Movie City Indie Archive for December, 2009

You know it was the best film of 2009

Patti Smith, Dream of LIfe (*** 1/2) preems on POV

pattismith460px.jpgPhotographer Steven Sebring, a friend of Patti Smith’s, followed her for eleven years for Dream of Life, and the dreamy, scatty black-and-white portrait of the singer allows fans to supply their own footnotes and backstory; the less-informed may be mystified even while admiring the imagery. There’s little extended musical footage, but the sound design is impeccable as she moves across her fascinations with ex Robert Mapplethorpe, her children by the late Fred Smith, the graves of Burroughs, Ginsburg, Blake. Her quiet mien elevates the image of the fire of her live and recorded performances. [Here’s POV’s website with a trailer, air dates and times nationwide and other resources.]

Up on the roof with the Coens: some amusing Serious Man b-roll

Having made lists, checking them thrice


Lindsay's Private Party [NSFW]

Once upon a time, starring in a small independent film or a foreign arthouse bauble was a way to jump-start a stalled career; it’s quicker now: you can star, pose and disrobe in a high-sheen short like this one from photographer Yu Tsai, for Muse magazine. [NSFW]

"The Foxx and Little Vic" from Vic Chesnutt, via Benjamin Smoke

What's a Slingers?

Link to Mike Sizemore’s Vimeo

Written by Mike Sizemore; directed by Steve Barron and stars Sean Pertwee, Adrian Bower, Tom Mison, Margo Stilley, Haruka Abe, GUN and JUNIOR. Conceptual design by Arran and Corran Brownlee. Music by The Mummers.



Corporate feelings and Brittany Murphy

chriselliotspawn.jpgUnder accepted U. S. law, corporations have the same rights as human beings, so does that mean they have feelings as well? A few weeks ago, problems on a film set led to Brittany Murphy losing a role in a film shooting in Puerto Rico. On December 4th, Abby Elliot, 22-year-old daughter of former SNL member Chris Elliot, had a creepy turn impersonating the actress and openly mocking problems she may or may not have had. Murphy died today. So why was the meager bit funny on December 5 and unfunny today? What’s there to be embarrassed about? The Chicago Tribune’s Mark Caro [@MarkCaro] Twittered this evening: “Caught up with SNL’s recent takedown of Brittany Murphy. Kicking little folks when they’re down—a modern SNL tradition, alas.” A film blogger known for exotic comments about celebrity death and weight issues campaigned earlier today: “This will be taken down in no time off the NBC-owned Hulu site in the wake of Brittany Murphy’s death. It plays pretty rough in the wake of today’s news. It’ll be gone in less than an hour or two. Somebody needs to copy it and put it up on YouTube right away.” I can’t parse the logic of that tumble. But corporate logic seems more tender, at least in Hulu’s case; in Saturday Night Live’s? Who’s the kinder corporate human? The more human(e) corporation? Whatever the case, comedy is in the timing. Such as celebutweets about Murphy’s untimely passing. Lindsay Lohan: My deepest condolences go out to all of Brittany Murphy’s loved ones & may she rest in peace. She was a great talent w/a beautiful soul. XO. Soleil Moon Frye: Am beyond words by the loss of Brittany Murphy. I was so blessed to know your grace. My heart goes out to your mama+ loved ones.” And someone named Josh Groban: Hollywood loses another bright soul….how many more? A decade of decadence and devastation. Time to wake up.

Eyes have it

Brittany Murphy’s large eyes, skittering, searching, dancing, fearful, hopeful.

Report: film critic and scholar Robin Wood has passed

RobinWood_456.jpgFrom Toronto International FF’s Cameron Bailey (@cameron_TIFF) comes a report that film critic and scholar Robin Wood, 78, is dead. Further news and obituaries should follow… Hitchcock was a specialty. Here’s Wood’s Criterion Top 10 (with bonus black cat). Wood’s books include 2002’s “Hitchcock’s Films Revisited”. Here’s his 2006 Artforum piece on Michael Haneke’s Caché. And, from an extended interview, “Robin Wood at 75″, come these observations. ON HITCHCOCK. “If I was going to write an attack on Hitchcock, it would be directed at the relative lack of any kind of positive drive in his films. You have a sense of this suppressed underworld of psychological horror, but it has to be kept down because if it erupts, everything will be destroyed. I think that beneath the jolly façade, Hitchcock was a very frightened person.” ON HAWKS. “Hawks’ weak point is that he’s so apolitical, which occasionally leads him into trouble. The more times I see Red River, the angrier I get with it. You cannot let the John Wayne character off the hook like that, because by the end of the film he’s become a fascist. He’s killed people in cold blood; he’s become a complete tyrant.” And: ON CANADIAN CINEMA: “I respect Atom Egoyan, though I can’t seem to love his films; I kind of admire them as exercises, but they don’t touch me somehow. There are certain small Canadian films that I’ve come to love, like Kitchen Party and Rollercoaster. I don’t think a serious filmmaker in Canada can raise the money to make a film. I always think of Ingmar Bergman, who was taken up by the head of Svenskfilm in the very early years. Film after film he was encouraged to make, and all failures. But they had faith in him; they saw something there, so they continued to finance his films. And suddenly, there was Smiles of a Summer Night, Wild Strawberries, and The Seventh Seal. The same thing could be happening in Canada, but nobody with money will get behind a director. There won’t be any great Canadian cinema until that changes.”



‘Tis the season of screenings and screeners and lists… that and adding front page links at MCN all day have left this page feeling neglected. Hoping not to be so remiss in coming days… Besides the headlines on the front page, though, there’s always new stuff at Twitter. [Lobby, Siskel Film Center, Chicago.]

John Patterson on The New World as "misunderstood masterpiece"

brillaintrogerfriedman.jpgAs decade-end lists flutter down, John Patterson‘s consideration of The New World after 30 viewings as a misunderstood mid-2000s masterpiece is a fine read. Here’s a taste: “And then there is the editing. Malick extrudes his movies from the film-bins in the editing suite, “finding” as much of the movie there as he does on location. I’ve seen three separate edits (the 150 minute pre-release version that knocked me out, the 135 release cut (25 of those 30 viewings), and the Blu-Ray director’s cut of 172 minutes) and all strike distinct and equally wondrous variations on the same themes, yet seem radically different to one another at a gut level. This clearly suggests that Malick’s editing has nothing in common with the frame-fucking visual aesthetics of Tony Scott, as has been suggested by more than one fool. In fact, it has more in common with Godard’s jump-cuts, which once seemed so radical and disorienting but which have been absorbed and are now part of the common, comprehensible rubric of the form. Far from being meaningless or self-indulgent, there is insight, a mini-revelation, a deepening of meaning, or just a blessed surprise in almost every one of Malick’s cuts, which cleave in style to this rich filmic inheritance, whereas Scott is a creature of violent eye-ache, and little else.” [Much more at the link.]

David Lynch talks Dark Splendor

[Via Cargo.]

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Movie City Indie

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“Roger Ebert claimed that the re-editing of The Brown Bunny after Cannes allowed him a difference of opinion so vast that he first called it the worst film in history and eventually gave it a thumbs up. This is both far fetched and an outright lie. The truth is, unlike the many claims that the unfinished film that showed at Cannes was 24 minutes shorter than the finished film, it was only 8 minutes shorter. The running time I filled out on the Cannes submission form was arbitrary. The running time I chose was just a number I liked. I had no idea where in the process I would actually be when I needed to stop cutting to meet the screening deadline. So whatever running time was printed in the program, I promise you, was not the actual running time. And the cuts I made to finish the film after Cannes were not many. I shortened the opening race scene once I was able to do so digitally. After rewatching the last 4 minutes of the film over and over again, somewhere within those 4 minutes, I froze the picture and just ended the film there, cutting out everything after that point, which was about 3 minutes. Originally in the salt flats scene, the motorcycle returned from the white. I removed the return portion of that shot, which seemed too literal. And I cut a scene of me putting on a sweater. That’s pretty much it. Plus the usual frame here, frame there, final tweaks. If you didn’t like the unfinished film at Cannes, you didn’t like the finished film, and vice versa. Roger Ebert made up his story and his premise because after calling my film literally the worst film ever made, he eventually realized it was not in his best interest to be stuck with that mantra. Stuck with a brutal, dismissive review of a film that other, more serious critics eventually felt differently about. He also took attention away from what he actually did at the press screening. It is outrageous that a single critic disrupted a press screening for a film chosen in main competition at such a high profile festival and even more outrageous that Ebert was ever allowed into another screening at Cannes. His ranting, moaning and eventual loud singing happened within the first 20 minutes, completely disrupting and manipulating the press screening of my film. Afterwards, at the first public screening, booing, laughing and hissing started during the open credits, even before the first scene of the film. The public, who had heard and read rumors about the Ebert incident and about me personally, heckled from frame one and never stopped. To make things weirder, I got a record-setting standing ovation from the supporters of the film who were trying to show up the distractors who had been disrupting the film. It was not the cut nor the film itself that drew blood. It was something suspicious about me. Something offensive to certain ideologues.”
~ Vincent Gallo

“I think [technology has[ its made my life faster, it’s made the ability to succeed easier. But has that made my life better? Is it better now than it was in the eighties or seventies? I don’t think we are happier. Maybe because I’m 55, I really am asking these questions… I really want to do meaningful things! This is also the time that I really want to focus on directing. I think that I will act less and less. I’ve been doing it for 52 years. It’s a long time to do one thing and I feel like there are a lot of stories that I got out of my system that I don’t need to tell anymore. I don’t need to ever do The Accused again! That is never going to happen again! You hit these milestones as an actor, and then you say, ‘Now what? Now what do I have to say?'”
~ Jodie Foster