Editor | Peter Bowen
Tempest in a Milk cup
Posted October 29, 2008
Yesterday on the eve of the Milk premiere in San Francisco, The Hollywood Reporter’s Steven Zeitchik wrote an article which basically accused Focus Features of hiding Milk for fear of creating gay controversy. The piece syndicated by Reuters soon sparked a chain of speculation about the film, the fimmaker, and its distributor so much so that Focus CEO James Schamus felt compelled to write The Hollywood Reporter himself correcting the article’s omissions and mis-impressions.
The discussion has now launched a series of other film writers talking through the politics of marketing and distribution, about how much to read (or not read) into a marketing plan. Nathan Lee wrote an eloquent review of the entire matter for his blog art.cult.
In Bruges and Hunger Lead Brit Indie Awards
Posted October 28, 2008
Today the nominations for the British Independent Film Awards was announced. The two front runners––Martin McDonagh’s .In Bruges and Steve McQueen’s Hunger––interestingly showcase two very different filmmaking styles. Focus Features’ shoot ‘em up comedy In Bruges is up for 7 awards: Best British Independent Film, The Douglas Hickox Award [Best Debut Director], Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Technical Achievement (Editing). Steve McQueen elegant and somber study Hunger is up for about the same amount of prizes. Oddly both films are made by people who come from outside the film world. In Bruges’s writer/director Martin McDonagh made his name in theater, and Hunger’s Steve McQueen is a name more known in art galleries than film theaters.
MARX, THE MOVIE
Posted October 24, 2008
For weeks, McCain has labeled Obama a socialist, and recently Bill O’Reilly derided him a “Communist” on “The View.” One would think that’s a bad thing. But as Greenzine Daily recently pointed out, Marxism could be the next black. For one, the London Times reports on all the new people, like French president Nicolas Sarkozy, being caught with that heavy tome. But even more significantly, Marx’s masterpiece’ Das Kapital is coming on as a film. Well, actually, according to Greenzine, “that film has already been made, has screened in Vienna and will be out on DVD next month.” To be honest, Alexander Kluge’s new project isn't exactly an adaptation, but it will no doubt be a knee slapper.
James Franco on OUT
Posted October 23, 2008
You might notice that James Franco’s handsome mug graces the cover of Out magazine this month. There are several articles on Milk in the issue and on the website. There’s an interview between James Franco and the Milk’s scribe Lance Lance Black. There’s a short behind-the-sceness piece on Sean Penn, Gus Van Sant and the film’s producers, Dan Jinx and Bruce Cohen. And then this a whimiscal fashion spread that juxtaposes Doug Inglish’s spritely fashion pix with Franco’s off-the-cuff thoughts from the interview, like the following: "There’s a scene where I’m naked in the pool and everybody else is dressed and there’s just something uncomfortable about that. I felt like the girl in all those teen movies that pops out of the hot tub topless..."
Wall Street all Over Again
Posted October 14, 2008
Less three weeks ago, the actor Michael Douglas, while at the United Nations to urge for the ratification of a nuclear test ban treaty, was approached by a confused reporter. According the Associated Press, Douglas was asked, "Are you saying Gordon that greed is not good?” To which he naturally respond, “My name is not Gordon. He's a character I played 20 years ago." But these are confusing times, and Gekko a villain for our troubled economic times. If Wall Street excesses (as portrayed in Wall Street) got us here, of course, we want to find Gordon Gekko, the guy who started it all. Indeed Fox is currently in pre-production on Wall Street 2, tentatively named Money Never Sleeps and Michael Douglas is in talks to revive his famed “Greed is Good” Gekko role.
To explain why Wall Street is a movie for our times, A. O. Scott talks us through a video talk on the film, pointing out how in many ways the success of the movie rests on up-and-coming business types willfully misreading it. Rather than taking the film as brutal indictment of America’s burn-‘em-all-mentality, young brokers revel in the film’s fiscal brutality. As Scott points out, if you were to enter any financial institution in the last few decades, lines like “Greed captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit” or “If you need a friend, get a dog” would be repeated “not with irony but with reverence and awe.” Sad but true. Further Scott, ever the student of literature, reaches back to John Milton to explain this diabolical character, Gordon Gekko.
Sin Nombre report on IndieWIRE
Posted October 12, 2008
In October’s Production Report, the monthly round up of films in production for IndieWIRE, Jason Guerrasio (who’s also the managing editor of Filmmaker Magazine) gives an update on Cary Fukunaga’s Sin Nombre, a Spanish-language drama about an gang member trying to escape to America via trains. To get the real story, Fukunaga rode the rail in Mexico. As he told Guerrasio, “This is not my story, this is not my background, so I felt unless I shared some of that I was potentially making money off of someone else's misery."
Brigitte Lacombe photographs Behind the Scenes of Taking Woodstock
Posted October 10, 2008
The hippie world of Ang Lee’s in-production feature Taking Woodstock is slowly making its way out into the real world. The current issue of Enterainment Weekly includes a photo spread by photographer Brigitte Lacombe of Emile Hirsch and friends on set. For a taste, go the EW site to see and listen to Emile Hirsch talk about his mud-sliding role in the film.
For more local color, upstate journal TroyRecord.com speaks to folks who went to Woodstock and are interacting with the shoot. Schodack resident William Culhane, who owns a car lot next to the motel that has been dressed to serve as primary production site, is duly impressed with the production’s drive for accuracy. He told the Troy Record, “When they told me they were going to put a sign up, I thought it would be very small and poorly-made. But this thing is amazing. It's huge, made of steel, and there's cement on the base to keep it in the ground. The prop designers even faded parts of the sign so it looks real.”
Other local spots are not only benefiting from the production’s business but find themselves inspired by the movie’s sixties spirit. The upstate zine Indenews.com reports, “The film has inspired local proprietors to make the most of the Woodstock spirit in attracting business. Sue Cassidy, owner of Shaker Mountain BBQ, claims business is heaviest in the summer, but that with the implementation of Woodstock specials like Peace Pie, Groovy Greek Salad, Woodstock Sliders and Psychedelic Fruit Salad--and a tent tricked out in peace signs--business thrives after Labor Day.”
Michael Moore - Still a Hot Political Target
Posted October 10, 2008
For many documentary filmmaker Michael Moore is an icon––although not in a good way. Except for a little publicized web-streamed concert doc Slacker Uprising, Moore has been pretty much out of the news in recent years. But Moore’s image, or rather the idea of Michael Moore, has been front and center this election year.
Writer/director David Zucker’s conservative comedy An American Carol makes the doc director his prime target as Moore-like figure becomes the subject of pillory and political re-education. A parody of Charles Dicken’s classic Christmas tale, An American Carol casts Kevin Farley (Chris Farley’s brother) as an over-weight boorish documentary filmmaker called Michael Malone who is visited by three spirits out to teach the liberal filmmaker the real meaning of patriotism. Zucker has promoted his comedy as not only a comic condemnation of liberals like Michael Moore, but also as a clarion call for Hollywood conservatives (many of whom have walk on roles in the film). Extending the metaphor of closeted republicans to a kind of extreme, Zucker described to the UPI his relation with other industry GOPs: "When you meet, you give each other a secret look, 'Are you a Republican, too?' It's the new gay." No body is quite sure what the “gay” will now become.
In Michigan, Michael Moore’s home state, incumbent Republican congressman Tim Walberg just released a campaign ad that attempts to smear his democratic rival Mark Schauer by simply evoking the spirit of the lefty director. According to the Associated Press, “Walberg's ad says that Moore supports Schauer "and it's easy to see why. They both share radical liberal views.”" Michael Moore commented on Walberg and his ad, stating simply, “Desperate to insure that his first term won't be his last, he's trying anything he can to save his seat. Showing pictures of me without a ballcap on will do nothing to help him at this point."
Election '08 Top Viral Videos
Posted October 09, 2008
Every day people who should otherwise be working (like myself) furiously email each other links to the latest viral election ‘08 videos? Did you see what Palin did this time? Have you checked out the newest Tina Fey comedy coup? And have you seen the “oh no he didn’t” McCain spot? To keep abreast of the internet battle for the hearts and minds of the American public, there are several sites maintaining a rooster of the latest (and greatest) viral videos.
The Viral Video Chart keeps a list of the “Top 20” Election ’08 videos." While most tend to be pro-Obama (or rather anti-McCain/Palin), some like the “Dear Mr. Obama” speaks elegantly for the Republican point of view. At About.com, “Best Spoof Videos of Campaign 2008” demonstrate why in this election year, tragedy and comedy are so closely linked. This site offers, of course, the Tina Fey collection (“Katie, I’d like to use one of my lifelines..”), fake presidential candidate Paris Hilton getting advice from the great fake president Martin Sheen, and the infamous “Homer Simpson Votes for Obama.” At Alternet, you can find “The 10 Most Talked-About Election ’08 Viral Videos” for consideration. And GodTube.com offers viral videos, which, while not technically partisan, provides its own divine slant on current politics.
Two People Watch a Record 57 films in NYC
Posted October 08, 2008
It seems almost poetic that a contest should begin with a man realizing his superhuman strength and endurance and ends with two women throwing themselves off a cliff. On Thursday October 2, eight contestants entered a glass-enclosed room off New York City’s Times Square to screen Iron Man in a fight to the death to see who could watch the most movies in a row. Days later, Susan Saradon appeared with a copy of her film Thelma and Louise, a film whose two deaths at the end also marked the end of the contest. The bleary-eyed victors, Suesh Joachim of Toronto and Claudia Wavra of Germany, emerged October 7 at 3:10 pm from their glass house having watched 123 hours of movies totaling 57 feature films, a feat that the Guinness World Records are pretty sure will set a new record. (And before you ask, yes, they had 10-minute bathroom breaks between films).