MCN Columnists
Ray Pride

By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Pride’s Friday 5 (July 6, 2012)

1. Margaret

 

So: Margaret. A couple reviewers out east have tweeted camera-phone pictures of shiny new Blu-Rays. I’ll have to wait until Tuesday’s street date for the package “available exclusively at Amazon for a limited time.” As the press release put it, “the two-disc Blu-ray set includes the theatrical version as well as a bonus DVD featuring the never-before-seen extended cut.” So what is this 3:06:12 DVD cut? Is it a finished, fully sound-mixed version prepared by Lonergan as a first assembly? A third, a tenth? The reputed Schoonmaker-Scorsese cut? Will the big third-act moral turn cut from the theatrical version have the punch it has in the 185-page script? The recent Sunday New York Times Magazine article judiciously sidestepped small details as if the writer were also under legal injunction from speaking. Fox Searchlight has organized free showings of the extended version in New York and Los Angeles; Lonergan may finally be able to define the differences himself at the July 9 screening at the Sunshine, sponsored by indieWIRE as a first-come, first-served free-for-all.

Next week, then: “The profusion of life, of life in Manhattan post-9/11, of life that eddies in all directions, is novelistic in ambition, Dickensian in a welter of cracked legalisms. Paquin brandishes a bravura performance—shrill, feral, emphatic, self-dramatizing, self-cautioning, self-aware, self-immolating—that is like nothing I’ve ever seen.”

Available Tuesday, July 10, only from Amazon.

2. The Battle of Algiers

Honoring the fiftieth anniversary of Algerian independence, the great Battle of Algiers is showing this week in New York and Los Angeles. Not only have filmmakers that came after learned from Gillo Pontecorvo‘s documentary-styled study of  violence, but politicos think they have as well, as this BBC talkfest suggests.

And only if you’ve seen the movie, and aren’t seeing it again any time soon, a link to the masterful tension of the bombings sequence (6’01”).

Film Forum, NYC, Friday, July 6 – Thursday, July 12.  The trailer and a ton of cogent links are at FF’s Now Showing page.  New Beverly, Los Angeles, July 6 and July 7.

2. China Heavyweight

Yang Chung‘s terrific second feature, China Heavyweight, opens Friday, July 6 at IFC Center in NYC. I want to enjoy it a second time before writing about it at any length. It’s a worthy successor to Up The Yangtze. Synopsis from the press release: “Chang follows the charismatic Qi Moxiang, a former boxing star and state coach who recruits young fighting talent from the impoverished farms and villages across Sichuan province. A select few boys (and girls) are sent to national training centers, with the hope of discovering China’s next Olympic heroes. But will these potential boxing champions leave it all behind to be the next Mike Tyson? Their rigorous training, teenage trials and family tribulations are expertly intertwined with Coach Qi’s own desire to get back in the ring for one more shot at victory.”

3. The Overlook Hotel

Lee Unkrich brought us Toy Story 3. He also maintains an exhaustive Tumblr account of all things The Shining: Kubrick minutiae in glorious excess.

 

5. Contempt

In Jean-Luc Godard‘s 1963 masterpiece, Michel Piccoli plays Paul Javal, a playwright who needs money, and producer Prokosch is embodied by Jack Palance, that heavy among heavies, waving a packet of cash in Paul’s direction to doctor a script of the Odyssey that is to be directed by Fritz Lang. “I like gods,” Palance purrs, “I like them very much.” Paul has a beautiful young wife, Camille, played with momentous petulance by Brigitte Bardot. Paul asks whether he should write the script. Camille tells him it’s fine. Later she feels he hasn’t shown enough concern when Prokosch has been forward with her. No matter what Paul does, it will not be enough. Camille seizes on excuses, any excuses, to dismiss Paul’s adoration. She remembers the love she once thought they had: “Everything used to happen instinctively, in complicitous ecstasy.” For a good third of the movie, the couple bicker, contradict, cut at each other in their brightly colored, unfinished apartment. The world is reduced to Paul and Camille. Man and Woman. The furniture is as bold, as blunt as sculpture. A cerulean chair, a sunflower-colored throw, a red couch. Statues. Bardot. Her body rebukes the viewer, Paul. “Do you love my breasts, my eyes, my knees?” she asks, as the camera, transfixed, goes beyond objectification into blunt fetish. “I love you totally, terribly, tragically,” is all Paul, smitten, ever-equivocating, can tell her. At the end, the camera looks out onto the ocean, the horizon. Limitless possibility or infinite distance? The space between you and I, the space between a man, a woman. The sparkling azure of the sea is the crashing gulf between them. It is unfathomably huge. Contempt is the most tragic, piercing, hopeless of modern love stories. Youth, beauty, cinema—they will damage you. In his screenplay, Godard wrote, “In contrast to Paul, her husband, who always acts on the strength of a complicated series of rationalizations, Camille acts nonpsychologically… Though one might wonder about her, as Paul does, she never wonders about herself. She lives full and simple sentiments, and cannot imagine being able to analyze them.” And in an interview he elaborated, “Perhaps it is better not to understand too much.”

At LACMA in Los Angeles, Friday, July 6.  Also on Blu-Ray.

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“Let me try and be as direct as I possibly can with you on this. There was no relationship to repair. I didn’t intend for Harvey to buy and release The Immigrant – I thought it was a terrible idea. And I didn’t think he would want the film, and I didn’t think he would like the film. He bought the film without me knowing! He bought it from the equity people who raised the money for me in the States. And I told them it was a terrible idea, but I had no say over the matter. So they sold it to him without my say-so, and with me thinking it was a terrible idea. I was completely correct, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It was not my preference, it was not my choice, I did not want that to happen, I have no relationship with Harvey. So, it’s not like I repaired some relationship, then he screwed me again, and I’m an idiot for trusting him twice! Like I say, you try to distance yourself as much as possible from the immediate response to a movie. With The Immigrant I had final cut. So he knew he couldn’t make me change it. But he applied all the pressure he could, including shelving the film.”
James Gray

“I’m an unusual producer because I control the destiny of a lot of the films I’ve done. Most of them are in perfect states of restoration and preservation and distribution, and I aim to keep them in distribution. HanWay Films, which is my sales company, has a 500-film catalogue, which is looked after and tended like a garden. I’m still looking after my films in the catalogue and trying to get other people to look after their films, which we represent intellectually, to try to keep them alive. A film has to be run through a projector to be alive, unfortunately, and those electric shadows are few and far between now. It’s very hard to go and see films in a movie house. I was always involved with the sales and marketing of my films, right up from The Shout onwards. I’ve had good periods, but I also had a best period because the film business was in its best period then. You couldn’t make The Last Emperor today. You couldn’t make The Sheltering Sky today. You couldn’t make those films anymore as independent films. There are neither the resources nor the vision within the studios to go to them and say, “I want to make a film about China with no stars in it.”Then, twenty years ago, I thought, “OK, I’m going to sell my own films but I don’t want to make it my own sales company.” I wanted it to be for me but I wanted to make it open for every other producer, so they don’t feel that they make a film but I get the focus. So, it’s a company that is my business and I’m involved with running it in a certain way, but I’m not seen as a competitor with other people that use it. It’s used by lots of different producers apart from me. When I want to use it, however, it’s there for me and I suppose I’m planning to continue making all my films to be sold by HanWay. I don’t have to, but I do because it’s in my building and the marketing’s here, and I can do it like that. Often, it sounds like I’m being easy about things, but it’s much more difficult than it sounds. It’s just that I’ve been at it for a long time and there’s lots of fat and security around my business. I know how to make films, but it’s not easy—it’s become a very exacting life.”
~ Producer Jeremy Thomas