Movie City Indie Archive for August, 2009

Movie city breeze

Time Lapse Test: Station Fire from Eric Spiegelman on Vimeo.

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Indie is interviewing

Party surprisers

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Covered, by John Grayson

Covered from John Greyson on Vimeo.

The Canadian filmmaker withdrew his short from Toronto International over political disagreement with a sidebar on film in Tel Aviv.

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Indie is screenering


Dark movies by daylight…

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Tarantino on spaghetti westerns and non-homaging

Tarantino wanted to clarify for Sight & Sound how his films are about language. Not so much film language: “I don’t know if this film does that quite so much. When I read Nick James’ piece in Sight & Sound [in the July issue], obviously inglourious-basterds-02_420.jpgI didn’t agree with where he was coming from in a lot of the aspects of it, but that’s all well and good. The thing I took exception to – and he’s not the only one to do it – is that there’s this aspect when critics write about my work, partly it’s because they know I’m such a film aficionado, where they try to match wits with me and show their own cinema knowledge. I give them a licence to show off their knowledge, and they apply that to me. So the part I don’t like about Nick’s piece is, like, “Oh, here’s a big slice of Leone, and a dollop of Cimino, and a side order of Tinto Brass.” I take exception to that! I don’t think like that. Now, I’m going to address what you’re saying. In the case of Kill Bill, that completely applies. Uma Thurman isn’t just fighting her way through her death list, she isn’t just fighting her way through the Deadly Vipers, she’s fighting her way through the annals of exploitation cinema from all over the world. That actually is part of it. I don’t think that’s necessarily what I’m doing with Inglourious Basterds. Having said that, there definitely is, in the first two chapters, an idea of doing a spaghetti western with World War II iconography. I thought that would work its way through the whole movie, but it actually doesn’t. I think it ends after the second chapter and it becomes something else. But one of the hooks I had to hang that on, as opposed to it just being a groovy idea, is this: one of the things I always enjoyed about spaghetti westerns was the brutal landscape, the brutal world in which they took place. It was much more unforgiving and hostile than most American western landscapes. It’s very violent, life is cheap, death is around the corner at any moment. Well, that describes Europe during World War II – right there in the 20th century, a very close approximation of a spaghetti-western landscape. And something I find very, very interesting about the opening chapter of Inglourious Basterds is that, even with the Nazi uniforms, even with the motorcycles and the car, it doesn’t break the western feel. It almost adds to it in a strange, shouldn’t-work-but-does kind of way. It just feels like a western. And not even just a spaghetti western: it could be Shane.”
But here’s the snappy capper: “The shot through the doorway of Shosanna fleeing can’t help but recall The Searchers.” “I’ll take slight exception to that too – and I’m having a good time clarifying this – in that I think it’s safe to say that if John Ford’s mother had never met John Ford’s father, I’d still have figured out that shooting through a doorway like that would make for a cool shot.” Tarantino laughs loudly.

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DVD of the week: Goodbye Solo (*** 1/2)

On the superficial level of plotting, Raman Bahrani’s Goodbye Solo (Lionsgate, $28) sounds like the setup for a student film or a revisit of “Collateral”: in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, a Senegalese cabdriver named Solo (Souléymane Sy Savané), working hard to make money for his family to subsist, picks up a fare, William (Red West), a rough 70-year-old white Southern loner. William proposes a ride to the nearby mountaintop of Blowing Rock in two weeks, where he intends to leap to his death. But Bahrani, as he’s proven in Man Push Cart and Chop Shop, goes beyond cliché, working with and against archetype, showing a genuine drive to understand behavior in its intimate and momentary particulars. Solo befriends William, taking 965567_goodbye-solo.jpghim on taxi rides, hanging out in bars, checking out women. Bahrani’s written that “ultimately Solo must find the courage and strength to love his new friend selflessly in order to help him do something seemingly horrible, or leave him to face it alone.” There is so much about friendship and loneliness and hope and despair in Goodbye Solo, from the very opening when the deal is proposed. The drama that develops between William and Solo—between West and Savané—is nothing short of astonishing. Bahrani observes these two men’s faces and suggests worlds—two small ones, two modest lives, filled with blood and heart and simply alive. It’s a thrill to see performances this accomplished and a film, shot by Michael Simmonds in fine, rough form that lives up to their work and the characters. Bahrani’s sense of both city and mountaintop is also uncommonly expert. With director’s commentary. [DVD trailer below.]

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Indie answers to Jackson

Answers to Jackson

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Take a bite out of Basterds

Food section_697basterd.jpg

A full-page ad from the Dining section of the New York Times, August 16. How many other stealth ads were there skewing toward a potential female audience?

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Georges Clouzout's Slinkies in hell: from L'enfer

The unfinished film, showing at TIFF ’09.

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[500] Days of Summer in five panels


[The other four panels here; click to make larger.]

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Ben Stiller instructs Mickey Rooney on how to use Twitter

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Inglourious alliance: Al Gore presents Basterds


Premieres, premieres everywhere: In Nashville, Al Gore turned out to support Lawrence Bender, who was producer of An Inconvenient Truth. Also: Eli Roth in snappy suit and Mélanie Laurent.
[Photo: Bev Moser via The Weinstein Company.]

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Trailering Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story

CNN (?!) preems. Dig that M.I.A. music cue…

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Quentin Tarantino considers question about Chicago-style deep-dish pizza

Tarantino listens to question about Chicago deep-dish pizza

[AMC River East, Chicago, Inglourious Basterds premiere. Photo: Ray Pride]

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Movie City Indie


Quote Unquotesee all »

“We now have a situation where audiences very often prefer commercial trash to Bergman’s Persona or Bresson’s L’Argent. Professionals find themselves shrugging, and predicting that serious, significant works will have no success with the general public. What is the explanation? Decline of taste or impoverishment of repertoire? Neither and both. It is simply that cinema now exists, and is evolving, under new conditions. That total, enthralling impression which once overwhelmed the audiences of the 1930s was explained by the universal delight of those who were witnessing and rejoicing over the birth of a new art form, which furthermore had recently acquired sound. By the very fact of its existence this new art, which displayed a new kind of wholeness, a new kind of image, and revealed hitherto unexplored areas of reality, could not but astound its audiences and turn them into passionate enthusiasts.

Less than twenty years now separate us from the twenty-first century. In the course of its existence, through its peaks and troughs, cinema has travelled a long and tortuous path. The relationship that has grown up between artistic films and the commercial cinema is not an easy one, and the gulf between the two becomes wider every day. Nonetheless, films are being made all the time that are undoubtedly landmarks in the history of cinema. Audiences have become more discerning in their attitude to films. Cinema as such long ago ceased to amaze them as a new and original phenomenon; and at the same time it is expected to answer a far wider range of individual needs. Audiences have developed their likes and dislikes. That means that the filmmaker in turn has an audience that is constant, his own circle. Divergence of taste on the part of audiences can be extreme, and this is in no way regrettable or alarming; the fact that people have their own aesthetic criteria indicates a growth of self-awareness.

Directors are going deeper into the areas which concern them. There are faithful audiences and favorite directors, so that there is no question of thinking in terms of unqualified success with the public—that is, if one is talking about cinema not as commercial entertainment but as art. Indeed, mass popularity suggests what is known as mass culture, and not art.”
~ Andrei Tarkovsky, “Sculpting In Time”

“People seem to be watching [fewer] movies, which I think is a mistake on people’s parts, and they seem to be making more of them, which I think is okay. Some of these movies are very good. When you look at the quality of Sundance movies right now, they are a lot better than they were when I was a kid. I do think that there have been improvements artistically, but it’s tough. We’ve got a system that’s built for less movies in terms of how many curatorial standard-bearers we have in the states. It’s time for us to expand our ideas of where we find our great films in America, but that said, it’s a real hustle. I’m so happy that Factory 25 exists. If it didn’t exist, there would be so many movies that wouldn’t ever get distributed because Matt Grady is the only person who has seen the commercial potential in them. He’s preserving a very special moment in independent film history that the commercial system is not going to be preserving. He’s figuring out how to make enough money on it to save these films and get them onto people’s shelves.”
~ Homemakers‘ Colin Healey On Indie Distribution