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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Screening Gotham: March 10-12, 2006


A few of this weekend’s worthwhile cinematic happenings around New York:
–Just as the ethos and logistics of horror filmmaking are famously friendly to independent filmmakers, the war genre is often perceived as the domain of explosives, costumes and other big-budget accessories out of indies’ reach. But Brooklyn filmmaker Ari Taub spent the last decade proving that perception wrong with The Fallen, opening this weekend at the Pioneer Theater. A meditative glimpse at World War II as seen through the eyes of American, German and Italian troops on the European front, The Fallen expertly navigates the war’s moral crises without stretching its no-budget premise beyond credulity or craft. Rather, Taub invests everything he has in story, and the labor of love pays off dramatically. In other words: Don’t expect Saving Private Ryan, but maybe something even better.
–The New York Underground Film Festival continues at Antholgy Film Archives this weekend with programs all day Saturday and Sunday. Chiefly interesting among these is Google Me This, featuring a couple dozen underground filmmakers and visual artists scavenging Google Video for the most bizarre, dismaying and generally obscure movies on the Web. Also of interest: the shorts program Happy Together, which includes NYC filmmaker Shiri Bar-On’s Making Me Happy and a somehow-enthralling documentary about a Swedish tax worker. On a weekend where filmgoing alternatives include Failure to Launch and The Shaggy Dog, trust me: Paying Tax is Sexy really is sexy.
–Check it out: Lionsgate rereleased Crash! And hey! Look over there! A swarm of locusts!

3 Responses to “Screening Gotham: March 10-12, 2006”

  1. Dave Bourla says:

    It’s truly amazing that a lame film like this with no plot gets this much attention.

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Tsangari: With my next film, White Knuckles, it comes with a budget — it’s going to be a huge new world for me. As always when I enter into a new thing, don’t you wonder how it’s going to be and how much of yourself you are going to have to sacrifice? The ballet of all of this. I’m already imaging the choreography — not of the camera, but the choreography of actually bringing it to life. It is as fascinating as the shooting itself. I find the producing as exciting as the directing. The one informs the other. There is this producer-director hat that I constantly wear. I’ve been thinking about these early auteurs, like Howard Hawks and John Ford and Preston Sturges—all of these guys basically were hired by the studio, and I doubt they had final cut, and somehow they had films that now we can say they had their signatures.  There are different ways of being creative within the parameters and limitations of production. The only thing you cannot negotiate is stupidity.
Filmmaker: And unfortunately, there is an abundance of that in the world.
Tsangari: This is the only big risk: stupidity. Everything else is completely worked out in the end.
~ Chevalier‘s Rachel Athina Tsangari

“The middle-range movies that I was doing have largely either stopped being made, or they’ve moved to television, now that television is a go-to medium for directors who can’t get work in theatricals, because there are so few theatricals being made. But also with the new miniseries concept, you can tell a long story in detail without having to cram it all into 90 minutes. You don’t have to cut the characters and take out the secondary people. You can actually put them all on a big canvas. And it is a big canvas, because people have bigger screens now, so there’s no aesthetic difference between the way you shoot a movie and the way you shoot a TV show.

“Which is all for the good. But what’s happened in the interim is that theatrical movies being a spectacle business are now either giant blockbuster movies that run three hours—even superhero movies run three hours, they used to run like 58 minutes!—and the others, which are dysfunctional family independent movies or the slob comedy or the kiddie movie, and those are all low-budget. So the middle ground of movies that were about things, they’re just gone. Or else they’re on HBO. Like the Bryan Cranston LBJ movie, which years ago would’ve been made for theaters.

“You’ve got people like Paul Schrader and Walter Hill who can’t get their movies theatrically distributed because there’s no market for it. So they end up going to VOD, and VOD is a model from which no one makes any money, because most of the time, as soon as they get on the site, they’re pirated. So the whole model of the system right now is completely broken. And whether or not anybody’s going to try to fix, or if it even can be fixed, I don’t know. But it’s certainly not the same business that I got into in the ’70s.”
~ Joe Dante

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