The Hot Blog Archive for March, 2005

Preston Sturges' Rules Of The Box Office

1. A pretty girl is better than an ugly one
.2. A leg is better than an arm.
3. A bedroom is better than a living room.
4. An arrival is better than a departure.
5. A birth is better than a death.
6. A chase is better than a chat.
7. A dog is better than a landscape.
8. A kitten is better than a dog.
9. A baby is better than a kitten.
10. A kiss is better than a baby.
11. A pratfall is better than anything.
Still true? Have any additions?

11 Comments »

One more Sin City thought…

I was in the book store today and looked through the “Yellow Bastard” graphic novel in the Sin City series. Amazing… intense… and emotional.
It is almost image for image, word for word, the same as the movie. But Miller’s drawings say more.
I guess the answer, for me, is that there is something literal about film that isn’t about most fine art. The edges of the images speak volumes… the jagged nature of them…
Here is a page that is duplicated in the film. It is just so much more powerful on paper.
And here is this rather smart film-to-comic comparison by FilmRot’s Mediamelt.

16 Comments »

Is this okay?

Welcome to the new page… but already one person said they liked the old one better.
There are limits to what we can – or will – do, but please let us know what we can do to make this blog page the best possible for you. Your input matters… almost as much as your output.

14 Comments »

More On Sin City

I wrote about Sin City in The Hot Button today

53 Comments »

More On Sin City

I wrote about Sin City in The Hot Button today

I had a couple more thoughts that I thought I’d add here…

I got an argument from a very smart guy this morning who believes that this film will be the most influential film of this decade. And what that got me thinking about was, “Have smart people started believing that the medium is the message?” Part of the argument, which is at the core of all but a sliver of Sin City support is… “It is unlike anything you’ve seen.” But is that in any way important?

Are we fetishizing filmmaking tools instead of drama?

I really have no argument with having made Sin City. It is not evil. It is not a waste of money… it will be profitable. It is not going to melt the brains of small children.

But it finally hit me… Sin City is the male response to the McG/Barrymore Charlie’s Angels films. It aspires to even less as a social statement. But since the C&A films failed to actually offer “girl power,” in the end the answers are the same. Harsh violence vs. cutesy violence, more male objectification vs self-objectification, hyper frame-loading vs. hyper editing.

Charlie’s Angels: Full Frontal was unlike anything we had ever seen. And to be fair, so was Romeo + Juliet/Moulin Rouge… again, using many of the same tools.

On the flip side, there was nothing in Pulp Fiction we hadn’t seen before. We just hadn’t seen it for, depending on the part of the film, a decade or two or three or four.

The other analogy that I meant to point out was Lucas’ recent run of Star Wars films. Those films were also CG, CG, CG… and the films are not given anywhere near enough credit, because of critical response, with breaking new ground in the technology. There are many arguments within the argument… I recently had a discussion with someone about how Lucas always made the cheapest decision instead of the best one… but big picture, Star Wars I-III made Sin City possible.

Meanwhile, MirrorMask is even more “you’ve never seen anything like it” than Sin City, but won’t get the embrace because it doesn’t pander to the geek thirst for sex and violence. (It also makes even less narrative sense and has even less emotionally connective characters, for the most part.)

The future of cinema is storytelling, not technology. When technology supports the storytelling, God bless… we all win. There will be better Sky Capatins and Sin Citys, using the technological opportunity to make real magic. Maybe it will be the Sin City sequel that is being talked about with QT as a full collaborator. I still argue that the 2 hour (aka, cut to the right length) Kill Bill might have been a masterpiece. QT understands character in a way that Rodriguez just doesn’t. And Rodriguez has visual skills that QT does not. I remain hopeful.

13 Comments »

IFP/West Moving To Dump The IFP

Variety reports that Dawn Hudson is finally tired of having to put up with those fussy New Yorkers (and others) who built the Independent Feature Project into a force for independent cinema over the decade or so before IFP/LA was anything more significant than an occasional seminar in L.A.
Sadly, this is no surprise. Back in November, when I seemed to be the only journalist in the country interested in the back room battle, Dawn Hudson refused to even discuss what was going on. To her credit, Dawn’s opposite number, IFP/NY’s Michelle Byrd, did sit down with me, though she refused to be tough on Dawn while still acknowledging the tensions that have always been a part of the national organization since Dawn took a dominant position in L.A.
The four month old Hot Button story is here, though Peter Rice will be unhappy to see the story back in front of people, as he later made the case for Sideways being made for only $16 million so effectively that I never broached the subject again.
The sad part of this seperation is that New York’s hands on efforts wil suffer. And NYC’s substantive indie filmmaking clique will be unable to take sides, since the marketing opportunity in L.A. is too much to turn their backs on. Even worse… they can’t blame this on the majors. Drat!

IFP/West Moving To Dump The IFP

Variety reports that Dawn Hudson is finally tired of having to put up with those fussy New Yorkers (and others) who built the Independent Feature Project into a force for independent cinema over the decade or so before IFP/LA was anything more significant than an occasional seminar in L.A.

Sadly, this is no surprise. Back in November, when I seemed to be the only journalist in the country interested in the back room battle, Dawn Hudson refused to even discuss what was going on. To her credit, Dawn’s opposite number, IFP/NY’s Michelle Byrd, did sit down with me, though she refused to be tough on Dawn while still acknowledging the tensions that have always been a part of the national organization since Dawn took a dominant position in L.A.

The four month old Hot Button story is here, though Peter Rice will be unhappy to see the story back in front of people, as he later made the case for Sideways being made for only $16 million so effectively that I never broached the subject again.

The sad part of this seperation is that New York’s hands on efforts wil suffer. And NYC’s substantive indie filmmaking clique will be unable to take sides, since the marketing opportunity in L.A. is too much to turn their backs on. Even worse… they can’t blame this on the majors. Drat!

6 Comments »

Photos: Bermuda Film Festival 2005

I did a column on the festival in The Hot Button today.
BUt now it’s time to get a real eyeful of the fun in this photo album

Photos: Bermuda International Film Fest 2005

I did a column on the festival in The Hot Button today.

BUt now it’s time to get a real eyeful of the fun in this photo album

3 Comments »

Photos: The Gates

I’ve been busy not putting photos up on the blog because it was a pain in the ass… turns out that TypePad makes it a lot easier than I thought.
So here is the first batch of shots… from The Gates, by Christo.

1 Comment »

Photos: The Gates

I’ve been busy not putting photos up on the blog because it was a pain in the ass… turns out that TypePad makes it a lot easier than I thought.

So here is the first batch of shots… from The Gates, by Christo.

4 Comments »

Universal Gets Out Of The Paper Pushing Business

From Universal Pictures…
Dear Friend,
We are pleased to tell you about a change we are making in order to make a wider selection of publicity material available to you faster. Effective immediately, we will no longer be mailing to you printed press kits for our films. An expanded selection of our publicity materials will be available online for viewing or downloading at www.xxxxx.net.
Replacing traditional hard copy delivery of our content with digital delivery not only allows us to expand our materials, but to make them available much faster by eliminating the time it takes for duplication, assembling and shipping. As soon as new materials are available, you will be notified by email, with a link to the newly posted content.
If you haven’t already registered for access to image.net, the process is very easy. Just go to www.xxxxx.net and follow the simple registrations instructions using the following referral code: XXXX.
Please note that the press kit for The Wedding Date is the last printed press kit you will receive from us.
If you have any questions please call xxxxx.net customer service at (888) xxx-1500 or email at customer-services@xxxxx.net.
Sincerely,
Universal Pictures Publicity Dept.

Universal Gets Out Of The Paper Pushing Business

From Universal Pictures…

Dear Friend,

We are pleased to tell you about a change we are making in order to make a wider selection of publicity material available to you faster. Effective immediately, we will no longer be mailing to you printed press kits for our films. An expanded selection of our publicity materials will be available online for viewing or downloading at www.xxxxx.net.

Replacing traditional hard copy delivery of our content with digital delivery not only allows us to expand our materials, but to make them available much faster by eliminating the time it takes for duplication, assembling and shipping. As soon as new materials are available, you will be notified by email, with a link to the newly posted content.

If you haven’t already registered for access to image.net, the process is very easy. Just go to www.xxxxx.net and follow the simple registrations instructions using the following referral code: XXXX.

Please note that the press kit for The Wedding Date is the last printed press kit you will receive from us.

If you have any questions please call xxxxx.net customer service at (888) xxx-1500 or email at customer-services@xxxxx.net.

Sincerely,

Universal Pictures Publicity Dept.

7 Comments »

Crisis Schmisis!

Sundance 2005: Crisis In Park City
Oy.
The reason why there is a crisis in Park City is because guys like Kohler, whom I like, and Amy Taubin, who I really don’t know, are busy screaming their danged fool heads off.
Sundance finally makes the forward thinking move of creating World Cinema categories and the softness of the first year’s choices are A CRISIS!
It’s called “the first year.” Sundance has had a decade of indie filmmakers timing their films to end up on the Sundance schedule, if they are lucky enough to get in. The festival has the absolute top choice of indie films from new filmmakers who are not likely to break into Cannes. But that is not the case with World Cinema. Films launch in Cannes, Berlin, Venice, San Sebastian, etc, etc, etc… the machine isn’t used to saving the best for Sundance.
That will change.
A few sales and that will change in a hurry.
As for all the Sundance parties… uh… stay off Main Street. There is only one theater there and nothing playing there isn’t playing elsewhere. And the hype machines have not invaded any of the other theaters. If you are obsessing on Sundance obsessing on Paris Hilton, it is no one’s fault but your own.
In other words… move along… nothing to see here…

1 Comment »

Crisis Schmisis!

Sundance 2005: Crisis In Park City

Oy.

The reason why there is a crisis in Park City is because guys like Kohler, whom I like, and Amy Taubin, who I really don’t know, are busy screaming their danged fool heads off.

Sundance finally makes the forward thinking move of creating World Cinema categories and the softness of the first year’s choices are A CRISIS!

It’s called “the first year.” Sundance has had a decade of indie filmmakers timing their films to end up on the Sundance schedule, if they are lucky enough to get in. The festival has the absolute top choice of indie films from new filmmakers who are not likely to break into Cannes. But that is not the case with World Cinema. Films launch in Cannes, Berlin, Venice, San Sebastian, etc, etc, etc… the machine isn’t used to saving the best for Sundance.

That will change.

A few sales and that will change in a hurry.

As for all the Sundance parties… uh… stay off Main Street. There is only one theater there and nothing playing there isn’t playing elsewhere. And the hype machines have not invaded any of the other theaters. If you are obsessing on Sundance obsessing on Paris Hilton, it is no one’s fault but your own.

In other words… move along… nothing to see here…

11 Comments »

The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

What do you make of the criticism directed at the film that the biopic genre or format is intrinsically bourgeois? That’s the most crazy criticism. That’s an excuse for not engaging with the content of the movie. Film critics sometimes, you know, can be very lazy.

Come on, formal criticism is valuable too. But I’m amazed when this is the thing they put in front of the discourse. My situation is that I’m dealing with a highly explosive subject, a taboo subject that nobody wants to deal with.

Karl Marx? Yes, this is the first film ever in the Western world about Marx. And I managed to make an almost mainstream film out of it. You want me at the same time to play the artist and do a risky film about the way my camera moves and the way I edit? No, it’s complicated enough! The artistic challenge — and it took me ten years with Pascal to write this story — was the writing. That was the most difficult part. We were making a film about the evolution of an idea, which is impossible. To be able to have political discourse in a scene, and you can follow it, and it’s not simplified, and it’s historically true. This is the accomplishment. So when someone criticizes the formal aspects without seeing that first, for me, it’s laziness or ignorance. There’s an incapacity to deal with what’s on the table. I make political films about today, I’m not making a biopic to make a biopic. I don’t believe in being an artist just to be an artist. And by the way, this film cost $9 million. I dare anyone in the United States to make this film for $9 million.
Raoul Peck on The Young Karl Marx

“The Motion Picture Academy, at considerable expense and with great efficiency, runs all the nominated pictures at its own theater, showing each picture twice, once in the afternoon, once in the evening. A nominated picture is one in connection with which any kind of work is nominated for an award, not necessarily acting, directing, or writing; it may be a purely technical matter such as set-dressing or sound work. This running of pictures has the object of permitting the voters to look at films which they may happen to have missed or to have partly forgotten. It is an attempt to make them realize that pictures released early in the year, and since overlaid with several thicknesses of battered celluloid, are still in the running and that consideration of only those released a short time before the end of the year is not quite just.

“The effort is largely a waste. The people with votes don’t go to these showings. They send their relatives, friends, or servants. They have had enough of looking at pictures, and the voices of destiny are by no means inaudible in the Hollywood air. They have a brassy tone, but they are more than distinct.”All this is good democracy of a sort. We elect Congressmen and Presidents in much the same way, so why not actors, cameramen, writers, and all rest of the people who have to do with the making of pictures? If we permit noise, ballyhoo, and theater to influence us in the selection of the people who are to run the country, why should we object to the same methods in the selection of meritorious achievements in the film business? If we can huckster a President into the White House, why cannot we huckster the agonized Miss Joan Crawford or the hard and beautiful Miss Olivia de Havilland into possession of one of those golden statuettes which express the motion picture industry’s frantic desire to kiss itself on the back of its neck? The only answer I can think of is that the motion picture is an art. I say this with a very small voice. It is an inconsiderable statement and has a hard time not sounding a little ludicrous. Nevertheless it is a fact, not in the least diminished by the further facts that its ethos is so far pretty low and that its techniques are dominated by some pretty awful people.

“If you think most motion pictures are bad, which they are (including the foreign), find out from some initiate how they are made, and you will be astonished that any of them could be good. Making a fine motion picture is like painting “The Laughing Cavalier” in Macy’s basement, with a floorwalker to mix your colors for you. Of course most motion pictures are bad. Why wouldn’t they be?”
~ Raymond Chandler, “Oscar Night In Hollywood,” 1948