Movie City Indie Archive for February, 2009

Final Edition: Rocky Mountain News' video of day of death

Final Edition from Matthew Roberts on Vimeo.

The almost-150-year-old Rocky Mountain News was thrown into the bushes on Friday; here’s their 20-minute video of the day.

Indie is screenering


Coppola introduces Tetro

Mentioned earlier, but wasn’t aware then that Coppola had also set up a YouTube channel for his Tetro videos.

"This Aggression Will Not Stand, Man": an art show

the-big-lebowski-show.jpgFrom the blog Gavin’s Underground, reportage and photos of art and artgoers from an opening of Big Lebowski-themed work at Signed & Numbered Gallery in Salt Lake City.

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If Michel Gondry were to eat with his feet…

rubiks-salt-pepper-mills-3.jpgAnd for only $17.50: “Offically licensed by Rubik’s, these Salt and Pepper mills have been produced as a tribute to the world’s most addictive – and some would say annoying, puzzle. The iconic 80’s gadget is brought to life here as a kitchen condiment dispenser!Each cube is exactly the same size as an authentic Rubik’s Cube – 2.24 inches cubed! Sit the mills down next to the real thing and you won’t be able to tell between them – only difference with these cubes is you can’t play them! The Rubik’s Cube mills are built around a durable ceramic mill that grinds various courseness salt & peppercorns. And so only the top layer of the cube rotates to operate the mill and grind the salt & pepper. The salt mill has a white top and the pepper mill has a red top so you can easily tell the difference between the two cubes.”

When Francis Met David [updated]

sunnyskies_dl6.jpgLooking at Francis Coppola’s intro to Tetro and his palm-POV style, something chimed in my head, but it took a couple hours to realize what it was: David Lynch’s Los Angeles weather report videos, issued daily from the director’s work desk. The old guys are going all Lumiere Bros. on us. [Meanwhile, Lynch Twitters coyly about his imminent nuptials.]

Rating Poo Poo's The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus

While Terry Gilliam’s Heath Ledger-starring The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus hasn’t announced U.S. distribution, his Poo Poo Pictures Productions Ltd. has gotten a PG-13 for the finished film for ” violent images, some sensuality, language and smoking.”

American Zoetrope comes around to self-releasing Tetro

littlefrancis567.jpgA website for Francis Coppola’s self-financed, self-distributed Tetro debuted yesterday, with promises of more supplemental material before its June 11 limited release. There’s no trailer yet, so the hint that black-and-white stills and black-and-white posters offer of a monochrome film isn’t confirmed yet. But there is a two minute video with Coppola giving a glimpse of his Napa Valley office and making himself breathless from setting up the story while holding his video camera above his head as if taking a picture for a MySpace profile and spinning around in his desk chair. The arte povera quality of the gesture is oddly charming. It’s not over until the fat little 8-year-old girl in Ohio sings. [The Tetro website. The press release is below.]

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Presenting Slumdog: the cowboys and the campfire

campfire-a27.jpgI’ve obviously not read every stitch of Oscar hemming and hawing out there, but I was struck by at least one sly detail I haven’t seen remarked upon: having Steven Spielberg, whose DreamWorks is now partnered with Indian money, present the Best Picture, a category the winner of which was expected by almost everyone to be… Slumdog Millionaire. A tacit signal to the world that the movies as we know need the world to survive. Not just their money. The Australian director Bill Bennett says it’s the same as the tale of the cowboys and the campfire. Every so often, an influx of talent or inspirations needs to come from far away, from over the horizon, just like cowboys around the campfire expected strangers to stop and tell tales they hadn’t heard, the news they didn’t know yet.

[OnePiece] Mark Rance on restoring The Whole Shootin' Match digitally

Most people don’t realize how fragile film history is, and it’s not about the third DVD in a row arriving in two pieces from Netflix. When I was a kid, Eagle Pennell’s 1978 The Whole Shootin’ Match (released in New York in 1979), made for around $30,000, was written up in all the film magazines that I read to read about the films that would never have come to my part of Kentucky. This slacker avant le lettre Austin fable was obscure then (even with a Vincent Canby notice) and would remain obscure to this day if not for the discovery of a mint print of the shot-on-16mm black-and-white film, and the digital restoration of its gamy glories by veteran DVD producer Mark Rance, who’s just launched his Watchmaker Films DVD label with a pleasing three-disc set devoted to the feature, its music, and a new documentary on Pennell’s slow, if spirited, dive into failure.

The DVD booket is rich with background, including bits from Austin’s legendary journalist Louis Black. Paul Cullum, an Austin peer, writes that “the man belonged in the Alcohol of Fame; he put pop alcoholics like us to shame.” Cullum got confirmation that this quote from Robert Redford was indeed about the troubled Pennell: “I thought a real service to the industry would be to provide a guy like that with a place to train, a place to go where he could develop his skills. It would shortcut a lot of the problems he was going to be facing.” Voila: Sundance.
But voila aussi: The Whole Shootin’ Match, which also inspired the similarly shaggy but much more prolific filmic ambitions of another Austin cineaste, Richard Linklater. This rambling, profane charmer of a film is still an inspiration, and it’s terrific that it’s out for a new generation of potential regional filmmakers to admire. (And a Texas-size cautionary tale to boot.) [Interview shot at Chicago’s Siskel Film Center.]

[Below, Rance describes “frame-based” restoration.]

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New Yorker Films, 1963-2008

In college, a friend made a 16mm faux trailer for an apocryphal Straub-Huillet film starring Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis and Marlon Brando, entitled “The Patriarch, the Plebian and the Penis.” Their austere camera style was part of the send-up, as well as a critic’s quote: “A one-of-a-kind film… may be the best of its kind ever made.” (Which I used years later in film review.) The best joke, if the title didn’t have you rolling in the aisles right off, was the credit up top, with a logo familiar from all the scritch-scratchy 16mm prints of movies we’d rented for the university film societies, with one addendum: “Coming for Christmas from New Yorker Films.” I think we’d just watched Werner Herzog’s Even newyorkerlogo_5678.jpgDwarves Started Small when the notion came up. We were readily amused in those days and I think it was also around the time we’d witnessed a double feature of Ingmar Bergman’s Persona and Jerry Lewis’ Nutty Professor. The idea of a Christmas promo from the company still makes me smile, but not the news that its library had been used as collateral on a loan that went into default and the company was shut down today. And, among the modest honorifics that have ever come my way was the pleasure of being quoted on New Yorker DVDs from Tim Roth, Emir Kusturica and Claire Denis, even if the quotes are goofy. For Underground, it’s something about beer and women; for Beau Travail, it’s the ellipsis-heavy “A MASTERPIECE! Exquisite… Mysterious… Magical.” Missing only a second exclamation point! Presentation treatments and the seven-to-fifteen second fanfares that accompany them have always given me a little rush, on films old or new. But the silent white-on-blue New Yorker logo that accompanied movies like Wim Wenders’ American Friend is forever married in my memory to the low hiss and crackle of a well-distressed 16mm optical soundtrack. Here’s hoping some part of their legacy is salvaged from the bank’s vaults. In his new blog at the New Yorker, Richard Brody considers implications of the closure, including the fact that “unlike book publishers, whose wares are widely distributed to libraries (it’s bitterly sad when a publisher goes out of business, but the back catalogue is already out there), film distributors hold the prints of the movies they own rights to; those which are out on home video have a second life, but the 35mm prints are, as of now, locked up, and revival houses wanting to screen them are simply out of luck.” [More at the link.]

Viral snowfall

Who watches

In Ukrainian Village, Chicago.

Sack o' Oscars, anyone?


[Via The House Next Door.]

Laurence Olivier's 1979 Lifetime Achievement Oscar speech

Mr. President and Governors of the Academy, Committee Members, fellows, my very noble and approved good masters, my colleagues, my friends, my fellow-students. In the great wealth, the great firmament of your nation’s generosity, this particular choice may perhaps be found by future generations as a trifle eccentric, but the mere fact of it—the prodigal, pure, human kindness of it—must be seen as a beautiful star in that firmament which shines upon me at this moment, dazzling me a little, but filling me with warmth and the extraordinary elation, the euphoria that happens to so many of us at the first breath of the majestic glow of a new tomorrow. From the top of this moment, in the solace, in the kindly emotion that is charging my soul and my heart at this moment, I thank you for this great gift which lends me such a very splendid part in this, your glorious occasion. Thank you.

Mickey Rourke's Spirit acceptance speech

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