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By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

From Roger Ebert's journal… a 2,500 word history of self-image

Ebert cracks wise over the bludgeoning banter between he and Gene Siskel through the years as a way of getting into his history of body image. Like many recent entries in his blog, there are zigs, zags and fruitful diversions, and the 2,500 words may be his most adventurous yet. 7eb2006-thumb-200x254.jpgThe tone and mood vary, but a taste: “I am so much a movie lover that I can imagine a certain (very small) pleasure in looking like the Phantom. It is better than looking like the Elephant Man. I would describe my condition as falling about 17% of the way along a graph line between the handsome devil I was at the ripe tender age of 27, and the thing that jumps out of that guy’s intestines in Alien… I resemble the Phantom, but only to myself. I wear a bandage wrapping the general area of the Phantom’s 1925 troubles, although good doctor David Reisberg and his colleague David Rotter of the University of Illinois at Chicago Hospital have just given me a test run of a handsome new prosthetic that will allow me to retire the Mummy look, and then Bob’s your uncle. So to return to my opening question, what does it feel like to resemble The Phantom of the Opera? Not like much of anything. I rather avoid mirrors. I do not dwell on my appearance. I have bigger fish to fry. Nor do I mope about fearing that my cancer might return. If it does, it does, and that’s what she wrote. At Pritikin they have a truism: “If you don’t die of anything else, sooner or later you will die of cancer.” We all nod thoughtfully.” [Rude jokes, video and myriad musings at the link; the self-portrait before Ebert’s surgery is from the entry.]

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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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