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Movie City | Portland

Updated March 24, 2010

Portland | A Place of Inspiration
Portland | City on the Edge
Portland | City of Cinemas
Portland | Land of the Free
Portland | City of Bands
Portland | City in Film
Portland | City of Hope
Portland | A Place of Inspiration

Portland | A Place of Inspiration

In recent years, Portland has become a hotbed of indie culture in music, literature art, and especially film. Focus filmmakers, like Gus Van Sant (Milk) and Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven) live there, and Laika Studio, which produced the stop-motion animation Coraline, is headquartered in Portland. What makes Portland so inspirational? Gus Van Sant, whom Governor Ted Kulongoski recently heralded as “a true Oregon artist,” finds being away from LA and Hollywood essential: “If you're here, you have a different point of view of life.”

 

 

 

The Coen Brothers

Updated March 23, 2010

Coen Brothers | Worthy of an Adjective
Coen Brothers | Growing up Midwestern
Coen Brothers | The Thinking Man's Filmmakers
Coen Brothers | The More They Change...
Coen Brothers | Keep Your Friends Close...
Coen Brothers | Writers First
Coen Brothers | At Focus
Coen Brothers | Worthy of an Adjective

Coen Brothers | Worthy of an Adjective

The Coen brothers (aka Joel and Ethan Coen) have come a long way since their debut feature, a low-budget neo-noir gem called Blood Simple, took home the Grand Jury Prize at the 1985 Sundance Film Festival. Thirteen films, four Oscars and many nominations later, the filmmaking duo have so reshaped American film genres and comedy that one can easily describe a madcap unpredictable storyline as “Coenesque.”

 

 

 

Movie City | Park City

Updated March 23, 2010

Park City | Festival Town
Park City | Mountain Village
Park City | A Special Area
Park City | Skiing Destination
Park City | Sundance's Home
Park City | Filmmakers Welcome
Park City | Village of Memories
Park City | Festival Town

Park City | Festival Town

In 1868, stray soldiers looking for silver deposits in the Wasatch mountains outside Salt Lake City found a gentle valley at the edge of the mountains. Their camp eventually became Park City, a rough and tumble mining town. In the 20th century, silver gave way to skiing both for the locals and the area’s many out-of-state guests. And since the 1980s, the town’s biggest currency every January has been new cinematic talent rather than silver ore.

 

 

 

Noah Baumbach

Updated March 11, 2010

Noah Baumbach is an Academy Award-nominated writer and director of the films Kicking and Screaming, Margot at the Wedding, and The Squid and the Whale.

Life Into Art
Family is Filmic
A Writer At Heart
Mixing Friendship and Filmmaking
A Funny Sense of Humor
Plays Well With Others
A Marriage of Minds
A Novel Approach
Life Into Art

Life Into Art

While none of writer-director Noah Baumbach’s work is strictly autobiographical, his films nevertheless speak to the worlds and communities he knows and has lived in. "I always viewed life as material for a movie," he once said. In Greenberg, the title character (played by Ben Stiller) is a New Yorker who has taken up residence in Los Angeles, a circumstance he shares with his creator. Indeed part of Baumbach's inspiration for the movie was his recent move there: "Why I wanted to do it in Los Angeles is that I wanted to shoot LA as a real city, a city I've come to know and have real affection for."

 

 

 

Ben Stiller

Updated March 10, 2010

Ben Stiller is an Emmy award-winning actor, writer, director, and producer.

Ben Stiller In Greenberg
The Family that Laughs Together
Saturday Night Live and the Days that Followed
The Ben Stiller Show
Why Reality Bites?
Something About Ben
Profit Thunder
Getting Serious
Ben Stiller In Greenberg

Ben Stiller In Greenberg

In Noah Baumbach’s comic character study Greenberg, Ben Stiller has taken a detour from his usual broad humor to explore the inner psyche of a guy who can’t help but get in his own way. Stiller was drawn to the role as something different for him. Stiller explains, “I liked that it felt that everything was motivated out of the character, not situations or trying to get a laugh.” And while Stiller is able to wring plenty of laughs out of the story, his character evokes a range of emotions, from sadness to anger. For the Stiller, the role brings together many aspects of his real life—his experience as a director, growing up in New York, making angst accessible and fun.

 

 

 

The Coen Brothers

Updated March 10, 2010

Over a career of more than twenty years, the Coen brothers have made 14 films, garnered 23 Academy Award nominations and won 2 Oscars. Find out why.

The Coen Brothers
Burn After Reading
A Serious Man
The Coen Brothers

The Coen Brothers

Over a career of more than twenty years, the Coen brothers have made 14 films, garnered 23 Academy Award nominations and won 2 Oscars. Their latest, A Serious Man, was nominated for two Academy Awards, a BAFTA, and a Golden Globe and was placed atop numerous critics' lists.

 

 

 

Portland, Oregon

Updated March 10, 2010

FilmInFocus’s latest Movie City is Portland, Oregon, the home of Milk director Gus Van Sant and Laika animation studios, where Coraline was made.

Portland, Oregon
Wendy and Lucy
The Dandy Warhols
Cinema 21
Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon, is the city where the Willamette and Columbia rivers meet, and the City of Roses has been deemed the greenest city in the country. However, Portland’s image as a lush place of flowers and trees takes second place to its status as one of the most artistic and bohemian U.S. cities. Despite its modest population, Portland has fostered the creativity of an astonishing number of imaginative minds, principally filmmakers, musicians and authors. The list includes the directors Gus Van Sant, Todd Haynes and Todd Field, animators Matt Groening, Will Vinton and Bill Plympton, and authors Chuck Palahniuk, Ursula K. Le Guin and Jean M. Auel. To list all its famous bands would take too long, but its most notable include The Shins, The Decemberists, Elliott Smith and Stephen Malkmus.

The last two Focus Features releases, Coraline and the Academy Award-winning Milk, both have Portland connections: Coraline was made at Portland’s very own Laika animation studios, and Milk’s director Gus Van Sant is one of the city’s best-known sons. So, to honor these connections, FilmInFocus has made Portland its latest Movie City.

Below, you can find an interview with author and filmmaker Jon Raymond, most recently the writer of the acclaimed Wendy and Lucy, take a look at the principal places for filmmakers and film lovers alike in the city, and enjoy a Five In Focus feature in which some of our favorite Portland bands – the Dandy Warhols, M. Ward, Richmond Fontaine, Menomena, Viva Voce and Pink Martini – pick their top movie soundtracks.

 

 

 

Park City, Utah

Updated March 10, 2010

FilmInFocus checks into Park City to look at this Utah ski town and the Sundance Film Festival to which it plays host.

Park City, Utah
Park City Shuttle
Sundance Film Festival
Focus at Sundance
Park City, Utah

Park City, Utah

In 1868, stray soldiers stumbled upon silver deposits in the Wasatch Mountains outside Salt Lake City, a discovery that brought all sorts of adventurers to the secluded valley. On July 4, 1872, the area gained its name when a Mormon polygamist called George Snyder raised a flag (created by his third wife Rhoda) over his boarding house proclaiming the town Parley’s Park City. And while the current Park City bears faint resemblance to its ragtag origins, locals will testify that the founding spirit of rugged independence (as well as “get rich quick” enthusiasm) can be found every January when the Sundance Film Festival takes up home in Park City.

For our Movie City: Park City, we look at the town from a range of angles. Photographer and journalist Ray Pride shares his personal pictorial moments from recent Sundance Film Festivals, while Scott Macaulay blogs about the current edition of the fest. Nick Dawson is taking a look at the roots of the Sundance Film Festival, and we’ll look at Focus Features’ ongoing special relationship with Sundance.

 

 

 

Berlin, Germany

Updated March 10, 2010

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Berlinale, Movie City takes a visit to Europe.

Berlin | City in Transition
Berlin | City of Neighborhoods
Berlin | City of Films
Berlin | City of the Movie Business
Berlin | City of Film Production
Berlin | City of Film Archives
Berlin | A City in the Movies
Berlin | City to Wander
Berlin | City in Transition

Berlin | City in Transition

In 1910, the German art critic Karl Scheffler wrote, “Berlin is a city condemned always to become, never to be." Since its founding in the 13th century, Berlin has morphed from a Prussian capital, to the center of the German Empire, to a hotspot of Weimar culture and decadence, to the unhappy seat of the Third Reich, to a city divided between the communist and free world, and finally a leader in the new Europe. Berlin has also continually transformed itself as a movie city; from the advent of German expressionism, to the decline during the Nazi period, to its rise again in the 60s and 70s due to the German New Wave and the Berlin Film Festival, the city is always becoming the next thing.

 

 

 

Greenberg and Other Character Studies

Updated March 08, 2010

Noah Baumbach’s comedy Greenberg probes the psyche of a man in search of himself. We consider other films that study character.

Slide 1: Introduction
Slide 2: Citizen Kane - Character as perception
Slide 3: Sunset Boulevard - Character as reflection
Slide 4: The Searchers - Character as manifest destiny
Slide 5: Taxi Driver - character as psychosis
Slide 6: The Entertainer - Character as characters
Slide 7: The Motorcycle Diaries - Character as destiny
Slide 8: Le Samouraï - Character as style
Slide 9: Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles - Character as surface
Slide 10: The Ice Storm - Character as cultural confusion
Slide 11: All That Jazz - Character study as musical
Slide 12: The Graduate - Character as ambivalence
Slide 13: Sweet Smell of Success - Character as calculation
Slide 14: What is yours?
Slide 1: Introduction

Slide 1: Introduction

It’s hard to define exactly what makes a film a character study, since nearly every film has a character or two in it. And yet it’s easy to identify different films as character studies, that is, filmic explorations that illuminate the complexity of the human psyche. Noah Baumbach’s Greenberg, for example, is a comedy that gets much of its humor from the way character keeps colliding with reality. The poor guy can’t help but get in his on way. When writing the screenplay, Baumbach set out to bring a literary focus to the character. “I wanted to do a real character piece and I wanted to do something I associate more with American novels,” explained Baumbach. It is perhaps that depth, that empathy with and appreciation of the complexity and contradictory nature of human beings that makes a character study. To coincide with Greenberg coming to the screen, we lined up a few other character studies to think about.