Film Fatale Archive for May, 2006

The 411 on IMDb

How many times a day do you visit IMDB?
How high up is on your list of bookmarks?
To settle a movie trivia question or film credit query, IMDb is the first destination for most movie fans. It’s free, it’s easy to navigate (when those annoying Flash ads on the home page aren’t crashing your browser.
The New York Sunday Times, in its Business pages, explores IMDb’s past (it began in 1990 as Usenet bulletin board called rec.arts.movies) and its future (more prominent search-result placements on Google and Yahoo and downloads, downloads, downloads).
Amazon bought IMDb in 1998, and the site’s sales links (found in the upper right hand corner of the screen) are damnably convenient for online buyers. If the site takes on more movie ads, Please, IMDB, don’t take those Flash-and-Java heavy ads that suck up and crash web browsers.
What is good about IMDb:
1. It’s free
2. It’s fast.
3. The Search functions (particularly the People Working Together search).
4. Those “Star of Tomorrow” ads: As they say on Mystery Science Theatre 3000, “Introducing…and saying Goodbye to..”
What is not good about IMDB:
1. WENN: Celebrity News and Studio Briefing
Something had to in the right-hand column. Unfortunately for George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Sienna Miller and Jude Law, it’s WENN, the online source for vaguely or completely unsourced gossip.

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What Ever Happened To Whit Stillman?

The last I’d heard, Whit Stillman, director of Metropolitan and Barcelona and auteur of the Urban Haute Bourgeoisie, was going to adapt the novel Red Azalea by Anchee Min. But after an announcement in the trades in 2002, nothing
He wrote recently in the Observer about where he’s been. The project he’ll be talking up at the festival would be his first feature film in eight years (The Last Days of Disco came out in 1998) and will involve his passion for Jamaican music and culture – until now, he’s been protective of the idea.
“Silence is one of the greatest and least used weapons in the film business arsenal,” says Stillman. “The best rule seems to be: when a project is completed or nearly so, don’t shut up about it. But when it’s still in its early stages, don’t say a word.”

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The Jack Bauer Hour of Power

For me, Monday’s the happiest video day of the week.
It’s the day that my TiVo Now Playing List shows nothing but episodes of Fox’s 24 – the addictive thriller that I never get tired of. And I’m not the only one who’s obsessed: Panopticist’s Andrew Hearst geeks out on the timecode.
Even the THE SENTINEL, the Secret Service action movie that was essentially an side-sequel for the Fox/24 brand, worked okay*** for me. If Kiefer Sutherland can stand to play Steve McGarrett law enforcement types every so often, I’ll be delighted to go see his movies. Sutherland conveys a badass-to-soulful ratio that few of his contemporaries can match. Onscreen, onscreen, he’s grim and slightly terrifying, in the way that Humphrey Bogart could be in movies like THE TWO MRS. CARROLLS and THE PETRIFIED FOREST.
Both Bogart and Sutherland are the gaunt, gun-wielding aristocrats of B-movie thrillers. There may not be room for much emotional range in every episode of 24 (how many ways can there be to flip open a mobile phone and snarl, “This is Jack Bauer–who’s running CTU?” But even at the silliest of moments, Sutherland never looks down on the material, and he never flinches.

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Don't Know. How Gay Is There?

“How Gay Is Superman?” asks Alonso Duralde of The Advocate.
The cover shot: Brandon Routh in costume SUPERMAN RETURNS, directed by Bryan Singer. (June 20, Warner Bros.)
Instead of trying to quantify or measure The Gay contained within Bryan Singer’s summer blockbuster- to -be, Duralde, the magazine’s entertainment editor, begins a personal essay about becoming a comic book fan as a sixth grader in the 1970s.
“So why was I drawn to these heroic tales of adventure and derring do?”
The Advocate’s free site ends there. Read the magazine or subscribe to find out.
But I’m guessing it’s got something to do with
1. A kid’s identification with the superhero’s life of artifice and hiding – half of the time – his unique qualities from a world that is obsessed by them. Yet sometimes the world persecutes and banishes him for these same heroic qualities.
(see: 8 million fan sites, Queer Theory, PhD dissertations on popular culture)
2. Good stories, cool pictures, EZ reading.
Should anyone at The Advocate require my opinion: when I look at the contemporary Superman, I think I’m seeing a fair amount of gay. Proud, strong and present. That’s just me.

Searching for John Wayne
PBS’ American Masters returns for its 20th season with a portrait of two movie icons: director John Ford and actor John Wayne. (Check local listings for repeat airings this week.)
You think John Wayne was tough in The Searchers, Stagecoach, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and They Were Expendable?
Ford was tougher.
If only these two had lived long enough to record special edition commentaries for DVD releases of all their film collaborations. I doubt there would be room for air-kissing and bullshit like “Ford’s a genius” and “John was such a joy to work with, he really took a risk doing this role.”
This Q&A from the PBS website sums up the way they worked.
Q: John Ford was reportedly angry at John Wayne for not serving in World War II as he and many other Hollywood icons did. How did this affect their relationship?
Documentary director Stephen Pollard: I don’t think Wayne not serving really had a strong effect on his relationship with Ford. Ford always treated Wayne horribly from his early days as a prop man to his years as one of the biggest stars in the world.
How did these two remain friends? They didn’t talk politics, even though Wayne was a rabid anti-communist in the 1950s, while Ford deplored red-baiting and put his career on the line to stop it.
The documentary’s director, Sam Pollard, rounded up archival footage, film clips from all their collaborations, and interviews with Martin Scorsese, Peter Bogdanovich, Mark Rydell, and John Milius.
Future installments of American Masters will explore the creative lives of Marilyn Monroe, Edward R. Murrow, Willie Nelson, Preston Sturges, Judy Garland, Arthur Miller & Elia Kazan, and Andy Warhol.

Check your local listings for airtimes
. This show will send you directly to your DVD classics collection.

Disaster Kits: UNITED 93 and POSEIDON

In a review of Poseidon, Michaeal Atkinson of the Village Voice suggests that this movie – like War of the Worlds – will go over better outside of big cities.
I wouldn’t lump War of the Worlds in with 70s-style shlock.
I thought Steven Spielberg’s 2005 film was three quarters a masterpiece of apocalyptic horror and one-quarter sentimental crap. (I’m talking to you, teenage-son-who-wouldn’t-die) And if there had been another shot looking up the Martians rosy-pink snack baskets, I would have been carried out of the theater, having laughed myself into a coma.)
And what a relief that would have been. I used to live in Brooklyn, with a decent view of midtown and lower Manhattan. I recall no exhiliration whatsoever on 9-11, not on that day, not for days afterward.
Right now Poseidon and other forthcoming filmed excuses to watch shit blow up real good aren’t on my list of must-see movies.
Atkinson writes (and I agree), “A supposedly fun thing I may never want to do again after 9-11, disaster films are simple death porn, and the easy wow factor of fireballs, massive explosions, flying bodies, and architectural obliteration on a large scale is, or should be, no longer a gimme.”
As a friend and neighbor said when we heard about Oliver Stone’s plans for his World Trade Center/firefighter-rescue movie, “Why should anyone be surprised or say it’s too soon? People will make movies about anything. But I’m pretty sure I saw this movie already, and I didn’t much like it the first time.”


Too Scary for You: Showtime's MASTERS OF HORROR

Showtime’s Masters of Horror began with a shudder — the truly unsettling adaptation of Joe Lansdale’s short story “Incident On and Off a Mountain Road,” directed by Don Coscarelli, and “Homecoming,” Joe Dante’s sombre vision of where the war dead wander.
Series producer Mick Garris has said that the fall 2005 series has been renewed, and the pay cable network promises another set of thirteen one-hour chillers by fall. This summer, the entire series will roll out on DVD – and that will include (come August) s to the episode that Showtime decided was too offensive to show.
Thank you Poland for posting the link to UK’s Bravo network, which will air the Takashi Miike episode that Showtime found too gruesome to show. In it, a samurai visits a Japanese brothel and discovers that he should have chosen the lady who wasn’t scratching her her head.
But how is that more horrible or offensive than these episodes
Title: Deer Woman
Director: Joe Landis
Plot: Something about a Native American spirit who appears in the form of a Maxim cover model and eats idiots. And the problem with this is … what?
Title: Dreams in the Witch House
Director: Stuart Gordon
Based upon a story by: H.P. Lovecraft
Plot: Twitchy grad student believes that housemate– and maybe housemate’s shrieking baby, too– are hellspawn. Bye, baby.

Are Videogames Destroying the Youth of Today?

Do violent videogames desensitize kids to death and destruction?
As Wired magazine’s Tom Standage slyly points out in the April 2006 issue, Grand Theft Auto and its ilk aren’t the first forms of entertainments to attract the ire of moralizing politicians, preachers and parents.
“Young people embrace an activity. Adults condemn it. The kids grow up, no better or worse than their elders, and the moral panic subsides. Then the whole cycle starts over.”
Read about parental and political freakouts over sensational novels, the waltz, the telephone and other now-tame crazes that failed to eradicate our grandparents and great-grandparents’ generations.
My favorite condemnation:
“This new form of entertainment has gone far to blast maidenhood…Depraved adults with candies and pennies beguile children with the inevitable result…God alone knows how many are leading dissolute lives begun at the ‘moving pictures.’
-from the Annual Report of the New York Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Children, 1909
Consider yourself warned.

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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