Film Fatale Archive for December, 2006

Boston Global Critiques From Burr and Morris

Two film critics I always enjoy reading, Ty Burr and Wesley Morris, talk about the year in film in today’s Boston Globe (Dec. 31, 2006).
Old Joy
Duck Season
Miami Vice
A Good Year, The Lake House, Slither, Snakes on a Plane, Step Up, The Lake House

Senses of Perfume: The Story of a Murderer


I am made of blue sky and golden light and I will feel this way for another 15 seconds.
How about that sensual, insinuating orchestral score for the film adaptation of Patrick Suskind’s literary thriller PERFUME: THE STORY OF A MURDERER?
Director Tom Tykwer knows that music well–he composed it, writes Richard J. Wright of the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times. That’s yesterday’s edition, Jan. 1, 2007.
You can tell that Wright, like Tykwer, is a musician. Not that the piece was esoteric. But I wish I’d written it. I couldn’t have. I’m not a musician. But I tried anyway.
So there is this piece in today’s Boston Globe, as it touches upon director Tywker (and his co-composers) effort tocapture the essence of Suskind’s lush, ironic prose, and screenwriter Andrew Birkin‘s lush, ironic screenplay.
As the reporter of that story, I regret that I was unable to deliver only a cursory impression of the Tykwer hair (spikey/vertical), his nervous habits (styling product deficit? Beethoven audition later that day?), and his connection to the score (he done it, in collaboration with his usual collaborators.)
Go to the movie’s website and tell me if the score (and the film, should you see it) doesn’t work on you after you’ve fallen asleep.
I did speak to the lead actor, Ben Whishaw, who was recently cast in Todd Haynes’ I’M NOT THERE, a film about Bob Dylan, and Bernd Eichinger, the film’s producer, whose tenacity and passion for this extraordinary novel, had much to do with getting PERFUME to the screen after so many years in print.
Eichinger, who cowrote DOWNFALL, is now producing three more films, an adaptation of THE ELEMENTARY PARTICLES, based on the novel by Michel Houellebecq, a drama about the Baader-Meinhof gangwhich terrorized West Germany from the mid 1970s to mid 1980s,

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Fly 'Idlewild' – The Other Flashy Musical of '06

idlewild.jpgIDLEWILD, the other flashy-cool musical of 2006.
Stephanie Zacharek of Salon put it on her year’s ten-best list.
“Messy and extraordinary, Bryan Barber’s Prohibition-era musical, starring OutKast’s Andre 3000 and Big Boi, is a dream history of black pop culture, and a testament — to paraphrase a line from Stanley Crouch — to the ways that inventing, borrowing and refining can bring us closer to the lives we want to lead. One of the most beautiful-looking pictures of the year (the cinematography is by Pascal Rabaud), “Idlewild” slipped out of theaters before most people could see it on the big screen. It deserves an immediate rep-house revival.”

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Best Cartoons Ever: A Gift List From Jerry Beck

rabbitofseville.jpg Watch the 50 greatest cartoons of all time, from a poll of 1,000 animation professionals conducted by author/film historian Jerry Beck for a 1994 book.
Each cartoon should have an active link.
Bookmark this page. And go crazy.

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Film Comment: 'The Departed' Tops Critics Poll

Another year end critics poll: Film Comment surveys film writers and critics, asking for twenty top films and the 10 best movies still unreleased in the U.S.
Martin Scorsese’s Boston-set crime drama THE DEPARTED led critics picks, followed by Romanian Academy Award submission THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU, and the old-but-new Melville noir ARMY OF SHADOWS.
Here’s a poll in which an early 2006 release (TRISTRAM SHANDY) wasn’t forgotten, and cool pop movies like CASINO ROYALE make a strong showing.
What’s up, though, with the unreleased film list? Many of the unreleased titles are scheduled for North American theatrical distribution in 2007.
Spike Lee’s searing New Orleans documentary, WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE, shown on HBO in September, was probably seen by more people than some of the top 20 movies — and it’s now on DVD. (The six-hour documentary played at Toronto Film Festival, but only after it had debuted on HBO

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Indiewire Critics Poll: Love for LAZARESCU

lazarescu225.jpg The annual Village Voice film critics poll moves over, with Dennis Lim and Michael Atkinson, to Indiewire, and the No. 1 film is a surprise: THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU, a Romanian drama about life and death in a hospital.
Explore the whole poll, starting with the list of films, directors and performances that earned the most votes.
Here are the critics who participated. Movie City Indie guy Ray Pride and me, Justine Elias, are in there.

Joseph Barbera, Animator of Tom & Jerry, Scooby, Flintstones, Dies at 95


Cartoon king Joseph Barbera, one half of the animation team Hanna-Barbera, died Monday of natural causes at home in Los Angeles at the age of 95. His longtime collaborator William Hanna died in 2001. The Washington Post/AP obit lists their many credits: children, filling movie and TV screens with animated series such as TOM & JERRY, THE FLINTSTONES, TOP CAT, SCOOBY-DOO, JOHNNY QUEST, THE JETSONS (which ran for only one season-who knew?), and ANIMAL FOLLIES.
Hanna & Barbera were nominated for two animated short subject Academy Awards (for “One Droopy Knight” and “Good Will To Men.” (1956) You can see dozens of classic Tom and Jerry ‘toons on YouTube…”Invisible Mouse” is after the jump. I’m still looking for “Good Will To Men,” which I’ve only read about — those who’ve seen this Cold War era anti-war animated film say it leaves a leaves a powerful impression.

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New York Mag: Clive Owen, Man of the Future

cliveowen.jpg New York Magazine‘s Logan Hill talks to cool customer Clive Owen about Robert Altman, being THE INSIDE MAN (again), and not being James Bond, in this week’s issue.
Amid the grim pleasures of CHILDREN OF MEN, the dystopic tale of a world run out of babies, are a few breathtaking, terrifying, impossible camera moves. Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki has earned three Academy Award nominations (for THE NEW WORLD, SLEEPY HOLLOW, and A LITTLE PRINCESS); he’ll surely get another one for his work on his movie with Alfonso Cuaron.

50 Movies to Un-Forget from the Observer/UK

Acenhole.jpgObserver that’ll have cine-cultists clamoring for revival screenings and overdue DVD rentals: fifty overlooked English-language movies thought ought to be more widely available.
I just saw ACE IN THE HOLE (1951, Dir. Billy Wilder for the first time on the big screen — and the same day as Kirk Douglas’ 90th birthday — and I’d love to see the Observer’s top two picks, SALT OF THE EARTH (1953, Dir. Herbert Biberman), PETULIA (1968, Dir. Richard Lester), the same way. Turner Classic Movies is all right, but nothing beats Kirk Douglas, bigger than life, sneering over the line to to New York.
Lucky New York: Film Forum will play Ace In the Hole Jan. 12-18.

IFC: The Passion of Greg the Bunny

gregthebunny.png The fur will fly this Saturday as IFC network’s angriest, artsiest puppet ensemble takes on Mel Gibson in their version of THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST. Watch Greg the Bunny, Warren the Ape, assorted felt-covered apostles and Pharisees attempt to scourge our memories of the 2005 blockbuster. This episode, the final one of the second season, features special guests Mark Borchardt and Mike Schank of AMERICAN MOVIE.
IFC will let you download webisodes and, of course, buy buy buy DVDs of their shows on its website.
More GREG THE BUNNY love here.

Film Critics Vote For Men With Guns, Lady With Crown


Boston film critics go gangster, Los Angeles’ like hell in the Pacific, the New York online critics bowed to a Queen. New York’s – after five ballots — went for UNITED 93.
Here are the four movies that the major critics’ groups went for (See David Polands chart for full details.)
UNITED 93: New York, Washington, D.C.
THE QUEEN: N.Y. Online

But there’s one movie that that film critics agree on: ARMY OF SHADOWS. Made in 1969 but released in the U.S. only this year, this is a dark, uncompromising WWII thriller about the exploits of a band of French resistance fighters in German-occupied Paris. Director Jean-Pierre Melville died in 1973 at the age of 1955, but many of his films are available on DVD and VHS through Rialto Pictures. Army of Shadows is booked at Manhattan’s Film Forum from Dec. 29-Jan. 11 and moves to Symphony Space in January for the Thalia Film Classics series; check the Rialto website to see which other cities will get it.)

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NYTimes On Bloody Serious Oscar Movies

Break out the formal wear and the surgical scrubs. The fight for Academy Awards is a “bloody one,” writes the always- sanguine David Carr of the New York Times.
“These are bloody, serious times,” said David Thomson, film historian and author of “The Whole Equation,” among other books. “There are extraordinary cruelties out there in the real word — bodies hung on bridges, Daniel Pearl being murdered — and I think that’s why torture has come into our entertainments in a serious way. There is a truthfulness to it that audiences seem to be responding to.”

Doc Directors: Stay Out of Your Movies


Herzog: bearable in front of the camera
The Academy has shortlisted fifteen feature-length and eight short documentaries for the 2006 Oscar voters to focus on. As these films get more attention, check out how many directors put themselves into the frame, making themselves the protagonists of their films.
Nathan Rabin of The Onion has an open letter to these doc director/stars. Morgan Spurlock and Werner Herzog, you’re okay. Kirby Dick, “your presence in your documentary serves as an annoying distraction that detracts from the force of your argument.”
Don’t blame Michael Moore (ROGER & ME) for this trend. It was Ross McElwee, whose thoughtful yet tooling-for-some-strange non fiction saga SHERMAN’S MARCH (1987) set off the trend man with a camera movies. McElwee’s movie was subtitled, “A Meditation on the Possibility of Romantic Love In the South During an Era of Nuclear Weapons Proliferation”; it struck a chord with the girlfriendless and won the grand jury prize at the 1987 Sundance Film Festival.

Three Needles: Indie Cinema on Showtime


In recognition of World AIDS Day, Showtime cable TV network is airing two independent films, THREE NEEDLES and BEAT THE DRUM – two films about the global pandemic with an international focus. Three Needles played at festivals and is now in theatres in a few North American cities, but far more people will see the film on the premium cable network. Wherever you are, check them out.

THREE NEEDLES explores the lives of three people after they come in contact with the HIV virus. Director Thom Fitzgerald (THE HANGING GARDEN) is reported to have revised the film since its debut at the Toronto Film Festival. In the Chinese story, a blood smuggler (Lucy Liu) unwittingly unleashes a deadly plague in a farming village. In Canada, a struggling porn actor (Shawn Ashmore) fakes his HIV status in order to keep working. And in South Africa, a religious novice (Chloe Sevigny) strays from her mission to raise a family of AIDS orphans. (Showtime, Mon. Dec. 4, 9pm). Also look for replays of BEAT THE DRUM, a South African-made drama that premiered on Dec. 1. Director David Hickson tells three stories of three people: an orphan (Junior Singo) who leaves his AIDS-ravaged village for Johannesburg, a truckdriver whose on-the-downlow detours endanger his wife’s life, and a wealthy lawyer who learns he is HIV positive.

Apocalypto: LA Times On How (Not Why) They Did That


Shelagh Crabtree of the Los Angeles Times talks to cinematographer Dean Semler about the technical aspects of making APOCALYPTO (Buena Vista, Dec. 8). Semler is the Academy Award winning DP of (DANCES WITH WOLVES). The Times piece is a fascinating look at the how — not the why — of making this visionary, batshit, balmy, balls-out (and about) fascist-romantic adventure film.
(I hadn’t intended on posting my review till Monday, but there it is in brief.
Semler and his crew used digital video cameras for 98% of what’s onscreen. But at least one visual effect was achieved in camera with a trick that’s as old as moviemaking itself: reverse action–something that Gibson learned when playing the lead in Mad Max for director George Miller.

Mel is a master of pulling off optical tricks in-camera that he learned from George,” Semler says. “He taught the actors on ‘Apocalypto’ how to do it too. He would walk or run in slow-motion to achieve the desired speed and they followed.” In fact one scene was acted out backward and in slow motion: Gibson had Rudy Youngblood, who plays Jaguar Paw, run backward and pull a spike ball out of a tree for a scene in which he is attacked by Zero Wolf (Raoul Trujillo).”

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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