After much critical acclaim, the dramatic jury prize at Sundance, the Fipresci prize at Cannes, and a 'national critical response for the ages,' Louisiana-produced Beasts of the Southern Wild opened yesterday. [more inside]
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]
"Once upon a time there was a game that nobody ever played, sitting on the floor in the back room of an empty arcade. The game was full of life and strife, mega-monsters and robot fights. We Are The Strange was the title. Now meet the players who live inside, idle." The story of filmmaker M dot Strange and his solo indie masterpiece, We Are The Strange. [more inside]
"A glance at this list, and at the daunting array of actors who have worked with him over the years, many repeatedly, suggests that Mr. Nichols is not only smart but also the cause of intelligence in others. One of the reasons his movies reliably yield pleasure in spite of their limitations is the quality of the acting on display." It seems that Mr. Nichols is also able to inspire profoundly interesting reviews such as this one in the NYT.
Hollywood? Old. Bollywood? That's soooo 2003. Make room for Nollywood, Nigeria's own film industry which is growing by leaps and bounds every year, and is currently worth about $45 million dollars. About 400 Nollywood films are produced every year many on a budget of around $15000 and are distributed almost entirely by VHS and VCD. The stories are very much simplistic and pulpy (check out 419 Stalk Exchange. Yes, 419 as in the email scam) but are much preferred by local residents and emigre's than the usual arthouse fair one often thinks of when talking about African cinema. Now if you'll excuse me there's a bucket of popcorn and a copy of GSM Connection waiting for me in the living room.
2 Hollywood Titans Brawl Over A Gang Epic -- (NYTimes link, I apologize but am unsure of the etiquette on that issue). Martin Scorcese's project Gangs Of New York (about pre-Civil War NYC immigrant gangs) is quickly turning into something akin to Titanic, and not just 'cuz it's got Leo in it. The budget's out of control (maybe someone cheaper than U2 should do the score), the release date's on a backwards spiral (yes, it was supposed to come out last Christmas), some of the content rankles after 9/11, and now Harvey Weinstein wants a new ending. The cherry on top? Its current release date has it pitted against Tom Hanks and Sam "American Beauty" Mendes' The Road To Perdition, another gangster piece. For a relatively complete diary of the film's woes, try the film's page at the always-useful Corona. Think Miramax has its most spectacular dud on the way, or do you trust Scorcese to pull it off?
The movie censored in France opens in the US this week. Base-Moi is being translated by the newspapers as "Rape Me" but a better translation would be "Fuck Me," which better indicates that sexual power that the main female characters have. They use sex as a weapon, as the gateway firearm to murders and massacre. Violent, bloody, aggressively sexual, even pornographic, filled with "chic amoralism," as the New York Times says, and perhaps difficult to redeem. Gratuitous everything.