Legendary director Mike Nichols, who made an incredible debut nearly fifty years ago with Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and then managed to follow that up with The Graduate, has died at the age of 83. Younger audiences may also know him for The Birdcage, the HBO miniseries Angels in America and his last film Charlie Wilson's War.
ER One Shot (YT): one long opening shot from the Quentin Tarantino-directed episode of the TV series ER. Blog post | less bloggy, more pagey, format. [more inside]
The BBC put together a series of television commentaries from Orson Welles, "Orson Wells' Sketchbook" none of which need more than his then slightly unfamiliar face (without, he underscores, the usual false nose he wears for roles), his unmistakable voice, and his illustrations — taken, literally, from his sketchbook. In these six fifteen-minute broadcasts, which originally aired in 1955, Welles talks about not just the inauspicious beginnings of his illustrious working life but his experiences with the critics, the police, John Barrymore and Harry Houdini, the infamous radio production of War of the Worlds , and bullfighting Playlist here.
Behind the scenes of Cuba Gooding's 1996 Oscar acceptance speech As the director calls the shots from inside the TV truck, Cuba corpses. Cue music. And then...
Late in 2013, Guillermo del Toro released a voluminous book, entitled Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections, and Other Obsessions. As he explains in the video, the 256-page hardcover is a selection from his notebooks, where the director developed many of the monstrosities we’ve seen on screen. The Guardian notes that there’s something of da Vinci’s notebooks in del Toro’s records: the small, neat script, mixed in with the wonderfully detailed sketches, combine to give the impression of del Toro doing his best to record the torrent of his imagination before the thoughts disappear. In this post, we include a number of these images.Previously [more inside]
The Dissolve (previously, previously) looks at the Coen Brothers' 1996 "homespun Midwestern murder story" Fargo: Masculinity And Mike Yanagita, Keynote: Fargo in Five Quotes, Morality And The Coens
Lois Weber was an important early American film-maker who pushed the boundaries of film-making so she could better tell the stories she wanted to tell. Several of her early silent films are on youtube: Suspense (1913; ~10 minutes) (she directs herself, experiments with the split-screen view and unusual and effective camera angles including shots from above and using the car's side mirror); Hypocrites (1915; ~4 minutes) (featuring dual roles, nudity, and a strong use of techniques like multiple exposures and complex editing - as well as a strong moral message); and Where Are My Children (1916, ~1 hour, 10 minutes) (a complex and controversial film even then about birth control (pro) and abortion (anti)). [more inside]
In the early eighties, Orson Welles was a fixture at L.A.’s Ma Maison, where Wolfgang Puck was the chef before he moved on to Spago. Nearing 70, and 40-plus years removed from Citizen Kane, which he made when he was just 25, Welles was fat and famously difficult, no longer a viable star but still a sort of Hollywood royalty—a very certain sort. The younger director Henry Jaglom was one of many aspiring auteurs who admired him but possibly the only one who taped their conversations. These took place in 1983 over lunch at the restaurant.
What Terrence Malick was doing for those 20 years. "The thing that really, really bothers me about the perception of Terrence Malick is the idea that he made Days of Heaven and then sat with his thumb up his butt for twenty years. That’s not what happened; he never stopped working. Terrence Malick is not a recluse. A recluse is Howard Hughes holed up in a hotel pissing into a milk bottle."
"The short of it is, Bradley bankrupted IndieVest, hijacked the film against his contractual rights, has hacked the film up and is now trying to sell on this castrated, lobotomised version." http://www.badassdom.com/ goes into great detail as to what happened to this movie.
Between Peter Jackson’s penchant for cartoonish unserious gore and Bob McCarron’s off-screen makeup effects manipulations, Braindead achieves something that approaches inspired genius in the heretofore unknown artform of human carnage. The film is filled with moments of joyous slapstick tableaux... And then there is that moment where Braindead finally breaks through to achieve a transcendentally surreal glory of excess where Tim Balme wades into battle against the zombies armed with a lawnmower, drenching an entire room in showers of blood. (Braindead holds the record for the greatest amount of artificial blood ever used in a film). The film is a work of perverse genius. - Richard Scheib
Every Thursday, Film School Rejects posts things "learned from the commentary tracks of an iconic movie": Commentary Commentary [more inside]
Director and/or star of many of the greatest films ever made including The Great Dictator (2:05:16) [Globe scene and the eternally goosebump providing Final speech], The Immigrant (20:01), The Gold Rush (1:11:49), City Lights (1:22:40), Modern Times (1:27:01), and Monsieur Verdoux (1:59:03), Charlie Chaplin's movies have entered the public domain in most countries. Below the fold is an annotated list of all 82 of his official short and feature films in chronological order, as well as several more, with links to where you can watch them; it's not like you had work to do right? [more inside]
Christopher Nolan (mentioned previously) has been a divisive maker of movies. Some have lauded him as "the only working auteur" while others, like David Cronenberg ,and those that agree with him, tend to think he is a mere maker of entertaining genre flicks. Film scholar, David Bordwell, explains why both arguments have merit.
"What else could one do to culminate a career than to become a very great international star as the voice of a Muppet?"
You probably didn't know the name or face of New Zealand actor Jonathan Hardy, but you may recognise his voice: he was Dominar Rygel XVI in TV's Farscape. But did you know he was also an Academy Award-nominated scriptwriter? He died at his home in the NSW Southern Highlands on Sunday. [more inside]
Louis C.K. on eating pressure and providing an alternative to The Man - "I ask him to think about what he really needs; when he tells me, I give him a little more. It buys me goodwill with this person; I feel good about what I'm paying them. I like to give people a little more than they want, and I like to ask people for a little less than they're willing to give." [more inside]
Nora Ephron, best known for writing the 1989 romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally, has died at 71 from pneumonia as a complication of acute myeloid leukemia. [more inside]
Stanley Kubrick didn’t like giving long interviews, but he loved playing chess. So when the physicist and writer Jeremy Bernstein paid him a visit to gather material for a piece for The New Yorker about a new film project he was writing with Arthur C. Clarke, Kubrick was intrigued to learn that Bernstein was a fairly serious chess player. The result was an unusually long and candid recorded interview for the New Yorker. (77 min)
Those Americans who are familiar with the name Claude Lanzmann most likely know him as the director of “Shoah,” his monumental 1985 documentary about the extermination of the European Jews in the Nazi gas chambers. As it turns out, though, the story of Lanzmann’s eventful life would have been well worth telling even if he had never come to direct “Shoah.” In addition to film director, Lanzmann’s roles have included those of journalist, editor, public intellectual, member of the French Resistance, long-term lover of Simone de Beauvoir and close friend of Jean-Paul Sartre, world traveler, political activist, ghostwriter for Jacques Cousteau — I could go on, but it’s a good deal more entertaining to hear Lanzmann himself go on, and thanks to the publication in English of his memoir, “The Patagonian Hare,” we now have the opportunity to do so. (previously)
Is a ’director’s cut’ ever a good idea? The director's cut has been a feature of the home video landscape for years, getting a significant boost from multi-disk DVD and now Blu-Ray sets. There are some pretty bad ones around, but which are the best? Movie sites like Shortlist, IGN Movies, MoviesOnline.ca, FilmWad and Empire have all given us lists of the best (and worst), and online discussions have suggested others (Blade Runner tops most lists, but beyond that they diverge significantly). Where do you start when that two-hour epic isn't epic enough?
"Fast Company’s four-hour interview with [Martin Scorsese] for their December-January cover story: How to Lead A Creative Life, was ostensibly about his career, and how he had been able to stay so creative through years of battling studios. But the Hugo director punctuated everything he said with references to movies: 85 of them, in fact." Welcome to Martin Scorsese’s Film School: The 85 Films You Need To See To Know Anything About Film [more inside]
Has your life becomes choppy, condensed, and full of zooms? You may have Edgar Wright Syndrome
Both an ingeniously choreographed crime film and a moral drama influenced by Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Pickpocket marks the apotheosis of Bresson's stripped-down style. There’s little or no psychological realism or conventional drama at work in Martin La Salle’s portrayal of a master thief who plies his trade at the Gare de Lyon and easily outwits the cops who seek to ensnare him. See it once to appreciate the spare elegance of the pickpocketing scenes, and then a second time to appreciate how subtly Bresson accomplishes the story of a man’s self-willed corruption, his liberation through imprisonment and his redemption through love, all in less than 80 minutes.
Until the End of the World was conceived over most of the ’80s, filmed on four continents (including video smuggled out of China), and foresaw a future abetted by such diversions as mobile viewing devices, proto-GPS and a highly sought-after contraption that records images for the blind. Starring William Hurt, Sam Neill, Solveig Dommartin, Jeanne Moreau and Max von Sydow among an international ensemble of actors, the film also skyrocketed to a $23 million budget and found its distributors — including Warner Bros. in the United States — requiring cuts that reduced it to barely a quarter of Wenders’s original vision. Later locked in at just under five hours, it’s the type of material that today would be a shoo-in for a cable miniseries that could probably win Emmys for everyone involved. Twenty years on, however, it’s relatively lost to the mainstream, with Wenders’s directors cut as yet unreleased outside two territories in Europe.
Today is the 100th birthday of Raymond Nicholas Kienzle, better known as Nicholas Ray. The seminal Hollywood-outcast-turned-French-New-Wave idol behind Rebel Without a Cause, Bigger Than Life, Bitter Victory and the hallucinatory Western Johnny Guitar made intensely emotional films about isolated people, often infused with profound desperation and a sense of the nightmarish. Francois Truffaut dubbed him "the poet of nightfall," while Jean-Luc Godard simply declared that "the cinema is Nicholas Ray." He studied architecture under Frank Lloyd Wright, mentored Jim Jarmusch and let Wim Wenders film him as he was dying of cancer. Bob Dylan even wrote a hit song about one of his movies. [more inside]
한(汗) or Han [Click larger picture on the left to play the film], by 'The Chaser' and 'The Yellow Sea' film director, Na Hong-jin, is a Korean avant-garde short film in the vein of Maya Deren. If you liked that one and would like something a little more silly, check out: 완벽한 도미요리 (Cooking the perfect bream)
SI has written an oral history about the making of the movie "Major League". Charlie Sheen was also interviewed for this piece.
On Story is a new series which takes a look at the creative process of filmmaking through the eyes of some of the entertainment industry's most prolific writers, directors and producers. Each episode will also showcase short films from the region's most promising filmmakers.
Arthur Laurents (wiki), writer of the libretti for West Side Story and Gypsy, among many other things, has died at the age of 93. [more inside]
Stanley Kubrick liked things just so. Including cardboard boxes. (2:05 .wmv)
Show The Monster : "Guillermo del Toro’s quest to get amazing creatures onscreen." Video: Monsters in the Making. (Via)
Jacques Rivette, who emerged in the 1950s... as one of the primary filmmakers of the French New Wave, is the most underappreciated (and under-screened) of this legendary group. Rivette’s deliberately challenging, super-size films defy easy assimilation, and demand a level of attention unusual even to his compatriots’ works. In addition to being considered difficult, however, Rivette’s body of work is also, arguably, the richest of the New Wave era, possessing an intellectual inquiry and humanity unmatched in the French cinema of his time. [more inside]
After football head coach Randy Edsall left the University of Connecticut for the head coaching position at Maryland, the athletic director began the search for a new head coach. On January 13, Paul Pasqualoni was named the new UConn football head coach. In an unprecedentedly public manner, the largest athletics department donor at UConn sent a scathing six page letter to the athletics director demanding his money back for not being consulted prior to the hiring, while also listing his grievances against the UConn athletics director. [more inside]
It was not easy to get Terence Malick to direct again, as this article about the making of "The Thin Red Line" from Vanity Fair shows.
Douglas Burgdorff is a director who makes disturbing short films (all links not safe for work) about: the color red, partying, drugs, drugs and skateboarding, friendship, lollipops, and... um... Taylor Swift? Not for the faint of heart, nor the easily disgusted. [more inside]
Arthur Penn, the director of Bonnie and Clyde, Little Big Man, The Miracle Worker, and Night Moves, has died of congestive heart failure one day after his 88th birthday.
The American Theatre Wing hosts MP3 interviews with actors, directors, playwrights and other artists. e.g. Stephen Sondheim and Anna Deavere Smith and F. Murray Abraham and Eric Bogosian and John Patrick Shanley and Edward Albee and Venessa Redgrave and Alan Ayckbourn and...
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)
Tiny Art Director Bill Zeman’s daughter is the Tiny Art Director. She tells him what to draw and then tells him just exactly how much she hates it. Bill has been recording her comments and posting them with his art since she was two and a half. via
Andrew Huang is an Artist/Director of Short Films, Commercials, and Music Videos. Doll Face is really intriguing. The Gloaming (featuring Randall Rickert) is freaky cool!
Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira turned 100 yesterday. Oliveira was born 13 years after the Lumiére brothers shot the first movie ever, and he is still going strong, currently directing "Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loira" ("Idiosyncrasies of a Blonde Girl") and making plans for a project after that. Even if this is the first time you've heard of Manoel de Oliveira, or indeed if you are not a fan of his long, slow style, you have to be amazed at the remarkable condition in which he hits the 3 figures (scroll to 3:23 to see him).
David Samuel "Sam" Peckinpah (February 21, 1925 – December 28, 1984) was an American film maker who directed 15 major motion pictures, and created the television series The Westerner, starring Brian Keith and John Dehner. His second film Ride the High Country, " [Starring aging Western stars Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott in their final major screen roles, the film initially went unnoticed in the United States but was an enormous success in Europe. Beating Federico Fellini's 8½ for first prize at the Belgium Film Festival, the film was hailed by foreign critics as a brilliant reworking of the Western genre.] [more inside]
Back in 1972, there was a fellow who had a novel idea for a porno flick. But when his producer objected to the movie's title, fearing no one would understand it, Gerard Damiano reassured him: "Don't worry, "Deep Throat will become a household word." And indeed it did. Now, 36 years after the infamous and influential film's release, director Gerard Damiano, aka Jerry Gerard, has gone on to that deep, deep throat in the sky. [more inside]
The City of Absurdity - The Mysterious World of David Lynch
Sydney Pollack has died of cancer, at age 73. While best known as the director of Out of Africa and Tootsie, he also made documentaries (Sketches of Frank Gehry) and was an actor with notable roles in Eyes Wide Shut, Michael Clayton, and even an appearance in The Sopranos.
Otto Preminger died on this day 22 years ago at 79 years old, and was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, NY. [more inside]
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