Chris Rock's stated career plan, from yesterday's #NantucketFilmFest comedy panel: "What would Richard Pryor do sober?"— Ty Burr (@tyburr) June 23, 2012
Still coming down from the Flaherty Seminar, working through the pile-up in my RSS feed reader and the var und sund social media. Alors, mes enfants!
From Splitsider, an Onion News Network vet chooses her five favorite videos, including "Denmark Introduces Harrowing New Tourism Ads Directed By Lars Von Trier"
The cinetrix objects to the oblique namecheck of a pal in the lede but otherwise enjoyed Bruce Handy's takedown of an unlikely generic hybrid, the extinction event rom-com:
As the title sort of implies, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is a romantic comedy set against a mass-extinction event—an incoming asteroid, the usual. It’s a potentially clever idea—you could imagine a movie that uses Armageddon to deconstruct romantic-comedy tropes and the way they exploit and fuel our fantasies; after all, what’s the point of True Love if we’re all about to die? Instead, the film gives us Steve Carell in his umpteenth sad-sack, moist-eyed-clown role. Well, actually it’s just his fourth, dating back to Little Miss Sunshine and continuing through Dan in Real Life and Crazy, Stupid Love, but this performer, who only a few years ago was one of the most welcome and reliably funny presences in American film and TV, is now in sore danger of crash-landing on Robin Williams Island. You can feel the tractor beam pulling him in, the Holocaust movie inching its way to the top of the pile of screenplays beside his bed. Pathos becomes Carell in small doses, just as drugs are often fun the first time you try them, but Carell is making a habit of it. Even his Michael Scott on The Office developed a soul somewhere along the way, paralleling Alan Alda’s Hawkeye, who started his 11-season run on M*A*S*H, as a subversive, borderline jerk before he became the grizzled saint of TV legend.
Bomp, bomp. Chickah chickaaah! Apparently, Ferris Bueller's Day Off came out 26 years ago this month? Eeesh. The above recut of the trailer is pretty good (albeit no Shining!), but it's nowhere near as sublime as the various ontological Abe Frohman meditations or the theory that Cameron was fucking Sloane behind Ferris's back.
Stupid is as stupid does. A classic Rosenbaum review of a reactionary flick I still rue seeing [on a first -- and only -- date]:
Consider the evidence: Forrest Gump depicts Vietnam as a tragedy only for Americans (there’s not a single Vietnamese in sight), none of whom exactly “chose” to go: they simply found themselves miraculously transported there (see The Deer Hunter and Casualties of War), fighting for incomprehensible reasons. The antiwar movement was a cynical con game spearheaded by pushy women, ranting Black Panthers, and unwashed male hippies who liked to slap their flower-power girlfriends around, giving the lie to their “peace” platform; hallucinogens led straight to hard drugs; and so on. The mutilated veteran (Lieutenant Dan) is understood strictly in terms of other Hollywood movies — Midnight Cowboy in one gag, thenBorn on the 4th of July more generally — because no other reference points are considered viable. (Maybe that’s the reason for a clip from The Birth of a Nation – because only a famous movie can authenticate the Civil War.)
O, brave new world 1, via Chuck:
He also points out that streaming (at least on Netflix) still makes it difficult to watch with the bonus features familiar from DVDs. To correct the situation, he gets a bemused Jason London to comment on Dazed and Confused and a bedraggled Andrew McCarthy to pull him on a wagon through Central Park while he watched St. Elmo’s Fire on his iPad (a subtle reminder that streaming content is also mobile).
O, brave new world 2, on choosing the nuclear option:
I realized I had in my hands a bigger weapon than his pathetic little iPhone. When the iPad was first unveiled, they were mocked as just giant iPhones, but perhaps they were built to be such with this very moment in mind. Not saying a word, I turned my iPad on, opened the browser to a white screen and positioned it on my lap pointed directly at my neighbor’s face and away from mine. Thus, I was able to continue to enjoy (or not) the movie - with the screen pointed away from me - ignoring him while he glared at me in outrage and waved his hands around in protest. Finally as he seemed about to make a stink, it dawned on him that he was not in a position to complain about people having their screens open during the movie. I saw him visibly deflate and put his phone back in his pocket. Without a word, I then turned my iPad off and put it away.
Elliott Gould, EIFF juror and film-watching warrior. [Confidential to CF: What's with the blond?]
"A quick stroll through some of the notable negative review finds consensus — once we have seen Girls, we should be sated. Lena Dunham, uber alles."
"Lately, watching films from the 1940s and early 1950s for a book I’m planning, I was struck by how the great divas of that era used their eyes."
The Criterion Current catches up with FOC Jesse Trussell:
Is there a specific joy to programming a festival in an honest-to-goodness movie palace?
The living film history of this space is really incredible; the Paramount is the same auditorium where Austin audiences watched Casablanca for the first time. Programming in a place with such a rich history, I try to do a couple of different things. The first is to bring back the style of films that played in the theater during its cinematic heyday, the big emotions and the big images of Welles or Hawks. The second is to almost play against the space; I doubt when Kiarostami was making Close-up he thought it would one day screen in a 100-year-old picture house in Texas, but I’m playing it in August. That type of modernism in such a classical space creates a really interesting experience.
OK, so what exactly did South Carolina ever do to Bilge Ebiri?
By sticking a little too much to some of the actual particulars of the Lincoln story (even Stephen Douglas shows up, as he did in Young Mr. Lincoln, acourting the future Mary Todd Lincoln), the film has the strangely programmed feel of a historical pageant, as if Raiders of the Lost Ark had been crossbred with The Longest Day. Matters aren’t helped by Benjamin Walker’s indistinct performance: With his expressionless face and his smooth, half-formed features, he resembles nothing so much as a Liam Neeson action figure. Still, there is something bracing about a film that’s not afraid to link the entire Confederacy, still an inexplicable source of pride in some parts of the country, with a race of humanity-enslaving vampires. I can’t wait to see how this thing plays in South Carolina.
My friend is given the task of taking the money to Godard – of ‘making the drop’ as it were, in this cross between an imaginary gangster movie (or spy movie) and the normal everyday business dealings in which independent filmmakers engage in order to sustain themselves. This is an elaborate business and a serious undertaking because, firstly, she has to fly to Geneva and find her way to the station. Or perhaps she might have crossed the Channel by ferry and gone by train – I’m trying to plot the feasibility of this, speculating on the time it might have taken, as if it were some kind of quest narrative or basic fairytale plot that might be staged, and I am trying to build on the skeleton of the story she told me a long time ago.
“Have ya gotta angle for the story?”
The accent—part New England hayseed, part Dead-End Kid—is unmistakable. It belongs to Ruth Gordon. Well, it’s not hers, exactly; it’s a variation on the accent she used when she played Minnie Castavet in Rosemary’s Baby. But why shouldn’t she use it? Three years ago—when she was seventy-two—that accent helped her to win an Oscar for best supporting actress. And that award helped her to get her present part in Harold and Maude. She plays Maude, an eighty-year-old woman who has a love affair—nude scenes and all—with a twenty-year-old boy and dies at the end. Another love story by Paramount.
You’re sitting in her mobile dressing room near Lands End, and she’s asking again in that asperulous accent, “Have ya gotta angle?”
“Y-e-s,” you hesitate, thinking to yourself that she really looks about thirty years too young for the part in her fringed leather jacket and sandalwood hippie beads.
“’Cause if ya don’t, I gotta angle.” She goes right on: “How many actresses are there whose careers have peaked at age seventy-five?”
Okay. Have it her way. She’s entitled. But remember to ask about the nude scenes later.
“Ya know,” she says, “Thornton Wilder asked me, ‘Why do you have to tell everybody your age?’ Well, I figure everyone knows an actress’s age. I went on the stage in 1915 as Nibs inPeter Pan. They didn’t bring me on in baby clothes. I was nineteen at the time. So I figure my age is known. But I tell plenty a’ lies. I took that up two years ago.”
“Anythin’ that’s useful,” she replies truthfully. “And a year ago, I took up selfishness. And this year, look out, ’cause I took up vindictiveness. I’m gonna give it out to anybody who did anythin’ wrong to me. I’m not gonna lose track of lyin’ or selfishness, but I’m addin’ to it vindictiveness.”
Listening to Chris Marker’s La Jetée.
What other film-makers have had such a successful handle on the music they use? Are there any songs you love which you wouldn't know about had they not been used in a movie? Have you ever bought a film soundtrack? Let us know in the thread below.