Movie City Indie Archive for March, 2005

'Job Vs. the Volcano': Ebert bats for IMAX

Roger Ebert considers the preemptive non-booking of IMAX movies that mention the theory of evolution in certain parts of the U.S.: Now we have theaters, school systems and the media asked to give equal footing to a theory based on science and a belief based on faith. Creationists want it both ways. They want their ideas introduced into schools, but (if IMAX is right) they do not want evolution included in movies about volcanoes. If they are right and can prove it, what do they have to fear?

Lubricating P. T. Anderson

As reported by, Anderson’s next will be about politics after all, an intrigue adapted from Upton Sinclair‘s slangy Jazz-era 1927 novel of California life and graft, “Oil!,” itself drawn from the scandals of the Harding administration. (Sinclair’s text was adapted on stage in late 2004 in San Francisco by Word for Word Performing Arts as “Oil: Chapter One: The Ride.”)

Training Danny Boyle

In one of their occasional let’s-get-’em-out-of-the-suites-and-into-the-streets profiles of traveling filmmakers, the Chicago Tribune’s Robert Elder finds Danny Boyle spotting trains: “British director Danny Boyle didn’t just hit the usual Windy City tourist spots… but what really captivated the spiky-haired filmmaker was the elevated train system. “Your railway is just the sexiest railway in the world,” says Boyle…”There’s this debate in the U.K. about why British films aren’t more cinematic. It’s partly approach, but it’s also because we don’t have anything to shoot, compared to [Chicago’s `L’],” Boyle says. “There’s nothing on that scale. It is the most cinematic railway in the world.”

The condensed typeface comes into play

Posterwire launches, a site devoted to the “paper” that promotes motion pictyoors. Examples of flashy graphics alternate with more designer-ey info: “Once you factor in all these names and titles, space becomes a premium in the billing block. That’s where a condensed typeface comes into play. Most good ultra condensed typefaces (usually sans serif) will work in a billing block. A few popular movie poster credit fonts include: Bee, Univers Thin Ultra Condensed, Tall Skinny Condensed and Triple Condensed Gothic.”

Napoleon takes Alabama

The TeenFRONT section of Alabama’s Decatur Daily looks for answers from the core audience for Napoleon Dynamite: local “geeks.” Priceville High School senior Casey Smith, who resembles Napoleon with his long, lean build and his tight curls, sees meaning behind the movie’s disjointed plot. “‘Napoleon’ is random, spontaneous and crazy just like a teenager,” he said. “I can see why adults wouldn’t like it. They don’t do that kind of stuff anymore.

Shaggy Dogme

Another snarking of a decade of Dogme in the Australian: “Ten years on, Dogme 95 looks like a fringe experiment that went badly right. The first films were too successful. The name became a brand, which I guess is much worse than a genre. The romance of Dogme 95 effectively died when the rules were appropriated by mediocrities. The idea that anyone can make a film chimes happily with the advent of digital cameras, editing suites on laptops and a proliferation of festivals hungry to showcase documentary masterpieces such as Gay Nazi Germans. Unwittingly, Von Trier and Vinterberg paved the way for the most meritocratic epoch in cinema history. They also put their finger on a crime that has been sedating audiences and infuriating critics for years – the lack of emotional honesty between the camera and actor. For the first time in celluloid memory, actors are free to do their own thing and (portable) cameras are forced to follow.”

Moore and less of Mondovino

Right-leaning City Journal, described by Wall Street Journal platitudinist Peggy Noonan as “the best magazine in America,” hikes a leg in the general direction of Michael Moore, The Corporation and Mondovino: “Further, [Nossiter] brings before the camera the Italian and French winemakers who have gone over to the modernist side and asks them whether their families collaborated with the Germans (in the case of the French) or the Fascists (in the case of the Italians) during World War II, as if this were relevant to the wine debate. Throughout the movie, the modernists appear as collaborators (with American tastes, now) and the traditionalists as members of the resistance. When he interviews one of the modernists, Nossiter always starts the camera rolling as he approaches the vineyard in question, and shows himself being welcomed by secretaries, press representatives (indeed “press attaché” is one of the most common titles used in the film), or marketing functionaries. By contrast, he films… traditionalists toiling in their vineyards, as if they are all quaint, small-time men of the land… But some of the traditional winemakers are in fact major players–anything but defenseless little guys.”

Celebrating Festen

The London hit adaptation of Thomas Vinterberg‘s Celebration is Broadway-bound: “Festen is an adaptation of the 1998 movie directed and written by Vinterberg and is part of the Dogme film movement,” writes Playbill, adding that the co-producer says “that she wants this to be the first in a series of Dogme stage adaptations.” Coming soon: The Idiots at the Neil Simon.

Cheesy Portland auteurs

Willamette Week surveys Portland’s emerging film scene, profiling four makers and the cheesily-dubbed collective Cinema Queso: “It’s the same all over the country: Wannabe auteurs who don’t know what an auteur is, but really want to direct. Now we seem to live in an age when few people want to write the great American novel, even fewer want to be president, but everyone wants to make movies. Thanks to cheap technology, everybody can—it’s just that not all of them will do it well.”

Triangulating Alien Love

Danny Boyle tells SuicideGirls’ Daniel Robert Epstein about his lost film: It’s going to have to come out now because Miramax is jettisoning all their product. Alien Love Triangle has been done since 1999. It’s like 25 minutes long so it’s kind of like an orphan, because it doesn’t have any partners. It was meant to have two other 30 minute films to go with it. The other two they commissioned they turned into full length films and that was what Miramax wanted us to do. But we always thought it was ideal as it is. We tried to come up with two other parts to go with it. It’s got Courtney Cox, Heather Graham and Kenneth Branagh and it’s very funny and very silly. Courtney Cox and Heather Graham play aliens. But Courtney Cox is a male alien inside Courtney Cox’s body which is always an interesting place to be. Heather Graham is a female alien who arrives to take Courtney Cox back.

Following your heart from D.E.B.S to Herbie

From the underwhelming weekend gross for D.E.B.S. to the post-production of the $70 million Herbie: Reloaded, writer-director Angela Robinson says they’re the same: “It doesn’t matter, in my mind, that ‘D.E.B.S.’ is about Amy’s relationship with Lucy, or that in ‘Herbie,’ it’s about Lindsay Lohan realizing her dreams of becoming a NASCAR driver. Both stories are really about being true to yourself, whatever that is. ‘Herbie’ and ‘D.E.B.S.’ thematically are both about just following your heart and believing in yourself.”

Commit the most horrendous crime with horrible alacrity

Charles Dance bats his icy blues at career prospects: “Taking the director’s chair for last year’s Ladies in Lavender, the self-confessed “over-the-hill sex symbol” further confounded people’s expectations. A modest period piece about two elderly spinsters (played by Dames Maggie Smith and Judi Dench), one of whom falls in love, for the first time, with a boy a third of her age, the film was a more roundly enjoyable and better-made piece of filmmaking than the vanity project some critics had expected. “It didn’t move mountains or break any new ground cinematically, but I am 85% happy with it,” says Dance. “But I’d like my next film to be as different as it can possibly be: maybe something full of very violent, drug-addicted people of about 18 who commit the most horrendous crime with remarkable alacrity and get away with it.”

The Sopranos Meet the Monsters

San Francisco’s got a brand-boo film event, the Fearless Tales Genre Fest, and they’re slapping a Fearless Vision Award on the 54-year-old John Landis, who’ll chat in the time between Innocent Blood and An American Werewolf in London. Landis tells the Chronicle that he’s “still fond of Innocent Blood,” but admits the film was not well received in 1992. “It made people uncomfortable because it was extremely outrageous and a little ahead of its time—about an urban Mafia family tainted by vampirism. Today I’d call it ‘The Sopranos Meet the Monsters.’ “

Urbane rednecks

The WashPost’s Desson Thomson checks Woody Allen for a pulse: This climate is as rarefied and anemic as the way these New Yorkers most likely consider Appalachian life: an inbred inflexibility to outside ideas, a feeling of insular sanctimoniousness. Allen’s New Yorkers may not twang tinny guitars in the mountains, but they clamor to watch Bartok string quartets with similarly reflexive reverence. There, I’ve said it: Woody Allen’s people have become urbane rednecks.

Defining indie: Christine Vachon

The veteran producer talks to AP’s Christy Lemire about what makes indie: “She says she chooses projects based on what interests her, and not necessarily with a sense of social responsibility. As a gay film-maker, I was told, ‘You should be making positive images about gay people, not Swoon and I Shot Andy Warhol. I have to resist that… I’m not a preacher, I’m a producer. I’m making movies that I want to make because I think they’re interesting and have some commercial viability.” … Vachon also resists purists’ definitions of what makes an independent film … To her, the idea of independence is an aesthetic phenomenon, a singularity of vision. “If that is economically the way these companies choose to diversify their tentpoles from their arthouse movies, I think it’s fine… I just feel like this whole notion of what’s really independent—whether it’s Miramax or Warner Independent or Fox Searchlight or Paramount Classics—it’s just a way of separating the Spider-Mans from the Sideways.”

Movie City Indie

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