Movie City Indie Archive for February, 2008

Teaser: Joe Angio's Crash Course: The Accidental Art of Arnold Odermatt

And you thought How To Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It) was a goofy title…

TribuneCo honcho Sam Zell meets his workers

This would be the one in which he found a reporter disrespectful and drops an “f-you” in front of the assembled Orlando employees… followed by a more germane moment about the executive who was used to being told what to do before Zell came along, a “motherfucker” who made $750,000.

Mad enough to be a genius?: Francis Ford Coppola on NBC in 1975

Alain Robbe-Grillet: "Literature's good for nothing"; was 85

From Eden And After, 1970. 522367909_aefa089b15_o.jpgAnd he wrote Last Year At Marienbad.

Errol Morris on interview technique

I’ve had the privilege of hearing a few versions of how Errol Morris conducts his interviews, but this is more terse than usual. From an interview at Spiegel Online about the upcoming Standard Operating Procedure: How long are the interviews? Long. Ten hours, 12 hours, 14 hours, two days. Long. Can you tell us something about your interview technique? It’s the “shut the fuck up” school of interviewing. You shut up, you let them talk. And you try to ask stuff which is remotely interesting to them, and to yourself.errol_worker_bees.jpg I try never to have a list of questions. Philip [Gourevitch], who has been going through these transcripts, told me something I had never realized. He said: “You know, you say the same thing at the beginning of every single interview. You always say, ‘I don’t know where to start.'” It’s true, I never know where to start. And then they usually say something, thank God. You had the photographs and the videos they shot, and you decided to add another level by recreating images. Why did you decide to do that? This is now the third film where I have used reenactments. I remember someone asked me during the making of “The Thin Blue Line” — I had terrible trouble getting the money to shoot the reenactments — if I really needed the reenactments. The answer is yes, I really need them. I’m very protective of my reenactments. There’s this mistaken idea about reenactments in general that you’re showing somebody what really happened. I’ve never used reenactments that way, nor do I ever imagine myself using reenactments that way. What you’re doing is you’re creating a little world where people can think about a problem or a set of questions. I’m trying to get the audience to think about certain questions about who was where, when, and what did they see. It forces you into a position where you are asked to think about something or to think about something the way I am thinking about it. In “Standard Operating Procedure,” if the idea is entering history through a photograph, if you’re somehow going through the surface of that photograph and going beyond, the reenactments help you to do that. They slow everything down, almost, but not quite, to that instant of photography and ask you to reflect, to listen to what people are saying about that moment when the photograph was taken and the circumstances under which it was taken. It’s creating a kind of strange abstract world around a photograph… With “Standard Operating Procedure,” I’ve collected an enormous amount of evidence in this story. This is one of the best investigations I’ve ever done. I’m really proud of it. Also in this case I kept saying I want to make a non-fiction horror movie. I wanted to make something that looked like a horror movie. [Photo from Morris’ website.]

A professional relates: composer Nico Muhly on Golden Compass's score

Composer Nico Muhly (Joshua, Choking Man, Drawing Restraint 9) has an extravagantly amusing website. Here’s his take on a recent film score: “Now, the issue with the Golden Compass score is that it is exactly the kind of manipulative, cartoony orthodoxy that the books seek so hard to undermine. There was one vile little turn of phrase that reminded me so much of that song “Somewhere Out There” from An American Tail, which works so well in that movie because it’s a cartoon about mice. Here, in this complicated, multi-layered story, having this kind of music just forces the whole film into a tedious urban sprawl of forced emotions. If you want to describe a gc_muhly_654.jpgparallel universe musically, why not set up some parallel rules of harmony, or instrumentation? Inasmuch as Pullman has subtle twists in nomenclature, why not perform a similar Clever Act in the music? I did, however, like the throat singing and the natural harmonic series, so, at least there was that.”

A Filmmaker interview with Tamara Jenkins

An interview I did with Tamara Jenkins for Filmmaker magazine was print-only until now; it’s online now. It’s the summary of several conversations in a couple of cities, and one of my favorite things sav295_ori.jpgthe Oscar nominee offered was this about writing: “I dunno, writing is weird and lonely and makes you grumpy and strange, and it’s nice when somebody understands that. I also have a dog. That helps. Makes you go out into the world. Then your dog’s like, “Okay, I have to walk you.” There’s something about moving and thinking. A treadmill, working out, and your brain just kind of makes connections. Moving — being in cars, trains, being on treadmills, they’re all really good for the writing brain. But I haven’t written in a long time; I have to start writing. To write you really should be writing every single day to keep the muscle going. But then if you write and make a movie, the year of working on the movie goes by and then you’re supposed to start writing again and you have kind of forgotten how. So I have to start writing. I have to buy a new journal; I have to get some nice pens.” [More at the link.]

Jumper (2008, **)


ISN’T IT ENOUGH TO HAVE COME UP WITH A SLOGAN THAT PERFECTLY ENCAPSULATES A CONCEPT without having to go then and make the expensive, logistically unwieldy, imperfect result? Jumper: “Anywhere Is Possible.” I’d figured that if anyone could pull off the idea of characters being able to jump across space at will with any sort of panache and a bit of willful eccentricity, it would be Doug Liman, whose Go, The Bourne Identity and Mr. and Mrs. Smith are as giddily crafted as their reported production processes were tortured. There’s another reason this subject suits Liman’s profile: his ADD-OCD-OMGZ! range of interests and whims. (From a New York magazine profile: “[H]e sits with his sheepdog Jackson—for his birthday, Liman bought him some sheep.”) The dread Hayden Christiansen (Star Wars I-III) is only slightly less wooden than in earlier roles, and Rachel Bilson, tiny and wet-dark-wide-eyed, is ideal in the teen-dream role of the crush from high school that can be swept off her tiny feet. There are shreds that hint at mythology of a centuries-long battle between Jumpers and Paladins, embodied by Samuel L. Jackson, claiming to be an agent of the NSA, CIA and IRS at various times, with a platinum merkin skullcapped atop his head and a range of costumes that start at Matrix-with-a-Nehru jacket that after a while simplify into in Obi-Wan muslins. (Other cryptic allusions are equally toothsome.) Except for the incessant product placement, Jumpers plays as a very expensive episode of a kooky Komedy TV series for kidz you’ve never seen before, especially at its brisk, relentless, shocking 88-minute length. Still, there’s eyeball kicks everywhere and the immensely watchable Jamie Bell should be a star. [Ray Pride.]

[PR] Roy Scheider's got a posthumous role


Not Brett Morgen’s Chicago 10, in which the late actor is a cartoon, but an unfinished project called Iron Cross. Here’s a larger image. Comes the press release, unedited: “ACADEMY-AWARD® NOMINEE ROY SCHEIDER’S MISSING SCENE TO BE DIGITALLY COMPELTED FOR his final leading role in revenge thriller  IRON CROSS. Film Written & Directed by Joshua Newton and Scheduled to Premiere at the Venice International Film Festival in September 2008
NEW YORK, NY, February 14, 2008 – Two-time Academy Award® Nominee Roy Scheider, who sadly passed on February 10th, was one key scene shy of completing principal photography for what he hoped would be his great comeback performance in the upcoming revenge thriller IRON CROSS.  The pivotal scene will be finished using the latest CGI technology. The feature-length debut of British  writer-director Joshua Newton, will launch  at the Venice International Film Festival in 2008. 
Roy Scheider, widely recognized as one of Hollywood’s most versatile actors, was nominated for an Oscar® for his extraordinary performance of Detective Buddy Russo in The French Connection, and again for his sparkling portrayal of director Bob Fossee in All That Jazz. Scheider had been featured in more than 50 films; His upcoming credits include Dark Honeymoon (co-starring Daryl Hannah and Eric Roberts) and what is his final leading performance in the Joshua Newton film IRON CROSS. 
IRON CROSS tells the story of Joseph, a retired New York police officer, played by Roy Scheider, who witnessed the massacre of his family in Poland 1941.  He travels to Nuremberg to visit his son Ronnie (Scott Cohen, Gilmore Girls, Cashmere Mafia) years after turning his back on him for rejecting a promising career in the NYPD and marrying a local artist, Anna (Calita Rainford, Return to House on Haunted  Hill). No sooner does Joseph attempt to heal the rift with Ronnie, when he swears that living in the apartment above, under the false name of Shrager (Helmut Berger, Ludwig, The Damned, The Godfather Part III) is the now aging SS Commander who committed the atrocity. With little hope of seeing him stand trial, Joseph talks Ronnie into exacting justice – and vengeance – and together they set out to kill him. 

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Reviewing the reviews: Alex Cox and Walker

cox_567890.jpgIn advance of its Criterion release, director Alex Cox previews part of the DVD as he reviews the contemporary American reviews of his little-seen Walker (1987) here (14mb quicktime download). Cox’s notes on the film are here.

Kon Ichikawa, 1915-2008


“Kon Ichikawa, celebrated Japanese helmer whose career spanned more than seven decades, died on Feb. 13 of pneumonia. He was 92,” obits Mark Schilling at Variety Asia. “Best known abroad for “The Burmese Harp” (1956) and “Fires on the Plain (1959), pics that vividly, if grimly, portrayed the human costs of WWII, as well as the 1964 Tokyo Olympics docu “Tokyo Olympiad” (1965), Ichikawa was the last directorial giant of Japan’s now vanished studio studio system, which reached its peak in the 1950s and early 1960s, before succumbing to the advance of television. Born in 1915 in Ise City, in Western Japan, Ichikawa began his career as an animator, heavily influenced by Disney’s “Silly Symphonies.” In 1933 he joined the animation department of the predecessor of the Toho studio… He began making sophisticated comedies, with Hollywood as a model, but later became known for his powerfully told, vividly shot literary adaptations, including “The Temple of the Golden Pavilion” (1958), “The Key” (1959) and “The Makioka Sisters” (1983). The scripter on many of the pics of his 1950s and 1960s creative peak was his wife, Natto Wada, who died in 1983, but largely laid down her pen after co-writing “The Tokyo Olympiad.” [More at link.]

KON, LENI_567.jpg

[RIP] Kon Ichikawa.jpg

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A 5-minute Roy Scheider tribute reel

It's a Dogme kind of day, really, it is

"Bye Bye Life" from All That Jazz

A Once interview newly online pre-Oscars

Filmmaker Magazine’s put online for the first time an interview with director John Carney and composer Glen Hansard I did for the Spring ’07 issue. You can find it here. Once is nominated for Best Original Song for “Falling Slowly,” music and lyric by Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová. “In John Carney’s limber long-player, several songs suggest a life, a small, wonderful world consisting of a few Dublin haunts where an unnamed street corner performer, or busker (Glen Hansard), and an unnamed younger Czech woman (Markéta Irglová), who has a winsomely resourceful command of English, meet, tease, learn but mostly, with eyes wide open, develop a mature relationship deepened by the dance of several songs, including the gorgeous “Falling Slowly,” which the extremely affable and charming pair convincingly “compose” in front of us…”

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