Reviews Archive for September, 2008

How The West Was Won

When it was made, the story in How the West Was Won concluded at a point that reached the lifetime of some of the 1963 MGM film’s oldest viewers (and background extras), so that its own narrative span, depicting in an episodic fashion, the gradual settlement of western America during the Nineteenth Century, could present a…

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Birds of Prey

Too comic booky for the masses, or even the WB subset thereof, the short-lived Birds of Prey TV series, about female crime fighters in ‘New Gotham City,’ has finally been delivered to the medium where it can be the most appreciated, as Warner Home Video has released Birds of Prey The Complete Series, a four platter set…

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The Secret Life of Bees Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood

Fox Searchlight’s The Secret Lives Of Bees actually plays… and not just for girls. It’s in the spirit of Sounder and the Toomer story in The Great Santini and To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s clearly Dakota Fanning’s coming out party as a young woman, a stark contrast fromHounddog, which smelled of her exploitation by a well-intended by overreaching writer/director….

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Confessions of a Festival Junkie: Dayzzzzzz

Following the flood of weekend movie junkets, it seemed an apt time for some serious business. There had been speculation that Steven Soderbergh’s Cannes premiered Che had finally made a deal for North American distribution rights but all players involved kept their cards very close to their chests. There were other murmurings and speculative questions that…

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Blindness Directed by Fernando Meirelles

There’s something a bit daunting about the fact that two of the most acclaimed films coming into the Toronto International Film Festival are titled Hunger andBlindness. Both premiered at Cannes with Blindnessreceiving the prestigious opening night slot and Hungerwinning the Camera d’or award for best first feature. I prefer Blindness, at least the type one encounters cinematically. Based…

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Lovely, Still

There have been some good films so far, but with the talent involved, good shouldn’t be a surprise. But the first “wow, didn’t see that coming” for me is Nik Fackler’s Lovely, Still… a tiny movie about age and love and family, small in scope, but movie stylized, with two home run performances by Martin Landauand Ellen Burstyn. I…

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Rachel Getting Married Directed by Jonathan Demme

Rachel Getting Married is the best Altman movie in 15 years. Of course, this film is not by Robert Altman, but byJonathan Demme, one of America’s great filmmakers, of a generation that came up behind the Altmans and others of the early 70s, who made his first high profile film, Melvin and Howard, one decade after…

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Tears For Sale Directed by Uros Stovanovic

Mike Leigh’s advice was well taken, as Uros Stovanovic has the kind of visual muscle to make him one of the next hot candidates for a Hollywood slot. The film is, essentially, a fairy tale filled with dark jokes, estrogen, sex, and explosions. Simplifying the story is probably a mistake, but I will offer the broadest…

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gary j dretzka on: The DVD Wrapup: Ballad of Lefty Brown, Wonder, Blades, Seijun Suzuki, Fellini, Hellraiser, Paradise and more

Yvan Prime on: The DVD Wrapup: Ballad of Lefty Brown, Wonder, Blades, Seijun Suzuki, Fellini, Hellraiser, Paradise and more

Antoine Ratliff on: The DVD Wrapup: Letter From An Unknown Woman, Despicable Me 3, Crucifixion, Maurizio Cattelan, A New Leaf, Silent Night and more

Fernando on: The DVD Wrapup: King George, Cars 3, Overdrive, Afterimage, Glass Castle, Whisky Galore, The Journey, Into the Night, Sissi, Stay Hungry and more

Woody on: The DVD Wrapup: ET, Vietnam, Big Sick, Glory, Certain Women, The Hero, Hana-Bi, By the Time It Gets Dark, The Prison, The Flesh, Moderns … More

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Ray Pride on: The DVD Wrapup: Founder, Punching Henry, Paris 05:59, Apocalypse Child, Donnie Darko, Woman of the Year, Tampopo, Handmaid’s Tale and more

RAY WEIKEL on: The DVD Wrapup: Founder, Punching Henry, Paris 05:59, Apocalypse Child, Donnie Darko, Woman of the Year, Tampopo, Handmaid’s Tale and more

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“Roger Ebert claimed that the re-editing of The Brown Bunny after Cannes allowed him a difference of opinion so vast that he first called it the worst film in history and eventually gave it a thumbs up. This is both far fetched and an outright lie. The truth is, unlike the many claims that the unfinished film that showed at Cannes was 24 minutes shorter than the finished film, it was only 8 minutes shorter. The running time I filled out on the Cannes submission form was arbitrary. The running time I chose was just a number I liked. I had no idea where in the process I would actually be when I needed to stop cutting to meet the screening deadline. So whatever running time was printed in the program, I promise you, was not the actual running time. And the cuts I made to finish the film after Cannes were not many. I shortened the opening race scene once I was able to do so digitally. After rewatching the last 4 minutes of the film over and over again, somewhere within those 4 minutes, I froze the picture and just ended the film there, cutting out everything after that point, which was about 3 minutes. Originally in the salt flats scene, the motorcycle returned from the white. I removed the return portion of that shot, which seemed too literal. And I cut a scene of me putting on a sweater. That’s pretty much it. Plus the usual frame here, frame there, final tweaks. If you didn’t like the unfinished film at Cannes, you didn’t like the finished film, and vice versa. Roger Ebert made up his story and his premise because after calling my film literally the worst film ever made, he eventually realized it was not in his best interest to be stuck with that mantra. Stuck with a brutal, dismissive review of a film that other, more serious critics eventually felt differently about. He also took attention away from what he actually did at the press screening. It is outrageous that a single critic disrupted a press screening for a film chosen in main competition at such a high profile festival and even more outrageous that Ebert was ever allowed into another screening at Cannes. His ranting, moaning and eventual loud singing happened within the first 20 minutes, completely disrupting and manipulating the press screening of my film. Afterwards, at the first public screening, booing, laughing and hissing started during the open credits, even before the first scene of the film. The public, who had heard and read rumors about the Ebert incident and about me personally, heckled from frame one and never stopped. To make things weirder, I got a record-setting standing ovation from the supporters of the film who were trying to show up the distractors who had been disrupting the film. It was not the cut nor the film itself that drew blood. It was something suspicious about me. Something offensive to certain ideologues.”
~ Vincent Gallo

“I think [technology has[ its made my life faster, it’s made the ability to succeed easier. But has that made my life better? Is it better now than it was in the eighties or seventies? I don’t think we are happier. Maybe because I’m 55, I really am asking these questions… I really want to do meaningful things! This is also the time that I really want to focus on directing. I think that I will act less and less. I’ve been doing it for 52 years. It’s a long time to do one thing and I feel like there are a lot of stories that I got out of my system that I don’t need to tell anymore. I don’t need to ever do The Accused again! That is never going to happen again! You hit these milestones as an actor, and then you say, ‘Now what? Now what do I have to say?'”
~ Jodie Foster