Movie City Indie Archive for October, 2007

Focus tests Jarmusch's Limits of Control

Jim_Jarmusch1.jpgBetter than one more trick-or-treat press release, especially with Chris Doyle shooting and a plot line that sounds like the template for a Claire Denis movie: “Focus Features has acquired worldwide rights to independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch’s new film, which is tentatively titled The Limits of Control. Mr. Jarmusch will start shooting the new picture in Spain in February. Focus Features International will commence overseas sales for the movie this week at the American Film Market. Focus CEO James Schamus made the announcement today… The new film is the story of a mysterious loner, a stranger, whose activities remain meticulously outside the law. He is in the process of completing a job, yet he trusts no one, and his objectives are not initially divulged. The film is set in the striking and varied landscapes of contemporary Spain (both urban and otherwise), and will star Isaach De Bankolé (marking the actor’s fourth collaboration with Mr. Jarmusch) and other acclaimed international actors to be named shortly. Stacey Smith, who has worked with Mr. Jarmusch for over a decade, and Gretchen McGowan (who co-produced the filmmaker’s Coffee and Cigarettes) will produce the new film. Award-winning cinematographer Christopher Doyle (In the Mood for Love) will be the film’s director of photography; Eugenio Caballero, an Academy Award winner earlier this year for his art direction of Pan’s Labryinth, will be the film’s production designer.” [Full release below.]

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The prequel to Southland Tales?

Just asking.

Indie is at the movies

Furry


Back later today.

Totally unrelated blog-a-thon: Why your blog must die

Shoppers


IT’S AN OLD SCREED, ONE THAT I LINKED TO A COUPLE YEARS AGO, but it’s still fragrant. From a site called “kuro5hin.org,” Why your Movable Type blog must die. “You are all pretentious twats. Every last one of you. You’re all latte-sipping, iMac-using, suburban-living tertiary-industry-working WASPs who offer absolutely no new insights on anything whatsoever apart from maybe one specialist field if we’re lucky. Most of you think that you’re writing original content and that you’re making a contribution by licensing your spewings under Creative Commons “Some Rights Reserved” licences, just because it’s the hip thing to do. You think you know all there is to say about blogging because you understand the concept of HTML and CSS, but the horrible truth is that 40% of you are all using the same shitty default layout. Then you take pictures of yourselves looking pensive or making vague allusions to mythology.” [Further spew at the link.]

Totally Unrelated Blog-a-Thon: "The Impact of the Cities," after Bertolt Brecht. [AN URBAN ADVENTURE IN 18 IMAGES.]

Orange


Leave the woman where she is.
She has two arms of her own
And two legs for that matter
(Which, sir, are no longer any affair of yours).
See that you yourself come through.

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Artist on Artist: MySpace's convo between Wes Anderson, Owen Wilson



Beige or vanilla, the choice is you…

Totally unrelated blog-a-thon: The Armageddon cooler that is the G+T

As suggested by The Reeler, an entry about something in mind that has peripheral, if any relationship to the movies, this lovely anecdote from Friday’s Wall Street Journal about JFK, the Bay of Pigs, and a sparkling refreshment: “On a warm day in December 1961, John F. Kennedy drank Gin and Tonics in Bermuda while working out the details of the end of the world. The president was meeting with British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, discussing how to combat the growing Soviet nuclear threat. Each had his own team of g-t-6578.jpgStrangeloves, and all were gathered for drinks before lunch. Among them was Macmillan’s chief science adviser, Sir William Penney, the physicist who had built England’s first nuke. Asked how many bombs Russia would need to destroy the U.K., Penney said, “It would take five or six, but to be on the safe side, let us say seven or eight, and” — just at that moment a steward passed by — “I’ll have another gin and tonic if you would be so kind.” This statement, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. wrote in “A Thousand Days,” “uttered in one rush of breath, summed up for the Prime Minister and the President the absurdity of mankind setting about to destroy itself.” For the rest of the summit, Kennedy and Macmillan used “I’ll have another gin and tonic, if you would be so kind” as an all-purpose punch line.”

Silent no more at Silent Movie Theatre

cinefamily_567.jpgYou’ll have to agree that L.A.’s relaunched Silent Movie Theatre has a lovely, lovely program. You can download it at the link: the rep sked they’re running is one of the most ambitious I’ve seen in ages.

[FETISH]: The I Am Cuba boxset

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Arriving November 20 from Milestone Films, in time for self-getting and gift-getting. If you don’t know this astonishing, staggering movie, shot by visionaries with a handheld Eclair—or what Paul Thomas Anderson keenly appropriated for a major scene in Boogie Nights—do check out this remarkable long take. More when the set’s released. [The trailer is here.]

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[LOOK]: Otto The Feral Cat And The Perfect Strangers



What did I just watch? [Via Cody Diablo’s blog; find a Russian variant here.]

Indie is at the movies

Crispin Glover


Thursday’s screenings: Blade Runner; It Is Fine! Everything Is Fine.; American Gangster and a conversation with Crispin Glover. Back on Friday.

Script to screen: reading Paramount Vantage's award contenders

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Screenplays for awards consideration have been offered for download by studios on websites at least since Fine Line offered Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter in 1997, but Paramount Vantage is unusual in putting PDF files of its five 2007 potential year-end contenders on a public page. The titles include A Mighty Heart; Into the Wild; The Kite Runner and Margot at The Wedding. And if you follow the format of the four other URLs, you’ll find Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood.

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[PR] The Hotel Chevalier press release

my view of paris.jpgQuoted, punctuation in the original: “LOS ANGELES, CA, October 22, 2007 – Due to overwhelming demand, Fox Searchlight Pictures announced today that it will add director Wes Anderson’s short film HOTEL CHEVALIER, starring Jason Schwartzman and Natalie Portman, to Anderson’s hit comedy THE DARJEELING LIMITED beginning on Friday, October 26. The short is a companion piece to the main feature and details the life of one of the three brothers in the film played by Schwartzman, Owen Wilson and Adrien Brody. The short has been a popular download on iTunes during its month long availability which ends October 23. The film, together with the short, will expand into approximately 650 theatres.
“Fox Searchlight Pictures’ THE DARJEELING LIMITED set the all time record 2-day opening theatre average when it opened in New York theatres on Saturday, September 29. The film had its premiere as the opening night film of the New York film festival on Friday, September 28 and to date has grossed over $3.9 million on only 200 screens.
“HOTEL CHEVALIER was screened in four select Apple stores on September 25, with Anderson, Schwartzman and Portman at the Soho store in Manhattan to introduce the film and answer questions following the screening and Roman Coppola (co-writer, THE DARJEELING LIMITED) at the Chicago store as well as in Los Angeles and San Francisco stores. On September 26, following the in store premiere, HOTEL CHEVALIER became available for download online exclusively at www.apple.com/itunes and has received hundreds of thousands of downloads.
Wes has crafted a brilliant companion piece to The Darjeeling Limited, adding to an already engaging and funny film,” said Peter Rice, President of Fox Searchlight Pictures. After generating enormous buzz from festivals worldwide, we are thrilled to be showing these two films together in theatres for the first time.” [Full release below.]

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[PR] Taming the Bee within

No one knows why North American bees are dying, but here’s why The Bee Movie is thriving: From over the transom, McDonald’s would like us to know about the recent event promoting their tie-ins for Jerry Seinfeld’s The Bee Movie, with a guest appearance by Jeffrey Katzenberg to increase awareness about the educational aspects of selling both lines of product while also learning how to “Bee Good to the Planet.” “McDonald’s® Launches DreamWorks’ Bee Movie™ Global Happy Meal® Promotion Extends Environmental Partnership with Conservation International to Reach Children Worldwide,” the McDonalds2_489.jpgrelease is headed, pitching a successor to the Shrek the Third™ Happy Meal. “Beginning October 26 at McDonald’s restaurants in North America and rolling out around the globe through the end of the year, McDonald’s Bee Movie Happy Meal program features exclusive characters from DreamWorks’ upcoming Bee Movie film from creator Jerry Seinfeld. McDonald’s continues the fun online to reinforce the movie’s environmental message with eco-friendly tips provided by its long-time partner, Conservation International. Kids around the world are being invited to take the “Bee Good to the Planet” pledge at both happymeal.com and conservation.org and get active in protecting the environment.” Notably, “McDonald’s is celebrating the arrival of the “Bee Movie” with a “Barry Approved” campaign. The promotion showcases Chicken McNuggets™ made with white meat and the movie’s main character, Barry B. Benson, on Apple Dippers (fresh, peeled apple slices with optional low-fat caramel dipping sauce) and low-fat white Milk Jugs served in child-friendly containers. The kids’ digital community IMG_7663.jpgencouraging kids to make “eco-pledges” to protect the environment, will be available in English in the U.S. on October 26 at www.happymeal.com.” In Canada, the Happy Meal will have characters on the packaging “with Apple Slices and Milk Cartons. Honeycomb-flavored Sippah™ straws will be available with the purchase of McDonald’s Milk Jugs. Also moms will be recognized for their heroic efforts through the “Queen Bee” sweepstakes… Australia: McDonald’s restaurants will have Bee Movie themed PlayLands… United Kingdom: McDonald’s UK will be launching a new pineapple and grape fruit bag featuring graphics from the Bee Movie. To highlight the importance of bees and the process of pollination to the environment, there will be an on the box competition for children called “Draw one, Plant one” that asks them to draw their own “bee friendly” flower. Each child who submits a flower drawing will receive a packet of flower seeds to plant.” [The complete release is below.]

Something's gone Wong again and again and again: Weinsteinco's no-go on Blueberry for Christmas



The Weinsteinco/Dimension end-of-2007 release list just popped over the transom: Control is rolling out now; Frank Darabont’s The Mist creeps along November 21; I’m Not There materializes the same date; Hayden Christensen is actually Awake November 30; Grace is Gone detonates December 7; Denzel Washington’s Great Debaters tries to make a point on Christmas Day; Woody Allen’s crime story (or criminal act, according to some early reviews) Cassandra’s Dream opens December 28, approximately in Picturehouse’s newly minted Spanish-language horror slot (Pan’s Labyrinth; The Orphanage); and Wong Kar-Wai’s My Blueberry Nights is… is… erm… (I’m looking forward to seeing in next month—a lot of reviewers have suggested it would be improved by subtitles, and I’ll see it with Greek ones on the opening night of November’s festival in Thessaloniki.) [A late report: the U.S. will see it for Valentine’s Day 2008. Happy V.D.!]

Movie City Indie

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin