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Movie City Indie Archive for August, 2007

The MPAA's testes of time

A lot of huff and puff’s expended on how the MPAA makes sure that every piece of publicity and advertising for ratings-approved movies pass muster, and standards shift in interesting ways. Strange, though, to see how many current, wild-posted one-sheets are allowed to demonstrate a pronounced… mmm… testicular fixation. (The first set of posters is from the side of a bodega in the middle of Ukrainian Village; the second ad is from the a stall in the men’s toilet of a mildly disreputable bar in Chicago’s Wicker Park.)


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Regrets the error…

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Notes on a bad movie

Notes on a bad movie


Sometimes you get asked if movie reviewers can read their own notes after scrivening in the dark…

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Korean Pizza Hut Hot Dog Pizza



There is nothing to add to these rapturous images and the expressions on the diners’ faces at the end of the spot. [H/t Grady Hendrix.]

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Opening today: Quiet City (2007, ****)

quiet_city_trailer_mg1.jpgAaron Katz’s second feature, Quiet City, opens today in Manhattan at the IFC Center. It’s pretty wonderful, and I hope to write about it length shortly. (What a lovely, limpid valentine to the look of modern Brooklyn!) Watch even the first few shots of the trailer [below] and try not to be charmed. Here’s a squib from The Reeler: “Stephen Holden’s glowing review ofQuiet City—easily the best film screening in IFC Center’s ongoing Generation DIY series—in today’s NYT gets within one word of director/self-distributor Aaron Katz’s critic-blurb wet dream. And then that phrase comes up: “Tender and sad, it is a fully realized work of mumblecore poetry.” Lovely. I’m sure the producers will take it, but the air of condescension is so thick it’s shorting out my computer.”

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Just because I'm hungry: Cooking up Ratatouille's CG food



Time to reheat that pork shoulder…

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Forward to the past: television end logos



I’ve always been fascinated by credit sequences, presentation credits and production company signatures, the briefer, the bettter. Here’s almost six minutes of old television titles. {Via bOing-bOing.]

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[LOOK] Clips from David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises

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Three clips from David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises, including “He offered me the stars“; “Read the diary“; and “The address.”

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More mumbling about architecture: is it a white guy thing?

filmsciencelogo.jpgIndie filmmaker (and doggedly prolific blogger) Sujewa Ekanayake asserts at his site that “a very widely read film journalist who blogs for indieWIRE told me a while back that American indie film has always been a “white” thing. Not really (“race films” of the 1930s on, Cassavete’s Shadows, Spike Lee, Jarmusch’s Mystery Train & Night On Earth & Dead Man & Ghost Dog, Ang Lee & Mira Nair & Wayne Wang’s careers). So how come the indie film media does not seem to be at all concerned about the hottest new thing in our world—Mumblecore—being an all-“white” thing? So is Mumblecore independent film by & for “white”people only? Or for people who do not have any non-“white” friends or acquaintances or business partners? Maybe it is, at least up to now. At least that seems to be the message in the casting decisions made in the films.” [More at the link.] Meanwhile, Eugene Hernandez at indieWIRE profiles producer Anish Savjani of Film Science, which produced Joe Swanberg’s Hannah Takes The Stairs and his forthcoming Nights and Weekneds, and Kelly Reichardt’s (Old Joy) next project. “behind the scenes a new generation of film producers are also starting to make a mark, including Austin-based Savjani,” writes Hernandez. Savjani, in his mid-20s, like Swanberg, raised under $100,000 to produce Hannah; his prior experience includes work as a DGA trainee; work on Old Joy and working for mega-producer and taste maven Scott Rudin. “Now, through his own company Film Science, he hopes to foster a “family of filmmakers” that he can work with over the longterm.” [A little more detail at the link.] And, not to forget, the prime primer of the moment, S. T. Van Airesdale’s summa over at The Reeler.Hannah1-1_50.jpg

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[LOOK] Lust, Caution… Clive?



While the lubricious Lust, Caution, awaits, remember one of Ang Lee’s few short films, from the BMW series, The Hire, with Clive Owen?

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Speedy li'l Davey Lynch

cumulus_235.jpgDavid Lynch tells MTV the present moment of his future—”Digital is so friendly for me and so important for the scenes, a way of working without so much downtime. It’s impossible to go back. Film is a beautiful medium, but the world has moved on. The amount of manipulation we can do, anybody can do, is so much the future. Film is so big and heavy and slow, you just die. It’s just ridiculous”—and then there’s his daily weather report back at the ranch.

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[LOOK] A teaser for Todd Haynes' I'm Not There

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[LOOK] David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises has a website

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Rated R for “strong brutal and bloody violence, some graphic sexuality, language and nudity,” in case you were wondering. Does that look more like London fields imagined by Cronenberg than real London streets? More cool, strange, Cronenbergian stuff here.

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Who are the oldest living film directors? [updated 21 August]

virgin_sprig_54.jpgWHILE REELING FROM THE WASH OF COMMENTARY AFTER THE DEATHS OF INGMAR BERGMAN AND MICHELANGELO ANTONIONI ON THE SAME DAY, much of which ventured who, beyond the prolific near-centenarian from Porto, might be the oldest surviving world directors, it was striking to realize how many persist at their craft even as they grow older. Other patterns emerged: it’s intriguing to consider the work of dissimilar directors born in the same month or year. Is it meaningful in any way that the director of Annie Hall and the director of Our Hitler were born in the same week? Or that Carl Reiner and Alain Resnais are the same age? (Abbas Kiarostami and Victor Erice collaborated on “Correspondences,” a beautiful book about their work and the age that they share.)
Which led to this, rather than yet another rumination on the work of the two men—a project for later, perhaps, after coming to grips with Rivette’s Out 1—a necessarily selective survey of over 310 directors from around the world, all of whom are 60 or older, who have had lasting impact or a moment that matters in one way or another. More will be added: comment or email (pride_at_moviecitynews.com). Entries are listed by year of birth, date, their most recent project completed or in production and its release date. Directors between the ages of 98 and 80 are immediately below; the rest are at the jump.
1908
Manoel de Oliveira, 11 December, The Singularities of Rapariga Loira (2008)
1909
Richard L. Bare, 12 August, “Green Acres” (43 episodes, 1965-1971)
1911
Jules Dassin, December 18, Circle of Two (1980)
1912
Kaneto Shindô, April 28, Fukuro (2003)
1915
Mario Monicelli, 15 May, Le rose del deserto (2006)
Kon Ichikawa, 20 November, The Inugamis (2006)
1916
Dino Risi, 23 December, Le Regazze di Miss Italia (2002)
1917
Mel Shavelson, 1 April, Yours Mine And Ours (1968) [DIED AUGUST 8, 2007]
1918
Gabriel Axel, 18 April, Leila (2001)
1920
Eric Rohmer, 4 April, Les amours d’Astree et de Celadon (2007)
Mickey Rooney, September 23. The Private Lives of Adam and Eve (1960)
1921
Chris Marker, 29 July, The Case of the Grinning Cat (2004)
Miklos Jancso, 29 September, Ede megeve ebedem (2006)
1922
Carl Reiner, 20 March, That Old Feeling (1997)
Alain Resnais, 3 June, Private Fears In Public Places (2006)
Blake Edwards, 26 July, Son of the Pink Panther (1993)
Jonas Mekas, 24 September, Elvis (2001)
Arthur Penn, 27 September, Inside (1996)
Ebrahim Golestan, Ghost Valley Treasure (1974)
1923
Norman Mailer, January 31, Tough Guys Don’t Dance (1987)
Franco Zeffirelli, 12 February, Tre Fratelli (2005)
Irvin Kirschner, 29 April, RoboCop 2 (1990)
Seijun Suzuki, 24 May, Princess Raccoon (2005)
Sir Richard Attenborough, 29 August, The Snow Prince (2003)
Arthur Hiller, 22 November, National Lampoon’s Pucked (2006)
1924
Stanley Donen, 13 April, Love Letters (1999)
Sidney Lumet, 25 June, Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)
Robert Frank, 9 November, Sanyu (2000)
Robert M. Young, 22 November, “Battlestar Galactica” episodes (2004-2007)
1925
Paul Newman, 26 January, The Glass Menagerie (1986)
Fernando Birri, March 13, ZA 05. Lo viejo y lo nuevo (2006)
Peter Brook, 21 March, The Tragedy Of Hamlet (2002)
D. A. Pennebaker, 15 July, Addiction (2007)
Joseph Sargent, 22 July, Sybil (2007)
Claude Lanzmann, 27 November, Sobibor (2001)
1926
Youssef Chahine, 25 January, 47 Years After (2007)
Haskell Wexler, 6 February, From Wharf Rats to Lord of the Docks (2007)
Bud Yorkin, 22 February, Love Hurts (1991)
Andrzej Wajda, 6 March, Katyn (2007)
Jerry Lewis, 16 March, Smorgasbord (1983)
Roger Corman, 5 April, Frankenstein Unbound (1990)
Herschell Gordon Lewis, 15 June, Blood Feast 2: All You Can Eat (2002)
Mel Brooks, 28 June, Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995)
Norman Jewison, 21 July, The Statement (2003)
Lina Wertmuller, 14 August, Peperoni ripieni e pesci in faccia (2004)
Bud Greenspan, 18 September, Pride Against Prejudice: The Larry Doby Story (2007)
Albert Maysles, 26 November, American Prison: The Forgotten Jews (2007)
1927
Kenneth Anger, 3 February, Mouse Heaven (2004)
Ken Russell, 3 July, Trapped Ashes (2006)
Elliot Silverstein, 3 August, The Car (1977)
Marcel Ophüls, 1 November, The Troubles We’ve Seen (1994)
Jerry Schatzberg, The Day the Ponies Come Back (2000)
Alfred Leslie, Cedar Bar (2002)

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Little Mister Sunshine: hating on movies

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Someone’s gotten a modest sinecure over at the Guardian, as the resident grump: a post called “Is Cinema Dead?” (which does not answer the question but seems to be affirmative in response) was preceded by “Did colour ruin the movies?”; “The 70s was the golden age of Hollywood. But why?”; “Dumb Hollywood is forever in debt to Europe” and his ever-popular series of screeds, “What every film critic must know.” As a March entry asserted, “I believe that every film critic should know, say… the signified and the signifier, diegetic and non-diegetic music, and how both a tracking shot and depth of field can be ideological. They should know their jidai-geki from their gendai-geki, be familiar with the Kuleshov Effect and Truffaut’s “Une certain tendance du cinéma français”, know what the 180-degree rule is and the meaning of “suture.” They should have read Sergei Eisenstein’s The Film Sense and Film Form and the writings of Bela Balasz, André Bazin, Siegfried Kracauer, Roland Barthes, Christian Metz and Serge Daney. They should have seen Jean-Luc Godard’s Histoire [sic] du Cinema, and every film by Carl Dreyer, Robert Bresson, Jean Renoir, Luis Buñuel and Ingmar Bergman, as well as those of Jean-Marie Straub and Danielle Huillet, and at least one by Germaine Dulac, Marcel L’Herbier, Mrinal Sen, Marguerite Duras, Mikio Naruse, Jean Eustache and Stan Brakhage. They should be well versed in Russian constructivism, German expressionism, Italian neo-realism, Cinema Novo, La Nouvelle Vague and the Dziga Vertov group. These should be the minimum requirements before anyone can claim to be a film critic. But then, they might never get a job because they would then “know too much about cinema.” [He’ll be back.]

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Movie City Indie

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“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

MAMET
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.

INTERVIEWER
Does this explain why your plays have so little exposition?

MAMET
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

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