Movie City Indie Archive for August, 2007

[LOOK] Woody Allen's Cassandra's Dream, aka Balle de match deux

Ingmar's interred…


Bergman’s buried, and Aftonbladet’s brief video coverage (in Swedish) is here.

[LOOK] Talking Elvis in My Best Friend's Birthday

And here I’d always heard that Tarantino’s aborted first film had been destroyed… More lives than Elvis himself.

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Wishful wild-posting

Wishful thinking

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IFC First Take's next step: video-on-demand takes off

ballon_rouge_9825689.jpgIs IFC’s focus shifting to VOD? “A theatrical release of Mark Palansky’s Penelope, the Toronto ’06 premiere starring Reese Witherspoon which had been scheduled to open this Friday, was recently dropped. With no larger-budget releases on its longterm slate, IFC is instead focusing on its emerging IFC First Take label that simultaneously releases independent and foreign language films in theaters” and video-on-demand,” writes Eugene Hernandez of movies like Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Flight of the Red Balloon, Ken Loach’s The Wind That Shakes The Barley and Joe Swanberg’s Hannah Takes The Stairs. “Asked to explain the apparent strategy shift, [IFC topper Jonathan] Sehring added that even outside the studio specialty divisions, the landscape for larger independent releases has changed… “There are more distributors for films in the 5, 15, 20 million budget range,” noted Sehring. But, Hernandez reports that IFC First Take’s reach of 40 million cable viewers nationwide is working. “The growth of this service… from zero to forty million in about a year is pretty much unparalleled,” Rainbow spokesperson Matthew Frankel told indieWIRE… While not releasing specific download numbers for the First Take films, he noted, “And in regard to the films, we are very pleased with the kind of demand for this small independent film — not only are these films available in Des Moines, Iowa but people are actually buying them in Des Moines, Iowa.”

The lineup for the 45th New York Film Festival: vive l'auteur

BeforeDevil3-1656_5.jpgThe 45th New York Film Festival will open with Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited and the Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men is their “Centerpiece.” Closing night: Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s Persepolis. Also: Noah Baumbach’s Margot at the Wedding; Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park; Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There; Brian DePalma’s “trenchant vision of the Iraq war,” Redacted, and Ira Sachs’ Married Life. Sidney Lumet “returns to the New York Film Festival for the first time in 43 years (Fail-Safe, 1964)” with Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead [pictured]. Also: Julian Schnabel’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly; Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona’s debut The Orphanage, presented and produced by Guillermo del Toro; Carlos Reygadas’ Silent Light; Abel Ferrara’s Go Go Tales; Catherine Breillat’s The Last Mistress; Claude Chabrol’s A Girl Cut In Two; Hou Hsiao-hsien’s The Flight of the Red Balloon; Eric Rohmer’s The Romance of Astrea and Celadon; Alexander Sokurov’s Alexandra; Béla Tarr’s The Man from London; Jia Zhang-ke’s documentary Useless; Cannes Palme d’Or winner 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and Best Actress prizewinner Secret Sunshine. Five featured films in retrospectives: “the long-awaited ‘definitive cut'” of Blade Runner; the premiere of a new score by the Alloy Orchestra to accompany Josef von Sternberg’s 1927 film Underworld; John Ford’s first major film The Iron Horse (1924), Sven Gade and Heinz Schall’s 1920 German production of Hamlet starring actress Asta Nielsen in the title role; and an evening called “The Technicolor Show,” introduced by Martin Scorsese and featuring John Stahl’s Leave Her to Heaven (1945). [The full press release is below.]

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Dentler takes the stairs


SXSW PROGRAMMER MATT DENTLER HAS BEEN A MAJOR SUPPORTER OF JOE SWANBERG’S WORK and he’s interviewed the participants in the Chicago-based writer-director’s latest, Hannah Takes The Stairs, before its August 22 debut in New York via IFC First Take at the IFC Center. Dentler asked several bloggers to share the interviews, and Indie’s got an exchange with actor (and Guatemalan Handshake director) Todd Rohal. [There’s more at the film’s website.]
Writes Dentler: “On the eve of the theatrical debut of Joe Swanberg’s SXSW 2007 hit, I wanted to check in with each of the film’s principal collaborators. The film has been documented as a successful collaboration between acclaimed film artists from around the nation, each one offering their own trademark influence on the finished film.
DENTLER: How did you first get connected to Hannah Takes the Stairs?
ROHAL: I met Joe, Kevin, Kris and Tipper at the Independent Film Festival of Boston, where they, like most people at film festivals, assumed I was Mike Tully’s personal assistant because of the way I would stand just behind Mike Tully’s left shoulder and listen in on conversations. Adam Roffman, the director of IFFB, told me just before my screening that Joe had been saying that he really wanted to meet me. Much to his surprise, we had already been hanging out for three days. In his embarrassment he asked me to be in his new film, which was flattering, but far from made up for the pain that he caused me.
DENTLER: What do you remember most about the shoot in Chicago?
ROHAL: I slept on an air mattress next to Andrew Bujalski.

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Indie returns Tuesday


Engineering this fiasco: the making of Orchard Vale

TIM KINSELLA AND I MET IN 1997 AND HAVE BEEN EXCHANGING PREOCCUPATIONS EVER SINCE. Ever prolific, Kinsella, who began his public life as a musician at the age of 16 in the band Cap’n Jazz, has recorded dozens of albums since, and with the meltdown of the music industry, has shifted to filmmaking as another artistic outlet, itself a troubled medium for anyone wanting to make a career today. [Kinsella’s diverse collaborations have appeared under such names as Joan of Arc and Make Believe.] His writing-directing debut, Orchard Vale, a claustrophobic experimental feature about a band of outsiders after an off-screen collapse of civilization, opens the 14th Chicago Underground Film Festival on August 15, just a few weeks after his decision to leave the band Make Believe. We had several conversations about process as the movie was prepared and in the final stages of post-production, from the transition from songwriting to filmmaking, and the kinds of fears of contemporary apocalypse you’d find in the movies of the Dardennes brothers or Michael Haneke, what a younger John Cale or Captain Beefheart might be up to today, and why you shouldn’t compare your movie to “The Diary of Anne Frank.” (Orchard Vale was shot by Chris Strong, and edited by Amy Cargill; a trailer for the film is at the end of this interview.)


RAY PRIDE: Is the disintegration of the music industry because of evolving technology one of the reasons you decided to explore filmmaking?
TIM KINSELLA: I don’t get the impression it was ever very easy to make a living as a musician. By the late nineties, I saw my life as potentially fitting into the historical archetype of traveling bard far more so than any aspirations towards rockstardom. I think I had a pretty realistic idea at a relatively young age that those ambitions would only end in bitterness and a sense of personal failure. So to a large degree, I feel I have been able to exist outside the music industry and whether the alt-fad that year is electro-clash or folk, I wouldn’t really be fazed. I guess the music-industry life lesson that enabled me to embark on this Orchard Vale pit would be more a matter of internalizing the DIY ethics of my formative punk rock years and extrapolating that approach from hanging your own flyers to making a movie.
PRIDE: Is it one of the reasons you dropped out of Make Believe, this uncertainty about being able to recoup time, let alone money?
KINSELLA: The cost/benefit ratio has certainly stayed about the same, that is, lousy from day one, but I think I have just changed some. I was perfectly happy drifting around a different city every day for months at a time through my twenties and just being able to get away with it was enough. If we could make enough money traveling that I wouldn’t need to work too much when I got home then I’d be able to work on the next record and recording is when I truly feel most myself and most alive and like I am doing what I should be doing. And having just returned from some adventure, I’d have plenty of material to think through. But touring eventually becomes twenty-three hours a day of mostly waiting around. You can’t get anything done.

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The wages of writing about mortality…

Anytime minutes

It must have been inevitable after posting a list of the world’s living directors who are AARP-eligible: Mel Shavelson died, and while writing an entry about the anti-Bergman post-mortems, including Jonathan Rosenbaum’s at the New York Times and Roger Ebert’s reply, my laptop died. RIP, or RiBook, as the case may be. Back on the beat shortly.

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[LOOK] Trailering Hannah Takes The Stairs

August 22 from IFC First Take.

Schrader on that so-called golden age

Talking to Stephen Dalton at the Times, Paul Schrader offers perspective about the 1970s movie “renaissance”. “Yeah, that so-called golden age,” he shrugs. “It was a golden age in the sense that cinema was really important, it had a powerful role in society. Movies really mattered. There were a lot more serious movies being made and people thought of movies a lot more seriously. That is true, but there was also a lot of junk.” Lurid stories about Schrader abound in Peter Biskind’s controversial postmortem on 1970s [American movies]. “Easy Riders, Raging Bulls.” Cocaine, porn, nervous breakdowns and backstage bust-ups figure heavily. But like most of the heavyweight names whose highs and lows Biskind documents, Schrader dismisses the book as overblown quasi-fiction. “It was just a patchwork quilt of gossip of innuendo,” he argues. “Peter had himself a great theme but rather than do a solid book he decided to do a gossip book. It’s full of false things about people I know, one after another. It was a classic case of print the myth. It’s second, third, fourth-hand gossip. That’s why it pissed a lot of people off.”

The Bourne Ultimatum (*** 1/2)

PAUL GREENGRASS HAS AGAIN TAKEN THE ESSENTIAL CIRCUS OF THE GLOBE-GIRDLING ACTION EPIC and distilled it to action/reaction/action. Arguably, The Bourne Ultimatum is as much a sequel to his United 93 as to the second Bourne entry. The dispensation with backstory in his 9/11 thriller was about the now: if we were there in that fated missile toward death, how would we D12_9410.jpg_rgb.jpgreact to what went on around us? We know the ending. What Greengrass excels at in his recent movies is sustaining moment and momentum. Knowing the then and then of the first pair of Bournes, we witness the character’s propulsion, blank-faced, cold-eyed, vein-templed, toward the idea of who he was or the fact of who he is in 2007, this killer who was tortured into shape by his own government, molded into one who reacts rather than acts, steeled by the language of contemporary spycraft and black arts. Bourne hardly speaks; the secret agency handlers like David Straitharn supply almost the entirety of the verbiage in verbal scowls comprised of the lingo of torture and “rendition” toward death in distant lands that are friendly to foul play. (Bourne’s recurrent memory of his training is comprised of two images: someone bound with their head covered by a black hood, and himself being tortured by an equivalent of waterboarding.) Greengrass exacts a narrative comprised of chases, with London’s coursing Waterloo Station the setting for one that seems unstoppable, at least until an acrobatic, athletic, mechanized chase through a Moroccan city’s streets and hillsides and rooftops that climaxes in confined space where there are two men, mano-a-mano, fighting to the death, jumpcut and accompanied only by the sounds of their lethal exertions. Finally it comes down to a book, a volume, an ordinary object, not Bible, not Koran, that becomes the deadliest threat. The winding path through the city toward this moment reduces the dilemma to its simplest part: kill or be killed. It hurts. In his movies since “Bloody Sunday,” Greengrass is less one-trick pony than one-man cavalry. This is stunning craft with quiet integrity despite the fury of its pace, and the final shot wittily suggests both a musical number and the opening graphics of a James Bond title sequence. With Joan Allen, Julia Stiles, Albert Finney. [Ray Pride.]

[LOOK] Bridge out

Gasp-worthy surveillance camera footage of moment rather than the net of happenstance and banality beloved by Ken Livingstone, Richard M. Daley and Michael Bloomberg.

[LOOK] Trailering The Darjeeling Limited

Movie City Indie

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“Roger Ebert claimed that the re-editing of The Brown Bunny after Cannes allowed him a difference of opinion so vast that he first called it the worst film in history and eventually gave it a thumbs up. This is both far fetched and an outright lie. The truth is, unlike the many claims that the unfinished film that showed at Cannes was 24 minutes shorter than the finished film, it was only 8 minutes shorter. The running time I filled out on the Cannes submission form was arbitrary. The running time I chose was just a number I liked. I had no idea where in the process I would actually be when I needed to stop cutting to meet the screening deadline. So whatever running time was printed in the program, I promise you, was not the actual running time. And the cuts I made to finish the film after Cannes were not many. I shortened the opening race scene once I was able to do so digitally. After rewatching the last 4 minutes of the film over and over again, somewhere within those 4 minutes, I froze the picture and just ended the film there, cutting out everything after that point, which was about 3 minutes. Originally in the salt flats scene, the motorcycle returned from the white. I removed the return portion of that shot, which seemed too literal. And I cut a scene of me putting on a sweater. That’s pretty much it. Plus the usual frame here, frame there, final tweaks. If you didn’t like the unfinished film at Cannes, you didn’t like the finished film, and vice versa. Roger Ebert made up his story and his premise because after calling my film literally the worst film ever made, he eventually realized it was not in his best interest to be stuck with that mantra. Stuck with a brutal, dismissive review of a film that other, more serious critics eventually felt differently about. He also took attention away from what he actually did at the press screening. It is outrageous that a single critic disrupted a press screening for a film chosen in main competition at such a high profile festival and even more outrageous that Ebert was ever allowed into another screening at Cannes. His ranting, moaning and eventual loud singing happened within the first 20 minutes, completely disrupting and manipulating the press screening of my film. Afterwards, at the first public screening, booing, laughing and hissing started during the open credits, even before the first scene of the film. The public, who had heard and read rumors about the Ebert incident and about me personally, heckled from frame one and never stopped. To make things weirder, I got a record-setting standing ovation from the supporters of the film who were trying to show up the distractors who had been disrupting the film. It was not the cut nor the film itself that drew blood. It was something suspicious about me. Something offensive to certain ideologues.”
~ Vincent Gallo

“I think [technology has[ its made my life faster, it’s made the ability to succeed easier. But has that made my life better? Is it better now than it was in the eighties or seventies? I don’t think we are happier. Maybe because I’m 55, I really am asking these questions… I really want to do meaningful things! This is also the time that I really want to focus on directing. I think that I will act less and less. I’ve been doing it for 52 years. It’s a long time to do one thing and I feel like there are a lot of stories that I got out of my system that I don’t need to tell anymore. I don’t need to ever do The Accused again! That is never going to happen again! You hit these milestones as an actor, and then you say, ‘Now what? Now what do I have to say?'”
~ Jodie Foster