Film Essent Archive for March, 2011

Shakespeare Collaboration 101

I wrote a few days ago about Hit RECord, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s effort to create a collaborative online arts community. I’m really enamored of the idea around this site, so I’m going to periodically share with you the coolest collaborations I find there.

This Shakespeare Sonnet Collaboration is a great example of how HitRECord works. One person kicks an idea off, lots of people make cool stuff based on that idea, and all of that is freely usable by other people to build on and grow. Here’s one I like quite a lot, that uses 13 “Resources” (stuff other people have uploaded) in creating a collaboration using Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130:

And here’s a really cool animated(ish) take on Sonnet 27, made using four resources:

Check it out, and if you make any of your own collaborative efforts at Hit RECord, let me know so I can post them.

Arianna, Can You Spare a Dime?

It’s been a few days since I posted anything related to Arianna Huffington, so just in case you thought I was off that soapbox, sorry. Back in my project management days, my favorite slogan was, “Gentle pressure, relentlessly applied,” and that is exactly what I intend to do with regard to Ms. Huffington.

Well, unless she suddenly makes a television appearance on Rachel Maddow saying, “Holy shit, guys! I was held captive by corporate swine and forced to say all that stupid shit about not valuing the bloggers who helped build HuffPo! Of course I’m actually consistent with the values I espouse in my book and in my speeches!” Until then, I will continue to keep attention on HuffPo and the writers because the world has a short attention span, and writers are always getting crapped on.
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Update: Last One Left at Cinematical, Turn Out the Lights

UPDATE: I forgot to add this Tweet from Erik Davis a few days ago, which is actually even more telling:

First Managing Scott Weinberg resigned abruptly during SXSW, now Peter Hall’s gone. No idea how long Erik Davis will stick it out, but I really think it’s a very short time before Cinematical is gone, absorbed into the maw of Moviefone entirely. Sad.


Somewhat in Defense of Sucker Punch (Well, Parts of It, Anyway …)

It will probably surprise you to learn that, for all its flaws, I kind of dug Sucker Punch. Or rather, I like the idea of Sucker Punch a lot, and I like parts of how it was executed. Visually, it’s pretty stunning. Loved the desaturated and tinted tones, loved the hair and makeup (yes, even the many false eyelashes), loved the costuming (and look forward to seeing gangs of roving teenage cosplayers lovingly recreating those costumes at cons over the next year).

I loved the movie’s opener, which in many respects evokes the opener for Watchmen, which was also brilliant … and was also, as is the case with Sucker Punch, the best part of that film.
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Going to the Center of the Earth

I meant to write earlier about our trip to the Seattle Art Museum to see the Nick Cave: Meet Me at the Center of the Earth exhibit, but kept forgetting (this, among other things, is why I need a personal assistant).

I wanted to take a bunch of pics to show you, but unfortunately the entire exhibit was a “no photography” zone. I need to go back a couple more times to fully absorb what I saw and what it all means. But the Soundsuits, when you see all of them together, have a completely different feel than just seeing pictures of them.
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Video of the Day: Train Now Leaving

From, presented at Sundance 2010.

Image of the Day: Rails

From one of my fave curators of all things artistic, Liquid Night:


Seattle, Washington, 2010

[Shot with a Holga 120CFN using Kodak Ektachrome E100VS and Cross-processed]

The Sound the Universe Makes

“Black holes … bang on space-time like a drum.”

Fascinating TED talk by physics and astronomy professor Janna Levin about the soundtrack of the universe.

Juno Temple Joins The Dark Knight Rises. Cool.

Here’s some casting news in which I’m particularly interested: Variety is EXCLUUUUUSIVELY reporting that indie starlet Juno Temple is locked to join the cast of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. The pot had already been sweetened by the addition Joseph Gordon-Levitt to the mix, but Juno Temple being cast as well is great news.
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The Real Problem with Rebecca Black

I’ve been following this whole Rebecca Black thing with kind of a morbid interest. I don’t think there’s an objective argument that her vanity video “Friday” is, by any definition, good music, nor that it actually pretends to be any other than what it is. The problem is her parents. You know how when your kid is like, a year old, and discovers for the first time that banging on pots and pans loudly is really awesome, and you’re so impressed they figured it out that you’re all, “Look at you make noise! Aren’t you a brilliant girl?!”

I get the feeling that Rebecca Black’s parents do that a lot.
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On Regional Film Fests as Agents of Change

I wrote a little while back about the Sarasota Film Festival and their kick-ass education and outreach program, which I’m looking forward to seeing up close when I’m at that fest next month.

I’m also going back to Dallas IFF this year — I’ve been going to that fest every year since it started, and I’m continually impressed with how this fest has grown and shifted and survived in spite ending their co-branding with AFI and losing some sponsors and gaining others. Somehow, they always pull off a hell of a fest for the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
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Bob Dylan Vs. Death Metal

Happy Wednesday. For a little humpday fun, here’s a QOTD for you: We have here two parodies of Rebecca Black’s inane laundry list of utter boringness. In the red corner, we have a guy imitating Bob Dylan covering the “song” (such as it is); in the right corner, we have the same song, covered by a real death metal band. Which one is more awesome?

First, in case you’re unfamiliar with the song, here’s the original — and I hereby disclaim all responsibility for any pain or suffering you may endure as a result of watching it:

Now here’s the Dylan cover parody (be sure to read the comments!). Props to Matt Zoller Seitz for posting to Facebook.

And lastly, here’s the death metal cover version:

Wowzers. I dunno, I’m not a huge death metal fan, but I do think the use of death metal appropriately satirizes the sterile blandness of the Rebecca Black … here’s your chance to weigh in:

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

Thelma Adams on Why She’s Joining the HuffPo Strike

Writer Thelma Adams has a piece up explaining why she’s joined the writer’s strike against HuffPo/AOL. I’m glad she decided to write this, because I think it’s important for people like Thelma to put their faces out there and say, I was one of those writers who helped make Arianna Huffington rich, and this is why I’m on strike. And if you are such a person and you do write such a piece, email me with the URL, because I want to continue putting faces to the story of HuffPo’s exploitation of writers.

Thelma Adams is not some hack, or an amateur blogger. She’s a professional writer, the film critic for USA Today Us Weekly, two time chair of the New York Film Critics Circle. She’s been published in The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Maire Claire. Her novel, Playdate, was recently published by St. Martin’s Press. She holds an MFA in fiction from Columbia.

And by the bye? Nowhere on Thelma Adams’ bio page at HuffPo does it tell readers that the piece they are enjoying reading by her was NOT PAID FOR BY HUFFINGTON POST.

I’m not linking to the bio page because I’m not sending hits their way. If you want to look it up, knock yourself out.

It’s a misconception that all of the writers who wrote for HuffPo for free are a bunch of amateurs who should just be grateful for the exposure. Even if it was true, there’s just not a world for me where building your media empire on the backs of thousands of unpaid laborers and then cashing a $315 million payday for yourself while demeaning the very people who built that empire for you is okay.

It’s a shit thing to do, and Arianna Huffington is reprehensible to me. I’m talking Sarah Palin-level reprehensible (apologies if you like Palin, but for me she’s practically the Antichrist, or at the least a heralding sign of the coming zombie apocalypse).



More Death Knells at AOL as 30 Sites Get Folded

And the bloodbath around AOL/HuffPo continues, as 30 sites get shuttered completely or folded into duplicate content sites. Boy, too bad no one saw that coming.

Cinematical has apparently been spared, thus far anyhow. TV Squad is being folded, along with a bunch of other former Weblogs, Inc. properties. And so AOL continues its marvelous tradition of buying something cool and unique and then ruthlessly killing it by a combination of gross mismanagement and arrogant incompetence. Probably some sheer stupidity in there as well.

Meanwhile, over at Engadget, AOL has yet to fill the positions recently vacated by EIC Josh Topolosky and managing editor Nilay Patel, which followed the earlier exits by Engadget editors Paul Miller and Ross Miller. Oh, and let’s not forget 2008 departures of Engadget rock stars Peter Rojas and Ryan Block, who bailed out to start

How you acquire a company like Weblogs, Inc with a flagship site the quality of Engadget, and other sites that were tops (or growing strongly) at the time of acquisition — sites like Cinematical, and TV Squad, and Blogging Baby and Luxist and screw up the management of it so completely is beyond me. What a clusterfuck.

Spotlight: Cinematographer Michael Simmonds on Working Collaboratively with Ramin Bahrani

You’ve probably seen Michael Simmonds work, even if you don’t realize it. The ace cinematographer has been very busy over the last few years shooting lots of movies, including notable docs Project Nim and The Order of Myths. He’s also shot all of Ramin Bahrani’s better-known films: Man Push Cart, Chop Shop, Goodbye Solo, and Plastic Bag, a terrific short narrated by Werner Herzog, and featured on Futurestates.

I first met Michael at Sundance years ago when Man Push Cart, Bahrani’s first major feature, was playing there, and his work so impressed me that that I’ve followed it since. A while back (okay, a LONG while back, like in October), we chatted through email about the way in which he and Bahrani collaborate, and he was kind enough to allow me to share his thoughts with you here.
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Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon