The Saragossa Manuscript is an unusual movie based on a strange book by a remarkable man. [more inside]
Salo has been discussed before here in the blue, but last week the Australian Classification Review Board determined that the DVD release can be classified R18+ (available, but with sale restricted to adults), if it includes 3 hours of additional material proposed by the potential distributor, Shock. In the decision, the Board notes that the additional material "facilitates wider consideration of the context of the film." While this decision is a win for anti-censorship campaigners and film buffs, it may not be the final chapter. The film has had a checkered history in Australia. The Board's media release is here (PDF).
Dede Allen, editor of such films as Bonnie and Clyde, Dog Day Afternoon and Night Moves has died at the age of 86.
Will post-conversion done badly kill 3D movies? Jeffrey Katzenberg of DreamWorks thinks it might. Or as Michael Bay puts it "You can’t just shit out a 3D movie".
Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906), considered “the greatest painter of India,” “the father of modern Indian art,” and a “prince among painters and a painter among princes.” Varma became renowned both for his portraiture and his paintings of Indian mythology. The painter's life and times played a major role in the shaping of the women he painted and controversy over the way he painted them. Varma's images have not just survived, but due to his vision of making them accessible to the common man, they have thrived over a century and influence movies, television, the world's most expensive sari, theatre and everyday calender art.
Five lines. That's how long the script handed to five different directors who made five vastly different short films from it for Philips Cinema was. The Gift has robots. Dark Room has assasins. El Secreto de Mateo has heart. Jun and the Hidden Skies has children's imagination. The Hunt has nature. [more inside]
I mean, in these days of indoor plumbing, the toilet is a naturally potent metaphor for everyday repression, for all the bile and rage and memories and sins and other impure thoughts and unclean urges that can't always kept down or flushed away. Every once in a while when the psychological plumbing gets clogged, the load of excrement becomes more than one's psychological pipes can handle, and the shit all comes bubbling back up from below and spews out onto the surface.A survey of plumbing in the movies. Wee bit NSFW in both word and image.
Despite my absolute fidelity to Sade's text, I have however introduced an absolutely new element: the action instead of taking place in eighteenth-century France, takes place practically in our own time, in Salò, around 1944, to be exact. (some links extremely NSFW)
Patrick Sauriol's Corona Coming Attractions, the comprehensive insider film news site of the late-'90s (resurrected in December 2008), presents the top unproduced screenplays for 2009 as selected by film professionals (Part 1 | Part 2). "Over 300 film professionals were asked to submit the titles of up to ten of their favorite screenplays. The only condition for the picks were that the projects would not be released in theaters this year." Some sound fascinating, others cringe-inducingly tired.
He invented or popularized a startling array of the fundamental elements of film: the dissolve, the fade-in and fade-out, slow motion, fast motion, stop motion, double exposures and multiple exposures, miniatures, the in-camera matte, time-lapse photography, color film (albeit hand-painted), artificial film lighting, production sketches and storyboards, and the whole idea of narrative film.
By 1897, in a studio of his own design and construction – the first complete movie studio – his hand forged virtually everything on his screen. Norman McLaren writes, "He was not only his own producer, ideas man, script writer, but he was his own set-builder, scene painter, choreographer, deviser of mechanical contrivances, special effects man, costume designer, model maker, actor, multiple actor, editor and distributor." Also, his own cinematographer, and the inventor of cameras to suit his special conceptions. Not even auteur directors such as Charles Chaplin, Orson Welles, John Cassavetes, and Stanley Kubrick would personally author so many aspects of their films."Inside: 57 films by Georges Méliès, the Grandfather of Visual Effects. [more inside]
"In many films, people never discuss ideas, whether moral ideas or political ideas. And if those kinds of discussions are in fact introduced, they always ring false. But I think I've managed -- and this is what I'm happiest about with my films as a whole -- I've managed to show people discussing morality, whatever that morality might be, in a completely natural way." Eric Rohmer, French filmmaker and editor of Cahiers du Cinema, has died at 89. [more inside]
"Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright."
In order to promote their upcoming remake of The Wolf Man, Universal has launched Universal Monster Legacy (Flash with auto-playing audio), featuring music, posters, video clips and still galleries from the classic Universal Monster films. (via)
Budd Boetticher, Randolph Scott, and the remarkable Ranown Cycle of Westerns. "Boetticher is one of the most fascinating unrecognized talents in the American cinema...Constructed partly as allegorical Odysseys and partly as floating poker games where every character took turns at bluffing about his hand until the final showdown, Boetticher's Westerns expressed a weary serenity and moral certitude that was contrary to the more neurotic approaches of other directors on this neglected level of the cinema." - Andrew Sarris. Hero to the French New wave and early subject of Cahiers du Cinema auteur theory, Boetticher's films are true treasures of American cinema. Martin Scorsese on Ride Lonesome and The Tall T: Clint Eastwood on Comanche Station: Taylor Hackford on Buchanan Rides Alone and Decision at Sundown. [more inside]
Classic Cinema Online. A ton of old movies watchable in an embedded player.
Will the future of cinema be live or remixed? "There is a level of panic in Hollywood I haven’t seen for a while." So begins USC Professor Jon Taplin, also a producer of films by Martin Scorsese. Taplin speaks about Francis Ford Coppola's recent interview where the director states that "I think the cinema is going to live off into something more related to a live performance in which the filmmaker is there, like the conductor of an opera used to be." Taplin bemoans "the dearth of imagination in Hollywood", while the comments section lights up with various prognostications.
The Virtual Window Interactive is a toy based in, and an advertisement for, The Virtual Window, a theoretical Visual Studies text authored by Anne Friedberg, who passed away this week at age 57. If you're like me, the first thing you'll realize is that your native aspect ratio is faulty already.
"Long thought to be lost or destroyed, this complete recording of one of the few hour long interviews of Alfred Hitchcock has been found." [more inside]
DSLR News Shooter is a new photo site featuring the use of the latest HD-dSLRs like the Canon Eos5DmkII, 7D and Nikon D300s for news, documentary and factual shooting. By Guardian news photographer Dan Chung, it's a place for professionals, educators, students and industry figures to discuss the practice and the art of cinematic photography in documenting the real world. For example, the time-lapse and slow-motion film of the recent 60th anniversary parade of the PRC. Other places to look for information and discussion of DSLR video are the Planet5D blog, and filmmakers such as Vincent Laforet and Phillip Bloom. (previous 1, 2)
Film director Roman Polanski, who won numerous awards for films like Chinatown and The Pianist, has been detained for extradition to the US, whilst travelling to Switzerland to collect a lifetime achievement award at the Zürich Film Festival. [more inside]
Architecture through the cinematographic lens. The visual fusion between the third and the seventh arts.
The "Third&Seventh" project is "A full-CG animated piece that tries to illustrate architecture art across a photographic point of view where main subjects are already-built spaces." In other words, Alex Roman has created a series of CG images and short films, based on real places (like this short film that depicts Louis Kahn's library at Phillips Exeter Academy), with a remarkable level of realism and beauty. (via)
Hitchcock's first in 1925. Kubrick in 1957. Sturges in 1963. Bergman, Huston, Ophüls, and Wilder. Sound of Music in 1965. Willy Wonka in 1971. Also, Monty Python made their Fliegender Zirkus specials there in 1971 and 1972. Film history and all that. Sure. But to my mind, the best part of the Bavarian Film Studios is being able to go inside the actual submarine from Das Boot. Or you can ride on that flying dog thing from Neverending Story... if that's how you roll.
How does a director follow up the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time*? (*adjusted for inflation) He remakes a French classic - taking an international cast to a Caribbean nation ruled by a military dictatorship, where hurricanes, irascibility, other difficulties take him far over a budget already large enough to be shared by two studios. The result is his personal favorite among his films. But deceptive marketing and cute robots contribute to its making back less than half of its costs. (previously)
A new documentary by a Swedish-based Italian filmmaker examines how media mogul turned two-time president Silvio Berlusconi's 30-year grip on Italian television has shaped the country, its politics, its culture and society. Erik Gandini's Videocracy, which screens at the Venice Film Festival, starts 30 years ago, when Berlusconi introduced a quiz show whose female contestants stripped for the camera, and charts 30 years of showgirls, celebrities, reality TV shows and Berlusconi's rise to political power, and interviews characters of the system, including a talentless but fame-hungry TV contestant, a fascist-sympathising media fixer, and a paparazzo/extortionist turned celebrity. More details here and (with a trailer) here. [more inside]
The day after Kristallnacht, Hitler said: "It was necessary not to make propaganda for violence as such, but to explain certain matters of foreign policy to the German people in such a way, that the inner voice of the people all by itself gradually would call for violence." Towards that end, Goebbels commissioned and closely supervised the production of a propaganda documentary titled Der ewige Jude - "The Eternal Jew". Few if any of the inhabitants of the Łódź Ghetto who appear in its footage survived the war. [more inside]
Criterion Collection Top Ten Lists as chosen by Jonathan Lethem ll Steve Buscemi ll Patton Oswalt ll Peter Cowie ll Jean-Pierre Gorin ll Diablo Cody ll D. A. Pennebaker ll John Lurie ll Paul Schrader ll Nathan Lee ll Ricky Jay ll and many more.
Fox have offocially announced that Ridley Scott has officially signed on to direct the new 'Alien' prequel. He certainly did a great job on the original but can he match his previous truimph? Given the number of projects he has in gestation (heh) maybe any celebration is premature...
Acclaimed Malaysian film and advertising director Yasmin Ahmad has passed away at 11:52pm Saturday night at the age of 51, after collapsing from a stroke at a media presentation the day before. She leaves behind a legacy of film that captures the modern multicultural spirit of Malaysia, winning international festival awards and local hearts while at the mercy of conservative censors. [more inside]
Art house films for £3 a pop. Stream them from here
Pauline Kael called it "a huge, jerry-built, crumbling ruin of a movie". Roger Ebert called it "such a silly and stupid movie... our immediate reaction is pity". Few directors of Michelangelo Antonioni's stature have followed a film as acclaimed as Blowup (1966) with one as reviled as Zabriskie Point (1970). [more inside]
'It has been said that cinema is in essence a special effect. The video work of Bernard Gigounon reduces that notion to its minimal essence: cinema as an illusion, created by the manipulation of images in time. He does not create this effect with advanced, multi-dimensional digital technologies, but rather through simple, transparent magic...' [more inside]
I've listened to dozens of film podcasts, but Left Field Cinema is the first that devotes its episodes only — or at least primarily — to movies worth discussing. I'm talking about Malick's Badlands. I'm talking about Tarkovsky's Solaris. I'm talking Kieslowski's Dekalog which gets a two-parter. I'm talking about Tarr's Werckmeister Harmonies. I'm talking Dominik's The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. At long last, I say.
Multipart interview with film maker Kevin Smith on his career so far, why he's directing a film he didn't write, the internet and dying an early death. Part 1 - Selling Out And Salty Language, Part 2 - Writing & Film Making, Part 3 - Change, Death, Legacy, Part 4 - The Dark Side Of The Internet, Part 5 - The Curse Of Chasing Amy, Part 6 - Bright Side Of The Internet, Part 7- Talking To People He Wrote, Part 8 - Gretzky, Gratitude & God, Part 9 - Risking His Life & Starting A New One (and more to come apparently...)
"Because the camera is so close to the character(s) being followed, we feel that we're physically attached to those characters, as if by an invisible guide wire, being towed through their world, sometimes keeping pace, other times losing them as they weave through hallways, down staircases or through smoke or fog." A video montage and essay by Matt Zoller Seitz. All shots are identified at the end; you may know more of them than you think. (via)
Cult western classic One-Eyed Jacks (1961) is the only film ever directed by Marlon Brando, who happened to replace the original director, none other than Stanley Kubrick.
Clerkdogs works surprisingly well versus other web-based recommendations, partly because paid enthusiasts are involved, and partly for its intuitive interface. [more inside]
...[Change of scene. We are looking out of a car window; it is raining, or has recently rained. Shops go by.] I treated myself to a taxi. I rode home through the city streets! There wasn't a street--there wasn't a building--that wasn't connected to some memory in my mind. There I was buying a suit with my father. There I was having an ice-cream soda after school. When I finally came in, Debby was home from work. And I told her everything about my dinner with AndréAnd here is Sergio Leone and the Inside Fly Rule's meditation on the only possible other candidate for Best.Movie.Ever. [more inside]
Brüno: Delicious Journeys Through America for the Purpose of Making Heterosexual Males Visibly Uncomfortable in the Presence of a Gay Foreigner in a Mesh T-Shirt
Trailer for Brüno, the upcoming film by Sacha Baron Cohen, formerly known for his characters Ali G and Borat.
Warren Mercer Oates was one the greatest character actors to ever appear in American film. A fascinating biography of the actor's life and career was published this week, and is titled Warren Oates: A Wild Life [more inside]
Digital Poetics is a film blog with a proposal for an interesting experiment called 10/40/70: write a film review of a DVD with three screen captures taken at arbitrary intervals (10, 40, 70 minutes into the film) and see how it changes the way you look at films. This 10/40/70 approach has led to some interesting interpretations of The Conversation, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, Blue Velvet, Godard's Vivre Sa Vie, and 12 Angry Men, as well as a contrarian appreciation of Hudson Hawk. The blog Spectacular Attractions has even upped the ante by using a random number generator to determine where to select screen caps. Results include Jaws Randomised and This Is Spinal Tap Randomised with Two Brains. It's like Dogme 95, but for film bloggers.
"R, and G, and B" is a very well-curated — and, seemingly as yet undiscovered — film review blog by the video artist Blake Williams covering pictures by filmmakers like Werner Herzog, Chris Marker, Chantal Akerman, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Carl Dreyer, Michael Haneke, Stanley Kubrick and, best of all, Abbas Kiarostami.
Vintage photos and a history of General Cinemas. Before the 1960s, concessions were rare at movie theaters, but GCC introduced them widely and even launched their own exclusive drink: Sunkist soda. Also part of the GCC experience was their feature presentation bumper. [more inside]
The Oscar-nominated "Mysterious Explorations of Jasper Morello" is an "adventurous tale of a navigator’s journey to save his ailing wife set in a beautiful world of Victorian science-fiction" and one the many fine film shorts and videos available to watch at shortof theweek.com - a site dedicated to "finding those few [video] gems amongst the enormous heap of garbage they're buried in..." [more inside]
New Yorker Films, the only US distributor of many of the films of Jean-Luc Godard, Ousmane Sèmbene, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and many others closed operations yesterday. Many of the films they distributed remain unavailable on DVD, and thus completely unavailable to Americans for the foreseeable future. Coming on the heels of the eviction of Film-Maker's Co-Op, New York's venerable distributor and archive of avant-garde film, New Yorker's closing raises questions not only about the symbiotic importance of repertory film exhibition for film preservation efforts, but about the future of film culture and the possible role of the arts in the future economy.