Film Essent Archive for June, 2010

Film as Art vs Film as Entertainment

Just read this excellent interview with critic and cinephile Olaf Möller (thanks to Ray Pride for linking to it, and for always digging out the most interesting and obscure bits out of the vast array of information clogging the internet).
Whether you love his opinions or hate them, Möller’s knowledge, the way he thinks and writes about film, should humble anyone seeking to call himself a film critic. A quote about the “death of the film criticism” from the interview:
“As long as there’s art, there’s a need to make sense of it. As long as we’re talking about a bourgeois culture like the one we — nominally — live in right here and now. It’s that simple. Mind: “Make sense of it” is something quite different from having an opinion on it, however well-phrased that might be. Everybody has an opinion, but it’s the critic who can argue his, make it his contribution to society’s daily work on the common good.”
I’m going to have to make more of an effort to hunt down some of the films and directors Möller writes about for Film Comment and Cinemascope, if for no other reason than to broaden the depth of my knowledge about filmmakers who are out of the scope of even many of the more elite festivals. I read interviews like this, read Möller’s writings generally, and it makes me question (in a good way, mind you) everything I think I know and love about cinema. I happen to like a good many of the filmmakers Möller derides, but when I read him I think, “Ah, you may think you like these films, that this or that filmmaker truly aspires to ‘art,’ but if you saw what these other filmmakers he talks about are actually doing, would you still think that? Or would it make you question everything you think you know and believe in?”
Reading stuff like this makes me long to move to Europe for a few years and just immerse myself in hitting all the Euro fests and soaking in films from so many filmmakers I haven’t even heard of, much less have any knowledge of. We tend to be so mainstream-centric around here, even those of us who regularly attend fests like Sundance and Toronto and Telluride and Cannes.
Even going to the excellent Scarecrow Video here in Seattle overwhelms and humbles me … there are so many films I have yet to see, and ever fewer years left in which to see them all, and never enough time between mothering my brood and working to ever hope to catch up. It reminds me of when I was about 10 or so, really getting into books seriously, and standing in the public library looking at all the books on the shelves and realizing that even if I read at least a book a day every day for the rest of my life, I could never read them all.
I feel that way about film now … there is so much out there from directors I know of and want to see, and so much more from directors I don’t know enough about, and I feel like I will never catch up with everything I want to learn and know, much less ever get to the point where I’m truly writing at the level at which I’d like to write.
None of which is to say that I think you have to write about obscure, artsy films to be a “real” film critic; there is a place for more mainstream critics who write about more mainstream film, and I certainly wouldn’t argue that folks like A.O. Scott, or J. Hoberman, or Roger Ebert, or many, many more colleagues out there, aren’t all doing useful work that contributes to culture overall in reviewing those films. There is a place for writing about the mainstream for the mainstream, and there is a place for writing about the obscure for those who seek to understand art on a different level than the entertainment of the masses that Hollywood, for the most part, generates.
I write about mainstream films out of Hollywood, and I’m fortunate as well to be able to write about some less mainstream films that I see at Sundance, Seattle and Toronto, and for that I count myself truly blessed, but I still hunger, always, for more, more, more. And as for being able to spend my time watching and writing only about the kind of obscure, interesting, fascinating films that truly aspire to be art rather than just entertain? Probably someday I’ll be lying on my deathbed thinking, man, I wish I’d had time and the place in life to get to all that.

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The Invisible Writer

Just read this very interesting piece by Reid Rosefelt on his career of writing press books — you know, those production notes we all get at screenings that tell us everything about a film. Rosefelt notes in his piece that when he ran into J. Hoberman at a screening recently, the latter commented that he had no idea anyone actually wrote those things. To be honest, neither did I — or rather, obviously I knew that someone wrote them, but I guess I assumed that was a task usually farmed off on some poor unpaid intern working overtime for a publicist.
Rosefelt’s piece got me thinking about how there are a lot of jobs that people do in which the person performing the task is largely invisible to the consumer of the output. I used to work in project management in the tech industry, and I felt that way a lot back then, that me and everyone on our team would work our asses off to meet insane deadlines for disposable websites that were obsolete almost from the moment they went live.
We pushed them out, they lived briefly with no one outside the team knowing or caring who the people were who brought them to life at the expense of countless hours eating meals hunched over a desk, working late away from family, friends, outside life, and then we killed them as soon as the next big project was ready. It was soul-sucking work that paid very, very well, but when I quit to move to Seattle and took some time off to raise babies, I didn’t want to get back into it. Rosefelt seems to have a much better attitude toward the disposable and invisible nature of his work writing pressbooks: He gets paid to watch movies, to talk to the creative people behind them, and, very often, to completely make up the things these creative people supposedly say about their own work. So, cool.
I know the same can be said of the nature of just about any job, including the job we do in writing about movies. We watch a movie, we work hard to craft a review that articulates our thoughts, we read the emails or comments from people who think we’re stupid, and we move on to the next one, and the next one, and the next one. During a fest like Sundance or Toronto, especially, it’s a constantly hungry machine waiting to be fed by the next thing on your to do list to write about.
But if you love movies, and you love writing, then getting paid to write about them — even if what your writing is pressbooks — is a hell of a sweet gig.

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Seattle Gay Pride 2010: Glee Flash Mob

We bravely fought Seattle weekend traffic to get down to the International Fountain at Seattle Center this afternoon for the Gay Pride festivities — and to watch my daughter Neve, her BFF Kendra, and Kendra’s dad Michael performing with the Glee Flash Mob! I was right in the middle of the action to be able to get them in most of the video, so the crowd noise is loud — roughly 250,000 people gathered in Seattle Center = LOUD! But you can see my girl and her friends and a bunch of other people dancing and having a blast.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get any footage of the drag queens kicking the Flash Mob off by dancing to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” — this guy’s head was in my way. But once you get past that and “Proud Mary” starts, it’s all fun from there.
Great day, huge crowd coming out in love and support and celebration, and nary a protester in sight, at least that we saw. Lots of scantily clad folk, as you might expect at Gay Pride, but mostly family-friendly. Kids got to play in the fountain, Flash Mob rocked, cotton candy was eaten. Good times. I love living in Seattle.

PS … This guy got video of the drag queens, and a different view of the crowd, if you want to see that:

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Review: Toy Story 3

SPOILER WARNING: This review contains some spoilers. You have been duly warned.
Toy Story 3 hits all the right emotional notes, and the storyline both complements and completes the curve set in motion when Toy Story stole our hearts way back in 1995. Critics have been over the moon for this latest (last?) installment in the Toy Story series, and with good reason. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, voicing Woody and Buzz Lightyear, respectively, never had better roles to play than these animated best pals, and the rest of the cast, both old familiar characters and a few new faces, supports them nicely.
And yet, I can’t help but think that the couple of negative reviews I’ve read of Toy Story 3 have some valid points to make; they’re points, in fact, that popped into my head even as I was watching the film, try though I might to brush them aside like annoying flies buzzing around my pie at a picnic. The question is, do a few flies spoil the overall experience of a delightful picnic on a sunny afternoon? Nah, not for me.

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OKC's deadCENTER Fest Announces Winners

deadCENTER Film Festival Announces Award Winners for 2010
$300 Okie Film ‘Simmons on Vinyl’ Wins Grand Jury
OKLAHOMA CITY – Thousands of film enthusiasts from around the world gathered in Oklahoma City for the 10th annual deadCENTER Film Festival, a five-day celebration of independent film in the dead center of the United States June 9-13.
Of the more than 100 films selected to screen at seven downtown locations – many to sold-out audiences – ten rose above the rest to claim awards in the following ten categories: Student, Animation, Narrative Short, Documentary Short, Narrative Feature, Documentary Feature, Okie Short, Okie Feature, Grand Jury Narrative Feature and Grand Jury Narrative Documentary.
Awards were presented on Saturday night as part of “Cosmic Arts Jubilee,” a free outdoor celebration that concluded with the screening of the documentary feature film “Richard Garriott: Man on a Mission.”
The Winners:
Student: “In This Place”
Directed by: Amy Bench
Austin, TX
13 min.
Synopsis: A young artist struggles to find a place in her newly globalized family. In a story enhanced with collage-like animation, Jane travels from the plains of Texas to the jungles of Africa in an attempt to bring them all together again.
Animation: “O Pintor de Ceos (Painter of the Skies)”
Directed by: Jorge Morais Valle
Spain
20 min.
Synopsis: From the darkness of the lost cliffs, a crazy painter, marked by his past, and his faithful assistant try to find a solution against perpetual storms. Sea is destroying their home. A magic boiler and some tormented ghosts will help them to find the light.
Narrative Short: “Junko’s Shamisen”
Directed by: Solomon Friedman
Canada
10 min.
A young Japanese orphan, and her mystical friend, exact poetic justice on a malevolent samurai lord.
Documentary Short: “A Song for Ourselves”
Directed by: Tadashi Nakamura
Los Angeles, CA
35 min.
Synopsis: An intimate journey into the life and music of Asian American Movement troubadour Chris Iijima.
Narrative Feature: “earthwork”
Directed by: Chris Ordal
Los Angeles, CA
93 min.
Synopsis: The true story of real life crop artist Stan Herd who plants his unique, rural art form in New York City with the help of a group of homeless characters on a plot of land owned by Donald Trump.
Documentary Feature: “A Good Day to Die”
Directed by: David Mueller, Lynn Salt
Beverly Hills, CA
92 min.
Synopsis: American Indian Movement (AIM) co-founder and leader Dennis Banks looks back at his life and the confrontational actions that changed the lives of Native Americans—and all indigenous peoples—forever.
Okie Short: “The Rounder Comes to Town”
Directed by: Adam Beatty
Norman, Oklahoma
35 min.
Synopsis: An Okie Gothic film based on a traditional song dating back to 1720. A lone drifter with no history meets the young and beautiful wife of the most powerful man in town.
Okie Feature: “The Rock ‘n’ Roll Dreams of Duncan Christopher”
Directed by: Jack Roberts
Tulsa, Oklahoma
94 min.
Synopsis: The awkward son of a rock star works through the suicide of his father in the brutal underground world of karaoke.
Grand Jury Narrative Feature: “Simmons on Vinyl”
Directed by: Mark Potts
Norman, Oklahoma
75 min.
Synopsis: With the help of his friends, Zeek searches for a vinyl record that could win the heart of the woman he desires.
Fact Sheet: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/7391230/SimmonsOnVinyl_factsheet.pdf
Pre-festival radio interview: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/7391230/Filmmaker%20interview_SimmonsOnVinyl_TheSpy.mp3
Grand Jury Documentary Feature: “Our House”
Directed by: Greg King
Brooklyn, NY
60 min.
Synopsis: Illegal squatters, anarchist radicals, devout Christians…welcome to Our House.
Founded in 2001, the deadCENTER Film Festival – named for its central geographic location — has grown into a premiere international summer event. DCFF is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, providing year round events to support its mission to promote, encourage and celebrate the independent film arts. Visit www.deadcenterfilm.org to learn more.
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Artist vs Exhaustion, or, Being an Artist Is Hard, Y'all

I have a cool job, no doubt about it. People who know what I do for a living who don’t work in this field perceive it to be très glamorous: You know, non-stop hobnobbing with celebs (no, and no, thanks), going to parties and red carpets (uh, I live in Seattle, not LA or NYC, for a reason), and seeing films for free (that part, at least, is true). My colleagues who work in this business know that the reality is that a) yes, film critics get to see lots of movies, but a great many of them suck and you still have to write about them, and b) writing — at least, writing well, which I at least aspire to do — is hard. Not hard in the sense of, say, digging ditches under a hot sun, but certainly it’s tough intellectually, as any remotely artistic endeavor is, especially on those days when the words just do NOT want to flow.
My brother is a musician who fronts a couple of excellent Seattle bands, Hypatia Lake and This Blinding Light, and when he’s on stage he makes it look effortless, but I know the endless hours of work that went into making it look that way, and how exhausted the guys get from holding down day jobs and playing shows and having rehearsals and such. His art is his passion, and he gives himself to it completely, but art, like any lover, can suck the life and energy out of you, no matter how sweet it is when things click together.
And I know from my many friends and acquaintances who have actually accomplished the arduous task of taking a film from idea to finished screenplay to movie on screen that making a film also doesn’t come easy. Some filmmakers take years, even decades, to see a project to fruition, which just amazes me.
What brought all this on was that I was catching up with Ken Stringfellow’s blog today; the man journals there prolifically, for a guy as busy as he is, and I wanted to see what he had to say about the show he played at the Fremont Abbey for The Round here in Seattle last week. And when I read his blog and caught up with everything he has going, the sheer madness of his schedule, I was amazed at the energy and professionalism he brought to that performance. If you ever thought you wanted to be a rock star, Stringfellow’s blog will shatter any illusions you might have harbored that it’s a glamorous life.
My favorite tidbit from his most recent entry, talking about a show he was playing in Angouleme (in southwestern France), a couple days after returning from Seattle: “Now, I was the weakest link–singing at 1am that morning, what’s normally a simple part to sing on one of Jon’s songs was sounding like a cane toad being gang raped on a pile of whoopee cushions as I tried to lay it down at home–jet lag, allergies, exhaustion–and here at soundcheck my voice was OK but weaker than normal. Oh, boy.”
Being an artist of any kind is hard, y’all. But hey, it still beats the hell out of working in a cubicle farm, n’est-ce pas?

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SIFF 2010 Dispatch: Grease Is the Word

grease.jpgYesterday I decided to take a break from seeing heavier films and have a little fun, so I took my daughter and her BFF (and her BFF’s dad, for good measure) to see the Grease Sing-along. Now, I am an unabashed fan of Grease; it’s one of the few films (besides Rocky Horror Picture Show) that I’ve seen at least 20 times. I had just turned 10 years old when Grease came out, and I promptly fell head-over-heels for John Travola.
In fact, you could say that Travolta in Grease was, in no small measure, responsible for me deciding to forego my then-ambition to become a nun. If boys like John Travolta were out there, how could you expect a good Catholic girl to stay that way? Like Sandy in the film, the Pink Ladies, the T-Birds, and Danny Zuko all woke up my inner bad girl, and that sweet “Sandra Dee” side of me took a backseat.
My BFF at the time was also hugely into Grease and for the summer of 1978, Grease was our sole obsession. We role played Grease endlessly, both as ourselves and with Barbie doll stand-ins. I colored a Ken doll’s hair with a black marker to turn him into Danny, and we made two Sandys — a “good” Sandy and a dolled-up “You’re the One That I Want” Sandy, and we would play and sing along with my Grease album for hours. So when I heard they were doing a Grease Sing-along, you can imagine my excitement. I’d already turned my teenager onto the awesomeness that is Grease a couple years ago, so she and her friend were all kinds of thrilled to get to go to the Sing-along with me.
As if being able to sing along at a Grease screening without anyone telling you to shut the hell up wasn’t great enough already, we happened to sit right in front of one of the festival guests, Dinah Manoff — one of THE Pink Ladies (she played Marty “Like the cherry” Maraschino), so not only did I get to sing along with Grease, but I had a Pink Lady right behind me singing along with her husband and their three young sons (for the record, she sang great).
The post-show Q&A with Manoff, who proved to be funny and charming and full of interesting tidbits about what it was like to be in Grease (Travolta was incredibly “hot” and at the first peak of his career, with Saturday Night Fever just in the can, and radiated energy; Jeff Conaway (Keneckie) was — not suprisngly — reportedly a bit of a ladies’ man during the shoot; producer Allan Carr was fun and flamboyant and was dollied onto the set every day to pep talk the cast about the previous day’s shoot; most of the cast was unsure about whether Olivia Newton-John was right for Sandy until they saw her dance rehearsal with Travola and the chemistry between then; and much of the cast still stays in regular contact, over 30 years later.
I really liked this Sing-along version of Grease. I’d been expecting just some karaoke-style lyrics along the bottom of the screen, but they played around and had fun with it and really integrated the addition of Sing-along features into the film itself in ways I wasn’t expecting. The packed house was completely into it — we even had folks show up cosplaying their favorite Grease characters and we all sang insanely loud and applauded ourselves voraciously when we felt we sounded particularly good. The energy was great, and the screening was a ton of fun. If it’s not already slated to come to your town, you can “Demand It!”
Then put on that Pink Ladies jacket, grab your own special T-Bird, pretend your politically correct Prius is Greased Lightning, and go have a blast.

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SIFF 2010 Dispatch: I Kissed a Vampire

kissed_a_vampire.jpgTonight we had one of those fascinating covergences of events that seem to occur only when the planets and stars align in a particular way over a film festival. I’d planned to attend the 7PM screening of I Kissed a Vampire (I know, I know, but I’ve seen SO much serious drama at this fest, and it sounded fun), but when we arrived we were told that the film hadn’t arrived, so they would be screening Thunder Soul instead. Okay, sure, fine, whatever. I wasn’t feeling picky.
Then about 7PM a SIFF staffer came in and announced that they’d just gotten word that the plane with I Kissed a Vampire on it had just landed at Boeing Field, so they were going to delay the screening half an hour or so, in order to be able to show the film they had scheduled. The filmmakers, it seemed had had some problem with the server with the color corrected version crashing or something, and they hadn’t been able to restore that part for what we saw tonight, though it was the final cut. The lack of color correction definitely showed, but I’m not gonna ding them for that under the circumstances.
Mostly, I felt bad for the cast and crew; most of the cast, including High School Musical star Lucas Grabeel, who plays the lead role of Dylan, the bitten goody-two-shoes who doesn’t want to be the vampire, Adrian Slade as Sara, Dylan’s not-so-girl-next-door neighbor and girlfriend, and Drew Seely (who provided Zac Efron’s vocals for High School Musical) as Trey Sylvania (frankly, I think he’s as cute as Efron, and he can dance, so not sure why they just voice cast him, but nobody asked me at the time).
This had been a sold-out screening, we were told, before the issue with the film not being here, and now they had the director, producers, and full cast here for a very small crowd in a large venue. However, the crowd that was there was mostly generous and receptive, and there was a gaggle of teenage girls near me who were ecstatic to see Lucas! Grabeel! In person!
As for the film itself, it’s kind of a wannabe-Goth version of High School Musical (by which I mean, the kind of goth who buys all her goth-gear at Hot Topic) blended with the Glee style of people randomly breaking out into fantasy song-and-dance scenes for no apparent reason, and a touch of Rocky Horror, though these days it’s not such a huge deal for people to be wearing lingerie in public. There’s a LOT of singing and dancing (17 songs worth) and it drags a bit in the middle. Also, I was a little unclear on why turning more “vamp” — or, to use the film’s terms, becoming “The Bite,” entails suddenly acquiring extensive black guy-liner, but hey, vamps are goth, you know.
However, much like the first HS musical, it is what it is, and it’s comfortable there. I could see it playing well to the kids who went nuts over High School Musical, or being adapted for high school stage productions. Drew Seeley is just the kind of dark, artsy, hot guy who will appeal to girls who are into those kind of boys (I know this because I once was one of those girls, so you can trust me on that), and he makes a nice counter to Grabeel’s goody-goodyness.
A word about Adrian Slade — I liked her quite a lot, she has an interesting look and was quite good in this film for what it required of her. If she’s so inclined, though, I think she’d fare better career-wise gravitating toward more serious indie fare, following in the footsteps of Jess Weixler, who caught attention in Teeth and has since moved on to other things.

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On Art and Emotion

Tonight for my birthday my guy took me to The Round, an amazing monthly collaboration of songwriters, improv musicians, spoken word and live artists painting on stage. I’d been wanting to check out The Round for a while because I’m feeling strongly the need to infuse more art into my life generally to fuel my own creativity (mainly for my non-movie writing, although it doesn’t hurt in crafting film criticism either), but I especially wanted to go this month because Round 61 featured one of my absolute favorite songwriters and artists, Ken Stringfellow (The Posies) He was in town from Paris doing some studio work on The Posies new album (due out in September!) and playing a Posies show at the Sasquatch music fest, and The Round landed him to come perform while he’s here.
Tonight, Stringfellow was onstage with Rebecca Gates from the Spinanes and Lincoln Barr from Red Jacket Mine. I’m familiar with the Spinanes music, of course, but I was unfamiliar with Red Jacket Mine; after hearing Barr perform tonight, though, I will definitely be checking their music out.
Seattle slam poet Jack McCarthy was on-hand as well, and I have to say he was most impressive. I used to compete in poetry slams back in the day, and I enjoy listening to a good spoken word performance. When it’s done well, by a true artist, the words are meaningful and connect with the audience, but it’s the delivery by the poet, the way the words flow smoothly, like water burbling over rocks in a stream, that creates the emotional connection between artist and audience. McCarthy knew exactly how to hold the audience in his hand, but the words themselves were magical and artfully wrought.
One of the reasons I stopped competing at larger poetry slams (although I still like smaller slams at bars and coffee shops) is that often, the poets who make the cut are not necessarily the ones who write what I would consider to be the best poetry artistically, but the ones who know best how to manipulate the audience to get the response they want. They know how to read the mood of a crowd, and to pick a piece that has the tone a particular audience is likely to respond well to, and then play that emotional chord to reel them in.
And it’s not that there’s anything inherently wrong with an artist reading his audience and choosing to put before them something they’re most likely to like, I suppose, but to me the best, purest art shouldn’t just play to the choir, it should be more concerned with challenging the audience, with just putting out there some truth the audience can connect to and then allowing that energetic flow, that collaboration between artist and observer, to happen naturally rather than setting up a contrived emotional conduit.
How does this tie in with movies? How many movies at, say, Sundance, do you watch and think within ten minutes, “Oh, this one has ‘Sundance movie’ written all over it” — that is, it feels from beginning to end like it was crafted with the sole purpose of getting accepted into that lofty festival, to play to a particular sort of programmer who’s programming for a specific sort of audience. Or think of a movie that you watch and it feels completely like “Oscar” bait — doesn’t that just piss you off? (Revolutionary Road, I am looking at you.)
Anyhow. McCarthy, in my favorite of his pieces, “Careful What You Ask For,” (go watch it now, I’ll wait for you … it’s well worth the time it will take you to watch it) talked in part about his emotions being manipulated by movies:

In movies I despise the easy manipulation
that never even bothers to engage my feelings,
it just comes straight for my eyes,
but there’s not a damn thing I can do about it,
and I hate myself for it.

This got me thinking about art and emotion generally, and specifically why I dislike films in which the set-up feels deliberately contrived to illicit a particular emotional response from the audience, rather than just telling a story and allowing the audience to connect with it more organically. For example, I found Million Dollar Baby to be overwrought and contrived and deliberately structured to extract a particular response, and that just pissed me off. Whereas with, say, Frozen River (with the possible exception of the bit with the baby), my emotional connection to the film came more from my response to the characters and the story. On a completely different emotional level, Dogtooth is unflinchingly, brutally honest in its storytelling, but there was never a moment in that film where I felt the director was attempting to pull me one way or another, to sway me to feel a particular way about a particular character.
I think this is why my favorite films tend to be by independent filmmakers. Studios tend to seem more comfortable aiming for the widest scattershot in connecting with an audience, and therefore tend to overgeneralize the emotional impact of a story while manipulating the audience to feeling a certain way. Hence, we get a lot of lame rom-coms that are supposed to connect with you because they’re about Relationships! And everyone has those, right? Or we get crap like Transformers, whose purpose seems to be little more than the “Robots blow shit up! Cool!” reaction of a 10-year-old boy. Or a blockbuster like Titanic, which I suppose I like well enough in certain respects for what it is, but good lord, Cameron couldn’t have jerked the tears from his audience any more deliberately in that final segment if he’d killed a kitten in front of them. But, you know, they make money, and studios like that, so it’s all cool, right?
On the other hand, if you’re working as an artist independently you have the freedom to just weave your story, put it out there, but leave it to the audience to figure out what to do with it. Which takes a certain amount of chutzpah, really. If Ramin Bahrani’s Goodbye Solo had been a big studio film, I bet there would have been some guys in suits wanting that ending changed to be all happy-happy and soaring violins. Which would have made it, well, not such a good film — or rather, more like the vision of what studio folks think audiences want to see (depressing endings, generally, equals BAD) and less like what Bahrani envisioned the film to be about.
And of course, I’m also generalizing in this post, because it’s certainly not true that ALL studio films are bad (they aren’t) or that all indie films are awesome (they aren’t either). But it seems to me that the purest, most artistic visions come from independent filmmakers telling their story, their way. Long live indie film. Long live artistic integrity, and the joy of emotional collaboration between filmmaker and audience.
Bringing it all back to The Round: The Round is art and collaboration, without (for the most part) emotional manipulation, and it’s worth checking out if you live in Austin, Portland or Seattle.

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QOTD: Is "Date Rape" Funny if Jonah Hill is the Victim?

SPOILER WARNING: This post contains a minor spoiler for Get Him to the Greek. Knowledge is power. Use it.
I was watching the mostly very funny Get Him to the Greek when it came to the Vegas scene, wherein Jonah Hill’s character Aaron gets ass-raped with a jumbo-sized jelly dildo by a drunken chick named Destiny. The audience laughed uproariously during this scene, but I couldn’t help but think that, perhaps, there’d have been an uproar of a different kind if things had been reversed and a male character (either Hill’s or Russell Brand’s, take your pick) had been sexually violating the ass of an inebriated female character while she repeatedly said “no.” And, by the bye, whether anyone would have been laughing if that character had stumbled out of the bedroom, looking stunned, and announced to her friends, “I think I’ve just been raped.”
Remember last year’s Observe and Report, and all the hubbub over whether Seth Rogen’s mall cop date-raped his drunken date? Why is it funny for a guy to have his ass violated by a dildo by a woman he’s just met at a party, but not funny for a check to be sexually assaulted by her date? Yes, Observe and Report was darker and more “real,” while Get Him to the Greek is comedic farce, but isn’t a rape scene in a comedy still, well, rape?
I’m just saying.

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Quote Unquotesee all »

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many recappers, while clearly over their heads, are baseline sympathetic to finding themselves routinely unmoored, even if that means repeating over and over that this is closer to “avant-garde art” than  normal TV to meet the word count. My feed was busy connecting the dots to Peter Tscherkassky (gas station), Tony Conrad (the giant staring at feedback of what we’ve just seen), Pat O’Neill (bombs away) et al., and this is all apposite — visual and conceptual thinking along possibly inadvertent parallel lines. If recappers can’t find those exact reference points to latch onto, that speaks less to willful ignorance than to how unfortunately severed experimental film is from nearly all mainstream discussions of film because it’s generally hard to see outside of privileged contexts (fests, academia, the secret knowledge of a self-preserving circle working with a very finite set of resources and publicity access to the larger world); resources/capital/access/etc. So I won’t assign demerits for willful incuriosity, even if some recappers are reduced, in some unpleasantly condescending/bluffing cases, to dismissing this as a “student film” — because presumably experimentation is something the seasoned artist gets out of their system in maturity, following the George Lucas Model of graduating from Bruce Conner visuals to Lawrence Kasdan’s screenwriting.”
~ Vadim Rizov Goes For It, A Bit

“On the first ‘Twin Peaks,’ doing TV was like going from a mansion to a hut. But the arthouses are gone now, so cable television is a godsend — they’re the new art houses. You’ve got tons of freedom to do the work you want to do on TV, but there is a restriction in terms of picture and sound. The range of television is restricted. It’s hard for the power and the glory to come through. In other words, you can have things in a theater much louder and also much quieter. With TV, the quieter things have to be louder and the louder things have to be quieter, so you have less dynamics. The picture quality — it’s fine if you have a giant television with a good speaker system, but a lot of people will watch this on their laptops or whatever, so the picture and the sound are going to suffer big time. Optimally, people should be watching TV in a dark room with no disturbances and with as big and good a picture as possible and with as great sound as possible.”
~ David Lynch