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Peter saw his first movie when he was just a little boy, and has never gotten over that experience.

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Focus's Schamus' Anti-Keynote Address in London

Posted October 28, 2009

Focus's Schamus' Anti-Keynote Address in London Image

Last night the CEO of Focus James Schamus delivered the keynote––or as he refers to it the “anti-keynote”––address at the London Film Festival. Why anti-keynote? Because the talk, entitled “Lessons in Storytelling From the Department of Homeland Security: An Anti-keynote Speech," would not only defy expectations, but defeat them. As he joked, “everything you’ll hear tonight will do nothing to further your career.” Indeed as Screen’s Geoffrey Macnab reports the talk was “unashamedly highbrow… with its references to contemporary narrative theory, intellectual property rights, definitions of privacy, the philosophy of Jacques Derrida and the art of Sophie Calle and Jenny Holzer.” Interestingly, Schamus smart (and sassy) speech was picked up quite differently by different people. Screen’s title “Schamus attacks US security agencies in provocative LFF speech” differed drastically from The Hollywood Reporter's Stuart Kemp’s piece on how “Focus Features chief talks narratives at London Film Festival.”  Anne Thompson simplified her title to: "LFF: Schamus Delivers Lessons in Redacted Storytelling" Only one thing that was certain: it was talk that had people talking.

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Alert! Coen Brothers on Charlie Rose Tonight

Posted October 27, 2009

Alert! Coen Brothers on Charlie Rose Tonight Image

If you up for some serious talk with serious black back drops tune into Charie Rose tonight when Joel and Ethan Coen, as well as actors Richard Kind and Michael Stuhlbarg, will be sitting around the table talking about A Serious Man. It should be serious. More info on Charile Rose site.

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EW's Owen Gleiberman on the Coens and Jefferson Airplane

Posted October 22, 2009

EW's Owen Gleiberman on the Coens and Jefferson Airplane Image

Does music make the movie? Not exactly, but as Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman suggests in “'Somebody to Love': The Coen brothers' rock and roll epiphany,” that the right song in the right movie makes for something special.

I’m more convinced of that than ever having seen the spectacular use they make of the Jefferson Airplane song “Somebody to Love” in A Serious Man. This is one of those pop-music epiphanies worthy of Tarantino, Scorsese, or Paul Thomas Anderson — and the strange thing is, it’s just there, so unlikely yet so sublime, sitting right in the middle of the Coens’ highly personalized movie about a nebbishy Jewish family trying to make its way in Middle America in 1967.

What it all means is the question that Gleiberman tries to answer. “But the real answer, according to Joel and Ethan Coen, is…well, I can’t say it any better than Jefferson Airplane. And neither, apparently, could they”

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Where have all the Babies gone?

Posted October 20, 2009

Where have all the Babies gone? Image

Some film viewers who went to see Where the Wild Things Are over the weekend got a glimpse at the trailer for Focus Features upcoming film Babies. And, like good film lovers, they tried to watch the trailer online when they got home, only to find that they could not locate it. So many did the next best thing. They tweeted about it, with responses going from the enthusiastic (“utterly amazing, can't wait to see it;” “best part of wild things is the trailer for BABIES”) to the downright mean (“I hate babies”––I believe that tweet was referring to the small, helpless creatures and not the film). Sorry for those looking online. Right now the Babies trailer is playing with select screens of Where The Wild Things Are at select theatres in the U.S. In case you want to learn a bit about it, you can read about it here. But note the name is now Babies.

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Pirate Radio's Tom Sturridge in Vogue

Posted October 20, 2009

Pirate Radio's Tom Sturridge in Vogue Image

Pirate Radio’s Tom Sturridge is very fashionable this season. After appearing in Teen Vogue, the young actor has graduated to a many-page fashion spread in Vogue (like in adult Vogue) in the November issue. He shares the fashion stage with model Karlie Kloss in photographs shot by Mario Testino. The issue is not online (yet), but you can pick it up at newstands.

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Film Talk Pod cast on Filmmaker Mag

Posted October 19, 2009

Film Talk Pod cast on Filmmaker Mag Image

At filmmaker the two fellows, Gareth Higgins and Jett Loe, from the podcast The Film Talk (Jett Lowe and collaborated on a piece for Filmmaker Magazine called “5 Things You Should Do If You Want Your Movie To Last.” Who knew it was only five? The main points are “Psychological motivation,” “Film as conversation,” “Less is More,” and “Auteur theory is dead - Collaboration is the Key.” Of course that is only four. For the fifth one, you have to wait for their next podcast. Among their insights is this on collaboration.

Recently on our podcast, Ramin Bahrani, the brilliant director of Man Push Cart, Chop Shop and Goodbye Solo made it clear how important cinematographer Michael Simmonds is in the process of making his films. They collaborate together during the script stage, while shooting of course, and even during post. We're so often fixated on directors that it doesn't occur to critics to list Ramin's three films as the work of Bahrani/Simmonds, or even to mention Simmonds much in reviews. But they should. The writer of The Wrestler, Robert Siegal, has just directed his first film, Big Fan, and Michael Simmonds shot it. Watching that pic it's hard to imagine it would be anywhere near as powerful without Simmond's careful placement of camera and gritty yet blanched out images - he's a huge asset. So don't be shy or intimidated, work with the most talented people you can find. If it works for Mike Leigh and Ramin Bahrani it can work for you.

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What does a moviegoer look like?

Posted October 15, 2009

What does a moviegoer look like? Image

IndieWIRE posted on a article by Gordon Paddison on a recent survey “Moviegoers 2010” that attempted to give us a picture of today’s moviegoer. It’s a fascinating piece, and one thing that seemed important for FilmInFocus was the intimate relationship between cinema and computer life:

• Virtually all moviegoers (94%) are online; this is true across age groups. 88% have high speed/broadband connections.

• 86% of moviegoers across all demo segments go online via computer or mobile device at least once a day. They spend more time each week online (19.8 hours) than they do watching TV (14.3 hours).

• 73% of moviegoers surveyed have profiles on social networking sites; 46% indicate they “typically spend a lot of time socializing with friends over the Internet” (67% of the 13-17 demo; 58% of 18 to 29 demo).

• 69% of moviegoers watch online video content; moviegoers who look at video content watch videos created by other people (69%), movie trailers (66%), news-related clips (57%), and movie clips (55%).

• Mobile phone penetration has reached 90% across all ages of moviegoers; 32% of moviegoers no longer use a landline (44% of the 18-29 demo).

• 52% of moviegoers have DVRs (61% of the 30-39 demo); 71% fast-forward to skip commercials; only 17% watch live TV.

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The Prodigal Son Returns to Boston

Posted October 14, 2009

The Prodigal Son Returns to Boston Image

While there’s been lots of media attention on Michael Stuhlbarg, the lead of the Coen Brother’s A Serious Man, Joan Anderman at has picked up the story of local boy made good Aaron Wolff. While his family was living in Minnesota last year, the 15 year landed the role of Stuhlbarg’s pot-smoking son in the film. But that doesn’t mean he’s a film geek, according to his mom.

We’re from Minnesota,’’ Kogan says. “There’s Garrison Keillor, Prince, and the Coen brothers. I said, so, Aaron. There’s this movie being made by the Coen brothers, and they’re looking for a kid. And he said to me, ‘Who are the Coen brothers?’

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Radio London's Mary Payne fact checks Pirate Radio article

Posted October 13, 2009

Radio London's Mary Payne fact checks Pirate Radio article Image

Mary Payne, the Director of Radio London, took issue with Simon Frith’s piece, “Ahoy, Pirate Radio” that we posted on FilmInFocus. We thank her for allowing us to post her two letters here that responded in details to the Mr. Frith's piece and inaccuraicies about pirate radio in general.



Dear Peter,

Sadly, the feature on the Focus website that supposedly tells the real story of offshore radio is full of nonsense. I've been running a website devoted to the subject for over ten years and have published magazine features and contributed chapters to books on the subject, so I do know a bit about it!

That photo isn't 'the Caroline ship' it's one of the TWO Caroline ships. The picture is very tiny but it would appear to be the North ship Fredericia (renamed Caroline) which broadcast from Ramsey Bay off the Isle of Man to the northwest of England and parts of Scotland and Ireland. The south ship, anchored three miles off the Essex coast, was the Mi Amigo.

The founder of Radio Atlanta was not Oliver Smedley, but Australian Allan Crawford. When Crawford brought his plans for marine broadcasting to the UK, he chose to share them with Ronan O'Rahilly, who soon latched on to a potentially profitable idea and decided to fit-out his own ship. Crawford also allowed his Radio Atlanta vessel to be fitted out at the Irish port owned by O'Rahilly's father. O'Rahilly's ship was finished first and Radio Caroline launched several weeks before Radio Atlanta.

The offshore stations were by no means 'almost all' financed by American capital. Three of them were. Radio London, the station that brought Top 40 format to the UK, was Texan funded. Radio London's Texan founder Don Pierson later launched a second ship, housing two short-lived stations that broadcast as Radio England (Top 40) and Britain Radio (easy listening). Most of the offshore broadcasters e.g. Radio City, Radio Scotland and Yorkshire's Radio 270 were run by local businessmen.

Pirate radio was NOT illegal. This is an oft-repeated myth. The stations were sited in international waters and therefore outside of jurisdiction. Parliament could not stop the broadcasts, which is why it was obliged to introduce the Marine Offences Act. It scuttled the pirates by outlawing advertising on the stations and making it illegal for British citizens to work aboard them or provision them.

As for, "In retrospect the pirates had little impact on the mid-60s emergence of British rock." What absolute rubbish! Who was pioneering the sounds of the Small Faces, Them, the Yardbirds, the Who, the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, et al?. It wasn't the BBC!

Best wishes, Mary


And later she added in another letter:

Torrents of inaccurate rubbish about the genuine pirate stations appeared in the UK press when 'The Boat That Rocked' came out here in April.

Fortunately, I was able to redress the balance with a feature in Saga magazine which appears on their website in full. (You click on the text to enlarge the page.)

The feature I wrote was 100% accurate. Unfortunately, a few errors did creep in during the magazine editing process, over which I had no say!

Saga's Features Editor David Allsop was kind enough to write: "To be honest, I haven't seen the subject covered remotely as well elsewhere."

Some UK critics slated the scenes in the film of people crying in the streets when the station closed, as ludicrous. In fact, that was one of the few non-fiction parts of the plot. In 1967, people did indeed cry in the streets - in their thousands - and wore black armbands as a sign of mourning.

Best wishes, Mary

PS For some reason it seems that everyone writing about the film's release in the US has the notion that the ships were anchored 'in the middle of the North Atlantic'. Goodness knows where this myth originate

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Michael Stuhlbarg in USA Today

Posted October 12, 2009

Michael Stuhlbarg in USA Today Image

In case you missed it, there was a great profile “Michael Stuhlbarg: Coen brothers get their Serious Man” in USA Today on Friday. Susan Wloszczyna reports the history that the lead in A Serious Man has with the Coen brothers, and especially with Joel Coen’s wife, Frances McDormand.

We first met through a children's theater company in New York called the 52nd Street Project, where kids write the plays and get professional actors and directors to do them," he says. "Then we got cast together in a workshop at Lincoln Center."

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