Movie City Indie Archive for December, 2007

Happy New Year from Robert Bresson

Mike Nichols and Aaron Sorkin on "killing rage" and keeping "the process" hidden

Excerpts from a terrific conversation with Mike Nichols and Aaron Sorkin and Christopher Goodwin of the Times of London about writing. “A recent blog said the 9/11 resonances were more explicit in an earlier version of the script, which ended with Charlie Wilson on September 11, 2001, in his apartment in Washington, seeing plumes of smoke coming from the attack on the Pentagon,” Goodwin poses. Sorkin: “It’s a whole new critical world out there, where it’s not just the final product that is being judged, and it is being comparedDOM3Z2GOZ5RHLNe.jpg to various drafts that were obviously only meant for Mike to see. There were many, many hours of discussion about that scene, and I was the staunchest keep-the-scene-in guy. I watch the movie now and have never been so happy to be wrong in my life.” Nichols adds, “You know what we are really talking about, Aaron, the reason you and I have a moment of confusion and discomfort, not to say killing rage, is that we always have the problem that whatever we are working on is being judged, which is no fun. The whole point is that the process is nobody’s business. It would be like saying, ‘Thomas Mann stands at the mantelpiece to write: isn’t that sort of a strange thing to do, and to do in front of the rest of his family? He can’t sit at a desk like everybody else?’ Who gives a shit?” Sorkin: “Too many people are watching how you make the sausage now – and there is an assumption that your motives, whether it’s overcutting a scene or reshooting a scene or putting in a new scene or changing this line to that, are somehow sinister or mercenary or motivated by fear… I am all for everyone having a voice, I just don’t think everyone has earned the microphone. And that’s what the internet has done.” Nichols: “On the one hand, there is this blight of correctness, which teaches you to lie about everything that is your instinct and your feeling, and to take a dip of the pabulum and dish it out, because at least it’s correct. At the same time, you’ve got shit on television such as ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and ‘American Idol.’ What’s going to happen to young people? I don’t know.”

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'Tis the season: Daler Mehndi's Tunak Tunak Tun (1998)


Still strange. Wiki.Tunk tunk Tun, Tunk tunk Tun, Tunk tunk Tun, Da Da Da. Sweetheart, Sweetheart, Sweetheart, Sweetheart, the strings of the instrument play, listen to what the heart says, Come and love me.”

What film directors look like: Andrew Dominik


Another open-space press conference from the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, with pretty much unlistenable sound, yet director Andrew Dominik, who made the fine The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford does equally fine by embodying the look—shoulder-length hair, scruffy beard, leather, fashionable specs—of the modern man-child as modern movie director. (Smokes not optional.)

Io Non Sono Qui

Io Non Sono Qui.jpg

The Shock Doctrine (2007) by Jonas Cuarón, Alfonso Cuarón and Naomi Klein


From the most voluminously despairing book of the year… a promotional short for Naomi Klein’s densely detailed polemic about disaster exploitation.

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There Will Be Words: Paul Thomas Anderson's script online

bloodbook_567.jpgThere Will Be Blood opens today in New York and Los Angeles; the Paramount Vantage awards site has the script online [PDF download], as well as streaming audio of eight selections from Jonny Greenwood’s score. Now drink your milkshake. [Highly recommended: don’t read the script until you’ve seen the film.]

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Never meta sucker… Local news fawns on itself

itsallaboutme_4.jpgIn Chicago, the Disney-ABC affilated WLS puts their news performers in a glass bowl open to a public that gathers on the sidewalk on State Street that makes the midwest look extremely backward. (Yes, I know the Today Show started the talent-on-display gimmick.) But not as much as this prime slab of self-important narcissism, when on Sunday night a car piloted by a reportedly mentally distressed man plows into the fishbowl and becomes the most important story of the hour, if not the day, if not ever, uh, y’know? We are waiting for the police to get in here and start an investigation… I’ll tell you, it’s been very startling for us here in the studio, uh, to see a car literally crashing through from State Street, right into our studio. So there you have, right there, a live shot, that’s maybe a good 15 o 20 feet to my right as we sit here…. And I can tell you, it was a loud, loud bang…. This might be from our Macy’s cam…” Murrow smiles down from the heavens with his memories of the Blitz…



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Southland Tales Deux: The launch of the Ron Paul blimp


As Jane Hamsher observes of the arch-conservative, oft-reactionary groundling candidate’s supporter’s video, “The soundtrack, appropriately, sounds sort of like “The Ride of the Valkyries” played on a farfisa organ.”

The Assassination of Caryn James By The Cowardly Sub-Editor


Who knew that the New York Times would let lazy surmise and reinforcement of lazy cliche rule the roost? Doing her best impersonation of a pigeon in the park flying overhead, Caryn James starts her year-end characterization of the movie world like this: “Who knew that Ben Affleck could direct and Josh Brolin could act? Or that Casey Affleck could act and Johnny Depp could (sort of) sing? Even as the entertainment world splinters into ever-smaller niches, 2007 was a year when stars broke free of their confining boxes, when the most appealing work often came out of nowhere, while big names landed with giant thuds. Mr. Brolin burst out of a niche you could kindly call small time. Hardly anyone — except the Coen brothers — took him seriously before his crafty portrayal of a not-too-smart but not-too-stupid guy who stumbles across millions in drug money in their magisterial “No Country for Old Men.” Add Mr. Brolin’s dynamic performance as a sinister cop in “American Gangster,” and it’s clear that his strong screen presence is no fluke, that he won’t have “James Brolin’s son” or “Barbra Streisand’s stepson” trailing after his name anymore. Ben Affleck’s career had become a tired “Gigli” joke, and his first film as director had the trappings of a vanity project. He shot it in his hometown and even cast his kid brother, Casey, in the lead. But the joke was on the skeptics. “Gone Baby Gone,” about a child who goes missing in Boston, turned out be a sharply made, psychologically astute thriller.” To use Doris Lessing’s memorable neologism, James is sounding an awful lot like an unemployed, unemployable “blugger.” Further insult is added to Casey Affleck’s performance (and family) in a few words about The Assassination of Jesse James by The Coward Robert Ford; it’s just too painful to go on.

…and a happy New Year…

Slow dance

Coen groaners: one particular chicken

John Patterson in the Guardian: “Much of the dialogue in No Country is taken from the book almost word for word. Joel: “Ethan once described the way we worked together as: one of us types into the computer while the other holds the spine of the book open flat. That’s why there needs to be two of us – otherwise he’s gotta type one-handed. That’s how you ‘collaborate’ with someone else.” Ethan: “Paperback novels just won’t lie open properly! They flip shut.” ne wonders what a sci-fi movie by the Coens – who have done noir, screwball, a kind of western, even a musical of sorts – would look like. “Neither of us is drawn to that kind of fiction,” says Ethan of sci-fi. “There are movies that we both like. I don’t know that that would ever happen, and I don’t quite know why.” Joel knows: “I don’t think we could get our minds around the whole spacesuit thing.” Instead, they have a script of their own that they’d like to film. “We’ve written a western,” says Joel, “with a lot of violence in it. There’s scalping and hanging … it’s good. Indians torturing people with ants, cutting their eyelids off.” Ethan: “It’s a proper western, a real western, set in the 1870s. It’s got a scene that no one will ever forget because of one particular chicken.”

The slow death of digital cinema

Ninjacam


Writes Michael Cieply in the New York Times: “To keep to keep the enormous swarm of data produced when a picture is “born digital” — that is, produced using all-electronic processes, rather than relying wholly or partially on film — pushes the cost of preservation to $208,569 a year, vastly higher than the $486 it costs to toss the equivalent camera negatives, audio recordings, on-set photographs and annotated scripts of an all-film production into the cold-storage vault.” [More data at the link.]

Thai film censorship passes; PG-20 in the mix

Four palms
Kong Rithdee reports at varietyasiaonline: “Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly passed the controversial Film Act… replacing laws that have been in place largely unchanged since 1930. An eight-month-long campaign by local film professionals to end censorship went unheeded. The new law stipulates a complex rating system which still gives the state the right to ban a movie and prevent its release in the kingdom. The rating system is made up of “P” (films that are of educational value and should be promoted for Thai auds), “G” (fit for all age groups), “under 13 not admitted,” “under 15 not admitted,” “under 18 not admitted” and “under 20 not admitted.” However, it does not include an “under 24” category which had been discussed in some media circles. Notably, the Film Act authorizes the state to forbid the release of movies that “undermine or disrupt social order and moral decency, or that might impact national security or the pride of the nation”. [More at the link.]

Mike Figgis' Moleskine

Movie City Indie

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“I always thought that once I had lived in Chicago for a while, it would be interesting to do a portrait of the city – but to do it at a significant time. Figuring out when would be the ideal time to do that was the trick. So when this election came around, coupled with the Laquan McDonald trial, it seemed like the ideal time to do the story. Having lived in Chicagoland for thirty-five-plus years and done a number of films here, I’ve always been struck by the vibrancy of the city and its toughness. Its tenderness too. I’ve always been interested in the people at the center of all the stories. This is a different film in that regard, because we’re not following a couple of individuals over the course of the project in the way that a lot of the films I’ve done have, but I still feel like people’s voices and aspirations and hopes are at the center of this series.

It wasn’t easy. We started back in July 2018, it was actually on the Fourth of July – that was our first shoot. It’s like most documentaries in that the further you go along the more involved and obsessed you get, and you just start shooting more and more and more. We threw ourselves into this crazy year in Chicago. We got up every day and tried to figure out if we should be out shooting or not, and what it is we should shoot. We were trying to balance following this massive political story of the mayor’s race and these significant moments like the Laquan McDonald trial with taking the pulse of people in the city that we encounter along the way and getting a sense of their lives and what it means to live here. By election day, Zak Piper, our producer, had something like six cameras out in the field. You could double-check that, it might have been seven. We had this organized team effort to hit all the candidates as they were voting, if they hadn’t already voted. We hit tons of polling places, were at the Board of Elections and then were at the parties for the candidates that we had been able to follow closely. Then of course, we were trying to make sure we were at the parties of the candidates who made it to the runoff. So, yeah, it was kind of a monster.”
~ Steve James On City So Real

“I really want to see The Irishman. I’ve heard it’s big brother Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece. But I really can’t find the time. The promotion schedule is so tight, there’s no opportunity to see a three and a half-hour movie. But I really want to see it. In 2017, right before Okja’s New York premiere, I had the chance to go to Scorsese’s office, which is in the DGA building. There’s a lovely screening room there, too, with film prints that he’s collected. I talked to him for about an hour. There’s no movie he hasn’t seen, even Korean films. We talked about what he’s seen and his past work. It was a glorious day. I’ve loved his work since I was in college. Who doesn’t? Anyone involved with movies must feel the same way.”
~ Bong Joon-ho