Movie City Indie Archive for February, 2009

Final Edition: Rocky Mountain News' video of day of death

Final Edition from Matthew Roberts on Vimeo.

The almost-150-year-old Rocky Mountain News was thrown into the bushes on Friday; here’s their 20-minute video of the day.

Indie is screenering


Coppola introduces Tetro

Mentioned earlier, but wasn’t aware then that Coppola had also set up a YouTube channel for his Tetro videos.

"This Aggression Will Not Stand, Man": an art show

the-big-lebowski-show.jpgFrom the blog Gavin’s Underground, reportage and photos of art and artgoers from an opening of Big Lebowski-themed work at Signed & Numbered Gallery in Salt Lake City.

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If Michel Gondry were to eat with his feet…

rubiks-salt-pepper-mills-3.jpgAnd for only $17.50: “Offically licensed by Rubik’s, these Salt and Pepper mills have been produced as a tribute to the world’s most addictive – and some would say annoying, puzzle. The iconic 80’s gadget is brought to life here as a kitchen condiment dispenser!Each cube is exactly the same size as an authentic Rubik’s Cube – 2.24 inches cubed! Sit the mills down next to the real thing and you won’t be able to tell between them – only difference with these cubes is you can’t play them! The Rubik’s Cube mills are built around a durable ceramic mill that grinds various courseness salt & peppercorns. And so only the top layer of the cube rotates to operate the mill and grind the salt & pepper. The salt mill has a white top and the pepper mill has a red top so you can easily tell the difference between the two cubes.”

When Francis Met David [updated]

sunnyskies_dl6.jpgLooking at Francis Coppola’s intro to Tetro and his palm-POV style, something chimed in my head, but it took a couple hours to realize what it was: David Lynch’s Los Angeles weather report videos, issued daily from the director’s work desk. The old guys are going all Lumiere Bros. on us. [Meanwhile, Lynch Twitters coyly about his imminent nuptials.]

Rating Poo Poo's The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus

While Terry Gilliam’s Heath Ledger-starring The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus hasn’t announced U.S. distribution, his Poo Poo Pictures Productions Ltd. has gotten a PG-13 for the finished film for ” violent images, some sensuality, language and smoking.”

American Zoetrope comes around to self-releasing Tetro

littlefrancis567.jpgA website for Francis Coppola’s self-financed, self-distributed Tetro debuted yesterday, with promises of more supplemental material before its June 11 limited release. There’s no trailer yet, so the hint that black-and-white stills and black-and-white posters offer of a monochrome film isn’t confirmed yet. But there is a two minute video with Coppola giving a glimpse of his Napa Valley office and making himself breathless from setting up the story while holding his video camera above his head as if taking a picture for a MySpace profile and spinning around in his desk chair. The arte povera quality of the gesture is oddly charming. It’s not over until the fat little 8-year-old girl in Ohio sings. [The Tetro website. The press release is below.]

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Presenting Slumdog: the cowboys and the campfire

campfire-a27.jpgI’ve obviously not read every stitch of Oscar hemming and hawing out there, but I was struck by at least one sly detail I haven’t seen remarked upon: having Steven Spielberg, whose DreamWorks is now partnered with Indian money, present the Best Picture, a category the winner of which was expected by almost everyone to be… Slumdog Millionaire. A tacit signal to the world that the movies as we know need the world to survive. Not just their money. The Australian director Bill Bennett says it’s the same as the tale of the cowboys and the campfire. Every so often, an influx of talent or inspirations needs to come from far away, from over the horizon, just like cowboys around the campfire expected strangers to stop and tell tales they hadn’t heard, the news they didn’t know yet.

[OnePiece] Mark Rance on restoring The Whole Shootin' Match digitally

Most people don’t realize how fragile film history is, and it’s not about the third DVD in a row arriving in two pieces from Netflix. When I was a kid, Eagle Pennell’s 1978 The Whole Shootin’ Match (released in New York in 1979), made for around $30,000, was written up in all the film magazines that I read to read about the films that would never have come to my part of Kentucky. This slacker avant le lettre Austin fable was obscure then (even with a Vincent Canby notice) and would remain obscure to this day if not for the discovery of a mint print of the shot-on-16mm black-and-white film, and the digital restoration of its gamy glories by veteran DVD producer Mark Rance, who’s just launched his Watchmaker Films DVD label with a pleasing three-disc set devoted to the feature, its music, and a new documentary on Pennell’s slow, if spirited, dive into failure.

The DVD booket is rich with background, including bits from Austin’s legendary journalist Louis Black. Paul Cullum, an Austin peer, writes that “the man belonged in the Alcohol of Fame; he put pop alcoholics like us to shame.” Cullum got confirmation that this quote from Robert Redford was indeed about the troubled Pennell: “I thought a real service to the industry would be to provide a guy like that with a place to train, a place to go where he could develop his skills. It would shortcut a lot of the problems he was going to be facing.” Voila: Sundance.
But voila aussi: The Whole Shootin’ Match, which also inspired the similarly shaggy but much more prolific filmic ambitions of another Austin cineaste, Richard Linklater. This rambling, profane charmer of a film is still an inspiration, and it’s terrific that it’s out for a new generation of potential regional filmmakers to admire. (And a Texas-size cautionary tale to boot.) [Interview shot at Chicago’s Siskel Film Center.]

[Below, Rance describes “frame-based” restoration.]

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New Yorker Films, 1963-2008

In college, a friend made a 16mm faux trailer for an apocryphal Straub-Huillet film starring Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis and Marlon Brando, entitled “The Patriarch, the Plebian and the Penis.” Their austere camera style was part of the send-up, as well as a critic’s quote: “A one-of-a-kind film… may be the best of its kind ever made.” (Which I used years later in film review.) The best joke, if the title didn’t have you rolling in the aisles right off, was the credit up top, with a logo familiar from all the scritch-scratchy 16mm prints of movies we’d rented for the university film societies, with one addendum: “Coming for Christmas from New Yorker Films.” I think we’d just watched Werner Herzog’s Even newyorkerlogo_5678.jpgDwarves Started Small when the notion came up. We were readily amused in those days and I think it was also around the time we’d witnessed a double feature of Ingmar Bergman’s Persona and Jerry Lewis’ Nutty Professor. The idea of a Christmas promo from the company still makes me smile, but not the news that its library had been used as collateral on a loan that went into default and the company was shut down today. And, among the modest honorifics that have ever come my way was the pleasure of being quoted on New Yorker DVDs from Tim Roth, Emir Kusturica and Claire Denis, even if the quotes are goofy. For Underground, it’s something about beer and women; for Beau Travail, it’s the ellipsis-heavy “A MASTERPIECE! Exquisite… Mysterious… Magical.” Missing only a second exclamation point! Presentation treatments and the seven-to-fifteen second fanfares that accompany them have always given me a little rush, on films old or new. But the silent white-on-blue New Yorker logo that accompanied movies like Wim Wenders’ American Friend is forever married in my memory to the low hiss and crackle of a well-distressed 16mm optical soundtrack. Here’s hoping some part of their legacy is salvaged from the bank’s vaults. In his new blog at the New Yorker, Richard Brody considers implications of the closure, including the fact that “unlike book publishers, whose wares are widely distributed to libraries (it’s bitterly sad when a publisher goes out of business, but the back catalogue is already out there), film distributors hold the prints of the movies they own rights to; those which are out on home video have a second life, but the 35mm prints are, as of now, locked up, and revival houses wanting to screen them are simply out of luck.” [More at the link.]

Viral snowfall

Who watches

In Ukrainian Village, Chicago.

Sack o' Oscars, anyone?


[Via The House Next Door.]

Laurence Olivier's 1979 Lifetime Achievement Oscar speech

Mr. President and Governors of the Academy, Committee Members, fellows, my very noble and approved good masters, my colleagues, my friends, my fellow-students. In the great wealth, the great firmament of your nation’s generosity, this particular choice may perhaps be found by future generations as a trifle eccentric, but the mere fact of it—the prodigal, pure, human kindness of it—must be seen as a beautiful star in that firmament which shines upon me at this moment, dazzling me a little, but filling me with warmth and the extraordinary elation, the euphoria that happens to so many of us at the first breath of the majestic glow of a new tomorrow. From the top of this moment, in the solace, in the kindly emotion that is charging my soul and my heart at this moment, I thank you for this great gift which lends me such a very splendid part in this, your glorious occasion. Thank you.

Mickey Rourke's Spirit acceptance speech

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