Movie City Indie Archive for September, 2007
Watch Paul Donellon’s credit sequence for Mike Newell’s filming of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel (adapted by Ronald Harwood). “The film is set in the early 1900s in Colombia, therefore I felt the sequence should not feel too digital and would have a handpainted oil painting feel to the rendering.”
“Roger Ebert, the Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times, bested them and others to be named the most influential pundit in America by Forbes magazine,” writes Maureen O’Donnell in a front-pager. “Forbes analyzed market research on more than 60 top pundits in current events, entertainment, law, politics and sports. Ebert “appeals to 70 percent of the demographic and [his] long career makes him well known to well over half the population,” wrote Forbes’ Tom Van Riper… The magazine’s list of top pundits is “very impressive company,” Ebert said by e-mail. “It never occurred to me anyone would make such a survey, especially since I never thought of myself as a pundit. . . . Maybe it means movies are more popular than politics, and non-partisan.” … “Despite all my health adventures, I can still see, hear, and type, and now that print reviews are my only way to exercise the full range of my communication abilities, I find I write them with something approaching bliss,” Ebert said…. “As one of my friends observed, ‘Even if you lose your voice, Ebert, you’ve already talked more than enough.’ “
Quoth Michael Haneke in a lengthy Sunday New York Times profile by novelist John Wray: “The decision to remake his signature work in America with an A-list cast caused considerable controversy among hardcore cinephiles, not least because of Haneke’s reputation as one of Hollywood’s most outspoken critics. Haneke was quick to defend himself. “Of course I’m a critic of the studio system,” he said, as if it were unthinkable not to be. “But that doesn’t mean that one can’t work within that system. ‘Funny Games’ was always made with American audiences in mind, since its subject is Hollywood’s attitude toward violence. And nothing has changed about that attitude since the first version of my film was released — just the opposite, in fact.” When I asked whether the average American moviegoer was likely to appreciate having his attitude adjusted, Haneke-style, the director thought for a moment, then threw up his hands in mock surrender. “I’ve been accused of ‘raping’ the audience in my films, and I admit to that freely — all movies assault the viewer in one way or another. What’s different about my films is this: I’m trying to rape the viewer into independence.” [The trailer for the 2008 release is above.]
If there are folks who are upset in Houston over the fragrance-advert-like imagery of this commercial, they ought to go over to the site it’s advertising for explicit footage of animal slaughter. A lighter touch… Reports the LA Times, “The 30-year-old actress set off a firestorm of interest — and, apparently, controversy — by posing nude in a television commercial on behalf of PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Silverstone, a well-known animal rights activists and environmentalist, is shown swimming in a pool naked and talking about the beauty of a vegetarian lifestyle.”
An icy clip from David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises.
“As someone who makes strong horror films with unmistakably thematic interests, how do you react to directors like Eli Roth,” queries S. T. Van Airesdale over at The Reeler “and others who retroactively attempt to defend their own work with such metaphorical or thematic values?” Larry Fessenden, whose latest is the global-warming horror, shot in Iceland Last WInter, following his equally snowy Wendigo, replies, “It’s funny you ask. I just watched Hostel for the first time; I didn’t enjoy or find the merits of Cabin Fever, so I had somewhat written Eli off. I know he’s always whining in the press, defending his movies, so I thought I should see Hostel. In fact, I was asked to write something about my movie versus torture porn. I watched it and I didn’t find it offensive the way I thought I would. I thought I would find it contemptible. Sure, it’s homophobic in the sense that he’s got some issues, but it’s not like he’s not aware that he’s not dealing with that sort of thing. The sexual politics and the hatred of Americans was interesting enough, and the torture did not seem extraneous. It was obviously the point of the movie, and it was scary and doled out pretty tastefully considering the whole thing is repugnant. I think some of the later Saw movies are truly perverse, and a lot of the remakes have no agenda whatsoever. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, because some people hate The Last Winter, of course, and you get into this thing where it becomes hard to discuss. My movies have themes; I present them without shame. I’m a sincere filmmaker, and fuck it if you can’t take that. As for Eli, he does protest too much. I do find him unappealing as a public figure, but he’s making his money, so whatever. He can always say that, and he always does, and I also find that tiresome. The worst pieces of shit make money; it’s hardly an excuse. It hardly represents how well he’s doing. But I couldn’t completely dismiss Hostel.”
Extending theatrical-style scene changes that Francis Ford Coppola hoped to perfect after One From The Heart caught fire from sea to shining sea (and that George Clooney did cleanly in Good Luck, And Good Night) Mr. Anderson and the phone company collaborate on some Klever Krayoning. Or, as Reuters puts it “hiply,” “AT&T plans edgy wireless ad campaign.” “AT&T Inc said on Tuesday it was launching a new corporate advertising campaign, with ads designed to convey a younger, edgier style associated with wireless. The company’s “Your Seamless World” corporate ad campaign features situations that “speak to the on-the-go lifestyle of today’s consumers and businesses.” The campaign includes six television spots overseen by Wes Anderson… AT&T also said it will now use orange as its primary corporate color. Ads, company signage and its Web site are undergoing a “color makeover,” the company said. “The new initiatives are designed to highlight how AT&T helps connect people to their worlds wherever they live and work,” AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said in a statement. “We want to ensure this message is reflected in our brand.”
A scene from Elaine May’s Mikey & Nicky.
DAVID CRONENBERG’S LATEST MOVIE IS ABOUT MANY THINGS. Superficially, Eastern Promises is the veteran director’s second gangster thriller, after A History of Violence, and it provides the most succinct definition yet of “balls-out action.” (More on than in a moment, if you haven’t heard too much already.) Eastern Promisesis audacious in its simplicity and pared-down qualities. There’s so much more here than a stylized Russian mafia story and the fact of contemporary sex slavery. The hard, steely light and pointedly clean geometry Cronenberg and his cinematographer Peter Suschitzsky prefer are in evidence in the opening three scenes, each slimed with a different form of a gush of viscous red that moves like flesh made liquid. A man dies. A child is born. The mother dies. Cronenberg does not fear the display of blood: he’s more concerned with evoking the fear of the susceptibility and defenselessness of the human body against intrusion.
London is mostly night and brackish rain. Anna (Naomi Watts) is a midwife who wants to find the family of the dead girl, who left a daughter and a diary behind, written in Russian. Conveniently, her uncle Stepan (played as a great, gruff boor by Polish film director Jerzy Skolimowski [Deep End]) is Russian and dismisses all of Anna’s own losses and fears until he reads the terrible things in the little book. (Another director, Mike Sarne, of the notorious Myra Breckenridge, also appears, as a character named “Valery Nabokov,” evoking two of Cronenberg’s favorite writers.)
Watts is tremulous, her Anna always alarmed and shot as tiny, vulnerable on her motorcycle coursing through the narrow ways of London with oversized helmet and goggles that make her look like a bug. (The bike had been her Russian father’s, a rarity called a Ural; another bit that will extend.)
A business card leads Anna to a restaurant where the girl may have worked, and whose patriarch, Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl), is actually a powerful mobster. He has a weak, drunken son, Kirill (Vincent Cassel) and Kirill’s driver, Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen) is a taciturn enforcer whose reserve and constant watchfulness allows facts and history to emerge only in rare words and rarer sentences. Often very funny ones: once Mortensen appears, the film morphs into a very black comedy while balancing other fearsome notes. Surely an inside joke is that Mortensen’s hair is an almost comic caricature of Cronenberg’s own tall, stiff mane.)