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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 »

Tsangari: With my next film, White Knuckles, it comes with a budget — it’s going to be a huge new world for me. As always when I enter into a new thing, don’t you wonder how it’s going to be and how much of yourself you are going to have to sacrifice? The ballet of all of this. I’m already imaging the choreography — not of the camera, but the choreography of actually bringing it to life. It is as fascinating as the shooting itself. I find the producing as exciting as the directing. The one informs the other. There is this producer-director hat that I constantly wear. I’ve been thinking about these early auteurs, like Howard Hawks and John Ford and Preston Sturges—all of these guys basically were hired by the studio, and I doubt they had final cut, and somehow they had films that now we can say they had their signatures.  There are different ways of being creative within the parameters and limitations of production. The only thing you cannot negotiate is stupidity.
Filmmaker: And unfortunately, there is an abundance of that in the world.
Tsangari: This is the only big risk: stupidity. Everything else is completely worked out in the end.
~ Chevalier‘s Rachel Athina Tsangari

“The middle-range movies that I was doing have largely either stopped being made, or they’ve moved to television, now that television is a go-to medium for directors who can’t get work in theatricals, because there are so few theatricals being made. But also with the new miniseries concept, you can tell a long story in detail without having to cram it all into 90 minutes. You don’t have to cut the characters and take out the secondary people. You can actually put them all on a big canvas. And it is a big canvas, because people have bigger screens now, so there’s no aesthetic difference between the way you shoot a movie and the way you shoot a TV show.

“Which is all for the good. But what’s happened in the interim is that theatrical movies being a spectacle business are now either giant blockbuster movies that run three hours—even superhero movies run three hours, they used to run like 58 minutes!—and the others, which are dysfunctional family independent movies or the slob comedy or the kiddie movie, and those are all low-budget. So the middle ground of movies that were about things, they’re just gone. Or else they’re on HBO. Like the Bryan Cranston LBJ movie, which years ago would’ve been made for theaters.

“You’ve got people like Paul Schrader and Walter Hill who can’t get their movies theatrically distributed because there’s no market for it. So they end up going to VOD, and VOD is a model from which no one makes any money, because most of the time, as soon as they get on the site, they’re pirated. So the whole model of the system right now is completely broken. And whether or not anybody’s going to try to fix, or if it even can be fixed, I don’t know. But it’s certainly not the same business that I got into in the ’70s.”
~ Joe Dante

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