By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Vertiginous Scale: Thoughts on WELCOME TO MARWEN

Welcome to Marwen is something else, but what is it?

“The calamity of movie history is not the follies that get made but the follies that don’t get made,” Pauline Kael wrote in 1976 in her New Yorker review of Bernardo Bertolucci’s mad yet magisterial epic 1900.

“This film is about Bernardo Bertolucci’s need for myth, and his self-denial,” Kael continued. “For those who are infatuated ‘with what they loathe, the battle with themselves never stops. 1900 has all of Bertolucci’s themes and motifs; one could call it the Portable Bertolucci, though it isn’t portable. It’s like a course to be enrolled in, with a guaranteed horror every hour. 1900 is a gigantic system of defenses—human fallibility immortalized. The film is appalling, yet is has the grandeur of a classic visionary folly. Next to it, all the other new movies are like something you hold up at the end of a toothpick.”

Similar thoughts swirled in my mind as I marveled throughout the last-minute screening a few days before Christmas 2018 of Robert Zemeckis’ Welcome to Marwen. [Read more.]

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One Response to “Vertiginous Scale: Thoughts on WELCOME TO MARWEN”

  1. YancySkancy says:

    I liked it a lot too. Dismissals of Zemeckis films seem increasingly kneejerk.

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“I always thought that once I had lived in Chicago for a while, it would be interesting to do a portrait of the city – but to do it at a significant time. Figuring out when would be the ideal time to do that was the trick. So when this election came around, coupled with the Laquan McDonald trial, it seemed like the ideal time to do the story. Having lived in Chicagoland for thirty-five-plus years and done a number of films here, I’ve always been struck by the vibrancy of the city and its toughness. Its tenderness too. I’ve always been interested in the people at the center of all the stories. This is a different film in that regard, because we’re not following a couple of individuals over the course of the project in the way that a lot of the films I’ve done have, but I still feel like people’s voices and aspirations and hopes are at the center of this series.

It wasn’t easy. We started back in July 2018, it was actually on the Fourth of July – that was our first shoot. It’s like most documentaries in that the further you go along the more involved and obsessed you get, and you just start shooting more and more and more. We threw ourselves into this crazy year in Chicago. We got up every day and tried to figure out if we should be out shooting or not, and what it is we should shoot. We were trying to balance following this massive political story of the mayor’s race and these significant moments like the Laquan McDonald trial with taking the pulse of people in the city that we encounter along the way and getting a sense of their lives and what it means to live here. By election day, Zak Piper, our producer, had something like six cameras out in the field. You could double-check that, it might have been seven. We had this organized team effort to hit all the candidates as they were voting, if they hadn’t already voted. We hit tons of polling places, were at the Board of Elections and then were at the parties for the candidates that we had been able to follow closely. Then of course, we were trying to make sure we were at the parties of the candidates who made it to the runoff. So, yeah, it was kind of a monster.”
~ Steve James On City So Real

“I really want to see The Irishman. I’ve heard it’s big brother Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece. But I really can’t find the time. The promotion schedule is so tight, there’s no opportunity to see a three and a half-hour movie. But I really want to see it. In 2017, right before Okja’s New York premiere, I had the chance to go to Scorsese’s office, which is in the DGA building. There’s a lovely screening room there, too, with film prints that he’s collected. I talked to him for about an hour. There’s no movie he hasn’t seen, even Korean films. We talked about what he’s seen and his past work. It was a glorious day. I’ve loved his work since I was in college. Who doesn’t? Anyone involved with movies must feel the same way.”
~ Bong Joon-ho