Sunday, August 29, 2010
EMMY 2010 - RANDOM THOUGHTS
It was a pretty good show.
The opening was terrific.
George Clooney gave a brilliant and brilliantly short speech.
Jewel performed a beautiful accompaniment to a sensitive Memorial Tribute.
David Stathairn was good talking about the importance of teachers. And Temple Grandin, which was highly recommended by critics when it came out, was a big winner.
Dividing the show into segments by the type of TV (comedy, drama, reality, TV Movies...) sort of worked. The retrospectives of scenes from the year's shows were well done, except they always go by too quickly, and it's hard to identify the shows that the scenes came from when the type is hard to read or goes by very fast.
(For some reason, the "reality" segment on this show made me remember the reality shows, "Project Greenlight" and "On The Lot," two terrible shows about making movies. Bad as the actual shows were, they had tremendous promise, and I'd love to see a reality show about acting and directing -- Note to producers: Call Me! I've got ideas about how to do a reality acting/directing show. Let's do lunch!)
I'm glad The Daily Show won. They call it "fake news," but the way they pore through archival footage to find what people have said in the past is more significant commentary than the so-called news on many "real" news programs ever offer.
I liked the award to Archi Panjabi (Kalinda Sharma on "The Good Wife"). It was a very interesting character, very well played.
On the NBC Red Carpet show, the male hosts seemed like real idiots. Once again it reminds you just how good a live Red Carpet host Ryan Seacrest is. (Watch how he is informal, real, rarely trivial, and (mostly) interesting... next time you see him host.)
I think 24 deserved more attention this year than it got. It was a memorable year for 24. And a memorable run.
I think Kyle Chandler from Friday Night Lights (who was nominated, but did not win), as well as (not nominated) cast members like Taylor Kitsch and Zach Gilford deserved more recognition.
There were some excellent moments. But the Twitter thing was lame.
Suggestions for speeding up the show: My recommendation is that for all awards shows THANK YOUs be limited to one or two. Hearing someone shout out a list of ??? people I've never heard of is really boring.
It is also stupid when the same person comes up for more than one award. (Been there, done that... And they usually have nothing more to say.) In designating who is going to respond to any award, there should be a rule that (if at all possible) any one person can come up at most once -- co-writers, co-producers, co-whatevers who haven't spoken before, should come to the mike instead of someone who already has spoken, or is likely to get a later award.
I'm not sure whether or not the EMMY's claim that the winners are not known until they are announced, but I can't believe Al Pacino would have come if he didn't know he was going to win. And it's always suspicious when someone associated with a show gives out a prize to someone in the same show.
Jimmy Fallon was a good host. And, overall, it was a better than average awards show.
I won't repeat all the EMMY winners here. Here's the official site:
Labels: EMMY 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
NYFF 2010 DIALOGS WITH DIRECTORS
48th NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL 2010
The Cinema Inside Me
The Film Society of Lincoln Center's 48th New York Film Festival will again partner with HBO FILMS® to host a variety of dialogues and filmmaker panels during the festival's September 24th through October 10th run.
The lineup this year is quite amazingly interesting:
On Saturday September 25th David Fincher discusses this year's Opening Night film, The Social Network with New York Film Festival Selection Committee Chairman Richard Peña.
On Sunday September 26th, Apichatpong Weerasethakul (2010 Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or winner) will take the stage to discuss his Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives with Selection Committee member Dennis Lim.
On Sunday October 3rd, Julie Taymor and Columbia University's James Shapiro, a Shakespeare, medieval and early modern drama specialist and author, will be discussing Taymor's Centerpiece selection The Tempest.
James Shapiro, a Professor at Columbia University's Department of English and Comparative Literature, is the author of Rival Playwrights: Marlowe, Jonson, Shakespeare (1991); Shakespeare and the Jews (1995), which was awarded the Bainton Prize for best book on sixteenth-century literature; Oberammergau: The Troubling Story of the World's Most Famous Passion Play (2000); and 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare (2005), winner of the Theatre Book Prize as well as the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize, awarded to the best nonfiction book published in the UK. Shapiro's most recent book is Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? (2010). He has co-edited the Columbia Anthology of British Poetry and served as the associate editor of the Columbia History of British Poetry. He has also taught as a Fulbright lecturer at Bar Ilan and Tel Aviv Universities and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEH, the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, and the Huntington Library. James is currently at work on another book, The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606.
On Saturday October 9th, Kelly Reichardt who has Meek's Cutoff in this year's festival will have her discussion with Selection Committee member, Melissa Anderson.
Each conversation will be followed by an audience inclusive Q&A.
The Cinema Inside Me, Sponsored By HBO FILMS®, will take place at Alice Tully Hall on Oct. 3rd:
This year, feature filmmaker, turned film critic (at Cahiers du cinema), turned filmmaker, Olivier Assayas will highlight his current project, Carlos. Assayas, over the past two decades, has become one of the most respected filmmakers working anywhere today. His critical writing on cinema was crucial for introducing the new Asian cinema into France, and he continues to maintain a strong interest in avant-garde and experimental films. In conversation with New York Film Festival Selection Committee Chairman Richard Peña, Mr. Assayas will offer a personal guided tour of some key moments in his own history of cinema -- showing sequences from films and by filmmakers who powerfully influenced his thoughts on cinema as well as his filmmaking practice.
The David Fincher, Apichatpong Weerasethakal and Kelly Reichardt HBO FILMS® Directors Dialogues will be held at the Walter Reade Theater.
The Julie Taymor HBO FILMS® Directors Dialogue will be held in the J Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse, on the 10th floor of Lincoln Center's Samuel B. & David Rose Building, just adjacent to the Walter Reade Theater.
There will be an advance ticketing opportunity for Film Society of Lincoln Center Patrons and Members beginning August 30th through September 11th.
General Public tickets will be available September 12th. For more information visit
call 212 875 5601.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
BP BS & ANTITRUST
I guess there are at least 5 people that believe BP has a constitutional right to spend money advertising, instead of spending that money on a faster, better cleanup and faster, bigger, easier payouts to people their spill has harmed.
I do hope that if there is any error in the sunny, sunny, sunny claims they make in those ads they will be brought to justice for false advertising.
But it is weird that tonight on the six-thirty evening news, when the BP ad started on NBC, I switched to CBS to find the same BP ad on there at the same time, and then when I switched to ABC the same BP ad was on at the same time. The same BP ad on all three networks at exactly the same time. No escape.
I wonder if there is any antitrust issue in the fact that all the major networks seem to have decided to put ads on -- in this case exactly the same ad -- at the same time on all the major stations, preventing consumers from escaping the ads by switching channels. Is it deliberate? collusion?
Friday, August 20, 2010
48TH NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL - 2010
The CLOSING NIGHT FILM
At the 48th NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL - 2010
The Opening and Closing Night films, and the Centerpiece are directed by three of America's most important current film directors, David Fincher, Julie Taymor, and Clint Eastwood.
The Opening Night film is David Fincher's The Social Network. (David Fincher has just started work on the highly anticipated American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.)
The Centerpiece is Julie Taymor's version of Shakespeare's The Tempest. (Julie Taymor is currently developing the spectacular production of Spiderman -- "Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark" -- on Broadway. Currently scheduled -- it's been delayed before because it may be the most elaborate $50M++ show ever mounted on Broadway -- it's supposed to open on Dec 21, 2010.)
The Closing Night film is Clint Eastwood's Hereafter. (Clint Eastwood was just the subject of an extensive retrospective at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.)
"As so beautifully evident in Hereafter, Clint Eastwood continues to make the most daring, provocative films in America. With his returned appearance here in the New York Film Festival, the director has showcased an Opening Night film, a Centerpiece film and now this year's Closing Night with Hereafter, a "hat trick" of which we are especially proud," says Richard Peña, Selection Committee Chair & Program Director, The Film Society of Lincoln Center.
Clint Eastwood's Hereafter thus marks the filmmaker's 4th visit to the New York Film Festival; previous Eastwood titles presented were The Changeling (Centerpiece 2008), Mystic River (Opening Night 2003) and Bird (1988). Hereafter stars Matt Damon, Cécile de France, Jay Mohr, Bryce Dallas Howard, George McLaren and Frankie McLaren. The film is written by Peter Morgan (The Queen) and produced by Clint Eastwood, Kathleen Kennedy and Robert Lorenz. The executive producers are Steven Spielberg, Frank Marshall, Tim Moore and Peter Morgan.
Hereafter tells the story of three people who are haunted by mortality in different ways. Matt Damon stars as George, a blue-collar American who has a special connection to the afterlife. On the other side of the world, Marie (Cécile de France), a French journalist, has a near-death experience that shakes her reality. And when Marcus (Frankie/George McLaren), a London schoolboy, loses the person closest to him, he desperately needs answers. Each on a path in search of the truth, their lives will intersect, forever changed by what they believe might-or must-exist in the hereafter.
Fincher and Taymor will be making their New York Film Festival debuts in this year's program. Returning international veterans for this year's festival will include: Jean-Luc Godard's (27th NYFF visit); Manoel de Oliveira (10th); Mike Leigh (9th); Raul Ruiz (8th); and Abbas Kiarostami & Hong Sang-soo (5th time each).
Added Peña, "My colleagues and I were especially impressed with the fearlessness of the filmmakers selected for this year's program. To see both the veterans and the newcomers moving into bold new areas, experimenting with narrative or pushing the limits of genre, emphasizes the undying vitality of a medium that sadly is so often reduced to formula and repetition."
Here's a list of the 48th New York Film Festival main-slate (see below for descriptions of the films):
THE SOCIAL NETWORK, David Fincher, 2010, USA, 120 min
THE TEMPEST, Julie Taymor, 2010, USA, 110 min
HEREAFTER, Clint Eastwood, 2010, USA, 126 min
ANOTHER YEAR, Mike Leigh, 2010, UK, 129 min
AURORA, Cristi Puiu, 2010, Romania, 181 min
BLACK VENUS, (Venus noire), Abdellatif Kechiche, France, 166 min
CARLOS, Olivier Assayas, 2010, France, 319 min
CERTIFIED COPY (Copie conformé), Abbas Kiarostami, 2010, France/Italy, 106 min
FILM SOCIALISME, Jean-Luc Godard, 2010, Switzerland, 101 min
INSIDE JOB, Charles Ferguson, 2010, USA, 120 min
LE QUATTRO VOLTE, Michelangelo Frammartino, 2010, Italy, 88 min
LENNON NYC, Michael Epstein, 2010, USA, 115 min
MEEK'S CUTOFF, Kelly Reichardt, 2010, USA, 104 min
MY JOY (Schastye moe), Sergei Loznitsa, 2010, Ukraine/Germany, 127 min
MYSTERIES OF LISBON (Misterios de Lisboa), Raul Ruiz, Portugal/France, 272 min
OF GODS AND MEN (Des homes et des dieux), Xavier Beauvois, 2010,
France, 120 min
OKI'S MOVIE (Ok hui ui yeonghwa), Hong Sang-soo, 2010, South Korea, 80 min
OLD CATS (Gatos viejos), Sebastian Silva, 2010, Chile, 88 min
POETRY (Shi), Lee Chang-dong, 2010, South Korea, 139 min
POST MORTEM, Pablo Larrain, 2010, Chile/Mexico/Germany, 98 min
REVOLUCION, Mariana Chenillo, Fernando Embecke, Amat Escalante, Gael Garcia Bernal, Rodrigo Garcia, Diego Luna, Gerardo Naranjo, Rodrigo Plá, Carlos Reygadas, Patricia Riggen, 2010, Mexico, 110 min
THE ROBBER (Der Räuber), Benjamin Heisenberg, Austria/Germany, 90 min
ROBINSON IN RUINS, Patrick Keiller, 2010, UK, 101 min
SILENT SOULS (Ovsyanki), Alexei Fedorchenko, Russia, 75 min
THE STRANGE CASE OF ANGELICA (O estranho caso de Angélica), Manoel de Oliveira,
Portugal, 97 min
TUESDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS (Marti, dupa craciun), Radu Muntean,
Romania, 99 min
UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL PAST LIVES (Lung Boonmee raluek chat),
Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2010, UK/Thailand, 113 min
WE ARE WHAT WE ARE (Somos lo que hay), Jorge Michel Grau, Mexico, 90 min
The 17-day New York Film Festival highlights the best in world cinema, featuring top films from celebrated filmmakers as well as fresh new talent. The selection committee, chaired by Peña also includes: Melissa Anderson, contributor The Village Voice; Scott Foundas, Associate Program Director, The Film Society of Lincoln Center; Dennis Lim, Editor, Moving Image Source & Freelance Critic; and Todd McCarthy, Critic indieWire.
There will be an advance ticketing opportunity for Film Society of Lincoln Center Patrons and Members beginning August 30th through September 11th. General Public tickets will be available September 12th. For more information visit
The Film Society receives generous, year-round support from 42BELOW, Audi, American Airlines, GRAFF, The New York Times, Stella Artois, The New York State Council on the Arts, and The National Endowment for the Arts. Additionally, The 2010 New York Film Festival is supported by HBO, Illy Caffe, Kodak, Dolby and WABC-TV. (Note that film festivals could not exist without sponsors!)
48th New York Film Festival,
The Social Network
David Fincher, 2010, USA, 120m
Brilliantly directed by David Fincher from a razor sharp script by Aaron Sorkin (one of my favorite writers), The Social Network is a scintillating play-by-play of the meteoric rise and acrimonious fall of the founders of Facebook-Harvard undergrads who developed their zeitgeist-altering phenomenon out of their dorm rooms...and ended up suing each other for millions. Jesse Eisenberg turns in a mesmerizing performance as the genius but socially maladroit CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose flash of social-networking inspiration occurs during a drunken act of internet revenge on an ex-girlfriend (played by future tattoo girl, Rooney Mara), with Spiderman-to-be Andrew Garfield as nice-guy CFO Eduaordo Saverin and scene stealing Justin Timberlake as Napster co-founder Sean Parker. Much more than a ripped-from-the-headlines docudrama, The Social Network is a timeless study of unchecked ambition, status and privilege in America, and those other, more precious things money can't buy. World Premiere. A Columbia Pictures release.
Julie Taymor, 2010, USA, 110m
Renowned for her wonderfully inventive works for both stage and screen, Julie Taymor has applied her considerable talents to this fascinating rendering of Shakespeare's late, great mystical romance. Exiled on a remote island, Prospera (Helen Mirren), the duchess of Milan, conjures up a storm to lure a bevy of characters from her past to shore, revealing in the process a skate of human frailties, illusions, kindness and nobility. Ms. Mirren is ably aided by a terrific cast, including Russell Brand, Alfred Molina, Djimon Hounsou, David Strathairn, Chris Cooper, Alan Cumming, Ben Whishaw, Tom Conti, Reeve Carney and Felicity Jones. North American Premiere. A Touchstone Pictures release.
Clint Eastwood, 2010, USA, 126m
Another entirely surprising film from a director who, at 80, remains at the peak of his powers, Clint Eastwood's Hereafter explores the possibility of establishing connections with loved ones who have passed on-an enterprise marked by skepticism as well an adventurous sense of hope. An engrossing, nuanced ensemble piece with a cast headed by the excellent Matt Damon and Cécile de France, the script by Peter Morgan (The Queen, NYFF 2006) unfolds three intersecting stories as it entertains the idea that alternate realms of consciousness might exist apart from the life we all know. Filmed in France, England, San Francisco and Hawaii, Hereafter is made with the consummate skill and confident grace one expects from Hollywood's most enduring and honored veteran. But it also exhibits the energy and curiosity of an ever-young mind still striving to tackle the eternal mysteries of life and death. U.S. Premiere. A Warner Bros. release.
Mike Leigh, 2010, UK, 129m
Brimming with joy and tragedy, old wounds and new beginnings, the latest from British master Mike Leigh observes four seasons in the lives of longtime married couple Tom and Gerri (the marvelous Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen), their 30-year-old bachelor son Joe, and Gerri's spinster work colleague Mary (Lesley Manville). A houseguest so frequent she's practically family, Mary at first seems a harmless sad sack, drinking too much and bemoaning her failures in life and love. But as time passes, and summer gives way to fall, Mary's depression grows, and her behavior becomes ever more erratic. A typically wry, wise, carefully observed portrait of the human experience, Another Year finds Leigh at the top of his game, and Manville-in her seventh collaboration with the director-at the top of hers. By turns abrasive and fragile, hilarious and finally heartbreaking, Mary emerges as one of Leigh's most complex and memorable characters-a rare gift to an actress and an audience. A Sony Pictures Classics release.
Cristi Puiu, 2010, Romania/France/Switzerland Germany, 181m
Five years after The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (NYFF 2005), Romanian writer-director Cristi Puiu returns with another singular, uncompromising character study, this time casting himself in the demanding lead role. That man, named Viorel, is a metallurgical engineer whose life seems to have spun loose from its axis, leaving him to solemnly stalk the streets of Bucharest, encountering former colleagues, a mistress, his mother, and his former in-laws, all the while harboring a secret plan designed to restore order to the whole. In a series of long, methodical takes, Puiu plunges us directly into Viorel's world, making us both voyeur and accomplice to his actions, as we gradually come to understand just who this man is and the inevitability of where he's going.
Black Venus/Vénus noire
Abdellatif Kechiche, 2010, France, 166m
In his unforgettable telling of the short, deplorable existence of the "Hottentot Venus"-née Saartjie Baartman, a slave from Cape Town who was exhibited as a freak-show attraction in early nineteenth-century Europe-Abdellatif Kechiche (The Secret of the Grain) delivers a riveting examination of racism. Gawked at and groped in grimy carnivals in London and, later, high-society Parisian salons, Baartman soon becomes the object of prurient fascination of French scientists, obsessed with calibrating every part of her anatomy-particularly her enlarged buttocks and genitals. Though Baartman's life was unspeakably grim, Yahima Torres's remarkably complex portrayal of the title character reveals not just a mute symbol of victimhood but also a woman capable of fierce defiance. North American Premiere.
Olivier Assayas, 2010, France/Germany, 319m
An astonishment in every respect, Carlos is a dynamic, intelligent and revelatory account of the career of the notorious revolutionary terrorist popularly known as Carlos the Jackal. A sensation at Cannes, it also packs every one of its 319 minutes with real movie-movie excitement, action, sex and suspense, creating a nerve-jangling, you-are-there verisimilitude, most of all in its breathless recreation of Carlos' audacious 1975 kidnapping of OPEC oil ministers in Vienna. Edgar Ramirez inhabits the title role with the arrogant charisma of Brando in his prime, while director Olivier Assayas takes great artistic, political and historical risks-fluidly staging sequences set in at least 16 countries and spoken in all the appropriate languages-to emerge with the best film of his career to date. An IFC Films release.
Certified Copy/Copie conforme
Abbas Kiarostami, 2010, France/Italy, 106m
On paper, Abbas Kiarostami's return to narrative filmmaking after a decade of experimental video projects seems a risky proposition: a French production, filmed on location in Tuscany, with a European cast speaking in a mixture of English, French and Italian. But in fact, this close-up study of a relationship is a dazzling return to form. An antiques dealer (Juliette Binoche) and a philosopher (British opera star William Shimmell) appear to meet for the first time following one of his lectures, but soon we begin to suspect that there is more to this couple than meets the eye. Are they in fact husband and wife engaging in an elaborate charade? Or is Kiarostami showing us the beginning, middle and end of a marriage in something other than chronological order? Nimbly juggling reality with cinematic illusion, and anchored by Binoche's emotionally naked performance (Best Actress, Cannes), Certified Copy is a stimulating and provocative Kiarostami coup. North American Premiere. An IFC Films release.
The Cinema Inside Me: Olivier Assayas
Filmmaker turned film critic (at Cahiers du cinema) turned filmmaker, Olivier Assayas (Carlos) has become over the past two decades one of the most respected filmmakers working anywhere today. His critical writing on cinema was crucial for introducing the new Asian cinema into France, and he continues to maintain a strong interest in the avant-garde and experimental films. In conversation with NYFF Selection Committee Chairman Richard Peña, Mr. Assayas will offer a personal guided tour of some key moments in his own history of cinema-showing sequences from films and by filmmakers who powerfully influenced his thoughts on cinema as well as his filmmaking practice.
Jean-Luc Godard, 2010, Switzerland, 101m
At 80, Jean-Luc Godard shows no sign of slowing down or easing up; his latest work is one of his most formally audacious, as well as one of his most resonant. A visual and aural collage that moves through discussions of nature, art, politics, atrocities, and film history (among other topics), shot in a dizzying variety of formats, Film Socialisme is never simply an intellectual exercise. There's a passion behind this torrent of words and images, a sense of the vital importance of the issues addressed and the need to find new ways for cinema to discuss them-plus, as always in Godard, the sheer beauty of much of the film. Following our September 29 screening, New Yorker film critic Richard Brody, former Cahiers du cinema editor Jean-Michel Frodon and celebrated film scholar Annette Michelson will discuss the film, putting it in the context of Godard's career as well as that of contemporary cinema.
Charles Ferguson, 2010, USA, 108m
There could scarcely be a film more timely or relevant to the contemporary economic crisis than Inside Job. Continuing in the meticulous, comprehensive and penetrating style that so well served his incisive analysis of the Iraq quagmire, No End in Sight, director Charles Ferguson enlists many key players to explain an often arcane and complicated subject in ways that everyone can comprehend. Placing recent developments on Wall Street and around the world in historical perspective dating back to the Great Depression, this concise documentary generates cumulative outrage as it systematically emphasizes how financial growth and industry deregulation fostered an environment of economic recklessness and criminality, as well as a willingness to look the other way as long as the good times rolled. Dealing in facts and figures rather than hyperbole and hysteria, Ferguson employs more than three dozen expert economists, executives, politicians and scholars to lay it all out in terms that are as illuminating as they are chilling. A Sony Pictures Classics release.
Michael Epstein, 2010, USA, 115m
In 1971, John Lennon arrived in New York City and felt re-born: at last living in the country that had dominated his artistic imagination, Lennon and his new bride Yoko Ono found in the city the perfect blend of music, politics, culture and lifestyle. But those heady first years eventually gave way to a dark period in which both Lennon's musical career and his personal life almost ran aground-until once again New York City came to his rescue. Using remarkable, rarely seen footage and interviews with many who were close to John, filmmaker Michael Epstein has created a moving, revealing portrait of the music legend's New York years, detailing not only his triumphs but also some hard times over which he so beautifully recovered in the final years of his tragically curtailed life. World Premiere.
Kelly Reichardt, 2010, USA, 104m
In 1845, three families hire the wild-eyed, bushy-bearded Meek (Bruce Greenwood) to lead them over Oregon's Cascade Mountains. Trekking through parched lands and running dangerously low on water, the group begins to lose faith in their tall-tale-telling guide, further questioning his instincts when they encounter a Native American wanderer. Like her earlier, incomparable Pacific Northwest-set films Old Joy (ND/NF 2006) and Wendy and Lucy (NYFF 2008), Kelly Reichardt's sublime Western explores American myths, precarious safety nets, and the kindness-and cruelty-of strangers. Magnificently shot by Chris Blauvelt, Meek's Cutoff reteams this essential director with deft screenwriter Jon Raymond and Wendy and Lucy star Michelle Williams, perhaps the toughest young bride in a calico dress you'll ever see.
My Joy/Schastye moe
Sergei Loznitsa, 2010, Ukraine/Germany/Netherlands, 127m
A most impressive feature debut, My Joy starts as the tale of Georgy, a driver who heads off from his home town with a truckload of goods for the market. A wrong turn leads him onto the back roads of the region and seemingly deeper into the area's hidden history. Weaving together several stories, Sergei Loznitsa creates an unsettling portrait of a world deceptively tranquil in appearance but harboring long festering resentments and violence that can surface without warning. The film beautifully moves between two modes-one decidedly contemporary, the other more historical or even mythic, as if these characters are always part of a larger, obscured reality of which they themselves are scarcely aware. My Joy is an encouraging example of the terrific work beginning to emerge again from the nations of the former Soviet Union.
Mysteries of Lisbon/Mistérios de Lisboa
Raúl Ruiz, 2010, Portugal/France, 272m
In 19th century Lisbon, a teenage boy raised by priests learns the secret of his aristocratic lineage; a French heiress (Clotilde Hesme) seeks revenge against the man who sullied her honor; and a kindly padre changes identities as it suits the occasion. These are among the characters who populate Raul Ruiz's breathtaking adaptation of one of the masterworks of Portuguese literature: Camilo Castelo Branco's Mysteries of Lisbon. Nothing-and nobody-is first as it/he appears in this intoxicating spiral of stories within stories within stories, filmed by Ruiz with gorgeous period design, a fluid, pirouetting camera, and a peerless French and Portuguese cast. A companion film to his magnificent Proust adaptation, Time Regained (NYFF 1999), Mysteries of Lisbon is the crowning achievement of a great director's career.
Of Gods and Men/Des hommes et des dieux
Xavier Beauvois, 2010, France, 120m
In this year's winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes, director Xavier Beauvois recounts the harrowing true story of a brotherhood of French monks in the highlands of North Africa who find themselves threatened by Islamic extremists during the Algerian Civil War of the 1990s. Starring a gifted ensemble cast led by the empathic Lambert Wilson (as resident religious scholar Brother Christian), the film begins as a bucolic chronicle of these simple men of God and their gentle relationship with their Muslim neighbors, to whom they provide much needed medical care and other services. When the insurgents arrive, they find themselves faced with an impossible decision: to flee, or to stand their ground and fulfill their spiritual mission. Magnificently photographed by cinematographer Caroline Champetier in compositions that suggest Renaissance paintings, Of Gods and Men is a poetic, austerely beautiful triumph.
Oki's Movie/Ok hui ui yeonghwa
Hong Sang-soo, 2010, South Korea, 80m
NYFF perennial Hong Sang-soo's latest may be his wittiest-and his most deeply felt-work to date. Toggling between the present and the past, reality and fiction, and divided into four chapters (and different points of view), Oki's Movie recounts the amorous and artistic adventures of talented young director Jin-gu (Lee Sun-kyun), his middle-aged cinema instructor, Professor Song (Moon Sung-keun), and Oki (Jung Yumi), the woman who loves them both. As "Pomp and Circumstance" wryly plays throughout, the protagonists nobly fumble their way through romance and work, culminating in Jin-gu's disastrous post-screening Q&A. Hong's eleventh feature is a comedy with tremendous emotional heft, concluding with a heartbreaking précis on the vagaries of the heart and the terrors of aging.
Old Cats/Gatos viejos
Sebastián Silva, 2010, Chile, 88m
With last year's The Maid (ND/NF 2009) and now with Old Cats, Sebastián Silva has emerged as one of cinema's greatest young talents, mining the hilarity and horror of the nuclear family. Claudia Celedón and Catalina Saavedra-who, respectively, played la señora and the titular domestic servant in The Maid-star as girlfriends Rosario and Hugo, hapless schemers always borrowing money from Isadora and Enrique, Rosario's ailing mother and stepfather. When Isadora refuses to be swindled once again by her daughter, Rosario erupts in tears and recriminations, her hysterics setting off several outrageously funny scenes. A master of tone shifts, Silva seamlessly transforms his family farce into a weightier look at the responsibilities that parents and their offspring alike must face. World premiere.
Lee Chang-dong, 2010, South Korea, 139m
As he did in his last film, Secret Sunshine (NYFF 2007), Lee Chang-dong creates another masterful tale about a woman raising a child on her own. Mija (played by the extraordinary Yoon Jeong-hee), a proper, sixtyish home aide in the early stages of dementia, lives with her sullen adolescent grandson, whose mother is looking for work in Pusan. Enrolling in a poetry class, Mija anxiously awaits inspiration from the muses-which arrives the moment she decides her charge must finally suffer the consequences of a heinous act he has committed. Perfectly paced and performed, Poetry stands out as both a quietly scathing condemnation of male violence (and the craven attempts to cover it up) and an ode to the strength-and moral compass-of an indefatigable senescent woman. A Kino International release.
Pablo Larraín, 2010, Chile/Mexico/Germany, 98m
A literal and figurative dissection of his country's turbulent contemporary history, Chilean director Pablo Larraín's third feature is another highly original, darkly comic mix of the personal and the political from the director of Tony Manero (NYFF 2008). Set in 1973 in the last days of Salvador Allende's presidency, the film stars Tony Manero lead Alfredo Castro (here sporting a mane of long, whitish-blond hair) as Mario, an autopsy recorder who frequents a seedy burlesque hall where his neighbor, Nancy, is one of the dancers. Infatuated from afar, he finally works up the courage to visit her dressing room, and finds his affections if not exactly returned, at least entertained. As Mario haphazardly tries to woo Nancy away from her Popular Front boyfriend, Chile descends into chaos around them, until Mario finds himself an unwitting first-person witness to the grim face of violent social change.
Le Quattro Volte
Michelangelo Frammartino, 2010, Italy/Germany/France, 88m
Michelangelo Frammartino's wondrous four-part meditation on man and nature traces the grand cycle of life through the humble daily rituals of rural folk in the hilly southern Italian region of Calabria. An elderly shepherd ingests the dust from a church floor to treat his cough; a baby goat from his flock tentatively ventures out to pasture; a majestic fir tree is felled and repurposed as the centerpiece of a village celebration; finally, its logs are transformed into wood charcoal through the ancient methods of the local workers. Connecting the dots among animal, vegetable, mineral and dust, Frammartino's film is both concrete and cosmic, and it features what may be the most impressive single shot of the year: a masterfully orchestrated long take involving a religious procession, a herd of goats, a runaway truck, and a truly awe-inspiring dog.
Mariana Chenillo, Patricia Riggen, Fernando Eimbcke, Amat Escalante, Gael García Bernal, Rodrigo García, Diego Luna, Gerardo Naranjo, Rodrigo Plá and Carlos Reygadas, 2010, Mexico, 105m
The first major political revolution of the twentieth century, the Mexican Revolution transformed that society while offering a model for the rest of Latin America for government-directed social change. To commemorate its centenary, ten of Mexico's brightest young directors each contributed a short to this omnibus project, organized and co-produced by Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna. Ranging from Patricia Riggen's delightful Beautiful and Beloved to Carlos Reygadas' explosive This is My Kingdom, Revolución is an intriguing collection of responses to the Revolution's legacy, a fascinating panorama of views on contemporary Mexico, as well as a terrific introduction to one of the world's most consistently exciting national cinemas.
The Robber/Der Räuber
Benjamin Heisenberg, 2010, Austria/Germany, 96m
Adapted from a novel that was in turn based on the real-life case of a champion marathoner who led a double life holding up banks in 1980s Austria, Benjamin Heisenberg's sleek and intelligent genre exercise is at once an action thriller, a love story, a character study, and an existential parable. Its protagonist, Johann (Andreas Lust, last seen here in the Oscar-nominated Revanche), is defined almost exclusively by his twin obsessions. He runs and he robs, therefore he is. Alternating between endorphin-rush kineticism and stretches of quiet tension, The Robber is as precise and single-minded as its hero. At the film's center is a brilliantly calibrated performance by Lust, by turns explosively physical and tightly coiled, as a man driven to attain a state of perpetual motion. (FYI, though having nothing to do with this film, Benjamin Heisenberg is the grandson of Werner Heisenberg, one of the founders of quantum physics.)
Patrick Keiller, 2010, UK, 101m
The British filmmaker Patrick Keiller is a master of the personal cine-essay and the political landscape film. As in his previous psycho-geographic tours London (1994) and Robinson in Space (1997), this new work purports to be constructed from footage recorded by Keiller's fictional alter-ego, the peripatetic researcher Robinson. Striking images of nature and marginal sites (military bases, opium fields, lichen growing on a traffic sign) are paired with the measured tones of a narrator (Vanessa Redgrave) who recounts Robinson's progress through the south of England and pieces together his notebook of musings on, among many other subjects, agriculture, architecture, the collapse of late capitalism and the extinction of the planet. Packed with secret histories, hidden connections, and a few whimsical fictions, Robinson in Ruins is a work of towering ambition and sly humor, densely informative but never dry, slicing through space and time with wit, alacrity, and eccentric intelligence.
Aleksei Fedrochenko, 2010, Russia, 75m
Ancient customs and traditions live on in the wake of the former Soviet Union in Silent Souls, yet another bracing sign of life for serious filmmaking in the now-fragmented land. A brooding, poetic, hauntingly beautiful art film of the old school, albeit shot through with a modern frankness about society and sex, this short feature from Ukranian director Aleksei Fedorchenko centers on a unique sort of road trip. Imposing tough guy Miron requests that taciturn writer Aist accompany him on a long journey to dispose of the remains of his wife, whose body they transport in the back of the car. As they traverse the evocatively bleak landscape, Miron, according to custom, fills the hours relating the most intimate details of his relationship with his wife, leading to a surprising finale. Drenched in melancholy and haunted by an inescapable past, this is an exquisite work by a quickly rising director.
The Strange Case of Angelica/O Estranho Caso de Angélica
Manoel de Oliveira, 2010, Portugal/Spain/France/Brazil, 94m
More than ever a force of nature, the Portuguese master Manoel de Oliveira, 102 this December, delivers one of his most magical films: a radiant ghost story in which a dead newlywed comes to life before a camera lens. As the photographer hero (Ricardo Trepa) grows obsessed with this spectral beauty, the film evolves into an enchanting tale of cinema itself, intimately concerned with the act of perception and the conjuring of alternate worlds. Meditative and serene, with Chopin-scored passages of rapt contemplation and intense melancholy, Angelica is also unpredictably alive, filled with playful detours into subjects like particle physics, manual and mechanized labor, climate change, witchcraft, and the metaphysics of photography. This singular masterpiece could only be the work of an artist liberated by age: a man of multiple times, working with the freedom of a filmmaker almost as old as his medium. A Cinema Guild release.
Tuesday, After Christmas/Marti, dupa raciun
Radu Muntean, 2010, Romania, 99m
Paul (Mimi Branescu) must choose between his wife of ten years, Adriana (Mirela Oprisor), and his mistress, pediatric dentist Raluca (Maria Popistasu). Radu Muntean's singular, stripped-down look at adultery contains several masterfully composed long takes-scenes that further heighten the film's unbearable suspense, from the highly awkward meeting of all the players in the triangle to Paul's confession to his spouse. Muntean's trio of exemplary actors convey the raw emotional states of their characters without ever once relying on histrionics; though each performer is mesmerizing to watch, Oprisor, as the oblivious and then wounded wife, is astonishing in her portrayal of one woman's betrayal, hurt, and spite.
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2010, UK/Thailand/France/Germany/Spain, 113m
Apichatpong Weerasethakul won the Palme d'Or at Cannes this year for this gently comic and wholly transporting tale of death and rebirth, set in Thailand's rural northeast. Uncle Boonmee, a farmer suffering from kidney failure, is tended to by loved ones and visited by the ghosts of his wife and son. As for his remembered past lives, they might-or might not-include a water buffalo, a disfigured princess, a talking catfish, and the insects whose chirps engulf the nighttime jungle scenes. A sensory immersion, Uncle Boonmee is an otherworldly fable that lingers on earthly sensations, a film about a dying man that's filled with mysterious signs of life. Apichatpong's vision is above all a generous one: in the threat of extinction he sees the possibility of regeneration. A Strand release.
We Are What We Are/Somos lo que hay
Jorge Michel Grau, 2010, Mexico, 99m
The sudden death of its patriarch leaves a Mexican clan bereft, panicked about their survival, and fumbling to continue a family tradition-namely, a cannibalistic rite that involves the hunting and gathering of fresh human meat in present-day Mexico City. As the widow and her three teenage children grow increasingly desperate, the young director Jorge Michel Grau combines slow-burning suspense with simmering sexual tension and a queasy sense of mystery: the belief system behind what the family calls "the ritual" is never fully explained. A potent and tremendously assured first feature, We Are What We Are packs the allegorical and visceral punch of the best vintage horror. An IFC Films release.
212 875 5601.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
ROONEY MARA IS THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO
Photo by Eric Roffman
A long search for the perfect young woman to become Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo, in the American/Hollywood version of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, and its two sequels, has ended with the selection of Rooney Mara.
Daniel Craig (aka James Bond -- and possibly separated at birth from Premier Putin) will play the investigative journalist, Mikael Blomkvist.
(Note: There are links to information about the Swedish and American versions of the trilogy, and all the most interesting people involved, at the end of this article.)
David Fincher, who is directing the American version, had said he wanted a relative unknown. Though Rooney Mara is relatively unknown to the public, she was sufficiently well known to the profession to be chosen as one of the Rising Stars of last year's Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF) where I had a chance to see her.
At HIFF 2009
Photo by Eric Roffman
(The Rising Stars program has been a rousing success at spotlighting (yes) rising stars. Among the European stars HIFF has honored are Italian Alba Rohrwacher (many important films this year, including "I Am Love"), Hannah Herzsprung (who appeared in "The Reader", and is one of Germany's most popular young actresses) and Anamaria Marinca (from the Cannes prize winner, "Four Months, Three Weeks, Two Days"), all of whom have had fabulous careers in Europe. Rooney's older sister, Kate Mara, as well as Taylor Kitsch from Friday Night Lights, were among the American actors HIFF honored in 2008, and Emmy Rossum was among the stars in 2009.)
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, as everyone knows by now, is the first of a trilogy of books by Swedish writer, Stieg Larsson who, sadly, died before the books became famous. (There was a nice article about the trilogy in Entertainment Weekly - June 18, 2010). Swedish language films were made of the three books, and the first, "...Tattoo", has been exceptionally scuccessful in the US (and around the world) for a foreign language film. It was very well made by Niels Arden Oplev, with Michael Nyqvist, and with Noomi Rapace playing the girl in all three films. The intensity of the experience of playing Lisbeth Salander for three films and more than 18 months, is well captured in an interview with Noomi on the DVD of the Swedish film.
David Fincher, who made The Fight Club, Panic, The Zodiac, and the Strange Case of Benjamin Button, among many films, has taken on the role of directing the three films in English. "...Tattoo" is being written by Steve Zaillian, who wrote Schindler's List, Mission Impossible, and Gangs of New York.
The Swedish film (I haven't read the book yet) is really a very old fashioned detective/mystery/thriller, taking place in rural Sweden, with a plot that could have been written for Sherlock Holmes in rural England. The story is modernized with a more contemporary view of the horrible crimes, and a very contemporary heroine.
Rooney will be appearing in David Fincher's The Social Network (about the founding of Facebook), breaking up with Mark Zuckerberg. The film is scheduled for release on October 1. It has been chosen as the Opening Night selection of the 48th New York Film Festival - NYFF 2010.
She was also in Dare, shown at HIFF last year. Since then she has gained lots of attention in Nightmare on Elm Street.
Rooney said that her older sister, Kate, was a big help to her in getting started in Hollywood. The sisters, by the way, come from a major sports family: they are great-granddaughters of Giants' founder Tim Mara on their father's side, and great-granddaughters of Steelers' founder Art Rooney on their mother's side... (For more about their football heritage, see the Wikipedia article listed below.)
This is indeed a film that could make Rooney Mara a top-flight star. (To do that, she must first rise to the intensity of the character; then, after the three films, she will need to create a new identity for herself. It's not easy being a mega-star.)
Photo by Eric Roffman
IMDB & WIKIPEDIA LINKS
ROONEY MARAIMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1913734/
KATE, and their FOOTBALL HERITAGE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kate_Mara
DAVID FINCHER, Director
STEVEN ZAILLIAN, Writer
STIEG LARSSON, AuthorWIKI: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stieg_Larsson
SWEDISH ACTOR: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0638824/
SWEDISH ACTRESS: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0636426/
NIELS ARDEN OPLEV
SWEDISH DIRECTOR: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0649117/
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO
THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE
THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST
Photo by Eric Roffman
Here are some related videos (and books) from Amazon...
(Note that these films may be selected for DVD or BLU-RAY or INSTANT VIEWING. Be sure to select the mode you are looking for!)
Some films with Rooney Mara
Pre-order THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (will be shipped when available):
THE ORIGINAL FILM VERSIONS WITH NOOMI RAPACE & THE BOOKS -- ALL THREE!
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Girl Who Played With Fire
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
2011 SUMMARY & TOPICAL INDEX OF STORIES IN QPORIT
PLEASE VISIT ALL OUR WEBSITES:
QPORIT3D - A new blog about consumer 3D
*** *** ***
Monday, August 16, 2010
WEEDS SEASON 6
WEEDS Season 6 begins tonight on SHOWTIME. (Can you believe it's the sixth year already???!!!)
The show is taking a reboot -- moving away after a pretty dispiriting time with sex trafficking and prostitution, murder, and hard drugs. (Didn't "THEY" say that weed is a Starter-Drug??? Remember how it all started as an innocent way to make a little extra cash?)
Mary Louise Parker -- the most interesting actress on TV -- looks like she'll still remain a winner, based on scattered preview scenes.
There's a lot of nice extras here:
After-premiere-note: Pilot did not disappoint! Looking forward again to Monday Nights.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
ACO AT LPR - HOT ORCH AT HOTTEST CLUB
The Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO), one of the best chamber orchestras in the world, will be playing at Le Posson Rouge (LPR), one of the world's best club venues for music, later today.
Le Poisson Rouge serves an eclectic menu of musical styles. They also serve delicious small plates of food! LPR features a terrific space for music that looks great and sounds great!
The Australian Chamber Orchestra is just starting an international tour. (Next stop, Tanglewood on Aug 18; then off to Europe.) They'll be joined by the brilliant cellist, Steven Isserlis.
Here's the LPR calendar:
Here's the ACO tour schedule:
Wednesday, August 04, 2010
CLASSIC INTERVIEW (1975) WITH KEN RUSSELL
Photo By Eric Roffman
This interview was conducted in 1975 after THE DEVILS and TOMMY and just before the release of MAHLER. The sections in blue are lightly edited verbatim comments by Ken Russell from the transcript of the interview. The rest, in italics, is commentary.
Note that all the films are in vivid color; some of the photographs are vintage monochrome from the original interview story.
(See the July 29, 2010 story in QPORIT on RUSSELLMANIA, for the films being shown at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.)
Ken Russell’s films are not to be taken literally. As in other forms of art, such as painting or music, we should not look for an accurate description of events, but rather immerse ourselves in the effects and emotions the film produces in us. Russell’s films are more like a musical performance than a novel, or straight-forward story.
TOMMY for example, is a visual fantasy with an entirely musical soundtrack.
MAHLER opens with a spectacular fire and dream sequence, and in two striking encounters, the essential confrontations of Mahler’s life are compressed into momentary exchanges in the bluntest possible way.
Photo courtesy of the Kobal Collection
THE DEVILS is not a musical but, rather, a non-stop orgy in which political and sexual repression are inseparably enmeshed, and each becomes a metaphor for the other.
Two striking moments in MAHLER occur when the composer is travelling with his beautiful wife, Alma. Although financially he is at the pinnacle of his career, he is desperately struggling for peace and personal happiness. First, a young soldier enters his coach, propositions Alma, and then tells Mahler he might as well let his wife go, since he can’t live much longer anyway, as he has already written his nine symphonies.
This single quip exposes so much of Mahler’s thoughts at one time (his fear of death, his hatred of soldiers, his jealousy over Alma…) that it comes close to parody. One wonders how much Russell intended this remark to mean.
RUSSELL: I meant what people were always kidding… After this Beethoven thing, nobody likes writing a ninth symphony since (a) the ninth symphony of Beethoven is one of the greatest symphonies that’s ever been written and (b) they all knew he never wrote a tenth. Musicians are terribly superstitious, or were at the time, anyway. Bruckner was terrified he’d never write nine symphonies, and never finished his ninth. Schubert never finished nine. Mahler cheated by calling his ninth the “Song of the Earth,” and sort of got a bit of grace that way. The ninth was all about death and he never did finish the tenth. People were always kidding him saying, “You’ll never make nine,” and he, himself, kept putting it off as long as he could. I think Mahler now, wherever he is, must think it a bit of a joke that he was so frightened of the ninth symphony.
A second striking moment in the coach occurs when Mahler recaptures his wife’s love by explaining to her that she is the theme of the sixth symphony.
RUSSELL: Mahler has said that the sixth symphony was autobiographical. But it was a very long time, a number of years actually, before he told his wife that the theme was her. Maybe he was too embarrassed to tell her. I think that the longer you take to tell someone you love them, or that there has been a misunderstanding, or that you appreciate this in particular about them – the longer you leave off telling it the harder it gets, and I think that happened to him. But, at the end, he certainly told her and she kept mentioning it ever since. It seemed to be the one important fact of their relation.
Mahler’s wife was very striking. She had all the Viennese society… everybody who was anyone in the arts was crazy about her. She had a sort of serenity, and was also very volatile as well. But she was terribly beautiful, and that’s why Mahler was jealous of these other people who were always flocking around her. She kept off until he died. But then he did die and she did go off.
On Casting and Georgina Hale:
Mahler’s wife is played, in a memorable performance, by Georgina Hale, who earlier appeared in THE DEVILS and THE BOY FRIEND.
RUSSELL: In THE DEVILS, she was the one that put the finger on Grandier when he throws her over, the one who really starts the ball rolling. In THE BOY FRIEND she was a member of the chorus.
I first met her when we were casting for WOMEN IN LOVE and I thought she looked interesting. Then, we did another casting session for THE DEVILS. I find all casting sessions, oh, rather embarrassing. It’s such a strange sort of situation. It’s quite awkward to put them at ease and at the same time get a feeling of what they’re really like. It’s always an impossibility. She came into my office, sat down, and something seemed to exude from her which was very sensual and powerful. She seemed terribly self-assured and funny. I like working with people who have a sense of humor. They’ve got to have a sense of humor to be in my films.
Then I watched her over the years in other things. I took an interest in her as time went on. In television she got a wider and wider range of work. And when we were doing THE BOY FRIEND, she said. “Oh! I must be in that.” I said, “Can you dance?” And she said, “No. But I can learn.” So I said, “Well, if you can learn to dance in six weeks, and tap dance well, then you can be in it.” Great. So she went away and danced night and day for six weeks. When she came back, she could tap dance, do modern ballet and classical ballet. And I just love people like that. They’re nice little people.
I’d always wanted to give her a chance to act in something she could get her teeth into because, after all, in THE BOY FRIEND and THE DEVILS she came and went rather quickly. Also, I get on with her very well. She’s a friend. I like using my friends in my films.
I’ve watched Robert Powell, who plays Mahler, for years in television, and he played all sorts of things from science fiction to … but what he was best in was rather sensitive, artistic sorts of characters. And the fact that he looks like Mahler, especially in profile, was a great help.
On Biographies and Historical Pictures:
RUSSELL: When you’re doing a biography one of the problems… it’s fraught with problems, of course, but one of the problems is age. I hate using makeup because either they say, “Oh, he’s marvelously made up” or “He’s terribly made up.” If you show someone going from eighteen to eighty that usually happens. Powell seemed to strike a happy balance between relatively young times and relatively old times. He seemed to age naturally without bags of makeup.
If I was forced to use a star in a film on a person I knew had lived, a star who did not resemble him at all, then it just, simply, wouldn’t be as good. I would try and make it, but I just know it wouldn’t. Oliver Reed looks like Dante Gabriel Rossetti and I used him in that. Max Adrian looked like Delius, so I used him for that. I find if I do that, I begin to think they are the person. I say, “Mahler, do this.” And “What do you think Mahler would do now, Mahler?” The more I can believe in the fact that an actor isn’t playing the thing, but the character is coming to life, obviously the better it is. Robert Daltry is playing Liszt in the next one. He looks more like Liszt than all the other people I’ve tried. And since Liszt was the first pop star, in a sense, and Roger is a pop star, again that helps me.
What motivates the biographies is, well, always the music. I’ve been listening to Mahler’s music for twenty years. I find that I want to communicate; I want to get across my ideas on it. That usually comes first. Then the art illustrates the man’s life and the life illustrates the man’s art. One rubs off on the other and you get a statement about the artist and his work.
For instance, Mahler’s questions about why we’re here, “What are we doing? What sort of world is it? Is it a joke?” Very basically, that is what most artists seem to be asking, and finding different answers for. The paths of exploration are always fascinating. That’s what I’m interested in doing, sort of following the paths of explorations of these eternal questions which don’t seem to have any answers at all, really, or have a million answers.
RUSSELL: TOMMY is almost a continuation of the same themes as MAHLER. In fact, it starts with Robert Powell, who plays Tommy’s father. And because he happens to be on a mountain top, and there’s only one way you can dress sensibly on a mountain top, he looks like Mahler in Bavaria a bit. But in addition to that sort of superficial look, it’s a story about someone searching for some sort of truth and always getting caught up with commercialism. The real truth may be a space trip in the mind, rather than a crucifix in a church.
I do listen to a lot of music and I get most of my images through music, but not really consciously. I look at a lot of paintings, and sometimes, while I’m editing a film or preparing a script, I’ll get a book of paintings of a certain period or a certain atmosphere and I’ll look through it just before I go to bed. Obviously, I don’t dream about them or anything, but they do sink into the unconscious. It must be a great jumble. Everything you see everyday is recorded in your mind. When I write the script, I don’t usually have to think what the image is going to be. Given the sequence, and what I’ve got to get across, the image presents itself like a computer thing coming up.
I wrote the script of TOMMY with Pete Townshend about a year and a half ago. He gave me a pile of scripts that people had come to him with over the years. It seemed a natural for a film. I read them all, and I read everything he’d said about it over the years and the philosophers he’d been interested in when he was writing it. I wrote a treatment of what I thought it was about, which I brooded over quite a bit. I showed it to him and he said, “Yes, it’s about that, but we could change this and this, because I think the emphasis isn’t quite right.” Then I simply went away, using his lyrics as a guide and wrote the script, literally in about two weeks, I suppose.
When we prerecorded the songs in the studio, at this time last year, we knew exactly what the implications of every scene were. When the actors came along to do the recordings, they’d already read the script, and they could see how it related to everything else, For instance, Ann-Margret, Tommy’s mother, goes right through the film. I said to her, “On this section, you’re bored by Tommy’s predicament (he’s deaf, dumb and blind). As the years go by, you get more and more blasé, so you do the song yawning. You will be watching television, and he’ll be staring in the mirror like he’s been staring for years.
On THE DEVILS:
in THE DEVILS
RUSSELL: When I made THE DEVILS, I was sick of historical films which were approached in a very clichéd way. I went to the Pinewood studios and I said, “We will need to build a tower.” And they said, "We’ve got molds for building you seventeenth century walls.” They took me to see these old molds and they were in the shape of crumbling walls. I said, “Well, yeah… but they wouldn’t have been crumbling when they were built.” That never seemed to have struck anybody. It came as a great revelation to them that they didn’t actually build crumbling stone. I said, “We need to make it feel as though it wasn’t an old crumbling city to them. To them, it was a modern city.
That’s why, I suppose, I like doing these biographical films. Although people say, “You just do films set in the past, they’re not in the past, really, to the people concerned. They felt they were modern. And the eternal questions, the eternal problems they had to put up with don’t seem to change as the centuries roll by. You still get religious persecution. You get the church working against the state, or the state against the individual, or the individual crushed by bureaucracy. THE DEVILS particularly appealed to me because it was the first well recorded witch hunt. And witch hunts come up all the time.
in THE DEVILS
I read Huxley’s book, and a key that I took from it was that the exorcism of Sister Jeanne was the equivalent of a rape in a public lavatory. It gave me the idea of doing it with a very sterile background of tiles and white bricks. That, and the idea that the city wasn’t an old crumbling city, came to set the style for the film.
That the religious repression was expressed in very sexual ways just happened to be a method used by the church at the time. The nuns were repressed, and the church found a weak link. In Loudun, at the time, they had exorcism every hour on the hour when they realized… they used that sort of explosive, perverse, repressive sort of thing to deviate the attention of the public from saving their city, and towards the destruction of Grandier. While that public masturbation was going on, they were getting on with the business of destroying the town.
People say, “Oh, Yes! It’s all voyeurism and the kick you get out of photographing this stuff. But it isn’t. I mean, you might as well say the same thing about a surgeon. He’s got a naked body on his table, and it could be an operation on the vagina. It’s just a slab of meat, it’s not a person. It’s a job you’re doing. And there are so many things to get right, like the lighting and the acting and the set dressing, before you come to do the operation. In my case, the film’s like that, like a surgical operation. They are planned, not for the effect they are going to have, but for how the story is going to work.
RUSSELL: I think it comes down to such a basic thing as style. You can walk into the Metropolitan museum and differentiate half a dozen impressionists. They have their own way of looking at things and you can'
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
TUMBLR & MOVIE BLOGS
TUMBLR might be the next big site to watch. They just got a nice plug in the NYT.
I don't see what the fuss is about. (Yet?) It's not clear that it has anything to offer over other blogging sites. And I really, really, don't like their home page (just a sign-up sheet right now).
One movie site on TUMBLR just posted a list of 100 other movie blog sites on TUMBLR. For what it's worth, here it is. Check it out, if you wish.
Monday, August 02, 2010
The cast is fairly attractive. Miranda Richardson is an imposing presence. The other women not so much. The men are all cut from the standard set of espionage-conspiracy molds.
AMC's RUBICON is suspenseful, interesting, well acted, nicely directed and attractively shot. It moves at a glacial pace, which is good for suspense, but something better happen soon or I am out.
In the first two hours all we learned is that
- Something is happening, and everyone "important" knows about it.
- The hero (one of the little people, I suppose) does not; though he has a clue.
- People who get 4 leaf clovers are really scared and die soon after. The hero does not know this yet.
The bad conspiracy guys seem to be all powerful. So why don't they put a patsy in charge at the intelligence gathering center, instead of someone who might find out what is happening?
In a TV show, if nothing quite makes sense (think LOST), all the characters and the moment-to-moment activities better be fascinating.
Also, when too many self-contradictory, random, all-powerful things happen, there is no real story left. If anything can happen; or the bad guys can do anything, there is no suspense and no story left. A guy with dice could choose the story line.
In short, this show has great possibility, but it needs more action, additional interesting (that is, very attractive and uniquely distinctive) actors and actresses playing mysterious (but consistent) characters, and at least a hint that a reasonable internal logic underpins the whole show.
(Note: As for the title, I think the Wikipedia explanation of the idiom "crossing the Rubicon," is brilliantly eloquent and very illuminating:
The idiom "Crossing the Rubicon" means to pass a point of no return, and refers to Julius Caesar's crossing of the river in 49 BC- which was considered an act of war. Because the course of the river has frequently changed since then, it is impossible to confirm exactly where the Rubicon flowed when Caesar and his legions crossed it. )