March 31, 2005

Shorts, 3/31.

Belvaux's Trilogy With On the Run, An Amazing Couple, and After the Life, known collectively as The Trilogy, Lucas Belvaux has cleanly swept the 11th Annual Chlotrudis Awards in Boston.

Sin City roundup:

  • Burned by Hollywood, Frank Miller had been refusing bids for rights to the series for years. In Wired, Brian Ashcraft recounts how Robert Rodriguez won him over in a single day; and that's just the first chapter in a most unusual making-of story.

  • Chris Garcia interviews Rodriguez for the Austin American-Statesman. Via the IFC Blog.

  • Filmrot demonstrates just how closely he's stuck to the books. Via the Movie Blog.

  • "Try this for range: cannibalism, castration, decapitation, dismemberment, electrocution, hanging, massacres, pedophilia, slashings and lots and lots of torture." David M Halbfinger sets the film's gore and the Disney-Miramax divorce next to each other to see what they look like together. (Also in the New York Times, Caryn James: "Pick your examples shrewdly enough and it can seem as if all of culture, high and low, is awash in colorblind casting.")

  • David Poland has fired up a hopping discussion: "Are fetishizing filmmaking tools instead of drama?"

  • Ella Taylor in the LA Weekly (where she also reviews Look at Me): "I found the movie every bit as sickening as its creators intended it to be, minus the kicks they so palpably got out of making it."

Dust to Glory Some might prefer to get their thrills from Dana Brown's Dust to Glory, which LAW's Scott Foundas finds "absolutely exhilarating." Filmmaker's Steve Gallagher: "If the film is half as cool as its Web site, IFC Films has a hit on its hands."

The Weinsteins' plans encompass more than movies, reports Bob Tourtellotte for Reuters: "As they build Weinstein Co by first focusing on movies, reinvigorating book publishing, then branching into cable television, the Internet and other digital media, they hope to raise up to $1 billion, although that may take years." More from Eugene Hernandez at indieWIRE, which leads us to:

"The move by the IFP/Los Angeles to pursue a name change and distinguish itself from the other 5 IFP chapters stirred strong reactions from leading independent film producers Ted Hope and Christine Vachon Wednesday, a day that also saw organization Executive Director Dawn Hudson compelled to explain the reasons behind the potential move while IFP/LA board member Marcus Hu also weighed in." Eugene's piece has already sparked considerable commentary and he spots a trend: "The reactions underscore the widening gap that exists within the aging independent film community."

Also at iW: Lisa Bear files from one of the world's toughest beats, the Bermuda International Film Festival, which wrapped on March 24.

Filmbrain: "Clean is one of those films you wish was better than it is."

Featured in Andrew O'Hehir's "Beyond the Metroplex" column: Kontroll, The Ballad of Jack and Rose and Nowhere Man. Also at Salon: Heather Havrilesky on HBO's Air America Radio doc, Left of the Dial. More from Nikki Finke in the LA Weekly, who asks AAR CEO Danny Goldberg what he thinks about the film.

Besides the narrowing window between the theatrical and DVD release of a film, Gary Dretzka considers other issues on the collective mind of the industry for Movie City News. And via MCN: 15 bad scenes in great movies and 15 great scenes in bad movies, two excellent lists from the Onion AV Club.

The Time Traveler's Wife Ray Pride points to Greg Mariotti's, where we learn that PTA is adapting Upton Sinclair's novel, Oil!. The film will likely feature Daniel Day-Lewis.

In more adaptation news, Gus Van Sant is shooting for Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife, notes André Soares at Cinema Minima.

Jeffrey Wells discovers Kung Fu Hustle to be "easily the funniest and most imaginatively nutso chop-socky flick I've ever seen."

Fat City: Lawrence Levi, writing in Stop Smiling, likes the film but loves the book.

Spencer Parsons: "A little less than a year since the first public screenings, Warner Bros. has called the kibosh on performances of Brad Neely's Wizard People, Dear Reader, though no official legal action has been taken, and none appears imminent." Still, he's stopping. Illegal Art, however, is not.

Also in the Austin Chronicle: Joe O'Connell reports that the release of Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly will be pushed from this September to March 2006 and Stephen Macmillan Moser wallows in the "fabulous extras" adorning the Special Edition of Carrie, wherein we learn that much of the cast originally auditioned for Star Wars: "It is a film of many firsts: Stephen King's first novel (as well as first film adaptation of a Stephen King novel), Brian De Palma's first mainstream effort, Piper Laurie's first film in 15 years, Betty Buckley's first film, Travolta's first film, PJ Soles's first film, and Amy Irving's first film."

"Remember when people watched pornos in movie theaters?" asks the cinetrix.

Berlin Super 80 Berlin Super 80. Yes, it's an ad, but maybe you won't mind. What it is: A package - CD, DVD and book - a "flashback of early 80s Berlin subculture featuring output by virtuosos of the city's underground movie scene who rediscovered Super 8 as an adequate outlet for their creative endeavours." Einstürzende Neubauten, Die tödliche Doris...

CNET's Stefanie Olsen: "Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment is trying to develop and own the next iTunes - but for films."

Chuck Olsen launches the Digital Television Blog.

Online viewing tip. Via Todd at Twitch, naturally (where, by the way, logboy points to Warp's interview with Chris Cunningham; careful, it's bordered by some rather disturbing artwork). Anyway: "Horseplay is an odd little three-minute absurdist piece chock full of fantastic cinematography while Mr Theobald is... well... hard to describe.... The host site is well worth kicking around in as well."

Posted by dwhudson at 1:51 PM

March 30, 2005

SFIFF. Preview.

Craig Phillips looks ahead to the nation's oldest film festival, scheduled this year to run from April 21 through May 5.

SFIFF 48 Attended the press conference yesterday for the San Francisco International Film Festival, during which they officially announced their 2005 lineup, and, although the films scheduled are a quality bunch overall, it's hard not to feel frustrated by what seems to be a lack of energy behind it, or more specifically for some, a lack of premieres. A lack possibly due to the Tribeca Film Festival (April 19 through May 1 in New York) moving up to coincide on the calendar with the SFIFF and taking a large share of premieres, a move possibly due to Tribeca director Peter Scarlett's (and I ain't one to gossip so you didn't hear it from me) possible feud, or at least rivalry, with the festival he used to manage, the SFIFF.

At any rate, with few world premieres, most of them docs, maybe it's not as exciting to "premiere junkies" or to those fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to be at this year's Sundance, but there's plenty to relish and look forward to nonetheless. Picking out some of the screenings and events that caught my own two eyes, with so much more to mention another time:

Takashi Miike's Izo is playing as a "midnight movie" - his most recent film features Beat Takeshi, and is described as (I'm shocked... shocked!) a "violent spectacle that will leave viewers reeling." I'm there!

Two years ago, Claire Denis's beautifully shot if slight Friday Night screened at the SFIFF; this year it's The Intruder, which Festival Director Roxanne Messina Captor described yesterday as "pure cinema" (a phrase that always strikes warning bells in my head, but I'll try to remain optimistic).

Two Bay Area filmmakers whose works were just screened at Sundance will show at the SF Fest, too: Jenni Olson's The Joy of Life and Miranda July's Me and You and Everyone We Know, which I've heard terrific things about.

As mentioned above, there are few in the way of official world premieres, some North American or US premieres, and the rest, of course, local premieres. The one World Premiere for a narrative film is for the Atom Egoyan-produced Mouth to Mouth, directed by Alison Murray, a very gifted short filmmaker making her feature debut. It's about a cult of homeless youth in Europe and stars Ellen Page (also generating buzz for the upcoming Hard Candy).

Life in a Box Other World Premieres include the local docs Life in a Box, following the queer-country duo with the nifty moniker Y'all as they trek into the Bible Belt, and Pursuit of Equality, about the debate over same-sex marriages; and the Iranian doc Kamancheh, about the titular instrument. I'm also looking forward to Rivers and Tides director Thomas Riedelsheimer's new film, Touch the Sound, this time looking at another Scottish artist, the deaf musician Evelyn Glennie.

North American premieres include: Sumiko Haneda's Into the Picture Scroll; Albanian Gjergj Xhuvani's Dear Enemy, set during WWII; the Hong Kong romantic comedy Beyond Our Ken; a doc on B-movie master Edgar G Ulmer; The Last Mitterand, and after reading my colleague David Hudson's write-up, it's definitely high on my list; the Indonesian film Of Love and Eggs; Monday Morning Glory, from Malaysian filmmaker Woo Ming Jin, definitely a person to watch for; and Sepet, also from Malaysia, a film which sounds lovely and is also the source of controversy for being that sadly rare occurrence, a film from a Muslim society directed by a woman. The festival is showcasing a host of Malaysian films, a list that also includes two by Amir Muhammad and the country's first homegrown Tamil-language film, The Gravel Road (2004).

My Mother, the Mermaid In the Take That, Rex Reed Dept, 3-Iron, from Kim Ki-duk, one of South Korea's "Bad Boys" (though this one sounds like a slightly more gentle love story); and My Mother, the Mermaid, by Park Heung-shik, billed, probably deceptively, as a "Korean Peggy Sue Got Married."

Besides those already mentioned, the documentaries I'm most looking forward to are Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, which from what I've heard should blow the lid off that appalling mess and capture the sick comedy of it all; and Ralph Arlyck's Following Sean, which, Apted/7-Up-style, returns to check in on Sean, a 60s lovechild of the Haight-Ashbury and now an adult let down by the failed promises of the counterculture.

Then, of course, there's the ubiquitous festival appearance of Todd Solondz's Palindromes, but what is of particular interest is the screenplay seminar to be held after a screening of the film on April 23, in which Solondz chats with writer/director Noah Hawley. A "State of Cinema Address" with Incredibles director Brad Bird on April 24 should also be fascinating, and I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention "An Afternoon with Anita Monga," a salute to the longtime Bay Area programmer who was unjustly deposed from the Castro Theater last year.

Lastly, I'm pretty darned excited about the screening of the classic silent film Street Angel (1928) - why? Because American Music Club, just back together after ten years apart, will be performing an original score live with the film's screening (April 23). That and the Alloy Orchestra's accompaniment of the rarely seen silent version of Alfred Hitchcock's Blackmail and the Lon Chaney version of Phantom of the Opera on April 25. So what the festival lacks in premieres it may make up for in creativity, diversity and the people present. (Did I mention the salute to Joan Allen? I wonder if she'll talk to us.)

Posted by dwhudson at 3:34 PM | Comments (9)

Shorts, 3/30.

M-SPIFF 23 Rob Nelson opens a hefty cover package in the City Pages devoted to the 23rd Minneapolis-St Paul International Film Festival, April 1 through 16: "Of the 160 films from around the globe, as many as 20 are enjoying their US premieres here - a first for a fest that has been around more than two decades."

Besides the staff picks of the most noteworthy fare screening during the first week:

  • Peter S Scholtes meets Jacques the dog, "star of The Wild Condition, a startlingly original new movie from Rolf Belgum that's part nature film, part fiction film, and part human-based documentary. The director is known for his 1998 rock-doc Driver 23, a portrait of struggling prog-metal musician Dan Cleveland and his local band Darkhorse."

  • Peter Ritter profiles Vu Tran, who arrived in the US from Vietnam on a boat with 110 other refugees and has now directed From There to Here.

  • Quinton Skinner meets James Vculek, whose first feature, Two Harbors, is a "sci-fi tragicomedy" which cost all of $10K.

Slacker A "refusal to judge, I'm finally realizing, is what attracts me again and again to Linklater's films," Darren Hughes. "Linklater, perhaps more than any other contemporary filmmaker, is alive to the potential and the basic human value of the men and women who walk in and out of his films." And then he gets to that "something wonderfully subversive about Slacker."

"I'd like to take Darren's idea one step further." Here's where Ed Champion wants to go: Linklater's films "can now be viewed as bright beacons for multiple subjective reactions instead of a unilateral, preprogrammed response."

BRAINTRUSTdv interviews Dariusz Gajewski, whose Warsaw picked up top prizes at the 28th Festival of Polish Feature Films in Gdynia in 2003: "The audience jeered, but Gajewski became an overnight sensation."

Oliver Assayas talks at length about his failed marriage to Maggie Cheung with Jason Solomons of the London Times. On Clean: "'We both seemed to be pushing each other to make it and I think we both thought making the film would be good for us on a psychological level, that we might get some closure from it.' And did they? 'No,' he says with a rueful laugh." Via the IFC Blog, where Alison Willmore has noted that Filmmaker has slipped another feature online, Patrick Z McGavin's interview with Agnès Jaoui.

Once again, too much great stuff going on at Twitch to choose any single item. Make sure you've got a while, then click.

Richard at the Movie Blog: "Actress Gong Li has not only joined the Miami Vice movie as Crockett's (Colin Farrell) love interest, but is also to join the cast of Behind the Mask."

Disney Mask David M Halbfinger in the New York Times: "After protracted negotiations that came to a close with an unexpected level of cooperation, the Walt Disney Company and the founders of Miramax Films drew an anticlimactic end to their stormy 12-year marriage on Tuesday. Disney is left with Miramax's name and its library of 550 films, and Harvey and Bob Weinstein get about $130 million to start a new company." That's the just-the-facts-ma'am story; Halbfinger's initial analysis follows in a separate piece.


Speaking of which. Brooks also checks in with the indie crowd in the wake of news of HBO and New Line's joint acquisition of Newmarket: "The consensus: It's all good. For sure, it's good for Mr. Berney. But, hey, it's good for us, too."


  • There are eight million stories in the big city and Ron Rosenbaum tells one of them: "It's an iconic New York moment because it's a movie-line moment. A Woody Allen moment. A Woody Allen movie-line moment. One of those exquisite New York situations that combined guilt, remorse, status anxiety, art anxiety, anxiety anxiety - meta-anxiety. Where minor questions of etiquette morph into major questions of ethics."

  • Andrew Sarris confesses.

  • Stephen Metcalf on Closer, "Carnal Knowledge cleansed of its wounding asperity and reshot as an extended ad for $9 mineral water. Well, what's not to enjoy?"

Back to the NYT: Linda Greenhouse reports from Washington on the Supreme Court's day listening to arguments in the MGM vs Grokster case.


For Film-Philosophy, Benjamin A Schneider reviews Wendy Everett's Terence Davies.

In the Seattle Weekly, NP Thompson reviews Peter Bogdanovich's Who the Hell's in It.

Richard Jinman in the Guardian: "Peter O'Toole is not a fan of modern theatre - or, as he puts it, the 'badly done shit' performed by 'smart-aleck twats' that passes for contemporary theatre." Also: Courtney Love's to play Linda Lovelace in an upcoming biopic and Jonathan Ivinson explains why Hollywood execs keep an eye on British tax laws.

Channel Crossings There aren't many film critics left who haven't commented on Downfall, Bruno Ganz's performance and the whole sticky issue of how to portray Hitler on the screen. David Thomson finally chimes in. Also in the Independent: This year's British Silent Cinema Festival focuses on "Britain's cinematic relationship with continental Europe," reports Charlotte Cripps.

Chuck Tryon: "I'm probably being a little generous to the film, but tonight I needed a popcorn flick badly, and Sin City served me well."

More from Armond White in the New York Press (he segues nicely via "The Girl Hunt Ballet" into Vincente Minnelli's The Band Wagon) and from Cheryl Eddy, who also takes on the "engaging comedy" Beauty Shop, in the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Also: Dennis Harvey on Off the Map and The Ballad of Jack and Rose, both "pretty good," both set about 30 years back or so and both dealing with "patchouli-soaked alterna-parents and their offspring's seismic struggles toward well-adjustment during that organically fraught period between age 10 and emancipation." And Susan Gerhard previews a program of Jay Rosenblatt's work screening tomorrow at the San Francisco Cinemateque.

Back in the NYP, Matt Zoller Seitz gives Guess Who a pass and then describes an elaborate ruse that sounds kinda fun whether you're in on the joke or not.

Craig Phillips: "My favorite examples of Straight to Video marketing efforts now include The Hillz (which must go on my next worst titles list; the 'z' is always added to give a film street cred, some urban flava), pitched with the tagline (I kid you not), 'American Pie meets Pulp Fiction... with a dash of A Clockwork Orange.'  Oh yeah, and it stars Paris Hilton."

Online viewing tip #1. The trailer for Chrystal, an independent film by Ray McKinnon (who made Oscar-winning short, The Accountant) and starring his wife, Lisa Bount (they've been working on this film for twelve years), and Billy Bob Thornton. If you like what you see, grab some friends and rack up those vital first-weekend numbers on April 8 and 9.

Online viewing tip #2. Video-poetry via Bibi's box by way of Cinema Minima.

Posted by dwhudson at 1:37 PM | Comments (1)

March 29, 2005

Shorts, 3/29.

DVD In an entry entitled "Cinephilia in a Digital Age," Darren Hughes writes, "I just wish that Bazin and Truffaut had lived long enough to see it." Excellent comments follow.

"In its final stretch, the New Directors/New Films festival continues to offer up a tasting menu of the good, the respectable and the forgettable." Stephen Holden, Manohla Dargis and AO Scott file seven more initial impressions in the New York Times.

Five more are blurbed by the Village Voice tag team, but you know, Michael Tully's reviews are just splendid and, lucky us, he goes right ahead and posts all of them; be sure and take note of those titles labeled "MUST-SEE CINEMA!!!" Not that you'd miss them, of course.

One of the films, Kontroll, is set for wider release, relatively speaking, so Filmbrain and the Voice's J Hoberman give it the full-fledged treatment.

Back to the NYT:


  • Ever seen Cinemania? Remember Bill Heidbreder, who suggested that movies might be better than sex? (No, Bill, blogging about movies is better than sex.) Anyway, as we learn from Howard Kaplan, he's still catching ten films a week - as he has for the last 20 years.

  • Pakistani actress Meera's on-screen kiss with a Hindu actor in Nazar may well put her in severe danger. Salman Masood explains, adding: "Officially, it is illegal to show Indian movies in Pakistan's theaters, but there is a huge black market for them. People watch them on cassettes or DVDs, and Indian film stars are household names here." Related: Sean Spillane joins fans of The Hot Spot's Lollywood billboard and poster art collection.

  • Re-enactments in docs aren't unusual, but because Robert Hudson and Bobby Houston went to such extremes to blend theirs into actual documentary footage in their Oscar-winning short, Mighty Times: The Children's March, the Academy is reviewing it eligibility rules. Irene Lacher reports.

  • James Reston Jr is accusing Ridley Scott of lifting key elements from his book, Warriors of God: Richard the Lionheart and Saladin in the Third Crusade, for Kingdom of Heaven. Sharon Waxman has the story.

  • Ned Martel on Faye Dunaway's strange yet perhaps shrewd career move.

  • Reviewing box office numbers, Catherine Billey notes "an unusually strong showing this quarter by films starring African-Americans."

Look at Me This week's Reverse Shot/indieWIRE triad reviews Agnès Jaoui's Look at Me. Which brings us back to the Voice and Michael Atkinson's review as well as his preview of Film Forum's series, "The Early Sturges: Preston Sturges Screenplays, 1930 - 1939."


Tech problems have kept Movie City Indie behind a virtual firewall for too long now - very unfortunately, because Ray Pride always finds terrific stuff. But! For about a week now, he's been working right here - go now and catch up.

Besides noting that the "new Chemical Brothers video is adequately rad," Rex at Fimoculous has made an even better find: Chris Dahlen at Pitchfork on the exceedingly bizarre response of American pop culture to 9/11. Slate's Meghan O'Rourke believes, though, that the first 9/11 novel is finally here.

Kim Ki-duk Tom Vick aims to keep the Kim Ki-duk debate civil. Ben Slater sees a "'print guys' versus the bloggers thing kicking off here..." I doubt that. It really is about the films, Ben.

David Edelstein in Slate: "The important vengeance sagas of our drama - The Oresteia, Hamlet, such Jacobean revenger tragedies as, well, The Revenger's Tragedy - portray revenge as both natural and cataclysmic, whereas in modern movies it's just action business as usual. I have found my great vengeance director now in Park Chan-wook... Oldboy is a movie where you think you're in hell from the first frame - but have no inkling of the infernal circles to come."

Greg Allen, still reeling from that Bewitched trailer, notes that Björk's released a two-disc DVD edition of Medúlla that includes a making-of doc shot by Spike Jonze.

At low culture, Matt considers two diverging roads not taken: "[A]t one point Janeane Garofalo seemed to be easing on down the road of commerce while her friend and collaborator Ben Stiller, hard as it seems to believe now, was awkwardly stalking the periphery of something closer to art."

Chris Anderson edits Wired (and stories on Robert Rodriguez and new media mogul Mark Cuban will be appearing on the site in the next few days) and is working on a book, The Long Tail, frequently thinking out loud as he writes: "It would be easy to make this blog a running chronicle of all media and entertainment in the throes of radical change.... [W]e're ending one era and entering another where the rules are sure to be different." Examples follow.

Speaking of Cuban, here's this, via Movie City News: "We want our content to get to the customer in the way the customer wants to receive it, when they want to receive it, at a price that is of value to them. Simple business. Unless Grokster loses to MGM in front of the Supreme Court."

Also via MVN:

"Lars and I just sat down and thought: 'What do we normally do? Those things we have to forbid.' It took about 45 minutes." Ten years on, Steve Rose talks to Thomas Vinterberg and other directors and actors about the impact of Dogme 95.

Also in the Guardian:


Matt Clayfield: "I'm about to do for my criticism what I did for my filmmaking with Notes from the Arctic Circle; I'm going to make the process the point of the whole endeavour; I'm going to have fun."

NP Thompson explains why you need to go out of your way to see Lost Embrace if you can; for one thing, "quite unlike Garden State or Good Bye, Lenin!, [it] owes nothing to American sitcoms. The screenplay by Daniel Burman (who also directs) and Marcelo Birmajer neither sounds like movie dialogue nor moves with the usual, expected emphases; it’s refreshingly idiosyncratic and agenda-free behaviorally."

Hollywood Bitchslap interviews: Jason Whyte with cinematographer Bill Butler and Peter Sobczynski with Danny Boyle and, on an entirely different day, Jordana Brewster.

Closer's out on DVD and Christopher Orr finds it "flamboyantly bad, bad in a way that can't help but be fascinating and even entertaining." Also at the New Republic site: Irving Howe's 1958 review of Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago.

For PopMatters, Cynthia Fuchs talks to Michael Tucker, director of Gunner Palace, and Jon Powers, one of the soldiers who appears in the film.

Salon's Heather Havrilesky loves Veronica Mars so much she just had to talk to the teen noir's creator, Rob Thomas.

Is Ellen Barkin alright? Defamer passes along a report that suggests... maybe not.

"Thousands of weeping Egyptians have said farewell to Ahmed Zaki, one of the country's best-loved actors, who died in Cairo on Sunday aged 55." A BBC report via the indieWIRE Insider. New iW blog: "Undiscovered Gems," tracking a fest launching on April 1 at the California Film Institute.

The Aurora Picture Show in Houston will be presenting "Media Archeology: Live Cinema" from April 13 through 17: "The Live Cinema movement is the cinematic corollary of DJ-ing, sampling, and mash-ups, but rather than use music, these artists employ film, video and computer imagery as raw materials for audio/visual composition."

Via Chuck Olsen: videobloggingweek2005.

Online for-the-helluvit tip. Pictures snapped at Slavoj Zizek's wedding.

Online viewing tip #1. Todd at Twitch not only has the lineup for Udine Far East Film 7, April 22 through 29, he's also found trailers for thirteen films screening at the Philadelphia Film Festival, April 7 through 20. "Some would call it dedication. Some would call it research for my impending trip. I call it a distinct lack of social life." Call us grateful.

Online viewing tip #2. Writes the cinetrix: "Because you like to watch - don't we all? - here's a veritable treasure trove of shorts." But wait, there's more: "The Ozzy sprog apes Anna Karina. Sacrilege! The cinematography is gorgeous. It was the first time. The song? Who knows? I kept it on mute."


Online viewing tip #3. And how. From Sean Spillane over at his Bitter Cinema: "[W]hile some of you may be familiar with the collection of Fluxus films at the Ubuweb (a repository of all things avant and all that), Ubuweb has now just launched a new section of classic avant garde films, including films by Buñuel, Man Ray, Kenneth Anger, Guy Debord, Jack Smith and many more." Naturally, the cinetrix has found this trove as well and adds an eerily appropriate cut-up assortment of annotations, both original and found.

Posted by dwhudson at 4:25 PM | Comments (7)

March 28, 2005

Cinema Scope. 22.

Considering the writers, it's too tempting not to start with the festival roundups in the new issue of Cinema Scope. Just start Quintín's and try to stop:

Cinema Scope 22

The dedicated followers of the Uchida retrospective in the last Rotterdam Film Festival were divided into two groups. One of them, easily recognizable in the first row of the Pathé 1, was spiritually and materially grouped around the figure of Olaf Möller, cinephile excelsus and an expert on Japanese cinema since the age of ten. The other group was more scattered in the seats of the mammoth theatre and didn't have a visible leader.

3-iron Tony Rayns traces the evolution of Berlin's Forum: "The Forum's problem is that 'alternative' no longer means what it meant in 1971, and its attempts to explore the world of 'new alternatives' have been less than sure-footed." Here, by the way, is where Chuck Stephens's review of Kim Ki-duk's 3 Iron needs to be mentioned since it takes into account the article Rayns is still most known for, the one Stephens commissioned for Film Comment last year, "Sexual Terrorism: The Strange Case of Kim Ki-duk." Stephens is fully aware of the fury that piece stirred (see, for example, Ben Slater and the discussion he generated at, Tom Vick and Filmbrain) and doesn't hesitate a moment to add fuel to the fire.

Robert Koehler adds his voice to what seems to be the widely agreed upon solution to the Sundance problem: Open it up to the world. As that begins to happen, Koehler notes that so far the results are decidedly mixed.

Tom Charity's interest was sparked by two features at Sundance enough to talk to their makers: Robinson Devor on Police Beat and Travis Wilkerson on Who Killed Cock Robin?.

Lilja 4-ever Jason Anderson interviews Lukas Moodysson: "The American version of A Hole in My Heart was actually the film I was planning to make before I was, like, hit by a truck - and that truck was Lilya 4-ever."

"In an irony worthy of some of the finest ambivalent moments in his work, Frederick Wiseman's fantastic new documentary The Garden remains invisible for the time being," writes Christophe Huber. Frustrating, not least because - brace yourself - "There can be little doubt that Wiseman is the greatest American filmmaker alive - as Olaf Möller pointed out recently, he is for modern US cinema what John Ford was for the classical era: the most ceaseless chronicler of the way society works, never neglecting the human efforts made to keep it running, yet ever so acutely aware of the weariness and contradictions that inevitably arise along the way."

Jason McBride also knows how to open a piece: "Watching a video by Emily Vey Duke and Cooper Battersby is a little like entering a ménage à trois where the sex, while fumbling, is always good, and the pillow talk is even better. Canada's budding Miéville-Godard, Vey Duke-Battersby have been working together since 1994, and, in that decade, have produced some of the most witty, charming and, yes, sexy video art this side of Spike Jonze."

Fire up your wishlist and lock down your bank account. Once again, it's Jonathan Rosenbaum's "Global Discoveries on DVD" column.

Andréa Picard has a list of serious complaints to make about Jessica Yu's In the Realms of the Unreal.

After noting the differences between the two latest generations of Canadian filmmakers, Steve Gravestock reviews Michael Dowse's It's All Gone Peter Tong: "Slicker and far more ambitious than Fubar, the film is part mockumentary and part biopic, recounting the rise and fall of celebrated DJ Frankie Wilde (Paul Kaye), the toast of Ibiza, the dance music/rave capital of the world."

Posted by dwhudson at 3:50 AM


Only just now caught up with the new Scope, all redesigned and a new series launched with Issue 1 last month. All previous issues - five years' worth - have been archived. Besides the cleaner, easier-to-read pages, the most welcome change is the separation of the many book and film reviews out onto their own individual pages.

Issue 47 of Jump Cut has also evidently been out for a while now, featuring a special section on docs and "'contemporary events' fictions." Just as a reminder: Jump Cut's archive of its first 15 issues, spanning three years (1974 - 77) and 260 essays makes for fascinating browsing and an invaluable resource.

Daniel Garrett takes on nothing less than the human condition in his widely and deeply ranging consideration of five films - Hotel Rwanda, The Merchant of Venice, Bad Education, The Woodsman and Notre Musique - which opens an all-review issue of Offscreen and leads nicely into Donato Totaro's short piece, "Forever Godard."

Geoffrey Nowell-Smith: Luchino Visconti Totaro also reviews Mohsen Makhmalbaf's Marriage of the Blessed and three intriguing videos from Iran. Then Jason Lindop argues that in Gerry two levels of meaning interact in such a way that they create a dissonance within the viewer, "one of the film's greatest strengths."

Meanwhile, Film-Philosophy's world cinema issues rolls on. "For nearly four decades, the definitive study of the films of Luchino Visconti has been, and remains, that of Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, originally published in 1967." Peter Brunette (more) takes measure of the new third edition and Nowell-Smith reponds: "[T]he absence from my book of the things Brunette is looking for causes me no grief at all."

Posted by dwhudson at 3:40 AM

March 27, 2005

FLM. Spring 05.

Via Rashomon comes word of the new issue featuring filmmakers' comments on their own work accompanied by trailers, links to reviews and the like. Yes, it's basically a pretty promotional package for Landmark Theatres. Is that a problem?

FLM: Spring 05

Posted by dwhudson at 1:32 AM

March 26, 2005

Weekend shorts.

Guy Dyas: Brothers Grimm Phil Stubbs talks to production designer Guy Dyas about his work on Terry Gilliam's The Brothers Grimm. The page is graced with several of Dyas's drawings and the site itself, Dreams, is chock full of Gilliamalia. Via Movie City News.

"I hate making films so much that the only possible reason I could generate that could fuel that sort of process would be the idea that they could make people happy to have been born and raise consciousness... I began this because I wanted to be loved - or liked. I felt that if I were a filmmaker this would happen." Assisted Living director Elliot Greenebaum confesses profusely to BRAINTRUSTdv. David Lowery had a conversation with him just a couple of weeks ago, too.

For Filmmaker, Alan Jacobson interviews Rusty Nails. Topics: The "nuts-and-bolts filmmaking specifics, obtaining music from bands, music composition for no-budget features, and the rest of what it takes to legally make and promote a film with little money." Well, yes, that. But you'll also want to click his links to indie music labels and, at the end, be reminded once again what a great city Chicago is.

Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd Gig Patrick Macias director and screenwriter Kenji Kamiyama and Production IG founder and prez Mitsuhisa Ishikawa. Topics: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and the its follow-up, Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd Gig, and of course, the international rage for anime.

Doug Cummings celebrates "the intensely creative animation of Quebecois artist Frédéric Back."

News of upcoming DVD releases doesn't usually make these batches of shorts (though they probably should more often), but here's a thunderous announcement: According to DVD Beaver, Criterion will be working Fassbinder's Berlin Alexanderplatz.

Patrick J Walsh has been teaching Westerns in Bavaria and writes about it for Flow: "Perhaps my students' overwhelming dislike for the current president, and the fact that I asked them to think about what these movies suggested about the US, influenced their take on the films we watched. They seemed displeased by the Manichean logic of screen heroes like Shane and the Ringo Kid, men who were willing to kill without remorse, their vengeful, hateful violence cloaked in moral rectitude, courtesy to women and a show of religious feeling." Perhaps.

Can you believe the saga Paul Schrader's Exorcist prequel has become? And it just goes on and on. At The Bloody News, Erik Kristopher Myers probes the already-probed and the as-yet-unprobed bits with the director - and then reviews the film itself. Pretty enthusiastically, too. That's via Todd at Twitch. Meanwhile, Wiley Wiggins and others have noted, Fox's Roger Friedman reported on Thursday that it'll likely get a release after all.

Sin City Speaking of early reviews, Todd's got another one he runs right on the site: Nick on Sin City.

ReadyMade's Shoshana Berger interviews Brad Bird. Via Greg Allen.

Via Defamer, Gawker's phone call with Vincent Gallo.

Rebecca Epstein in the LA CityBeat: "The traveling fan festival honoring the 1998 cult film The Big Lebowski hits LA this Friday for a weekend of nuttiness, bowling, live music, and White Russians."

"The film's real interest is not its social aspect. Its true soul lies somewhere else." Sheila Johnston listens to Gianni Amelio describe the impact of Bicycle Thieves on his own work.

Also in the Telegraph:

Best performers now working? George Fasel proposes a coupla dozen names.

Fallen Angels

The Otto Preminger season at the National Film Theatre in London provide both David Thomson in the Guardian and Geoffrey Macnab in the Independent excellent opportunities to survey the career. And there are two interviews in the Independent: Tiffany Rose with Sandra Bullock and Sholto Byrnes with Charlotte Rampling.

Back to the Guardian:

Eugene Hernandez: "Indie circles have been buzzing about the launch of a new specialty division from HBO and New Line Cinema... As we tend to do the day after a major announcement, indieWIRE polled a few of the heads of leading theatrical distribution companies to get their take." Also: Hernandez and Brian Brooks have five questions for D.E.B.S. director Angela Robinson and Brooks snaps pix at the film's premiere.

In the New York Times:

New Directors/New Films

  • Stephen Holden, Dargis and Scott update their collection of blurbs on the films screening in the New Directors/New Films series. More and more from Michael Tully. And then there's Slant's very fine and thorough coverage as well.

  • AO Scott on Darwin's Nightmare: "One of the virtues of [Hubert] Sauper's film is its rigorous commitment to bringing a full measure of bad news, of using images of horror to cast a shadow over the 'positive side' of the story."

  • Charles McGrath tells the story behind Murderball.

  • Terrence Rafferty talks to Daniel Day-Lewis and Rebecca Miller about, well, The Ballad of Jack & Rose, of course, but also about all the questions you'd expect to arise in the company of a husband-and-wife team from such illustrious backgrounds. Manohla Dargis reviews the film and Rebecca Traister interviews Miller for Salon.

  • Sharon Waxman explains how a tight circle of stars, a director, a producer and a talent agent rule the box office with their own brand of "smart-dumb comedy."

  • Eric Lipton reports on a series of some pretty cheerless real-life rehearsals based on "story lines... developed through a collaboration of some of the nation's top antiterrorist and law-enforcement specialists."

  • The biz: From Laura M Holson, news of one of Bob Iger's first moves at Disney, "[d]isassembling the strategic planning division"; Blockbuster's dropping its bid for Hollywood Entertainment, as Tom Zeller Jr reports; Waxman hears Warner Brothers redeclare its commitment to Warner Independent Pictures.

Count Jonathan Rosenbaum among those let down by Melinda and Melinda. More from Andy Klein in the LA CityBeat. Tom Hall has a suggestion: "Instead of attempting to remake timely relationship comedies in a milieu of which he seems entirely ignorant, Allen would be better served by turning his eye in the direction he was headed in the late 1980s and early 1990s."

Rosie Millard shares a cup of tea with Anthony Minghella. We hear about it in the New Statesman.

Even with April just around the corner, it's still not too late for a couple of 2004 top tens, one from Movie Poop Shoot contributor Alison Veneto, who's fired up a new blog, Electric Shadow, and another from Paolo Bertolin at

Turkish movie posters Speaking of MPS, Chris Ryall interviews Roger Ebert.

Donald Melanson (blog) considers three noir classics at Mindjack.

Online browsing tip. Turkish movie posters. Via Bitter Cinema.

Online viewing tip #1. The preview for the Found Footage Festival. Via the cinetrix.

Online viewing tip #2. The Internet Archive is hosting a 15-chapter serial, Dick Tracy (1937). Via The Crime in Your Coffee.

Posted by dwhudson at 4:40 PM

Oldboy: Yeas and nays.

Oldboy When it comes to Oldboy, there don't seem to be many middle-of-the-roaders. Manohla Dargis takes a second shot at it in the New York Times, for example, calling it "a good if trivial genre movie, no more, no less. There's no denying that [Park Chan-wook] is some kind of virtuoso, but so what? So was the last guy who directed a Gap commercial. Cinematic virtuosity for its own sake, particularly as expressed through cinematography - in loop-the-loop camera work and, increasingly, in computer-assisted ornamentation - is a modern plague that threatens to bury us in shiny, meaningless movies."

George Fasel objects - strongly - and livens up Filmbrain's already-lively entry on the film, topped off most recently with Aaron Hillis's hearty recommendation for the Indie Film Guide, while others such as Stephanie Zacharek in Salon, Andy Klein in LA CityBeat, Steve Erickson in Gay City News carry on disagreeing.

About the film, that is. The question Twitch readers are debating, following Todd's post drawing the matter to their attention, is whether Rex Reed has carried his predictable dislike of the film into the realm of racism. Or at least to the point of insulting all of South Korea. Right there in the pages of the New York Observer. Since Reed's mailbox is already full, Twitch readers are running their emailed letters as comments. Which happens to be the NYO editors' email address as well.

Posted by dwhudson at 2:50 PM

Around the world with Film-Philosophy.

Julia Knight: New German Cinema March has been world cinema month at Film-Philosophy:

  • Antonio Traverso reviews The Cinema of Latin America, edited by Alberto Elena and Marina Diaz Lupez; their introduction is "an excellent historiographic and thematic outline of the cinematic cultures of Latin America" while the contributions are "surprisingly refreshing and enthusiastic, as well as scholarly rigorous and sophisticated."

  • Florence Martin on Sylvie Blum-Reid's East-West Encounters: Franco-Asian Cinema and Literature: "Perhaps the whole study is about the impossible return of meaning for both the West and the displaced East about 'Asia'." Blum-Reid responds.

  • Amresh Sinha reads Julia Knight's New German Cinema: Images of a Generation which, as a 124-page introductory text, can hardly be faulted for not adding a whole lot to previous work on the subject. But that certainly doesn't mean there's no harrumphing in this review.

All these books, by the way, are published by Wallflower Press.

Posted by dwhudson at 2:13 PM

March 24, 2005

Shorts, 3/24.

chaosmag One way of finding Chaosmag, an intriguing journal evidently edited in India by a team with a penchant for Iranian cinema (see, as one of many examples, B Haridas's interview with Mohsen Makhmalbaf), is via the otherwise relatively quiet blog ekran, hosted by the Slovenian Cinemateque, found, in turn, via an entry at Cinema Minima listing a dozen clickable items of interest gathered from around the globe. At least that's how I found it.

BBC2's long-gone Film Club made Ben Slater the cinephile he is today.

Tagesspiegel: Portman and Tykwer

Film Comment's e-bulletin is out, chock full of newsy bits on Natalie Portman, Al Pacino, Nanni Moretti and others, and also points to the site's online exclusives:

Defamer "IMterviews" David Cross.

Chicago International Documentary Festival

For Newcity Chicago, Ray Pride takes a good hard look ahead to the Chicago International Documentary Festival, April 1 through 10, and quotes fest director Christopher Kamyszew: "There is evident proof of Chicago-style activism filmmaking blossoming with the Kartemquin directors, but also younger directors, including Tod Lending (Omar and Pete) and Lauri Feldman (The Innocent).

Reverse Shot will be presenting a week of screenings at the Makor Film Center from April 2 through 9. Among the highlights: Cinematographer Lee Daniel will be on hand for the Before Sunrise/Before Sunset double feature and director Lynne Littman will be present for the screening of Testament.

Independent Film Festival of Boston The Independent Film Festival of Boston opens on April 21 and runs through April 24. Besides screening nearly 60 films in four days, the fest will have on hand: Steve Buscemi (his Lonesome Jim opens the fest), Albert Maysles (he and his late brother David are receiving the fest's Career Achievement Award) and Melvin Van Peebles, who'll be chatting with Boston Globe film critic Wesley Morris.

Michael Tully previews five films screening today in the New Directors/New Films series.

The Austin Chronicle rounds out its SXSW coverage with over a dozen short takes and/or photos. Also: A fun piece from Wells Dunbar, a profile of prop master Andina Aste-Nieto; and Raoul Hernandez on four screwball comedies just out on DVD.

"Survivors" of SXSW Music report back to the LA Weekly.


Kung Fu Hustle

  • David Chute: "There is a disconnect between the way Stephen Chow is viewed in Hong Kong and his profile over here. To us, he looks like a second-tier Hong Kong star who has not yet emerged from the shadow of Jackie Chan and Jet Li. On his home turf, he is second to none." Chute supplements his profile with a guide to who's who in Kung Fu Hustle, all these "veteran Hong Kong film performers, journeymen rather than superstars, who have been granted a few extra moments in the sun by lifelong genre aficionado Stephen Chow."

  • Mark Olsen's interview with Park Chan-wook is brief. With the first question, we hear the story behind the long take in Oldboy that carries Choi Min-sik's character, armed only with a hammer, down a long hallway past one damn enemy after another. The second is, more or less, about Quentin Tarantino. To whom Scott Foundas writes an open letter asking what in the world he saw in the film at Cannes: "Put simply, in my humble opinion, Oldboy sucks." The New York Press's Armond White couldn't agree more.

  • "So now we're in a sitcom drought." But Robert Abele says chances for precipitation aren't bad.

Via the IFC Blog, Mark Schilling's review of Peep "TV" Show in the Japan Times:

In 2000 Yakuta Tshuchiya, an earnest documentary filmmaker, released Atarashii kamisama (The New God) - a meditation on the younger generation's search for meaning in the political and spiritual void of modern Japan. What made it a commercial success was Tsuchiya's evolving relationship with his principal subject, a straight-talking rightist punk rocker (!) named Karin Amemiya. He not only gave her a camcorder to record her private thoughts and sent her to North Korea to visit exiled Japanese Red Army activists but, in the course of the filming, fell in love with her.

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp Craig Phillips revels in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, "one of the best films ever made about male friendship."

In PopMatters, Bill Gibron remembers Teresa Wright.

Not even Hollywood would stoop as low as the current administration, writes Frank Rich: "[O]ne principle, so firmly upheld by DeMille, has remained inviolate no matter what the courts have to say: American moguls, snake-oil salesmen and politicians looking to score riches or power will stop at little if they feel it is in their interests to exploit God to achieve those ends." Also in the New York Times: Dave Kehr tells the story behind The Hero, one of three films made in Angola last year, and Laura M Holson reports on HBO and New Line's joint acquisition of Newmarket Films.

For much more on that see the stories at indieWIRE from Brian Brooks and Eugene Hernandez: "With industry insiders speculating about the fate of Miramax and the Weinsteins, and others spreading rumors about what might be happening at other shingle's like Warner Independent, Bob Berney has rapidly ascended to the top of a what will undoubtedly be, given the resources of all involved, a major new company for specialty and independent film." Also: Skip Ferderber looks back at an evidently very successful year for Cinequest.

The Man Without a Past The indieWIRE Insider points to two noteworthy AFP stories. The first notes that African filmmakers were showered with honors at the recent Diagonale festival in Graz "at a time when the far-right's racist slogans are again littering Vienna." The second's a brief note about Aki Kaurismäki's plans for a sequel to The Man Without a Past.

For the Independent, Chris Sullivan interviews Orlando Tobon, who plays himself - "the undertaker of the mules" - in Maria Full of Grace.

Chuck Tryon's take on Inside Deep Throat: "Take a walk on the wild side but stay where I can see you."

Reviews at Twitch: Mack on Incident at Blood Pass and Todd on Unleashed, The American Astronaut and Survive Style 5.

Brian Libby talks to Chiwetel Ejiofor in Salon about Melinda and Melinda, Dirty Pretty Things and what keeps pulling actors back to the stage.

Via Movie City News, Joe Utichi's interview with Michael Madsen for FilmFocus.

PSP The PlayStation Portable has arrived. Reports from David Becker at CNET, Tom Loftus at MSNBC, Stephen H Wildstrom at Business Week and Andrew D Arnold at Time.

That study that's been in the news, "Internet and Multimedia 2005: The On-Demand Media Consumer"? You can download it here.

ENN's Deirdre McArdle reports that Ireland will be the first country to convert completely to digital cinema. Via Ditherati.

Online browsing tip. Over 300 Russian movie posters, via Rashomon.

Posted by dwhudson at 2:19 PM

March 23, 2005

Shorts, 3/23.

New Directors/New Films "Many of the movies in the 34th New Directors/New Films series, a joint presentation of the Museum of Modern Art and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, reach New York from other stops on the global festival circuit," writes AO Scott, introducing the package in the New York Times on the series opening today and running through April 3. That package includes blurbs on the films written by Scott, Manohla Dargis and Stephen Holden as well as an "audio slide show" in which Scott and Dargis talk briefly about a handful of highlights each. Again, whether or not you're in New York, these 25 films are making the rounds and chances are that at least a few of them will be swinging by wherever you are, within reach. Which is why you'll also want to see them blurbed by the Village Voice staff as well.

The Voice is also running a modest package on Jonathan Nossiter's Mondovino (also reviewed by Scott in the NYT):


  • Mark Peranson talks to Nossiter, but not before praising his work as "a radical film from a radical filmmaker, a spear at the heart of wine and film industries alike, and a tour de force of investigative journalism." At indieWIRE, Lisa Bear talks to him as well.

  • Dennis Lim meets Neal Rosenthal, a New York-based wine importer featured in the film: "Jonathan obviously has a point of view, but this isn't a gross polemic."

  • In his review, J Hoberman pulls back to take in the bigger picture: "The major point of this vineyard marathon is that civilization is inexorably succumbing to the homogenizing forces of globalization."


  • The Other Hollywood: The Uncensored Oral History of the Porn Film Industry serves as Howard Hampton's diving board into deeper thoughts on the ubiquity of porn: "For their self-divided parts, the anxious masses seem to want the thrills and Percocets of capitalism while maintaining an acceptable level of deniability - like the man who wants a porn star girlfriend, but a reformed one."

  • On his way towards a review of Oldboy, Michael Atkinson considers the recent popularity of Korean movies: "[H]ere, finally, is an importable cinema that is neither Miramax-homogenous nor benumbed by desolate art-film torpor." The Reverse Shot crew also reviews the film for indieWIRE.

  • Jessica Winter on The Ballad of Jack & Rose, a film particularly attractive to festival programmers since it comes packaged with the promise of appearances by the husband and wife team of Daniel Day-Lewis and Rebecca Miller.

  • A string of "Tracking Shots."

Sara Vilkomerson meets Campbell Scott and sets out on a long, thorough talk through his career. Also in the New York Observer: Andrew Sarris, like most of us, wants to like Melinda and Melinda but, like many of those who've seen it, can't quite. Some, like NP Thompson, are now giving up on Woody entirely: "The saddest thing about this bankrupt picture is that it renders hope for Allen finding a way out of his post-Mia aesthetic quagmire impossible."

The Best of Youth Opening last weekend in LA on a single screen, The Best of Youth drew hundreds "forming a rare line that extended several blocks down Santa Monica Boulevard," writes Doug Cummings. "So much for exhibition hand-wringing." Even better: "With its superlative ensemble cast and deft dramaturgy, the film offers a compelling example of mainstream narrative filmmaking at its finest."

Lynn Rapoport was hoping D.E.B.S., featuring "teenage lesbians shooting it out, then making out," would roll out as big as news of its original distribution deal initially suggested. Instead, it's "opening - or 'platforming,' in the marketing terminology hopefully suggestive of a Garden State-style stealth takeover - at theaters in seven US cities." But director Angela Robinson, having wrapped Herbie: Fully Loaded, is planning a sequel and hope endures.

Also in the San Francisco Bay Guardian:

Donkey Skin

Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell had a long onstage talk with Robert Crumb at the National Film Theatre recently; the full transcript leads into the open Q&A session that followed. Also: Geoffrey Macnab meets Paul Schrader in a bar in Brussels.

Wil Wheaton: "I have never thought of myself as a celebrity blogger. I've always thought of myself as a blogger who once had a high-profile job. While MSNBC completely missed that point, and chose to focus instead on viewing blogging through the traditional 'celebrity' filters, Salon completely grokked it, and I'm really psyched that they chose to use my blog as a favorable example."

John Koerner In the City Pages, Dylan Hicks recommends Don McGlynn's doc on singer-songwriter John Koerner, Been Here... Done That.

Dana Stevens in Slate: "For all the drama around its long-delayed release, Prozac Nation is not all that terrible a movie."

At Flickhead, which has just launched a new blog, Ray Young reviews Jonathan Vankin and John Whalen's Based on a True Story* *But with More Car Crashes: Fact and Fantasy in 100 Favorite Movies, which "tackles the discrepancies separating fact from fiction in Titanic and ninety-nine other movies, the majority of them of recent vintage and a reminder of the dearth of quality in contemporary mainstream pictures."

Stop Smiling: "[T]here are never any moments within DisneyWar that makes the reader suspect that the author's grasp of the intricate workings of the Disney machine is anything less than exact."

Harold Ramis is set to direct a film about Friendster starring Topher Grace. Via Fimoculous, where Rex also notes the launch of the site for the 23rd Minneapolis-St Paul International Film Festival, April 1 through 16.

The lineup for the Philadelphia Film Festival, April 7 through 20, is complete and Todd at Twitch has the full announcement.

SXSW Film Conf + Fest producer Matt Dentler lists 10 random things he'll never forget about this year's fest.

Ian Haydn Smith files a second report on February's Rotterdam festival for Kamera. Also: Paul Clarke finds Todd Solondz's Palindromes "fundamentally cold and tasteless... close to becoming a parody of his earlier work."

The Heart of the World David Lowery on Guy Maddin's The Heart of the World: "I wonder if it would be too hyperbolic to call it one of the most important films ever made?"

Online viewing tip. At the official site, Terry Gilliam talks about Tideland; via Todd at Twitch, who instructs: "[C]lick the 'Behind the Scenes' link to check out his thoughts on the casting process and working with his young star."

Posted by dwhudson at 1:56 PM

March 22, 2005

Shorts, 3/22.

Mandingo Opening with recollections of the series of "guilty pleasures" articles in Film Comment back in the 70s, Dennis Cozzalio contemplates a challenge in a new piece for the handsome online film journal 24 Lies A Second:

There are cinematic pleasures worthy of guilt, if guilt is an emotional response that is to be taken at all seriously, and it deserves consideration within the context of that which inspires it. For me to write off Mandingo or Lisztomania with a couple of flip comments would be to deny considering what it is about them that I find compelling, beyond recognition of their status as films that register as "failures" based on some unknowable "objective" standard of taste and achievement. It ought to be as great a challenge for a writer to illuminate that which is complex, contradictory and, yes, insufficient or offensive about "bad" films as it is to wax rhapsodic about the good ones.

The San Francisco Bay Guardian's Johnny Ray Huston catches up with Kiyoshi Kurosawa and hears him describe his next film: "I'm intending for it to be a love story with a horror touch that ultimately will turn into a tragedy... I hesitate to say this because it may be misunderstood, but if I were to raise one example of the type of film I'm going for, it would be Hitchcock's Vertigo."

Abdel-Wahab M Elmessiri takes a long hard look at Arabian music videos for the Al-Ahram Weekly, finding the form not only a powerful agent of globalization, but perhaps even worse, "in the ubiquitous hands of the video clip, even love songs - a once ambiguous, complex and delightfully varied genre - have undergone a negative transformation." Via Perlentaucher's "Magazinrundschau."

The New Directors/New Films series opens in New York tomorrow and runs through April 3. Michael Tully's got a list: "Get your tickets for these films before they're gone."

Phantom of the Operator Also, as part of its "Canadian Front" series, MoMA will be screening The Phantom of the Operator once again tomorrow evening. For Gay City News, Steve Erickson writes up a convincing recommendation.

Michael Gray, author of Song and Dance Man III: The Art of Bob Dylan, reflects in the Guardian on Todd Haynes's plans to cast several actors in the lead of his upcoming I'm Not There: Suppositions on a Film Concerning Dylan; and basically approves. "But if," he adds, "as announced, an actress plays mid-1960s Bob, then as Dylanologist Andrew Muir once said, they'll never find anyone beautiful enough." Meanwhile, Rolling Stone's Brian Hiatt scans a list of more music biopics on the way.

"[N]othing that he wrote for the movies proved worth rescuing," laments JM Coetzee in his piece on Jay Parini's One Matchless Time: A Life of William Faulkner for the New York Review of Books. "Worse than that: his screenwriting had a bad effect on his prose."

Via Movie City News, where you'll also find the lineup for the City of Lights, City of Angels Film Festival (April 11 through 17), Larry Carroll's visit to Pixar HQ for MTV:

In the animation offices there's a village of tiny homes, each one individually decorated; walk past the castle and take a left at the old Chuck E Cheese robots to get to the tiki-hut area. An animator whose name begins with "D" has simply spray-painted his name across his door; another more enterprising soul has turned his turf into a bar area, complete with chandelier and stage (the band jams on Fridays). Now you're beginning to see why this group had so much fun skewering Bob Parr's 9-to-5 misery.

Antonioni, Soderbergh and Wong Kar-wai

Craig Phillips anxiously awaits Eros, the collection of three short films by Michelangelo Antonioni, Steven Soderbergh and Wong Kar-wai.

Vanity Fair's Bruce Handy considers Melinda and Melinda "the best thing Allen has done in years," and Filmbrain more or less agrees, arguing that it "isn't one of the Woodman's best, it is a far cry better than the four films he made with DreamWorks, and a return to form for the NY master."

By the way, for the Independent, Sheila Johnston writes the story Wendy Ide wrote for the London Times. Once again: What it's like working for Woody Allen. And for the San Francisco Chronicle, John Clark sits in at one of those press roundtables with the director.

In the New York Times:

Gone With the Wind

Online browsing tip., via Sean Spillane, who explains at Bitter Cinema.

Online viewing tip #1. The first, free episode of The Strand, Dan Myrick's venture into "webisodic" entertainment. Filmmaker's Steve Gallagher has the details.

Online viewing tip #2, via Wiley Wiggins: PES's "The Dogs of War."

Posted by dwhudson at 11:54 AM | Comments (1)

March 21, 2005

Shorts, 3/21.

SXSW Film "Whenever SXSW ends, it feels like being a kid on the day after Christmas. Even though you were showered with gifts and good times, you're a spoiled little brat, and you just want more!" The staff at Film Threat presents its 2005 wrap-up, collecting all its reviews of the narrative features, docs and shorts. It's the most complete overview of the festival out there. (Just a tad more from me as soon as I conquer jetlag; meanwhile, Karina Longworth is still filing reviews and Ain't It Cool News keeps adding to its coverage as well.)

Supplementary viewing: Chuck Olsen posts loads of video of his own and points to much more. And then there are Rex Sorgatz's photos.

Gray's Anatomy Steven Soderbergh is planning to direct a doc on Spalding Gray, reports Robert Simonson in Playbill. Via Chris at Vast Wasteland.

Via Wiley Wiggins, Kier-La Janisse for Filmmaker: "Giuseppe Andrews may not be a household name, but the 24-year old actor’s screen time in films like Cabin Fever, American History X and Detroit Rock City have already cemented his position as a pre-teen love object. While the Internet is littered with fan sites devoted to nurturing his heartthrob status, the real Giuseppe Andrews is something markedly different: a movie director poised to take over the underground."

"Are Indiewood Companies 'Majors in Drag'?" asks Eugene Hernandez. Five in particular are on his mind. On another page: "Last week, over three orders of 'migas con queso' at popular breakfast spot Las Manitas in downtown Austin, John and Janet Pierson sat down with indieWIRE to talk about their new lives in Texas." Plus: Erica Abeel looks back on the "Rendez-Vous with French Cinema" series.

New York's Logan Hill: "[S]itting across from [Ben] Stiller and his puffy North Face jacket at a Soho café, I ask him: 'Like Bush, you earned a lot of capital last year. How are you going to spend it?'" As might be expected, there are several answers to that question, but most immediately, "[H]e’s starring opposite Jeffrey Wright in This Is How It Goes, a new drama by Neil LaBute."

Guardian Review: Filming Hitler What separates Downfall from previous cinematic portrayals of Hitler is that its focus on "how it all ended" reveals much about Nazism's "perplexing origins," writes William Boyd in the Guardian Review. What's more:

Hitler was not beamed down to Earth from an alien spaceship: it is the fact that he was a human being capable of benign human qualities such as affection, gross sentimentality and charming eccentricity (obsessive cleanliness, for example) that disturbs and chills. That he possessed a sweet tooth, idolised Wagner's operas, became a teetotal vegetarian, loved dogs, American movies, etcetera, etcetera, make his implacable mania, his cruelty and ruthlessness all the more terrifying and minatory. [Bruno] Ganz's depiction of Hitler seems to me to be almost uncanny in its accuracy (aided also by the scrupulous realism and fidelity to detail of the film).

Related: Sue Summers ticks off, once again, the questions Downfall has aroused wherever it's been screened, Krysia Diver reports on newly discovered details of Hitler's final days and Steve Rose looks over plans to renovate a never-used Nazi resort whose "precedents were modernism's bold experiments with the 'linear city.'"

Also in the Guardian and Observer:

  • Maya Jaggi profiles Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, the screenwriter behind the best of the Merchant-Ivory films.

  • "I had seen many American films of varying quality that mythologised the black urban experience for mainstream consumption. I didn't really want to see a London version." Akin Ojumo worries that Bullet Boy will become "the defining image of young black masculinity."

  • Joe Queenan: "Having slogged my way through a thicket of bio-pics about Macedonian mass murderers, long-forgotten crooners, self-destructive R&B acts, emotionally unstable aircraft industry titans, and messianic figures unfortunate enough to fall into the hands of both the Romans and the Australians, I wouldn't mind seeing this entire genre shelved for a few years if only to give the rest of us a chance to catch up on films like Harold & Kumar Get The Munchies."

  • Just about anywhere you went in Austin last week - BookPeople, Artz Rib House, etc - you kept hearing that Lauren Bacall had just come and gone, wowing crowds in her wake. But her new book, By Myself and Then Some, leaves Rachel Cooke decidedly unwowed.

  • Lindsay Pfeiffer reviews Charlotte Chandler's It's Only a Movie: Alfred Hitchcock: A Personal Biography.

  • Andrew Pulver's adaptation of the week: Rob Reiner's Stand By Me.

Aronofsky's The Fountain

David Carr tells how Darren Aronofsky salvaged The Fountain after Brad Pitt left him high and dry.

Also in the New York Times:

Plus a slew of book reviews:

Epstein: The Big Picture

Ray Pride at Movie City News: "Longer entries this week on Melinda and Melinda and an exchange with Michael Tucker about Gunner Palace, as well as shorter takes on The Upside of Anger, Antares, The Boys and Girl of County Clare, Steamboy, Hostage, Millions, Downfall, Walk on Water and Nowhere Man."

Vibe: The Hollywood Issue For Vibe, Noah Callahan-Bever talks to 50 Cent about his movie debut.

David Thomson in the Independent: "[I]t's splendid to have Hamilton at the NFT - or would be if 'splendid' wasn't the last word to apply to him. Let's just hope that the season will send more readers to Patrick Hamilton."

28 days later, Jay Seaver turns his Boston Science Fiction Film Festival diary into Hollywood Bitchslap.

Online listening tip. Cinema Minima's podcasts, featuring Karen Copeland and Cyndi Greening talking about ways to increase chances that your film will get accepted at festivals and two programs from André Soares.

Online viewing tip. The demo reel for Oddball Film + Video.

Posted by dwhudson at 9:38 AM

March 18, 2005

Shorts, 3/18.

Your SXSW update today comes courtesy of PopMatters: Tobias Peterson has filed from the film festival on March 15, 16, 17 and 18; now the musical arm of the event takes the upper hand and PopMatters is all over that, too.

Not on the Lips "I can't think of another French movie that's given me as much pleasure in years - it's his best since Mélo (1986) and surely his most accessible to American audiences." Four out of four stars, then, for Alain Resnais's Not on the Lips from Jonathan Rosenbaum in the Chicago Reader.

Darren Hughes on Chocolat: "While there is much to recommend in the film - Agnès Godard's cinematography, the many fine performances, and [Claire] Denis's typically seductive pacing, to name just a few - Denis's handling of the film's subjective perspective is what differentiates this film from other earnest and well-intentioned examinations of racism and/or colonialism."

Just before segueing into a typically insightful consideration of The River, Doug Cummings notes that Jean Renoir's films "rarely figure prominently in retrospectives or the new age of Internet film discussions. Part of that may be attributed to the fact that his directorial style is gentle and restrained. He is no volatile Eisenstein or iconoclastic Godard or perplexing Bresson."

The indieWIRE Insider points to an AFP report on hopes French producers have pinned on the "Rendez-Vous with French Cinema" series. US viewing of Gallic fare is up as it is; may it carry on growing.

By the way, as Johannes Wetzel reports in the Berliner Zeitung, the Cinémathèque Français is moving to the into the Frank Gehry-designed US Cultural Center on the east side of Paris.

One more German-language tip via the English-language signandsight. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung editor Frank Schirrmacher turns in a nearly ecstatic preview of Speer und Er; sas: "Hot on the heels of Downfall, the film is for Schirrmacher a second Hitler masterpiece in only a year!"

Dogme95 James Christopher in the London Times: "Ten years on, Dogme 95 looks like a fringe experiment that went badly right." Also: What's it like, working with Woody Allen? Wendy Ide asks the cast of Melinda and Melinda.

Slate's David Edelstein: "It's always a delight when a contest elicits not only a flood of responses but of emotions, and on the basis of the 200 or so e-mails I've received since last Thursday, this twist endings business gets moviegoers pretty riled up.... After careful consideration of all the submissions, here are my 20 choices for most absurd twist endings." (Naturally, this has led to a discussion of M Night Shyamalan's oeuvre at the Chutry Experiment.) Also: With Melinda and Melinda, you get "two lousy movies for the price of one."

Mark Kermode in the New Statesman: "There are several coincidental parallels between [François Ozon's] 5x2 and Don't Move, an overwrought Italian melodrama adapted from Margaret Mazzantini's novel by her husband, Sergio Castellitto."

Ron Garmon reviews Clinton Heylin's Despite the System: Orson Welles Versus the Hollywood Studios in the LA CityBeat: "The story of how Welles destroyed his brilliant chances in movies through hubris and excess has been told often enough to enter the town's vast stock of self-evident truth. It's another one of those grasshopper-vs.-ant gigs so beloved in company towns (and usually told by the jolly company storekeeper in the act of shutting off credit), and Heylin's sick of it."

Ben Slater preps furiously for the Lovebytes festival in Sheffield, April 14 through 16.

In Frieze, Rob Young looks back on the "Sons & Lumières" exhibition at the Centre Pompidou.

Evidently, Maria Full of Grace is just now making it to the UK. By way of introduction, the Guardian is running a conversation between Joshua Marston and Anthony Minghella.



Vince Keenan reviews Sharon Waxman's Rebels on the Backlot: "What few tidbits there are don’t exactly shock: Quentin Tarantino has questionable personal hygiene, and directors are emotionally distant control freaks. Film at eleven."

In the Independent:

"The old adage 'sex sells' no longer applies to the movies," writes Anne Thompson in the Hollywood Reporter. What box office numbers tell her is that audiences will embrace "vulgar, dumb, funny sex" but will shy away from more straightforward titillation in the public space of a movie theater. For that, they'll stay home, where there's more than plenty available. Via Scott Macaulay at Filmmaker.

At Billboard, Chuck Taylor previews a study showing that Americans are demanding on-demand media.

Meanwhile, cars are becoming rolling libraries of movies and music, reports Chris Woodyard in USA Today.

Business Week's Ronald Grover speculates that Bob Iger, Michael Eisner's successor-to-be at Disney, may let Pixar go in favor of a bid for DreamWorks.

Via MCN, Chris Marlowe files a Reuters piece on

Online viewing tip #1. Bedazzled's posted, among many other wonderful things, the trailer for Two-Lane Blacktop. Via Wiley Wiggins.

Japan via Twitch:


More online viewing tips. This isn't the season most of us tend to keep up with trailers for mainstream releases, so if, like me, you haven't been paying attention to the middle of the road, the fastest way to catch up is to follow the Movie Blog's "trailer trawl."

Posted by dwhudson at 4:18 PM

March 17, 2005

Shorts, 3/17.

Hooligans Again, more on SXSW from me soon (no, really), but for now, you need to know about the awards. Hooligans, directed by Lexi Alexander, who hails from Mannheim, is the first film to nab both the Jury and Audience Awards for best narrative feature in the 12-year history of the festival. See the full list at the Austin Chronicle, where you'll also find a dozen reports and reviews on films and panels and some fine snaps shot at the Texas Hall of Fame Awards, and Eugene Hernandez's full report at indieWIRE, not to mention - well, yes, to go ahead and mention - the effusive coverage at iW's SXSW Blog.

Plus, you just gotta see the entries from...

Melinda and Melinda Also at iW, three Reverse Shot regulars review Woody Allen's Melinda and Melinda and Hernandez takes measure of how the Tribeca Film Festival is shaping up.

Novelist Abha Dawesar has been filing excellent entries on the "Rendez Vous with French Cinema" series running through March 20. More blurbs at Moviecrazed, plus: George Fasel on Alexandra Leclère's Me and My Sister (more).

MonkeyPeaches has sorted the list of "Best 100 Chinese Motion Pictures" as selected by the Hong Kong Film Critics and, as Todd at Twitch points out, there're actually 103. Meantime, for loads of startling online viewing, news, posters, the works, I can only reiterate: Twitch, Twitch, Twitch.

J Hoberman on Katsuhiro Otomo's latest: "Where Akira more or less established the cyberpunk techno mysticism, flaming urban dystopia, and apocalyptic post-Blade Runner ambience that continues to dominate sci-fi anime, Steamboy is deliberately anachronistic in its setting. Otomo has credited novelist William Gibson as an influence on Akira; with Steamboy, Otomo executes the same switch pulled by Gibson when he went steampunk with the alt-Victorian 19th century of his 1991 collaboration with Bruce Sterling, The Difference Engine." Ed Halter chats briefly with the filmmaker.

Also in the Village Voice:

A Rider Named Death

Matt Zoller Seitz in the NYP on The Flower Thief: "The movie's simplicity - hell, vagueness - is the source of its power."

"Thanks to Hotel Rwanda and the slew of 10th-anniversary commemorations, we may have finally arrived at a moment when the terms 'Hutu,' 'Tutsi' and 'interhamwe militia' are understood even by those who get their hard news from Entertainment Tonight. But, when the highest-profile film on the subject is also the softest, can it be that we are truly prepared to confront the specter of Rwanda in its full-scale horror?" Scott Foundas poses this and another questions to Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire after a screening of Shake Hands With the Devil. Also in the LA Weekly: Ella Taylor on The Best of Youth and A Talking Picture and Nikki Finke on Eisner, Iger and Disney.

The cinetrix worries about not posting often enough, but jeez, look at this:

Colin Odell and Michelle le Blanc review Stephen Teo's Wong Kar-wai: Auteur of Time, "a long overdue analysis of one of world cinema's most acclaimed, eclectic and exacting auteurs, providing an insight into his films that enhances the understanding of both the texts and the cultural context of his work." Also in Kamera: Thessa Mooij's glance back at the Berlinale.

The slew of films Filmbrain caught there has him reflecting on the troubled state of teendom.

Max Goldberg briefly places Edgar G Ulmer's "strange spot in film history." Also in the San Francisco Bay Guardian: Dave Kim on Millions and Cheryl Eddy on The Upside of Anger.

Jake Brooks listens to 50+ indie producers talk about driving down the cost of filmmaking in NYC. Also in the New York Observer: Ron Rosenbaum on surf culture and Gabriel Sherman on Wes Anderson's 30-second cola spot.

Terry Castle remembers Susan Sontag in the London Review of Books.

Harold Schechter: Savage Pastimes In what at first looks like a review of Harold Schechter's Savage Pastimes, "an eye-opening survey of gruesome entertainment throughout the history of Western civilization" (and, in its way, is), Andrew O'Hehir updates the parameters of the debate. Also in Salon: O'Hehir's latest "Beyond the Multiplex" column and Andrew Leonard's review of Kurt Eichenwald's Conspiracy of Fools: A True Story: "[O]ne finishes the book feeling a little confused as to how [Enron's] story fits into the larger narratives of high finance, the energy industry and political battles over deregulation. What does it all mean?" For an answer to that one, turn to Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room - but more on that soon enough.

With 5 x 2 rolling out, Jonathan Romney offers a primer on François Ozon in the Independent.

Paul Arendt: "Lars von Trier is taking a break from filmmaking to write a sitcom." Also in the Guardian: Geoffrey Macnab talks to Raoul Peck about Sometimes in April.

In the New York Times, Caryn James discovers and explores the feasibility, within the tight framework of a film's narrative structure, of an audience's finding forgiveness for characters who've done reprehensible things.


David Poland at Movie City News: "[O]wning a bunch of companies that all fill the same overall pipeline is not the same as creating synergy."

Daniel Robert Epstein interviews Chloë Sevigny for the SuicideGirls. Via Scott Macaulay at Filmmaker, who also recommends SXSW special jury award-winning doc The Boys of Baraka.

Rumors come, rumors go, but what's Tarantino really up to these days? FilmFocus UK's Joe Utichi gets the full update from the man himself; via the Movie Blog.

Kudos to Alison Willmore at the IFC Blog for, yes, pointing to Moriarty's inside-Pixar report at AICN, but mostly for this: "Premiere magazine, we are ignoring you."

Wendy Mitchell's been catching movies in London.

Online viewing tip. Is Wal-Mart Good for America?. The PBS Frontline program, available in its entirety.

Posted by dwhudson at 12:44 PM

March 16, 2005

Sight & Sound. 04/05.

Sight & Sound 04/05 B Ruby Rich: "What's significant about Tarnation has little to do with either its iMovie genesis or its lunch-money budget. What marks [Jonathan] Caouette's film as important is its originality and emotional courage, its formal approach to depicting mental states and wrenchingly unanticipated stories on screen, and its matter-of-fact queerness."

Geoffrey Nowell-Smith: "Catherine Deneuve is the greatest film actress of her generation... an actress with limitations, partly self-imposed. But it's worth taking note of what these limitations are, and what they mean."

Reviews in this issue:

  • Linda Ruth Williams on Michael Winterbottom's 9 Songs: "Some, like me, may simply find couple Matt and Lisa too annoying to get caught up in their heat."

  • Kim Newman on Constantine: "If there's a sequel, maybe Reeves should duck out permanently and let Swinton and Stormare carry the franchise."

  • Julian Graffy on Emir Kusturica's Life is a Miracle, "a comic celebration of Balkan joie de vivre and the beauty of the Bosnian countryside... a story of one man's obsessive dream and the havoc that it wreaks on those around him; a forceful and ironic polemic against conventional readings of the politics of the break-up of Yugoslavia; and a tragic tale of impossible love which makes explicit allusion to Shakespeare."

Posted by dwhudson at 11:59 PM

Synoptique. 8.

Guest editied by Michael Baker, the new issue of Synoptique is devoted to experimental cinema: "opposition," he writes, "is a theme that runs through this edition." And as Brett Kashmere outlines in his fine opening piece recounting the earliest years of American underground cinema, though it takes a while, opposition, too, will eventually make its way into the canon.

Synoptique 8: Experimental Cinema

There's a rich tradition of Canadian experimental cinema as well; Gerda Johanna Cammaer, who has another essay on the impact of Jack Smith's Flaming Creatures at the EXPRMNTL 3 / Knokke-le-Zoute festival in 1963, focuses on Canadian work done in the 90s, while the work of Mike Hoolboom is the focus of three pieces:

Flaming Creatures Arthur Lipsett is the subject of another trio of pieces by Amelia Does, Adam Rosadiuk and Baker.

Brian Crane tells a story about a Stan Brakhage lecture in Montréal, Dr Eric Vornoff surveys the territory where experimental film and the grindhouse overlap, and then, there are the Splinters.

Just a quick, related yet non-Synoptique-related note for those who might be in or near the Twin Cities next week, a heads-up from Paul Arthur in the City Pages:

Among a host of compelling avant-gardists, Peter Kubelka was always a special case.... After a 26-year hiatus between new films, he has returned with a 13-minute found-footage meditation, "Poetry and Truth," which he'll present in person at Oak Street Cinema on March 24, following a program of his "metric films" on March 22 and a dialogue with critic Fred Camper on March 23.

Posted by dwhudson at 11:28 AM

March 15, 2005

Film Comment. March / April 05.

Film Comment - March/April 05 "Closing in on 70, with over 34 films, two Oscars, five more nominations, and several legendary performances on his résumé, [Dustin] Hoffman has more than earned the standard James Lipton-styled hagiography," writes Chris Norris in the cover story for the new issue of Film Comment that, modest in length as it is, aims to go that extra mile.

David Chute, who already has quite a collection of his own fine writings and links to other resources on Bollywood at his site, traces the roller coaster career of the legendary Amitabh Bachchan.

J Hoberman has a hefty offline viewing tip, plus background: John Cassavetes as Johnny Staccato on Trio (and click that title to watch a trailer) throughout March, plus two episodes Cassavetes directed himself May 3 through 8.

FC readers have voted Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to the top of their best-of-04 list; the fun part of the poll, though, is the collection of "Comments and Rants."


Posted by dwhudson at 10:42 AM | Comments (2)

March 14, 2005

Midnight Eye. Aramaki, Uchida and you.

Nicholas Rucka asks Shinji Aramaki about adapting Masamune Shirow's Appleseed, but also:

So, just to be clear, 2-D cell animation is not dead?

No, I don't think so. [laughs]

Midnight Eye readers have spoken: Takashi Miike!

A Bloody Spear at Mt Fuji

A Bloody Spear at Mt Fuji

The subject of a special focus at the Tokyo FILMeX fest in November, Tomu Uchida, whose "disparate scattering of styles and subject matter that has kept [his] name from auteurist-obsessed film historians in the past," as Donald Richie has noted, is also the subject of this issue's Round-Up by Jasper Sharp, Jason Gray and Tom Mes. Sharp also reviews Uchida's 1958 film The Outsiders, "an epic outdoor adventure in which an embittered Ken Takakura fights for the rights of Hokkaido's oppressed Ainu population."

And two reviews focus on Donald Richie's work. Sharp's take on The Japan Journals: 1947 - 2004 is hardly a surprise, but how about this: "We'd all had Donald Richie pegged as film writer, arts critic and cultural commentator, but up until now, the series of experimental films he made during the 60s were the stuff of legend, often alluded to, but, for most of us, never seen."

Tom Mes on Yusaku Matsuda's sole directorial effort, A-Homansu, which "ay not be the kind of action film that falls into the hi-octane category, but it certainly is one of the more subversive entries into the genre."

Posted by dwhudson at 12:15 PM | Comments (1)

Shorts, 3/14.

Mouse Ears More SXSW reportage from me soon, but in the meantime, you'll definitely want to see Jette's entries at Celluloid Eyes, Karina Longworth's at the new Cinematical as well as the interviews and reviews from the Film Threat and Hollywood Bitchslap teams and lots o' snapshots and commentary at indieWIRE's SXSW blog, not to mention Eugene Hernandez's report for iW and Brian Brooks's photos.

So if you've happened past a newspaper today, you'll have noticed that, as widely expected, Bob Iger will be succeeding Michael Eisner at Disney in September:

Back to the NYT:

The paparazzi. Who are these creeps? Peter Howe submits an amusing study for Vanity Fair.

And what about agents? Ben Greenman and Tad Friend chat about their evolution in the New Yorker.

In Salon, Priya Jain reviews The Other Hollywood: The Uncensored Oral History of the Porn Industry.

Doug Cummings on Bringing Up Baby and To Be or Not to Be: "Viewers new to American comedies of the '30s are often surprised by the period's sophistication and wit, two words not usually reserved for Hollywood comedies nowadays."

Turkish Gambit While Turkish Gambit breaks box office records in Russia, the government is far from pleased with its take on history, reports Tom Parfitt.

Also in the Guardian:

Jeffrey Wells has been down to Buenos Aires for the Mar del Plata Film Festival and records impressions of far more than the movies.

George Fasel catches Bertrand Tavernier's Holy Lola, which "will never find an American following outside of a few big cities where foreign languages and unfamiliar countries with problems we'd prefer to ignore are anathema. For people not bothered by these characteristics, people, that is, who are afflicted with a temperament open to experience, it's well worth seeing."

"Though watching [Anklaget (Accused)] is an incredibly tense experience (its 103 minutes feels far shorter)... Filmbrain found that once the film ended, there was little about it that stayed with him, nor did he find himself reflecting on it all that much... Still, (Jacob) Thuesen is to be credited with creating a non-sensationalistic film about one of the few remaining (and perhaps strongest) taboos."

Online browsing tip. Darcy Paquet's fresh Kim Ki-duk page at (where Adam Hartzell reviews Ahn Byeong-ki's Phone).

Online listening tip. Sandip Roy hosts a special Your Call program on the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (through March 20); if you don't catch it today, it'll be archived.

Online viewing tip. Twitch's Todd has found some making-of moments prepping us for Peter Chan's Perhaps Love: "There's no audio but you do get some good footage of the director, cinematographer Christopher Doyle and the principal cast hard at work."

Posted by dwhudson at 10:17 AM | Comments (3)

March 11, 2005

Austin Dispatch. 2.

My Big Fat Independent Movie It's hard to imagine the atmos of two festivals contrasting as greatly as those of the Berlinale and SXSW. For starters, it's not that comedies are completely shut out in Berlin, but in general, laughter during those ten days of deep winter is about as common as crying in baseball. To kick off a little over a week of viewing in Austin, where spring's already sprung, I consciously chose a film and a venue that'd highlight the contrast all the more: My Big Fat Independent Movie at the Alamo Drafthouse, a perfect match.

To set the tone even more precisely, I spent much of the prescreening party chatting up Film Threat's Eric Campos and Hollywood Bitchslap's Scott Weinberg and scooping up an earful of what they'll likely be talking about during their "Future of Online Critics" panel on Monday (more on that later, then). A stroll up and back down Congress Avenue, the State Capital perched majestically at one end, flanked by an architectural quilt of early 20th century limestone and early 21st century glass on each side, enlivened by catch-up gossip talk with my sister, served as just the right capper before we settled in for the fizzy, silly, raunchy fun of MBFIM.

The Alamo Drafthouse, just briefly for those who don't know, feels like a big tent tucked inside the shell of a building, a sort of indoor venue with an outdoor air to it somehow. Long thin wooden tables are set up in front of each row of movie theater seats, and in front of these are trench-like walkways for the waiters. You order your food and beer and the staff effortlessly and soundlessly sees to its getting to you, followed by the bill, payment, change, and all the while - I don't know how they do it - you don't miss a frame of the film. Every city should have one and Austin already has several.

As for MBFIM, it's exactly what it promises to be. Truth in advertising: "Blazing Saddles did it to the western. Airplane! did it to the disaster flick. Scary Movie did it to the horror film. And now, it's time for independent films to get what they've got comin' to 'em." Ok? Now watch the trailer and you'll know precisely what to expect if you ever have a bunch of film geeks on your hands looking to imbibe in the poisons of their choice and the movie of yours.

It never ventures below ankle-deep; doesn't need to. There's hardly a narrative arc to speak of; that's partly the point. It's just one damn gag after another, a few of them keepers, a few of them clunkers and a great many you'd be more than willing to let slip through with a gentleman's C. The best performances come from those who've decided to throw pride to the wind and leap in on all fours: Paget Brewster and Eric Hoffman, definitely; and let me tell you, Neil Hopkins's Christopher Walken is alone worth the price of admission.

Posted by dwhudson at 10:46 PM | Comments (7)

Short shorts, 3/11.

The Oklahoma City Museum of Art is calling off its previously scheduled screenings of Pedro Almodóvar's Bad Education. In Cinema Eye, Christopher Sharpe explains why he feels compelled to devote an article to this cancellation rather than the film that's replacing it: "We have readers all over the globe, who may not realize how repressive things are getting in the United States, but I think this story will give you a good idea."

Peacock Filmbrain: "With outstanding cinematography that never draws unnecessary attention to itself, Peacock is a film full of surprises, and a powerful debut from a director that we will no doubt be hearing more from."

At Bitter Cinema, Sean Spillane's fantastic all-Romy entry.

The cinetrix whips up a storm of confession, having "revealed a truly shameful cinematic crush: I've shown you mine, now you show me yours. Who's the person that secretly tops your list?"

In the Hollywood Reporter, Anne Thompson considers the challenges the Weinsteins are facing as they quietly design what they refer to as the "New Company." Raising money may be the least of them.

At Slate:

  • David Edelstein: "The Upside of Anger is the upside of [Joan] Allen."

  • Wine columnist Mike Steinberger: "Delicious as it is to have a documentary devoted to wine, and as entertaining as Mondovino sometimes is, the film represents something of a blown opportunity."

  • Perfectly fine studio-made DVDs will soon be selling in China and Mexico at cut-rate prices. Daniel Gross predicts we'll be seeing many take advantage of a potentially lucrative market: "DVD reimportation."

Daria Martin Polly Corrigan in the Telegraph: "The line between fine art and film is becoming ever more distorted and it is a boundary that Daria Martin has crossed with ease." Also: SF Said interviews Emir Kusturica.

It's hardly news, but nonetheless needs to be said: Tony Jaa and Stephen Chow are Asia's new action heroes; the Guardian's Steve Rose reports.


Farhad Manjoo in Salon: "[Josh] Bernoff's call for Apple to buy TiVo is at once crazy and inspired, and for several weeks now, TiVo-watchers online and on Wall Street have been debating its merits and adjusting their bets on its likelihood."

Charles Taylor shown Salon's door? What's up with that, asks Dennis Cozzalio.

Edward Champion: "George Lucas has announced that the new Star Wars movie is not for kids. Of course not. The new movie is for fortysomething fanboys who still live with their parents."

It's a bit old, but not any less amusing for it, this million dollar anecdote posted to an open forum by an anonymous writer.

At Alternet, Matthew Scott Kelemen interviews Born Into Brothels directors Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman.

Tom Hall on The Best of Youth, which "understands real life. The film is the stuff of a true epic."

Chuck Olsen greets the Better Life Blog: "It's notable for a number of reasons, but here's a big one: The first videoblogging CEO!"

Via Greg Allen and Jason Kottke, Brooke Thorsteinson and Dana Larsen trace the THC connections among the stars of Ocean's Twelve for Cannabis Culture Magazine.

CNET's Declan McCullagh asks, "Could Hollywood hack your PC?"

Online browsing tip. Media Art Net has been an ongoing project for, oh, years now, but it was only earlier this week that it reached a certain state of completion. If you're going to get lost, here's where to do it.

Online viewing tip. Spike Jonze's Adidas commercial. Via Fimoculous.

Posted by dwhudson at 10:13 AM | Comments (2)

Other fests, other series.

Filmmaker's Scott Macaulay passes along a sneak preview of the "Danger After Dark" program at this year's Philadelphia Film Festival, April 7 through 20: "If you are a devotee of outre genre films - and even if you don't plan to attend the festival - check out Crawford's program, below. His wonderfully descriptive and witty blurbs for the films constitute a kind of 'all-you-need-to-know cult cinema primer' for the current festival season." Even better (if possible), Scott's added links galore.

SFIAAFF 05 The 23rd San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival runs through March 20 and Kimberly Chun and Cheryl Eddy'll get you oriented in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, where the staff critics offer short takes on selected highlights (and there's a bit more from Frako Loden in the SF Weekly) and Dave Kim considers the horrors that link two of the films, Alain Resnais's Hiroshima mon amour and Steven Okazaki's The Mushroom Club.


In the Village Voice: Edward Crouse's overview of the New York Underground Film Festival (through March 15) and Dennis Lim's report from the Bangkok Film Festival.

BIFFF 05 In the Independent, James Drew talks to Paul Schrader, who'll "introduce an unexpected world premiere at the Brussels International Festival of Fantastic Film: the director's cut of the prequel to The Exorcist."

Another look back from Thessa Mooij in Kamera: "With a new director at the helm, Rotterdam is in a transitional phase."

More festival blurbs in the Chicago Reader: the European Union Film Festival runs through March 24, the Chicago Irish Film Festival opens today and runs through the weekend and Fred Camper previews the Women in the Director's Chair International Film & Video Festival, March 16 through 20. Meanwhile, another hearty recommendation for Gunner Palace from JR Jones.

Claire Denis's L'Intrus (The Intruder is "far and away the most challenging selection in the 17-film series, "Rendez-Vous with French Cinema," opening today at the Walter Reade and running through March 20, writes Stephen Holden. Also in the New York Times: Lydia Polgreen looks back at Fespaco, Africa's premiere fest.

The Cleveland International Film Festival runs through March 20 and Ruth Leitman is justifiably happy to point out that Lipstick & Dynamite will be screening towards the end of next week.

Todd at Twitch: "Someone needs to give the boys at the Lake County Film Festival a pat on the bum for busting out the funk over on their website. No, really. Go give them a pat. A firm caress, even."

Posted by dwhudson at 9:44 AM

March 10, 2005

Austin Dispatch. 1.

Austin Chronicle: SXSW 05 On the final stretch from Berlin to Austin last night, there were telltale signs here and there that this city that's somehow found a delicious balance between vibrant creativity and sheer unassuming laid-backness is about to bust into its brightest annual bloom. A last-minute photo montage for a flyer, tweaked in the seat next to mine. More than a few guitar cases at baggage claim. Yep, musicians, filmmakers and bloggers are descending on the Texas capital for SXSW, kicking off officially tomorrow and running through March 20.

Each year, the Austin Chronicle devotes three cover packages to each of the three parallel festivals that make up SXSW: Music, Film and Interactive, and this week, it's Film's turn. For all the variety of the films screening this year, it's interesting to consider in these days of a thoroughly established, almost moribund Indiewood, where boutiques set up by the majors run the game, that the two tone-setters at this year's fest are a New Yorker and New Jerseyite whose names conjure the vigor of the earliest days of the American independent film movement: producer extraordinaire Christine Vachon and Todd Solondz.

"Currently, Vachon is in Austin supervising production of Every Word Is True, a movie about Truman Capote and the period during which he wrote In Cold Blood," writes Marjorie Baumgarten, introducing her cover interview, and there's a great shot of Vachon on that page beneath a rather strange portrait of Capote. What matters, of course, though, is Vachon's take on the current state of indies, the New Queer Cinema of the past and working in Austin: "It's great to feel like I'm in a city with a real film community." Possible extrapolation: that afore-mentioned vigor is here.

Palindromes is front and center in Cindy Widner's interview with Solondz: "[W]ho's my audience? My audience are those with an open mind. And that doesn't always, of course, coincide with a liberal one."


So. I've had my jalepeño burger. I'm ready.

Posted by dwhudson at 9:20 AM | Comments (3)

March 9, 2005

Brigitte Mira, 1910 - 2005.

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
For many, Brigitte Mira was simply the woman at the grill. The long-running television series [Drei Damen vom Grill] made her famous. But the lively multi-talent shone in a wide range of genres: as a ballet dancer, soubrette, cabaret artist and singer. Mira received several awards. Her performance in Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Angst essen Seele auf (Ali: Fear Eats the Soul) was legendary.

Stefan Lange for Spiegel Online.

Posted by dwhudson at 12:32 AM | Comments (2)

March 8, 2005

Shorts, 3/8.

One Nite in Mangkok Via Twitch, where Canfield interviews Danny Boyle: Monkey Peaches notes that the Hong Kong Film Critics Association has announced the winners of its Golden Bauhinina Awards. Among the highlights:

For the Village Voice, Michael Atkinson previews the "Rendez-Vous With French Cinema" series at the Walter Reade in NYC, March 11 through 20.

Don't Move Wellspring has picked up Jacques Audiard's The Beat That My Heart Skipped, reports Brian Brooks. Also at indieWIRE: a trio from Reverse Shot reviews Sergio Castellitto's Don't Move.

Alessandro Camon in Salon: "Looking back at the Godfather trilogy in light of The Sopranos, the reasons for the don's downfall come into clear, harsh focus. The general crisis of fatherhood might be the sign of times, but it was written all along in Michael Corleone's DNA."

An alert from Caryn James in the New York Times: Brace yourself for Jane Fonda's comeback campaign.

In the Guardian, Peter Kosminsky writes about how Tony Blair's Labour government did everything in its power to make it very, very difficult for him to complete his film about David Kelly.

"What happened to the anti-porn feminists?" asks Drake Bennett in the Boston Globe. The answer seems to be two-fold. First, they got tied up in the courts; then, porn's simply become too ubiquitous to argue about.

XXX: 30 Porn-Star Portraits A society's acceptance of porn is, in fact, a measure of its acceptance of freedom, argues Salman Rushdie in an essay in Timothy Greenfield-Sanders's XXX: 30 Porn-Star Portraits (and published this week in German in Der Spiegel). Calcutta's Telegraph runs a bare-bones story, though it doesn't emphasize the most interesting point: governments that restrict porn inadvertently turn porn into an icon of freedom.

DVD Talk launches a new column: "Anime Talk"; meanwhile, it turns out that "CineSchlock-O-Rama" columnist G Noel Gross has been blogging: CineSchock-O-Bloggage."

Fascinating interview at Hollywood Bitchslap (which, by the way, has launched a fun new feature, "Great Moments in Junketeering"): Peter Sobczynski asks Dave Bossert, artistic supervisor of the Restoration Initiative about the painstaking work that went into reviving Bambi. You may even find it fascinating enough to want more: Bill Desowitz talks with others on the restoration team, too, for Animation World Magazine; and you might recall Peter M Bracke's earlier interview with Bossert for DVD File when Disney's WWII-era propaganda shorts were released.

Speaking of restoration, the newly pieced-together Battleship Potemkin was recently screened at the Berlinale, and now, in Radar (and in Spanish), Eduardo Montes-Bradley looks into the historical event - exactly 100 years ago as of June 29 of this year - on which the film is based. Very loosely based, as he discovers. Via Perlentaucher's "Magazinrundschau."

At the Artful Writer, Craig Mazin pleads with his fellow scribes to cut the "new age mumbo jumbo." Hear, hear. Dozens of comments ensue.

Tarzan Online browsing tip. Tarzan Movie Posters, via Rashomon.

Wow, would you look at that theater in Amy King's post listing the winners of the Fargo Film Festival.

Yes, Million Dollar Baby's a winner, but what does it mean? Metaphilm rounds up three readings.

Online viewing tip. The 2nd Nontzeflash Animated Film Competition, with entries from all over. Via The Crime in Your Coffee, which points out that the Spanish entry, The Agend isn't just the winner; it's racked up over 20 percent of the votes.

Posted by dwhudson at 9:17 AM

Teresa Wright, 1918 - 2005.

Teresa Wright
Teresa Wright, the high-minded ingénue who marshaled intelligence and spunk to avoid being typecast as another 1940s "sweater girl" and became the only actor to be nominated for Academy Awards for her first three films, died on Sunday at Yale-New Haven Hospital. She was 86.

Douglas Martin in the New York Times.

Wright's persona was that of a sweet-natured girl next door, and her studio, MGM, capitalized on that by giving her plum roles in high profile films.

The Double Nominees.

Posted by dwhudson at 8:19 AM | Comments (7)

Debra Hill, 1950 - 2005.

John Carpenter and Debra Hill
Screenwriter and producer Debra Hill, best known for her work on the 70s horror classic Halloween, has died in Los Angeles aged 54.


"She was my partner for years and my friend," said director John Carpenter... "I'm devastated at her loss. She was a pioneer and opened the road for women to follow her."


"Debra Hill was certainly the most influential woman in my professional life," [Jamie Lee] Curtis said. "She became a dear, dear friend and represents for me the independent Hollywood woman's spirit. She had a wonderful Jersey-girl side to her and loved, loved, loved being in the film business. I owe her my career and will be eternally grateful to her."

Anne Thompson for Reuters.

Posted by dwhudson at 8:16 AM | Comments (1)

March 7, 2005

Morris Engel, 1918 - 2005.

Morris Engel and Ruth Orkin
Morris Engel, the New York photographer and filmmaker whose 1953 film, Little Fugitive, established a model for independent moviemaking that influenced directors like John Cassavetes and François Truffaut, died Saturday at his home on Central Park West. He was 86.

Dave Kehr in the New York Times.

Between neorealism and the nouvelle vague stand Morris Engel and Ruth Orkin, whose independent feature Little Fugitive (1953) has been credited - by François Truffaut, who ought to know - with providing both spiritual imprimatur and nuts-and-bolts strategies for the French New Wave. Engel and Orkin were both still photographers, with Engel particularly distinguished as a colleague of Paul Strand and a pioneer photojournalist with magazines like PM, Fortune, Collier's.... Engel and Orkin provided a production template for future independent filmmakers by doing double and triple duty on their films.


It's not hard to see why Little Fugitive, Engel and Orkin's most famous and successful film, was so inspiring not only to the French but also to American auteurs like Cassavettes (Shadows) and Scorsese (Who's That Knocking on My Door?). Like the two features that would follow it [Lovers and Lollipops and Weddings and Babies], Little Fugitive is a paean to the sights, smells, and sounds of New York, from the cramped but somehow comforting streets of Brooklyn to the dazzling chaos of Coney Island as seen through a child's eyes.

Gary Morris in Bright Lights Film Journal.

Posted by dwhudson at 2:25 PM

Shorts, 3/7.

The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things With Asia Argento's The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things making the rounds (next stop, SXSW), now's a fine time for another full profile of JT LeRoy, who wrote the collection on which it's based. And Luke Crisell's got one in the Observer: "What is known about LeRoy's life has become a sort of layered narrative, which is now threatening to overshadow his work. This is a shame, because his writing is brutally immediate, and compulsive."

Also: Mike Leigh's Oscar diary:

An English actor and his soap star wife rave about Vera Drake, though the conversation changes in tone when she reveals herself to be a fundamentalist pro-lifer. And Imelda introduces me to Annette Bening and Warren Beatty, who spends some time telling me not only that I should make a film with him, but that I should shoot it in the Middle East, and that he wants to play an evil American. He keeps denying he's a communist, though I hadn't actually got him down as one. Lots of loud people being loud, and nice people being very nice...

And: A major Dr Who, Rachel Cooke meets a few people even more serious about the show than she is.

Jonathan Kiefer for Maisonneuve on Notre Musique and Gunner Palace, "an improbably but illuminating double bill": "These two movies differ so strongly that they seem accidentally complementary, and now, I’m wondering, what would happen if each filmmaker had some of the other guy’s material to work with? For starters, it might keep them honest."

Puro Humo The highlights of David Thomson's piece on Guillermo Cabrera Infante, the Cuban writer and film critic in exile who also wrote the screenplays for Vanishing Point and The Lost City, now nearing completion and starring Andy Garcia (who directs; and remembers his friend on NPR), Dustin Hoffman and Bill Murray, are the two short clips from Cabrera Infante's own writing on Bresson's The Diary of a Country Priest and Kubrick's The Killing. Also in the Independent: Nicola Behrman's movieoke piece.

Roger Ebert's received more email about his panning of Diary of a Mad Black Woman than he has in reaction to any other review he's ever written, including those Bush and Jesus movies last year. "I have re-read my original review, and see no need to change a word... I refuse to accept the theory that I am racist because I disliked the film." Via Movie City News, and at Filmmaker (where Matthew Ross suggests checking out Thomas de Zengotita's Mediated: How the Media Shapes Your World and the Way You Live in It), Scott Macaulay has some general thoughts reevaluating the notion that the box office success of indies is driven by reviews.

In the Hollywood Reporter, Anne Thompson explains why ThinkFilm is in a unique position to serve docs well - and vice versa.

"The story behind the Disney-Miramax breakup, on one level, is about money and ego. The 12-year relationship went the way of many famous Hollywood marriages: infatuation, then betrayal and, expected soon, a divorce with a rich settlement."Laura M Holson recaps the story.

Also in the New York Times:

Kiss Me Like a Stranger

  • Janet Maslin reviews Gene Wilder's autobiography, Kiss Me Like a Stranger: "Though this book is true to the nice-guy persona that Mr. Wilder has used to such fine comic effect as an actor, it is not without claws."

  • Elisabeth Bumiller reports that President Bush has seen three films so far this year - The Aviator, Paper Clips and Hotel Rwanda. That last one seems to have made the greatest impression. After seeing it, he invited Paul Rusesabagina to the White House to talk about Sudan's Darfur region.

  • Ross Johnson: "Lions Gate executives had this consolation as they watched the [Independent Spirit Awards, for which the biggest actually independent studio received no nominations] and the following night's Academy Awards ceremonies from the nosebleed seats: they were making all the money."

  • Hart Seely, editor of Pieces of Intelligence: The Existential Poetry of Donald Rumsfeld, offers evidence that Dick Cheney might make a great host for the Oscars next year.

The UK is about to see a Robert Crumb wave wash over the Isles in the form of two retrospectives, a film season and a biography. The Guardian's Simon Hattenstone kicks things off with a long profile while Robert Hughes, author of The Shock of the New and American Visions, explains why he considers Crumb "the one and only genius the 1960s underground produced in visual art, either in America or Europe."

The package is accompanied by Crumb's own illustration for the cover of the Guardian's "G2" section plus two more.

Also in the Guardian:

    Michael Billington on why new off-Broadway plays by David Mamet, Stephen Adly Guirgis and Stephen Belber suggest "that American dramatists are obsessed by the failure of existing legal, religious and political systems to deal with the rising tide of prejudice. They suggest you can actually smell hatred in the air.

  • With Birds Eye View Film Festival opening tomorrow and running through March 13, seven UK film industry movers and shakers offer their thoughts on why there are so few women working alongside them.

  • Declan Walsh reports from Islamabad: "A new film, Nazar, directed by an Indian but starring a leading Pakistani actor, Meera, has stirred a hornets' nest of religious passions in her homeland."

Via Movie City News: Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato defend their estimate of Deep Throat's revenue total: "Yes, it's quite possible that $600 million is indeed 'baloney.' But that's because the true figure is probably even higher than that." And more Photoshop fun at

How would you sell Head On? The New Yorker's Anthony Lane's not sure, either: "All I can say is that you should see Head On, and that, even if you end up hating it, there will be no denying the fact that you have been through something and that, if you are still foolish and hopeful enough to let movies get to you, the person who went into the theatre will not be quite the same as the person who comes out."

David Fellerath on The Take:

[T]he movies have to move beyond Bush-bashing. Whether we like it or not, he's back in the White House, and there's nothing we can do except organize, educate and resist in the face of the next few years in which overseas wars - fought by increasingly exhausted troops - grind on while Social Security comes under attack at home. Likewise for political filmmakers, it's necessary to advance their cinematic objectives to positive ones, to create films that inform and inspire. We at the Independent feel that we've uncovered just such a film.

See also Hannah Eaves's interview with Avi Lewis at the main site.

For the San Francisco Chronicle, Annie Nakao profiles the subject of Him Mark Lai: The People's Historian, a doc screening at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (March 10 through 20). Via the indieWIRE Insider.

Figures Traced in Light Over the weekend, David Bordwell gave a talk at Griffith University (somewhere along the Brisbane-Gold Coast corridor, evidently) and Matt Clayfield was there.

"With an estimated 44 million Latinos in the United States today, filmmakers and producers are anxious to find ways to reach that growing audience, while at the same time making a mark in the mainstream entertainment business." Eugene Hernandez reports in indieWIRE on the highlights of the National Association of Latino Producers 6th annual conference.

Ben Slater is back, with many thoughts about many things, winding up with his take on Hayao Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle.

Filmbrain's back, too, with reviews of two films we both caught at the Berlinale, both French. He, too, was severely disappointed by Alain Corneau's Les mots bleus (Words in Blue) but was also pleasantly surprised by Jacques Audiard's De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté (The Beat That My Heart Skipped).

The President's Last Bang Darcy Paquet reviews Im Sang-soo's controversial The President's Last Bang: "Many have viewed Last Bang as a bit of character assassination aimed at the late President Park. An observant reader on the discussion board noted that this was more or less equivalent to making a movie about George Bush snorting cocaine and driving drunk in his youth."

Also, three reviews by Adam Hartzell: Jang Sun-woo's Buddhist-themed Hwa-Om-Kyung, Park Dae-young's debut, Love Wind, Love Song and Im Kwon-taek's Festival.

Via Fimoculous, a Reuters piece on AKOM, the South Korean studio that's been animating The Simpsons all these years.

Harry Knowles gets a sneak peek at Unleashed: "This film is fucking fantastic." Via Matt Dentler.

Margaret Cho's Bam Bam and Celeste has wrapped principle photography and Team Cho is celebrating.

Got a secret movie doppelgänger? The cinetrix is all ears.

Why was Vince Keenan hooked on HBO's Unscripted? "[T]he show succeeded in showing acting for what it is: a craft that’s also a difficult, punishing job."

Ack! Here I am, packing for Austin, and I'm going to miss this by a matter of a few slim days: Wiley Wiggins will be presenting screenings of Waking Life and Dazed and Confused Tuesday night (tomorrow!) at the new Alamo Drafthouse South. Fortunately, though, Wiley and I will finally be meeting F2F as fellow panelists at SXSW.

Online viewing tips? Sean Spillane has three for you at Bitter Cinema.

Posted by dwhudson at 2:09 PM

March 5, 2005

Weekend shorts.

For signandsight, Ekkehard Knörer takes one last good hard look back at this year's Berlinale. The highlights, he's decided, were the films from China: "[N]ow that stars of the so-called fifth generation such as Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige have lost favour with international critics after making overly conformist Hollywood and martial arts spectacles, the West is starting to notice films that are strong-headed enough to escape the Chinese censors relatively unscathed."

The Late Mitterand He trashes most of the Competition, but evidently didn't catch Robert Guédiguian's Promeneur du Champs de Mars (The Late Mitterand [a title I prefer to The Last Mitterand]), and as this year's festival fades into memory, Mitterand only grows in my estimation (here's a trailer). While I recognize the event status of Tsai Ming-liang's The Wayward Cloud and continue to appreciate Hany Abu-Assad's Paradise Now in ways that Knörer does not, I do think Mitterand has quietly taken over a spot in my mind as my "favorite" film of the festival. Now, in the New York Times, Alan Riding has a fine piece on how it's "often the artists who determine how political leaders are remembered" and asks, "So how real is the movie's Mitterand?"


  • Not everyone in a Cinema Studies program wants to make movies or write about them, reports Elizabeth van Ness: "At a time when street gangs warn informers with DVD productions about the fate of 'snitches' and both terrorists and their adversaries routinely communicate in elaborately staged videos, it is not altogether surprising that film school - promoted as a shot at an entertainment industry job - is beginning to attract those who believe that cinema isn't so much a profession as the professional language of the future."

  • Margo Jefferson's found watching the Oscar-nominated live-action and animated shorts "one of the best movie afternoons I've had in ages." But frets that they're so hard to find. This year, though, we got to see many of them online, and that is the short form's great hope (not, as Jefferson suggests, simply calling them videos or asking the filmmakers to go commercial).

  • Karen Durbin basically profiles Mike Binder but keeps it interesting by focusing on his work, which is all about "adultery, men behaving badly and the general unruliness of sex, pretty much in that order."

  • AO Scott's mixed review of The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe: "It isn't that [Sarah] Churchwell is wrong - surely many 'deep-seated' preoccupations about sex, death and fame circulate around the figure of Marilyn Monroe, as they do around other famous people - but that she has a habit of subjecting her insights to a rhetorical inflation that ends up weakening them."

  • With Film Forum's "Essential Westerns, 1924 - 1962" series running all month, Terrence Rafferty considers the genre that "in its heyday created a weirdly powerful reality of its own."

Stay Free!'s Carrie McLaren reports that Warner Bros has shifted gears and is now suddenly clamping down on Brad Neely's Wizard People, Dear Reader. Via Wiley Wiggins.

Scheider and Fonda in Klute At Filmmaker, Steve Gallagher posts news of the Amazon Theater / Tribeca Film Festival Short Film Competition (just don't get mesmerized by that animated gif like Michael Kang and I did) and the series "Paranoia Films of the 70s," March 11 through April 2 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

At Apple's site, Nancy Eaton gets Michael Tucker to talk about the nuts and bolts of making Gunner Palace. Via Greg Allen by way of Jason Kottke.

George Fasel, who's found Richard McGregor's interview with Christopher Doyle in the Financial Times, recommends The Best of Youth: "[Director Marco Tullio] Giordana gets an awful lot out of his actors, and that makes up for many sins."

Geoffrey Macnab on Yang Ban Xi: The Eight Model Works, a documentary about Cultural Revolution-era musicals in China: "So far the film has only been screened at the Sundance and the Rotterdam film festivals, but already it is proving highly contentious. [Director Yan Ting] Yuen's sin, in the eyes of her critics, is that she has made a cheerful, upbeat film that skates over the horrors of one of the most tragic episodes in recent Chinese history."

Also in the Guardian:

Jackie Brown

At Movie City News, Leonard Klady talks to Jonathan Nossiter about Mondovino and issues a call for info about "Orange," a short that toured as part of The Best of the New York Erotic Film Festival in the early 70s; this was a collection of ten shorts selected by, among others, Andy Warhol, Gore Vidal, Milos Forman and Sylvia Miles.

And via MCN: Mick LaSalle's piece in the San Francisco Chronicle on screenwriter Dalton Trumbo; the occasion is the play, Trumbo: Red, White and Blacklisted. And the Globe and Mail's Tralee Pearce has seven questions for Maggie Cheung.

When it came time to write up a 2004 top ten list, Craig Phillips created a category for I ♥ Huckabees all its own: "Change My Opinion Every Three Days." Now, taking a closer look at the screenplay, listening to the DVD commentary, Craig still isn't ready to pronounce a final word on the film, but he's getting there.

Deadwood creator David Milch is making the rounds, and today, we're lucky; it's Salon's Heather Havrilesky's turn to talk to him.

Roger Ebert made a recent appearance in San Francisco, giving an informal talk. Edward Champion was there, taking notes.

Chuck Tryon's been thinking a lot out loud about The Jacket lately; about three-n-a-half entries so far. Let's check back in a year or two and see how his prediction's fared.

At McSweeney's, Chris Gavaler updates the "Who's on first?" routine in a way that'll hit you as pretty silly at first... but it'll win you over.

After all the Oscars were handed out, Morgan Spurlock ran around with a camera.

Will Vimeo be to video what Flickr is to snapshots? Via Steve Rosenbaum.

Just too much good stuff at Twitch lately to choose one or three or five items. Go, browse, read news and reviews, look at posters, watch trailers. Woof.

Posted by dwhudson at 5:19 PM | Comments (3)

March 4, 2005

Shorts, 3/4.

Life is a Miracle "What is the problem with you English? You killed millions of Indians and Africans, and yet you go nuts about the circumstances of the death of a single Serbian pigeon. I am touched you hold the lives of Serbian birds so dear, but you are crazy. I will never understand how your minds work." Emir Kusturica has a point here. A British censor insists on cutting a two-second scene from Life is a Miracle in which a cat pounces on pigeon that's already dead. Little wonder Lars von Trier cut the donkey. But really, this is among the least of Kusturica's concerns, as Fiachra Gibbons learns when he visits him in Kustendorf, the utopian village he's waded deep into debt to build as a refuge from "the new bolshevism" of "corporate control." A terrific profile of an iconoclast.

The Guardian also runs an extract from Clinton Heylin's Despite the System: Orson Welles Vs the Hollywood Studios. And John Patterson looks ahead to an arid spring and summer at the movies.

Woody Allen:

It could not be worse: you are born; you don't know why, you don't know what the story is; you have a short amount of time that's pregnant with illness, suffering, carnage and conflict; and you end up being exterminated for no offense you've made, nothing bad that you've done... That's my comic vision so I'm not a lot of fun at parties. I'm not the guy you want to have a good time.

Also in the London Times: James Knight and Katrina Manson report from "the African Cannes," Fespaco. The festival runs through tomorrow in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

Mary Pickford and Frances Marion The Independent is the media partner for the first Birds Eye View Film Festival, March 8 through 13, devoted to the work of women filmmakers. Leslie Felperin explains why this is particularly necessary at a time when we've become complacent about the gender gap. Related: Cari Beauchamp, author of Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood, the book on which Bridgett Terry's doc is based, presents a much shorter overview. Via the cinetrix.

Also: Kaleem Aftab profiles Sophie Okonedo and, from John Hiscock, we learn a little more about Danny Boyle's plans for Sunshine. Related: Todd at Twitch has caught wind of a September release for Boyle's 2002 30-minute short, Alien Love Triangle.

The Fly More news via Todd: The AP's Martin Steinberg reports that Howard Shore is "working on an opera version of David Cronenberg's horror film The Fly for a 2007 premiere by Los Angeles Opera, a collaboration with Cronenberg and librettist David Henry Hwang of M. Butterfly fame." Wonder if Shore's ever seen Jeff Goldblum in the musical version of The Elephant Man.

A Gunner Palace double feature in Salon: Mark Follman talks to Michael Tucker as well as a few vets and active-duty soldiers who tell him the film "offers the first true picture of military service in Iraq... Apparently some military officials are concerned that Gunner Palace is a little too real." Andrew O'Hehir finds the doc "more than cinéma vérité on-site with the U.S. Army's 2/3 Field Artillery at the garish, half-demolished former palace of Uday Hussein. It's also a nerve-jangling work of visual poetry and ironic juxtaposition, and a powerful human story of a group of brave young Americans thrust through the looking glass into a confused and confusing new reality." More from AO Scott in the New York Times.

Anna Shepard certainly didn't set out to like Michael Winterbottom's 9 Songs. "I may be a tolerant, 21st- century twentysomething, but that doesn't mean I have to celebrate X-rated action and shoe-staring rock in a film with virtually no plot or script," she writes in the New Statesman. "Fortunately, modern gals can also change their minds. I found the 'muckiest film ever' to be honest, brave and oddly compelling."

The Jacket Jon Lovitz is staging his comeback as a stand-up comic and, according to Carl Kozkowski in LA CityBeat, audience reaction "could very well signal the rebirth of a star." Also: Andy Klein on The Jacket, "a trip with its own emotional logic," and on a much more frightening picture, Bambi: "It's like an animated version of The Diary of Anne Frank, with the whole human race as the Nazis. I'd like to say that it works because of the character development, but that would overlook the really scary animation."

Jonathan Rosenbaum on Jem Cohen's feature debut: "[I]t's highly ambitious, has plenty to say, and is far from inaccessible. Chain was shot in 16-millimeter over six years in hundreds of malls around the world - Atlanta, Dallas, Orlando, Berlin, Paris, Warsaw, Melbourne. That it's impossible to tell the malls' locations is part of the point." Don't skim or you'll miss the comparison towards the end with The Savage Eye.

Bomb is rerunning Ron Rifkin's 1994 interview with Arthur Miller.

"There are very few existing properties that I’d be interested in writing. I like making up my own stories.... But if someone asked me to write a James Bond film, you wouldn’t see my arse for dust. Sad, innit?" Francis Hwang reBlogs Warren Ellis.

Morgan Spurlock:

Well, we didn’t take home the little gold man, but what a capper to undoubtedly the best year of my life as filmmaker. I predicted weeks ago that Ross and Zana would take the honors... I am so proud of them and all that they have done and believe me when I say, after having met them at Sundance last year and subsequently spending lots of time with them at various festivals and screenings over the last 13 months, it couldn’t have happened to two nicer, more deserving people.

Which leads to an online listening tip via Movie City News: NPR's Melissa Block talks with Born Into Brothels co-director Zana Briski about her plans to build a school for the Kids With Cameras.

When a Woman Ascends the Stairs Doug Cummings: "One of the last things Susan Sontag did before she passed away last December was program a sequel to her last touring series of classic Japanese films. Of the nine titles in the new series now playing at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, I'll remark on the [Mikio] Naruse selections here."

Warner Bros is the new Criterion Collection, argues Fred Kaplan: "I know of no other label, in fact, whose output has been more consistently spectacular." Also in Slate: David Edelstein on The Best of Youth: "This is the sort of movie you'll recommend to friends and they'll go, 'Six hours! Are you nuts?' and then call you up and thank you in the middle of the night." At Gay City News, though, Steve Erickson aims to tone down the so-far overwhelming critical reaction.

Paul Fischer's package of Be Cool interviews at Film Monthly: Uma Thurman, John Travolta, The Rock, Harvey Keitel, F Gary Gray, Andre 3000 (the Outkast movie is finished, by the way) and Christina Milian.

IndieWIRE Insider: "Missed the True/False Film Fest in Missouri last week? No worries. Pete Bland was blogging from the event for the Columbia Daily Tribune."

Michael Tully's found "a miracle of perfection," Tom Perrotta's short story, "The Smile on Happy Chang's Face."

Vince Keenan: "I didn't plan on this being 'Thrillers of '87' week. That's just how it worked out. Honest."

"Bush in 30 Years" is the MoveOn's latest contest. Submit your Flash entry between March 7 and 25. Via Fimoculous.

Online viewing tip #1. Greg Allen: "Rex's mention of Interpol's new video reminded me of the short film contest they threw last year for the release of their album, Antic." Long story short: 7 out of 10 winners are viewable. Short story long: Greg's concept for his submission, "Unrelated Story," alternatively titled "Public Pervert."

Online viewing tip #2. SXSW. More trailers in bigger sizes.

Online viewing tip #3. Amy Krouse Rosenthal's written a book called Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. As part of her Lost and Found Project, she "intentionally left" 150 copies in various hiding spots around Chicago. Towards the bottom of that front page, on the right, you'll find "Watch the video clip." Do. Via Coudal Partners, where you'll also find many more links to many more wonderful things.

Posted by dwhudson at 7:33 AM

March 3, 2005

Shorts, 3/3.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell Christopher Hampton, the screenwriter and playwright with a penchant for the literary and a talent for memorable dialogue, will be adapting Susanna Clarke's bestselling and widely acclaimed debut doorstopper, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. That news comes from Garth Franklin at, appropriately enough, Dark Horizons.

More movies to look forward to: "With poker on the town brain, it's no shocker that the list of poker-related projects is almost too long to relate," writes Duff McDonald in a Vanity Fair piece that ticks off several anyway, names Hollywood's most avid poker players and describes the atmo at several of the games.

Manohla Dargis argues that Park Chan-wook's "integration into the upper tier of the festival circuit and his embrace by some cinephiles... reflect a dubious development in recent cinema: the mainstreaming of exploitation." And Park isn't the only symptom of an extreme cinema "devised just to distract and reaffirm the audience's existing worldview: an eye for an eye, it's a dog-eat-dog world, ad nauseam"; also name-checked are Kim Ki-duk, Takashi Miike and Gaspar Noé. Also in the New York Times: Laurel Graeber previews the New York International Children's Festival, March 4 through 20, and the BAMkids Film Festival, March 12 and 13.

Tropical Malady Jessica Winter in the Guardian: "[Apichatpong] Weerasethakul has become the leader of a nascent Thai new wave alongside Pen-ek Ratanaruang, director of Last Life in the Universe, which shares the same contemplative mood and magical occurrences. Not to mention ghosts - with whom Weerasethakul has had a couple of personal encounters, including a visit from a white-robed apparition one night in a hotel in Paris."

Gary M Kramer interviews Eytan Fox, whose follow-up to Yossi & Jagger is "a much more personal film, one concerned with exploring issues of masculinity, and attitudes of Israelis." Also at indieWIRE: Eugene Hernandez previews this year's New York Underground Film Festival, March 9 through 13.

What's Danny Glover up to? Lots of good, basically. Reuters and the AP report; via the indieWIRE Insider.

Stephanie Zacharek in Salon:

[B]efore you relegate The Best of Youth to the "watch it on DVD later" pile, let's consider a few of the reasons we still bother to go to the movies in the first place: The communal experience is part of the draw, but there's also something almost ritualistic about setting aside the time to sit in the dark and allow yourself to be consumed by - and to engage with - the story unfolding before you. Moviegoing is private as well as public. Ideally, the time we've poured into a picture should mean nothing compared with the riches we take away from it. Some long movies merely rob you of time; others, like The Best of Youth, expand in the memory, yielding returns far beyond the number of hours you've actually spent in the seat. This is a graceful and enveloping feat of filmmaking.

Nick Broomfield: Documenting Icons Ann Lee interviews Wes Anderson and calls it a "quick chat." Well, it's longer than the drive-by how-do-you-do's in the Village Voice these days, sadly. Also at Kamera: Daniel Graham reviews Jason Woods's Nick Broomfield: Documenting Icons.

Chuck Tryon not only offers a bit of intriguing background on Tara Wray, currently at work on a documentary to be called Manhattan, Kansas, he, like the cinetrix, also returns to James Wolcott's demolition of Ken Tucker's review in New York of Gunner Palace to note that "the troops appear to be a blank slate, against which multiple political narratives can be written."

There's a lot of Ella Taylor in this week's LA Weekly, starting with an Oscar wrap-up, "geezer night, plus frocks" (don't miss the illustrations and photos by Dani Katz, Ted Soqui and JT Steiny, or for that matter, Sean Spillane's fine rant at Bitter Cinema) before the but-seriously reviews of Gunner Palace (the soldiers "understand precisely what a no-win situation both they and the Iraqis are in") and Dear Frankie ("a perfectly presentable, if unremarkable, kitchen-sink weepie" - on video).


A brief interview with Hirokazu Kore-eda accompanies Sam Adams's review of Nobody Knows.

Austin Chronicle: SXSW Interactive This week's Austin Chronicle is bursting with SXSW Interactive-related features.

Forrester Research: "Memo to Steve Jobs - buy TiVo." Via Fimoculous.

Major congrats, Filmbrain.

Arthur C Danto remembers Susan Sontag in Artforum.

The "new new meme"? Five movie quotes that pop into your head. Here's one constellation: Edward Champion, OGIC, Terry Teachout, Sheila O'Malley, Chai-rista at Truly Bad Films, Alexis Stewart, Jeff Vickers, Llama Butchers...

Online browsing tip. Silly but fun faux posters for hybrid movies (How the Grudge Stole the Grinch, Cameron Diaz in Dirty Mary, etc.) at, via Movie City News.

Posted by dwhudson at 9:29 AM | Comments (4)

March 2, 2005

DFI's Film

Film #41 The Danish Association of Film Critics has awarded their Bodils. I found this news via a tiny URL printed on the back of issue #41 of Film, a publication from the Danish Film Institute, handed out as a freebie at the Berlinale. I've been reading this thing off and on ever since the festival and only tonight thought... I wonder if this stuff is online.

The DFI's "Articles & Publications" suggests at first glance that only selected older pieces are, but in fact, issues #41, #39 and #36 are downloadable as PDF files. You want them. In #41, for example, Thomas Vinterberg and Lars von Trier talk about Dear Wendy. Nicholas Winding Refn discusses the first of his two sequels to Pusher. There's a chat with Vivian Wu. And of course, there's much ado about Jacob Thuesen's Berlinale entry, Accused.

#36 features a healthy section on women directors (you know more Danish women directors than you think: Susanne Bier and Lone Scherfig for starters) and #39 is all about docs. Plus, these are Danish magazines, after all. Very handsomely designed.

Posted by dwhudson at 2:56 PM

Shorts, 3/2.

Millions In Salon, Brian Libby listens to Danny Boyle talk about, well, Millions, of course, but also about what's become of Britain and about his next projects: a sci-fi story by Alex Garland and, in the distant future, a sequel to Trainspotting.

More on Millions from Time's Richard Corliss, who also recommends "six upcoming diva DVDs to glamorize your evenings - and to make every modern actress want to pour herself another vodka hemlock." More in this vein from Fay Weldon in the London Times and via the IFC Blog:

I would hesitate to call [Nicole] Kidman a film star. Where’s the mystery? We know too much.... The sorry fact is that film stars, screen goddesses and screen legends were a product of the mid-20th-century and we are now in the 21st.... Film stars were meant to behave badly, and live excessively, look great, despise everyone and perform well at the box office.

Seoul Raiders In Time Asia, Bryan Walsh on Seoul Raiders: "Thank God for Tony Leung Chiu-wai. The best actor working in Asian cinema today can redeem any scene and endow even the most artificial plot with a few degrees of soul."

Todd at Twitch:

A Tale of Two Sisters refuses to fit neatly into any genre, though it is most commonly referred to as a horror film, and it is all the stronger for that. Director Kim [Jee-woon] obviously values ambiguity as a tool to keep the audience guessing, by refusing to follow a neat pattern he forces you out of any sense of easy familiarity and keeps the world of the film tilting and roiling in unexpected directions. This is a film that rewards multiple viewings thanks to the range of possible interpretations and the wealth of small details, unnoticed on first viewing, that will push you in one direction or another as you slowly pick them up.

Also, an excellent entry from Mack.

At, Paolo Berolin interviews Whang Cheol-mean, whose Frakchi (Spying Cam) won the Fipresci award in Rotterdam in February.

Deutsche Kinostars der 50er Jahre. Via Sean Spillane at Bitter Cinema: "The stars themselves were attractive enough, although they didn't seem to make much of a splash outside West Germany (or German speaking environs), unlike, say, Curd Jürgens, Hardy Kruger, Gert Frobe, or Karin Dor (although a lot of these aforementioned actors made their transatlantic bones on Bond films, oddly enough)."

Die Gefangene der Maharadscha Towards the bottom of that page is a link to Deutscher Tonfilm 1929 bis 1972. These are film programs - Illustrierte Film-Bühne, for example - one would buy at the theater for a few extra Pfennigs; my in-laws still have hundreds of them, and I've spent countless hours paging through them. Very gingerly. Choose a year, then a title; and then, at the bottom of the page for many of those titles you'll find one more photo galleries. Take your time.

The Cinecultist has seen Christina Ricci in Prozac Nation and assures you you can be glad you haven't yet.

Not all interviews are alike, and you'll find a string of them unlike most others at Scene Missing Magazine. Via Wiley Wiggins, one of the interviewees.

Bruce Feirstein tells the story of Oscar weekend. Short version: The Academy Awards, like a visit to a movie theater, may be playing a waning role in pop culture, but 4 Times Square (Vanity Fair HQ) is still Olympus, where the gods quietly tug at unseen strings.

Also in the New York Observer:

  • Jake Brooks looks ahead to the film and DVD releases of spring, reports on what sounds like a pretty flimsy lawsuit against Super Size Me director Morgan Spurlock and ties it all up with quite a quote from Manohla Dargis.

  • Ben Profume invades Jamie Foxx's dreams.

  • Simon Doonan's "Top 10 fave moments from the 77th Annual Academy Awards."

  • Hilton Kramer admires the work of Robert De Niro, Sr: "Not only as a painter and a draftsman but as a writer, too, he displayed a profligate talent that was designed to sweep us off our feet - and sometimes even succeeded in doing so."

  • Andrew Sarris on Be Cool: "As Bobby Clark once remarked at a particularly tangled moment in a freewheeling Broadway revival of Victor Herbert's Sweethearts, 'Never was a thin plot so complicated.'" In the Village Voice, Michael Atkinson finds it "decidedly uncool," but there are definitely bits he got a kick out of.

Also in the Voice:

La Niña Santa

Susan Gerhard on Gunner Palace: "Unlike that of blustery war blockbusters, the film's awful suspense is earned." Also in the San Francisco Bay Guardian: Cheryl Eddy on Night of Henna and The Jacket.

It wasn't just Hollywood giving out awards this weekend. Sify reports on the 50th Filmfare awards presented in Mumbai over the weekend: "Veer Zaara the film exploring the theme of love across borders, was adjudged the best film of the year while Kunal Kohli was conferred upon the best director award for Hum Tum."

The Guardian reports on an upset at the Césars: L'Esquive (The Dodge) won best film, best director (Abdellatif Kechiche), best screenplay and best female newcomer (Sara Forestier). "By contrast, the two films deemed favourites to win, A Very Long Engagement, the first world war drama starring Amélie's Audrey Tautou, and The Chorus, the Oscar-nominated story of a boys' choir, went home almost empty-handed." Filmmaker's Steve Gallagher has much more on the winning film.

Also at the Guardian site: Chatting with Observer critic Jason Solomons and Alex Bellos on how and why Hollywood's discovering soccer.

Full Frame Documentary Film Festival At indieWIRE, Jason Guerrasio checks up on five indies in production and Eugene Hernandez looks ahead to the 8th Full Frame Documentary Film Festival (April 7 through 10, Durham, NC).

Sad news from another festival, by way of Amy King: As James Copnall reports for the BBC, two were killed in an opening night stampede at the Fespaco festival in Burkino Faso.

Sound & Cinema is a new speaker series launching tomorrow at the San Francisco Film Centre with Peter Golub, director of the Sundance Composer Lab, composer Mark de gli Antoni and director Michael Lehmann. April 7: Brad Bird; May 5: Mark Mothersbaugh. Via Steve Rhodes.

Via the cinetrix (who also has an online viewing tip for you), Celia Wren's piece in the Boston Globe on the history and impact of Variety-speak: "The Oxford English Dictionary cites Variety as its earliest source for about two dozen terms, including 'punch line' (1921), 'payola' (1938), 'strip-tease' (1936), 'shoot-'em-up' (1953) and 'show biz' (1945)."

Posted by dwhudson at 2:54 PM

March 1, 2005

Shorts, 3/1.

A Snake of June Twitch's Todd: "What people miss with all the hype around Tetsuo... is Tsukamoto's growing desire, and ability, to wed his more surreal urges to living, breathing human characters, creating some stunning character studies in the process. He first got the mixture right with Bullet Ballet and, after a brief foray into commercial film making with Gemini, Tsukamoto returned to his distinctive vision with 2002's A Snake of June, a film that I truly believe stands as Tsukamoto's masterpiece."

You don't often see NP Thompson rave, but then, Thompson doesn't often see films that move him as deeply as The Best of Youth:

[U]ltimately six hours seems not quite enough (I can think of several 90-minute films that feel longer) to savor, to grieve, and to celebrate along with the siblings and spouses of the Carati family.... The Best of Youth isn't a perfect movie, or even a particularly consistent one, yet the mere accuracy with which it depicts various states of love, hurt and confusion shook me more profoundly than any film I can recall. I'll admit it - I wept buckets.

More from Jessica Winter in the Village Voice.

Robert Greenwald is now blogging. Via Brian Flemming.

James Wolcott explains why Ken Tucker's take on Gunner Palace in New York is preposterous. The Voice's J Hoberman finds the film "fascinating, if not entirely satisfying," has some very perceptive things to say about Michael Tucker's approach to his subject, but then drops his bomb: "It's the human face of Abu Ghraib."

The Washington Post's Jonathan Yardley reviews Edward Jay Epstein's The Big Picture: The New Logic of Money and Power in Hollywood. The bottom line: "[T]heaters aren't where movies make money any more."

Dietrich's Ghosts Two book reviews at Kamera: Edward Lamberti on Horizons West, "Jim Kitses's extraordinarily poised, lucid and all-encompassing study of the Western," and Ben McCann on Erica Carter's Dietrich's Ghosts, "the first major English-language study of the film aesthetics of the Third Reich."

In Salon, Allen Barra writes about what makes Francis Xavier Toole's stories work; he was the writer who published just one book in his life, and that at the age of 70: Rope Burns, a collection including "Million Dollar Baby." Also: the Dashiell Hammett novel that kept eluding adaptation, though it remains "his most important contribution to American literature - to American culture."

To Filmbrain, Aleksandr Sokurov's The Sun "seems more like a personal drama than a political one."

Twenty years on, Claude Lanzmann reflects in Le Monde (and in French) on the origins of the title of his landmark documentary, Shoah. Via Perlentaucher's "Magazinrundschau," and here's a good place and moment to mention in the most celebratory of tones that Perlentaucher has launched an English-language offshoot. It's called signandsight and it's off to an excellent start.

Matthew Scott Kelemen at Alternet on Jessica Yu's In the Realms of the Unreal: "The nature of Darger's work and technique make innovation practically a requirement in telling his story."

At Hollywood Bitchslap, Scott Weinberg looks at nearly two dozen films we're likely to actually see on screens, large or small, thanks to the Miramax/Disney divorce.

Gerard Gilbert in the Independent on Julian Sands as Laurence Olivier.

David Roth at the New Republic on VH1 and Ego Trip's Race-o-Rama: "It is outrageous and serious-minded, bitterly angry and bitterly amused, crudely race-baiting and oddly inclusive, authentically street and equally steeped in college-kid hyper-irony."

Steve Rosenbaum on Brightcove and TiVo To Go.

Posted by dwhudson at 9:54 AM

Cleaning up after Oscar.

Armond White in the New York Press: "Pauline Kael wrote that critics should not talk about the Academy Awards. She was right.... But not even she could have guessed the extent to which annual Awards grubbing would destroy film culture, or that critics would willingly kowtow to it." The piece actually segues into a rebuttal to the general critical snubbing of Spanglish, but still.

Roger Avary: "Like, how about Alexander Payne's speech: 'Hold it, let me think.......... ah, yes, thank you to the actors.' I know I'm not one to talk about Oscar speeches, and Alexander is a friend of mine, but that was funny."

Lynda Obst at Slate: "Criticizing Bush post-election puts a frisson in a live national audience that almost feels dangerous. Isn't that sad?" And:

Charlie Kaufman

What about Charlie!? Wasn't that a highlight? I felt like all of the writers in the country were cheering when his name was called, and like I heard you [David Edelstein] all the way from New York. Didn't you just get a delicious sense of his joy? That impish smile? With all those egomaniacs going on and on, he just wanted to thank his daughter Anna and get off the stage.

The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw: "Frankly, the best of New Hollywood was represented in the writing awards."

Caryn James in the New York Times: "The Rock-Penn showdown, and the mini-sweep of top awards for Baby, create a perfect snapshot of the dilemma the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences faces: it knows it ought to move into the 21st century but hates the idea."

David Poland: "I thought it was the best produced Oscar telecast I've ever seen... Which makes it all the more painful that is was as boring, predictable and sure to be low rated as it was." Also at Movie City News, Emanuel Levy, who's just conducted an informal poll on the best and worst movies to have been named Best Picture, argues that, sure, the show was predictable, but M$B, unlike Titanic or Gladiator, deserved to win.

Chris Parry:


ET can go to great lengths to have Nic Cage tell us about his dog Steve, or about how Adam Goldberg once had his hair long, or about how James Cameron's ex-wife's housekeeper's sister once dated the make-up assistant on White Chicks, but when it comes to the Oscars, suddenly we're so pushed for time, so desperate to get to the Barbara Walters interview with Teri Hatcher, so incredibly disgusted by the chance that the biggest celebrity event of the year might push four hours in length, that we can only give the Best Supporting Actor 45 seconds to say his thank you's? What the hell is that?

Also at Hollywood Bitchslap, David Cornelius thinks the tech nominees got a raw deal.

Jeffrey Wells writes an open letter to Marlon Brando: "[P]roducers Gil Cates and Lou Horvitz took the politically easy road and revealed their personal colors, not to mention the industry's basic value system, in their decision to pay a special extended tribute to Carson and not you."

The IFC's Alison Willmore misses the Oscars of old: "Because when it was messy excess, we were all in it together, because we loved the spectacle, as silly and self-important as it was."

Danny Schlechter: "US jingoism should be out of place in an industry that derives half its revenues overseas globally, in a world that does not see our soldiers and their role through Hollywood colored glasses. Besides the flag waving, there was censorship... oops, forgive me, the enforcement of 'network standards and practices.'"

Dennis Cozzalio: "[A]s my pal Cruzbomb wondered in his caustic piece on Oscar enthusiasm and the lack thereof, why would a director of Scorsese's caliber and originality care to so desperately seek admission to a club that has bestowed its highest honor upon the likes of Ron Howard, Mel Gibson and Kevin Costner?"

Tom Hall:

There is no doubt that Eastwood is a beloved figure in Hollywood, and as a director, I think he has made some excellent films (Unforgiven being my favorite). But let's get one thing straight: Clint Eastwood, Kevin Costner, and Robert Redford combined could not direct a film with the visual imagination, style, and absolute love of movies that is Martin Scorsese's The Aviator."

In the Hollywood Reporter, Anne Thompson writes that M$B's four major awards "reveal a yearning for a Hollywood that is swiftly vanishing... We are not far away from a time when the Academy's technical awards will celebrate the feats of studio VFX behemoths and animated features while the major Oscar categories might just as well be called the Independent Spirit Awards."

Anthony Kaufman:

I didn't see Clint Eastwood's racist, classist, sexist melodrama until after many of the year's top ten lists tauted its achievements. About the time I finally caught the movie, controversy was erupting about the film's pro-euthanasia stance. But there was so much more to offend in Million Dollar Baby that I couldn't even get to the right-to-die stuff.

Filmbrain's reaction to M$B's win? "Beyond a personal dislike for the film (an extreme one at that), it does seem to prove, once again, that the idea of 'liberal Hollywood' is little more than a myth."

Cinema Minima correspondent André Soares has made an interesting discovery: Million Dollar Bigot, a site featuring, among many other arguments, NBC's John Hockenberry's: "If Mr. Eastwood is so convinced that his film is grounded in reality then perhaps he might wish to accompany me to the US Army's Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland where there are 1000 or so severely disabled soldiers from Iraq whose lives are changed forever, who were told they fought for Iraqi freedom and are now perhaps wondering, along with their families, who is going to fight for their freedom to live a full life here in America."

Vanity Aaron Dobbs: "Most deserving person to not win an award: I've said it before, I'll say it again: Imelda Staunton for Vera Drake. Hands down. No contest."

Vince Keenan: "The high point of the show was Sidney Lumet's gracious speech accepting the lifetime achievement award. As if he hadn’t done enough by making great movies, he thanked Francis Faragoh for writing Little Caesar. What a guy."

The parties: an overview from Shawn Hubler and Gina Piccalo in the Los Angeles Times and the pix Vanity Fair's found of its own soirée.

The AP's David Germain: "Million Dollar Baby? Old news. Jamie Foxx? Ancient history. It's time to set odds on which films will dominate next year's Academy Awards, based on what's visible in Hollywood's ever-changeable lineup for 2005." Via indieWIRE's "Awards Watch."

But Matt at low culture's looking beyond 2006.

Posted by dwhudson at 9:50 AM