Start the 'Insanity': Long-Suffering Film Conquers VOD, Then Switzerland, Then the World (Maybe)

Last time I checked in on the progress of Robert Margolis and Frank Matter’s The Definition of Insanity, the struggling-actor tragicomedy had won the Virginia Film Festival audience and jury awards, earned its first New York screening in Battery Park City and was continuing its ongoing quest for distribution. Earlier this week, The Reeler heard about this last piece of the torturous indie puzzle settling in at last. Or at least kind of.
“It’s a video-on-demand deal,” Margolis told me of the recent pact that puts Insanity on TV for 90 days starting today (check with your cable provider for details). “It’s through a company called Lightyear Entertainment, and they have a deal with Warner Home Video. So it’s basically through Warner. It’s going out to most of the major cable networks nationwide–so Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner, all that stuff. We’re hoping this will generate more interest in terms of DVD; we’ve had a couple of offers, but we’re looking for something a little higher-access.
“The film has had sort of an unusual life in that it keeps rising from the dead and generating these waves of interest,” he continued. “So we’re still pretty confident, though it’s not pursuing the traditional release path. And we still have a few possibilities in New York for limited theatrical. What we’re trying to do is sort of our own guerilla version of multi-platforming.”
The approach has netted a mid-October release in co-director Matter’s native Switzerland (!), and Margolis added that negotiations continue with a few international sales agents considering taking Insanity on. Meanwhile, he has a pair of new projects in the works, including a “Squid and the Whale meets The Graduate, in some weird way” comedy set in the Catskills and a film about “a guy trying to heal from trauma, but it involves this strange, sadomasochistic relationship as it’s filtered through this sort of post-9/11 New York consciousness.”
Ah, of course, I totally relate. Anyway, cheers to Margolis and Matter for keeping the pressure on, and if you have yet to check out Insanity from my last exhortations, let this third urging be the charm. And now that you do not even have to leave the house, your weather and location excuses (Battery Park City was a tall order, I admit) do not quite wash. Make it happen, gang.

"Money Is The Gift That No One Ever Returns": James Ellroy Talks "Dahlia" in NYC

Let me say this right up front: I totally acknowledge that an item about The Black Dahlia is by no means a tailored fit for a New York film blog like The Reeler. Sure, director Brian De Palma was local, like, 40 years ago, and co-stars Josh Hartnett and Scarlett Johansson did just buy a soundproof fuckpad here in town. Besides that, The Black Dahlia is the roiling Los Angeles nightmare to end all Los Angeles nightmares, and the classic source novel’s author James Ellroy is the unparalleled bard of L.A.’s ugliest (and, occasionally, best-kept) secrets. Based in part on the unsolved case surrounding the torture, gutting and murder of wanna-be starlet Elizabeth Short in 1947 and Ellroy’s obsession with the mysterious murder of his own mother, Geneva Hilliker, in 1958, The Black Dahlia symbolizes the extra-dimensional psychosis bracketing L.A.’s sun, sprawl and smog–death effacing beauty. Promises unkept, and violently so.

Josh, Josh, Josh–what are you doing here? (L-R) Eckhart and Hartnett in The Black Dahlia. (Photo: Universal Pictures)

At least that is the lesson I have always taken from Ellroy’s work (Dahlia in particular), which may or may not be his intent but is nevertheless the only recognizable DNA strand left in The Black Dahlia’s screen adaptation, which opens today. For his part, De Palma has created an atrocity for the ages, diluting decades of mortal imagination into period sets that squint in sepia tone and sitcom lighting, accommodating its cast as comfortably as the 405 would welcome a bicycle rider. Everyone and everything here is outclassed by the Dahlia myth and by Ellroy, its principal orchestrator: Hartnett flounders as young detective Bucky Bleichert, wedged into a relationship with partner Lee Blanchard (Aaron Eckhart) and his live-in lover Kay Lake (Johansson) until the Short murder consumes them. Femme fatale Hilary Swank’s dulcet death coo provokes more laughter than seduction or fear. Screenwriter Josh Friedman would be sent to prison for doing to a man what he does here to his source material; with his fractured narrative and such outlandishly banal characters, he may as well be an armless man adapting Braille.
I could go on about the ratio of De Palma’s fat to Ellroy’s bone, but the hell with it. Let’s hear what Ellroy thinks about Dahlia, L.A., all of it; The Reeler spoke with him during a recent visit to New York, and I figure the less of me and the more of him, the better:
ON JOSH HARTNETT AND THE ANGUISH OF BUCKY BLEICHERT: “You know what it is? I can tell you what it is an instant. It’s unrepentantly twisted male heterosexual angst is what it is. You know? I proposed marriage Saturday night to a woman I’ve never been intimate with–I’ve never kissed her, and I would have married her and been devoted to her for the rest of my life. That’s how fucked up I am. And Bucky has that quality too, because he’s me. What we’re talking about here is we’re talking about a book whose one big emotional theme is the prevalence–however tenuous–of love over sexual obsession. Bucky gets there however tenuously. And it is very tenous. The important thing is that he tried. As I said in the afterword, he emboides a strain of the Hilliker code: You’re fearful but you always go forward.”

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The Reeler Will Return Friday…

… featuring a chat with The Black Dahlia author James Ellroy, distribution news from a Reeler fave and the quasi-regular weekend preview Screening Gotham. Meanwhile, have you cleared your Monday and Tuesday calendars for the one-two Reeler Screening Series punch of Jesus Camp and Heights? Pick up your tickets online at the Makor and Pioneer Theater box offices. And meet me back here tomorrow.

Scandinavia Visits Tribeca Tonight as Package Deals Series Resumes

The Reeler got a chance Tuesday to catch up with CMJ FilmFest director Deirdre Corley, whose moonlighting gig as curator of the Package Deals film series yields its latest bounty of foreign animation tonight in Tribeca. After launching the series a while back with a pair of Icelandic film programs, Corley and co-conspirator Kelly Shindler are currently set to import a collection of 17 shorts and music videos from Sweden. The “Daydream Nation” program screens at 7:30 p.m. at The Tank (279 Church St.); tickets are $7.
So why Sweden? “When we did Iceland, we found that Scandinavia was really welcoming and they had lots of cool stuff going on,” Corley told me. “There is lots of overlap–a lot of Icelandic artists are in Sweden too. So it was sort of finding out about the Swedish artists in the process of researching it. We found so much cool stuff, and there are so many good bands coming out of there that it was really easy to find music videos that were really great. So it was just sort of a natural progression.”
Among the artists with videos screening tonight are The Knife, Jose Gonzalez and El Perro Del Mar, with short films by Cecilia Lundqvist (Smile), Jonas Odell (Never Like the First Time) and Bjorn Renner (The Horse’s Sanity) rounding out the program. A party follows, sponsored by Svedka Vodka and featuring Malmö-based DJ Anja Degerholm. At least they are consistent. At any rate, after tonight, the program will join its Icelandic cousin on a US tour, and Corley and Shindler are presently working out a North American counterpart to send over to Scandinavia.
“We’re swamped,” Corley said. “We haven’t picked our next yet, but we want to do two or three of these per year.”
Meanwhile, Corley hinted at big FilmFest programming news on the way from CMJ, scheduled this year from Oct. 31 to Nov. 4. I will pass it along as soon as I have it. Presently, though, Sweden beckons.

"God Spoke": Franken, Filmmakers Baffle The Reeler

In theory, Al Franken: God Spoke should work just fine. Cobbled together by A-list documentarians Chris Hegedus and Nick Doob (The War Room, A Perfect Candidate) over the lead-up to the 2004 presidential election, the film features Franken in a multitude of elements, each ostensibly vying against the others for superiority in his life: the Saturday Night Live alumnus with a joke for every moment; the devoted husband and father; the touring author and radio talk show host out to undermine the “lies” of “lying liars” Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity and, ultimately, President George W. Bush; and the political upstart mulling a Senate campaign in his native Minnesota. The dynamics leave room for drama, and the drama makes the doc.
Again, that is theory. And you do not need me to tell you theory is not practice; God Spoke (opening today in New York) proves that even a guy as gregarious and intelligent as Al Franken may make for documentary anemia if the surroundings–not the subject–generate the only tension at hand. Dosing out varying degrees of humor and outrage (an on-air chat with Hannity reveals both qualities; an explosive exchange with conservative radio host Michael Medved exposes only the latter), the filmmakers showcase a liberal reactionary disinclined to make a choice about anything until it is too late–the president is re-elected, Franken’s radio network limps along and the only influence worth acquiring is found to exist solely on Capitol Hill.
And while the title refers to a goofy introductory set piece re-enacting the divine inspiration that led Franken to crusading, the fact is that his story really starts on Nov. 2, 2004–when America rejected John Kerry and when the comic made the wrenching if necessary decision to pursue political change from the inside. By that point in the film, Hegedus and Doob are just winding down. Thus the paradox of God Spoke and of most contemporary liberal activism, really: It loses the plot.
“As a documentary filmmaker who makes films about real-life stories, you sort of have to go on hunches about things,” Hegedus told me during an interview late last month. “This was not as clear-cut as some of our other films. Like The War Room really had a built-in storyline: Will [Bill Clinton] win, or won’t he win? And this was a little more nebulous. But it seemed like Al was at a point of change and was going to take some risks, and that’s always an interesting point to start filming people. … There was something about Al’s determination and faith when Kerry lost that you knew he was going to have to make a decision to take another step and chose another path for himsef. And that became apparent bcaucse of Kerry losing. I don’t know if he would have done that if Kerry had won. It’s interesting to watch somebody look at their life kind of flashing in front of them and making a decision of that magnitude of responsibility. ”

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Altman, Woody, Herzog and the City in General Highlighted in Just-Announced Fall Film Programs

Fall film programming tips are sliding over the Reeler HQ transom today almost faster than I can keep up with them. In my feeble effort to be comprehensive, here are a few of the doozies:
–From Sept. 23 through the end of the year, MoMA is teaming up with the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting to host–wait for itMade in NY, a 20-film program comprising perhaps the most obvious, user-friendly New York cinema selections of the last 40 years. Which I do not necessarily mean as a bad thing–Do the Right Thing is here, as are the dated-but-underrated Moonstruck and the default “transgressive NYC” tandem of Midnight Cowboy and Requiem for a Dream. Most brilliantly, however, MoMA will screen The Godfathers Part I and II consecutively on Saturday, Sept. 30. I normally would not even consider making other plans during the run of the New York Film Festival, but that is a rarer treat than you would think. Take advantage of it.
A little less newsy, I suppose, is MoMA’s Otto Preminger series, running the entirety of October and featuring nine films including Advise and Consent and Bonjour Tristesse–both of which will be introduced by the filmmaker’s widow, Hope Preminger. The outlandish Jackie Gleason/Carol Channing “comedy” Skidoo is also in line for a screening, so plan accordingly–it is not available on video.
–Makor just released its October program, which includes an Oct. 30 return engagement of A Prairie Home Companion with Robert Altman and Garrison Keillor in attendance. Tickets are $25 and will probably sell out before I even publish this. Also on the sked are the sure-to-arouse, first-ever Fordham Law Film Festival (featuring The Accused, Judgment at Nuremberg and In the Bedroom among other titles) and a preview of Stanley Nelson’s sublime Jonestown: The Life and Death of People’s Temple, followed by a discussion and Q&A with Nelson and some guy named VanAirsdale. From some movie blog in town? Never heard of him.
–Finally, Film Forum teases the world with a glimpse of its own fall and winter slate, which kicks off in late October with an engagement (and a new print) of Werner Herzog’s Aguirre: The Wrath of God. Also in October: The Soros/Sundance Documentary Fund 10th Anniversary Film Festival. A restored version of The Rules of the Game screens Nov. 1-16, while a 28-film Woody Allen retrospective winds down the year. Finally, Billy Wilder’s mortifying Ace in the Hole –a rarely-screened high point of two recent Wilder retrospectives in NYC–gets a full week next January.
The program is not available online at the moment, so follow the jump for a full read-through. And start saving your money, I guess.

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Beale's Summer Scorecard: Sandler Wins, Anyone Who Ever Liked Sandler Loses

The last time the esteemed Reeler Pinch Hitter and general NYC film gadabout Lewis Beale made an apperance on this blog; the server just about collapsed under the traffic demands. I do not know if his recent survey of summer film hits and misses will repeat the magic, but as a scorecard from the season that just was and thankfully is no more, the piece from Monday’s Newsday is worth a read.
Although it is really, really hard for me to get my head around the reality of Beale’s take on Adam Sandler:

Give Adam Sandler credit. The man realizes he’s getting too old to star in frat-boy comedies like The Waterboy and Big Daddy (he turned 40 on Saturday), so recently he’s moved into more mature fare, like Spanglish and Punch-Drunk Love. Plus, he hasn’t lost his audience: Click, a pretty lame family comedy (29 percent on the Rottentomatoes scale), still managed to gross more than $135 million. With results like these, it looks as if the man’s career is going to last a long, long time.

And with $135 million ($135 million!) for Click, the man’s milquetoast downturn will streak more fiery and further and than a righteous God would allow. Please, Mr. and Ms. American Public, please: Stop encouraging perfectly good comedic actors with crossover potential to suck. You got your way with Robin Williams. It does not have to be this way. Let the poor guy be, I beg thee.

"The Best Shot": What Vachon *Really* Wrote About the Angelika

You likely recall the skulduggerous scandal implied by last week’s Page Six item about producer Christine Vachon’s intense dislike for the catacombs-with-popcorn that is the Angelika Film Center. You know: How dare she smack the theater that undergirds her success, someone call the mayor, etc etc.
Well, I finally got my hands on a review copy of Vachon’s upcoming book A Killer Life, from which Page Six excerpted her criticisms. And because every morning should start with a healthy, balanced bit of context, please find below the entirety of Vachon’s single paragraph about the Angelika:

Frankly I hate the Angelika. I won’t see movies there. The seats are uncomfortable, the sound is crummy, you can hear the 4/5/6 train rumbling underneath you, and the film projectors are terrible. (Don’t even get me started on how the Technicolor Far From Heaven looked on their screens. I couldn’t watch) But it’s the kind of movie theater that other movie theaters play [sic] close attention to because it triggers tsunamis of word of mouth. The people who see movies at the Angelika like to talk about the movies they’ve seen at the Angelika. I remember when The Crying Game opened there in November of 1992, they had to put signs up telling people “Do Not Talk about the Movie” as people walked out, so as not to ruin the twist for all the hordes queued up outside. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Angelika was like a Grauman’s Chinese Theatre of independent film–back when Grauman’s actually meant something and wasn’t just a placeholder between the David Hasselhoff beach towels and star maps on Hollywood Boulevard. Playing at the Angelika meant you had the best shot of entering the conversation. It was as close to the red carpet as you could get.

Indeed, this leads into the story of how Poison achieved “unprecedented” box office success at the theater, subsequently providing the momentum that got Vachon and director Todd Haynes’ careers going in earnest. Not as bad as you thought, is it? Perhaps it is no wonder why Angelika publicists had no comment at the time; besides planting the item, they can now even blurb part of Vachon’s quotes for Angelika promotional materials. Anything to finally shake off that New York Press readers’ “Best NYC Theater of ’04” attribution, right?

The Reeler's 2006 Fall Movie Preview Review

As you may have discovered last year, after a long, sluggish summer, few things appeal to me more than parsing the scads of fall movie previews rimming the inbred gene pool of New York media. Laced with Oscar hype, wordy oneupsmanship and the legal limit of aesthetic supposition about films that, in many cases, are still in post-production and will not be seen for weeks or months, the FMP is a fine art of its own anchored in the glorious tradition of “public service” and advertiser mating call.
And as far as traditions (and public service) go, I am proud to reaffirm my own early September ritual of reading these occasionally interminable packages so you do not have to. Thus, without further delay, The Reeler’s second annual Fall Movie Preview Review:

New York Daily News
FOCUS: The Daily News features a little more diverse than usual cut-and-paste of big-name titles organized by theme–or something. Family films and indies overshadow Jack Mathews’ somnambulent mish-mash of titles warranting awards consideration; the release calendar is tabloid twee if not terribly thorough (e.g. the lone endorsement for the animated film Happy Feet: “It’s penguins!”).
HIGH POINT: “High” might be stretching it, but Elizabeth Weitzman issues fair warning for anyone interested in approaching The Last Kiss as a “date movie”: “In this case, a hip soundtrack, a few laughs and a triangle between reluctant grownup Zach Braff, pregnant girlfriend Jacinda Barrett and temptress Rachel Bilson do not a romantic comedy make.” This is about as service-oriented as the NYDN preview gets.
LOW POINT: In a stunning tour de force of cliché, Mathews invokes Alexander Pope, two sports metaphors and the phrase “Oscar buzz” in his lead paragraph. I hate these previews, too, Jack, but come on.
BEST LINE: Weitzman again, writing about Martin Short in The Santa Clause 3: “Short looks to be the biggest Yuletide scene-stealer since the Heat Miser and the Snow Miser faced off on TV in 1974.” Somehow that turns me on.
EGREGIOUS HYPE: Mathews: “(Stephen) Frears (Dangerous Liaisons, Mrs. Henderson Presents) is the most consistent British filmmaker of his generation.” I like Frears just fine, and maybe this is just me being contrarian, but last time I checked, Mike Leigh does not have a Hero or Mary Reilly on his resume.
VALUE BEYOND FILLER: Virtually nil. It is just too… nice: Every entry on the calendar warrants “Reason for Hope,” when it might just be all right to throw in a “Reason Why our Civilization Will Implode in a Storm of Bloodmist and Fire” vis a vis The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning or The Santa Clause 3. This preview is not film writing; it is family counseling.

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Screening Gotham: Sept. 8-10, 2006

A few of this weekend’s worthwhile cinematic happenings around New York:
–The praise surrounding Ramin Bahrani’s film Man Push Cart reached surreal heights Thursday with his and actor Ahmad Razvi’s appearance on Channel 4’s Live at Five broadcast (left); honestly, it is probably the least the guy deserves for what he has made: An auspicious feature debut, a modest yet painstaking character study and the most sensitively rendered New York film of the year. Razvi portrays a Pakistani pop star-turned-Manhattan push cart vendor trapped in a cycle of mourning for his lost family and immigrant anonymity bequeathed by the city. Leticia Dolera and Charles Daniel Sandoval provide the counterpoints–striving, ambition and potential–just within or just out of Ahmad’s reach. A brilliant, beautiful piece of work, Man Push Cart opens today at the Angelika; tell everyone you know.
–Speaking of strictly New York films, the Pioneer Theater is stocked up with them this weekend. The venue’s feature presentation is the Brooklyn-centric A Cantor’s Tale, while artist Joe Coleman will be on hand for tonight’s screening of a documentary that might be about him, Rest in Pieces: A Portrait of Joe Coleman. Saturday features the film NY (See) and a shorts program from the Lower East Side group Charas, while 9/11 moves front-and-center on Sunday with the docs 9/11 Press For Truth and Vito After. The latter doc, which chronicled the health woes of WTC responders back before it became an anniversary-proximate media cause celebre, will be screening in its New York City premiere; director Maria Pusateri and subject Vito Friscia will participate in a Q&A afterward.
–And speaking of Q&A’s, how much pride do you think Maggie Gyllenhaal takes in her new film Sherrybaby? After spending most of her pregnancy’s final trimester in press whirlwinds and premieres, Gyllenhaal will be at the Sunshine tonight after the 7:30 show to talk about her role as a recovering drug addict making her way back into family and social life after a prison stint. Meanwhile, a few doors down in the same theater, Kiefer Sutherland is also expected for a chat about I Trust You to Kill Me, a documentary about Sutherland’s record label signees Rocco DeLuca and The Burden. But don’t feel like you have to choose or anything; Sutherland and director Manu Boyer will be around after Saturday’s 7:45 screening as well.

Stone Sinks: Oliver Planning to Revisit 9/11

From the “I Can Hardly Fucking Wait” file:

Stone weighing up second 9/11 movie

Fresh from the success of his controversial World Trade Center, Oliver Stone plans to make a second film about the 9/11 attacks. The director revealed in a British Academy of Film and Television Arts lecture last night that the subject matter was too “huge” to cover in one film and that he uncovered countless other tales about the terrorist assault that he now wants to bring to the big screen.

“It [9/11] was huge. I think it’s the basis of another film for me,” Stone told the Bafta audience, according to a news story by the World Entertainment News Network. …

He added that he wants his film to help New Yorkers reclaim 9/11, claiming that the tragedy has now been turned into a political issue. “The media lock on 9/11 must diminish because it has been made a political event,” he inisted. “The reaction was political and we forget there was a physical impact.”

Hell, why not a WTC franchise? A TV spinoff? Because God knows how susceptible we are to forgetting, and it looks like the advance team is already laying the groundwork anyway.
PREVIOUSLY: Stone Unturned: The Irresponsibility of World Trade Center (Aug. 9, 2006)
(Photo: Francois Duhamel/Paramount Pictures)

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Queue and Eh? Gondry Gallery Opening Baffles NY Art Blogger

I thought I was pretty much done with Michel Gondry, but Art Fag City blogger and vaunted Reeler Pinch Hitter Paddy Johnson yesterday filed a dispatch from the opening of the Gondry show The Science of Sleep; an exhibition of sculpture and pathological creepy little gifts at Deitch Projects. Maybe I missed something, but it sounds as though things could have gone better:

AFC had the good fortune of sharing the line with most of last year’s rejects from the failed Deitch-sponsored reality show Art Star, a fate only marginally removed from hell. Flanked by an artist with clown red hair and a tattoo that read “I am living art,” it didn’t take long before the words “this is for suckers” passed through my lips. And you know, thank God that thought occurred to me, because when I walked to the entrance to try and get a better look at how the line was moving, I saw that the gallery was only letting five to seven people at time into a sparsely populated gallery. Needless to say, I did not make it into the show and no Gondry spottings were made. I did however manage to take these crappy-ass photographs of the cardboard car in the window display, and document the four gallery goers inside the space. Oh yes, it was an evening of great tidings to be sure.

You mean the cardboard car from Science of Sleep? Hot! Indeed, Johnson has the photos to prove her mettle, but my hunch is she is not planning to return on a slower day for the $30 French calendar. Be that way, then! More for the rest of us.

Science Fiction: Tribeca, Sloan Foundation Pair Up Again for Screenplay Program

One of the on-the-job hazards of film journalism is running into aspiring screenwriters who crash the same parties I do, approach the same high-ranking sources and then bend their ears into putty about the script they have been developing since, like, ever. Just when I thought nobody cared, I was reminded this morning of the Sloan Foundation, a truly saintly organization that pours money and other useful resources into developing science-themed stories and screenplays. The news today invokes the Foundation’s partnership with the Tribeca Film Institute, which just announced a Dec. 15 deadline for its latest round of script reviews.
And do not think you will get another shot at this next year, either–this is a triennial deal, so you may be waiting a while if you decide to procrastinate on your global warming comedy or cancer-cure weepie. The perks accompanying your selection ain’t bad, either; you might recall last year’s Reeler feature profiling script readings by Peter Bogdanovich, Alan Cumming, Eddie Izzard and F. Murray Abraham among others. Sloan program director Doron Weber had a few guidelines to hand down as well, so check it out if you are even remotely inclined to emphasize the DNA evidence in that dusty cop thriller you wrote 10 years ago.
This is hardly a bad place to start: smaller field of competition, better odds, inroads with the Tribeca Film Festival, etc. And no more hustling at parties! Just remember me when you make it big.

'The Turn of a Dime': Orlando Bloom Chats Up 'Haven' in NYC

Orlando Bloom was in town Thursday to promote his new film Haven, a mystifying fusion of Romeo and Juliet, money intrigue and unapologetically trashy B-movie that opens Sept. 15. Written and directed on the cheap by then-24-year-old Frank E. Flowers (yes, really) in his native Cayman Islands, Haven interweaves the stories of Shy (Bloom), a poor white kid who falls in love with a rich island girl Andrea (Zoe Saldana), whose brother (Anthony Mackie) juggles his disapproval with an earnest Quest for Gangsterdom, which overlaps with the indiscretions of petty criminal Fritz (Victor Rasuk), who is casing a rich American (Bill Paxton) who fled the feds in Miami with his impressionable teenage daughter (Agnes Bruckner). Everything comes together like a bulky, poorly wrapped Christmas present worth studying for its incompetence and worth opening for the guilty pleasure insde; the ratio of sultry cast members to sensical narrative here ranks at a deciedly underachieving five-to-zero.

Sea fairer: Actor/producer Orlando Bloom with Zoe Saldana in Haven (Photo: Yari Film Group)

But you cannot say Flowers did not try; his camera swerves like a speed freak and cuts hot and fast, not an entirely unsuccessful (or original) stylistic exercise that helps viewers defer the question “What the fuck am I watching?” if only because there is just never enough time; Flowers is jump-cutting months ahead, or across town, or across oceans, or into oceans with lovers Bloom and Saldana. After 40 minutes or so, it is not impossible to appreciate or even enjoy Haven for what it is: a soap opera with teeth. Or maybe just really, really foxy dentures.
I asked Bloom and Flowers (I’m telling you, this stuff writes itself) from whence and how exactly they developed the film’s stormy “style.” “The one advantage you do have with bening young and having your first film is saying ‘I don’t know,’ or ‘What do you think?’ and not have ego get in the way of it or vice versa,” Flowers told me. “As we went through, it was really all about that–all about collaborating. As far as the style of the actual film, it’s like in movies like Amores Perros, movies like City of God, there’s a certain disregard in the film. They just say, ‘Let’s do it.’ Things drop out of foucs. It’s just so aggressive and so real and so raw and a lot of times, when you don’t have the money or the time to do three or four angles, all your actors kind of rise to the occasion. It was really an amazing experience, and I was a little spoiled by it. These guys would get it all in one or two takes, and they’d be like, ‘Aren’t you going to do some coverage?’ I’m like, ‘No that’s great.’ It was an amazing moment. ‘I could shoot it again if you wanna spend an hour lighting it, but it was brilliant and I have it, and we’ll jump cut if the continuity isn’t 100 percent there because the moment is true and the moment is pure.’ ”
“And that was so exciting as an actor,” Bloom interjected, “because of the script, and they way he adapted it on the turn of a dime, the way that he was that flexible as a director working with him. You know? He was 24 years old! But he had a real confidence and a real air of, ‘This is what I want–I got it.’ And what can I say? I believed him. It took a few turns to really believe it, but it was exciting. It was an exciting process. It was a dialogue; it wasn’t a one-way street. Neither of us have got egos that mean we can’t talk about it. We want to make a movie and get it done together.”
Bloom, who co-produced the film, passed the buck when asked why Haven languished for two years on its distributor’s shelf. “That’s kind of a Bob Yari question,” Bloom said, referring to the mogul-ish, Oscar-deprived Crash bankroller whose eponymous distributing arm has pushed a half-dozen titles of varying quality (Winter Passing, Find Me Guilty, The Illusionist among others) into the market in 2006. In full producer mode, however, he modestly added that now is Haven‘s time, then thanked the press and left the room. Harvey would be proud.

BAM's Brooklyn Close-Up Series Starts Up with Acclaimed Telfair Doc

Pardon these long disappearances; they will likely be recurring as the fall film season takes off, festivals sprout like weeds (lush, well-cultivated weeds, of course) and big changes take shape here at The Reeler. Rest assured I will always return to you, and in the interim, let me blow a kiss to BAM, which has taken some hometown initiative to bring Brooklyn films and filmmakers into its comfy fold.
For starters, the Cinematek’s new Brooklyn Close-Up series launches tonight, featuring Jonathan Hock’s documentary Through the Fire (above). The film is a glimpse at the development of basketball prodigy Sebastian Telfair from a Coney Island street legend to NBA draft pick; as noted last year on The Reeler, the film made a splash at Tribeca ’05 before ESPN snapped it up for cable. It hasn’t been seen theatrically since then, so don’t take this one for granted if you missed it the first time around. A Q&A with Hock, co-director Alastair Christopher, editor Steven Pilgrim and executive producer Diane Houslin follows tonight’s 7 p.m. screening.
And just over the wire is the news of October’s series selection: Critic/documentarian Atsushi Funahashi’s second narrative feature, the multi-ethnic road movie Big River. A late-’90s transplant to Brooklyn from Japan, Funahashi will be on hand Oct. 4 with his DP, Eric Van Den Brulle, to chat about the film.

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“We don’t have any idea what the universe is. Wise people have always told us that this is proof you shouldn’t think, because thinking leads you nowhere. You just build over this huge construction of misunderstanding, which is culture. The history of culture is the history of the misunderstandings of great thinkers. So we always have to go back to zero and begin differently. And maybe in that way you have a chance not to understand but at least not to have further misunderstandings. Because this is the other side of this question—Am I really so brave to cancel all human culture? To stop admiring the beauty in human production? It’s very difficult to say no.”
~ László Krasznahorkai

“I have a license to carry in New York. Can you believe that? Nobody knows that, [Applause] somebody attacks, somebody attacks me, oh, they’re gonna be shot. Can you imagine? Somebody says, oh, it is Trump, he’s easy pickings what do you say? Right? Oh, boy. What was the famous movie? No. Remember, no remember where he went around and he sort of after his wife was hurt so badly and kill. What?  I — Honestly, Yeah, right, it’s true, but you have many of them. Famous movie. Somebody. You have many of them. Charles Bronson right the late great Charles Bronson name of the movie come on.  , remember that? Ah, we’re gonna cut you up, sir, we’re gonna cut you up, uh-huh.


One of the great movies. Charles Bronson, great, Charles Bronson. Great movies. Today you can’t make that movie because it’s not politically correct, right? It’s not politically correct. But could you imagine with Trump? Somebody says, oh, all these big monsters aren’t around he’s easy pickings and then shoot.”
~ Donald Trump