As Above, So Below
It's that rare found-footage film with a strong premise, a memorably eccentric style, and plenty of energy to burn. It's also poorly conceived, and hard…
* This filmography is not intended to be a comprehensive list of this artist’s work. Instead it reflects the films this person has been involved with that have been reviewed on this site.
Remembering Elaine Stritch; The Eddie Murphy Raw Burger; Black Twitter is Dead; Writer Escapes His Pederast; Deleted Scenes from "Twin Peaks" Movie.
A recap of the latest Silicon Valley episode; Hollywood scandals in the new era; Movie magic in the 21s century; Summer film anticipation guide; Ebertfest coverage.
Jana Monji reports from WonderCon 2014, including details on The Maze Runner, How to Train Your Dragon 2 & Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
Gerardo Valero reflects on "Man of Steel" and the challenges of making a good Superman movie.
Susan Wloszczyna wonders if women at the helm might be just the thing to revitalize the foundering, repetitive comic-book movie genre.
Marie writes: Behold a living jewel; a dragonfly covered in dew as seen through the macro-lens of French photographer David Chambon. And who has shot a stunning series of photos featuring insects covered in tiny water droplets. To view others in addition to these, visit here.
(click images to enlarge)
We all live in our own little subcultures. In mine -- loosely categorized as international film-festival cinephiliacs -- big-name contemporary filmmakers such as Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Abbas Kiarostami, Michael Haneke and the Dardennes brothers (yes, they've all won the Palme d'Or at Cannes) are huge, huge stars. In fact, some of us, whether we like them or not, feel they are overexposed, on the verge of becoming more than famous: ubiquitous. Like Kardashians or something. (I'll be honest: I don't know what a Kardashian is, but I keep hearing the term.) I mean, good god, the Dardennes have been all in your face throughout the 21st century, making movie after movie and picking up awards everywhere you look. And don't even get me started on Kiarostami. That guy became the international flavor-of-the-film-fest-cicruit in the 1980s, achieved his biggest commercial success in 2010, and has a new film in competition at Cannes right now.
I suppose it's true that, to most people outside our own little coterie, the Cannes Film Festival means just about nothing. Its impact on the American box office is negligible (although Kiarostami's Palme-winner "Taste of Cherry" grossed a pretty impressive $312 thousand in the US in 1998. That's about what "Marvel's The Avengers" took in while you were reading the last sentence). I guess fame -- or importance -- depends on your perspective.
A few things got me to thinking about this. One was Manohla Dargis's NY Times dispatch from Cannes. I love her observations:
My friend Richard T. Jameson sent an e-mail with the subject line: "Why am I depressed?" In it he quoted the first two sentences of an April L.A. Weekly story headlined "Movie Studios Are Forcing Hollywood to Abandon 35mm Film. But the Consequences of Going Digital Are Vast, and Troubling":
Shortly before Christmas, director Edgar Wright received an email inviting him to a private screening of the first six minutes of Christopher Nolan's new Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises." Walking into Universal CityWalk's IMAX theater, Wright recognized many of the most prominent filmmakers in America -- Michael Bay, Bryan Singer, Jon Favreau, Eli Roth, Duncan Jones, Stephen Daldry.
It was that second sentence, RTJ said, that tripped him up. (Later, in a Facebook post, he recommended the article itself, but followed that second sentence with the comment: "The parade's gone by, all right."
Marie writes: Doug Foster is a filmmaker and artist who produces large scale digital film installations that often play with ideas of symmetry and optical illusion. His piece The Heretics' Gate is currently on view at "Daydreaming with... St. Michael's" - an exhibition taking place at St. Michael's church in Camden, London. Note: Foster's piece first appeared at the Hell's Half Acre exhibition at the Old Vic Tunnels in London in 2010."The Heretics' Gate" draws inspiration from Dante's Inferno, the first part of his epic poem The Divine Comedy. A twenty foot high, arched screen and a thirty foot long reflecting pool, are cleverly combined to deliver a mesmerizing and strangely ethereal vision of hell at the central focus point of the church's imposing gothic architecture. To learn more, visit: Liquid Hell: A Q&A With Doug Foster.NOTE: The exhibition is the latest installment in renowned British music producer James Lavelle's curatorial and collaborative art venture, "DAYDREAMING WITH..." - a unique and visceral new exhibition experience, inspired by the desire to marry music and visual art. The goal is to bring together some of the most acclaimed creative names working in music, art, film, fashion and design.
The Grand Poobah shared the following recently and which struck me as just the thing to put in here - for it amounts to someone inventing a moving still akin to those seen on the front page of Harry Potter's famous newspaper."You know how people sometimes say that jazz is the only truly American art form? Animated GIFs are like the jazz of the internet: they could only exist, and be created and appreciated, online. That said, PopTart Cat is not exactly on par with Thelonious Monk. But photographer Jamie Beck and motion graphics artist Kevin Burg may have finally found a way to elevate the animated GIF to a level approaching fine art, with their "cinemagraphs" -- elegant, subtly animated creations that are "something more than a photo but less than a video." - fastcodesignAnd sadly, they won't work in here; Movable Type doesn't like animated gifs. It's easily solved however, just visit Far Better Than 3-D: Animated GIFs That Savor A Passing Moment to see an assortment in play!
Behold a most wondrous find...."The Shop that time Forgot" Elizabeth and Hugh. Every inch of space is crammed with shelving. Some of the items still in their original wrappers from the 1920s. Many goods are still marked with pre-decimal prices."There's a shop in a small village in rural Scotland which still sells boxes of goods marked with pre-decimal prices which may well have been placed there 80 years ago. This treasure trove of a hardware store sells new products too. But its shelves, exterior haven't changed for years; its contents forgotten, dust-covered and unusual, branded with the names of companies long since out of business. Photographer Chris Frears has immortalized this shop further on film..." - Matilda Battersby. To read the full story, visit the Guardian. And visit here to see more photos of the shop and a stunning shot of Morton Castle on the homepage for Photographer Chris Fears.
This is the subject of endless inquiry for me (can there be only one quality that separates the good from the not-good?), but I can say that -- all other things being A-OK -- it all comes down to directorial concentration and economy: camera placement, movement, composition and (as I detailed in that Spielberg piece from 1982) how adeptly the movie gets from shot to shot to shot. You can have a terrific story, script, cast, "beautiful cinematography" and all that, but if the director doesn't know how to convey information and emotion through composition and cutting, then the movie is going to feel flat.
Rarely have I seen these ideas enumerated so effectively and wittily as in A D Jameson's "Seventeen Ways of Criticizing Inception," a piece from August that was recently brought to my attention by David Bordwell (who found much to admire in the same movie).
[Quotations from Jameson are indented and in boldface.]
Now, before you get defensive, just forget about "Inception" and Christopher Nolan for a moment. They are used here as examples (feel free to substitute the Bryan Singer film of your choice), but what's important above all are the principles Jameson is outlining. He appreciates some of the clever story and structural elements in Nolan's films, but regrets the endless, insistent speechifying and paint-by-numbers cinematic imagination in the storytelling itself (criticisms I had of "The Dark Knight," too):
It is fairly widely known, three months after the film's premiere at Cannes, that Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" has, shall we say, a surprise ending. How did Tarantino feel about rewriting history? He uses admirable logic in arguing that he did not: "At no time during the start, the middle or ever, did I have the intention of rewriting history. It was only when I was smack dab up against it, that I decided to go my own way. It just came to me as I was doing what I do, which is follow my characters as opposed to lead."
View image Number 74.
I was not familiar with TotalFilm.com, until I spotted a link over at Movie City News.
Thanks a lot, guys.
The link was to a pair of articles listing Total Film's choices for "The Greatest Directors Ever" Part 1 (100 - 49) and Part 2 (50 - 1).
Will I return to this site? I think probably not. Why am I linking to it now? Because it's my shameless attempt to stimulate discussion, which I hope will be on a more informed level than this list. Or maybe it's just to have a laugh. Or a moment of sadness. What do I think of the list itself? Well, let's see:
Baz Luhrmann is #97.
Tony Scott is #74, just edging out Milos Forman, Kenji Mizoguchi, Satyajit Ray, Carl Theodor Dreyer, and Buster Keaton, who comes in at #88.
Bryan Singer is #65, two slots below Robert Bresson, who immediately follows Sam Raimi.
Rob Reiner is #35.
Michael Mann (#28) is on the list, but Anthony Mann is not.
Bernardo Bertolucci is... not on the list.
Otto Preminger is... not on the list.
Richard Lester is... not on the list.
Rainer Werner Fassbinder is... not on the list.
Max Ophuls is... not on the list.
George Cukor is... not on the list, but George Lucas (#95) is.
Andrei Tarkovsky is... not on the list.
Eric Rohmer is... not on the list.
Claude Chabrol is... not on the list.
Luchino Visconti is... not on the list.
Vittorio De Sica is... not on the list.
Michelangelo Antonioni is... not on the list. Not even the top 100.
What's worse are the little names they have for each director. Sophia Coppola (#99) is "The dreamer" ("Dreamy, brave and cool, this Coppola is doing it for herself"). Singer is "The new Spielberg." Robert Altman (#26) is "The outsider" -- oops, but so is Hal Ashby (#58). Somebody ran out of labels. Well, at least they are not outside all alone; they are outside together. Sam Fuller (#50) is "The hack." Mike Leigh (#49) is "The grouch." Quentin Tarantino (#12) is "The motormouth."
OK, that's enough. Have at it if you feel like it. If you don't feel like it, you'll probably live.
ADDENDUM: A reader, spleendonkey, describes TotalFilm as a British magazine aimed at teens and pre-teens, designed to broaden their film horizons. For the record, here's the mag's description of itself on its subscription page:In 2007, Total Film celebrates its tenth year of being the only film magazine that nails a monthly widescreen shot of the whole movie landscape. It’s the essential guide for anyone who’s passionate about movies - whether they’re into Cruise or Cusack, Hollywood or Bollywood, multiplex or arthouse, popcorn or - er - sweetcorn. Each issue is pumped full of reviews, news, features and celebrity interviews on all the latest cinema releases. The all-new home entertainment section, Lounge, is the ultimate one-stop-shop for everything you should care about in the churning world of DVDs, books, videogames and, occasionally, film-related novelty furniture. The mag regularly features highly desirable, Ebay-friendly FREE stuff - exclusive film cells, posters, postcards, DVDs… We’re currently in discussions with Health & Safety operatives about sticking a magical compass to the cover when "His Dark Materials" comes out. Subscribe to Total Film now, or forever be belittled by precocious children in discussions about what’s best and worst in movieland.Doesn't sound all that different from Entertainment Weekly to me, but there you go...
Lovelorn Supe: Looking for Lois in all the wrong places.
Despite the marketing campaign, the makers of "The Break-Up" say their movie is not supposed to be a romantic comedy -- which is precisely what many critics criticized it for not being. It's not "Wedding Crashers II" and it's not a "chick flick." And "Superman Returns" is not a comicbook superhero movie, or even a gay comicbook superhero movie. According to director Bryan Singer, it's a "chick flick."
TORONTO -- Toronto 1998 was an edgy festival for people like me who are convinced that anything can theoretically be a legitimate subject for a film. Movies about the Holocaust, child abuse, rape and reckless murder have had audiences cringing and critics embroiled in nose-to-nose debates in the lobbies. The director John Waters has coined a term for them: Feel-Bad Comedies. So have I: the New Geek Cinema.
Q. You didn't like "The Usual Suspects" because of the ending. I liked the ending, the dark atmosphere director Bryan Singer created, the acting (especially by Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Spacey and Chazz Palminteri), and the movie as a whole. The last time I had this much fun at the movies was at "Pulp Fiction." Maybe you should ask random people from the audience, because you could be the only one who didn't like the trick ending. (Mike D'Alessandro, Acton, Mass.)