Movie City Indie Archive for August, 2007

The MPAA's testes of time

A lot of huff and puff’s expended on how the MPAA makes sure that every piece of publicity and advertising for ratings-approved movies pass muster, and standards shift in interesting ways. Strange, though, to see how many current, wild-posted one-sheets are allowed to demonstrate a pronounced… mmm… testicular fixation. (The first set of posters is from the side of a bodega in the middle of Ukrainian Village; the second ad is from the a stall in the men’s toilet of a mildly disreputable bar in Chicago’s Wicker Park.)


More balls.jpg

Regrets the error…


Notes on a bad movie

Notes on a bad movie

Sometimes you get asked if movie reviewers can read their own notes after scrivening in the dark…

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Korean Pizza Hut Hot Dog Pizza

There is nothing to add to these rapturous images and the expressions on the diners’ faces at the end of the spot. [H/t Grady Hendrix.]

Opening today: Quiet City (2007, ****)

quiet_city_trailer_mg1.jpgAaron Katz’s second feature, Quiet City, opens today in Manhattan at the IFC Center. It’s pretty wonderful, and I hope to write about it length shortly. (What a lovely, limpid valentine to the look of modern Brooklyn!) Watch even the first few shots of the trailer [below] and try not to be charmed. Here’s a squib from The Reeler: “Stephen Holden’s glowing review ofQuiet City—easily the best film screening in IFC Center’s ongoing Generation DIY series—in today’s NYT gets within one word of director/self-distributor Aaron Katz’s critic-blurb wet dream. And then that phrase comes up: “Tender and sad, it is a fully realized work of mumblecore poetry.” Lovely. I’m sure the producers will take it, but the air of condescension is so thick it’s shorting out my computer.”

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Just because I'm hungry: Cooking up Ratatouille's CG food

Time to reheat that pork shoulder…

Forward to the past: television end logos

I’ve always been fascinated by credit sequences, presentation credits and production company signatures, the briefer, the bettter. Here’s almost six minutes of old television titles. {Via bOing-bOing.]

[LOOK] Clips from David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises


Three clips from David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises, including “He offered me the stars“; “Read the diary“; and “The address.”

More mumbling about architecture: is it a white guy thing?

filmsciencelogo.jpgIndie filmmaker (and doggedly prolific blogger) Sujewa Ekanayake asserts at his site that “a very widely read film journalist who blogs for indieWIRE told me a while back that American indie film has always been a “white” thing. Not really (“race films” of the 1930s on, Cassavete’s Shadows, Spike Lee, Jarmusch’s Mystery Train & Night On Earth & Dead Man & Ghost Dog, Ang Lee & Mira Nair & Wayne Wang’s careers). So how come the indie film media does not seem to be at all concerned about the hottest new thing in our world—Mumblecore—being an all-“white” thing? So is Mumblecore independent film by & for “white”people only? Or for people who do not have any non-“white” friends or acquaintances or business partners? Maybe it is, at least up to now. At least that seems to be the message in the casting decisions made in the films.” [More at the link.] Meanwhile, Eugene Hernandez at indieWIRE profiles producer Anish Savjani of Film Science, which produced Joe Swanberg’s Hannah Takes The Stairs and his forthcoming Nights and Weekneds, and Kelly Reichardt’s (Old Joy) next project. “behind the scenes a new generation of film producers are also starting to make a mark, including Austin-based Savjani,” writes Hernandez. Savjani, in his mid-20s, like Swanberg, raised under $100,000 to produce Hannah; his prior experience includes work as a DGA trainee; work on Old Joy and working for mega-producer and taste maven Scott Rudin. “Now, through his own company Film Science, he hopes to foster a “family of filmmakers” that he can work with over the longterm.” [A little more detail at the link.] And, not to forget, the prime primer of the moment, S. T. Van Airesdale’s summa over at The Reeler.Hannah1-1_50.jpg

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[LOOK] Lust, Caution… Clive?

While the lubricious Lust, Caution, awaits, remember one of Ang Lee’s few short films, from the BMW series, The Hire, with Clive Owen?

Speedy li'l Davey Lynch

cumulus_235.jpgDavid Lynch tells MTV the present moment of his future—”Digital is so friendly for me and so important for the scenes, a way of working without so much downtime. It’s impossible to go back. Film is a beautiful medium, but the world has moved on. The amount of manipulation we can do, anybody can do, is so much the future. Film is so big and heavy and slow, you just die. It’s just ridiculous”—and then there’s his daily weather report back at the ranch.

[LOOK] A teaser for Todd Haynes' I'm Not There

[LOOK] David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises has a website

Eastern Promises 007.jpg

Rated R for “strong brutal and bloody violence, some graphic sexuality, language and nudity,” in case you were wondering. Does that look more like London fields imagined by Cronenberg than real London streets? More cool, strange, Cronenbergian stuff here.

Who are the oldest living film directors? [updated 21 August]

virgin_sprig_54.jpgWHILE REELING FROM THE WASH OF COMMENTARY AFTER THE DEATHS OF INGMAR BERGMAN AND MICHELANGELO ANTONIONI ON THE SAME DAY, much of which ventured who, beyond the prolific near-centenarian from Porto, might be the oldest surviving world directors, it was striking to realize how many persist at their craft even as they grow older. Other patterns emerged: it’s intriguing to consider the work of dissimilar directors born in the same month or year. Is it meaningful in any way that the director of Annie Hall and the director of Our Hitler were born in the same week? Or that Carl Reiner and Alain Resnais are the same age? (Abbas Kiarostami and Victor Erice collaborated on “Correspondences,” a beautiful book about their work and the age that they share.)
Which led to this, rather than yet another rumination on the work of the two men—a project for later, perhaps, after coming to grips with Rivette’s Out 1—a necessarily selective survey of over 310 directors from around the world, all of whom are 60 or older, who have had lasting impact or a moment that matters in one way or another. More will be added: comment or email ( Entries are listed by year of birth, date, their most recent project completed or in production and its release date. Directors between the ages of 98 and 80 are immediately below; the rest are at the jump.
Manoel de Oliveira, 11 December, The Singularities of Rapariga Loira (2008)
Richard L. Bare, 12 August, “Green Acres” (43 episodes, 1965-1971)
Jules Dassin, December 18, Circle of Two (1980)
Kaneto Shindô, April 28, Fukuro (2003)
Mario Monicelli, 15 May, Le rose del deserto (2006)
Kon Ichikawa, 20 November, The Inugamis (2006)
Dino Risi, 23 December, Le Regazze di Miss Italia (2002)
Mel Shavelson, 1 April, Yours Mine And Ours (1968) [DIED AUGUST 8, 2007]
Gabriel Axel, 18 April, Leila (2001)
Eric Rohmer, 4 April, Les amours d’Astree et de Celadon (2007)
Mickey Rooney, September 23. The Private Lives of Adam and Eve (1960)
Chris Marker, 29 July, The Case of the Grinning Cat (2004)
Miklos Jancso, 29 September, Ede megeve ebedem (2006)
Carl Reiner, 20 March, That Old Feeling (1997)
Alain Resnais, 3 June, Private Fears In Public Places (2006)
Blake Edwards, 26 July, Son of the Pink Panther (1993)
Jonas Mekas, 24 September, Elvis (2001)
Arthur Penn, 27 September, Inside (1996)
Ebrahim Golestan, Ghost Valley Treasure (1974)
Norman Mailer, January 31, Tough Guys Don’t Dance (1987)
Franco Zeffirelli, 12 February, Tre Fratelli (2005)
Irvin Kirschner, 29 April, RoboCop 2 (1990)
Seijun Suzuki, 24 May, Princess Raccoon (2005)
Sir Richard Attenborough, 29 August, The Snow Prince (2003)
Arthur Hiller, 22 November, National Lampoon’s Pucked (2006)
Stanley Donen, 13 April, Love Letters (1999)
Sidney Lumet, 25 June, Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)
Robert Frank, 9 November, Sanyu (2000)
Robert M. Young, 22 November, “Battlestar Galactica” episodes (2004-2007)
Paul Newman, 26 January, The Glass Menagerie (1986)
Fernando Birri, March 13, ZA 05. Lo viejo y lo nuevo (2006)
Peter Brook, 21 March, The Tragedy Of Hamlet (2002)
D. A. Pennebaker, 15 July, Addiction (2007)
Joseph Sargent, 22 July, Sybil (2007)
Claude Lanzmann, 27 November, Sobibor (2001)
Youssef Chahine, 25 January, 47 Years After (2007)
Haskell Wexler, 6 February, From Wharf Rats to Lord of the Docks (2007)
Bud Yorkin, 22 February, Love Hurts (1991)
Andrzej Wajda, 6 March, Katyn (2007)
Jerry Lewis, 16 March, Smorgasbord (1983)
Roger Corman, 5 April, Frankenstein Unbound (1990)
Herschell Gordon Lewis, 15 June, Blood Feast 2: All You Can Eat (2002)
Mel Brooks, 28 June, Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995)
Norman Jewison, 21 July, The Statement (2003)
Lina Wertmuller, 14 August, Peperoni ripieni e pesci in faccia (2004)
Bud Greenspan, 18 September, Pride Against Prejudice: The Larry Doby Story (2007)
Albert Maysles, 26 November, American Prison: The Forgotten Jews (2007)
Kenneth Anger, 3 February, Mouse Heaven (2004)
Ken Russell, 3 July, Trapped Ashes (2006)
Elliot Silverstein, 3 August, The Car (1977)
Marcel Ophüls, 1 November, The Troubles We’ve Seen (1994)
Jerry Schatzberg, The Day the Ponies Come Back (2000)
Alfred Leslie, Cedar Bar (2002)

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Little Mister Sunshine: hating on movies


Someone’s gotten a modest sinecure over at the Guardian, as the resident grump: a post called “Is Cinema Dead?” (which does not answer the question but seems to be affirmative in response) was preceded by “Did colour ruin the movies?”; “The 70s was the golden age of Hollywood. But why?”; “Dumb Hollywood is forever in debt to Europe” and his ever-popular series of screeds, “What every film critic must know.” As a March entry asserted, “I believe that every film critic should know, say… the signified and the signifier, diegetic and non-diegetic music, and how both a tracking shot and depth of field can be ideological. They should know their jidai-geki from their gendai-geki, be familiar with the Kuleshov Effect and Truffaut’s “Une certain tendance du cinéma français”, know what the 180-degree rule is and the meaning of “suture.” They should have read Sergei Eisenstein’s The Film Sense and Film Form and the writings of Bela Balasz, André Bazin, Siegfried Kracauer, Roland Barthes, Christian Metz and Serge Daney. They should have seen Jean-Luc Godard’s Histoire [sic] du Cinema, and every film by Carl Dreyer, Robert Bresson, Jean Renoir, Luis Buñuel and Ingmar Bergman, as well as those of Jean-Marie Straub and Danielle Huillet, and at least one by Germaine Dulac, Marcel L’Herbier, Mrinal Sen, Marguerite Duras, Mikio Naruse, Jean Eustache and Stan Brakhage. They should be well versed in Russian constructivism, German expressionism, Italian neo-realism, Cinema Novo, La Nouvelle Vague and the Dziga Vertov group. These should be the minimum requirements before anyone can claim to be a film critic. But then, they might never get a job because they would then “know too much about cinema.” [He’ll be back.]

Movie City Indie

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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