Movie City Indie Archive for December, 2009

You know it was the best film of 2009

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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.]

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Having made lists, checking them thrice

Floor

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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]

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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.

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seasonal…

treetopper-xmas2009.jpg

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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.

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Eyes have it

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

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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.”

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Thumbing

Thumb


‘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.]

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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.]

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David Lynch talks Dark Splendor



[Via Cargo.]

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Movie City Indie

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“By the time the sounds of the Von Trapp children warbling ‘Silent Night’ drift through The Giver, you may find yourself wondering what fresh movie hell this is. In truth, the enervating hash of dystopian dread, vague religiosity and commercial advertising-style uplift is nothing if not stale. Adapted from Lois Lowry’s book for young readers, the story involves an isolated society that, with its cubistic dwellings, mindless smiles, monochromatic environs and nebulous communitarianism, seem modeled on a Scandinavian country or an old Mentos commercial.”
~ Manohla Dargis’ Deadly Lede For Review Of The Giver

“It’s possible that in the coming days or, God forbid, weeks, the president could have something more specific to say about the freighted decades-long history of political imbalance at work, in this case between a mostly black working-class town and its majority white government and police force. But this is a black man who must choose his words about race, governance, and law enforcement even more carefully than a white politician would. And this is the third summer in which, as president, he would have to do so…

“Until this point in the turmoil, the absence of the crucial second face in the incident seemed to heighten the distance between police and the people they serve. It grants them both an anonymity and autonomy that matches the bizarre transformation, in Ferguson and elsewhere, of police into troops. The riot gear turns 2014 into a dot on a Jim Crow–era timeline. Since the officer’s name wasn’t made public more immediately, it should have seemed urgent for the police to lose the riot attire and take steps to minimize distrust, to dispel the contagious assumption that silence equates racism…

“What is so affecting isn’t just that 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed when he was barely a man. It’s other things as well. One was how many reports of the incident that first day mentioned that he was about to start college. That’s a rite that’s universally emotional. But for a black male from a poor family, the first day of college is a freighted day that usually requires the sacrifice of more than one person. Black people know the odds of getting to and graduating from college, and that they’re low. That Brown seemed to be on the right path compounded the parental, local, and national outrage over his being wiped from it.”

~ Wesley Morris On Let’s Be Cops, The Shooting In Ferguson, Obama…