MCN Columnists
Kim Voynar

Voynaristic By Kim VoynarVoynar@moviecitynews.com

Slumdog Millionaire and the Politics of Spin

What is it with the media’s insistence on attempting to spin stories to harm particular films? After enjoying the bounce of positive buzz from the Telluride and Toronto film festivals, solid critical support and a box office take bigger than anyone could have dreamed for a subtitled Bollywood hybrid, Slumdog Millionaire finds itself the target of…

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Deconstructing Oscar

Published under Oscar Outsider. Last week, those of us who were at Sundance had to pull our heads briefly out of the myopic world of Fest Coverage and back into the myopic world of Oscar Coverage when the all-important Oscar nominations were announced. Clearly, the people who run the Oscars hate those of us who…

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Sundance: It’s a Wrap

In the year of its 25th anniversary, the Sundance Film Festival coincided with the inauguration of a new president who offers hope to a country beaten down by war and a tough economic climate; it’s the first time in my own adult life I’ve ever cared enough about the inauguration to block out time on…

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Here We Go Again: The Foreign-Language Oscar Shortlist

Published under Oscar Outsider. The Oscar shortlist for foreign films was announced yesterday, and in spite of the rules changes that were supposed to stop such things from happening, Matteo Garrone‘s Gomorrah failed to make the short list. Really shocking omission, considering the film won the the Grand Prix at Cannes, the Silver Hugo, and has been…

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No Regrets: Why Even “Amateur” Films Deserve Honest Reviews

Should film critics differentiate or consider whether a given film is “professional” or “amateur” either in reviewing a film, or in deciding whether a film should even be reviewed at all? There’s been an interesting discussion about reviewing “amateur” versus “professional theater” on The Stranger‘s SLOG between critic Paul Constant and his editor, Brendan Kiley, that seems apropos…

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Originality Matters (Page 2)

Published under Oscar Outsider. Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Burn After Reading I’ve written before that I’ve been befuddled by the rather tepid response to the Coen brother’s latest film, which I think is one of their better dark comedies.  The Coens are masters at exploiting the flaws and foibles of ordinary characters in extraordinary…

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Originality Matters: Considering the Best Original Screenplays of the Year

Published under Oscar Outsider. Spoiler Warning: This column contains heavy spoilers for the films The Wrestler, Happy-Go-Lucky, Burn After Reading, The Visitor and Frozen River. What elements set apart a few screenplays out of all those produced each year from the rest of the pack as we head into Oscar season? All scripts have certain…

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When Good Foreign Films Get Bad Remakes

We hear a lot about how American remakes of foreign films tend to be pale imitations of the original, and there’s more truth than stereotype to that sentiment. But are American remakes inferior because they’re made by Americans, or is there an inherent value in the unique cultural perspective of a foreign film that gets…

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Quote Unquotesee all »

“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