Movie City Indie Archive for August, 2006

MyFoxBoratSpace: A very big chocolate cake, I also like to start fires

956726472_l.jpgThat crazy Kazakh, Borat, canny conniver that he is, seeks friends and playmates on MySpace: “My hobbies: trampoline, table tennis, sitting on comfytobale chairs, disco dance and shoot dog. I also like look on picture of America things example swimmingpools. I like sex. I also like to speak on telephone – I have make over eighty conversation calls. One day I would like to eat a very big chocolate cake… with a toffee, and have my name ‘Borat’ made with ‘toffee’. I also like to start fires. Interests: Music, I like very much Korki Buchek, and bald homosexual Elton John… Movies: My favourites movies is ‘Pluto Nash’. ‘Robot cop’. ‘Womanman Doubtfire’, ‘Little Lord Fontelroy’, ‘Almaty Summer’ starring Viktor Hotelier [he my goodfriend ladies!], and of course, Transsibirskiy Ekspress. Also ‘The Bridges of Madison County’ ‘Titanic’. ‘Geraid Mcguire’. ‘Robinhood Prince of Thieves’. I also like watch porno.” [Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan opens November 3.]

Spoiler alert: MPAA divulges Number Two

eyeballin_2347.jpgQuoth the MPAA: Jackass: Number Two is rated “R for extremely crude and dangerous stunts throughout, sexual content, nudity and language.” Once more: giving it all away and having a gay old time doing. Quicktime trailer here.

I coulda been a constrictor: Sam Jackson high on Snakes' low

snakemoanipod_35.jpg“There are some movies that deserve criticism,” Samuel L. Jackson tells the junketeers for Snakes on a Plane, as transcribed by LA Daily News’ Bob Strauss (who implies he hasn’t seen the film). “They want people to know that it’s a great dramatic accomplishment and has some great performances in it. But, c’mon. Yes, you will have some fun if you go see Snakes on a Plane. Snakes are biting people—and they’re biting them right on screen. There’s nothing to review. It’s not ‘Snakes on the Waterfront.’ You don’t have snakes going, ‘I coulda been a constrictor.’ No. Hell no. It’s Snakes on a Plane.'” [SOAP got 14,500,000 Google hits as of this posting; image from Snakes on a Blog, the many links from which include “Snakes on Clare Danes.” ]

Two faces of Criterion: a burst of merch

janus_merch_57g.jpgPortable goodies to go along with your film school in a box: Launching the Criterion Collection Store, Along with t-shirts bearing their new, minimalist logo, the prestige DVD producers are offering a second choice to splash across your chest, the nostalgic yet still evocative logo of the Janus Collection. The Four Hundred Blows and Wild Strawberries wore it, wouldn’t you?

Quote horrors: Pulse is Dittman's bestest ever!!

kairo_73.jpgQuote inflation is the march! In an ad on page E2 of the LA Times’ Saturday edition, Mr. Earl Dittman of Wireless magazine says that Pulse is the “SCARIEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR! Unlike any horror film you’ve seen before or will ever see!” I’m not sure if the second line means you “will ever see” the Wes Craven-shepherded Weinsteinco-Dimension remake of Kiyoshi Kurosawa‘s 2001 original or not. Pulse was not previewed for crickets, but here’s a look at the next step in quote inflation: taking language from the boilerplate of Hollywood contracts. “The scariest movie ever seen in any form, media or technology now known or hereafter developed or devised throughout the universe in perpetuity!”

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To sleep, perchance to Meem: Michel Gondry v-logs

gondry_dream_62q.jpgPrimping for his Science of Sleep, writer-director Michel Gondry is teaming with new website Meem, to circulate videos about dreams—his own and those of whomever wants to contribute. [The frames are from Car Plane Pharmacy Dream.]

Stone unturned: Oliver S. on WTC

stonerver59_3.jpgA few words about iconography and how historical events are best observed once they’re over in my interview with Oliver Stone over at MCN. We talked a few weeks before World Trade Center‘s decidedly diverse opening day reviews. Why such a confined story following just a few characters? “[T]here was a script and once I came aboard, I, I, promised and delivered that I would shoot the parameters of this script. We would try to improve things inside the script, but this was the script. It was twenty-four hours, and the script was written. The style of the film was a subjective style, we would follow these five people. So we’re inside, John [McLoughlin] and Will [Jimeno]. Neither John or Will saw the planes hit, ergo Will felt a brief shadow on the wall at 42nd Street there [in an early scene in the movie]. You have to follow those [events]. They saw the buildings fall from within and the wives only saw the television [coverage], and presumably saw the building fall, and I wanted to explain what the fall inside looked like from the outside. It wasn’t necessary to show the plane, which is an incredible shot, true, but it’s like the Zapruder film, y’know, it just wasn’t necessary, to the, we know, it’s said repeatedly that the plane has struck the building.” [More at the link, of course.]

Look at me, I'm a disaster!: Gilliam tips Tideland

“For good measure, Tideland also includes a bedroom scene between a 20-year-old man with learning difficulties and a little girl,” writes Stuart Jeffries in the Guardian; a rotting corpse that makes one relieved the film doesn’t come in smell-o-vision; a harrowing train crash; the disturbing sequence in which a troubled taxidermist… guts and stuffs the corpse of a former lover and then lays out the mummified remains in a place of honour on the bed. There is even a talking squirrel, which for some is the most disturbing thing… Tideland_Bildgross.jpgLike Lewis Carroll’s [“Alice in Wonderland], it features a little girl plummeting through a rabbit hole into an intensely imagined fantasy world; like Hitchcock’s film, it includes footage of a bewigged parental corpse in a chair (an image that Gilliam lingers over longer than Hitchcock would have dared)…” But “Gilliam [insists] that this is the most tender film he has ever made… How on earth did Gilliam get money for this project, particularly given that his last but one project… so far has only had one cinematic result – a documentary about how the filming went, in cinematic parlance, catastrophically tits up? And, furthermore, that the Minnesotan has such a wild reputation that Warner Bros nixed him as JK Rowling’s first choice to direct Harry Potter…? “Good question,” he laughs as we sit in his Notting Hill production office. Gilliam, with all due respect, looks a wreck. There are blood stains on his shirt, one of his feet is bandaged and his writing hand is still strapped up following a gardening accident in which he cut through a tendon while changing a lawnmower blade. “Look at me, I’m a disaster!” If you were a producer you would give Gilliam not money for a film, but the price of a cup of tea… terryswears_3254.jpg Gilliam decided to make the film after finding Mitch [the] novel lying on a pile of unread books… “Mitch had sent it to me asking for a quote. I happened to pick it up and read it straight off. My quote? You wanna know? ‘Fucking brilliant!’ (In fact it says just this on the back of the the film tie-in edition…). What did you like about it? “It portrays childhood innocence in a recognisable way. Not in a Hollywood way.” So she’s not crushed by the twin traumas of her parents’ deaths…? “That’s the point. Adults don’t understand children. They think of them exclusively as things that need to be protected from everything. My 12-year-old son is now afraid to go to the shops in Highgate… because he’s raised by TV to believe it’s filled with rapists, murderers and muggers. It isn’t. Hunter Thompson described America as a panicky ship. Today everywhere is a panicky ship. If Lewis Carroll and Baden Powell were around today they would be strung up.” [More, of course, at the link; Gilliam talks to Tideland novelist Mitch Cullin in this MP3 download.]

Corn porn: Soderbergh allows

“What sort of porn are you watching?” Scott Indrisek asks Steven Soderbergh over at the Believer, in a lengthy, offbeat chat from the print edition, in its entirety. (They also made a short film together as part of the deal.) “I’m not interested in the well-produced porn with good lighting. That ruins it,” Soderbergh says. “Maybe there are people for whom that takes the onus off. I like the amateur stuff. It’s fascinating—as much of it as there is around, in our culture at least, it’s still so powerful. The portrayal of these acts, the documentation of these acts—people are sort

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of numb to watching violence, but sexual activity is still as strong as it ever was in terms of generating response… You wish people wouldn’t become so numb to violence. Everybody has sex, but not everybody is experiencing violence. I feel like porn is such a better marker…” And about taking a chance as an artist: “[Y]ou’re going to make some mistakes. Every time you make something that somebody likes, your impulse is to remind them that if you hadn’t made some of these other things that they hated, you wouldn’t have been able to make the thing that they liked. The attitude toward the stuff they don’t like is so extreme because they don’t understand the role that it has in your development.”

Indie returns later today

Uploading and other issues….

Awake in the Dark: How's Roger doing?

At Roger Ebert‘s site, his wife Chaz offers an update: “We have been getting many requests asking for an update on Roger’s health… Roger was making good progress and was ready to go to his next phase of treatment, which would have been physical therapy to regain his strength…. [Sunday] night Roger had minor surgery… The doctors remain optimistic about his recovery, however, and say that the physical therapy will be delayed for only a few days… [I]f you had seen him last week, even yesterday, when he was doing so well. We were secretly back to using his computer. He wanted to surprise everyone with messages… 0226182002.jpegI know it sounds corny to some, but please keep visualizing him enveloped by warm, bright, healing light! That, along with Roger’s medical dream team, should ensure his full recovery.” More at the link; his new book, “Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert” is due in November from U of Chicago Press, which blurbs thusly: “Roger Ebert has been writing film reviews for the Chicago Sun-Times for nearly forty years… [H]is wide knowledge, keen judgment, prodigious energy, and sharp sense of humor have made him America’s most celebrated film critic…. No critic alive has reviewed more movies than Roger Ebert, and yet his essential writings have never been collected in a single volume—until now. With ‘Awake in the Dark,’ both fans and film buffs can finally bask in the best of Ebert’s work. The reviews, interviews, and essays collected here… span some of the most exceptional periods in film history… If Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris were godmother and godfather to the movie generation, then Ebert is its voice from within—a writer whose exceptional intelligence and daily bursts of insight and enthusiasm have shaped the way we think about the movies.”

There's something about Mary and Mel: three fingers are pointing back at you

First Patrick Swayze, and now Chicago Sun-Times Commentary page sob sister and speeding advocate Mary Laney types a column demanding that we accept Mel Gibson‘s apologies for his racist outburst, rather than dangerous drunk driving and re-examine our own lives as well. The column’s riveting banality and sudden swerve into Irish history are almost as comical asher own 2004 vehicular dustup in the state of Wisconsin. First, Mary on Mel: “What is it with kicking someone when they’re down? Why do so many people want to jump on the bandwagon of wagging their fingers? … mel-mug_01239.jpgLast week Gibson apparently went off the wagon, drank too much, was pulled over by police and let loose with a string of prejudicial comments against Jews. Remember, he was drunk. I’ve heard people when they’re drunk say all sorts of things… There is little truth that comes out of a drunk… [I]t was wrong to say what Gibson said, including the alleged sexual insult he made to a female officer, but he has apologized sincerely, said the words do not reflect what he truly feels, and has asked for help to overcome any demons he may have inside… Were these people just waiting for a chance to get at him? … Was it because he undertook a Christian movie,The Passion of the Christ—that no studios would back—and turned it into a huge success? Does it feel good to kick a famous person and feel famous just by doing so? … We all have to forgive people at some times in our lives. If we don’t, we just carry anger around with us and the only person that anger hurts is ourselves. There’s an old saying that when you point your finger at someone, three of your other fingers are pointing back at yourself.” Bizarrely, Laney then gets angry on behalf of the Irish. “You may be guilty of [prejudice] as well. Oh, you doubt it? You say you’ve never said anything prejudicial in your life? Ask yourself this: What do you call the large police vehicle that hauls away multiple people police arrest? Do you call it a squadrol? Or do you call it a paddy wagon? If you are among those who call it a paddy wagon, you are guilty of using a very prejudicial term.” A mini-history of Chicago’s Irish immigrants follows, with this conclusion: “This is far more than many others who have besmirched an ethnic group have done. Take him at his word. While you’re at it, examine your own words, thoughts and deeds. This could lead to a new and better world.” Kumbayah, Sister! Let’s blame it on others and omit the salient fact that HE WAS DRIVING DRUNK AT HIGH SPEED. laney.jpgAs for Laney’s speeding rap in Wisconsin, here’s Journal Times’ columnist Rob Golub [link above] on Laney’s own sense of entitlement behind the wheel: There’s “an Illinois columnist who complains that Illinois drivers are treated unfairly in Wisconsin… Chicago Sun-Times Columnist Mary Laney also complained in her column… that when she was allegedly racing down Interstate 94 and got pulled over, she was unfairly frisked and hauled off in a squad car.” The “speedy Chicago Sun-Times columnist” is quoted by Golub: “Take this as fair warning: If you’re planning on driving north to Wisconsin on Interstate 94 and your car bears Illinois plates… be prepared to be pulled over, fined and, even if you have a clean driving record and legitimate driver’s license, have your car towed and be taken into custody. It happened to me.” … “I was over the limit,” she writes. “But so, too, were the cars right in front of me.” “Ah, the mob mentality,” wrote Golub. “That’s always a good defense… Deputies are required to frisk anybody they put in their cars, to protect deputies from harm, said Sheriff Robert D. Carlson. The deputy on the scene explained this to Laney. She writes, “So, as cars slowed down to watch, I submitted to the frisk and the humiliation.” Do Wisconsin authorities target Illinoisans? “Absolutely not,” he said. “We are targeting people operating their vehicles illegally as this woman was by her own admission.” … Deputies say Laney was doing 83 mph in a 65 mph zone when she got busted on April 24, the incident that led to her column. She faces a $230 fine. And for her to write that she has a clean driving record is arguably, well, a fib. It was not the first time this particular Illinois resident got clipped by cops in Wisconsin. According to records kept by the Wisconsin Court System… she’s twice paid fines for speeding on a freeway in Wisconsin since 1999.”

Meeting Manoj, dissing Chris: Bamberger says I felt a powerful force coming off the guy

I’m not quite halfway through the horror show of “The Man Who Heard Voices,” Michael Bamberger’s bw_doyle.90764.jpgmash note to his man Manoj Shyamalan and his illumination of destiny for all mankind (or at least for Narfs who must return to the Blue World beneath the earth but are rescued by eagles who soar into the sky with them). But I had to pause for his “Enter, chased by a beer,” for cinematographer Chris Doyle, which suggests that the author does not care for the man. (Doyle anecdotes are pretty much the only reason I want to finish reading this haggard hagiography.)“He asked Paula to get him a cup of coffee with “this much” whiskey, holding his bony thumb and index finger about an inch apart… Doyle was wearing a faded green short-sleeved turtleneck (Who knew that turtlenecks came in short sleeves?) His arms were hairless and tanned. For shoes, he wore bizarre zipper contraptions, thick green rubber pads that might have served as loafers for moon dwellers, unzipped so they flapped around his heels when he walked. His black goggle-style glasses—chic in Soho and few other places—hung around his neck on a black cord. No jewelry. He was just a slip of a man, not much bigger than a jockey, with a weathered face. He looked like Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, all weathered. He wore his hair in the Lyle Lovett manner, an abrupt updo shaved nearly to his scalp on the sides, then puffy and curly on the top.” Contrast with the writer’s introduction to Shyamalan: “And then there was Night, with his drooping earlobes, bug’s-life eyes, curling lips, nasal voice. He was slender and boyish, with gym-built arms and jet-black hair that had a few silver strands hanging just over the tops of his ears. He was wearing high-fashion jeans and a short-sleeved, post-nerd untucked plaid shirt, wide open at the neck… He was warm, friendly, interesting—amazingly energetic. He laughed readily, as if you were saying funny things… I go down the New Age road skeptically, but I felt a powerful force coming off the guy.” Pop quiz: whose company does Bamberger prefer?

My Blueberry friend: blogs stalk Wong

The Reeler serves notice on indieWIRE’s Eugene Hernandez that he who stalks last stalks best as he links to ent2006625_13.jpgHernandez, who sighted Wong Kar-Wai near NY’s Chinatown as the HK director shoots My Blueberry Nights [at both links]. Writes Hernandez, “After midnight, I observed for a bit and then snapped a quick pic from across the street as WKW leaned up against a doorway to plan a shot inside a bakery.” Reeler unspools, “[D]rop back by here over the next few days to see if The Reeler’s own eventual WKW stalking expedition yields any berries of its own.” It’s Wong’s first English-language feature, shot by Darius Khondji and starring, among others, Norah Jones, Jude Law, Rachel Weisz and Natalie Portman. A 2007 release is mooted, so expect it in the closing hours of Cannes 2009.

Spoiler alert: MPAA divulges Snakes tricks


No press screenings planned, but the charmers at New Line offer this brief press release: “Snakes on a Plane has received an “R” rating from the M.P.A.A. for “language, a scene of sexuality and drug use, and intense sequences of terror and violence.”

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