Movie City Indie Archive for November, 2007

Dept. of Ouch: a festival's notice on a filmmaker

2054968274_d26aec4698_m.jpgOn Saturday at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, the 48th edition, Diego Luna showed his directorial debut JC Chavez, a documentary about a Mexican boxer, and conducted an acting-directing-producing masterclass. After the departure of he and his producing partner (with Gael Garcia Bernal), Pablo Cruz, the festival issued a notice to journalists and also placed in public areas this notice, with bold red borders:
We regret to inform you that today’s (second) screening of the film JC CHAVEZ, directed by Diego Luna, is cancelled.
The responsibility for this regrettable decision lies with the film’s producer, Pablo Cruz, who attended this year’s Festival as a guest along with Diego Luna.
Mr. Cruz demanded to take the film print with him for a screening in London, despite the fact that he had been notified before the start of the Festival about the 2 screenings.
Despite the production company’s assurances that a BETA tape would be forwarded to us instead of the print, in order for the second screening to take place as programmed, the tape has not arrived in Thessaloniki at the moment of going to press. [Photo: Ray Pride.]

1966 interview with William Shatner on the set of "Star Trek"

Why is this so goddam charming?

Joe Swanberg talks DIY in Thessaloniki, Greece

Joe Swanberg

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Todd Haynes' back pages: Weinsteinco launches "liner notes" for I'm Not There

Film Poster Of The Year.jpg

NEW YORK, NY (November 20, 2007) – The Weinstein Company is pleased to announce that participating movie theaters nationwide will distribute liner notes for the highly anticipated film “I’m Not There.” From acclaimed director Todd Haynes, “I’m Not There” is an unconventional journey into the life and times of Bob Dylan. Six actors portray Dylan as a series of shifting personae—from the public to the private to the fantastical—weaving together a rich and colorful portrait of this ever-elusive American icon. The film opens in select theaters across the country on Wednesday, November 21, 2007. The announcement was made today by Gary Faber, executive vice president of marketing for The Weinstein Company.
Inspired by Dylan’s famous liner notes for his classic albums, this information will provide audiences with a special introduction to Dylan. The liner notes include carefully selected excerpts of articles that will enhance the audiences’ experience of the man and his music, replicating the experience of listening to one of Dylan’s albums or seeing him in concert for the first time.
Gary Faber stated, “Preview audiences have enjoyed ‘I’m Not There’ so much that they leave the film eager to learn more about Dylan’s life and art. The articles selected for the notes will help audiences unlock some of the secrets in the film and enable them to enjoy it in a unique and special way.”

Indie is at a festival

CameramanMaybe some posting from Thessaloniki in a bit… but movies and masterclasses and interviews and the sunshine in northern Greece distract…

Serge Gainsbourg sounds like Monday morning to me

Redacted (2007, ***)

While some reactionary observers who haven’t seen Redacted have labeled Brian DePalma’s latest film with such calumnies as “arthouse snuff-porn,” there is at least the courage of his anger, which brings this rapid-fire, if indifferently written and acted, montage to a consistent boil. There are levels of staging and acting and phoniness and fear that work despite shortcomings. There are esthetic and moral qualms present in almost redacted_57894.jpgevery frame of DePalma’s fictional multimedia sketch of crimes committed in the American occupation of Iraq; his fury seethes. (It’s hard to believe a 67-year-old man—born on September 11!—who committed the dreary Black Dahlia to celluloid, made this.) The collage of elements in Redacted, like his earliest comic tracts, Greetings and Hi, Mom!, are meant to irritate; it’s ready blog-bait for those paid by conservative charities to blow hard. Yet the movie is not anti-American, it’s anti-simplification, anti-stupidity, anti-terror, anti-rape, anti-war. When his lumpen characters—admittedly caricatured—are faced with encroaching paranoia around them, their lives turn full metal Jekyll. They’re casualties of warmongering. Drawing on all manner of media he’d assembled—video diaries, European television documentaries, American TV coverage, websites, terror videos—DePalma discovered the legalities are too deep on the ground, and that he could only make his own representation of what he’d observed and collected—he couldn’t mix and match fact with fiction. This led to the spat with his financier-distributors involving a montage of photographs at the end, in which faces had to be blacked out—redacted, redux. Of course, he was also part of the 1960s generation inspired by faux-vérité like Jim McBride’s piss-take, The Diary of David Holzman (“The D.I. of David Holzman”?). There are many cross-references about the nature of representation, including the faux French documentary using slow zooms in and out with Kubrick-style classical accompaniment, a jab at the higher esthetic pretensions of the fictional crew. A character unwittingly paraphrases Godard, “24-7, the camera doesn’t lie.” (Godard observed, “Film is truth 24 frames a second.”) I’m not against some of the blunt elements either: a pacifist character named “Brix” or the most corpulent and corrupt of the characters being named “Rush”: DePalma’s satirical cards are on the table. This is the kind of fierce, focused fire-and-brimstone cacophony DePalma ought to have spent his late career making instead of the stately smear of Dahlia. Still, I’d be curious to read the reactions to Redacted of filmmakers who sweated bullets to make documentaries like War Tapes, Fragments of Iraq and Gunner Palace. I’m sure they can make their points about DePalma’s appropriation and retooling of the vocabulary of their nonfiction work as well, which would be far more telling ones than the pained groans of professional sob sisters like the too-prevalent Bill O’Reillys of the media.

Not "The Daily Show" walks the line

Another filmmaker who avoids the movies: Roy Andersson

dulevandeinne.jpgRoy Andersson, director of Songs from the Second Floor and the upcoming We, The Living is another filmmaker who shies away from movies. At CineEuropa: Do you think of the audience when you make a film? “That’s a delicate question, because you always want a large audience. But at the same time, you can’t speculate about what’s the average taste to reach the widest audience possible. I’m not fond of that. I hope that if I make a movie exactly the way I want it, even other people will like it.” Do you go to the cinemas?I make movies myself and don’t look at other films because I don’t want to have them in my head. When I was younger, I didn’t mind being inspired by others, but not nowadays. I prefer to be inspired by painting, poetry and music. I do read about other film-makers’ work and watch teasers…” We waited 25 years for Songs for the Second Floor and seven years for You, the Living. How long will we have to wait for your next project? “It will go quicker. I have so many festivals to attend and interviews to make. I will need at least a month to rest.”

Indie is in transit


Phil Robinson's 4-minute history of the Writers Guild

Wag gets dogged: ceased and desisted

Vilanch ceasedanddesisted.jpgA completely convincing website got taken down today, with the pictured notice left in its stead. The content consisted of a photograph of awards-show gagster Bruce Vilanch holding a picket sign with a succession of strike slogans. (The utterly inappropriate Monica Lewinsky joke is what made the ruse so convincing.) Sample of what you’re missing: “Jane! Get me off this thing!”

DePalma on the future of now


Over at Greencine, Sean Axmaker has an intriguing interview with Brian De Palma about Redacted. So it was constructed via the way you discovered [source material], through the video footage and video blogs you found in the Internet? “Yes, that presented the form to me. And I’m very technically savvy. I used to build computers when I was a kid and I’m very interested in the whole computer revolution. This’ll change in another couple of years. There wasn’t YouTube two or three years ago. There’s all kinds of new stuff and people are using it to express how they feel about things. They’re performers; they’re doing all kinds things and it’s interesting to see how it’s going to evolve. And I also think, certainly with digital storytelling, it’s a new way to tell narrative, to create narrative. I’ve made a lot of movies and most narrative forms have been pretty much exhausted now. They do them on television, they’ve recycled every plot and character you can imagine, so now there are whole new ways to deal with story forms that are emerging in these bits on the web.”

"Reno 911" on the picket line

[LOOK]: Woody Allen walks with the CBC through Manhattan in 1967

Movie City Indie

Quote Unquotesee all »

What do you make of the criticism directed at the film that the biopic genre or format is intrinsically bourgeois? That’s the most crazy criticism. That’s an excuse for not engaging with the content of the movie. Film critics sometimes, you know, can be very lazy.

Come on, formal criticism is valuable too. But I’m amazed when this is the thing they put in front of the discourse. My situation is that I’m dealing with a highly explosive subject, a taboo subject that nobody wants to deal with.

Karl Marx? Yes, this is the first film ever in the Western world about Marx. And I managed to make an almost mainstream film out of it. You want me at the same time to play the artist and do a risky film about the way my camera moves and the way I edit? No, it’s complicated enough! The artistic challenge — and it took me ten years with Pascal to write this story — was the writing. That was the most difficult part. We were making a film about the evolution of an idea, which is impossible. To be able to have political discourse in a scene, and you can follow it, and it’s not simplified, and it’s historically true. This is the accomplishment. So when someone criticizes the formal aspects without seeing that first, for me, it’s laziness or ignorance. There’s an incapacity to deal with what’s on the table. I make political films about today, I’m not making a biopic to make a biopic. I don’t believe in being an artist just to be an artist. And by the way, this film cost $9 million. I dare anyone in the United States to make this film for $9 million.
Raoul Peck on The Young Karl Marx

“The Motion Picture Academy, at considerable expense and with great efficiency, runs all the nominated pictures at its own theater, showing each picture twice, once in the afternoon, once in the evening. A nominated picture is one in connection with which any kind of work is nominated for an award, not necessarily acting, directing, or writing; it may be a purely technical matter such as set-dressing or sound work. This running of pictures has the object of permitting the voters to look at films which they may happen to have missed or to have partly forgotten. It is an attempt to make them realize that pictures released early in the year, and since overlaid with several thicknesses of battered celluloid, are still in the running and that consideration of only those released a short time before the end of the year is not quite just.

“The effort is largely a waste. The people with votes don’t go to these showings. They send their relatives, friends, or servants. They have had enough of looking at pictures, and the voices of destiny are by no means inaudible in the Hollywood air. They have a brassy tone, but they are more than distinct.”All this is good democracy of a sort. We elect Congressmen and Presidents in much the same way, so why not actors, cameramen, writers, and all rest of the people who have to do with the making of pictures? If we permit noise, ballyhoo, and theater to influence us in the selection of the people who are to run the country, why should we object to the same methods in the selection of meritorious achievements in the film business? If we can huckster a President into the White House, why cannot we huckster the agonized Miss Joan Crawford or the hard and beautiful Miss Olivia de Havilland into possession of one of those golden statuettes which express the motion picture industry’s frantic desire to kiss itself on the back of its neck? The only answer I can think of is that the motion picture is an art. I say this with a very small voice. It is an inconsiderable statement and has a hard time not sounding a little ludicrous. Nevertheless it is a fact, not in the least diminished by the further facts that its ethos is so far pretty low and that its techniques are dominated by some pretty awful people.

“If you think most motion pictures are bad, which they are (including the foreign), find out from some initiate how they are made, and you will be astonished that any of them could be good. Making a fine motion picture is like painting “The Laughing Cavalier” in Macy’s basement, with a floorwalker to mix your colors for you. Of course most motion pictures are bad. Why wouldn’t they be?”
~ Raymond Chandler, “Oscar Night In Hollywood,” 1948