Film Essent Archive for March, 2011

Shakespeare Collaboration 101

I wrote a few days ago about Hit RECord, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s effort to create a collaborative online arts community. I’m really enamored of the idea around this site, so I’m going to periodically share with you the coolest collaborations I find there.

This Shakespeare Sonnet Collaboration is a great example of how HitRECord works. One person kicks an idea off, lots of people make cool stuff based on that idea, and all of that is freely usable by other people to build on and grow. Here’s one I like quite a lot, that uses 13 “Resources” (stuff other people have uploaded) in creating a collaboration using Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130:

And here’s a really cool animated(ish) take on Sonnet 27, made using four resources:

Check it out, and if you make any of your own collaborative efforts at Hit RECord, let me know so I can post them.

No Comments »

Arianna, Can You Spare a Dime?

It’s been a few days since I posted anything related to Arianna Huffington, so just in case you thought I was off that soapbox, sorry. Back in my project management days, my favorite slogan was, “Gentle pressure, relentlessly applied,” and that is exactly what I intend to do with regard to Ms. Huffington.

Well, unless she suddenly makes a television appearance on Rachel Maddow saying, “Holy shit, guys! I was held captive by corporate swine and forced to say all that stupid shit about not valuing the bloggers who helped build HuffPo! Of course I’m actually consistent with the values I espouse in my book and in my speeches!” Until then, I will continue to keep attention on HuffPo and the writers because the world has a short attention span, and writers are always getting crapped on.
Read the full article »

1 Comment »

Update: Last One Left at Cinematical, Turn Out the Lights

UPDATE: I forgot to add this Tweet from Erik Davis a few days ago, which is actually even more telling:

First Managing Scott Weinberg resigned abruptly during SXSW, now Peter Hall’s gone. No idea how long Erik Davis will stick it out, but I really think it’s a very short time before Cinematical is gone, absorbed into the maw of Moviefone entirely. Sad.


Somewhat in Defense of Sucker Punch (Well, Parts of It, Anyway …)

It will probably surprise you to learn that, for all its flaws, I kind of dug Sucker Punch. Or rather, I like the idea of Sucker Punch a lot, and I like parts of how it was executed. Visually, it’s pretty stunning. Loved the desaturated and tinted tones, loved the hair and makeup (yes, even the many false eyelashes), loved the costuming (and look forward to seeing gangs of roving teenage cosplayers lovingly recreating those costumes at cons over the next year).

I loved the movie’s opener, which in many respects evokes the opener for Watchmen, which was also brilliant … and was also, as is the case with Sucker Punch, the best part of that film.
Read the full article »


Going to the Center of the Earth

I meant to write earlier about our trip to the Seattle Art Museum to see the Nick Cave: Meet Me at the Center of the Earth exhibit, but kept forgetting (this, among other things, is why I need a personal assistant).

I wanted to take a bunch of pics to show you, but unfortunately the entire exhibit was a “no photography” zone. I need to go back a couple more times to fully absorb what I saw and what it all means. But the Soundsuits, when you see all of them together, have a completely different feel than just seeing pictures of them.
Read the full article »

No Comments »

Video of the Day: Train Now Leaving

From HitRECord.org, presented at Sundance 2010.

No Comments »

Image of the Day: Rails

From one of my fave curators of all things artistic, Liquid Night:


Seattle, Washington, 2010

[Shot with a Holga 120CFN using Kodak Ektachrome E100VS and Cross-processed]

No Comments »

The Sound the Universe Makes

“Black holes … bang on space-time like a drum.”

Fascinating TED talk by physics and astronomy professor Janna Levin about the soundtrack of the universe.

No Comments »

Juno Temple Joins The Dark Knight Rises. Cool.

Here’s some casting news in which I’m particularly interested: Variety is EXCLUUUUUSIVELY reporting that indie starlet Juno Temple is locked to join the cast of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. The pot had already been sweetened by the addition Joseph Gordon-Levitt to the mix, but Juno Temple being cast as well is great news.
Read the full article »

1 Comment »

The Real Problem with Rebecca Black

I’ve been following this whole Rebecca Black thing with kind of a morbid interest. I don’t think there’s an objective argument that her vanity video “Friday” is, by any definition, good music, nor that it actually pretends to be any other than what it is. The problem is her parents. You know how when your kid is like, a year old, and discovers for the first time that banging on pots and pans loudly is really awesome, and you’re so impressed they figured it out that you’re all, “Look at you make noise! Aren’t you a brilliant girl?!”

I get the feeling that Rebecca Black’s parents do that a lot.
Read the full article »


On Regional Film Fests as Agents of Change

I wrote a little while back about the Sarasota Film Festival and their kick-ass education and outreach program, which I’m looking forward to seeing up close when I’m at that fest next month.

I’m also going back to Dallas IFF this year — I’ve been going to that fest every year since it started, and I’m continually impressed with how this fest has grown and shifted and survived in spite ending their co-branding with AFI and losing some sponsors and gaining others. Somehow, they always pull off a hell of a fest for the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Read the full article »

1 Comment »

Bob Dylan Vs. Death Metal

Happy Wednesday. For a little humpday fun, here’s a QOTD for you: We have here two parodies of Rebecca Black’s inane laundry list of utter boringness. In the red corner, we have a guy imitating Bob Dylan covering the “song” (such as it is); in the right corner, we have the same song, covered by a real death metal band. Which one is more awesome?

First, in case you’re unfamiliar with the song, here’s the original — and I hereby disclaim all responsibility for any pain or suffering you may endure as a result of watching it:

Now here’s the Dylan cover parody (be sure to read the comments!). Props to Matt Zoller Seitz for posting to Facebook.

And lastly, here’s the death metal cover version:

Wowzers. I dunno, I’m not a huge death metal fan, but I do think the use of death metal appropriately satirizes the sterile blandness of the Rebecca Black … here’s your chance to weigh in:

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

No Comments »

Thelma Adams on Why She’s Joining the HuffPo Strike

Writer Thelma Adams has a piece up explaining why she’s joined the writer’s strike against HuffPo/AOL. I’m glad she decided to write this, because I think it’s important for people like Thelma to put their faces out there and say, I was one of those writers who helped make Arianna Huffington rich, and this is why I’m on strike. And if you are such a person and you do write such a piece, email me with the URL, because I want to continue putting faces to the story of HuffPo’s exploitation of writers.

Thelma Adams is not some hack, or an amateur blogger. She’s a professional writer, the film critic for USA Today Us Weekly, two time chair of the New York Film Critics Circle. She’s been published in The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Maire Claire. Her novel, Playdate, was recently published by St. Martin’s Press. She holds an MFA in fiction from Columbia.

And by the bye? Nowhere on Thelma Adams’ bio page at HuffPo does it tell readers that the piece they are enjoying reading by her was NOT PAID FOR BY HUFFINGTON POST.

I’m not linking to the bio page because I’m not sending hits their way. If you want to look it up, knock yourself out.

It’s a misconception that all of the writers who wrote for HuffPo for free are a bunch of amateurs who should just be grateful for the exposure. Even if it was true, there’s just not a world for me where building your media empire on the backs of thousands of unpaid laborers and then cashing a $315 million payday for yourself while demeaning the very people who built that empire for you is okay.

It’s a shit thing to do, and Arianna Huffington is reprehensible to me. I’m talking Sarah Palin-level reprehensible (apologies if you like Palin, but for me she’s practically the Antichrist, or at the least a heralding sign of the coming zombie apocalypse).



More Death Knells at AOL as 30 Sites Get Folded

And the bloodbath around AOL/HuffPo continues, as 30 sites get shuttered completely or folded into duplicate content sites. Boy, too bad no one saw that coming.

Cinematical has apparently been spared, thus far anyhow. TV Squad is being folded, along with a bunch of other former Weblogs, Inc. properties. And so AOL continues its marvelous tradition of buying something cool and unique and then ruthlessly killing it by a combination of gross mismanagement and arrogant incompetence. Probably some sheer stupidity in there as well.

Meanwhile, over at Engadget, AOL has yet to fill the positions recently vacated by EIC Josh Topolosky and managing editor Nilay Patel, which followed the earlier exits by Engadget editors Paul Miller and Ross Miller. Oh, and let’s not forget 2008 departures of Engadget rock stars Peter Rojas and Ryan Block, who bailed out to start gdgt.com.

How you acquire a company like Weblogs, Inc with a flagship site the quality of Engadget, and other sites that were tops (or growing strongly) at the time of acquisition — sites like Cinematical, and TV Squad, and Blogging Baby and Luxist and screw up the management of it so completely is beyond me. What a clusterfuck.

No Comments »

Spotlight: Cinematographer Michael Simmonds on Working Collaboratively with Ramin Bahrani

You’ve probably seen Michael Simmonds work, even if you don’t realize it. The ace cinematographer has been very busy over the last few years shooting lots of movies, including notable docs Project Nim and The Order of Myths. He’s also shot all of Ramin Bahrani’s better-known films: Man Push Cart, Chop Shop, Goodbye Solo, and Plastic Bag, a terrific short narrated by Werner Herzog, and featured on Futurestates.

I first met Michael at Sundance years ago when Man Push Cart, Bahrani’s first major feature, was playing there, and his work so impressed me that that I’ve followed it since. A while back (okay, a LONG while back, like in October), we chatted through email about the way in which he and Bahrani collaborate, and he was kind enough to allow me to share his thoughts with you here.
Read the full article »

No Comments »

Quote Unquotesee all »

“The core fear is what can happen to you, personally. Your body. That’s what horror films deal with, precisely. We are a very thin skin wrapped around a pumping heart and guts. At any given moment it can come down to that, be it diseases, or somebody’s assault, or war, or a car wreck. You could be reduced to the simple laws of physics and your body’s vulnerability. The edged weapon is the penultimate weapon to disclose that reality to you.”
~ Wes Craven, 1996, promoting Scream

Well, that, to me, is always the trick of dramaturgy; theoretically, perfectly, what one wants to do is put the protagonist and the audience in exactly the same position. The main question in drama, the way I was taught, is always what does the protagonist want. That’s what drama is. It comes down to that. It’s not about theme, it’s not about ideas, it’s not about setting, but what the protagonist wants. What gives rise to the drama, what is the precipitating event, and how, at the end of the play, do we see that event culminated? Do we see the protagonist’s wishes fulfilled or absolutely frustrated? That’s the structure of drama. You break it down into three acts.

Does this explain why your plays have so little exposition?

Yes. People only speak to get something. If I say, Let me tell you a few things about myself, already your defenses go up; you go, Look, I wonder what he wants from me, because no one ever speaks except to obtain an objective. That’s the only reason anyone ever opens their mouth, onstage or offstage. They may use a language that seems revealing, but if so, it’s just coincidence, because what they’re trying to do is accomplish an objective… The question is where does the dramatist have to lead you? Answer: the place where he or she thinks the audience needs to be led. But what does the character think? Does the character need to convey that information? If the answer is no, then you’d better cut it out, because you aren’t putting the audience in the same position with the protagonist. You’re saying, in effect, Let’s stop the play. That’s what the narration is doing—stopping the play… It’s action, as Aristotle said. That’s all that it is—exactly what the person does. It’s not what they “think,” because we don’t know what they think. It’s not what they say. It’s what they do, what they’re physically trying to accomplish on the stage. Which is exactly the same way we understand a person’s character in life—not by what they say, but by what they do. Say someone came up to you and said, I’m glad to be your neighbor because I’m a very honest man. That’s my character. I’m honest, I like to do things, I’m forthright, I like to be clear about everything, I like to be concise. Well, you really don’t know anything about that guy’s character. Or the person is onstage, and the playwright has him or her make those same claims in several subtle or not-so-subtle ways, the audience will say, Oh yes, I understand their character now; now I understand that they are a character. But in fact you don’t understand anything. You just understand that they’re jabbering to try to convince you of something.
~ David Mamet