Taiyo Matsumoto's original five volume manga Ping Pong was one of the most surprising and gripping experiences I've had this year. But a huge reason for that is the artwork: he packs more kinetic energy into a single drawing of a shoe skidding across a floor than any real shoe has ever had. So it was with some trepidation that I saw posters for this adaptation going up in stores around Japan. Fumihiko Masuri is a first time director (not that you'd know it), with a background in computer effects. He seems to have directed this mainly because he's a really big fan of the manga too. On the film's website, they've placed images from the manga next to photographs of the actors in the film, so you can see how obsessive compulsive they were in matching faces. Not only faces, but movements, playing styles, and shot composition is all straight from the book, as if they'd used the manga in lieu of storyboards. Even the occasional surreal touch; a boy growing butterfly wings, a dragonfly landing on the net, is right out of the page onto the screen. -- Midnight Eye review; subtitled movie in 12 parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
The extended trailer for David Cronenberg's adaptation of Don DeLillo's Cosmopolis has hit the internet.
Before Joy Adamson went to Africa, before Margaret Mead sailed to Samoa, before Dian Fossey was even born, a Kansas teenager named Osa Leighty married Martin Johnson. Whether dancing to jazz in Congorilla or meeting headhunters in Borneo, her life with Martin ultimately led to hours of pioneering documentary footage, books, movies and more. Her autobiography inspired a Kate Spade purse, a perfume and her marriage an entire line of clothing while her joie de vivre put her on the cover of a book on trailblazing women of history. Osa Johnson went on to become a character in a play, in a poem while her married life gave birth to a museum (or two). When Osa met Martin, she married adventure.
The 3D re-release of James Cameron's Titanic prompted Lindy West of Jezebel and Will Leitch of Deadspin to re-assess the movie.
Time Out HK counts down the 100 Greatest Hong Kong Films (along with a mind map of the perfect HK film), while lovehkfilm.com begins its series on the Top 100 Hong Kong Films of the Eighties.
The Prize - a two minute clip/trailer from Pixar’s Brave. You can also see some lovely production art and sculptures here.
Finite Films takes your idea for movie constraints and turns the favourites into short films. For example: "One character must use refrigerator poetry magnets to leave a note/message for another character", "One character loves vacuuming naked", or "One used to drive a moped until it was stolen".
John Carter, previously John Carter of Mars, previously A Princess of Mars, could be the biggest movie write-off of all time.
In 1993, Lifetime released Men Don't Tell, a landmark film exploring female on male domestic violence. [more inside]
"Piss" Sometimes a girl just wants to get peed on. Filmmaker Bette Bentley has written, produced, starred in and co-directed a funny and very sweet short film on the bedroom negotiations of piss play. [NSFW - also possible trigger]
ALIEN age 11 - an adaptation created by an underage artist based on the Alan Dean Foster novelization and a few stills, without having seen the actual film.
A decade on, the Coen brothers' woefully underrated O Brother, Where Art Thou? [alt] is remembered for a lot of things: its sun-drenched, sepia-rich cinematography (a pioneer of digital color grading), its whimsical humor, fluid vernacular, and many subtle references to Homer's Odyssey. But one part of its legacy truly stands out: the music. Assembled by T-Bone Burnett, the soundtrack is a cornucopia of American folk music, exhibiting everything from cheery ballads and angelic hymns to wistful blues and chain-gang anthems. Woven into the plot of the film through radio and live performances, the songs lent the story a heartfelt, homespun feel that echoed its cultural heritage, a paean and uchronia of the Old South. Though the multiplatinum album was recently reissued, the movie's medley is best heard via famed documentarian D. A. Pennebaker's Down from the Mountain, an extraordinary yet intimate concert film focused on a night of live music by the soundtrack's stars (among them Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, Chris Thomas King, bluegrass legend Dr. Ralph Stanley) and wryly hosted by John Hartford, an accomplished fiddler, riverboat captain, and raconteur whose struggle with terminal cancer made this his last major performance. The film is free in its entirety on Hulu and YouTube -- click inside for individual clips, song links, and breakdowns of the set list's fascinating history. [more inside]
Zaire Paige had a breakout role in Antoine Fuqua's movie, Brooklyn's Finest. He was seen as a rising star. But, it all went away when he murdered a gang rival and was sentenced to 107 years in prison. [more inside]
As the trailer for Peter Jackson's film adaptation of The Hobbit premieres online, it's worth remembering that this isn't the first take on the journey of one Bilbo Baggins. There was the 1977 animated version as well. Here's some screencaps and a trailer. Of course, if that's not enough for you, you could just watch it on Youtube (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). And before it was a film, it was something called... a book? Here's pictures of the cover of this 'book' thing from all over the world.
"But when a saga popular with pre-adolescent girls peaks romantically on a night that leaves the heroine to wake up covered with bruises in the shape of her husband's hands — and when that heroine then spends the morning explaining to her husband that she's incredibly happy even though he injured her, and that it's not his fault because she understands he couldn't help it in light of the depth of his passion — that's profoundly irresponsible." MetaFilter's own Linda Holmes on the "psychosexual horror-show" that is The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1. [more inside]
Gullah—the African-influenced dialect of Georgia’s Sea Islands—has undergone few changes since the first slave ships landed 300 years ago, and provides a clear window into the shaping of African-American English. This classic PBS program traces that story from the west coast of Africa through the American South, then to large northern cities in the 1920s. Studying the origins of West African pidgin English and creole speech—along with the tendency of 19th-century white Southerners to pick up speech habits from their black nursemaids—the program highlights the impact of WWI-era industrialization and the migration of jazz musicians to New York and Chicago.
In Southern California in the 1980s, KROQ had this weird un-DJ-like guy named (seriously) Rodney Bingenheimer, who came on late at night on Sundays and played punk records and new bands like Blondie, The Ramones, X, Joan Jett, Devo and Cheap Trick. Did this weirdo really have some influence? A 90-minute 2004 documentary now on YouTube, Mayor of the Sunset Strip (Part 1) tells his story, and it's weirder than you may have imagined. [more inside]
Thirteen movie poster trends and...what they say about their movies. Included are the Sexy Back, the Text In Your Face, and the Legs Wide Spread. [more inside]
"You must always be appearing. If you are not appearing, you are disappearing" -- José Mojica Marins, "the murderer of Brazilian cinema"
In October 1963, the Brazilian movie writer, director, and actor José Mojica Marins was having trouble with a movie he was working on, and fell asleep at the dinner table. He dreamed of being dragged to a cemetery by a creature in black, who showed Marins his own tomb stone, with the dates of his birth and death (YT: 9 min). That dream lead to the creation of Zé do Caixão (anglicized as Coffin Joe), the main character in Brazil's first horror movie, and Marins' first big movie success: À Meia-Noite Levarei Sua Alma (YT: 1hr 22min w/English subs) (At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul). This was one of the up-ticks in a life of some ups and lots of downs for the South American Roger Corman or Ed Wood (NYT), and the birth of a character who would become Marins public persona. [more inside]
The Reel History of Britain, a BFI/BBC co-production, brings archive film into the nation’s living rooms. The footage shown in the series has been selected from the hundreds of thousands of films and programmes preserved in Britain’s film and television archives. We are complementing the series by making many of the films featured in The Reel History of Britain available online in their entirety, alongside expert commentary from the nation’s archive curators.
cinemetrics is about measuring and visualizing movie data, in order to reveal the characteristics of films and to create a visual “fingerprint” for them.
Nants ingonyama bagithi baba! It's been nearly two decades since that glorious savanna sunrise, and once again The Lion King is at the top of the box office. It's a good chance to revisit what made the original the capstone of the Disney Renaissance, starting with the music. Not the gaudy show tunes or the Elton John ballads, but the soaring, elegiac score by Hans Zimmer which, despite winning an Oscar, never saw a full release outside of an unofficial bootleg. Luckily, it's unabridged and high-quality, allowing one to lay Zimmer's haunting, pulse-pounding, joyful tracks alongside the original video (part 2, 3, 4), revealing the subtle leitmotifs and careful matching of music and action. In addition, South African collaborator Lebo M wove traditional Zulu chorals into the score, providing veiled commentary on scenes like this; his work was later expanded into a full album, the Broadway stage show, and projects closer to his heart. Speaking of expanded works, there were inevitable sequels -- all of which you can experience with The Lion King: Full Circle (download guide), a fan-made, three-hour supercut of the original film and its two follow-ups. Want more? Look... harder... [more inside]
Glengarry Glen Ross endures mainly as a spectacular display of verbal warfare and alpha-male gamesmanship. There’s a musical quality to it, with a great composer and a great chorus hitting the complicated runs of broken dialogue and solos that weave into profane poetry and nuggets of philosophical wisdom. Perhaps the greatest sign of the movie’s success, owed equally to Mamet’s script and this cast, is that it does a great sales job in itself, convincing us that there’s nobility to men who lie for a living — a bill of goods we’re all too happy to buy. [more inside]
"'Postcards to Alphaville' is a project dedicated to film characters featured in guest-made illustrations. Everyone participating in this adventure has to watch a film and make postcard portraying specific character from it. It is love-letter to films and those characters that brings us, the viewers, moments of joy, sorrow and revelation and sometimes seems more real than the neighbor next-door." via
Dorothy Gambrell of Cat And Girl fame spends an awful lot of time talking about education, class, debt, money, and the hollow promise of aspirational media to discuss how much she hates Good Will Hunting
"In other words, Judah Maccabee, his father, and his brothers, are like the heroes of every Mel Gibson movie."
Mel Gibson and Joe Eszterhas have announced their latest, Warner Bros.-backed epic: a film about 'legendary Jewish warrior' Judah Maccabee. American Jewish leaders are plotzing. Rumors about a Maccabee movie were raised in 2004, but nothing ever came of them. Back then, at Christopher Hitchens' direction, Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic met with Gibson to (sorta, but not really) talk him out of it. [more inside]
blind is a short film (5:17 - in Japanese w/ English subtitles) set in post-nuclear Tokyo. The film may be viewed at the blind website, at Vimeo or at YouTube. Parents please be advised: although the film features a young child, viewing by young children is not especially recommended, as they may be frightened.
MST3kdbx: Six Degrees of Peter Graves. Did you know Coleen Gray was in The Leech Woman and The Phantom Planet? Like the IMDB obsessive cinephile friend you never friend MST3Kdbx indexes and connects together every actor in every movie shown on Mystery Science Theater 3000 [via mefi projects]
What's it like to have your film flop at the box office? "When you work "above the line" on a movie (writer, director, actor, producer, etc.) watching it flop at the box office is devastating. I had such an experience during the opening weekend of Conan the Barbarian 3D."
Though it is by far Peter Greenaway’s most well known film and, for all of the visceral and intellectual challenges it proposes, probably his most approachable, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover remains a difficult film to apprehend. (the beginning and the end, both NSFW)
Was Child's Infected? (Part1) (Part 2) An in depth analysis of John Carpenter's 1982 film The Thing, focusing on the alien assimilation timeline, and, perhaps more intriguingly, an ending that may be less ambiguous than you would initially believe.
Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow bears witness to German artist Anselm Kiefer’s alchemical creative processes and renders as a film journey the personal universe he has built at his hill studio estate in the South of France. [more inside]
Stephen Strange was an arrogant doctor, until a car accident damaged his hands, leading him try every cure possible. Eventually he made his way to the East, where the story progressed, and now he's Doctor Strange, master of magic! His thrilling tale is set to be the first Marvel superhero movie since Marvel was purchased by Disney. But there has been much history behind the latest movie, including a period when Guillermo del Toro was involved and wanted to include Neil Gaiman, a draft script by Alex Cox (1990, 5.1 mb PDF; review), and a draft script by Bob Gale (January 21, 1986, 3.5 mb PDF; review). Along with these incomplete attempts, there was the 1978 Dr. Strange TV movie, which you can watch online (full movie with Portuguese subtitles, or YT playlist). If you'd like another take, head to 1992 for the direct-to-video movie Doctor Mordrid. Depending on who you ask, it's a more or less entertaining/accurate take (warning: spoilers) on Dr Strange. Modrid is also online.
Mr Whaite designs animated neon movie signs for classic films such as The Shining, Jaws, and Beetlejuice. [more inside]
Mortys. (Vimeo) A short, animated film in French with English subtitles. Also on YouTube and DailyMotion [more inside]
How do you make someone cry for science? A Smithsonian magazine talks about a 2-minute 45-second clip from The Champ, starring a young Rick(y) Schroeder. [more inside]
One day in 1984 character actor Stephen Tobolowsky (Groundhog Day, the original, unaired pilot of Buffy The Vampire Slayer) was walking down the street when Jonathan Demme pulled up and asked if he wanted to see a movie he was finishing. Tobolowsky accepted: taking his girlfriend Beth Henley, they went to the Academy Linwood Dunn Theatre to watch the rough cut of the movie, Stop Making Sense. The audience in the otherwise empty theatre consisted of Tobolowsky, Henley, and Demme, along with members of Talking Heads, including David Byrne and Tina Weymouth. Later, Byrne passed Tobolowsky on his bike and asked if he wanted to work on a new movie. Interest sparked again, and during the ensuing collaboration Tobolowsky shared his past experience of psychic phenomena. Inspired, Byrne went on to write Radio Head. The song was heard by Thom Yorke and became the name of his band. All of this is a true story, based on puzzling evidence. [more inside]
SI has written an oral history about the making of the movie "Major League". Charlie Sheen was also interviewed for this piece.
The Soundworks Collection gives a behind-the-scenes look into the work of talented sound teams working on feature films, soundtrack scoring, and video games with a compilation of exclusive interviews, awards shows / event panel coverage and sound stage / studio room videos. Vimeo Channel. YouTube Channel. [more inside]
For Roger Ebert, it's a prayer that made him "more alert to the awe of existence." For Rober Koehler, it's a kitschy New Age con. For Richard Brody, it perfectly captures the essence of a generation by depicting a character thinking "back to the musings and fantasies of childhood, which are the product of a wondrous and fantastic view of science formed by popular-science books for children and by the commercial artists whose illustrations adorned them." For Stephanie Zacharek, it's "a gargantuan work of pretension." For Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, it's "a creation myth in the guise of a crypto-autobiography" that invents a universe of its own only to destroy it. For J. Hoberman, it's lifeless and dull, "essentially a religious work and, as such, may please the director's devotees, cultists, and apologists." It spent thirty years in development, three in editing and, yes, it contains dinosaurs. The Tree of Life, written and directed by famously reclusive Zoolander fan and "JD Salinger of American movies" Terrence Malick , won the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival. Tomorrow, it comes out in the United States. [more inside]