Movie City Indie Archive for December, 2007

On the couch with Atonement's Joe Wright

All there in black-and-white… by Jamie Stuart. [Via FilmInFocus.]

The weather outside is frightful…


A batch of reviews soon…

Toronto Now critic John Harkness was 53

jharkness.jpgA press release from Toronto’s NOW weekly: “It is with great sadness that NOW publishers Michael Hollett and Alice Klein announce the death of NOW’s long-standing senior film writer, John Harkness. With NOW since its beginning in 1981, Harkness wrote with definitive authority on film, music and books. Beyond the pages of NOW, John contributed articles to Sight and Sound, Take One and the Cinematheque Ontario program. He also spent several years as trade reporter for Screen International and Cinema Canada. “Anyone who wants to review film,” he said, “should spend a year covering the industry. It tends to knock out a lot of one’s illusions about the art of cinema.” His book on the Oscars, The Academy Awards Handbook (Pinnacle Press), is currently in its eighth edition. His favourite interviews over the years were with the subjects he found most intimidating — Susan Sontag, David Mamet, Harlan Ellison and Peter Greenaway. “These are people whom you do not want to ask stupid questions,” he once said. Harkness’s preferred leisure activity was poker, and he won several poker tournaments in Las Vegas. Harkness was born in Montreal and grew up in Sarnia and Halifax before obtaining a degree in English at Carleton University. He did post-graduate work in cinema studies at Columbia University, where he studied with the American critic Andrew Sarris and spent a great deal of time in New York’s repertory cinemas. “Fifteen movies a week,” he recalled, “and none of them on tape.” “John Harkness was simply the best film critic in Canada over the last 26 years,” says NOW editor/publisher Michael Hollett. “He has been an essential element of NOW Magazine’s success, and his unique vision, bravery and art in expressing it inspired all of us at NOW to strive. He will be sorely missed by all of us at NOW, his family, friends and the film community as a whole.” [Obit: Toronto Film Critic Found Dead.]

Diablo Cody on David Denby on Juno

ellen_apge_50x50.jpgDavid Denby tickles Diablo Cody. “Wonderful review of Juno in The New Yorker. As good as it gets. “She’s a shrewd girl, and very blunt, yet she’s taken in by her own gift for rude comedy, which, as we learn, masks a great deal of uncertainty.” Yup.”

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Censored poster: Alex Gibney's Taxi To The Dark Side

thehoodremains.jpgA tempest with a t-square is aborning over the MPAA’s decision to compare the poster of Taxi To The Dark Side with the advertising materials for Hostel and Saw and its spawn. Simply put, torture should not be implied in advertising materials that might be seen by the weak of heart or that vast non-voting class politicians pay lip service to, “The Children.” Exec-producer Sidney Blumenthal says: “As executive producer of Taxi to the Dark Side, I am appalled at the Motion Picture Association of America'[s] censorship of the poster for our documentary because its depiction of the reality of the Bush policy of torture is too disturbing. This acclaimed film, which has already won numerous festival awards, including best documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival, and is shortlisted for the Academy Award, is the single most important movie of 2008, the campaign year.” Less declamatory is director Alex Gibney’s comments at A. J. Schnack’s blog, All These Wonderful Things. “Gibney doesn’t buy the “protecting the children” argument. “There’s a lot that my kids see daily on the front page of the NY Times. They’re offensive images. But they’re real images.” Gibney… putting finishing touches on his Sundance-debuting doc on Hunter S. Thompson said that the hood has become a symbol worldwide of US prisoner abuses, the topic of Taxi, which is a seering look at the Bush administration’s torture policies. He likened the MPAA’s desire to eliminate the hood to political figures denying that torture or mistreatment occurs in US facilities. “Removing the hood is the ultimate cover-up. (The U.S.) didn’t use to do that sort of thing. Removing the hood sends the same message as the Bush administration with the CIA tapes. It’s OK to do it, it’s just not OK to show it.” In campaigning for its chances as an Oscar nomimee, ThinkFilm big Mark Urman tells Anne Thompson that Taxi is one of the company’s “dark, edgy auteur-driven movies that used to be the province of the independents. We’re not up against The Sound of Music. We’re up against There Will Be Blood.” Let the free media begin! Here’s Variety’s take. A larger version is here. On the other hand, please note approved art for the beguilingly entitled sequel, Harold And Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay. Hey, no hoods here! [Art also here.]

Forget the writers… is there a graphic designer… in the house??

Get Back To Work! Signed, Big Money-1.JPG

Did you not cohost with Goebbels before you met Alan?: 10 minutes with Charles Grodin

I must clear the decks and go watch Midnight Run again. Now. Ladies and germs: Charles Grodin.

Short: A More Perfect Union

moreperfectunion_5b.jpgAndrew Sloat‘s short film A More Perfect Union choreographs the words and letters of the Constitution. [Larger image.]

FYC: How do you spell R-E-S-P-E-K-T?


[A for-your-consideration ad on Variety’s website, which, fortuitously enough, was corrected minutes later.]

They're heeeeeeere: CineFile Video's director T-shirts online

directors_banner.jpg Nice. More at the link.

"Mr. Kubrick, I presume?" "Mr. Hitchcock! How are you this fine evening?"

Jamie Stuart flags this small detail in a familiar film, which a handful of viewers had wondered about at the time of the original release: eyes_title_678.jpg“Just watching Eyes Wide Shut on my laptop using the full screen. At exactly 57:04, in the Sonata Cafe as Nick greets Bill, and they sit… Stanley Kubrick is pulling an Alfred Hitchcock sitting dead center in the background talking to a blonde woman.” Is it this man? What do you think? [ADD SATURDAY: Authoritative individuals suggest, ugh, otherwise. Isn’t this tippler just a little too frail for the man from the Bronx? I wish I could remember all those conversations of so much detail so much parsing so much love and so much surmise of color palette in those last days of the last summer of the last century…] [ADD MIDDAY SATURDAY: Someone who ought to know passes along word: Nope.]

Once again

once_again.jpgFifty-nine songs are eligible for Academy Award Best Song nominations, including two from once: “Falling Slowly” and “If You Want Me,” which you can stream here. And a bit of a rave. DVD: December 18.

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Jodie Speaks!!


The goofiest post-Golden Globes noms statement so far today, regarding an unlikely nod: “The nomination is so exciting and surprising at the same time. Never saw it coming… It’s strange to continue to feel a character in your blood long after it wraps. I am so proud of The Brave One, of where Neil Jordan took the character of Erica Bain. The experience of playing her has moved me deeper than anything I can remember. I can’t wait to have some rubber chicken and listen to the unscripted banter with all of those fine actresses.”

Josh Brolin & Eli Roth want to make the world's worst movie

M-word: tracking its predecessors

At Good, Jaime Wolf does a cool job of tracing some of the lineage of recent movie movies that cost little and talk a lot and have been unfairly dubbed a silly collective name and dissed by indie elder Amy Taubin: How about Rohmer, Salinger, hannahtakesthestairs-2med.jpgand Liz Phair? All’s Phair: writes Wolf of her memorable debut long-player, “Exile in Guyville,” “The lo-fi, livejournal-style indie rock version of a Joe Swanberg movie, Phair seeks self-knowledge via a diaristic series of regrettable hookups, disappointing boyfriends, unattainable fantasies, false hopes, fleeting erotic fulfillment, and meditations on the dichotomy between observer and participant.” And: “It’s rare to watch a movie and believe it could have been made by one of the characters in it, but m——— films have a documentary intimacy and rawness, a level of self-examination that feels new.They’re products of the thinner art/life membrane that affordable digital production tools have made possible, and which the imperatives of self-presentation on Facebook, blogs, and MySpace have made ubiquitous. Of course, it’s not all new. The dialogue in J.D. Salinger’s “Franny and Zooey” is pure mumblecore; so are the conversational erotics in Eric Rohmer’s My Night at Maud’s and the characters’ ditherings in his Boyfriends and Girlfriends; the perpetual hangout milieu of Richard Linklater’s Slacker; and the diaristic songs chronicling Liz Phair’s sexual, emotional, and relationship crises on her album “Exile In Guyville”… Making eloquent use of inarticulacy, films like Hannah Takes the Stairs and Mutual Appreciation happen to be precise (and to the extent of their precision, thrilling) depictions of post-collegiate flailing. They are set in a world populated by overeducated, unaccomplished, chronically ambivalent people who are starting to take grown-up jobs but still need a roommate to pay the rent; whose unfocused ambition and vague sense of artistic integrity propel them to pursue creative endeavors, even as they remain mystified by how a book might actually get published or a CD get made.”

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Movie City Indie

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“Ten years ago at Telluride, I said on a panel that theatrical distribution was dying. It seemed obvious to me. I was surprised how many in the audience violently objected: ‘People will always want to go to the movies!’ That’s true, but it’s also true that theatrical cinema as we once knew it has died. Theatrical cinema is now Event Cinema, just as theatrical plays and musical performances are Events. No one just goes to a movie. It’s a planned occasion. Four types of Event Cinema remain.
1. Spectacle (IMAX-style blockbusters)
2. Family (cartoon like features)
3. Horror (teen-driven), and
4. Film Club (formerly arthouse but now anything serious).

There are isolated pockets like black cinema, romcom, girl’s-night-out, seniors, teen gross-outs, but it’s primarily those four. Everything else is TV. Now I have to go back to episode five of ‘Looming Tower.'”
~ Paul Schrader

“Because of my relative candor on Twitter regarding why I quit my day job, my DMs have overflowed with similar stories from colleagues around the globe. These peeks behind the curtains of film festivals, venues, distributors and funding bodies weren’t pretty. Certain dismal patterns recurred (and resonated): Boards who don’t engage with or even understand their organization’s artistic mission and are insensitive to the diverse neighborhood in which their organization’s venue is located; incompetent founders and/or presidents who create only obstacles, never solutions; unduly empowered, Trumpian bean counters who chip away at the taste and experiences that make organizations’ cultural offerings special; expensive PR teams that don’t bring to the table a bare-minimum familiarity with the rich subcultural art form they’re half-heartedly peddling as “product”; nonprofit arts organizations for whom art now ranks as a distant-second goal behind profit.”
~ Eric Allen Hatch