Movie City Indie Archive for May, 2006

Sofia Coppola: Who talks to a 12-year-old girl that way?

Kenneth Turan in LA Times is into his Sofia, profiling Ms. Coppola on the advent of Marie Antoinette: “Dressed simply in jeans, white shirt and flip-flops, she looks younger than someone who celebrated her 35th birthday the Sunday before Cannes opened.” But Kenny feels the power, too: “I’m really determined; I won’t take no… If people say it, I ask again in a different way. Sofia34234d.jpgI can’t imagine setting out to make a movie and not being clear about what you want; that’s the point of doing it. That’s why I want to make movies. I made Lost in Translation to see Bill Murray in it. In life, there are compromises. In making movies, you get to have it exactly how you imagined.” As she’s a woman from a royal family, Turan has to compare her to Daddy, doesn’t he? “[T]his passionate determination seems to be a legacy from Francis Ford Coppola, the director’s father. “Even if it seemed impossible, he’d find some way to do it… He seemed very heroic out in the Philippines, getting his movie made… [W]e were always, like, in training for film. I remember him talking to me about screenwriting when I was a little kid, telling me what made a good second act. Who talks to a 12-year-old girl like that?” [Trailer.]

What are you doing in my closet, Jeffrey Beaumont?: make me some Blue Velvet art

lynchian8468_s.jpgOver the transom: a “Call to Artists and Blue Velvet Fans! Independent Art Company and Cucalorus Film Foundation seek works in all media for an upcoming exhibit of artworks inspired by Blue Velvet. Along with the exhibit, running July 21-August 9, Cucalorus Film Foundation will “screen the indie classic at Jengo’s Playhouse in downtown Wilmington, NC, on July 28 during the opening. Submit works via email, cd, dvd or in person to Dixon Stetler before July 15; contact

DVD 5-4-3-2-1: Game 6, The Devil's Miner, Kingdom of Heaven, Harlan County USA, Viridiana

332_feature_350x180.jpgFive current releases: Game 6; The Devil’s Miner; Kingdom of Heaven: Four-Disc Director’s Cut; and Criterion editions of Harlan County USA and Viridiana.

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An Inconvenient Truth: ExxonMobil has paid crickets comparing Al Gore to Nazis

exxonmobil-financed-film-crickets.jpgIn the pitched battle that’s already in full fray to misrepresent the climate-crisis doc, An Inconvenient Truth, premiering in NY and LA on Wednesday, and to slam potential 2008 Presidential candidate Al Gore, Think Progress headlines “Exxon-Backed Pundit Compares Gore To Nazi Propagandist,” and provides a video link to the offended party’s ever-so-quotable iinsights. gore-i-t-2307.jpg“Sterling Burnett is a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, an organization that has received over $390,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998… On Fox, Burnett compared [Gore’s] movie… to watching a movie by Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels to learn about Nazi Germany… “That’s the problem. If I thought Al Gore’s movie was as you like to say, fair and balanced, I’d say, everyone should go see it. But why go see propaganda? You don’t go see Joseph Goebbels’ films to see the truth about Nazi Germany. You don’t go see Al Gore’s films to see the truth about global warming,” Mr. Burnett asserts. “Burnett recently wrote an editorial defending former Exxon CEO Lee Raymond’s lavish compensation (which amounted to $190,000 a day in 2005). He failed to mention his financial connection to the company.” If ColPix’s notorious apocrypha-cricket David Manning had turned out to be a real quote whore, wouldn’t he file a class action suit for alll shills-cum-experts to so well-remunerated? [Trailer.]


Green with savvy: combing the Cannes-Cannes

babel-koji80707-7fd.jpgFor the most eclectic and discerning selection of cricket-song off the Croisette and Cannes, it’d be hard to beat David Hudson‘s clipping service over at GreenCine Daily. Today’s top item: Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s multicultural Babel, starring Gael Garcia Bernal, Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett and ineffable everyman Koji Yakusho [pictured]. Among the snaps: The Reporter’s Ray Bennett: “Tense, relentless and difficult to watch at times, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Babel is an emotionally shattering drama in which a simple act of kindness leads to events that pierce our veneer of civilization and bring on the white noise of terror.” Other leaders: Flandres, Il Caimano, Shortbus, and Nuri Bilge Ceylan‘s’ Climates. [Climates trailer here; Babel clip here.]

Labor of Lust: Ang keeps Focus

lust, caution, lee23534.jpgHonestly, I was hoping that Lust, Caution was going to be Ang Lee‘s long-mooted musical route into Stephen Merritt‘s “69 Love Songs,” but I guess a 1940s Shanghai espionage thriller, as announced at Cannes today, will have to suffice. From the PR: “Bill Kong, who previously produced Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, will produce the new film with the director… The Chinese-language feature is being scripted by Wang Hui-Ling, who previously co-wrote Mr. Lee’s Eat Drink Man Woman and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon… Mr. Kong has produced several films that Focus and/or Focus Features International have released, including Jet Li’s Fearless, starring Jet Li and directed by Ronny Yu (which Focus’ sibling company Rogue Pictures releases domestically nationwide on August 4th); and Zhang Yimou’s Hero and House of Flying Daggers.”

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Missing the malt whisky: Schamus' solo Focus

schamus-57834-200.jpgLA Times’ Lorenza Muñoz tightens James Schamus‘ bowtie as he takes solo CEO rein of Focus Features. Muñoz quotes Schamus: “I know this seems like James’ bar mitzvah, but it’s not a big deal… It’s not like David was the guy running the nuclear reactor in the back room and he left with the keys.” … Schamus’ mandate is a broad one. In addition to overseeing the company’s expanding foothold in the international financing and distribution arena, he and his team must develop and acquire enough material to ensure a continued slate of ambitious artistic movies, like last year’s The Constant Gardener. Killer Films’ producer Christine Vachon notes an important facet of Schamus’ makeup: “When he and I worked together, he was always delighted to actually read the contracts… The deal is exciting to him.” Of co-Focuser David Linde, now at Universal, Schamus reflects: “I will miss him at the end of the day — that late-night bull session when the sales suite is empty and a cigar or two comes out,” he said, remembering how he and Linde would whip out a bottle of malt whiskey on many occasions to discuss the day’s events. “That is when he will be missed.”

Graf spree: Manohla's Da Vinci wish

teabling34876.jpgWrites Manohla Dargis in the NY Times: “So, The Da Vinci Code, Ron Howard’s critically skewered and roasted film adaptation of the Dan Brown book earned, according to a news release put out by Sony on Sunday, an estimated “$224 million in worldwide box office receipts during its first three days of theatrical release” and delivered “$77 million in U.S. ticket sales,” thereby giving the company its “biggest worldwide opening ever.” Does this mean that critics are out of touch with the public? Maybe, but really, who cares? All that box office doesn’t make it a good movie. Here’s hoping that this extra lucre means that Sony Pictures Classics, can go on a shopping spree at Cannes.

Patterson's Film School Confidential: bad art about art, rotten films about film, tedious novels about writers

clowes old tampon trick.jpgThe Guardian’s John Patterson has a film school tale or two on the occasion of Art School Confidential, as he describes Terry Zwigoff as “the merry misanthrope with a hair-trigger bullshit detector.” Writes JP, “I came to think as I watched the movie, film school may be worse… because so many cosseted rich kids end up there thinking they’re artists, not realising they have in fact joined glorified trade schools for the media-industrial complex. If they learn a little about camera placement and pacing and spend… their time cultivating industry connections, they should be able to land a regular gig directing episodic TV… a day job for life… [F]ilm school is packed with precisely the people who have the fewest interesting things to say: those with parents who can sponsor them in education until they turn 30, and for whom the one transformative locale in life has been … a college campus. [In] recent art there is that strong, perhaps ineradicable tendency to make bad art about art, rotten films about films and tedious novels about writers.” Patterson says he hasn’t got “an axe to grind” but that twenty years ago classes at the U of C taught him “that I had the solitary temperament of a writer, not the collaborative one required of a film-maker… It is time for film-makers to learn the lesson of Quentin Tarantino, whose success a decade ago, ironically, helped pack the film schools with wannabe[s]… That lesson? Skip film school, just watch a lot of movies…. Because if you can’t learn how to watch a movie without a teacher standing in front of the screen with a pointer, you’ll never be any use to anyone when you’re standing in front of your… cast with a bullhorn. As the careers of Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, Raoul Walsh and John Ford amply prove, if you wish to make movies about real life, it’s best to live some of it yourself first.”

Bird Story: the McKees to the cage


A friend uses a copy of Bob McKee‘s “Story” to keep the birds from flying away.

New Criterion: spinning some spiff

newcriterion013.jpgThe Criterion Collection’s got a spiffy new design identity: check out the intro animation logo here. There’s a shiny new coat of paint on the website, too.

Me and you and you and me: WKW's Happy Together limited edition

happy2006-345.jpgCoinciding with Wong Kar-Wai chairing the 2006 Cannes jury, if you’ve got the Chinese for it, you can order a special edition of Happy Together, limited to 2,046 copies worldwide from his Jet Tone prodco website. It’s the “6-in-1 box set Limited Edition.”s. The set’s released at the end of May; PayPal your HK$ now! Reader Han provides this translation: “Happy Together: Let Us Start Over Again 2006, the 10th anniversary Cannes limited edition. Wong Kar-Wai made Happy Together in 1996 and became the first chinese to win best director award at Cannes. Ten years later, Wong now is the first Chinese to be the chair of jury at Cannes. In order to celebrate these two historical honors at Cannes, jet tone releases the 6-in-1 limited edition of Happy Together: 1. Happy Together DVD; 2. behind the scene DVD; 3. remixed soundtrack CD; 4. Happy Together “reunion” double posters + postcards; 5. “love until the end” boxers; 6. the Uguasu waterfall lamp (as seen in the film).”

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A. O. Scott loved it: The Da Vinci Code

mullet256.jpgOn opening day, the NY Times’ A. O. Scott throws out the first bitch, checking out what’s crummy on the Croisette and, mirabile dictu! It’s The Da Vinci Code! “Teabing, who strolls out of English detective fiction by way of a Tintin comic, is a marvelously absurd creature, and Sir Ian, in the best tradition of British actors slumming and hamming through American movies, gives a performance in which high conviction is indistinguishable from high camp. A little more of this—a more acute sense of its own ridiculousness—would have given The Da Vinci Code some of the lightness of an old-fashioned, jet-setting Euro-thriller. But of course, movies of that ilk rarely deal with issues like the divinity of Christ or the search for the Holy Grail. In the cinema, such matters are best left to Monty Python.”

It's MurdochSpace: The Last Stand

rupespace.jpgAfter spending a half bil or so on an internet entity like MySpace, wouldn’t you brand the heck out of your acquisition to promote a short shelf-life product like XIII: The Last Stand?

Movie fans vs. sports fans: Cuban sez a lot the same

mavericks2.jpgLandmark-Magnolia-Mavericks Megapreneur Mark Cuban a’s some q’s on the USA TODAY sports page: “Comparing movie fans to sports fans: “They are a lot the same. You may think you know what will get them excited, but you never really know. Putting together a movie is like putting together a team. You think you got all the right pieces and the right director, and you put it out there and it’s not what you envisioned.” (No mention of what movie Bubbles he might be exploding…)

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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