Movie City Indie Archive for July, 2010

Casting begins on new Wachowski project, CN9

Regular casting director Lora Kennedy is now casting: that’s all so far.

Ray Bradbury on the status of Mel Gibson's "Fahrenheit 451"

In this segment, Mr. Bradbury broaches the subject of Mr. Gibson’s long-held option on “Fahrenheit 451″‘s remake rights. Do read Mr. Bradbury’s lips at the end. He’ll be 90 in August.
From Stop Smiling screening of Francois Truffaut’s archive print of Fahrenheit 451, Siskel Film Center, July 11, 2010, Ray Bradbury talking via Skype to his biographer Sam Weller and film historian/admirer Jonathan Rosenbaum.

The second teaser for Fincher's The Social Network

Now that’s a wow.

Charles Bronson in Nobuhiko Obayashi's spot for "Mandom"

Slap it on. [Via Chuck Stephens.]

Talking to Sebastian Junger about Restrepo

OnePiece: Sebastian Junger on RESTREPO from Ray Pride on Vimeo.

Along with Junger’s comments on the indiscretion of General McChrystal’s staff “talking shit about the boss,” the forthcoming co-director of Restrepo talks about the war in Afghanistan’s origins as a reaction to 9/11 and tries to remember how many war zones he’s reported from.
“The movie’s interesting, it’s kind of a hybrid,” Junger says. “It has the dramatic structure of a Hollywood war movie, I mean, it’s not didactic, it’s not informative, it’s not ‘about’ Afghanistan. It’s an experience, the way dramatic features are an experience. You enter that world for ninety minutes, and then you leave that world. But it’s about a topic of national concern, so I think it has the best of both, in terms of commercial potential, it has this theatrical drama but it’s real. I think it has a very good chance of people going to see it, I don’t want to use the word ‘entertainment,’ but as an emotional experience rather than a learning experience.”
Why feet on the ground instead of having “experts” talk on-camera? “The fact is, there’s an enormous amount of journalistic material that covers those important issues, the context. Do people really want to see another movie that tells them what they already believe about the war? If we had done that, I think all these people that are criticizing us for doing it, wouldn’t have gone to see that movie.”
“I didn’t have a tape recorder out there. I had a notebook,” Junger says of working toward both a film and a book while on the battlefield. “I used the notebook during scenes that would have not been good to film. Conversations in the dark. Things like that. Then there are other scenes that are perfect to film and you never write them down in a notebook. No one takes notes during a firefight. It’s ludicrous. I tried to divide those tasks up according to the kind of scene it was and then I referred to the video continually while writing my book (“War”) and in making the movie, I referred to my notes, just in terms of narrative and context and storyline. They complemented each other really well.”
“The plot, the, quote, ‘plot,’ was nonexistent. They were marking time in a very dangerous place. They weren’t moving forward to take Baghdad, they weren’t storming the beaches at Normandy. They were in a static position, pretty much doing the same thing over and over again. In terms of plot, that wasn’t really where the center of gravity of the film was. It was really more the emotional development, the emotional experience of these soldiers.”

DVD: Kino's Keaton; A Single Man; Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Kino has two essential Buster Keaton releases this week, including the two-disc “Ultimate Edition” Steamboat Bill, Jr. ($30) and The Lost Keaton, with sixteen sound shorts he made for “Educational Pictures” from 1934-37 ($35). Kino explains what’s in the new Steamboat Bill, Jr.: “In the silent era, it was common practice for filmmakers to create two separate negatives of their films, each comprised of differing takes and camera angles. This definitive DVD edition contains both versions… each mastered from archival 35mm materials, as well as a 13-minute documentary comparing the two.”

The shorts, made for very little, were made after Keaton had lost his big-budget supporters; glimmers of the great man are reported to emerge now and again. Without time to savor these at length, the next best thing to turn to keaton_steamboat.jpg is Dave Kehr’s piece, which draws on and refines that writer’s thirty-five-plus years of thinking about the Great Stoneface. A passage: “Again and again he returns to the same composition: his small figure, isolated in the center of a vast, empty space—the desert, the ocean, the bare stage of a theater. When other people enter the frame, they provide no companionship. The male characters in his films tend to be hulking authoritarians, like the father—a tough-as-nails riverboat captain—played by Ernest Torrence in Steamboat Bill, and his women are either implacably angry or doll-like and ineffectual. (Marion Byron, in Steamboat Bill, falls into that second category.) Machinery often fills the emotional void left by people in Keaton’s world (his affection for his locomotive in The General runs far deeper than his interest in his bubbleheaded fiancee), and the one force that can be counted on is not love or friendship, but simple Newtonian physics. What goes up, must come down.”
A Single Man (Sony, $28)
Colleagues and his circle of friends (especially Charlie, a brittle socialite played with relish by Julianne Moore) want to lighten his burden. George hopes to check currents of sorrow with Bayer’s and whiskey. A blond young student (Matthew Hoult) seeks his attentions. But he’s weighted, and Ford’s visual style is freighted. The intent design, however, is less about Mammon than about Memory. Working in a variable color palette, with hues of blue pulsing like Hitchcock’s shades of green in Vertigo, Ford’s play with subjectivity intrigues. Striking images abound, such as the teacher of words with his mouth mottled by black India ink. George stops to sniff a stranger’s terrier inside a car: a whiff, a twirl of desire. He a_single_man12.jpg references the “smell of buttered toast,” reminiscent of poet Philip Larkin’s infamous line about Englishness, about “listening to the church bells, eating buttered toast with c–ty fingers.” This is life, and he’s leaving it. It’s a modern world he lives in, just not ours. Ford also measures lovingly attenuated homoerotic gaze, especially in a scene that mingles a fading Psycho billboard with the vision of a Spanish, James Dean-like hustler. What heterosexual filmmaker has shot a sustained heterosexual dance of desire in such a way? (Other than Wong Kar-Wai.) It’s all Almodóvar now, baby blue? No; Ford’s found his own way. Stlll, there are moments where the actors have their extended play, especially in a splendid passage where George reacts to the news of Jim’s death. Firth’s face is a study in emotional depths. The score, credited to Abel Korzeniowski and Shigeru Umebayashi, moves from stirring Bernard Hermann pastiche to “In the Mood for Love”-like tip-toe of a waltz, appropriate considering Umebayashi’s contribution to that WKW film. Equally important is Leslie Shatz’s sound design, where the tock of clock is like the flick of time. Young cinematographer Edward Grau’s images are impeccable, abounding in influences (an ICE cooler with bold red letters in parching, falling California afternoon light, a Ruscha-slash-Eggleston that never was) but stylistically consistent, always coolly adroit. (University of Minnesota Press may have issued its first movie tie-in with a new paperback of the book [$15].)
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Music Box, $30)

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Chicago Underground Film Festival 2010 winners [UPDATED WITH FEATURE WINNERS]

After presenting almost all the awards for 2010 Chicago Underground Film Festival, fest director Bryan Wendorf ponders the future of film festivals, out on Western Avenue in front of the Empty Bottle music club.
Best Documentary Feature – Scrappers, Ben Kolak, Brian Ashby and Courtney Prokopas
Best Narrative Feature – Stay the Same, Never Change, Laurel Nakadate
Honorable Mention – Modus Operandi, Frankie Latina
Made in Chicago Award – Kent Lambert, Fantasy Suite
Best Animation – Everybody, Steve Reinke and Jesse Mott
Best Experimental Film – L’Internationale, Marianna Milhorat
Best Documentary Short – Sincerity: The Character of Ronald Reagan, Chris Royalty
Best Narrative Short – Home Movie, Braden King
Audience Award – Scrappers, Ben Kolak, Brian Ashby and Courtney Prokopas
Honorable Mentions
Golden Hour, Robert Todd
This Is My Show, Lori Felker
Voice on the Line, Kelly Sears
Details on the festival jury are below.

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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