The Magnificent Ambersons, Orson Welles' second film, has inspired a legend around the lost footage excised by the studio to make it more appealing to audiences. The film's making is a cautionary tale in letting the studio have creative control, and the finished product pained Welles to his dying day. The mythical status of the lost footage has inspired a few to try and track it down. [more inside]
Melvin Van Peebles made a documentary called Classified X in 1998, about the portrayal of black people throughout the history of American cinema. You can see it on YT in six parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Apologies for the low video quality.
Cinema Code of Conduct as collated by Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode, as read out on the radio this afternoon.
Regarding Luis Buñuel (Criterion, 1:37, subtitled) "All my life I've been harassed by questions: Why is something this way and not another? How do you account for that? This rage to understand, to fill in the blanks, only makes life more banal. If we could only find the courage to leave our destiny to chance, to accept the fundamental mystery of our lives, then we might be closer to the sort of happiness that comes with innocence." -- Luis Bunuel, "In Curiosity" Bunuel wanted to rebel against the dogmatic structures of the Church that said, There is no salvation or grace outside the Church. He wanted a kind of Protestant surrealism in which grace was directly attainable like in Nazarin or Viridiana -- Carlos Fuentes "He is a deeply Christian man who hates God as only a Christian can and, of course, he's very Spanish. I see him as the most supremely religious director in the history of the movies." -- Orson Welles "I'd like to be able to rise from the dead every ten years, walk to a newsstand, and buy a few newspapers. I wouldn't ask for anything more. With my papers under my arm, pale, brushing against the walls, I'd return to the cemetery and read about the world's disasters before going back to sleep satisfied, in the calming refuge of the grave." -- Luis Bunuel
He is a balding, middle-aged man with a paunch. "If a tiger had sex with a tornado and then their tiger-nado baby got married to an earthquake, their offspring would be Rajinikanth." [more inside]
Harpo's Place A tribute to Harpo Marx, by his son Bill.
Q&A with Duncan Jones, the director of the recent Hugo winner Moon plus Gavin Rothery - concept designer and VFX supervisor, Barrett Heathcote - visual effects editor and Hideki Arichi - art director (MLYT) (1,2,3,4,5)
Fawned over by the studios, the geek contingent has never been more influential in shaping movies. But are the fanboys in danger of killing the thing they love? The geek stranglehold on cinema.
Christiane Kubrick is interviewed by Jon Ronson on the sad events of her life since her husbands death in 1999... After a triumplant screening of Paths of Glory in central London's Somerset House Christiane Kubrick speaks to Jon Ronson, the producer of the revelatory 'Stanley Kubrick's Boxes' documentary. Various Kubrick resources can be found on the web but one of the oldest, academicly themed resources can be found here. Previously on the blue here and here. If you are in or visiting London then the fantastic University Of The Arts archive is amazing. These developments make me sad but let's look forward.
Road to the Stars (Doroga k Zvezdam, 1958) was a remarkable Soviet documentary about the future of space exploration, directed by the "Godfather of Star Wars" and still admired for its impressive miniature effects. Watch the entire film.
A new movie based on Obama’s childhood in Indonesia has just been released in Jakarta. The film is based on a novel released just this year. Certain differences can be noted between the book and the movie – for example, a scene showing Obama praying in the direction of Mecca was dropped.
The secrets of "Psycho's" shower scene. "In the course of my research, I read one allegation about the weeklong filming of the scene that both troubled and intrigued me, but none of the reference books I consulted elaborated on the assertion."
Toy Story 3 hits theaters today, and it's already winning universal acclaim as an enchanting and heartbreaking wonderwork, employing understated 3D and a "real-time" perspective that deftly capitalizes on the nostalgia and can't-go-home-again angst of a generation that grew up with the series. It has a strong pedigree, with 11-year-old predecessor Toy Story 2 the rare sequel to equal its forebear, 1995's Toy Story (itself the first CGI feature in history). And it joins a lofty stable of films: over the last 15 years, Pixar has put out an unbroken chain of ten commercial and critical successes that have grossed over $5 billion worldwide and collected 24 Academy Awards (including the second-ever Best Picture nom for animation with Up), a legacy that rivals some of the greatest franchises in film history. But there's rumbling on the horizon. Although the studio has been hailed for its originality (of the 50 top-grossing movies in history, only nine were original stories -- and five of them were by Pixar), two of their upcoming projects are sequels, both of them based some of their least-acclaimed films (Cars 2 in 2011 and Monsters, Inc. 2 in 2012). And while 2012 will also bring
The Bear and the Bow Brave, the first Pixar flick to feature a female protagonist [previously], fellow newcomer Newt has been canceled. With WALL-E/Up/Toy Story 3 guru Andrew Stanton focusing on his 2012 adaptation of John Carter of Mars and with forays into live-action already in development, does this mark the end of the golden age of Pixar? Or is this latest entry lasting proof that even the toughest case of sequelitis can be raised to the level of masterpiece? [more inside]
Some kind soul recently uploaded, in five parts, a 1991 BBC Omnibus television documentary about Peter Greenaway, who never ceases to inspire me in his dedication to push film into new, richly interesting places, to liberate it from its addiction to stale 19th-century psychological narrative and to open it up to accept and incorporate all manner of artistic information it's usually denied. Cleverly titled Anatomy of a Filmmaker — Greenaway is an enthusiast of the nude human figure, which he sees as the single constant of art — it covers the filmmaker's career from his earliest shorts up through Prospero's Books. There are bits about the time he spent honing his skills cutting together British propaganda, his experience with painting and his longtime collaboration with Sacha Vierny. It also presents subsections on Greenaway's own inspirational creators, including John Cage and the increasingly-intriguing-to-me R.B. Kitaj.
Pure by Jacob Bricca. A meditation on genre, a commentary on visual cliches, and a celebration of the visceral pleasures of cinema. Music by The Jesus Lizard. Please play full screen at top volume!
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.