Movie City Indie Archive for March, 2008

Tribco film cricket doomsday…


The day news came that TribCo, which owns 11 daily newspapers, was shedding their two film reviewers, Gene Seymour and Jan Stuart, this was the only headline listed on one of the film pages in another TribCo sheet, The LA Times. No irony implied or inferred. Please have your desks clear when the nice man raps twice at your cubicle perimeter.

Indie returns shortly…

Greater than less than

[S08] One Piece: Screenwriter Howard A. Rodman on film as dream and Force of Evil

Screenwriter Howard Rodman had two features at Sundance 2008: the debut of his first produced original script, the underappreciated riff on Abraham Polonsky‘s singular masterpiece, Force of Evil, and Tom Kalin‘s return, Savage Grace. We spoke about his career during the festival, as well as talking about how movies ought to aspire to the condition of dream, and in the second Piece, Rodman offers an appreciation of the carborundum marvels of Force of Evil. [A six-part oral-history video with Polonsky is here.]

Harmony Korine, The Malingerers, the gold-scale fish and the imaginary dog: Hello, Harmony!

Harmony_lesinrocks_6.jpgJames Mottram over at the Scotsman has a few piquant words with Mr. Lonely himself, Harmony Korine. “Korine, who lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where he was raised, admits he “wanted to disappear” during this bleak time. He took off to Europe, living in Paris for a while. It was here that he hit upon the initial idea for Mister Lonely, which stars… Diego Luna as a Michael Jackson impersonator. He recalls seeing the character’s real-life equivalent. “Nobody was paying any attention to the guy, there was no money in his hat… and it was just an interesting way to live your life,” he concedes… “I thought Michael was a symbol of identity and wanting to be other than who you are,” he says. Yet at the time, Korine was experiencing his own form of isolation. Living on a diet of sweets and McDonald’s, he “flipped out in Europe” and decided to fly and meet his parents – his father, Sol, is a former documentary filmmaker – who were living in the jungles of Panama. It’s at this point that Korine’s story takes a turn for the bizarre. He claims he fell in with a small cult known as The Malingerers, 70-odd men who devoted their lives to finding a rare, sought-after fish with gold scales. “They said only two had been found in the last 75 years. If you found this fish, there are three spots on the side on the gills that if you press, it sounds like a piano.” So adept is he at spinning yarns – he once claimed The Basketball Diaries author Jim Carroll attended his birth and cut his umbilical cord – I’m beginning to wonder if Korine the trickster is back. “I spent seven months with them and we never found the fish,” he continues. “One day, I got in an argument with one of the leaders there. He started screaming at me and said I had no faith, that I didn’t believe it really existed. I never saw a picture of it and I think that they were all living in some kind of fantasy. Anyway, I was getting ready to leave, and this woman, who was married to one of the cult members, walked out with a dog’s leash, and I said, ‘What are you doing?’ And she said, ‘I’m walking my dog.’ There was no dog there. It was an invisible dog. I took that as a sign.” [Believe it or not, more at the link.]

[S08] One Piece: Momma's Man, Azazel Jacobs

A Sundance debut, Azazel Jacobs’ emotionally naked Momma’s Man is the small-scale, small-budgeted story of a thirtysomething man who visits his New York parents in their artifact-stuffed rent-controlled Chambers Street loft and finds he can’t return to his wife and child but instead curls up into all kinds of stalling tactics. (Talk about kammerspiel.) As a dry comedy about clinical depression, it’s a wondrous monument, as well as a tribute to the home and lives of his mother and father, filmmaker Ken Jacobs and artist Flo Jacobs. Jacobs shot on 35mm, as he did with his giddy earlier feature, GoodTimesKid (scheduled for release on DVD by Benten Films). In this moment, Jacobs talks about why it’s important for him to originate (or at least finish) his work on celluloid. [Below, the trailer for GoodTimesKid, a sweet short in its own right, and “Plexi Beat,” a video by Jacobs and Sara Diaz.]

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[True/False 08] opening bumpers (****)

Zowie: incredibly impressive parkour-on-the-streets-of-Columbia Missouri videos: the Thursday, Friday and Saturday premiered festival-identity shorts, in sequence below.



Saturday. (Punchline!)


[True/False 08] never a mistake to open with a punk circus marching band through town

Painted family

IT’S HALF-TROT, HALF-RUN UP PARADE-BLOCKED, PEOPLE-CHOKED BROADWAY in Columbia, Missouri in Leap Day’s springy dusk a couple hours west of St. Louis or east of Kansas City along I-70, the grand march opening the fifth edition of the fantastically smart, town-transforming True/False documentary film festival, led for the second time by the event’s semi-official punk circus marching band, Chicago’s Mucca Pazza. (The festival’s red and white logo is painted on the faces of the mother and daughterabove.) I tarried at an overlapping event, scooping up visiting journalists and bloggers and consultants and doc-makers from the altar of an open bar, urging them toward the rural drag to witness the hijinks of Chicago’s very own, and now it’s a gallop to get in front. Police cars with blue lights flashing block the cross-streets. The sidewalks stream thick people, a few figures bent to scrawl, drawing from the many buckets of fat sticks of multicolored chalk.

Mucca Pazza trumpeting

The band’s stopped in front of a church with a tall white steeple that from most angles resembles Donald Duck and the sound grows louder as the crowd clusters. Later that night, a small club will throb with a Gypsy-inflected wall of sound. But now the more than dozen players in customary mismatched ragtag marching band uniforms tear into something unrecognizable but utterly rhythmic: sousaphone, trombone, trumpet, an electric guitar wailing from a loudspeaker on a helmet atop the red-white-and-blue jacketed player’s head. A light breeze of clear cool air moves, but the assembling stands in place, swaying or jumping, a couple hundred celebrants. A hundred fifty yards ahead, a Stephens College overpass is draped with festival banners and photographers and cheering figures. Marching forward to the college’s commons where fire twirlers await in a roped-off area, placards dance: turbaned swamis in memory of a locally-born mystic of the 1920s; Diane Arbus’ eerily calm twin girls. Scattered around the mushy field, it’s tough to keep count: no one’s standing still long enough. Three drummers? Two trumpets? Saxophone, cymbals, trombones, sousaphone, bullhorns, the big thumping drum with the crude sketch of the band’s iconic grinning Mad Cow on the side. The single cheerleader, barelegged, Docs-booted, shakes her pompoms in an ironic frug. A Ken-sized band member crests the shoulder of one of the band members. Scattered details like that put a grin on faces in every direction. A whistle shrills. The march resumes, crowd trickling back to the center of town. Atop a newly restored hotel, the neon letters “Tiger” are burning bright in the falling blue. Drums roll. Traffic resumes. The weekend begins with one last trumpet blast.

Music man

Contempt (1963, ****)

mepris_avant.jpgContempt remains a revelation, a shockingly accessible masterpiece amid Godard’s intermittently difficult canon. Michel Piccoli plays Paul Javal, a playwright who needs money, and the producer Prokosch is embodied by Jack Palance, that heavy among heavies. He’s waving a packet of cash in Paul’s direction to doctor a script of “The Odyssey” being directed by Fritz Lang. “I like gods,” Palance purrs, “I like them very much.” While Contempt plays out over a long Italian weekend, climaxing at Malaparte, an architectural marvel of a villa at Capri, it is also a romantic epic, the abiding, naked pain of its characters washing away all the intellectualizing. Paul’s beautiful young wife is Camille, played with momentous petulance by Brigitte Bardot. Paul asks whether he should write the script. Camille tells him it’s fine. Later she feels he hasn’t shown enough concern when Prokosch has been forward with her. No matter what Paul does, it will not be enough. Camille seizes on excuses, any excuses, to dismiss Paul’s adoration. She remembers the love she once thought they had: “Everything used to happen instinctively, in complicitous ecstasy.” In his screenplay, Godard wrote, “In contrast to Paul, who always acts on the strength of a complicated series of rationalizations, Camille acts nonpsychologically…. Though one might wonder about her, as Paul does, she never wonders about herself. “She lives full and simple sentiments, and cannot imagine analyzing them. At the end, the camera looks out onto the ocean, the horizon. Limitless possibility or infinite distance? The space between you and I, the space between a man, a woman. The sparkling azure of the sea is the crashing gulf between them. It is unfathomably huge. (Contempt opens Friday at Film Forum in Manhattan.) [Ray Pride.]

Notes from True/False Film Festival.. coming soon


Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze are Dirty Dancing

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Jacques Rivette is 80 today

vlcsnap-10060498-1.pngFrom the interview on the DVD of The Story Of Marian and Julian.

Teasing Nights And Weekends, by Joe Swanberg and Greta Gerwig

Jonathan Rosenbaum on retirement and politics

A 20-minute video interview with Jonathan Rosenbaum by Kalvin Henely from CINE-FILE Chicago. Rosenbaum retired from regular reviewing chores on February 27, his 65th birthday.

Movie City Indie

Quote Unquotesee all »

“We’re all going to die so it makes it very easy. I haven’t always thought that way but I’ve realized it’s the truth. I think age gets you there, questioning your mortality… When you realize that, it’s so liberating, it’s so free, you can fly! There’s no need to hold on to anything. Like, think of the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you; it’s probably happened to 500 million people as well. Who gives a shit!”
~ Steve McQueen

“Let’s lay it right on the line. Bigotry and racism are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today. But, unlike a team of costumed super-villains, they can’t be halted with a punch in the snoot, or a zap from a ray gun. The only way to destroy them is to expose them—to reveal them for the insidious evils they really are. The bigot is an unreasoning hater—one who hates blindly, fanatically, indiscriminately. If his hang-up is black men, he hates ALL black men. If a redhead once offended him, he hates ALL redheads. If some foreigner beat him to a job, he’s down on ALL foreigners. He hates people he’s never seen—people he’s never known—with equal intensity—with equal venom. Now, we’re not trying to say it’s unreasonable for one human being to bug another. But, although anyone has the right to dislike another individual, it’s totally irrational, patently insane to condemn an entire race—to despise an entire nation—to vilify an entire religion. Sooner or later, we must learn to judge each other on our own merits. Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill out hearts with tolerance. For then, and only then, will we be truly worthy of the concept that man was created in the image of God–a God who calls us ALL—His children.”
~ Stan Lee, 1965