Movie City Indie Archive for February, 2010

Oscar-nominated composer Alexandre Desplat on the composer's life


It’s “crap and exaltation,” the prolific composer tells a masterclass at the 50th Thessaloniki International Film Festival last November. Below, ideas about light, color and Vermeer, as demonstrated in The Girl With The Pearl Earring; what he really thinks of Quentin Tarantino’s needle-drops; and on working with Terrence Malick on Tree of Life.

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Evil Dead in 60 Claymation seconds

Brit animator Lee Hardcastle writes on his Vimeo page: “One day I want to make a film thats really long and plays in cinemas all over the world .” Here’s his site and showreel.

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Sangfroid

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Waiting for the weekend

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Bollywood goes to Walt Disney World… in 1977

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Featuretting Greenberg


Watched the trailer. Read part of the script. Saw the opening grafs of some reviews: just want to see where Noah Baumbach and Jennifer Jason Leigh go after The Squid and the Whale and Margot at the Wedding. And what about that Greta Gerwig? [Trailer below.]

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Musicka! A Soviet ad from 1980

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That Sirkian someone: a lovely extended anecdote about art, politics, melodrama and movies

sirkiansomeone.jpgDouglas Sirk’s last interview may have been one conducted by Kathryn Bigelow and Monty Montgomery for Interview magazine in the early 80s, if memory serves, just before or just after the great director of melodramas went blind. I couldn’t find that piece, but instead, stumbled upon an epic piece at Bright Lights Film Journal by Jane and Michael Stern, about a two-week visit they made in 1977 visit to Lugano, Switzerland to meet Sirk and his wife, Hilde. (The bracingly smart “Sirk on Sirk” stands alongside “Melville on Melville” as models of extended conversation between directors and journalists.) I still treasure my years-ago memories of two of the three shorts he made late in life teaching film in Germany, the Fassbinder-starring Bourbon Street Blues (1978) and the serene, stunning Tennessee Williams adaptation, Talk to Me Like the Rain (Sprich zur mir wie der Regen, 1975) (based on Williams’ short play, “Talk to Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen”). Someday, these crisp shorts ought to resurface. For the moment, a couple of bits of scene-setting from the Sterns’ extended introduction, followed by one extended disquisition by Sirk on his experiences with art and commerce in his career as a European theater director, and then as an American studio hand. “Swooshing up the elevator shaft of Condominio Vall’Orba in a mirrored elevator to meet Sirk: He is still Sirk, never Douglas. Not yet anyway. You search your mind for an appropriate image of him. There are few to choose from: black and whites on the back of a book, a few auteurist articles with pictures decades-old, showing a man with a tweed jacket, piercing pale blue eyes and wavy hair. He is awesome-looking, aloof. Best forget these pictures… We eat at the Grotto, a favorite restaurant, a restaurant only Douglas Sirk would take you to, where Rock Hudson might take Jane Wyman. There is a warm Italian innkeeper, there are soft-hued walls, a special pasta, a flow of Chianti. Douglas impetuously drinks wine and eats roast pork. We know this is a special time for all of us. We have fallen in love with Douglas and Hilde… He is describing Lana Turner’s work in Imitation of Life. He describes their rapport. But one listens too casually, Sirk's imitationcredit.jpgrelaxed as with an old friend, and the mind wanders. But something strange starts to happen. You are off-guard. The old man starts to direct. He is showing you how he manipulated Lana Turner in her scenes. But instead of the Golden Goddess, he is doing it to you. The hooded blue eyes unfurl, revealing beneath the lids an unquenched intensity. They fix on you, the voice hypnotically cajoles and shames. “You like that, don’t you? You like that feeling,” he asks seductively. “Well, then, you are a fool!” Back and forth, changing your face, pulling the adrenalin to the surface. You aren’t an actor, so what is to explain these emotions shooting through you as he talks? You remain riveted, in confusion accepting the reality that you are now seated twelve inches away from Sirk the director on a couch somewhere far away from home. Douglas has vanished, and has been replaced by two ice-blue eyes and a commanding voice.

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DVDS: Crude, The Informant!, Alexander The Last

The highlight of this week’s DVD releases is Criterion’s Make Way For Tomorrow(Criterion, $30), a beautiful, essentially forgotten melodrama from Leo McCarey. I have strong, fond memories of it, but haven’t seen the DVD. Tag Gallagher’s essay for the release is here. Below: Crude, The Informant!, Alexander The Last.
Crude awakening [*** 1/2]
Berlinger © Ray Pride.jpgTURN THE TAP, WATER COMES, FLIP A SWITCH FOR LIGHT: pull up to the pump before driving to the discount grocery for the week’s dinners. We take delivery systems for granted, the social and economic structures that allow for, if not peace of mind, for “out of mind.” The genius of Joe Berlinger’s muckraking, muck-steeped Crude (First Run Features, $25) is that his clear, patient eye, taking a specific ecological tragedy to suggest the failure of systems, through the filthy work of extracting oil from beneath the earth’s surface, the almost-inevitable despoiling of water and other resources, and courtroom systems that pit international conglomerates, lawyers and locals against each other. Crude? “Texas Tea”? It doesn’t just bubble up like in “The Beverly Hillbillies.”
Three years in the making, Crude examines a $27 billion class action suit against alleged pollution filed by indigenous Ecuadorian residents, the Cofón Indians, 30,000 strong, in the Amazon against Chevron Oil, successor to Texaco (after 2001). They charge that eighteen billion gallons of wastewater polluted the land and rivers of an oil patch roughly the size of Rhode Island from 1970 to 1990. Rashes, birth defects, leukemia and other cancers followed. A “death zone” of pollution lingers. Bureaucrats interfere. Officials delay. The law is a labyrinth. The case has lingered fitfully over sixteen years and no end is in sight. Berlinger gauges a vast river of litigation and allegation: Amazonian, yes. But Berlinger’s tack differs from the comic outrage of a Michael Moore, say: this is classical reportage, not “Petroleum: A Love Story.”

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The disappearing of Cabrini Green…


… in just over a minute.

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Hurt Locker detonates the BAFTAs

bafta-awards_222.jpgBest Film: The Hurt Locker
Best Actress: Carey Mulligan, An Education
Best Actor: Colin Firth, A Single Man
Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
Best Foreign Language Film: A Prophet
Best Animated Film: Up

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Billy Wilder on "the Lubitsch Touch"

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Movie City Indie

Quote Unquotesee all »

“To be a critic is to be a workaholic. Workaholism is socially conditioned: viewed favourably by exploiters, it’s generally ruinous to a worker’s mental health. When T.S. Eliot said criticism was as inevitable as breathing, he failed to mention that, respiratory problems notwithstanding, breathing is easy. Criticism is reflexive before reflective: to formalise/industrialise an involuntary instinct requires time, effort and discipline. The reason we seek remuneration, as opposed to the self-hatred of being a scab, is because all labour should be waged…

“Criticism, so the cliché by now goes, is dying. None of the panel discussions on its death agony, however—including those in which I’ve formally participated—come at it from the wider perspective that the problem surely needs. They defend the ways in which criticism functions in relation to the industry and to the public, but they fail to contextualise these relationships as defined by ultimately rotten and self-harming imperatives.

“Criticism was a noble profession so long as only a few could practice it for money; when the field expands, as it has with a so-called ‘democratisation’ of our practice, those few lose their political power. Competition grows and markets are undercut: publications are naturally going to start paying less. Precarity is both cause and effect of a surplus workforce: the reason you’re only as good as your last article is because there are plenty of other folks who can write the next one in your place. The daily grind is: pitch, or perish.

B”ut criticism, so a counter-cliché goes, is not dying. An irony: this is an elite sport that is no longer elite in terms of who is able to practice it, but in economic terms it’s clutching to a perverse and outmoded hierarchical structure. It’s more meritocratic than ever, now: which is to say it isn’t meritocratic at all. That’s a paradox in bad need of a resolution…”

~ Michael Pattison Manifestoes Film Criticism

“It’s easy to forget when you’re reading a critic every single week or multiple times a week, that most of us who do this job, and have been doing it for a long time, understand that this is basically a parasitic profession. I don’t mean in the sense that we’re evil bloodsucking creatures, but we couldn’t exist if we didn’t have something to analyze. And I’m always conscious of that. So whether I like or don’t like a particular thing you do, my point of view is always that of an appreciator. I just like to be in the world that you create.”
~ Matt Zoller Seitz To Sam Esmail

Z Weekend Report