organizations like MoveOn.org." His latest is Outfoxed, "an obsessively researched expose of the ways in which Fox News, as Greenwald sees it, distorts its coverage to serve the conservative political agenda of its owner, the media tycoon Rupert Murdoch." But will Murdoch let him get away with it? The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz remains skeptical regarding Greenwald's motivations and techniques. But then, Greenwald isn't claiming to be fair and balanced, is he?

More from Alternet executive editor Don Hazen, who asks, "Is it possible that Murdoch is doing us a favor by bringing media politics out in the open, and forcing the rest of corporate media, often content to hide behind an illusion of objectivity, to be more aggressive in support of some of its values, or at least be more feisty?"

David Thomson in the Independent: "Sooner or later, I hope, some venue will play these two films together - what a night they would have made on the old Z channel in Los Angeles. The films are Sam Peckinpah's West: Legacy of a Hollywood Renegade (directed by Tom Thurman) and Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (directed by Xan Cassavetes). They are as good as, or better than, most fiction films playing now."

Interviews with doc-makers at indieWIRE: Lisa Bear talks to Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky about Metallica: Some Kind of Monster; Lily Oei chats with Stacy Peralta about Riding Giants. Also: Sandra Ogle previews the New York Video Festival (July 14 through 18).

Chris Hastings and Roya Nikkhah report in the Telegraph (free registration req'd) that John Schlesinger's papers reveal that he pretty much blamed Madonna for doing him in. She was such a pain during the making of his last film, The Next Best Thing, that he suffered a heart attack from which he never fully recovered before dying in July 2003.

The Second Assistant Harriet Lane tells the breezy story behind The Second Assistant, "another tale of wage slaves trapped on the hamster wheel of corporate humiliation in a supposedly glamorous industry." Only this time, it's Hollywood.

Also in the Guardian and Observer:

Back to the New York Times: Will Ferrell ambushes CNBC and anchorwoman Sue Herera seems quite pleasantly surprised, reports Jacques Steinberg.

Posted by dwhudson at 1:22 PM

July 10, 2004

Weekend shorts.

Sandow Birk's Los Angeles Let's begin this batch with a weekend read only tangentially related to film but not all that tangentially. In the London Review of Books, Rebecca Solnit contemplates a new edition of Dante's Inferno with paintings by Sandow Birk, whose work can also be seen in the unique mockumentary, In Smog and Thunder: The Great War of the Californias (more here). But Solnit's passage here is worth quoting at length before diving once again into the transitory tidbits:

One of the reasons often given to explain why the American film industry settled in Hollywood is Southern California's ability to simulate almost any part of the world: it has lush agricultural areas, deserts, mountains, forests, oceans and open space in which to build Babylon or Atlanta, all drenched in ceaseless light. That is to say, to be in California is to be everywhere and nowhere and usually somewhere else (in the posher parts of LA every house seems to be dreaming of elsewhere: this half-timbered job is in the Black Forest and that one next door is the Alhambra). And as the Los Angeles writer Jenny Price recently remarked, to say 'I ate a doughnut in Los Angeles' is a different thing altogether from saying 'I ate a doughnut.' The invocation of LA throws that doughnut on a stage where it casts a long shadow of depravity or opportunity (which, here, might be the same thing). She added that just as Lévi-Strauss once remarked that animals are how we think, so Los Angeles, and by extension California, are also how we think - about society, about urbanism, about the future, about morality and its opposite. It's as though, in the golden light, everything is thrown into dramatic relief, everything is on stage acting out some drama or other.

You can sample Birk's Inferno and Purgatorio (San Francisco, naturally; Birk hasn't let on yet where the Paradiso will be set) at Trillium Press.

Meanwhile, Greg Allen's found a memo!

From: Scott Sforza, Head of Productions, White House Studios
To: Karl Rove, CEO
RE: Summer Schedule

Remember Michael Moore Hates America? Well, via Weblogsky, a blog aimed at that guy: Michael Wilson Hates Filmmaking, in which you can find out all about the guy who financed the anti-Moore doc. Hoo-boy.

The Hollywood Reporter's Martin A Grove lists the "Top 10 things Moore did right with Fahrenheit." From a marketing point of view, that is. Via the Movie Marketing Blog by way of Cinema Minima.

Suzanne Goldenberg heads to the heart of suburbia in west Houston to try to give away tickets to Fahrenheit 9/11. She gets finds a few takers and listens to their furious running commentary all the way through (interesting idea for an extra on the DVD, by the way).

Also in the Guardian:

Dementia "Where do avant cinema and exploitation meet? Somewhere on the crusty margins of '50s Hollywood, perhaps." Sean Spillane offers a terrific backgrounder on Dementia.

Most reviewers are agreeing that Anchorman is silly summer fun, but Salon's Charles Taylor has a but-seriously-folks angle as well. The sad truth is, most local television news is "beyond parody." Also: Scott Lamb introduces a collection of ten clips backing him up on this.

Alex Abramovich doesn't simply rank nine film guides at Slate; he's actually read these things cover to cover and cooked up a five-star rating system for each of five categories. At the risk of giving away the ending, David Thomson's New Biographical Dictionary of Film comes out on top.

Let Roger Avary talk you into downloading a PDF file, Matthew Modine's "Full Metal Diary," a collection of notes and photos from the set of Full Metal Jacket.

George Fasel assesses the year so far. In short: Last year was better.

The Economist reports on the risks and the costs of those risks being factored in when directors decide to shoot in dangerous places. They're high, especially on a production like, say, Kingdom of Heaven, Ridley Scott's film about Saracens and 12th century Crusaders filming in... Morocco.

Watching a "Fassbinder on Tuesday, an Ozu on Wednesday" has programmer Tom Hall appreciating the work of other programmers all the more.

Matt Langdon's got some fascinating trivia for you re: The Set-Up.

In the Independent:

Robert Davis recently interviewed Jim Jarmusch for Paste; which is great enough, but he's also posted the outtakes at Errata. He also joins the discussion of Scorsese's My Voyage to Italy at Filmjourney.

Siddarth Srivastava at Planet Bollywood on a trend in Indian cinema: "The themes are getting bold and so are Indian women."

In the New York Times:

  • "It has become something of a commonplace to note the symmetries between Mr. Moore's movie and Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ," writes AO Scott, but what about them: "Is it too idealistic of me to think that this freedom from compromise is part of what attracted audiences? Perhaps more than ever before, the movie studios are ruled by timidity, anxiously tailoring their releases to avoid giving offense.... But the movie-going public can be alienated as much by boredom as by distaste, and it may be that the studios should be more afraid of our indifference than of our anger."

  • But the real finger-on-the-pulse movie of the moment is Spider-Man 2, argues Frank Rich: "It gives us a selfless wartime hero unlike any on the national stage, and it promotes a credo of justice without vindictiveness. This year that appears to be the heretofore missing formula for capturing a landslide mandate in red and blue states alike." Anthony Kaufman has a different take, and one that's sparking reaction, too; the film, he says, is "the most Eisenhowery piece of white-bread American mainstream entertainment I've seen in a long time. I'll bet Dubya loves it."

  • If the whole notion at the center of Metallica: Some Kind of Monster - heavy metal band seeks therapy - seems strange or new to you, you might be surprised to learn just how many bands have gone through the same process. Lola Ogunnaike talks to some of the therapists. Related: Brian Brooks seems to have had a helluva time at the party following the New York premiere.

Maria Full of Grace

Jonathan Curiel previews the Palestine/Israel Film Festival (through Sunday) for the San Francisco Chronicle.

IndieWIRE's Wendy Mitchell reports from the just-wrapped Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

"Time has rarely passed in a film with such apparent ease and spontaneity, yet with such rightness in every moment." The Nation's Stuart Klawans on Before Sunset Also at Alternet, the American Prospect's Noy Thrupkaew steered clear of the horror offerings at the New York Asian Film Festival, but she did catch several she's pleased to recommend.

Filmbrain has an intriguing question or two for you regarding Byun Young-joo's debut feature, Ardor. Actually having seen the film may or may not be a prerequisite for your POV.

Brian Ruh guages the state of bootleg anime in PopMatters.

Online viewing tip. ASCII/MIDI music videos, via Greg Gilpatrick.

Posted by dwhudson at 1:41 PM | Comments (5)

July 9, 2004

The Film Journal. 9.

Orson Welles Orson Welles figures prominently in the July 2004 issue of The Film Journal, the 9th. From the top, Beth Zdriluk argues that Welles's acting, often dismissed as "indulgent, hammy, or just plain bad," is actually "a central element of his artistic life and career." She also quotes from a conversation with Peter Bogdanovich and it's hard this particular week not to hear an exact reverse reading of the same observation Brando often made: "Everybody in the world is an actor... Conversation is acting… Everything we do is some sort of a performance." So acting's nothing special, shrugged Brando; no, it's just about everything, Welles would have replied.

Peter Tonguette has two conversations with people who knew Welles in this issue: Magician Mike Caveny and actor, producer and director Norman Lloyd. As the Journal's staff critic, Tonguette also reviews Kill Bill: Vol. 2, The Saddest Music in the World and The Company.

Hunter Vaughn, currently tackling French cinema and philosophy at Oxford, goes to work on Godard's 2 ou 3 choses que je sais d'elle (Two or Three Things I Know About Her) and Dogme 95.

Rich Elias, who teaches a course on Bollywood, interviews Abhijat Joshi, a screenwriter who worked on Mission Kashmir.

In "Polemical Posturing versus Feigned Naivety in Documentary," Mark Richardson starts out writing about Nick Broomfield, but of course, eventually makes his way to Michael Moore.

Spring Bears Love Product placement is a strong, ongoing trend in popular South Korean cinema, writes Adam Hartzell, but there's something interesting going on in Yong Yi's debut, Spring Bears Love, a subversion "associating the products with abandonment, disgust, gluttony, loneliness, tastelessness and obnoxiousness. And at the same time, public and local spaces are given positive associations such as intimacy and hope, further subverting the power of market culture."

What we think we're talking about when we talk about "the Rashômon effect" is not, in fact, what Kurosawa had in mind, argues Marc Yamada.

Reviews and retros: Alexander C Ives on Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Liliana Wendorff and Thomas Morley on Amores Perros, Richard Armstrong on Double Indemnity, Desirée Jung on Soderbergh's Solaris, Asbjørn Grønstad on Blow-Up, J Alan Speer on Truffaut's Antoine Doinel series, Avi Spivack on Rear Window and Dan Jardine on Leone's spaghetti westerns.

Posted by dwhudson at 2:01 AM

July 8, 2004

SFSFF: Preview.

San Francisco Silent Film Festival Jonathan Marlow has plans for a fantastic weekend. If you're in the Bay Area, you might, too.

Year nine of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and I will once again find another weekend in July preoccupied with the wonders of pre-1935 cinema. Short of flying to Pordenone in October, this is your best chance to see the so-called Silent Era in all of its glory, screening in the appropriate surroundings of the Castro Theatre.

The Blue Bird Between films rare and remarkable, including Monta Bell’s rarely seen Lady of the Night (1925) and pictures from two Williams (Seiter and Worthington, What Happened to Jones (1926) and The Dragon Painter (1919) respectively), there are a handful that really should not be missed. Maurice (father of Jacques) Tourneur’s classic The Blue Bird (1918) was a box office failure upon its initial release. The director’s efforts of imparting extravagant, expressionistic design into this avant-garde production proved financially fatal on it release, causing the director to move in a more commercial fashion in later years (The Last of the Mohicans (1920), most notably) before returning to France. Tourneur's thinking, while filming, was such that "the time has come where we can no longer merely photograph moving and inanimate objects and call it art... we must present the effect such a scene has upon the artist-director's mind, so that an audience will catch the mental reaction."

Douglas Fairbanks was considered "one of film land's most popular comedians" when he starred in When the Clouds Roll By (1919). The film's director, Victor Fleming, is remembered now as a dependable "finisher" - he completed The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind only after others were removed from these projects. Regardless, he was one of a handful of directors whose silent period is largely forgotten and unjustifiably so. Clouds proves, particularly, that his skill rested firmly with visual compositions.

Unlike the rest of the world, Asian cinema stayed "silent" (although, in most cases, with a benshi), into the mid-1930s. Getting a worthwhile resurrection, Shennü (The Goddess, 1934) by Wu Yonggang proves that some of the greatest efforts of early cinema were originating in the east (and, if there is any doubt, refer to the exceptional body of pre-sound work from Yasujiro Ozu). This being one of the most remarkable little-seen films of the period, Ruan Ling-yu stars as a woman who, in the wake of pressure about an affair, decides to end it all. Sadly, one year later, the 24-year-old Ruan did precisely the same thing. If the story sounds familiar, Stanley Kwan made a film (Center Stage) in 1992 with Maggie Cheung as the young actress.

Naturally, the last films of the evening (Saturday and Sunday) are reserved for the showcase pictures. This year, Artistic Director Stephen Salmons has outdone himself. Saturday presents a rare big-screen presentation of Rex Ingram's epic Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921). Extremely profitable at the time of its release (it remained one of the top-grossing films throughout the 1920s), the story was adapted from the Vicente Blasco Ibáñez novel and remains a classic of the anti-war genre (terribly appropriate at this time). Ingram was considered one of the four true leaders in the burgeoning Hollywood movie business in 1923 (along with DW Griffith, Marshall Neilan and CB DeMille) by fellow writer/director Tamar Lane. Rex Ingram was proud of the results, of course - "In The Four Horsemen I made all the exteriors I could on dull days in order to allow us an open lens and get a softer image. I wanted to get away from the hard, crisp effect of the photograph and get something of the mellow mezzotint of the painting; to get the fidelity of photography but the softness of the old master. To picture not only the dramatic action, but to give it some of the merit of art." Not to be overlooked, the picture stars Rudolph Valentino in arguably his finest role.

The climatic event of the festival arrives Sunday night with a screening of Charles Chaplin's The Circus (1928). It was common at the time for theatres to change their films every week; some theatres changed their titles as many as six times a week. In fact, only ten percent of theatres even ran a film for an entire week. Therein, it is worth remarking that The Circus screened for nearly four months at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles. Not unlike Chaplin's career, with this film the show moves on and the Tramp is left behind. It was only two-and-a-half years earlier when Chaplin wrote, directed, scored and starred in The Gold Rush (1925). In the interim, he was off American screens; while the country was enamored with the possibilities of sound, Charlie mounted an "attack on the talkies."

The Circus Still, the success of The Circus was something of an anomaly. The public reception of City Lights (1931) essentially ended any chance for the "alternative silent cinema" movement that Chaplin hoped for. Despite all of that, it is surprising that The Circus is little-seen by even adoring fans of Chaplin. A shame, because, with City Lights from his silent period and Monsieur Verdoux (1947) from the sound era, it should be considered one of his greatest films. Although we were unable to orchestrate an appearance by composer Timothy Brock to accompany this screening (something Salmons and, to a much lesser degree, I were trying to put together with the San Francisco Symphony), perhaps we’ll be able to bring him next year for the tenth annual event. In the meantime, you'll find me down in front, awash in the bliss of eight fantastic films.

Posted by dwhudson at 9:43 AM

Shorts, 7/8.

David Poland on Michael Tucker's Gunner Palace: "If there is a single documentary that you have to see about the war, it's an easy call… this is the one. There are others worth seeing, but this is yours... Someone at some studio must step up and bring the film out no later than September." Hear, hear.

Gunner Palace

Poland's Movie City News passes along reactions from Lion's Gate's Tom Ortenberg to the recent edition of CNN's Reliable Sources devoted to press reaction to Fahrenheit 9/11 as well as Ortenberg's reply to pieces at CounterPunch slamming the film from the left: "Your 'critique'... proves 2 points. 1) When the left forms a firing squad, it gets in a circle. 2) Why the left will never triumph in America."

But if the left's persistent Weimar-like penchant for imploding in the face of opposition that ought to be making it stronger is actually news to Ortenberg, he hasn't seen the half of it. Writing for ZNet, for example, Stephen Rosenthal and Junaid Ahmad painstakingly outline all the ways Moore fails because he isn't anti-capitalist enough, while Kenyon Farrow and Kil Ja Kim argue in ChickenBones that the real problem, you see, is that Moore is a white nationalist.

And so it goes.

Mike Figgis: "Ten things I love about Jean-Luc Godard." Also in the Guardian: Emma Brockes meets Lila Lipscomb, a piece that'll surely be added to the site's collection of Fahrenheit 9/11 news and comment.

In this week's LA Weekly:

Outfest 2004

Anne S Lewis talks to Karen Bernstein about her film, Are the Kids Alright?, which takes measure of the state of mental health care in Texas. Also in the Austin Chronicle: Another round with Linklater, Delpy and Hawke, this one a little harried and led by Marrit Ingman. Best line: "Don't write on my pants, OK? I hate that. Sorry, what did you say?"

Bernardo Bertolucci on Brando: "In the darkness I asked him if he'd ever realised how much I was in love with him." And we come full circle, because that's via Movie City News, where Leonard Klady also recalls several tales from the life.

Posted by dwhudson at 6:08 AM

July 7, 2004

Online viewing (and reading) tip.

Ten So Project Greenlight has whittled 1,733 contenders down to three and Scott Smith, an advertising art director with an impressive resume and impressive ambitions, is one of them. Jim Coudal, whose site, Coudal Partners, has been pointing to the best eye candy you can fit in a browser for... well, forever now (example: Today, he's found more of those remarkable Polish movie posters), is hosting not only Scott Smith's blog, launching today, even as he packs up the kids and all and heads out to LA, but also his terrific short, Ten, "Wherein one man makes breaks all ten commandments before breakfast."

Posted by dwhudson at 12:42 PM | Comments (2)

Shorts, 7/7.

The Last Tycoon "'There's something about this business that doesn't work anymore," he says, with a mixture of amusement and pure fear." Bruce Feirstein engages in one of those "'let's take a meeting and see if anything comes of it' sessions" with a producer in LA. And he's convinced the producer is onto something. In the New York Observer, he outlines three basic elements of fundamental change that are set to rock the entertainment industry. For most reading a blog like this one, what Feirstein has to say won't be news; but, like one of those PowerPoint presentations you actually enjoy whether you'd admit it or not, it pulls together various strands on one page.

Also in the NYO:

  • Jake Brooks and Anna Schneider-Mayerson gather memories of Brando.
  • Neither De-Lovely nor The Clearing do much for Rex Reed.
  • Andrew Sarris has kinder words for De-Lovely this for Spider-Man 2: "What drives the love story most strongly is the overwhelming spirituality of the camera's love affair with Ms Dunst. I haven't seen such luminous close-ups since the great screen stars of Hollywood's Golden Age. Who would have thought that Mr. Raimi, the director of horror films, would light up the screen with such a chaste depiction of love, and without a trace of lechery?"
  • Brooks's DVD column.

Ed Halter has a sort of on-the-other-hand companion piece to Feirstein's: "The accumulation of social activity around film releases like Fahrenheit and The Passion, planned or otherwise, is a logical extension of how moviegoing cultures evolved during the rise of the Internet."

Also in the Village Voice:

Metallica: Some Kind of Monster Speaking of Some Kind of Monster, David Fear tells the story behind the film and asks the band and the filmmakers what they were after: "By removing the stigma of therapy - by showing that even hardcore dudes like these guys could benefit from sharing their feelings - it even offers a way out from bottoming out." Also in the San Francisco Bay Guardian: Fear previews the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, this weekend at the Castro, and Cheryl Eddy recommends Penny Panayotopoulou's Hard Goodbyes: My Father.

At Alternet, LiP editor Lisa Jervis: "There's something going on in the culture that makes the Ass-Kicking Babe such a hot property. I would love to argue that we're seeing a feminist influence on the way that femaleness can now be combined with power. Unfortunately, I can't."

Ben Slater is a film critic based in Singapore. He's also associate director of the performance company spell#7 and has just launched a blog, beginning with an interview with Kim Ki-Duk, whose view of women would probably not sit well with Jervis, though they might agree on another point: "In the contemporary world, religion has become a tool for power, for people like George Bush, its not really religion, it's a vehicle for power. Religion should be giving us encouragement and security."

Doug Cummings isn't buying Terrence Rafferty's take on Bresson.

Filmbrain points to the new site for Hou Hsiao-Hsien's homage to Ozu, Café Lumière, plus: A new screen capture quiz.

In the New York Press:

  • Joshua Cohen on Brando and Paul Buhle's book, From the Lower East Side to Hollywood: Jews in American Popular Culture.

  • With Richard Linklater's latest scoring almost universal praise, surely you wouldn't expect Armond White to join in? No, such unanimity calls for a pan. A really big pan: "Everything wrong with today's movie culture can be found in Before Sunset." Well, look for an alternative take in the City Pages, where Rob Nelson interviews Linklater and Laura Sinagra reviews the film. Ah, one more: Vince Keenan on "how it turns the screws tighter than most thrillers. How long before one of these two says something that they cannot take back – or something that they’ll have to act on?"

  • Matt Zoller Seitz on Some Kind of Monster and, briefly, Afraid of Everything.

For the New York Times, Alessandra Stanley watches Into Character, the reality show that allows people to live out their movie fantasies, and the trivia game show, Ultimate Film Fanatic, with your host, Film Threat editor Chris Gore. More on that one from Matt Dentler.

Luke Harding reports in the Guardian that Rosa von Praunheim plans to shoot Your Heart in My Brain, a film about "Germany's infamous cannibal Armin Meiwes."

Via Cinema Minima, a new (to me) blog to keep an eye on: Cinemocracy: "Movies about politics. Politics about movies. Hollywood and Washington, hybridized."

Posted by dwhudson at 6:23 AM

July 6, 2004

Shorts, 7/6.

Giorgio Agamben Just when you were getting the hang of the old theories, along comes Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben, who, writes Benjamin Noys in Film-Philosophy, "has developed a new theory of 'gestural cinema', arguing that 'the element of cinema is gesture and not image'. He has also argued that this new theory of gestural cinema means that cinema belongs, essentially, to the realm of ethics and politics, and not aesthetics. It is this new theory that I want to introduce."

But Agamben is not your run-of-the-mill theorist. In Bookforum, Daniel Morris opens his review of Agamben's The Open: Man and Animal by noting that Agamben played Philip the Apostle in Pasolini's The Gospel According to St. Matthew: "Despite (or indeed, because of) the political and religious controversy surrounding the film, Agamben's experience with Pasolini was arguably a meaningful and formative one."

Also in this thick summer issue of Bookforum: Sarah Kerr on Craig Seligman's Sontag & Kael: Opposites Attract Me.

Film Comment: July/August 2004 Well, Michael Moore's on another cover of another magazine. Film Comment editor-at-large Kent Jones does write about Fahrenheit 9/11, but it's about halfway into his piece before he gets started. Then: "Fahrenheit 9/11 is not a film for the ages. It is a film for right here and right now, and it counts in a way that few films have ever counted."

In an accompanying online exclusive, outtakes from Gavin Smith's interview with Moore, for example, this on Jean-Luc Godard:

I felt bad that he made a comment about a movie he hadn't seen. I think he has the right to make those perverse, weird comments. Always admired him. The only way people in Flint were able to see his films is because I brought them there. I ran my own little art house every weekend, on Friday and Saturday nights for close to 10 years. I showed everything by Godard, Fassbinder, Truffaut and Bergman.

So what's your favorite Godard film?

Sympathy for the Devil [laughs]. For me, Breathless was his best film, probably because it was maybe his most accessible.

Also in the July/August issue of Film Comment:

Heather Havrilesky in New York on a few tricks in Michael Moore's bag: "From Pop-Up Video to Punk'd, reality-television producers like Jon Murray, the late Mary-Ellis Bunim, Mike Darnell, and Survivor’s Mark Burnett have created a whole new vocabulary, one capable of transforming hours of raw footage into a coherent story that’s simple and fun enough to keep the audience’s attention."

At long last, the lefter-than-thou speak up. Robert Jensen in CounterPunch: "The claim that Fahrenheit 9/11 is a conservative movie may strike some as ludicrous." Hm-hm. Not to mention those accusations of "subtle racism" and the admission from Jensen that, while he, too, wants Bush out, he won't be voting for Kerry.

Big weekend for Spider-Man 2. Sharon Waxman has the numbers. Also in the New York Times, Neil Genzlinger spotlights a feature on the Brother Bear DVD which is probably better than the movie itself: Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas delivering a "ridiculous stream-of-consciousness commentary in which they discuss the use of stunt doubles in animated films, insult each other, debate acting methodology and tweak Disney like a pint-size Michael Moore. It is light years away from the usual dry DVD commentary, and for a company as conscious of its reputation as Disney it is a bit revolutionary.

Howard Feinstein meets Danish director Per Fly to talk about the second film in his trilogy about class in Denmark, The Inheritance. Also at indieWIRE: Karl Beck looks back at Frameline28 and Adam Burnett looks forward to the Galway Film Fleadh, opening today and running through the 11th.

Via Kung Fu Cinema, a guide to the late 70s Japanese TV show, Spider-Man.

"In Pedro Almodóvar I trust." In the Independent, Antonio Banderas tells Sholto Byrnes the star and director may be working together again on an adaptation of the novel Tarantula.

Coming Soon! Edward Douglas meets Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke.

Falcons was shot a few years ago by Fridrik Thor Fridriksson in Iceland. Keith Carradine stars and tells the Guardian's Dan Glaister he's hoping to arouse interest in the film from a distributor in the US.


Online viewing tip. The trailer for Takashi Miike's Izo is as goofily gory as you'd expect, but it's also quite long and features a few glimpses of Takeshi Kitano. Also via Kung Fu Cult Cinema, the trailer for The Grudge, Takashi Shimizu's American remake of Juon.

Another one. "Now How Much Would You Pay," from the site for the album Tallahassee by the Mountain Goats, via Darren Hughes, who calls it "multimedia of a really cool, lo-fi variety." It is.

Posted by dwhudson at 9:15 AM

July 5, 2004

More on Brando.

Marlon Brando Two tips from GreenCiner Eoliano:

  • Playboy has also plunged into its archives made the interview Lawrence Grobel conducted with Marlon Brando in 1979 available: "I flew to Tetiaroa, where Brando, looking like a ragged version of an East Indian holy man, was waiting as I disembarked. For the next ten days, we ate our meals together, went for walks along the beach, went night sailing, played chess and managed to tape five sessions, lasting anywhere from two to six hours each." Stick with it; after futzing around, they finally get into it on page 4.
  • NPR has set up a page collecting its reports; my favorite: "Brando Fans Belt Out Their Best 'Stella!'" (They don't, actually; it's all about the Don, but that's fun, too.)

Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times: "I attended the world premiere [of Apocalypse Now] at Cannes and still remember the hushed, electric silence as we all leaned forward at the first glimpse of Brando. The joke at Cannes was that the plot showed men willing to risk death to see what Brando would come up with." Brando once called him: "He had a project he wanted us to work on together. I would like to tell you what it was, but I have no idea."

In a 2002 piece for Rolling Stone, Jod Kaftan recalls his off and on encounters with Brando over the last ten years or so of his life. Wild stuff.

In the Observer:

Richard Schickel in Time: "It was sad and to some of us infuriating. For if you were young and impressionable in the '50s, he was forever Our Guy - a man whose inarticulate yearnings, whose needs and rages somehow spoke for a silent generation, privately nursing our grievances at the bourgeois serenity of our elders. We would get mad at his fecklessness, but we never quite lost our faith in him, which was occasionally rewarded by the anarchic craziness of The Missouri Breaks, by the dainty befuddlements of another Mafia don in The Freshman." George Fasel has a similar take, albeit a shade darker.

For Greg Pak, Brando's brilliance lay in his instinctual play.

Matt Langdon: "His death bed scene in Apocalypse Now was cut to few words; notably 'the horror...the horror.' When I worked at Film Threat in the mid 1990's we got our hands on a five-a-and-a-half hour version. In that cut Brando's death scene actually lasted 40 minutes.... For the full length text of this scene go to my older site here."

Posted by dwhudson at 6:42 AM

Shorts, 7/5.

Suspect Zero "When it comes to independent film careers, there are few more interesting than that of E Elias Merhige's." Filmmaker's Scott Macaulay points to the site and trailer for the new one, Suspect Zero.

Jonathan Rosenbaum in the Chicago Reader:

Future generations may look back at [Richard] Linklater and Wong [Kar-wai] as poets laureate of the turn of the century who excelled at catching the tenor of their times. In Days of Being Wild and Slacker, Ashes of Time and The Newton Boys, Happy Together and Dazed and Confused, and In the Mood for Love and Before Sunrise they're especially astute observers of where and who we are in history. And some of their ability to grasp the zeitgeist surely derives from their special feeling for love stories. Born only two years apart, Wong (1958) and Linklater (1960) are often about a decade older than their fictional couples, which suggests they're particularly sensitive to what might be in store for these characters.

Sean Spillane: "In honor of this patriotic holiday, I offer this humble list of 10 American films that best exemplify certain qualities that seem to me uniquely and terrifically American."

In the Observer, Jeffrey Solomons turns in a longish profile of Jeffrey Katzenberg: "'A lot happened for me when I made Prince of Egypt.... I read the Koran and saw how Moses is an such an important prophet there. He's like top three.' Prophets or profits, moguls just love their league tables."

In Newsweek, Johnnie L Roberts explains what makes Lion's Gate's an indie powerhouse and Sean Smith profiles Will Ferrell, revealing that the Anchorman DVD will feature a second feature-length movie, Wake Up Ron Burgundy.

TLS: Natalie Wood Philip French has next to nothing but praise in the Times Literary Supplement for Gavin Lambert's biography of Natalie Wood, a book he's sure "guarantees her position in film history." By the way, unless you already knew, you wouldn't believe what the biographer and subject had in common.

Outsourcing celebrity: Laura M Holson rounds up examples of Hollywood casting international stars in its blockbusters to appeal to international markets. Also in the New York Times, Tony Hendra has a story to tell about, among other things, a movie that never got made.

Giant Robot interviews Hiroyuki Sanada.

Robert Davis wonders if the San Francisco International Film Festival's budget might be getting a bit tight.

Luke Harding picks up the "two Hitlers" story for the Guardian, quoting Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung editor Frank Schirrmacher's piece on the forthcoming pair of German movies and checking in with the directors.

Online sampling tip. Nerve's "John Ashcroft Video Project," via Cinema Minima.

Posted by dwhudson at 6:40 AM

Another week, another cover.

Time: Michael Moore So this week it's the cover of Time. Problem is, you can't read Richard Corliss's full story on Fahrenheit 9/11 (that is, unless you're a subscriber), but you can poke around it, glance at the little charts and doodads and so forth, and then there's Matthew Cooper's blurb on MoveOnPac's series of ads directed by the likes of Errol Morris, Rob Reiner, Allison Anders and Margaret Cho.

Update: The full story is now available at Moore's site [thanks again!].

For the Toronto Star, Murray Whyte checks in with Lionel Cetwynd, who wrote Showtime's DC 9/11 and now serves on Bush's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, to see if there's a Republican Michael Moore on the horizon. Not yet: "Republicans are desperately lame when it comes to understanding the uses of popular culture. Desperately lame."

So is Michael Moore paving inroads into pop culture for documentaries? Sharon Waxman quotes Harvey Weinstein: "It reminds me of the breakthrough with Sex, Lies and Videotape for indie movies, and years later with Cinema Paradiso, all the way to Life Is Beautiful for foreign-language movies. There have been some moments in our film history where all of a sudden it has all changed."

Amanda at SignalStation: "After you go to Fahrenheit 9/11, keep your ticket stub and mail it to:

George W Bush
1600 Pennsylvania Ave
Washington DC 20500

With a note attached: 'I saw what you did last summer.'"

Posted by dwhudson at 6:36 AM | Comments (2)

July 3, 2004

A weekend prowling the archives.

Maybe this is the contemporary measure of greatness: Whose death warrants a call to your Webmaster? On a holiday weekend, no less. Regardless, we can only be grateful: At the New Yorker, the (in)famous Truman Capote profile, "The Duke in His Domain." And at the Atlantic, Pauline Kael's "Marlon Brando: An American Hero."

Posted by dwhudson at 3:23 PM | Comments (2)

Remembering Brando.

Brando. Salon's Dana Cook compiles a bounteous collection of memories and anecdotes from around 50 sources, colorful snippets from a wide variety of memoirs and biographies. Broadway, Yiddish, Indians... antics. Always this lazy war against boredom.

Charles Taylor: "For me, though, it's Brando's performance in Bernardo Bertolucci's 1972 Last Tango in Paris that remains not just his greatest but the greatest performance I've ever seen an actor give... I have never heard one argument made against it that didn't sound like fear of facing up to its power."

The New York Times has set up a special section on Brando and runs two appreciations on its Op-Ed pages. David Thomson's is one of his best pieces of writing in a long while, reading Brando's life and career as, in part, a parallel history of America. Amazingly, the Guardian's got Thomson, too, and here, he's given space to cut loose, wander to this performance or that and back again. (An odd coincidence: The paper's also running Jonathan Jones's piece on the appeal of Tahiti to Enlightenment-era artists.)

Andrew Rosenthal, who must be around my age, writes the other editorial, a brief one about "absorbing his work in reverse" as he grew up in the 70s. Then, AO Scott: "The honesty that was the foundation of the Method actor's creed continually collided with the Hollywood imperative to sentimentalize. Mr. Brando's work in the 1960's, the most misunderstood and underestimated phase of his career, is an episodic rendering of this conflict."

Andrew Buncombe's story in the Independent focuses on Brando's last days.

Via Movie City News, the ravenous appetite angle from the New York Daily News: Sex: George Rush. Food: Rush and Monique El-Faizy. Silliness: Paul HB Shin. Acting: Jack Mathrews.

Offline viewing tip. Starting at 8 pm tonight on Saturday, July 10, TCM will be showing Brando movies all night long.

Posted by dwhudson at 11:46 AM | Comments (2)

Sunrise, Sunset.

Richard Linklater "It's funny how films have their lives," Richard Linklater tells Stephanie Zacharek in Salon:

You have to have faith that they'll eventually find their audience. I knew at the time we were making Before Sunrise that we were making a film that had nothing to do with that moment in time. It could have been made 30 years before, or 30 years after. It was made in the middle of this ironic Gen-X stuff, and it wasn't an ironic movie.... I wasn't so surprised that it didn't catch on. But then, I wasn't surprised when people started responding to it when they finally did see it. It's honest, in that way.

It is, in fact, so honest that, while some, like the cinetrix, are compelled to make snow angels, others, like Slate's David Edelstein can't bear to watch it straight through: "I loved it, but only in small doses. I'd watch 10 minutes, walk around the block, watch 10 more minutes, read the newspaper, etc." And he's pulled an unusual move in his review of Before Sunset, sending readers away until they've seen it so we can all meet up again on his spoilerific second page.

In her review, Zacharek writes that Before Sunset

goes far beyond merely satisfying our curiosity. Before Sunrise was an opalescent picture, one that dazzled with subtle flecks of light. Before Sunset has an even subtler texture, and yet its muted patina leaves a more potent, longer-lasting afterglow. Before Sunrise captures the exhilaration of connecting with another person; Before Sunset moves forward from there, burrowing into territory that's more complex and dangerous, but also perhaps more vital.

Before Sunrise is also, as Linklater points out, "the lowest-grossing film ever to spawn a sequel," a sequel almost universally praised to boot, and another bit of evidence in the case for Linklater as a prime example of a filmmaker succeeding on all fronts by setting out to do only what he wants to do, no more and only less when the budget demands it.

It wasn't all that many of those who saw Slacker at some point in the early 90s who would predict then that he would go on to become one of America's most important filmmakers, but look at him now: Slacker is about to get the Criterion treatment, our contemporary means of canonization; his Dazed and Confused, a personal favorite, features early performances by a whole slew of actors who are simply huge now; Waking Life broke all kinds of ground, not least in the field of animation; with School of Rock, he ventured into the commercial arena and has now emerged unscathed to see Sunset released far wider than Sunrise; and he's got chatterers chattering about what might possibly be the best adaptation of a Philip K Dick story yet, A Scanner Darkly.

Of all the indie filmmakers who emerged during the "movement's" heyday between, say, Stranger Than Paradise and The Blair Witch Project, is there anyone else who remains as innovative and intriguing?

Posted by dwhudson at 11:44 AM | Comments (1)

Fahrenheit 9/11: Weekend #2.

Paul Krugman in the New York Times: "The film's appeal to working-class Americans, who are the true victims of George Bush's policies, should give pause to its critics, especially the nervous liberals rushing to disassociate themselves from Michael Moore.... Mr. Moore may not be considered respectable, but his film is a hit because the respectable media haven't been doing their job."

That smirk.

Todd Gitlin for openDemocracy: "He could show us that war kills and Bush is appalling, and yet be more scrupulous. But Moore is the only Moore we have – alas. Moore is the anti–Bush, and damn if we didn’t need one."

IndieWIRE's Eugene Hernandez asks filmmakers, festival programmers and other 'xperts a couple of questions Moore's film has raised: "How do you define the term 'documentary film'?" "Is Fahrenheit 9/11 a documentary?" "How has the definition of documentary changed in recent years, if at all?"

And IndieWIRE Insider points to Sam Harrelson, who in turn, points to Dawn Anfuso's piece at iMedia Connection on how Fahrenheit 9/11 online buzz, from simple searches to full-blown reviews, is selling tickets.

Doc news, at or via Movie City News:

Spinsanity has been on Moore's case for a long, long time, and they're certainly not letting up now.

Katha Pollitt in the Nation: "I wish Moore had acknowledged Bush's obvious political skills. It's not easy to fool 40 percent of the people 100 percent of the time."

Via Alternet, Peter Y Sussman for the Pacific News Service: "Moore may conceivably nudge a few undecideds, but his real accomplishment may be firing up his own partisans, especially the cynical young and the economically ignored." And Joel Bleifuss for In These Times: "What do Bill Clinton, John Kerry and Michael Moore have in common? They have all fallen victim to Michael Isikoff's poison pen."

Online viewing tip. Moore on The Daily Show.

Posted by dwhudson at 11:42 AM

Shorts, 7/3.

Spartan Vince Keenan lists his highlights of the first half of 2004.

"So what is it that's incited my most recent animosity towards AICN?" Scott Weinberg tells "an enlightening little story" at Hollywood Bitchslap.

For DV.com, Colin Wilson writes about capturing Alarm Will Sound performing music by Steve Reich on HD video.

The, "if you will, 'rockumentary'" may be staging a comeback, but as Alexis Petridis writes in the cover story of the Guardian's Friday Review, "it might be premature to start talking about a renaissance." Good signs in Petridis's view are Dig!, Metallica: Some Kind of Monsterand Festival Express. Bad signs: Tupac: Resurrection, This is So Solid, Right Here, Right Now. Honorable mentions: End of the Century and Mayor of the Sunset Strip. All this is followed a list of the "rock docs they didn't want you to see," featuring, of course, Cocksucker Blues and three more.

Also in the Guardian:

"There are very few films - and I mean this quite seriously - where I haven't emerged physically damaged in a way that I never quite recover from." Fans of John Cleese have always had to put up with his complaining about what a drag it is to be so damn successful, but interviewer Ryan Gilby assures us this time around: "There is a danger that Cleese's words can sound defensive, curmudgeonly, even paranoid, so it should be remembered that he delivers his pronouncements on modern life with disarming warmth and jollity." We'll have to take his word for it.

Also in the Independent, another piece to accompany the James Cagney season at the National Film Theatre, this time from Geoffrey Macnab, and Leslie Felperin files from the Moscow International Film Festival.

Terrence Rafferty: "Now that Bresson's films are finally beginning to trickle out on DVD, a new generation will have its chance to be daunted by this imperious, stubbornly uningratiating body of work, and while I wouldn't suggest that the two most recent releases, A Man Escaped and Lancelot of the Lake (1974), answer to any reasonable definition of fun, they are, if you surrender to their inexorable rhythm and the rigorous perversities of their style, utterly compelling. (And they're short.)"

Also in the New York Times:

George Fasel on Craig Seligman's Sontag & Kael: "For anyone who cares about the nature and practice of criticism, I don't see how you can ignore this book."

Tarnation Matt Langdon: "From a stylistic point of view Tarnation recalls - and even seems to emulate - the work of such underground experimental filmmakers as Jack Smith, Andy Warhol, Kenneth Anger and Derek Jarman. But what sets it apart is that it is so personal that it makes genuine connections with the audience in ways that none of the films by these other filmmakers do."

Slate's Timothy Noah sees a new genre emerging, the "9/11 Apology Flick," and doesn't like it one bit: "'But wait,' stout defenders of liberty may say. 'If Hollywood stops making big-budget movies about the Crusades and Alexander the Great, the terrorists will have won.' The obvious logical flaw here is that Hollywood had no interest in making such movies before the World Trade Center fell. The urge to make them now seems not only reckless, but perverse."

Via Movie City News, Stephen Hunt's profile of Helen Mirren and Johanna Schneller's argument that Hollywood doesn't understand the demographic it needs most, both in the Globe and Mail.

Greg Allen keeps up with an ongoing trend he calls "Dependent Shorts."

Posted by dwhudson at 11:40 AM | Comments (2)

July 2, 2004

Marlon Brando, 1924 - 2004.

Marlon Brando
Simply put: In film acting, there is before Brando, and there is after Brando. And they are like different planets.

Rick Lyman, the New York Times.

In 1947 he erupted onto Broadway as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire under Elia Kazan's direction. His sweaty, bellowing, brutish performance won him acclaim as a stage actor of overwhelming talent; but despite professed contempt for film acting he promptly quit the stage for good in favor of acting. The best-known graduate of the Stanislavskian school of Method acting, Brando trained for his screen debut as a paraplegic in Zinnemann's The Men (1950) by spending weeks in a wheelchair among wounded war veterans. It paid off in a performance of tormented sensitivity concealed under surface truculence. Next he recreated his Streetcar tour de force, again for Kazan (1951), marking the role as his for keeps.

Philip Kemp in the Oxford History of World Cinema.

Is Brando marvelous? Yes, he is, but then he often is... The role of Don Vito - a patriarch in his early sixties - allows him more of the gentleness that was so seductive and unsettling in his braggart roles. Don Vito could be played as a magnificent old warrior, a noble killer, a handsome bull-patriarch, but Brando manages to debanalize him. It's typical of Brando's daring that he doesn't capitalize on his broken-prow profile and the massive, sculptural head that has become the head of Rodin's Balzac - he doesn't play for statuesque nobility. The light, cracked voice comes out of a twisted mouth and clenched teeth; he has the battered face of a devious, combative old man, and a pugnacious thrust to his jaw. The rasp in his voice is particularly effective after Don Vito has been wounded; one almost feels that the bullets cracked it, and wishes it hadn't been cracked before. Brando interiorizes Don Vito's power, makes him less physically threatening and deeper, hidden within himself.

Pauline Kael, reviewing The Godfather in the New Yorker, March 18, 1972.

Posted by dwhudson at 11:39 AM

July 1, 2004

Shorts, 7/1.

For Ever Godard "It is through the filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard that the history of cinema - understood as the history of the twentieth century - was forever divided." Big, big claim, that. And one at the center of Colin MacCabe's recent book, Godard: A Portrait of the Artist at 70. But this is the opening sentence of the preface to a new book, a collection of essays, For Ever Godard.

The site for the book, inspired by a conference in London in 2001 bearing the same name, is extraordinarily well done, with each of the essays getting its own little uniquely designed blurb and a collection of links that, granted, take you to simple pages for more books for the most part, but there are exceptions: agnes b. for one and the Institut français, which will be staging a massive series of events throughout July in London, including master classes with the likes of cinematographer Raoul Coutard and composer Antoine Duhamel as well as screenings introduced by MacCabe, Mike Figgis and many others. If you were thinking of visiting Paris this summer, you might actually be thinking London.

"I made the move to the New York Times because if I hadn't I would have regretted it." Manohla Dargis emails the LA Weekly and Nikki Finke lets us have a peek at all 67 words. Which is a lot more words from Dargis we non-subscribers to the Los Angeles Times's "Calendar" have been able to see for some time now.

Also in the LA Weekly:

  • Scott Foundas talks with Richard Linklater. If you're in a hurry, though, the sub-headline for Bradley Steinbacher's review in the Stranger pretty much says it all: "Rent Before Sunrise Then See Before Sunset - Now." Meanwhile, Film Threat is reporting that Linklater has wrapped shooting for A Scanner Darkly.

  • Ella Taylor finds Spider-Man 2 "more of a charmer than its predecessor." And taking the release as her news hook in the New York Times, Sharon Waxman argues that the "new generation of Hollywood's young leading men are soft of cheek, with limpid stares and wiry frames." On another related note, Slate is re-running Chris Suellentrop's 2002 piece on Spider-Man's celibacy, and in the Philadelphia City Paper, Sam Adams argues that the sequel takes the comic book movie "past puberty, perhaps for the first time." None of this can get Al Reid excited, though.

  • Taylor didn't have nearly as good a time watching De-Lovely, "a likable but plodding blend of strenuous style and canned psychology." Far kinder words than those NP Thompson found: "Musically, aesthetically, it's a shambles."

Wired: I, Robot Hey, Cory Doctorow has a cover story in Wired. Yes, it's another one of Wired's movie packages, but Cory most definitely makes the best of it, opening with a bit of background on I, Robot director Alex Proyas before diving deeper into Isaac Asimov's major role as a popularizer of robotics. And on the side, Jennifer Hillner interviews Will Smith.

Festival wrap-ups at indieWIRE: Scott Foundas on Maui and Jonny Leahan on Los Angeles.

Tom Hall: "Whenever I return to New York from any amount of time spent away, I immediately go gorge myself on movies as a way of reminding myself why I love living here, why the city is essential to me."

Ken Russell recalls his discovery of Tchaikovsky - it's every bit as dramatic as you'd imagine - and how he sold United Artists on the idea of The Music Lovers: "'What's the pitch?' they said in unison. 'It's about a nymphomaniac who falls in love with a homosexual,' I answered impulsively. Ka-ching!"

Also in the Guardian:

What's this? Richard Gere once sat on the cinetrix's sofa?

Posted by dwhudson at 12:56 PM | Comments (2)

"Shows leadership."

Agnew for Vice President? In the New York Times, Alessandra Stanley hails the launch of "The Living Room Candidate," an online exhibition at the American Museum of the Moving Image: "It is a truism that political campaigns nowadays are fought and won on television, but it is also true that at this point in the campaign some of the most talked-about ads are being shown only in swing states like Ohio or Florida. The Web site allows New Yorkers and Californians to see how the other half are being wooed."

The site is also a major, time-consuming diversion. Right away, I was hooked by the 1952 spot for Adlai Stevenson, "I Love the Gov," the sexiest political ad I've ever seen anyway. Stanley also describes another eye-popper: "A 1968 Nixon ad reveling in Democratic Party chaos, for instance, is a wordless montage of the Chicago convention, Vietnam and civil unrest, set to a daffily jaunty rendition of 'Happy Days Are Here Again.' It is a strange, and strangely effective ad that [curator David] Schwartz described as 'very avant-garde' and stylistically close to a popular variety show of the time, Laugh-In."

I lost a good solid hour to this exhibition today and expect to give up a few more when the day winds down.

Meanwhile, the latest Web ad for Bush sparks a few thoughts from Slate's William Saletan: "Leadership used to be the noun form of a verb. A leader was someone who led. Now a leader is someone who 'shows leadership.' Politicians don't lead. They show."

Via Movie City News, the Boston Globe's Mark Jurkowitz on the way the whole series of docs you've seen mentioned here again and again are not only filling the major gaps in the media's version of post-9/11 history but also critiquing the media's complacency and complicity.

Objectivity? It's overrated, says Brian Clark.

With Fahrenheit 9/11 set to roll out around the world, indieWIRE's Anthony Kaufman surveys the global prospects... and finds them very good indeed.

Barbara Ehrenreich in the NYT: "My point is not to defend Moore, who - with a platoon of bodyguards and a legal team starring Mario Cuomo - hardly needs any muscle from me. I just think it's time to retire the 'liberal elite' label, which, for the past 25 years, has been deployed to denounce anyone to the left of Colin Powell."

Robert Davis: "I suppose this is the problem with Michael Moore. He's so polarizing, that the legitimate questions he raises are often shrugged off by those who should answer them." Nevertheless: "Fahrenheit 9/11 is a concentrated reflection on some of the most important arguments against recent US military action, far less vindictive than emotional, and worthy of - demanding - a response."

Here's one: Andrew Sullivan at the New Republic's site. It's more of a response to William Raspberry's column in the Washington Post than to the film, but it is also a sober critique rather than a frothing rant, a conservative pan that has no need to resort to labels like "fascist" and, wonder of wonders, Moore's weight isn't even mentioned. Whether you're blue or red, left or right, pro- or anti-Moore, and for that matter, usually pro- or anti-Sullivan, this is a response worthy of serious consideration.

Posted by dwhudson at 12:53 PM

Manny Farber

Negative Space "Manny Farber is the film critic's critic. Although he's not as widely known today as he should be, Farber's work has been admired by critics and writers as diverse as Susan Sontag and Pauline Kael, Greil Marcus and Jonathan Rosenbaum, William Gibson and Paul Schrader." In her preview of the film series "Manny Farber at the Movies" and the exhibition "Manny Farber: About Face," Marjorie Baumgarten provides a nifty intro in the Austin Chronicle.

It's a brief piece and it'll make you want to go out and find more, so, though I've pointed to a few of these before, here, all in one spot, are Noel King's piece for Framework and his interview with editor Robert Walsh in Senses of Cinema, where you'll also find Bill Krohn on Farber's painting My Budd.

Kent Jones interviewed Farber in March 2000 for Film Comment and Robert Polito moderated a panel on Farber for Artforum in 2002 with Jones, Greil Marcus, Jonathan Crary and Stephanie Zacharek.

And then, of course, there's Farber himself and his most cited essay (besides "Underground Films," which I can't seem to find online), "White Elephant Art vs Termite Art."

Posted by dwhudson at 8:23 AM | Comments (4)